Friday, 31 August 2012


A at the National Merdeka celebrations, Pulau Pinang
(CNB )

1957: as a young child then, I cannot remember much of this historic year for the country, when the Federation of Malaya gained independence from the colonial rulers. I guess living far away (in Alor Star, Kedah) from where the action was made a difference. Nevertheless the resounding Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! was a familiar sound come every 31st August.

While living in Pulau Pinang, in the 1980's, we sometimes ran into living history in the form of none other than our 'Father of Independence', Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra. Usually it would be at the local Cold Storage store in FIMA, and he would always be accompanied by this big, burly bodyguard. B and A were very young then, but when informed, they did realise the significance of this great statesman. To this day they still scold me for us not taking pictures with the Tunku!

I have never been to any of the Merdeka parades in Kuala Lumpur, but I have watched some of them live as a couch potato (as I am doing right now). Except for once, when the celebrations came to Pulau Pinang. It was conveniently held in the Universiti Sains Malaysia main padang (field) almost next door to where we lived in Gelugor. So we were there to join in the celebrations.

Looking back, I realise that my father Ba never failed to fly the flag every Merdeka day. In fact I still have a vintage flag of Malaya of his that was previously strung on a pole in front of our houses (in Alor Star and Gemas). Now let me go locate where my new flag is ...

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Books I Love: Howards End is on the Landing

Howards End is on the Landing ... is on the seat of my
wing chair  (CNB 2012)

Howards End is on the Landing (2009) by Susan Hill is the latest book that I have actually finished reading cover to cover in about three days. Usually a book takes me so much longer and some even get abandoned after a while. But this book subtitled A Year of Reading from Home is so interesting that I could not put it down.

Susan Hill is a writer with a large library at her farmhouse home in the North Cotswolds. While hunting for an elusive book in her collection she discovered that there were many others that she had not yet read, or forgotten she owned, or would like to read again (sounds familiar, all you bibliophiles out there?). So she "set off on a journey through (her) books" and "embarked on a year of travelling through the books of a lifetime". More than about books, Howards End is on the Landing is a memoir of one of the UK's accomplished authors.

Having read this memoir and especially after buying a duplicate of a book that I forgot I already have (and obviously not yet read!), I think I will emulate Susan Hill and not buy any books for a whole year and start reading from my home library. My mission starts ... now! Err, but if anybody gives me book vouchers I will not say no.

"A Book which is left on a shelf is a dead thing but it is also a chrysalis, an inanimate object packed with the potential to burst into new life" - Susan Hill.

Ex Libris CNB 1968

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Snapshots: Weddings of Yesteryears

'Tis the wedding season and every weekend is filled with invitations to wedding kenduris (feasts) and receptions. The wedding kenduris of yesteryears used to be very much a gotong-royong (co-operative) affair by the whole village or housing estate. But I guess not so much anymore with food now being 'catered' and kenduris held mostly away from home, in community halls, etc. Then there are the hotel affairs - some receptions, I'm sure you'll agree with me, are way over the top!

Anyway, I was looking through my collection of black & white photos (some inherited from Ba, my father), and found some old and interesting wedding pictures. I hope you enjoy looking at them.

Second cousin Ahmad & bride, Sg. Petani
ca. 1960's

A neighbour's son & bride, Alor Star ca. 1950's. As a young
child I remember waiting till after midnight for this bersanding
ceremony. But it was worth it because the 'under the sea' theme
of the dais was fantastic - the 'shells', ' seahorses', etc. moved!

Unidentified friends of Ba, Kedah ca. 1940's

My primary school teacher's sister & groom, Kuala Pilah ca.
early 1960's

My Bro MN & bride SM, Pulau Pinang  ca. 197?

My Ba's distant cousin & bride, Pulau Pinang ca. 1940's

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Rumah Puteh Garden Update

I wrote about our family home garden (on 12/10/2012) as it was during our balik kampung raya 1432/2011. This is an update of the garden, during our recent balik kampung raya. The first thing I noticed was, there are no petunias like last year. But there are the very cheerful Cosmos; the yellow and purple flowered annual herb. The purple Cosmos caudatus leaves we know as the fragrant ulam raja, so I had a handful picked to eat with sambal belacan, yumm! The yellow Cosmos sulphreus leaves are not fragrant, but may also be eaten as ulam or cooked as a vegetable masak lemak (so the Bibik tells me, but I have yet to try it myself).

Cheerful Cosmos sulphureus (CNB 2012)

Another cheerful plant - the Gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba), which flowers all year round. The tubers underground enable the vine to survive almost 'forever'.

