Monday, 29 June 2009

The Road to Mecca

By Muhammad Asad formerly Leopold Weiss

No this is not a book review, it's just that I was so happy to find this book at the LCCT book-shop whilst waiting for my flight to Banda Aceh some 10 days ago. It was recommended to me by the learned Pak Cik of Al-Manar whom I hold in very high regard through his work with the not-so-privileged children where he lives. Anyway I was guilty of not actively seeking out this book beyond popping into the book-stores in my area just to confirm my belief that they did not stock it. But to find it in LCCT was totally unexpected.

I am a slow reader and I have not got past Chapter II - Beginning of the Road. It's almost a book for the scholarly, of which I am not, and so I tend to re-read passages that fascinate me a few times, sometimes not in the same sitting but hours or days after. Not only does Asad write with deep perception and sensitivity when narrating some of his harrowing experiences in the desert (Chapter I - Thirst), he so cleverly takes me by the hand into his mind, so to speak, explaining the rationale behind his varied thoughts while describing his feelings in intricate detail. (Need some help from editors/journos out there: is it ok to write that last sentence in the present tense?)

A very brief synopsis on the back cover tells us that "The Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad is not a travelogue one picks up to read about the conditions of the people and landscape of a country in the distant past; it is an absorbing personal saga of a man's 'home-coming' to Islam, the religion of his fitrah (nature)".

A couple of passages that struck a chord with me were:

[Chapter II] "All these sunken years now come up to the surface, uncover their faces once again and call me with many voices: and suddenly, in the startled jerk of my heart, I perceive how long, how endless my way has been. 'You have always been only going and going,' I say to myself. 'You have never built your life into something that one could grasp with his hands, and never has there been an answer to the question "Whereto?"..."

[Chapter II] "For when I ask myself, 'What is the sum total of my life?' something in me seems to answer, 'You have set out to exchange one world for another - to gain a new world for yourself in exchange for an old one which you never really possessed.' And I know with startling clarity that such an undertaking might indeed take an entire lifetime."

Leopold Weiss was a German born into the Jewish faith whose grandfather was an orthodox rabbi from a long line of orthodox rabbis. In his early years he had become disillusioned with the religion of his ancestors despite or perhaps because of the extensive knowledge he had acquired of it, at the insistence of his father. His acceptance of Islam came, not through wordly reasons, but when he was "convinced that the Quran is really the word of God and not merely the brilliant creation of a great mind".

OK I admit I have this habit of reading the beginning of a book and then flip to the end to see how it ends. (I "read" The Kite-Runner this way: a third of the beginning and a third of the end, totally missing out the middle because I found it too depressing to read about cruelty and oppression. Give me a book on self-empowerment anytime.) And I found this startling torrent from Leopold Weiss, in Chapter X - Dajjal, uttered circa 1925/26, which is still so relevant today:

"How has it come about that you Muslims have lost your self-confidence - that self-confidence which once enabled you to spread your faith, in less than a hundred years, from Arabia westward as far as the Atlantic and eastward deep into China - and now surrender yourselves so easily, so weakly, to the thoughts and customs of the West? Why can't you whose fathers illumined the world with science and art at a time when Europe lay in deep barbarism and ignorance, summon forth the courage to go back to your own progressive, radiant faith?

Further he asked:

"Tell me how has it come about that the faith of your Prophet and all its clearness and simplicity has been buried beneath a rubble of sterile speculation and the hair-splitting of your scholastics? How has it happened that your princes and great land-owners revel in wealth and luxury while so many of their Muslim brethren subsist in unspeakable poverty and squalour - although your Prophet taught that No one may call himself a Faithful who eats his fill while his neighbour remains hungry?"

Weiss wasn't a Muslim yet at that point but evidently had more than a mere appreciation of Islam: "No, I am not a Muslim, but I have come to see so much beauty in Islam that it makes me sometimes angry to watch you people waste it... Forgive me if I have spoken harshly. I did not speak as an enemy."

My heart beats a little faster at this tirade, I get goose-bumps, I'm guilty, guilty, guilty!

It is going to take me many months to finish this book, surely I would be going forwards and backwards, pausing and re-reading, and dozing, in trying to absorb it all.

