Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Such a mystique!!...

It is one of those days that you get to enjoy some great moments in time. It started with that torch relay, then that wonderful walk at the lake and watches as well as listen to that melody of the fountains in the color of the night. That entire time one is mystified of this magnificent building. The PETRONAS Twin Towers. It is still the tallest twin towers in the world. Well, since it was built some ten years ago there are other buildings that were built to surpass its height. But then all that was built was just a single tower. The PETRONAS TWIN towers is the only twin towers in the world with that Sky walk. It is also the highest Twin towers. So we still can claim to have the only highest Twin towers. If you put one tower on the top of the other tower it would be some 176 storey high. Whatever it is, the PETRONAS Twin Towers is still a building with its own mystique.

It was a dream of just one man, our former Prime Minister Tun Dr.Mahathir, who dreams of it and with that vision got the PETRONAS Twin Towers built. As you can see in the images that I had captured on that beautiful evening while wondering along the lake and the fountains, it is not that easy to capture such a tall building at such a close range. It is a photographer nightmare to capture a perfect shot of such a tall building. One had to practically lie flat on the pavement to get a perfect shot. The pavement was wet after the downpour that happens just as the torch bearer arrived at the finishing line. In the Eastern culture it is a good omen if it rain during such an occasion. Well, I hope so for the Beijing Olympic is the grandest one that would ever happen on Asian soil. My hope is that it would be a successful one.

As I had said it was not that easy to capture this work of art at its best when we are not in controlled of the elements. With that wet pavement I just could not lie on the floor. So I just wonder and did what best I could to capture this magnificent building on that beautiful evening at the lakeside. The whole landscape which includes the sprawling garden, the pool with it fountains, the wading pool surrounded by the green where birds, the squirrels and insects had made its their home, the PETRONAS Twin Towers complex is indeed one of an architectural splendor that could easily equate as one of the wonder of the world. It unique architecture and on this evening flooded with that florescent light, made it one of the most beautiful building on this planet. Just look at the images above and I am sure you would you agree with me that this building, the creation of Cesar Pelli, the great architect of our time, is indeed a work of art and one of a kind. That my friends are the mystic of the PETRONAS Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Have a nice day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The fountain in the evening...

Soon the sun began to set. Actually been inside the KLCC you would not know whether it is day or night. It looks and feels the same inside the mall, where there are thousand of people mingling to do their business their own ways. Some window shop, some on the spree of shopping as though there is no tomorrow and some would just whilst the times away with loved one and friends. There are many places to just sit and enjoy a steamy hot coffee with a Nasi Lemak bungkus, a burger, a donut or some Malay traditional cakes and enjoy the day, care less of what's happening around.

In has been more then a month since that March 8, 2008 election that saw the beginning of a new era for Malaysia. Everyone whether friends or strangers whom you just met are happy to talks of the changes that just happened in the country. It is as though everyone got out of a spell which they had been for the last fifty years. And saw that they are part of the making of those changes. To me changes are always for good if you do it the right way and as an optimist I am always for changes and most of the time happy of the changing scenes. So for a country that got out of that spell, indeed it is a changing world. Most never thought that theirs one vote do made the differences. That my friend is the way democracy works.

After that Olympic Relay ceremony is over, that great and historical day at KLCC, I sat with the new found friend James to have coffee and we talks as though we have known each other for a long time. It was indeed nice to be able to talk so freely and enjoyed each other company over a steamy cup of coffee. Well, James had to go after a marathon day as he say he had follow the relay from the time it begin at Dataran Merdeka. Although he did not follow all the way, he had been at the KLCC since three in the afternoon and now it is already seven thirty in the evening. We shake hand and say goodbye and hope to meet again.

With that I thought that with that great feeling still burning in me why not I just wonder around and see what I could enjoy after the show is over. With my camera I took my time and walk lazily wondering to the outside of the complex and saw what a magnificent sight the lake is with its fountains been lighted. The jets/flow of the fountains was choreographed into a melody of light shows that would mesmerize anyone. I sat and watch and enjoyed. And of course try to immortalize that moment in times with my camera. Above are the images of that wonderful moment in times for all to enjoy. Have a nice day and take care...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Beijing Olympic Torch in Malaysia...

