Remembering India, The Land Of Contrasts

I was talking to my friend, Mohan just days before the recent Deepavali. We met in April at the IFTDO 2013  this year in New Delhi through the President of an association that I belong to. He’s doing well at his new job and have been asking George and I to make that trip over to his place which is Kerala.

The truth is, I do miss India, at least all the good memories I had of this unique country. I miss the unique sights of the buildings, the dusty roads, the exotic historical sites and the street food. The trip was not that long. The team and I spent close to a week enclosed in the hotel attending meetings, workshops and networking sessions. The only time we were able to go out and see the city was in the evening. We hired a taxi and drove to several places. Sarojini market was one of my favourites and so was Delhi Haat or Dilli Haat. The sight, sound and smell of these places are just so unique.

Sarojini Market consists of rows upon rows of buildings with family-owned businesses. Beautifully crafted shoes, garments, household items, sweet shops and many more shops selling exquisite sarees are what I remember this place for. This is not forgetting fresh fruit sold by the roadside.

street food2

(Top)Street food. Those are chicken and lamb meat balls fried in ghee. The smell was just so wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

sarojini

(Top)

These boys called out to me from inside the shop in Bahasa Malaysia! Caught me by surprise that they would recognize a Malaysians among the gadzillion people passing the shop.

The roadsides of the market are really humbling. We saw displaced people setting up their night tents and I wondered what would happened if it rains… 

delhi haat

(Top) The famous Delhi Haat

me and sangeetaMe and Sangeeta…shop, shop, shop, shop, shop…oh did I say shop?

IMG_6217

 

(Top)In the compound of Country Inn, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

old ruins

 

(Top)Old ruins in Agra.

local police traffic

 

(Top) Local traffic police

yamuna(Top) By the Yamuna River

…and the piece de resistance…

delegates infront of taj mahal(Top) With the rest of the delegates across the lawn of the beautiful Taj Mahal. My previous entry on this is here.

A Lesson In Humility

glass with water

 

A few years ago just when I was going through my divorce episode, one of the first things I had to do was to look for a job. It was kind of hard as I was so used to be self-employed for many years, making decisions on my terms and last but not least, no one to report to but the Income Tax department and myself.

It is said that behaviour reflects the mind. And mind shift was not easy.

I sent out about 60 job applications. No one called back. It was as if my application was lost in the Bermuda Triangle of Job Applications. On top of being a smart, intelligent, pleasant to the eyes, I figured that with all the experience and job skills that I have accumulated over the years will make sense to any Hiring Manager, and that I would be a valuable asset to any company who hire me.

I forgot that it is a very competitive world out there. The world does not owe me a living no matter how smart, intelligent and experience I am. I have to create them on my own. The word “syiok sendiri” (self appreciation) came to mind now.

For days I sat staring at my own resume, wondering where I went wrong. There was no one to turn to at that time. Friends whom I thought were friends no longer came to the house, let alone answered my calls or emails. I was down to my last few hundred dollars. There were two mouths to feed with another 20 odd four-legged, furry, voiceless ones to be fed. House rent, bills….

That was when I decided to tweak my resume to reflect my achievements objectively. I started making phone calls and changed from behaving like a “boss” to someone who was keen to make a comeback, contributing to the world of work. I sent out another 15 or so resumes. 7 came back with invitation for an interview. What a shift that was!

Eventually I managed to secure a job with a training provider earning a humbling amount of salary per month. When that amount used to be a mere cost to a couple of days’ expenditure in my previous household, it was now a one month worth of salary. But, it was a salary nevertheless.

I managed to put The Daughter through her final school years and eventually to college. We travelled lit bit, spent some on good food, clothes and other things. There is an art to learn and unlearn. Both behaviours are difficult, but if you do not reflect and learn from the life’s experience, you will not move forward.

Life was tough, it still is but I will never forget those painful years when I had to feed the furkids rice and sardins, when The Teenager and I had to be content eating roti canai (flat bread) with curry for dinner.

Just a few days ago I read the FB status of a good friend. She said something about a lesson in humility. She advocates among others:

  • Reflecting what life AND God try to tell you
  • Bersangka baik (always think of good things) towards other people – your friends, relatives and clients
  • Appreciate what you have and strive for achieving a better tomorrow

Do You Remember Your First Road Trip Or Even Your First Trip On A Plane?

PART 1 – The journeys of past

I was inspired to write down my thoughts today after reading a blog by the CEO of Marriott International, Arne Sorenson. He asked a simple question – “Do you remember your first road trip or even your first trip on a plane?”

What a thought provoking question.

I cannot really recall my first ever road trip because I grew up in a family who loved travelling whenever we could especially during school holidays. These trips were all extremely exciting because you just did not know where you will end up at! My parents usually did not tell me about all these plans. Our road trips will usually involving them picking me up after school session ended, usually on the last Friday which was the last day of school. I will see the big travelling bag already in place on the back seat. I was supposed to change from the school uniform into something more comfortable at the back seat of the car and all the while excitement just get built up depending on what I saw in the bag….

Plenty of beach towel, swimming suit, slippers meant we will be heading towards somewhere with PLENTY of water, usually the beach. Sweaters and socks meaning were will be heading towards the mountains.

And mind you, these trips will take days and days and days. My dad with his trusty big camera will snap away plenty of pictures (back then they were in black and white). I usually get confused using his camera because the focus frame will show an upside down image. You can now imagine how many years ago was that….