The glory of Gloriosa  (CNB 2012)

This time around there are many potted Crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) of many colours - pinks, white, yellows. I especially like this pink and white bracts.

One of several potted Crown of thorns (CNB 2012)

The Coral vine (Antigonon leptopus) usually exhibits pretty pink flowers all the year round but this time it was all leaves. My eldest Sis SP says that this vine, now growing profusely at the back wall, originally was grown by our late father who had brought it back from Ipoh on one of his many work trips there.

The Coral vine this Hari Raya (CNB 2012)

The Coral vine in bloom last Hari Raya (CNB 2011)

Several other plants like the Asian rosebay (Tabernaemontana divaricata), rose, hibiscus (Rosa-sinensis), kenanga/ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) are doing well. Bro MN brought back some potted plants from Kelantan, including red Kemboja. You can bet I took a cutting to try my luck again at growing this red variety which I have failed at so far. As for the ylang-ylang flowers, I picked some to put under my pillow and believe me, the fragrance makes for a very good night's sleep.

The dwarf variety of the Asian rosebay (CNB 2012)

The fruit trees grown around the house have been quite 'fruitful'. The durian tree in the front bore more than 140 fruits recently and my sister SP had some fruits frozen for us to partake when we balik kampung during this Hari Raya break. I had quite a few (I mean quite a lot, really) and they were very delicious. (Thank you Sis SP, hope you do the same next year!). We also had cempedak, fresh from the tree. The rambutans are just fruiting and there are only two old trees remaining. I remember there were many more trees, but some had to give way to ... parking spaces for cars! Oh, well, such is life!

Young fruits of the rambutan (CNB 2012)

There are quite a few banana trees and again (like last Raya), the bunches of pisang Awak, Tanduk and Raja, were not yet ready to be harvested, shucks! They looked so enticingly good on the trees.

Pisang Tanduk, not quite ready for harvesting (CNB 2012)

Pisang Awak glistening in the morning sun (CNB 2012)

This time around there are many Manihot esculanta treelets. That's the humble ubi kayu or tapioca/cassava. The young shoots of these plants made it to our dinner table, blanched with some sliced onions and eaten with sambal belacan. Again, yumm! Other herbs still available include the kadok, serai and chillies, etc. You would never go without if you till whatever piece of land you have...

The tapioca/cassava treelets (CNB 2012)

Flowers and fruits of the Belimbing (CNB 2012)

The keladi and some gingers (CNB 2012)

20 August 2012

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Happy Birthday, A!

I would pen a poem if only I can, but I can't. So just accept this wish for a very happy birthday, and many more to come! From Babah, B, SB & me. Didoakan semoga panjang umur dan murah rezeki...

A @ a previous birthday, KL. Note the same fringe hairstyle
below! (CNB)

A @ 2, Pulau Pinang (MB)

A @ 1, Pulau Pinang (MB)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Balik Kampung ... 'Going Home' ...


Fireflying over Pulau Jerejak, off Pulau Pinang (CNB 2012)

After the last iftar of Ramadhan i.e. on Hari Raya eve (18 August) we flew back to our kampung in Pulau Pinang. The Firefly flight was delayed so we landed on the island pretty late. Anyway my Bro ZA came to fetch us from the Bayan Lepas Airport to the family house ('Rumah Puteh', mind you, named after my mum) in Ayer Itam. We were the first to arrive there, and because sleeping arrangements are on a 'first come first served' basis, so we had first choice of a room. Yay!! Usually the rooms fill up quickly so inevitably some of the males spill out into the serambi and beranda.

This Hari Raya we celebrated with my sweet Mak and all my siblings and their families, save the youngest  who balik kampung in Kelantan. My eldest Bro MN drove west from Kelantan, Bro AG drove up from Johor, three siblings drove up from KL/Selangor, other siblings came from nearby Seberang and Kedah, while three live in the island.

B and cousins from Teluk Kumbar (CNB 2012)

For food there was the usual kueh raya, ketupat, lemang, nasi himpit, and rendang of chicken and meat. Everyone brought goodies to add to the festive table - there was also the sinfully delicious puding batik, the too, too colourful kek lapis Sarawak, jellies of a few varieties, etc. etc. Niece SR served up her specialty mee kuah, a recipe she learnt from her late father. Other times we had nasi kandar (of course! though the best - nasi kandar Kampung Melayu - eluded us, only being available on the 5th Hari Raya, sheesh!), apom, thosai, nasi lemak, mee goreng, nasi goreng, etc., etc. There was a lot of feasting, all the more fun with so many members of  the family around. Social eating-lah katakan! In between, we visited other relatives and friends; where there was ... more social eating!