The happening on April 21, 2008. It was not an ordinary Monday in my city of Kuala Lumpur. For that day the Torch Relay is happening in Kuala Lumpur on it long journey back to Beijing for the Olympic comes August 8, 2008. Not to missed this probably once in a lifetime happening I decided that I want to be part of the wonderful event in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The relay in Kuala Lumpur started at the Dataran Merdeka [Independence Square] at two in the afternoon and worm around the city and then end at the KLCC, the PETRONAS Twin Tower. What better place for the torch to be, the icon of Malaysia. I was not being able to follow the relay so I decided to just wait for its arrival at the KLCC, just beside the pond. So I left home at just past three and after parking my car at the basement of KLCC went straight to the first floor. As I arrived there the whole area is throng with people which includes Chinese students who are studying in the Universities in and around Kuala Lumpur. Thousands of them had arrived here to be part of the ceremony. I mingle with them and took a few snaps with these happy and cheerful people in that moment in times. These students are indeed proud to be here among the many Malaysian who are here today to watch this historical event. I was fascinated to the colorful scene and captured it with my camera. Everyone seems to be taking photos, mostly using the cell phone camera. A technology that made image taking simple. We wait not knowing when the torch would arrive. I enquire and was told that by a young lady that the relay team would arrive a 6.00PM.

So it is the waiting game. The crowd is getting bigger. After awhile I decided to go up to a better place to view the whole celebration. I thought of a place that I know. It is the bookstore Kinokuniya. I went up and from there could see more and more people congregated below, just like me waiting for the torch to arrive. While there a person nearby enquire whether I am a blogger and I say yes. Soon the stranger became friend and we chat on various subjects to whilst the time away. Then went to the Coffee Club at the mezzanine floor to have coffee and continue to chats. It was nice meeting this executive of a Multinational Company. He says his name is James Chong and would soon retire from the company. As a veteran retiree myself I welcome him to the club and talk on the beauty of retirement.

We then went back to the bookstore below and continue to watch. It was real nice to see so many cheerful people around. It is as thought we all are celebrating an event that is dear to all of us. We just chats and I told my new found friend James that I have taken all the images I need for my blog and what I need is just an image of a person holding the torch on the relay. A young chap heard our conversation and said that he got some snaps in his cell phone camera. I have a look and he says that I can have any of the images. I selected one and he says that it would be easy if I could give him my email address. With that he sends that image to me. I thank Shaun for that. The image that Shaun took is on the left. Thanks to him I had a good image of the torch on the relay. It was taken at the beginning of the relay at Dataran Merdeka. It was indeed nice of him to have given the image to me, a total stranger in the midst of the crowd. Thanks Shaun for that image.

At 6.00PM we began to see the relay approaching the KLCC. So without much ado I took as much snaps as possible. It was raining then and it was really not possible to get a good shot. Anyway it was just nice to see the torch arrived at its final destination without any unwarranted incidents like those that happened in other countries along the ways of the relay. This shows that the Malaysian society understand the true meaning of the Torch Relay and made their contributions to the Beijing Olympic a memorable one. Everyone en route did their best to cheer the runners and with that the relay in Malaysia was incident free. Thanks to the good nature of Malaysian for been so sporting. The arrival of the torch was greeted with the pomp and splendor to the sound of Malaysian drums, the Malaysian way. The crowds cheer the success of the relay and eventually dispersed, happy that this historical even in Kuala Lumpur went very well indeed.

After a while James and me decided to walk down for another cup of coffee and as we got down we met a couple, a stranger and eventually somehow got to talking with us. The atmosphere of the events makes everyone happy so it was just easy to strike a conversation and that's what we did. We just chat about blogging. This man with a white beard says that he reads blogs and happy to meet me. So we continue to chats on various subjects and he thanks all blogger for the change that blogger contribute in the March 8 election. So with him and his spouse no longer strangers I ask his spouse to take a snap of us. The image on the left shows us in a happy mood.

