Happy 55th Independent Day, Malaysia

 

When I was very young, the family used to live in a felda (a settlement) called Lembah Klau. About an hour’s drive from Raub, I remember sitting in the car that felt like ages to get home. We had to drive on this long, lonely road passing the kampung Ulu Gali first, then Sg Ruan followed by another long drive passing smaller pekans such as Sg Chetang before arriving Felda Lembah Klau itself.

It was said that due to the communist threat in Raub from the 1940’s, it has resulted in the building of the settlements and this include Sg Ruan, Sg Chetang and Sg Klau. Only recently in the 1987 that the Sg Ruan was free from the Malayan Communist Party and thus lifting the curfew imposed.

My dad needed to time the journey from our kampung to go back to our home as sometimes there will be curfew session imposed and rendering the area(s) out of bound from 6pm to 6 am the next day. I remember one day my Atuk (grandfather) came back from one of his Chinese friend’s house in Sg Ruan telling us a few men were shot dead nearby the entrance arch of the pekan by a group of soldiers. Apparently they were communists. I was too young to understand what they were talking about though.

Living in the felda settlement was tough in the 1970’s. Electricity supply only kicks in between 6pm to 6 am. Sometimes there was no water supply. Once a month, there will be some sort of a movie in the padang (main field), mostly western cowboys or some Hindi movies. There was no street lights except at main junctions, and there were not many of those. The public bus only came twice a day. Sometimes only once.

But, life to a 7 year old in a place like that was like in a giant place to explore. The  rivers that run through the felda were so crystal clear. The air was fresh and trees looked bigger and greener. We climbed trees, played chase, explored all the nooks and corners of the settlement, caught fishes in the rivers. Even got caught swimming sans clothes by the elders. But, I digress….

Back in the kampung, life was simple. No electricity, no running water. Each evening, my dad would help my grandfather to light up the lampu gas (pendafluor lamps). Mom had to make sure I’d done my long and short business before the evening comes. The reason being is that, the kampung house had no toilet and the nearest river is a good 10 minutes away.

All cooking was done on a special stove using wood gathered from the nearest sawmill. We had two stoves of that kind. The second stove was used to only boil water. Above this second stove, was a special rack where Atuk arranged the cut meat from the huntings he did a few weeks earlier.

Entertainment came in a form of gramophone and a radio transistor that plays only limited channel. Black and white TV was a novelty and only came into our house in the late 1970’s.

You only see the bus once or twice a day and cars or lorries were almost unheard of. You could literally sleep in the middle of the road, turn twice and still no car coming your way. A bus trip to the pekan was 10 cents…

Fast forward many years down the road. A Malaysian, Datuk  Dr Sheikh Muszaphar had been to the space. There is a total of 137, 219 km of road in Malaysia where from this 111, 377 are paved, electricity coverage in rural housing units covers 93.7% of the population, handphone usage is 200%, meaning almost everyone in Malaysia has at least 2 phones….and so what does these all mean to the average Janes and Joes?

I feel safe when walking from our home to the nearby shops, even at 3 am in the morning. There are ample street lights, police cars, security guards manning the exit way of the taman (housing area). There are no bombs, no war, no pre war disease, no big natural disaster. You can see more Beemers, Mercs and Audis than any other cars on the road. More often than not, 5 Porches occupying the same lane. You see Astro dishes even when driving through the Orang Asli settlement to Cameron Highlands. The airport is world class and so are the highways. Education is free and almost every house has a car.

And how can you forget about the glorious food in Malaysia? You name it, you will get it. You can almost never get hungry in Malaysia, and even with a RM1.00 you can get treatment in the hospital. Malls are packed even during the last so called economic downturn. I had a theory where Malaysians were actually shielded away from the global economic meltdown. When Jusco had its sale, the line went for miles. When Prada or Coach had their sales, the lines went further. Launch a new Tag Heuer watch, the valet will be busy. People speaks about their latest travel with Air Asia or MAS just as much as they talk about their new stock acquisition in the Malaysian bourse. So sophisticated.

Sometimes this tiny nation doesnt even have a name – only known as the country “in between Thailand and Singapore I didnt know there is a country…”. We must not forget the fore fathers and the people who have helped and toil and fought for the country until she reaches to what she is today.

