Thursday, December 11, 2008


Since getting married and living in the east coast, plus a job that involves awkward working schedules, attending family occasions like weddings, engagements, births etc have been almost impossible. Thus, I have been lagging in many things pertaining to my parents’ side of family, so much so, I can’t recognize almost half of the young faces that I mingle with in family ado. Thanks to Geni, at least I now know who is who, how many kids and grandchildren (yes, some are promoted as grandparents now!) my cousins have and from their avatars, I can put faces into memory, unless they opt to put caricatures or even disguise as Donny Osmond, like some do!

The recent Eidul Adha visits proved to be a ritualistic practice, especially for my mum. The typical route would begin at Mak Cha’s house and followed by Mak Kintan’s. The next house would be anyone’s guess, for it depends on impromptu suggestions and the best lobbied option wins. Usually the bandwagon would pick up size at Mak Cha’s where Mak Lah and her cohort (this time it was Abang Hamzah’s and Hamdan’s families) join in.

At Mak Cha’s we got to meet Kak Ah and Abang Chot with some of their many off springs (lost count). Ironically I used to call Abang Chot , Uncle Chot due to unclear reasons, hehe. What I remember well about this great couple goes back to umpteenth years ago when they were two carefree hippies, traveling together during their semester breaks, stopping by at our house in JB. Those were their flower power days! Though they are no more proponents of such carefree life, their big happy family is testimony of those days.

Kak Jah was as matronly as ever, serving us with the pot-luck spread. She has been a permanent member of Kak An’s family, taking care of their family needs, since long ago, thus you will notice that all her comments carry Kak An’s and Abg Duan’s names as well. Unfortunately, as we were tad too late, we missed Kak An’s family.

Mak Cha and Mak Kintan are both amongst the oldest living family member and it’s good to see them both well albeit the usual health impediments.

After Mak Kintan’s , Mak Lah who is well known for her persuading powers, lured us to Abang Harith’s abode. Abang Harith was his usual blunt bantering self, making comical and sarcastic remarks that would put any stand-up comedian to shame! His wife, Sharifah, is a cat lover with a capital L. All her priced long haired feline kin are being kept in the master’s bed-room and Abang Harith allegedly claimed that he sleeps with them with no qualms at all! Abang Harith, you sure have come a long way, brother! :p. As for Sharifah, you should appear in Katztales column of The Star any time!

I hope to be able to meet more kin in the next family occasion, a wedding perhaps? Hmmm…Dilla?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Tok Muar. That was the name she was fondly known to us. A woman who was full of grit and determination in the inside but exuded calmness on the exterior. She was 90 when she passed away last Sunday morning after a short spell of ill health. My family and I were on our way down to visit her when we received a call telling us that Tok had passed away at 9 am. It was fated that I was not to see her in the near hours before her death. I last saw her last raya and she was her usual old self, full of her bantering antics. Among her favorite phrases were “datanglah lagi jenguk tok kalau tok tak mati lagi” (come and visit me again, if I am not dead yet) and “tok dah tua tapi tak mati2” (I am old but still not dead).

Undeniably, Tok was loved by everyone around her, especially her grandchildren. Old age had caused her to be bent over with fragile bones that had twice fractured in her hip joints and her eye sight too had betrayed her. Did all these hamper her? No. In fact when she broke her hip bones, unlike many others with the same predicament, she recovered and even started to walk and be mobile again, albeit with a limping gait. Her grandchildren simply adore her because, despite all her health difficulties, she still made an effort to enquire about everyone’s wellbeing and latest development. Most importantly, she had an elephant’s memory that enabled her to recall and narrate to us salient details about everyone’s development. In short, she showed that she cared about us and this was pertinent in her effort to remember all the explicit details.

She had only met with my former maid once, but she never failed to ask me about her, each time we met, specifically mentioning her name. She remembered the places where each and every one of my children is studying without faltering. She could remember details of events that could even put us the younger ones to shame. Even at her death bed, when she was asking for me, she managed to rattle that Azmi had gone for a second treatment but this time it was non invasive. Imagine!

Tok was indeed a pious person but she never made it obvious. In her quiet moments, I would see her lips reciting softly the dzikir and her fingers would fervently move the worry-beads. She never failed to start her ‘puasa enam’ (non-obligatory fasting) at day 2 of raya which we would only attempt after the first week. And I am sure that she regularly did her supererogatory night prayers too.

The last thing I could do to show my deep respect and love for her before her burial was to help in the ‘washing/bathing’ of her body. Incidentally I was the one to hold her head in place, each time they maneuver her and I am honoured. She appeared to be very peaceful. Insyallah, one of the things we, the living ones can do now is to pray for her soul.