I am taking this opportunity to thanks all those good people at the relay ceremony especially those Chinese students who allowing me to snaps their images for my blog. Thanks also to all the good people who chats with me, especially to James and the China man with the white beard for becoming my friends. A total strangers in the midst of the crowds that just became friends in that spur of the magic movement in times. It was indeed an enjoyable day where everyone was there to participate and enjoy that historical event. That Torch Relay of the Beijing Olympic in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Oh! What a wonderful day. I did have a great time. Have a nice day..

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A day in April..

It has been a gloomy day. To me the bright sun and blue sky with patches of white clouds is a great day. But then it is not like that every day even in tropical Malaysia. We have been getting gloomy days for the last two weeks already. It rains in the afternoon and the day became damp. Personally I do not like such gloomy day. Even mood do became gloomy on such days. One of the best times of the day is when I opened the window early in the morning and smell the fresh air. By seven in the morning I began to see the sun climbing and soon the sunlight flooded my kitchen floor. It is real nice to see the ray of sun every morning if it did not rain. Even though it rain in the afternoon, the morning has always been great. I love such morning. Morning is the best time for it is during this period of the day that we get to see the early bird chirping and jumping from branch to branch enjoying its day.

My home is facing the west, so in the morning it is a bit cool and a great place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while browsing the morning paper or just whilst away in cyberspace. It is also a place to day dreams and enjoys the peace and tranquility of the morning. That is one reason I have turn my little garden in front the patio into a mini jungle, where that elusive squirrel would come and go. Every morning after cleaning the little garden I would feed the fish in the pond. Once it sees me coming it would congregate waiting for the feeds. It always looks hungry and as usual I fed it and after a while it would dispersed and enjoy its day swimming freely in the pool. Watering the plants is another ritual that I am happy to do every morning. I believe you would notice that when plants are watered, they sort of became fresh and great to look. Amazing what water did to this species that gave all the oxygen to us. I love the greens and enjoyed been surrounded by it. It makes life so colorful. In a way my plants has became an extension of myself. I do not believe that I could live in peace without those plants. I think the reason that we somehow bring plants close to us is that our civilization starts from that kind of surrounding. For me I grew up in the Kampong where the green of all shades and sizes are part of the environment. So it is only natural that we always kept greens/plants close to us. So do have a nice day. [image above is a banana plant at the back of my home].

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Of grandparenting...

The image about is so picturesque that I thought it would be wise to share it with all. It was snapped by Louis, a cyber pal living in Seattle, USA. He send it to me with a note saying that he had just visited his daughter's home in the enclaves, between those trees as seen in the image above. What a great place to be living.

Anyway it triggers my thoughts to write this. It is about grandparenting. And to get there you first must have kids, for without that wonderful species of ours you can never have the grand kids, another wonderful species that folks at my age love to have around. Just a few days ago while at the American Embassy here and been interview for a visa application, a senior interviewer ask us about our grandchildren and it was indeed a very delightful question, Of course my spouse was happy to reply and when my turn to answer, I quip to the interviewer that grandchildren are a bonus and he smiled with happiness. Probably he is a grandparent too. It did not take long after another question that he says our visa is approved and that to come back and collect our passports the next day. So as you can see the subjects of grand kids do cross cultural barrier and sort of an ice breaking subjects. The subject that folks at our ages love to talk about and it always make everyone happy. It does not matter where the grandchildren are, grandparents would be there.