Big trips to the beach will usually see us ended up in Penang, Port Dickson or Kuantan. The drive took forever as there was still no big highways back then. Those long, winding roads that passed through tiny villages and small towns were interesting. Sometimes we had to over night at some of these tiny places as it was already so late at night and Abah was too tired to drive. Remember, in the old days, the cars had no air cond and power steering.

Accommodation was usually something basic such as government rest houses. We could not afford expensive, fancy hotels although sometimes we ended in some Chinese-owned hotels with names such as Ak Keong Hotel, Excelsior Hotel, Champagne Hotel or whatever, where the bathroom is usually located at the end of the corridor. They will provide you with these basic necessities such as a room with a fan, tiny Lux soap bars and tiny guest towels. The room slippers, if provided at all, will have its back-end snipped away to discourage pilferage.

Meals were simple, usually eaten at simple restaurants or rest houses. No fancy fast food outlets back then. Or, my mom will pack some rice and dishes from home and this will be our journey meals where dad will stop at several places. Sometimes we will stop near a river and this became a mini picnic of sort.

Will keep all of you posted on Second Part of this blog. Will talk about my experience travelling on a plane for the first time…..

For those who wants to read Arne’s blog, click below:

Blog by the CEO of Marriott International

When I Was Small

….and the Christmas trees were tall…

Sorry, cant help it.

What I wanted to blog about today was of my memories of celebrating Ramadhan when I was a lot younger than now. Maybe younger by 30 years ago that is.

My dad had already relocated us the family from living with my grandparents to living at the teacher’s quarters in the small town of Raub. The house by any means was quite spacious, old but spacious. It was built during the Japanese occupation and situated on this small hills facing the main road of Lipis Road. The quarters obviously were within the compound of the Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Raub of which most of the buildings then were built pre war. Infact I was told that the library was used as a  communication centre of the Japanese soldiers when they invaded Malaya then.

We the children of these quarters simply loved to gather in the late afternoons and explore the grounds. We went to the highest point of the hills, explored the jungle that fringed the football field, looked for crickets in the bushes and play slides. Over the weekend, the badminto court at the front of the house became our centre to play “police sentry”.

When Ramadhan comes, the men folks would walk to the mosque nearby to perform “terawih prayers”. The children, after breaking fast, had nothing else to do and so we would decide to explore the old buildings of the school.

As we walked slowly in the long wide corridors, a few would make some really smart-ass remarks of encountering the ghosts of headless Japanese soldiers.

Of course we never really encountered anything of that kind but then sometimes we did hear some strange conversations that sounded more like Japanese to our ears. 

Who knows what was it that we heard?

It’s Too Late To Apologize

Sometimes lyrics from certain songs just ring echoes in my mind, and hitting all the right spots. Amazing.

APOLOGIZE

~ Justin Timberlake 

I’m holding on your rope
Got me ten feet off the ground
And Im hearing what you say
But I just can’t make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down
But wait??
You tell me that you’re sorry
Didn’t think I’d turn around and say..

That it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
I said it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late

I’d take another chance, take a fall, take a shot for you
And I need you like a heart needs a beat
(But that’s nothing new)
Yeah yeah

I loved you with a fire red, now it’s turning blue
And you say
Sorry like an angel, heavens not the thing for you,
But I’m afraid

It’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
I said it’s too late to apologizes, it’s too late

It’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
I said it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late
I said it’s too late to apologize, yeah yeah
I said it’s too late to apologize, a yeah

I’m holding your rope
Got me ten feet off the ground…

The Last New Year That Wasnt With You

Time: one week to count down, 2006. 

All the flights back to KK were full, even one week before the departure date. This is afterall, time for almost everyone to fly home and you are so adamant to go back. Your friends needed you, you said. They have been texting you endlessly, asking, begging for you to be there at Promenade.

You are their centre of attraction, life of the party, the Banker.

So, a popular guy, all the friends are calling now, decides to pay for the exhorbitant Business class one way. Your head honcho follows too and travels with the boss with style as well. Afterall, how can a Chairman walks alone without his trusted body guard?

I was left behind, spending the quiet new year at home with your daughter. Watching the fireworks on tv, and just imagining what festive atmosphere you were having there. With all your friends and endless pits of whiskeys, wines and band girls at the club.

I called you close to midnight but both mobiles went unanswered. Must be the band singing and getting ready for the countdown. Or could it be that you chose not pick up the calls as you were busy with the hoards of girls surrounding the table downing the bottles and wiggling their Pinoy asses on your lap.

But, you know what?

I will only let this sadness and nostalgia come and visit me once in a while, and only ever so briefly because I let them to. I choose to reflect on them. After this, I will pack all these memories, send them back to the small dark compartment in the deepest recess of my brain and forget them to oblivions.

Because, thats where they deserve to be.

Nostalgic Sunday

I miss my restaurant that I left back in KK.

And, knowing the fact that I will not return there anymore pains me. Greatly.

I will not be able to admire the far away sea from its balcony, nor able to cook in its stainless kitchen which was designed primarily by me with pride and love.

I miss cooking up a storm at the satellite kitchen at the front while some die-hard, repeat customers-now buddies sat across me, drinking their teh tarik and enjoying the after office hours. Just chatting about stuff.

From this junk when I bought it……

 

p1120005.jpg

renovated…..

img_0027.jpg

lovingly…

and transformed it……….

 into this…..

 

p4250262.jpg