Tok, even though we seldom visited you, due to distant and time constraint, you are always dear to our hearts. We will always remember you as a caring grandmother with a big heart. For some of us who couldn’t make it at your death bed, we apologize but you know we love you….as I write this, I can still recall your warm voice , your loving words and your smile….may all these memories be etched eternally…May Allah swt place you amongst His loved ones….Ameen Ya Rabbal al Ameen

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I just hate going to formal high profile functions with the presence of royalties and dignitaries. Not that I get invited to such ado that often but these functions often requires you to be more meticulous in your preparation i.e. what you wear and what you give. So when we were invited to the MB’s son wedding last Saturday, we were a bit hesitant. You see, Saturday is a normal day work for me and having no maid, I had to iron our clothes, last minute. As the dressing code demands that hubby wear the traditional baju melayu, I dug out his recent raya’s beige baju melayu to press. Whilst ironing, I noticed that the baju had crinkled and shrunk and it struck me that the material, bought by mak had to be dry-cleaned instead! It was already 6pm and we had to be there before 8! Next option was his black baju melayu which was still in good condition. After 15 minutes of hard labor, hubby decided against wearing it, saying that it was inappropriate to wear black to a wedding, especially when the bride is Chinese! His next best baju melayu is purple in color and it will definitely clash with my turquoise baju kurung, also a recent raya’s outfit. (notice that we don’t make outfits especially for a function like some do). So finally, I had to concede and wear something more subdued that went along with a purple tudung, thus matching with his purple baju. Imagine, we had to iron 3 baju melayu just for that lone occasion!

Now, buying presents for the rich is always tricky!! If you buy them cheap stuffs, they can’t appreciate and your presents might end up in the dumps or in the servants’ quarters. So you end up buying less expensive presents for the less-to-do and dearer goods for the rich. Ironic isn’t it? This brings me to a cartoon strip I once saw in Mad magazine. It was depicting a newly wed couple unwrapping their wedding presents when they came upon a gift from an old aunt, a cheap tea-pot. Sniffling and giggling at the present with one hand pinching their nostrils, they threw it into the bin. The next strip showed a vagabond, whilst rummaging the dumps, chanced upon the tea-pot and found big cash in it!

Since hubby is active in several NGOs, attending the wedding was almost an obligation. Furthermore, my eldest daughter is a good friend of one of the MB’s daughters, thus the task got easier when we saw familiar faces amongst the hosts. Anticipating heavy traffic and massive jams, we decided to drive our kelisa, with plans of parking by the road-side and walking all the way. However when we arrived at the junction to the hall, the coast was clear that hubby spontaneously drove inwards towards the grand entrance. Imagine a kelisa cruising alongside the other big cars. Whilst the big motors chose to make a grand entrance into the porch and employ the valet service, we headed for the parking space straight, meekly.

Needless to say, the wedding was grand, yet not lavish as compared to some. The decorations were simple but sweet and elegant. No expensive live imported roses lining the aisle or tables. Even the guests’ tokens were not extravagant and yet still had good memento value. The guest line-up was however something else. Never before have I had the opportunity to be in the same vicinity with this great number of dignitaries! Besides the Sultan and his whole family members, there were DPM and wife, Hishamuddin and wife, Hamid Albar and wife, Rais Yatim and wife, JJ , plus several other ministers and deputies. Ex political figures like Anuar Musa and wife were also present. A surprising guest was Khalid Ibrahim and wife. Both the MBs probably came a long way before, thus, even differences in political views could not break their ties.

As purported always, the wives came dressed up to the hilt. I am truly tempted to write a detailed description of some of them who appeared even weirder in person but the idea of being sent to Kemunting, refrained me. Suffice to say that whatever they donned must be expensive and probably are worn only once. I have no inkling to what they do to these clothes after the occasion. They are probably sold as second hands but for some with disproportioned figures (read: short/rotund), their clothes, I guess, will end up like our poor Trajet after the accident, which was claimed as total loss and sold in bits and pieces as spare parts!

For the first time I was able to see Siti Nurhaliza and the infamous Datuk K, close-up. Siti actually has a petite figure and looked so demure. Seeing her sitting next to Datuk K, I can’t help feeling sorry for her with all the gossips that shroud her mysterious marriage. Undoubtedly she is a good songstress. When she belted out several numbers during the reception, one can’t help praising her voice.

We both thought that the MB had given a good rousing speech. In fact he choked and had to pause several times, controlling his emotions. He welcomed his new daughter in law and her family into the family and hoped for better inter-racial ties. Most importantly, he advised them to be responsible for each other and for his son to guide his newly converted wife.

Congratulations to the MB and his family. For sure, their family tree will look similar to ours now. Colorful!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



Maman and Qistina 12 years ago at Kampar, attending Pang5's wedding


Maman, 15yrs old

Qistina, 14 yrs old

Only quite recently that I realized mak is fairly annoyed that my kids call her ‘tok ampang’. She quipped with much irritation, “apasal lah awak mesti panggil kita tok ampang? Lepas tu panggil kuat-kuat kat shopping mall pulak tu!”. “Why must you call me with that name and embarrassing me in a large crowd at the mall?” We can’t help but laugh at poor mak with her slight, yet painful predicament.