Like some ten years ago our daughter and her husband had to go for a post doc study in Boston and they took with them their three kids and we went with them to take care of the grandchildren for a year and enjoyed doing it. Just a month ago I got an email from a very close friend, Mr.Lee, a classmate from the forties in Kuantan, Pahang. He is now a GM of a sprawling hotel complex in Bali. At this age he is still managing a hotel. He says it is his passion and I believe him, he is really enjoying his job. He says that his spouse has just left for Berlin, Germany to take care of their grandchild there. His daughter is living there now, so as you can see grandparents, especially the grandma would go and help, come what may. True what this caption on a sticker says “God could not be everywhere, so He made Grandmas". And I believe that's what grandma Louis is doing at her daughter's home nestles in that picturesque valley. In Louis words, they were 'Babysitting' there. And as usual grandpa tag along, making a nuisance of himself and enjoyed every minutes of that episode of his life.

That's my friends is the wonderful world of grandparents. Wait a minute, the phone rang. Little Azib, our youngest grandson just call and ask me to take him from the kindergarten tomorrow. And he ended the conversation with "Thank you Atuk". That is grandparenting and I am enjoying it. Have a nice day and take care..

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Of Rice and Malaysian...

Yes, I am talking about rice, our staple food. That we cannot do without. It is our basic that we take daily. From breakfast to dinner and at time during teatimes where we had traditional cakes made of rice. Goreng Pisang [fried banana] cannot be Goreng Pisang without been coated with the rice flour. It would not taste as good with other flour. At time we just took this commodity for granted, as though that it is always there when we need it. That is why in the Malay culture it is a sin to throw even a single grain of this wonder grain call rice. It must be given due respect for it has been the staple food of Asian for centuries. In fact that's what made the Asian race resilience all the centuries.

Another aspect that should be known about rice is that it does not take much doing to get it cooked and ready to eat. Whereas for wheat, it take many process before it could be eaten. In rice what one got to do is to wash it and steam cooks it. And Voila! In mere fifteen minutes your get to enjoy it. As for wheat it surely takes more then fifteen minutes to even get a bun baked. So as you can see, indeed Rice is a wonder grain. It grows fast and with the husk taken, it is ready to be cook unlike the wheat where it had to be turned into flour, kneaded into dough and then bakes before it could be eaten. That my friends are the wonder of rice.

Friends, there are news of shortage of rice in some part of Asia and this actually worry us as well. As for me I know very well when it is almost impossible to get rice daily during the Japanese occupation of Malaya from 1941 to 1945. Folks who could not get rice had to do with eating Ubi Kayu [tapioca] and if they get little of it, they would used is for making porridge, so that whatever rice they had could be use for a longer period. Well, that was then but now our markets are full of all sorts of varieties of rice. Both the local and the imported one are available all the times. From the cheapest to the dearest one where price is not controlled. So when news that there are shortages of rice in some countries in this part of the world, we in Malaysia began to fear of rice shortage as well. To allay that fear the authority has assured consumers that there are ample stocks of rice in this country.

So folks do takes it easy and continue to enjoy this wonderful grain that we call Rice. The Ikan Asam Pedas [fish stewed in sort of hot/sour] as shown in the image above is great to go with the white Rice. It is one of the Malay traditional dishes that had been around for a long time and it surely could not be enjoyed without that wonderful white Rice. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

When Blogger meet...

It was an ordinary Friday; I took its easy and enjoy the day. It is the weekend but then I am not a working man anymore when one always looks for the weekend, so it was in fact like any other days, but it is a weekend anyway. My cell phone sounded ' You got message', so I just stop awhile and look at the message. It turns out to be an impromptu invitation from Matsalo a blogger I know. It is an invitation for a blogger meet at an eatery near the Curve in Damansara. I like it so I replied with thanks and start to think of joining the gang. It does not matter how many would come. To me meeting other blogger is going to be an interesting event where I would get the opportunity to put a face to all the blogger that I had met only in cyberspace. It is the meeting like this that put the final puzzle to the blogger that I had known. It would complete the picture. The next time I could picture who those blogger are when I met them in cyberspace. I know that it would surely be an explosive situation. So I made my decision to go to the meet the next day - Saturday April 5, 2008, the time from 1.00PM to 3.00PM. It is planned at a Nasi Kandar restaurant near Tesco.