Grandnieces whose triple barrel names I can
 never remember! (CNB 2012)

As usual, on the first Hari Raya evening, we have a family meeting where only the children of Haji Bahari and Hajjah Che Puteh attend. (As my daughter B jokes; oooh.....! so exclusive!). We discuss ... family matters of all kinds and usually in a convivial, amiable manner. I do look forward to these meetings for an update of our family saga (not Proton's, ha ha!).

Bro AW and family - so sedondon (colour co-ordinated)!
(CNB 2012)

Selamat Hari Raya from Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang (SR 2012)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

2012 Summer Olympics, London

The Olympiad rings on Tower Bridge, London

"LONDON 2012" has come to an end, running from 27th July to 12th August. I had a ringside seat all the time that I wanted to watch the games... in front of the TV of course! I wished I was in London watching the live action, but 'live' TV coverage is just wonderful too. London, which previously hosted the games in 1908 and 1948, looked so spruced up to celebrate both the Queen's Diamond Jubilee/60-year reign as well as the Olympics.

I think we all watched the Lee Chong Wei-Lin Dan badminton final for gold... and we all felt for LCW! How we wished he could have gotten us our first gold ever! ... and we could all have celebrated with a dosh of free Baskin Robbins ice cream. But it was not meant to be... We also watched Pandelela Rinong Pamg dive to a bronze medal, well done! We are certainly proud of her and may she 'dive to greater heights'. (Or is it depths?)

A dejected LCW when the gold slipped away

Well done, Pandelela!

My favourite sports to watch were the athletics, gymnastics and swimming/diving. Who would want to miss seeing the fastest man Usain Bolt do his thing in both the 100 and 200 metres. The women athletes shone as well. But the 'glamour' sports of artistic and rhythmic gymnastics and synchronised swimming provided the best entertainment value (hey, even food is entertainment on TV); because to me, the former is all about 'precision dancing with apparatus' and the latter is 'precision dancing in water'.

The grace ...

The beauty ...

... and artistry of rhythmic gymnastics

The Spanish synchro swimming team

Synchronised swimming duet

The opening ceremony was quite something to watch - a dramatic presentation of Britain through the ages. Of course the 'Queen and James Bond parachuting' into the stadium was very English tongue in cheek humour. For the more slapstick but familiar, you have Mr Bean 'playing music' with the London Symphony Orchestra. The closing was less dramatic, more 'artistic'. All round, London did great in the hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games. The next Olympiad will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Olympic rings at the opening

The Olympic flame at the closing

Note: All above pictures are TV grabs. Well, duh! How else could I have taken them?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Long Hot Summer

Since May, it has been hot, hot, hot. Of course the pollution caused by the Sumatran fires does not help. It has rained sporadically, and in Shah Alam its mostly hujan lari, a few drops and then none. Watering the garden daily is a must (despite the water 'crisis' in Selangor). Hopefully there will be the usual late August rains to come soon.

But the garden has flourished in our 'long hot summer'. Any pruning done earlier on has produced new branches and new blooms. With the flora, the fauna has arrived. There seem to be more birds and bees than ever before, and even the squirrels are getting bolder. Indeed, even in my little space of a garden, there is so much life to see, smell, touch and observe. I am truly in awe of this 'room outside' that provides endless wonder and pleasure.

'Bali' in the garden (CNB 2012)

A little squirrel comes a-visiting (CNB 2012)

Yes, since I moved the hydrangea to a sunnier spot, it has
bloomed a few times! (CNB 2012)

A bird preening itself in the sunshine (CNB 2012)

Plumbago florets galore (CNB 2012)

A red dragonfly perched on a kantan stem (CNB 2012)

Jasmine blooms are aplenty (CNB 2012)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


... oleh Usman Awang, 1982

Perpustakaan tercinta ini,
pelabuhan kebudayaan peradaban zaman,
gedung akal laut bicara manusia,
mutiara pendeta tasik pujangga,
kota kebenaran penaung kebebasan ucap suara,

Dari ruang ini bersinar keagungan pemikiran,
menghayati teluk-liku zaman demi zaman
tanpa prasangka apa tanpa batas benua,
kekal bersama angin yang mengusapi.
abadi bersama langit yang memayungi,
dikeramatkan untuk anda menghirup segala.

Di perpustakaan tercinta ini.

Dipetik dari Puisi-puisi Pilihan Sasterawan Negara Usman Awang, DBP 1987.
Ex Libris CNB 0893