You see, to differentiate between the two grandmas we had to assign these matriarchal figures, names according to the places they hail from. Thus, as mak was and is still living in Ampang, Tok Ampang aptly became her calling name. And my late mom in law was Tok Kuantan. They may sound crude but we were never into calling their real names with tok prefixes in front. Furthermore, my mom is known as Yon and ‘Tok Yon’ sounded comical, reminding us of the small and bald, bluish green mischievous apparitions.

No wonder, mak was quick to demand the rest of her grandkids from my other sisters to call her ‘mak tok’ which sounded more civilized to her, at least. Ironically we had no such problem with the grandpas. My dad goes by the simple name of Tok Mat, yet my kids still find him stern and a no nonsense figure. And my father in law is plain Aki to them. Even though Aki is easygoing, he can sometimes be sharp tongued and you wouldn’t want to be in his bad books!

Whilst adding relatives’ profiles in the Geni family tree website, my hubby can’t remember his brother-in-law’s mother’s name. So he just named her ‘Mak Geng’. Tok Geng is a fond name their grandchildren gave them as grandpa is a jovial chap who loves teasing his grandkids making them refuse to befriend him and he would jokingly say, “tak nak geng ek?’. Thus the name stuck. At least we can boast that we are related to a mafia clan or so it seems!

Now that I have mentioned about Geni, our family tree is growing wild like fire in the forest! (pardon the pun!). The shoots are sprouting eagerly and the branches are extending as though the roots are being doused with a mega dose of organic fertilizer! Since our last raya visit at grandma’s place in Muar, we were able to add several generations up and down the tree, after much digging and revving of info from our aunt, Kak Uchu. Notice the paradox here, how an aunt is considered a sister? Well, you see, my side of the family is also never so much into calling people according to their ranks in the family. Age is more of the essence. As Kak Uchu who should have been Mak Uchu is the youngest and relative young back then, OG and I, (or is it Kak Uchu herself ? hehe) felt more comfortable calling her as such.

Unlike my hubby’s side, who sticks to the proper name-calling hierarchy, an aunty gets the prefix Mak even though she may be years younger than you! Thus, Mazyah becomes Aunty Mazyah when she married Pak Man even though she is more than 10 years younger than us. And Farah who is hubby’s cousin is called Aunty Farah by my kids even though they are of the same age!

When we started Geni, hubby’s tree was much bigger to begin with as he had already recorded his genealogical lineage, several ancestral tiers up, few years ago. So when OG and I recently shifted gear and accelerated at full speed, we had already out done his side. Together, we had a good time bantering as we see the plus numbers escalating and overtaking his. OG even had the cheek to text us this, when were on our back home, “Where are you guys? Stopping by in Temerloh to search for 50 more relatives eh?”

Our Geni tree is so colorful in the true sense. Half of OG’s tree is Chinese, from her hubby’s side which incidentally was the initiator of this whole thing. Half of mak’s tree should have been of Chinese roots as well but we are not able to trace them yet, so we consider mak’s adopted family as our own and we are proud of it, needless to say! My hubby’s side of the tree is just as colorful if not more. With a Panglima as a great grandfather who fought for the Sultan and married an ex-wife of Mat Kilau the warrior giving rise to this particular lineage, who would agree less? And if you look deeper into the branches, you’d see that Tun Khalil Yaakob who will bestow Shah Rukh Khan with a controversial datukship, is actually hubby’s cousin twice removed, or is it thrice?

Strangely, this family tree thingy has sort of brought us back together, never mind that it’s only virtually. Some have not met in years but are able to communicate again. Who knows, maybe this tree would merge with Bush on the left and Obama on the right. Nothing is impossible!

Sunday, October 05, 2008



Saturday night fever set in.....

With Mak and my sis OG at cousin's place

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


If for any reason you need cheering up, read this.

Eid Mubarak everyone and may the recent Ramadhan fulfilled your criteria of a blissful month of ibadah, insyallah.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Last night my sis in Beijing called regarding a maths question. Her eldest 14 year old daughter, who is in an international school there follows the IB method of learning and is already cracking her head on trigonometry, high algebra, geometry, etc.

Her e mail:

Study the following 5 statements:

1. Spoof is the set of all purrs
2. Spoof contains at least 2 distinct purrs
3. Every lilt is a set of purrs and contains at least 2 distinct purrs
4. If A and B are any 2 distinct purrs, there is one & only one lilt that contains them
5. No lilt contains all the purrs


a. Show that the following statement is true - There are at least 3 lilts.

b. If the lilt "girt" contains the purr "pil" and the purr "til" and if the lilt "mirt" contains the purr "pil" and the purr "til" then the lilt "girt" is the same as the lilt "mirt" except in one case. What is the case?

Pls do not hesitate to contact me when u have solve the above problem :)

My reply was:

Are u sure this is geometry? Sounds like a therapy session between a psychiatrist and his manic-depressive patient who is in a manic phase and having one of his grandiose delusion of being Avicenna, Newton and Thomas Edison all put together!!