Come Saturday I left my place at just after twelve in the afternoon and taking the usual route head for the Curve/Ikea. Arriving there just before one, parked my car at the basement of Ikea and then look at my cell phone for an SMS which I heard had just arrived while I was driving here. Looking at it, the message from Matsalo says that the venue has changed and that it is now at the Asam Pedas Restaurant, at the Curve court yard. I start looking for it and eventually found Matsalo and a group of blogger already there. I had not met Matsalo in person as yet. Shake hand with all of them and introduce myself. In fact they all seem to know who I am already. Well in cyberspace you somehow get to know the blogger you visit and now it is the time to put a face to it. I took the chance and soon get acquaintance with all. As usual with blogger we get into talking on whatever subject that cross our minds.

At the table that I was on, there are three young blogger of my children's generations; they are Kerp, Shah and Saiful whose charming other half sat opposite. She is non other then the Raden blogger. And later was join in by Pok ku, a veteran like me. These young blogger were articulate and full of ideas and information of the current event especially that of the happening in the political scene. From the look of it they are sort of super charged with knowledge and wisdom. That made me real proud of the present generation, the generation of my children. We talk as thought we have known each other for a long time, although this is the first time we have had ever met. They listen attentively and spoke their mind whenever they find that it is relevant to the discussion. Frank and outright spoken and I like that, not hiding around the bush to put down your point. I am like that and with that kind of chemistry, the chat became lively and thoughts provoking. Those yang chaps, what a way to go, making this Saturday a day to be reckon with, at least for us blogger.

As we chat, Pok ku, Tokasid, MM, Elviza, and the rest start to arrived. It was just like a family gathering of relatives that we had once lost contact. Soon everyone start to chats and it goes on and on in between sipping our drinks. And then stop to order for lunch. And then the chats continue and most of the time on the subjects of the result of the election and the changing political scenario.

Soon the Blogger that turn Politician arrived. Eli Wong who quantum leaped from a social activist/blogger to winning a State seat in Selangor and then got made an Exco of the Selangor States Assembly. After going round to talk to all the blogger she came over to our table and then sat to chat we us. Well, we had met in cyberspace before and this is the first face to face meeting with the real Elizabeth Wong. As usual with me I took that opportunity to share my thoughts of what and how things should be done by the new government now that she is part of it. Mentioned to her to convey my best wishes to Anwar Ibrahim, the De facto leader of her Party, the PKR. Anwar and I was old friend from the early seventies when Anwar Ibrahim was then the President of Abim and later became the President of the Malaysian Youth Council. I told her that at time Anwar Ibrahim would join me for lunch at my home in Ampang Jaya. It was a friendship between a Youth Leader and an Officer of the Youth Division of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. He eventually became the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport and in 1985 He assigned me to the state of Terengganu, where I served for a year before been posted to the state of Sarawak in 1986 and served there as the Director of Culture, Youth and Sports for three and half years. Serving Sarawak soon became the best part of my career. Well we talk on many other subjects of interest that would help her as a state Assemblywoman in one of the most advance state, the State of Selangor, where I live now.

Later on Ancient Mariner, Jaflam came and then again the chats continue to be on politic and the recent election. This time among the elder blogger including Pok ku. Well, it is still a hot topic around, so the chat continues to be super charged with things Malaysian politic. Remember the New Media like SMS and blogging was some of the tools that help to make the change in the Malaysian political scene. Indeed a powerful tool in getting the message across to the rakyaat.

While all these excitements at the Curve were going along like there was no ending, the whole episode was blogcasted live by Zawi, a blogger from Pasir Mas, in Kelantan. What a way to go!. Blogsphere did it first again. Blogcasting live, so that those who did not get the opportunity to attend the get together know what is going on. Amazing that blogging had gone to such an extension in Malaysia, where some sources says that there are now some 500 thousand blogs, the highest number in this part of the world. Thanks to Zawi in Pasir Mas, blogger all over was updated of the happening at that Blogger Saturday lunch meet. List of all those who were there is in Zawi's blog. Go have a look. More images here Pok ku and here Clemfour. Have a nice day.[The last two images are from Matsalo]

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Reminisce - Makan time...

