Monday, January 23, 2006

MY VERY OWN AUTOBAHN! (PLUS THE 'SPIRITS' TOO!)


I should have known better than to stir the bee's hive. Having initiated a mini furor at Pycnogenol's blog, I realized that I had better stick to writing on mundane things only, lest I'll end up swimming in hot-soup for possibly making people more confused or irritated with my parochial knowledge regarding certain issues, :) Thus I have randomly (when I said random, it means that I just hit the keyboards on anything that pops in my mind on the spur of moment!) decided to blog on my most favorite highway! Yes, you got it right! Highway!

Since the advent of the new KL-Kuantan highway, my trip down to KL to visit my parents has never been easier and faster. From the MEC toll entrance to the Temerloh toll, our record time was 1 hour 15 minutes! This highway may be nothing compared to Germany's Autobahn but I am grateful for it has shortened my KL trip down to only 2 1/2 hours maximum with minimal traffic stress. I must be one of them who couldn't wait for it to be completed and kept on asking those in-the-know, 'when can it be used?' or 'Will it be in time for raya?'You see, the old road wasn't my cup of tea. The whole thought of having to endure the 4 hours car journey of overtakings with cars on-coming the opposite direction, endless rear-tagging behind huge, heavy and crawling lorries and not to mention the many gut-knotting tight bends we had to negotiate (some are almost acute, you could almost smell the tires smoking on hard-braking friction!) would just leave me in utter dreadfulness! If it were not for my parents I would for sure forgo those trips!

So, two Fridays ago the Kuantan-KL highway saw us again on yet another of our family rides to KL, this time within a brief span of mere 2 weeks. Although devoid of spectacular breath-taking sceneries, yet heavily-laden with freak accident stories and spooky incidents, I will forever be thankful for its availibity because it has tremendously lightened my traveling perils. However, many would still opt for the old 'more challenging' road as the highway may prove to be too monotonous for some, inducing drowsiness at times especially during a hot afternoon spell. Others simply avoid it for not wanting to pay a relatively hefty RM19.60 of toll fee.

I can surely bet that all of you have heard of the many weird and mind-boggling happenings along the highwy at the very beginning of its service? These paranormal incidents (if I may call them as such!) sounded so similar to those associated with other highways in Malaysia, that I was beginning to doubt their authenticity until it happened to someone we personally know! A friend's car suddenly went beserk and fell into a small ravine only a few kilometers from the Gambang-MEC exit. It was a dry afternoon and they were not speeding at all. Alhamdulillah, the whole family survived the ordeal unscathed but the car, needless to say, was a total wreck!

A neighbor's brother was driving his BMW alone from KL, late one night. Made a stop to ease himself. Was doing his usual speed (deemed apt for a BMW, I suppose, :) of 150km/hr probably! The distant from Gambang stop to Bkt Goh's toll would have meant a short 10 minutes drive at the most. But this guy suddenly sensed an eerie feeling when he realized the whole surrounding was in total darkness and that his usual 10 minutes distant was taking too long this time and seemed endless. Peering out of the side window he realized that the engine was revving and the tires rotating but only that the car was not moving!! He could well be in twilight zone for that apparently infinite span of period. What else could he do but close his eyes and shouted 'Allahuakbar' repeatedly till he felt that his car was back on the road? On hind-sight, he believed that some 'supernatural spirits' must have entered his car for a free-ride when he went out to pee. After that heart-stopping experience, he vowed that he would never ever travel late at night alone again!

And what about the hair-raising story of a man stopping at one of the newly-built R&R for dinner? Upon reaching Kuantan, he related to his friend of the delicious mee-mamak he had there, only to be told that the particular R&R was still not opened for business yet!! WHat?? Not believeing, he ventured back to the exact spot and found the 60 cents change he left for tip!! Masyllah!! I am having goose-bumps as I narrate this!

Many had claimed to have experienced a certain phenomenon and some were so identical that it was hard to just dismiss as spurious. For instance, there were incidences of cars on the move, suddenly stopped, went into reverse gear and travelled backwards! Subhanallah!

And there are ridiculous stories of (brace yourself!) yellow Kancils (AJ, sorry to disappoint you but this Kancil has no 'kepak' nor does it have skirting that 'mencecah lantai' that 'starred' in your Mak Jah satire) that suddenly emerged upfront out of nowhere, confronting in break-neck speed , causing the poor victim to swerve in the nick of time, inadvertantly land in a ravine or ditch. I am sure there are other spine-chilling tales of this highway that can be furnished by those who frequent it in the course of their weekly or monthly travels to and fro.