That is why the problem is unsolvable! Impossible, I tell you! Forget about girt, pil and til, even the first question is not possible! If spoof is a set of all purrs and contains at least 2 distinct purrs and every lilt contains at least 2 distinct purrs A and B, then the minimal number of lilts would be 2 and not 3!

Are you sure there wasn't any typing error or something?

Anyway, I bet this was a trick question, that is why the set was called Spoof!! hehe

Btw, try giving this to Obama or Hilary. No, don't give it to McCain. Definitely not to Bush! Forget P*****h, he'll doze off the minute he gets to the second question!

Her reply:

Thnx (at least u attempted to read the question ....Palin material)...but no thnx for not coming up w the aswer (definitely Dr M qualities....shrug off the immateriality, impossibility, stupidity of the question & try & get other lesser of kretins to attempt the question)...whatever the case thanks for even reading the question. I think u may hv open up my brain cells to come w the answer.

There are no typo errors...But there are at least 3 lilts - 1st lilt is the spoof with any purrs, 2nd lilt is the spoof w 2 distinct purrs & 3rd lilt is the one & only that contains A&B distinct purrs. So min must be at least 3 lilts since every lilt is a set of purrs. Nxt question I will pass to either to Samy Velu or LL Sik

I hope today Nina doesn't come back w any Bio or physics questions...I'm dead. Meng better come back frm Houston quickly.

My reply:

You said :
there are at least 3 lilts - 1st lilt is the spoof with any purrs, 2nd lilt is the spoof w 2 distinct purrs & 3rd lilt is the one & only that contains A&B distinct purrs.

Now, how can that be? It says in the question that Spoof is the set of all spurs. That means lilt is subset of spoof. Your answer shows otherwise. In that case, this is purely a bad worded question!

Any Maths whizz around??

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I am sure many of us have had the hilarious opportunity to laugh our heads off at many of the atrocious TV subtitles that serve to make us understand (or in this case , get more confused) the ongoing dialogues. Recently I saw a malay TV drama with English subtitles. At one point, the scene was depicting a middle aged lady who just got back from overseas after being away for so long. Of course, after being away in a 'white' land for umpteenth years, she had to mix English phrases in between. She said' I am back for good'. Guess what was the translation below?? 'Saya dah balik untuk kebaikan'.........'gulp'....

On hindsight, making the wrong translation as the actual phrase is also politically or socially correct. What's wrong in making a come back to do good eh? In the spirit of the glorious month of Ramadhan, it has returned again to do us good. To create an environment of perfection for us to emulate in the next 11 months.....

Btw, found this at my sister Rafidah's facebook:

RAMADHAN KAREEM to all! Please make du'a for us during iftar!

Monday, July 28, 2008

To Be Hit By A Ladder After A Fall- (A Malay Proverb)

This is a sad story of a green car, an MPV in fact that had only managed to render its service for mere 5 years, which can easily be considered short, considering it being a sturdy machine that was still going pretty strong with no major pitfalls. Last unfortunate February, its owner who needed to commute daily to a small town famous for its petrol plants, thought that the car was a bit jerky and sent it for fine tuning to the family mechanic, who, after this sad accident, no longer is the family mechanic. Apparently, the mechanic who was involved with the elections, was not in good shape as he probably had to stay late at night to raise the party flags. He was driving the car along a straight road and suddenly the car veered to the left, fell into a ravine, into a drain and finally hit against a tree. He escaped unscathed and also held no responsibilities whatsoever for the accident.

The car was a wreck. The insurance company decided that it was beyond repair and deemed it a total lost. They will only pay the owner 90% of the sum insured which had greatly depreciated for the last payment. The owner had 2 more years to furnish the car loan. Thus after deducting everything, he is only left with a small sum, enough for the down payment of a new car.

That was 6 months ago. Up till today, the insurance company hasn’t paid up a single Malaysian cent despite endless promises to do so. The bank has demanded the owner to continue paying the loan as the insurance company is keeping mum. So the owner has to continue paying up the loan even though the car is now sadly locked up in a store somewhere, useless.

Lesson learned: avoid subscribing to this particular insurance company!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Mention ACCORD, ADOPT, DREAM, VADT and RECORD to anyone and chances are many would respond in the negative. These are acronyms for medical trials pertaining to diabetes. For example, ADOPT is actually short for A Diabetes Outcome Progression Trial and ACCORD is Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Study Group.

Last weekend I was in a medical workshop discussing the updates in Diabetes treatment and for two days I was overwhelmed with the above jargons. To ease us of the burden of absorbing all these packed and meticulous information, the drug company responsible was kind enough to hold it in Westin Langkawi, a beautiful spa resort perched on a hill, facing a small bay not far from Kuah Jetty.

