Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Happy 53rd Birthday, Malaysia!

Every Monday morning, the staff in my department will share each other’s directions for the week.

It was slightly different yesterday. We were asked to also share what does merdeka (independance) means and what memories we have of merdeka past. A few colleagues told of how they went to a merdeka celebration either back in their home towns on at the Dataran Merdeka. A couple of colleagues admitted that they havent even register as voters too and that they will make time to do so. Some were just glad that it would be another holiday in the calendar.

Each year, merdeka celebration will bring back memories of me performing with the big district band that my dad had ensembled from all of the district schools he taught at. I started performing as a drum major when I was in Standard 5 and kept on at it year in and year out until I was in Form 3. It was so much fun. We would arrive very early at the town padang (field) to get ready for the big celebration. The male band members wore grey shirt and white shorts and the girls wore white skirt. To complete the look, they wore this grey beret. I, on the other hand, being the drum major, was wearing an all white ensemble from top to bottom – white cap, white jacket, white skirt and matching boots. And oh! A white baton….

Thats my dad standing so proud with his anak-anak didik. I was proud to be a part of his pride – his work and achievements.

My dad is no longer around. He passed away a few years ago. Although some of the mental images have somewhat faded with time, but they are still here with me.

The second sharing I had with my colleagues was about how some Malaysians think how green the grass is on the other side. I was one of them too not too long ago. Never did I realize how lucky I was until I married George. We used to gather with the other expatriates and what I heard were nothing but praises for Malaysia. Here they can afford a maid or two, a driver, a nice home with great tropical surroundings complete with the weekend gardener, or two. Their kids go to good school. They shop at high places and pay cheap prices. Imagine paying for around RM5K only for a couple of suits, shirts, pants and a few more stuff in Gucci outlet. And these are real stuff.

The major highways are first class. Driving on three lanes are common if you drive to the north bound or south bound. Rest & Relax (R&R) are common sights for every kilometers you drive. Almost every household have  Astro dish. Almost everyone has at least two mobile phones. Malaysia has 120% mobile phone usage penetration compared to other countries. Almost every household, even in rural areas have access to the basic necessities such as clean piped water and electricity. Postal service is efficient and cheap.

George came up with a real definition of a third world country. He says that a third world country can only look for a maid who comes from their own countries. Malaysians have maids from Indonesia, Philipines, Myanmar and Vietnam simply because no Malaysians want to be maids. Too much work, no freedom. They rather work elsewhere.

So. How merdeka are we Malaysians? Only YOU can answer that.

Ramadhan Al Mubarak 1431 (2010)

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.” (2:183-84)

Wishing all of my family, friends and blog readers a blessed Ramadhan Al Mubarak.

Looking foward to the first breaking fast at home with George and the Teenager today. Yeay!!

Getting Married Is Not The Solution To Baby Dumping

There are just too many baby-dumping news in the newspaper of late. Gory pictures of babies bitten by ants, dogs. There were pictures of these poor little things being dumped at a local municipal dumping ground, in the river, in a dumpster and even nearby a bus stop.

There are several voices who wanted to push for the legal marriage age of the Muslim women in Malaysia to be 16 so that “there will be no more illegal babies”.

I don’t think that is the real answer, it only skirted the issue. To allow these young people to get married, say, an age around 16, what can these kids do to support themselves? The young wives will get pregnant, drop out of school, then having to take care of a child no older than herself, and all the while having to be dependant on her husband for expenses. What can a 16 or a 17 year old husband do to support himself, a young wife and a new baby? How much can he earn? How much can a welfare support a family? RM150 a month will not get you a decent meal for a week. Even Whispers sanitary napkin costs RM5.00 per box and that leaves RM145 for what? Do these people expect the wife to wear banana leaf?

If the family is caring enough to support her (or the whole new family) then it may lighten up the burden, but if not, arent you one screwed new little family?

The answer is sex education on top of the obligatory moral and religious education. Not sex education as how most of these people think they are. No, we are not going to show how the deed is done per se. We need to tell them that sex comes with responsibilities and values from the religious and moral perspective. That sex will result in a baby or more babies if they dont know how to keep their things in their pants. Babies need food, love and care.  And a painful labour that makes all parts of your bodies scream in pain as if you are dying.

I wonder has any of the parents or teachers shown their brood these pictures below? Show the girls how to protect themselves from getting pregnant. It will teach the boys how to keep their yahoos from impregnating their girlfriends.

 

 

 

 

Show these kids gory child birthing videos. Sure, the initial look of someone’s private part may be exciting but not when you see the head of the baby coming up with all the blood and the scream, tearing all your innermost out.

If this havent scared the shit out of them, I dont know what else.

The First Of Many Firsts (Ramadhan Is Almost Here)

 Many seasons ago, when I was still a young girl living in Raub, Pahang, Ramadhan would be welcomed with much fanfare in the family. My grandad would make sure that all of our favourite food would be on the table for breaking fast. The usual fare would be a few types of soups, plenty of greens, gulai ikan, sambal masak (cooked sambal) and of course sambal lada dua (birds eye chilis pounded coarsely with just salt and sometimes added with some shallots).

I was telling George how the dining table looked like. It was this big, sturdy wooden table for 12 and occupied the central space of the equally huge dining area cum kitchen. The kitchen itself was not as modern as what you can find in a modern household. It can get rather hot in there as the cooking was done on this huge open woodfire stove. There were kilns and logs piled high on one side of the kitchen. To the side of the open wooden stove was this cabinet that filled the entire wall. I remember that the cabinet was always pack with aromatic herbs and spices, all kinds of groceries, cans of Milo, Ovaltine, kopi kampung (kampung coffee) bottled in this big clear glass jars. My grandmom’s home remedies made from the local roots and herbs packed in brown oil papers lined one shelf, all ready to be collected by her clients.

As time passes by, Ramadhan was still celebrated throughout the phases in my life and all came with their own memories. The first couple of years as a single mom was tough as I was juggling work and ensuring that I would come back home to break fast with the Teenager.

This year, Insyaallah, would be a first and hopefully will be the many first of Ramadhan that I would be together with George and the Teenager as a family. It would be his first  to be fasting in a Muslim country too and so things would be a bit different for him.

Our First Wedding Anniversary

 

George and I had a wonderful time at Bossa Nova celebrating our first wedding anniversary last 23rd July 2010. Yeah, yeah I know….it took me a while to put up the post. Been kinda busy with work and spending quality time with the family.  Time flies so fast. I remember a year ago, we were running between the religious department, the embassy, the immigration department, my wali’s home. On top of all these running, there was the wedding dress that needs to be picked up and all the “hantaran” items that have yet to be fashioned and resembling any sort of wedding gifts. I have never driven so much to so many places in KL as much as I was preparing for the wedding to George. And poor George, trying to cope as much with the local bureaucracy.

But that was a year ago. George has been talking about trying out food at a churrascaria. He loves his dead land animal, I know. And I know nothing will please him better than a nice meal in a place where all the meat just keeps on coming to your table.

The staff at Bossa Nova was wonderful and attentive. When we arrived about 8 pm, we saw our table was nicely decorated with a candelabra and rose petals scattered prettily on the table cloth. The jazz band was playing romantic songs and ever so often dedicating some songs to us. Two gorgeous looking half baked lobster were served as part of the main course. By the time we were halfway with our main course, we were served some champagne on the house.

George was commenting on  the lack of his favourite dessert – chocolate – on the buffet dessert menu. And so, we ordered a slice of this sinfully delicious chocolate cake complete with pretty raspberries on top.

One thing we realized was that our lack of preparation with the camera and hence the poor quality from the phone camera.