Whatever you may have heard, I can assure you that this highway is relatively safe, as long as you adhere to all the safety cautions and speed limits and not to mention invoking Allah to bless you with a safe journey each time, insyallah! Subhanallazi sakhorolana haza wama kunnalahu mukriniina innaila robbina lamunqolibun !
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Thursday, January 19, 2006

CRUSHED TO PIECES!!




This is the picture impression of the incident drawn by Abdullah Jones although I would have prefered a further close-up of the mangled hand! Thank you AJ. Please click on the image to go the original link for a better close-up.

This is my version of the mutilated hand


Just a brief update. It's a case I got at the clinic today. A lady, white, foreign (her name sounds Russian, Irina something) cook on board a ship somewhere few kilometers away from Kuantan coast-line, was preparing a meal. Sometime at 9 am she was using the blender and probably tried adjusting it whilst the blade was still roatating. Caught her right hand into the moving blades and brrrrrrr, zap-zap, !@#$%$#@ all her fingers got crushed by the rotor, up to the metacarpo-phalangeal junctions!

Only after 6 long hours, did they manage to get her ashore! When I saw her, the badly severed fingers were dangling loosely looking so gorily mortified! The crushed tissue was a mess of pieces of skin, chopped bones, sliced finger nails, cut tendons and muscle all mangled up.

Couldn't do much except dress it up, bandaged and iced. She needed emergency hand surgery which in this case due to the severe mutilation, nothing much could be saved. The best for her would be for total amputation of all the fingers leaving a clean stump. Thus I refered her to the nearest orthopedician. Will enquire from him later what his management was.

Throughout the incident, she was shouting in pain, in fact she was wailing. Tried to empathise but she was rather rude and dismissed my words denying that I understood her pain. Well, I'm sorry for her anyway.

p.s. my clinic girls were telling me after that "doctor tak nampak ke dia pakai sexy habis? nampak semua!' "Entah saya tak nampak pon' said I, too engrossed with the crushed hand to notice aything!

Note: this update was deemed necessary as the Kuih Kochis were fermenting into tapai already!!! (not that I mind, as tapai is my favorite dessert!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

REMINISCING THE UNFORGETTABLE PAST

Do you have a favorite reminiscence of a certain place with a specific ambience that when you sit and recall, brings back great emotions within you? Or recollections of specific occasions that never fail to excite the soul within you? I have a few and at times out of the blue the thoughts of these places flashes back into my mind and I'd start playing back those beautiful moments of my life. And at times the feeling is so immense, I could even recall the peacefulness and the very air that I breathe back then. Mind you, the events could have taken place more than two decades ago but some of the instances were stuck at the back of my mind like fossil prints on cave-walls. And to think that my poor memory has been failing me more and more nowadays!

I once lived in Penang. In a government quarters near Green Lane. My room window faced the sports field of a school (Teknik Pulau Pinang, I think). On certain Sundays some expats would utilise the field to play baseball, the men busy with the game and the women would sit by the side and I would gaze at them from the window. It was a colorful sight to behold, it could well be a chapter from Somerset Maugham's book and I would get so engrossed watching them. I love Penang because of the trees that line its roads endlessly. They give shade and green-ness to the surroundings. To amble along these shady roads amidst the Angsana and other big sturdy trees that could well be a hundred yrs old, one will always be mesmerized by the magical feeling one will experience from it. Once, with a friend, I walked all the way, from my house to Pulau Tikus and back! That is approximately 14 km of to and fro journey! And what a great time we had, enjoying the splendid scenery and chatted like any two good friends would do, along the way, making silly jokes with whatever that struck out sights. As we walked, we could feel the soft breeze blowing around us and dried leaves which were abundant, would swirl in the air and on the ground making crackling sounds that was musical to the ears! Ahh! What a splendor!

Another instant would be celebrating raya at Tok's. It was in the late sixties or early seventies. My family and I would always travel back to Batu Pahat for each raya celebration to be with my maternal grandma. In fact almost everyone in mak's family would converge to Tok's grand wooden house at Jalan Lim Poon. The house would be so crammed. Some would occupy the rooms. But we kids prefered to sleep in the hall on the floor, in rows. And we simply loved it! The creaking sound of the floorboards each time someone walked. The musty smell of the wooden planks which the house was built with. Sleeping side by side with my cousins, snuggling in close proximity. Bouts of giggles now and then with the muffling sounds of hushed conversations in the background. All these in the peaceful darkness of Tok's wooden abode back then. Now the house is no more, having being pulled down in the name of development. Oh how I miss it!