Our room

Avandia or Rosiglitazone (or Rosi, as used by some presenters, implying how comfortable they are with the drug now despite the recent controversy that shrouds it) is a fairly recent oral hypoglycemic agent, used to treat Diabetes. Its usage was on the rise and was getting global acceptance, despite its steep pricing, as it is a diabetic drug in a class of its own with a coveted ability of preserving the pancreatic beta cells and it is thus beneficial especially to young type 2 diabetic patients.

At Temurun Waterfalls on the way to Datai Bay

However, last year, someone called Steve Nissen (who has a fitting resemblance to Salman Rushdie), came out with a meta-analysis that gave a shocking conclusion that Avandia gives an increased risk of cardiovascular events. The finding nearly caused Avandia to be taken off the shelf! After rigorous effort, GSK (the drug company that produces Avandia) managed to retain it in the market albeit a caution tag that comes with the label i.e. Avandia is not to be given to patients with a known heart disease.

Essentially the workshop was to impress upon us that the study done by Steve Nissen was seriously flawed and that Avandia is still a safe drug and should be given to especially the young type 2 diabetics as it gives good glycemic control, bringing down the HbA1c to below 7%, besides preserving the beta cells function in the pancreas as well as giving kidney protection in the long run.

Firstly, to begin with, the study was actually a meta-analysis, meaning that it was a retro review of other trials done before and thus to make a major conclusion out of such a study is rather uncalled for. Scrutinizing Steve Nissen’s meta-analysis, we would find numerous flaws. He had looked into 42 trials and out of it, only 2 were big trials i.e. ADOPT and DREAM which consisted of more than a thousand patients. The rest were small trials with more or less 100 patients. Nissen had made ADOPT, DREAM and all the small trials as the 3 arms of the study and for many of his analysis, the p was never significant in the first 2 arms but was compounded when averaged with the 3rd arm which was the collection of the small trials. To add salt to injury, some of the small trials were not even trials to prove CV events with Avandia but was included nonetheless.

All these prove to show that researchers would go all out to produce journals to attain good resume. However, many a time, these studies are bogged down with many mistakes and weaknesses and if they get published, imagine the impact it will have on us. KKL told me that there was even a published clinical study which was only done on one single rat! Btw, you might be interested to read this published paper. Someone we know is one of the researchers!

One of the available villas.

Nevertheless, it was a very insightful workshop that has enlightened me on many issues. Besides, staying in Westin was a splendid retreat for both iKelah and I, not to mention the endless array of food provided in all the meals. Heavenly experience indeed!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Have you noticed the sudden mushrooming of massage spas everywhere? In a mall over here, they charge RM 10 for a ten minutes shoulder rub, RM 50 for 45mins of foot reflexology/massage up to calf area, RM 130 for a full body massage and RM 150 for a body massage plus an extra reflexology of the foot. No, I haven’t tried them though my mom says the foot reflexology is good. The masseurs are all young females imported from Bali. The ambience is typical of a spa salon, dimly lit cubicles with massage beds, aromatic incense burning and subdued soothing music playing in the background, a sure recipe to make anyone doze off in a jiffy. The music? Javanese gamelan of course!

Ask any adult Malaysians and I am sure many will say that they have had at least once being massaged by someone, professional or not. Asian women are renowned for being meticulous in post partum body care especially indulging them selves in daily body massage, several days after giving birth. Their masseurs are typically elderly ladies who incidentally have a common trait amongst them, i.e. the ability to gabble on any topic they deemed fit to sustain a person’s attention as many customers would prefer to lull themselves off to sleep whilst the masseur knead their knotted muscles. Of course, no masseurs would like the idea of working in balmy silence, lest they themselves would nod off too!

Masseurs employ certain style/pattern of kneading the body, slathering their customer with either a traditional minyak urut or for the more affluent ones, aromatic oil or creamy lotion. How do they acquire the skills? Many would typically say that it was simply passed down through the generation in the family but the flamboyant ones would offer intriguing tales of receiving the explicit art of massaging via a dream. Often I’d wonder whether the lesson was gotten all in a single dream or perhaps staggered in a series of dreams that probably stretched in a span of time. Non the less, I’d keep the query to myself, not wanting more barrage of hocus pocus being fed into my ears, as I prefer to relax without engaging in idle conversation.

Once, I was unfortunate to experience a weird kind of massage given by a kampong lady in Sg Bakap. Introduced by a friend and hoping for a good body massage, I was at her disposal. Horrors of all horrors, I had to withstand an hour of pinching actions and being a meek and polite person I am, I endured with great patience! Apparently, her pinching style of massage is good for the tired body. Needless to say, I ended with black and blue pinch marks all over! I did feel better but vowed to never use her service again.

Many traditional malay masseurs who specializes in the female reproductive organs would tell their customers that their pregnant wombs have ‘dropped’ and would do a maneuver to ‘push’ it up again. And each time I have to explain to these patients that their pregnant uterus has got no where to go except to stay put in the pelvis!