Life is good. Those who thinks that they feel embarrass to be a Malaysian should be reborn in Ethiopia. What a karma, I can tell you that.

Happy 55th Independent Day, Malaysia. You have come a long way. I am proud to be a Malaysian.

Advertisements

Total Recall Is Another Movie

At least thats my thoughts. I have watched the original Total Recall by Arnold Whatshisname and have deemed it to be watchable gadzillion times more. This new Total Recall by Collin Farrel, in my humble opinion…was another movie and to compare it with the original Total Recall is like comparing strawberry to cranberries….. The new world looked gloomy and inhabitable.

And whats with the Chinese inspired theme?

Ok, given that it was a movie full of action – and Collin Farrel..still, I could not help but to think that it was a very dark movie. Worth another repeat. Um…I am not sure.

Here’s the trailer to the movie…

Iftar Warga Raub Sejahtera (WRS) Social Group – 11 August 2012

(Late posting for the recent Iftar of WRS Social Group. Venue was at the old colonial-style Raub Rest House.)

Thanks to my friend and one of the key members of WRS, Wan Juhaida, the Iftar was pulled together beautifully, complete with lucky draws. Food was abundance and delicious. There were at least 100 over members attended the Iftar session. Some of us had only known each other through FB. The event was a perfect avenue to meet and put real names to faces. The rest was from all over the town or kampungs.

YB Dato’ Shamsuddin Hj. Nawawi who is the political secretary to YAB Dato’ Seri Adnan Yaakob, the Menteri Besar Pahang, was one of the guest of honours. He gave the roaring welcoming speech in the thick, local Raub dialect which provided much amusement to all.

George and I upon registration. Next to us was Wan Juhaida, the key organizer to the event. You’d ve done well, Ju! Thanks to the other members who volunteered to get the event together successfully.

Dato’ Shamsuddin giving his speech.

Hampers for the lucky draw!

Group picture.

Food! Glorious food! There were at least 22 types of dishes served – nasi kerabu, white rice, fried chicken, beef rendang, a few kampung dishes, assorted vegetable, ulam and sambal, grilled items…and the list goes on and on…everyone went home happy that evening.

More pictures down here…

Post script: Pictures credit to Warga Raub Sejahtera

Gulai Masam Tempoyak Keladi Kemahang

Keladi kemahang is a variety of yam usually found in swampy area in Pahang. Pahangites especially those living in the Central of Pahang (from Raub all the way to Lipis) regard this yam as one of their traditional vegetable. It is said that    you need to recite certain prayers and cut the inner young shoots in a certain way to avoid the clear sap from oozing out. The clear sap could cause itchiness and rendering the entire vegetable to be inedible even after it being cooked.

I have a few nifty kitchen tips that I have used for years to ensure the clear sap does not bother my throat with its itchiness. Back in the old days when everything was an easy reach in the garden, I have used buah pinang (areca catechu)  to be boiled together with the shoots. The chemical reaction from the buah pinang will neutralize the sap. Alternatively, I have used coconut water to boil the shoots. Just drain the liquid away leaving boiled shoots already tender and ready to be cooked.

Keladi kemahang is generally cooked in Malay curry style – meaning the main mixture consists of fresh tumeric, lemon grass, shallots and plenty of birds eye chilis. A generous scoop of tempoyak (fermented durian) and sometimes slivers of fresh petai (stinky beans) complete the dish. I love adding shredded fresh tumeric leaves for extra aroma and some coconut milk to finish off the cooking.

Best eaten with hot, steamed white rice and I can tell you, no steak can rival this dish…well, at least from a Pahangite’s perspective….

Funky Toilet

 

 

 

So artistic, dont you think? These images can be found on the stall doors of the ladies washroom on the ground floor of Publika Mall in Solaris Dutamas. The men’s washroom has depiction of equally awesome looking images as well. Clean, and always with ample supply toilet rolls….Publika is a must-go-to mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Initially to be thought as a tad quirky for my liking, I began to grow quite fond of the place, albeit the fact that I have managed to get lost in the maize-like parking lot many, many times. Plenty of makan places with equally interesting B.I.G Grocery store. The butchery is wonderful with plenty of choice for meat and poultry.