Of the many good moments I shared with Bapak (my beloved dad), the time I cherish most would be accompanying him for terawikh prayers at the customs' village surau in Penang and our Sunday market trips at Klang wet market. I was in secondary 4 and 5. Each time Ramadhan came back then, I became Bapak's 'chaperone' and we would diligently join the congregation there, despite the distance, for the whole month. Sitting next to him while he drove each night had created a special bonding between us. Especially when it was a blessed month and we were doing something that pleased Allah swt.

When we lived in Shah Alam, bapak did his marketing at Klang wet market. Whenever I was back for the weekends, I'd accompany him without being asked to. My dad is a man of few words so usually our journey would be a quiet one albeit small chats here and there plus good fatherly advices from him. But these market trips have definitely brought me even closer to him. The way he bargained.(not that he likes bargaining. In fact bapak has a soft heart and would buy things out of pity for the poor seller!) The stalls he chose to buy things. The route he took and weaved through the whole market. I was the passive 'shopper', standing quietly beside him, only helping to carry things. It was even more meaningful as it was the last few years that I was spending with him as an unmarried daughter.

And there were several other instances in my life that I'd treasure as they evoke stirring emotions in me. Like when I first learnt how to do prayers and was so earnest to wake up for subuh that I climbed the balcony to get next door in the wee hours, simply to join the neighbor's daughter for prayers! Or the trips to Singapore (we lived in JB during my primary years) during my heydays, buying records and more records (yeah, the black discs that turns on a turntable with a needle player!). Oh you won't believe the endless list of LPs that I collected of singers and groups that I have long forgotten now!! Astaghfirullah! And not forgetting a particular Singapore trip when I did a shopping splurge using the substantial amount of money (well, it was a lot to me back then!) I found under the carpet which was stolen by our maid! (hey! it was our money anyway!)

Doesn't it feel good to reminisce the good old days?

p.s I hope mak is not reading this or she'll feel hurt for I have not mention anything about her. The thing is my reminiscence with mak would entail a whole entry on its own! Later, mak, later!

p.p.s. Raya today involved an itinery very similar like the previous. Breakfast at FIL's, solat raya at the Masjid nearby, beriyani at Makteh's, continental dine at SIL's (her choc/ coffee tart with whipped cream is comparable to any found at 5 star hotel!)

and finally back home and napped! We had to scrap our earlier plan of going back to KL to my parents as iKelah had to work at 6pm as the locum doctor ditched him last minute! *Sigh* Have to make up with mak as she is furious! Heard that bapak is busy at his surau today helping with the korban and melapah! Way to go Bapak!

11th Dzulhijjah 1426, I made my first set of kuih koci (recipe from Has's Blog) and alhmadulillah they turned out fine!

Friday, January 06, 2006

IF ONLY........

Many a times, I am faced with the predicaments of not having the means and power to assist someone who is in dire straits. When I can't offer any valuable help, I am rendered helpless, just as helpless as the person in need of help!

Today, de javu strikes again! A 31 yr old lady, pregnant at 24 weeks with moderate persistent asthma came to see me, wheezing so bad, she looked so pale as not enough air was entering her lungs. This was not her first attack. For the past 3 mths, she had been coming every week for acute excercabations of asthma and had to be nebulised each time. Despite frequent administrations of ventolin inhalers, her asthma is still poorly controlled.

I know why it is poorly controlled. She has 5 small kids and a household to take care of. On top of it she's pregnant. Her husband works hard 12 hours in a day and can't help her with house chores. She's got no relatives close by to help.

Each time she comes, I'd advice her to be admitted and rest. I believe her asthma is stress-related and rest is the answer. But she can't afford it.

So today, when she had to be nebulised twice within 15 minutes, I sat with her and convinced her that she realy needed to be admitted. I took the referal pad out and began writing. I asked for her IC number. In between gasps she lamented that she's not a Malaysian citizen and still in the midst of making her IC. She said she was from Acheh, married to a local. And then she burst into tears, relating in between sobs, that the Tsunami had kiled all her family members and that she's now all alone! Not having an IC makes hospital admission all the more difficult and bills will be hefty which she can't afford paying with her hubby's meagre wage.

Flabbergasted, I only managed to rub her back, telling her to calm down or her asthma would get worst. To ease her mind, the least I could do was to write in the referal, telling the doctor, of her financial constraint and to please , please consider it when billing her.

What more could I do? I could only sooth her with my words. At times like these I wish I was somebody of high status who could command perfect things to happen. If I had the influence and power, I'd make sure that everyone despite their colour and creed would be entitled to all health benefits that are available.

She was so thankful that I cared about her and giving her my empathy, she took my hand and kissed it! And what did I do? Nothing much.....nothing at all....
may Allah swt give her strength to carry on...ameen.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

THE MAGNIFICENT MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT

Jabal Nur seen from below as we reached by car.