Others love to tell their customers that he/she has lots of ‘angin’ in their body and to prove that, they would belch rudely each time they knead your ‘angin’ laden body! Once, I had to accompany hubby to this pakcik masseur who belches incessantly the instant he touches your body. Hubby said that his massage was so mild/ gentle that he hardly felt a thing, almost like a faint rub. Like a dog whose bark is worse than its bite, for this pakcik, his belch was worse than his massage!

Of course there are good and effective masseurs around who would throw an advice or two as they do their work. However none can beat the young chap at Bukit Tinggi, Padang. Hubby gave him a ten and told me that none in Malaysia came as close as giving 10% effort when compared to this guy.

Also in Bukit Tinggi, my SIL and I decided to go for a full body massage accompanied with body scrub. When we were getting ready, changing into their robes, we were given ‘something’ to wear. When SIL asked me what it was for and whether we had to don it or not, I answered with a savvy tone, like a season spa-goer, “Oh, just cover your hair with it”, thinking it was to keep your hair in place. We had a good laugh when we found out that it was actually a disposable underwear!

Whatever, it is good to pamper yourself once in a while and indulge in a good session of body massage and foot work, immersing yourself in a balmy ambiance of sheer bliss!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I almost cried watching this!



I went down a rigorous mountain,

I set sail a stormy sea,

I was hoping for a calmer weather,

For my spirit to set free,

But a shock of life I gather,

From a being full of audacity,

A mockery of life it displays,

Full of pretending ways,

Unfair battle ground it chooses,

To its advantage it knows,

Feeling triumphant, it glows,

But only God knows,

For in the heart, it shows.

I went down a rigorous mountain,

I set sail a stormy sea,

I was hoping for a calmer weather,

For my spirit to set free,

Still the haughty being prevailed,

Thinking God’s approbation it has gained,

Sitting high and mighty on its pedestal,

Despicable foolish acts it plays,

Matriarchal powers it demands,

But none it begets,

Neither respect nor veneration,

For all has gone down the muddy drain!

I went down a rigorous mountain,

I set sail a stormy sea,

I was hoping for a calmer weather,

For my spirit to set free,

I hope one day I’ll be liberated,

From a being so disdainful, so arrogant,

Does it not think of the here after?

Where all actions are weighed and measured,

Nay! For never a minute it has pondered,

Of all the wraths it has incurred,

Of all the hearts it has severed,

Of sad minds and souls,

All maimed and tortured,

By you, the tempestuous being of the gallows!

*dedicated to someone in pain.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Guess what? Allah swt answered my prayers this evening. I prayed that Mayo return to us again. As I opened the front door, my mind was thinking of her when suddenly she appeared out of nowhere and entered through the door as if beckoned by me. To prevent her from getting away again I decided to keep her indoors.

Tonight when we got back, we had a surprise! Gasp! When we opened the back door, we saw her lying down against it, licking her wet body. Only after a few good seconds did I realize that Mayo had just given birth to two fine kittens!

Mayo with her kittens, minutes after delivery.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Mayo, our semi-persian, went missing on the 14th of May, 2 years ago. This morning, exultingly, iKelah called me, "ada shocking news for you! Mayo dah balik!" I was so happy to hear it because all this while we thought that she was probably dead. "Memang Mayo. She's showing all her peculiar behavior."

When I got home, after much inspection and scrutiny I confirmed that it was really good old Mayo and she's pregnant! She was allowed in for a short while until she began her bad habit of scratching the sofa. Furthermore, I couldn't allow her indoors in view of iKelah's health condition. After feeding and stroking her I left her in the porch. In the evening when I left for work, she was still sleeping there. However later, Maman told me that Mayo was not to be seen anywhere!

Mayo is missing again but this time I have a strong hunch that she's being caged up near by. The people who is keeping her must have left the cage door opened and she escaped only to return back in this evening.

There are several pointers to why I am having the above suspicion:

1) I once saw a familiar orange long-haired cat coming out from the possible 'cat-napper's gate.
2) Mayo perked her ears when she heard the 'cat-napper's voice calling for her
3) The 'cat-napper' has a cage for their 'mafia' cats at the back of their house, hidden from outside view.
4) Mayo couldn't possibly get herself all lost again so soon after coming back all these years unless if she's familiar with her second abode which happens to be close by!

Meanwhile, for sure I'll be doing a lot of sleuth work ala Nancy Drew. I need a pair of good binoculars to spy on the possible 'cat-napper' and the cage!

If my suspicion is true, I am definitely going to lose faith in the human race! Imagine, for 2 years Mayo was actually within reach and we didn't know it! Ini macam punya manusia dalam dunia juga ada!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Sumatera has a series of volcanoes, active, inactive and dead. Few of the dead ones have now transformed into huge crater lakes which offer breathtaking sceneries especially from atop. On the third day, we started off early to Danau Maninjau about an hour northeast of Bukit Tinggi. Before maneuvering down the zig-zag road to reach the lake, it is routine to scramble up a separate route to Punchak Lawang, where there are 2 popular panoramic spots to view the scenic lake. From here, the sight was heavenly. The lake was vast that it almost looked like a sea with undulating mountains all around it. It’s no wonder why Hamka was highly esteemed of it to the extent of making an exaggerated analogy of the picturesque crater lake being the giant foot-print of Adam as that is the shape it takes.