It is already getting dark, so I start to light the oil lamps, some I hang on the wall and some I put on the wooden floor. All the doors and windows have been shut so as not to allow the mosquitoes in as well as all the bad elements that are lurking in the darkness of the night. Folks are superstitious. We kids were told of the demon and the devil that would want to destroy the harmony of living, thus we must be aware and told what to do. The sound outside whether it is of the grass hoppers, the crickets or cats howling looking for its mate are to be considered to have some mystical effect and could be the devil itself and one must be careful. So if an insect especially a grass hopper enter the house in the night, one must catch it, separate the head from the body and spit on it and throw it outside. That would instantly kill the bad spirit. The fear factor is always there, especially so in a moonless night, the outside of the house is pitching black.

I took two of the lamps to the place where we are going to sit down and eat. Been the eldest boy in the family I had to do this ritual come evening and I just love doing it day in and day out. There was no dinning table. We spread the tikar [mat] made of mengkuang leaves on the wooden floor. Mother or our elder sister would place the dishes that mother had cook which are not that many. Some fried fish, a bowl of Ikan Aya Singang [Tuna fish cook in plain water with some lemon grass and galangal plus anion and green chilly] and Sambal Belacan to go with the steaming white rice. Sometimes we would have Ikan masak asam rebus or Ikan masak lemak and Ikan Bakar [roasted fish]. Chicken or beef comes only during a feast or on the day of the festival of Eid Fitri. So Rendang comes only once or twice a year. Because of the scarcity of cooking oil, most dishes were boiled thus not much oil were used except for frying fish. Even that the oil were home made from coconuts. Because time was rather hard we had to share everything on the 'table', a bit of everything especially that fried fish and Ikan Singang, my favorites. With the white rice on our plates we sat quietly to eat. The boys would sit cross legs in lotus style [bersila] while the girls in a different style [bertipoh]. Girls are not allowed to sit the ways of the boys. And as usual we drank plain water in between eating. Drinking plain water is a must when eating meals of rice. We would get scolding if we did not drink water when eating rice. The water came from a well near our house. There was no pipe water but to us it does not mean anything. Since I could remember at that period of my life, the well water was our only source of water for drinking, washing and bathing. The water from the well is crystal clear and as good as any water that we ever had.

It was indeed a very simple meal for the evening and that is the ritual every evenings. We all ate together with mother and my other brothers and sisters. Father seldom joins the dinner for he is still tending to the business at the shop where he sell foods and would always come home late after we all had gone to sleep. So it was always with mother. It is just a simple dinner but we all enjoyed it. And till this day I could remember of how I wished to have more of that fried fish but could not because what is there we all had to share. Now looking back to that scene I am choke with emotion for the kind of life we had during our childhood compare to our children and the grandchildren who always have plenty to eat at anytime of the day.

But then it was in the forties, a period where getting a decent meal a day was already good enough but for our family we had breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday without failed. The breakfast were normally of boiled banana or Lempeng [Malay pancake] if there are flours. Bread was rather scarce then and if there are any, it is beyond our reach to buy. So in actual fact we were better of then the others. Even during the Japanese occupation which is the most difficult period of the country, we still had three meals a day and we always have rice whereas others would have to resort to eating Ubi Kayu [tapioca] only. The reason for this is because father had a shop selling foods and he could get supply for his shop.

Superstition was the order of the day which I eventually got rid of it totally and raised our children to not believing in it. We have brought up our children to love every living species which includes insects, animals and plants.

Friends those were the days that are still fresh in my mind. In those days we eat to live but now it is live to eat. Image above is a scene of a ferry crossing at a river near Kuantan in the forties. Have a nice day. [Makan mean to eat].