The Kids At Home

 

Amadeus

Zeus “The Greek God”

 

Marcus Antonius

 

Bruno

Guinevere

Zipper

 

Ms Ug

Rexton, the house diva.

Arthur

Prince

 

Blackie with his snorty nose

 

Jack our youngest kid!

 

Athena

The rest of the kids have either gone hiding or jalan-jalan.

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 1433 – The Bollywood Pictures

 

At the porch of the kampung house. Pretty background complete with coconut trees, flower pots and the mountains in the distance.

Being lovey-dovey underneath the coconut tree. You can almost hear the music playing in the air and we were just about to break for a dance. The extra dancers were somewhere in the background waiting for cue to come into frame.

 

There! There! About to dance now!

 

The choreographer – Puan Linda. Please disregard the flag war and the electrical wires lining the main road.

Linda and me.

The tall mountain behind us is called Gunung Panas. In the old days it was said that the mountain was occupied by Orang Bunian (fairies) who would lend the kampung folks khenduri equipment (tableware and other things such as pots and pans for their feast). The condition was that the items should be returned as they were – unwashed and even the broken ones.

I recall when I was young, when there was full moon rising behind the mountains, you could almost hear a kind of old gamelan music coming from the top of the Gunung Panas as if there were big feast happening. They say it was the Orang Bunian celebrating a wedding of their own…..

The old house needs a bit of a fresh new coat of paint. Hopefully I can fence the entire land by end of the year before reserving a plot to plant some short term crops, a herb patch and fruit trees.

Exciting weekend project!

 

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 1433 – Day 3

Eh? What happened to Day 2 you may ask?

Day 2 was spent chillaxing like this…..

 

Amadeus sleeping after a hard day’s work of inspecting the housing area….

Ok, so, Day 3.

We drove back to Raub to do a few house visits. The most important task was to drop by at my late Abah’s grave and offer him some prayers.

 

At Mak Andak’s house (aunty Number 1) George enjoying a Raya cookie called Dragon Ball – a ball shaped cookie covered with rich chocolate and coated with crushed peanuts.

 

 

 

 

Wati (cousin) and me…

George flanked by my two cousins – Ani (L) and Wati (R)

 

 

 

At the pusara (cemetary) of my late Abah. The grave marker is new. Finally after his 10th year of his passing, I finally managed to get his pusara completed, thanks to George for his insistence.

 

Next stop -over at my cousin’s house – the lovely couple of Linda and Suffa. This is us being a bunch of sillies by having our picture taken, covering our tummies with the red cushions and trying to look cool at the same time;-)

 

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 1433 – Day 1

The Aidil Fitri table setting.

The Aidil Fitri morning spread. The spread consists of rendang daging, rendang ayam, nasi impit kuah kacang and lemang. There were some poppy seed and brown bun which was a tad unconventional but George loves them.

It is now customary for the three of us to sit down together for the celebration makan before receiving any guests for the day.

Miss Kaypohchee – Sheba, supervising household work and table setting. You dont want a supervisor like Sheba. Very mouthy…

Lyn in her pretty baju Kebaya.

George and Lyn after salam Aidil Fitri…

Lyn after salam…

George and I…

The Night Before Aidil Fitri 1433

(Hanie blogging from the dining table with Guinevere on her lap, showing off her big round belly welly. And of course, Hanie gets distracted time and again with the big kitty purr…)

I could hear the sound of the mercun (fire works) in the distance. I have the tea lights going prettily over at the porch. The tiki torches burning in the garden. Such beautiful night. The smell of rendang wafted throughout the house. New cushion covers, place mats, tableware. Earlier, George and I went out to get some lemang from the roadside by the Taman Tun Dr Ismail. Very festive with so many cars parked by the side and rows upon rows of lemang.

I love the night just before Aidil Fitri. Such solemn feeling dawned upon me hearing the zikir Raya coming from the mosques nearby. It makes me think how lucky I am to be able to experience this again in a peaceful atmosphere – with no sound of bombs from the distance, or gun shots.

Alhamdulillah. I so look forward to tomorrow;-)

Post script: This blog was written on the night before Aidil Fitri, and had been conveniently forgotten to post it…hehe….