Sitting at the edge. Punchak Lawang

Danau Maninjau (View from Punchak Lawang)

Boogey and wife 'feigning' a romantic pose (hehe)

Danau Maninjau (view from one of the hair-pin bends)

I was forewarned of the hair-pin route down to Lake Maninjau and being an extremely motion-sickness person, I got myself ready with some anti-emetics in my bag. Altogether there were 42 bends or ‘keluk’ as they call them there, and surprise, surprise, I survived the ‘ular kena palu’ road, unscathed! The driver was quite careful in negotiating each bend , sounding the horn each time.

The town at Tasik Maninjau. Take left or right , here.

At the bottom, there’s a small town facing the edge of the lake and we either take a right or left turn. As visiting Hamka’s house was our main agenda, we turned left to Kampung Sg Batang, about 15 -20 km away. The road system essentially covers the lake’s perimeter and it measures 60 km altogether and it takes about 4 hrs to complete a journey by car encircling the lake on an average pace. Even over here, paddy is grown rampantly on terraces or flat land.

Rumah Hamka

Surau lama tempat Buya Hamka mengaji semasa kecil.

Buya Hamka’s (as he is fondly called there) house is perched on a hillside, facing the lake. It was refurbished recently by ABIM and inside, amongst Hamka’s paraphernalia's, we can also see their acknowledgement for ABIM. We spoke to the caretaker who gave us an insight of the place and history. We bought some of his books as money is needed to maintain the house. Several kilometers from the house we stopped to snap pictures of some people working on a paddy machine and accidentally stumbled upon Hamka’s father’s house and tomb. Over here, we were shown the old hand written manuscripts that belonged to Hamka and his father, all in jawi.

Studying the old hand-written Quran belonging to Hamka's dad

Old pictures of Hamka's family

Yellow paddy fields. Tasik Maninjau, background

During the journey we had close encounters with some of Minang kerbau and iKelah made a passing statement that the kerbaus there had a slightly different demeanor than their counterparts in Malaysia. He even went further stressing that they had sexy eyes which set us in a bantering mood instantly. Boogey attributed this strange opinions made by his brother to the high altitude of the place.

On the way, we encountered this realm of trapdoors and tarantula. iKelah was exuberantly excited, he could smell the tarantulas from far!

On the way back, almost reaching Bukit Tinggi town, our guide detoured down Ngarai Si Anok road to one of his favourite eating spot that prepares gulai itek, kambing etc. Unfortunately the eatery was already closed but our guide managed to coax the owner to dish out some gulai kampung for our dinner that day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Day 2 in Bukit Tinggi

Friday prayers in an ancient mosque.

The advantage of traveling independent of any package is that you are free to choose your destinations at your own pace without being bound to tight schedule and rigid itinerary. However, it is pertinent that you should employ a good driver/ guide who is willing to subscribe to your whims and fancies, especially when you’re an avid photographer and you need to make impromptu stops to snap good angles of a landscape or candid moments. For this, we were lucky to have met Ei en (Saiful Rahim – he was named by the great muslim writer, Hamka), the son of the hotel owner, a graduate of Liverpool in IT and film production.

Lembah Harau is a popular visiting spot by many and that was our destination that day. We asked if there was anything of interest on the way and someone suggested we stopped at Masjid Bingkudu, an ancient mosque of more than 2 centuries. Since it was Friday, we opted to do our prayers there. It is situated about an hour away from Bukit Tinggi, in a village called Canduang.

Masjid Bingkudu

The interior

The unique roofings

A view of Masjid Bingkudu

Made entirely of solid wood, the unique structure stood staidly and majestic. Apart from its antique architecture, one can’t tell that it’s such an old building as it is well maintained. Being an “objek peliharaan wisata’, the whole structure is to be kept as it is with no renovations allowed. The roofing material is made of ijok leave spines, arranged neatly in thick bundles. The fact that the roof has none of the Minangkabau features denotes that the mosque was erected prior to the Minang era. (my assumption).

The was no need for any fans as the atmosphere there is very cooling. As you enter the mosque, the old mystic charm of the whole place envelopes you. As you sit yourself on the wooden floor facing the mimbar, a sense of peace and tranquility creeps within you as you get transported back to the days of Majapahit and Mataram . The huge praying hall is supported by dozens of stout rounded wooden pillars with broad bases, snugly planted into the floor. The high wooden ceiling is decorated with rather antique chandeliers and some kerosene lamps as well. I was made to understand that like many minang buildings, every joints and hinges in the original structure are held in place without a single nail.