The year was 1996. It was the year I did my first umrah with mak, Sarah and my 2 sisters. And thus it was the first time I set eyes on the magnificently sublime Kaabah. Subhanallah! I cried out of sheer reverence. Circumbulating and praying near it, it's a truly fulfilling moment. Besides the usual umrah rituals, my sister, Ita and I had braved ourselves further by doing something we wouldn't have thought of enduring if we were in Malaysia. We decided to climb Jabal Nur! Yes, that's the rock-hill in the northen desert outskirts of Mecca, approximately 7 km away from the Kaabah, where Rasulullah used to ascend and in the Hira' cave he would seclude to contemplate life. It's also, by the way, the highest hill in Mecca.

That's me climbing up the rocky pathway.

Upon reaching the foot of the hill, we followed a rocky pathway. We took careful steps as it was easy to accidentally lose a footing on a lose rubble. To make the climb more achievable we wore pants on the inside and jubah outside, frequently lifting the outer garment as we climbed. Like all daytime in Mecca, it was stifling and scorching hot. But it didn't deter us a bit. We were adamant to make it to the top and visualize the famous cave ourselves.

As we progressed, we had to tackle a host of beggars in all forms and various ages. They were under the control of many syndicates. Many were physically deformed. One was walking on his hands as both of his lower limbs were amputated! But the daily chore of begging at the hill had rendered him so nimble and agile that he had mastered the rocky pathway , I am sure he could do it with closed eyes! Another young boy made a living by helping to carry loads and also small children up and down the hill. Needless to say he was steadfast in his footing and clambering the hill was second-nature to him, with or without load on his shoulders.

Not avid climbers, my sis and I, huffed and puffed all the way, stopping at junctures to relieve our dyspneic lungs. But never did we entertain the relinquishing thoughts of backing off and retracing our trail down. Our minds were set to imbibe whatever we can from the 'holy' surroundings of the rocky structure. A natural monument which housed a cave, where Rasulullah s.a.w. first received the words of Allah swt. The place where he would seek solace and peace of mind. And also upon visualizing the Angel Gabriel a.s. for the first time, he had trembled and rushed down the slopes towards Khadijah r.a.at home.

We pushed hard and dragged our sore feet and breathless chest uphill till we reached the summit. Despite the thinning air of the rising altitude, we persevered and the breath-taking scenery up there was worth all the hard-effort. The invigorating mountain air almost instantly replenished our used energy. From there we could see a whole panorama that encompasses the whole of Mecca. The summit of Jabal Nur is just a small area of uneven plateau and here we could find a wooden shack with benches for respite and some vendors who sold bottled drinks which we gulped down with such vigor! (after that vigorous climb, water never tasted any better!). Now where's the cave, my inquisitive mind was asking. Only then did we realize that we had to climb down a bit to the other side to get near the 'holy' cave.

Now, this second part of our climb proved to be more difficult and in fact, more risky as it involved climbing down steep walls of rocks. Thus, we had to move in single file and maintain patience or you might accidentally push someone off the cliff! Nauzubillah! Alas! After cautious descend, we reached a flat clearing and at the edge we saw a group of people surrounding a cave-like structure which was in fact made by big stone slabs naturally arranged at an angle, erecting a hollow room just to fit a single man sitting down!

The cave viewed from top.


So there I was, standing at the edge of a cliff, gazing at a cave-like structure that had seen many important historical events pertaining to our great prophet. There and then I tried to envisage our prophet sitting for long hours overwhelmed by his thoughts searching earnestly for the truth. A truly awesome and engaging experience! If one was to sit in it, one would find oneself facing directly towards the Kaabah! Subhanallah!

People crowding the cave. Note the person sitting down in the cave.


So when iKelah knew about this 'great' climb of mine he was rather surprised. As I have told numerous others, iKelah's climbing spirits must have possesed me during that endevour or I would have cowardly declined the call in the first instant. I am proud to relate this story because I know many have not the opportunity to do so.


That's me touching down triumphantly!


Incidentally, this entry was inspired by Hiyoshi's recent entry on his successful scaling of Gunung Datuk in Negeri Sembilan. Eventhough my experience was much less difficult compared to his, still it was a venture to be cherished all the same. I share his excitement as mountain climbing offers an emotional glorifying satisfation that surpasses many others. (I am actually speaking from iKelah's experiences as he had conquered Gunung Ledang, Gunung Tahan, Gunung/Bukit Bekelah, Jerangkang, Raja and several others). After all, isn't a life-achievement equivalent to conquering a mountain?

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