I might just as well give blogging a break :-)

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Song for An Incurable Insomniac

By the late MJ

(Note the typo is deliberate)

Zen, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I'll never be alone
And you, my friend, will see
You've got a friend in me
(you've got a friend in me)

Zen, you're always running here and there
You feel you're not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind
And don't like what you find
There's one thing you should know
You've got a place to go
(you've got a place to go)

I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we"
I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we"

Zen, most people would turn you away
I don't listen to a word they say
They don't see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd think again
If they had a friend like Zen
(a friend) Like Zen
(like Zen) Like Zen

Friday, 26 June 2009

A trip to Banda Aceh - The Acehnese Psyche

I came to understand a little more of the Acehnese strong sense of identity through reading this in Wiki:

"It is thought to have been in Aceh where
Islam was first established in Southeast Asia. In the early seventeenth century the Sultanate of Aceh was the most wealthy, powerful and cultivated state in the Malacca Straits region. Aceh has a history of political independence and fierce resistance to control by outsiders, including the former Dutch colonists and the Indonesian government. Aceh has substantial natural resources, including oil and gas - some estimates put Aceh gas reserves as being the largest in the world. Relative to most of Indonesia, it is a religiously conservative area."

It was this awareness of their past powerful sovereignty over Northern Sumatra that once also included the territories of Kedah, Penang and Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia, fueled by resource exploitation as well as political and military repression that instigated the formation of a separatist movement, GAM (Free Aceh Movement) by the Acehnese. Due to the incessant conflicts since the fall of the sultanate until the signing of the 2005 agreement on autonomy, the population of Aceh had fallen steadily from 11 million to the 4 million today.

Looking at them stoically going about their day, I just can't help but be amazed at their keen sense of survival. Apparently at the Chow Kit Market in KL, the traders selling fruits in front of the Safuan Plaza are all of Acehnese descent! What a hardy lot. And I'm thinking; here I am, a mere tourist in life's journey, hardly contributing to the world save for a few sen here and there, more often complaining about this, that and the other (but feeling blessed anyway).

Yes there is resilience beneath their polite and smiling exterior, but is it possible to define the Acehnese look? I asked of Pak Hatta, our guide-cum-driver. "We are a mix of the letters A,C,E, and H: Arab, Chinese/Champa, European, and Hindia!", he joked. That could be true - they do look like a cross of all those races, and it is said that it is perfectly possible to come across a blue-eyed Acehnese too. And their complexion! Frankly speaking, I did not see a single acne on any of the faces I came across.

Faces of Aceh

Is it the water, or their diet or could it be their heritage?

Maybe the water! When I first turned on the tap in the bathroom of my hotel room, I was taken aback by a strong sulphurous odour. Rotten eggs! A glitch in the treatment system, I wondered, can I shower with this? But I remembered that the Poring hot-springs near Mount Kinabalu exuded the same smell. This water in Aceh could be sourced from an underground spring and surely there must still be plenty of subterranean activity since the 9 pointer quake. And so I concluded - this water could be rich in sulphur and minerals and must be good for my skin!

True enough, throughout my stay in Banda Aceh my skin felt much softer, and even better still, no itches nor rashes. But only for external use however, because it "felt" weird even when I swished it around in my mouth. But hubby swallowed some and said it tasted OK - and suggested to imagine that it's air zam-zam. That man, I tell you...

It's hard to find an obese Acehnese in Banda Aceh as well. I guess that also goes for the other parts of Indonesia that I have visited. For our first lunch which was at the hotel, we requested a dish khusus Aceh and the staff specially prepared for us Ikan Asam Ke'eng. It is fresh fish simmered in a broth of asam belimbing and chillies fine-tuned to your desired ke'eng which means pedas (hot and spicy), and it tasted absolutely divine.

Asam ke'eng seems to define Aceh as tomyam does Thailand. And with ulam and sambal ijo (hijau), you'd ask for nothing more in a meal. Deep-fried ayam tangkap (free range chicken) is quite popular too, much meatier than our soft fatty ones here in Malaysia. Apart from the sea-food dinner on the first night and the kenduri the next day, asam ke'eng with ulam and sambal ijo became my staple throughout my stay.

Acehnese table spread at the Restoran Asia Utama
Pak Hatta's hand going for the ayam tangkap, hehe

Oh, and hubby recommended nasi gurih for our last breakfast - also a must-try for Malaysian visitors. It is something like our nasi lemak but lighter with a slight herby aroma of probably daun salam. It is served with dots of a variety of sambal - merah, ijo, kelapa, teeny-tiny anchovies - and a selection of lauk fom tempe, ayam tangkap, fish etc. Washed down with a glass of perfectly brewed kopi ulee kareng, for us it was the breakfast worth coming back to Banda Aceh for.