Kids splashing in the mosque pool

As Zohor approached, the whole mosque was filled with the bustling sounds of human voices and later as young boys thronged the vicinity and played with the water pool, it was almost festive! After a short but good and fiery qutbah by a young hunched back imam we performed the Jumaat solat and left the mosque in a drizzling rain.

Lembah Harau is in Payakumbuh, approximately an hour’s drive away and along the way vast green fields of paddy feasted our eyes. As the name denotes, the place offers a breathtaking panorama of high cliffs and canyons, with many spots of waterfalls seen from afar, some accessible by road, others only by foot treks. One of the falls was approximately 20 storey high and it fell all the way down without hitting the side wall, making a huge momentous splash below, causing even those standing far to be drenched.

The whole area is very cooling and serene and if you feel like spending a night there, there’s a resort available, situated between 2 huge cliffs, a spot where echoes are heard.

Lembah Harau

The many falls of Lembah Harau

On our journey back, we made a pit stop at a Rumah Gadang that has been turned into a hall for commercial usage. You can rent the house for functions like weddings, office dinners etc.

Rumah Gadang of Payakumbuh

The interior

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Bukit Tinggi , a scenic hill town in the Western Province of Sumatera (Sumatera Barat or SUMBAR) is a 2 hrs drive away north to Padang, the capital city of SUMBAR. It is one of the many Sumateran tourist attractions and our decision to spend a 5 days 4 nights holiday was well worth. With moderate traffic flow and a population with laid-back pace, the cool and quaint Minangkabau town exudes charming warmth that embraces you the instant you enter it.

The place we stayed

Mid way to Bukit Tinggi, is a small town called Padang Panjang, a popular stop to delight your palate with the local Minang dishes, visit a ‘rumah gadang’ which is a minang house converted into a museum and also shop for embroidered telekung and head scarves. The ‘rumah gadang’ is a truly unique building with distinctive roofing architecture that resembles the bullock’s horns. In a way, it’s similar to a long house with a row of rooms and a large hall.

Rumah gadang

At both ends of the large hall are extended areas with graduated platforms, almost like a balcony. This is where they hold family discussions with the family head sitting top most.
According to Minang tradition, once a son reaches age 10, he has to leave the house and pursue Islamic studies either in a mosque or a madrassah. Thus the rooms are mainly occupied by daughters, each to a room. The family head occupies the right most room with his wife and children less than 10 yrs of age. Once a daughter is married she can occupy a room with her spouse and as more gets married, they shift rooms from left to right, till they reach the last available room which signals for them to leave the rumah gadang.

The Minang tradition are divided into 2, the pepateh or the temenggong. Those observing adat pepateh, give priority to the female family members when it comes to family inheritance. However they defend this rather ‘outlandish’ tradition by pointing out that it only involves main family loom like the rumah gadang and that sons are always being taken of and other family assets like paddy fields can be mortgaged for the expenditure for a son’s education etc. Also, as opposed to adat temenggong, the female members have strong hold in decision making. In the patriarchal adat temenggong, the family head has veto power and female ideas need not be sought. Inheritance is divided following the fara’id method.

If you’re interested in historical land-marks, then Bukit Tinggi can provide you with endless sites to visit and study. Smacked right in the centre is the jam gadang, the town clock. Opposite is Bung Hatta’s palace with his statue and bust decorating the vicinity. Then there’s Fort de Knock, a Dutch remnant down the road. From here, we can view the majestic Merapi mountain (not Jogja’s Merapi) to the south and the Singgalang mountain to the west.

Silhouettes, sunrise behind Merapi

Statue of Imam Bonjol

Jam Gadang

Interestingly, the town is rather precariously situated at the edge of a hill that sweeps into a small canyon, called Ngarai Si anok where a river meanders through the deep valley below. Strategically during the Japanese occupation, they (the Japs) chose to build tunnels at this particular edge of the hill with secret exits into the canyon, aptly called Lobang Japang by the locals. Forced men labor was imported from Jawa and Sulawesi and killed once the tunnels were completed.

Ngarai Si anok

After a short respite at the hotel, we decided to explore the town on foot. Unknown to us, Boogey had made acquaintance with the hotel owner’s son who had brought him to their other hotel and their beautiful minang house, surrounded by vast paddy fields, in a village, peripheral to town.

Bukit Tinggi town, early morning

We found a shop that offers foot reflexology and full body massage only for men and after maghrib prayers, hubby immersed himself for 1 and half hours in what was to be his best ever massage experience. He had only praise for the young masseur. After a very heavy Minang lunch earlier, we opted for a simpler dinner at a road-side gerai, incidentally run by a guy and his son, of Indian descendent. We had murtabak and nasi goring. Unfortunately he doesn’t know how to prepare teh tarik and when I suggested that he should learn how to, he politely retorted by saying, “tak tekejar saya”.


Visiting and praying in Indonesia’s oldest mosque, Masjid Bingkudu

Lembah Harau and it’s enchanting waterfalls, a spectacular sight to behold.

Bukit Tinggi 2008

Great Wall 2009

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