We had nasi gurih here

Good water, good food, good soil, fresh fish, good coffee all make for a simple healthy lifestyle. As pointed out by Pak Hatta their strong Islamic roots coupled with the tsunami experience have made them more determined to live up to their serambi Mekah (the verandah of Mecca) image.

For instance, our hotel provides a copy of the Quran and a prayer mat in every room, men and women observe islamic aurat requirements, at the sea-front a signboard notice forbids berdua-duaan tanpa muhrim (being alone with a marriageable person), and buildings may not be constructed taller than the minarets of mosques.

The streets are clean and litter-free and as my sister finally came to realise, there are no malls in Aceh - except the Baitul Mal!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

A Trip to Banda Aceh - Locals Remember

The view from the Air-Asia flight as we approached Sultan Iskandarmuda International Airport was one of peace and serenity: there lay Banda Aceh, at the northern end of Sumatra where the Straits of Melaka meet the Indian Ocean, hugged by green hills below which rice-fields nestled.

I was in Banda Aceh, the capital of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, for about 4 days with my eldest sister and her husband to attend a wedding reception. The bride is the daughter of Pak Amir (extreme left),

an acquaintance of my husband whose respective companies were involved in the construction of an orphanage in Sigli 150 km to the east of Banda Aceh. (Hubby joined us on the day of the reception and stayed one night).

Right-click here for an Encarta map of Aceh in relation to Peninsular Malaysia.

Pak Amir had graciously provided us the use of a car and a guide-cum-driver, Pak Hatta. Upon fetching us at the airport, Pak Hatta, a young father of two, took us on a quick tour of the part of Banda Aceh that was devastated by the great Tsunami of 26/12/2004. We noted that some houses had been re-built but mostly what we saw were roofless concrete structures - much-damaged and apparently abandoned; their occupants, likely to have been whole families, probably perished, according to Pak Hatta. Off course houses made of timber simply disintegrated and were washed as far as 7 km inland.

Pak Hatta remembered that the earthquake preceding the tsunami was extremely powerful, at first shaking front to back and then side-ways and after that the earth shook in powerful wave-like motions for what seemed a long time. There was no other thought in his mind except that hari kiamat was upon them. He was fortunate that he had run for dear life when he heard screams of "LARI! LARI!" when the tsunami came. Of his family only one cousin could not be found.

Not so with Pak Amir. He was fleeing with his family when they were swept by the water which engulfed the whole lower floor of his double-storey house, to a height of about 12 ft. He himself had clung to a tall tree while his three children had managed to save themselves, though unfortunately his wife (Al-marhummah Nurbaiti) had fallen down while running and was never found after that. Pak Amir, who has since re-married to Ibu Widyanti (extreme right in the wedding photo above) has built a 12 ft high wall on one side of his house as a reminder of the calamity.

As with the Al-Rahman mosque (photo below), Pak Amir's house had withstood the onslaught of the tsunami. It was there that hubby had camped in the early days of the orphanage project amidst the rubble of destroyed homes and shop-houses, with dirt-tracks passing for roads. In fact those days he had to travel by road all the way from Medan, a journey of 600 km distance dotted with army check-points and took about 14 hours. There were no hotels and everywhere was army personnel. No wonder he didn't let me tag along on his trips then.

But ever since Aceh province was granted autonomy by the Indonesian Parliament in 2006, whereby the local government enjoys 70 per cent of the revenues from the province's huge natural reserves, hubby noticed a very much more rapid pace of rebuilding, in Banda Aceh at least.

There are now many hotels, double-laned roads, an international airport, absolutely no soldiers, and people seemed to go about their businesses much more enthusiastically than before. Many overseas Acehnese have returned to contribute in the development and one of them eventually became the Governor of Aceh. Also not forgetting one who may have learnt a thing or two in Malaysia and that is the owner of a restaurant called Mamak Canai (alas we couldn't stop to take a photo of the shop when we were passing by).

The Pade Hotel (where we stayed)
View from the courtyard

Although some may feel that achieving autonomy as a hikmah of the tsunami, Pak Amir remarked that he still feels the trauma of his harrowing experience and is living with hypertension now. A lady still wanders among the traffic at a busy roundabout in town as if searching for something or someone, a loved one perhaps?

(Continued in next post)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Objets du Désir

It's amazing when we think of the many objects that people collect simply out of a desire for owning them, whether rational or not.

There are branded fountain pens, branded notebooks, branded bicycles, old VW's, knives, cats, kittens, caps (french or otherwise), LP's, sewing machines and what have you, even boats and cars. There's a filthy-rich dato' around here who owns about 100 fancy cars (but only 1 wife, so he says) - 100 cars!

My objects of desire used to be unattainable hot-blooded male movie characters like Simon Templar or Ilya Kuryakin. That was many decades ago off course, before I went ga-ga over a skinny, pennniless student who scattered a gang of teenaged skinheads with some cool silat langkahs and strikes. Then he became my bodyguard and have remained so ever since.

Well, well.... but what do people do with all those items that they lovingly fondle and murmur sweet nothings to everyday? Come a fancier newer model, and they'd readily search out the best bargains simply out of the excitement of owning one. "Ini investment lah yang", justifying to the resigned used-to-be desirous one.

Or it might not be a newer model even - collectors have been known to compete for used but prestigious models too. A used Bufori, Harley? Golf sets, yachts, catamarans?

And speaking of boats, how about boat-lovers out there adopting these two vessels that came aground during the Aceh Tsunami? They can no longer sail.

This one's turning to rust (picture courtesy of ranjini)

and this one atop a house is decaying.

They can no longer sail, but are monuments nevertheless, screaming for tender, loving care. Don't our hearts bleed for those who were in their path on that life-defining day?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Captured on Camera

See anything, Mr. President?

The pirate wears adidas

Heavenly communications

A trojan-plane?
What happened to the horse?

Trigger un-happy

The Chinese invented the watch, too!

Monday, 15 June 2009

C'est Si Bon - It's So Good

Come kiddos, let's learn a French song before the next trip!
Let's ghgholll the arrrghghghs...........

The English Translation:

It's so good,
Just wandering around,
Arm in arm, arm in arm,
And Singing songs.
It's so good,
To whisper sweet words - ,
Little nothings,
But little nothing that can be
said again and again.

Seeing our love-struck expression
The passers-by in the street envy us.
It's so good,
To see shining in her eyes
A marvelous promise
That sendsa shivers up and down my spine.

The're so good
These little thrills
That are worth more than a million
It's so very, very good.

It's Good - Yes, It's good
The passers-by in the street -
Arm in arm, arm in arm -
Singing songs -
What a marvelous promise
Uummm - It's good.

I'm looking for a millionaire
With big Cadillac cars
Mink coats - jewels
As big as your fist - you know?

It's good
This little feeling -
Perhaps someone with a little yacht, no?

Aahhh it's good -
it's good - so good-
You know I'm waiting for
someone who can give me
plenty of loot.

Tonight? - Tomorrow?- Next Week?
Dosen't matter when.
Uummm - It's so good - so good
It will be very crazy, no?
It's very good!

Cheeky, haha

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Europe Get-Away

(with pictures from France)

I'm not sure how to start to write about Paris, which hubby and I experienced for a very short 4 days with our 2 young ladies and niece. While visiting Paris, we found that it was also impossible not to compare it with Germany which we had visited the summer of 2008.

Now before people think that we travel because we are filthy-rich or are sponsored by whoever or whatever, nothing is further from the truth than that. Holidaying in Europe for families with grown children can be affordable if this is taken into budget (of the children already working, as well) and planned meticulously.

For instance, we take advantage of MATTA fair promotions and avoid packaged tours like the plague, we stay in budget hotels which we book on-line, and travel on buses and subways using discounted tickets.

EURAIL passes are cost-effective if you intend to travel
extensively by train within or across a few countries. Car rental is expensive, about RM500 equivalent per 24 hrs. but we hired one to tour the French Alps around Grenoble. Saying that it was worth it certainly does not do the Alps justice. Being amidst the beauty of the Alps is worth much much more than the car-rental.

We do not normally enter museums or buildings of interest unless we have ample time and the entrance is free-of-charge! We just take in the atmosphere, marvel at the architecture and pose for photographs outside.

The only time we paid an entrance fee was when we visited the Vatican, in Italy. That was because our accomodation then was courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law who couldn't make use of their RCA International (a vacation club) reservation that year. Nope, we didn't see the Pope (hey that rhymes). But there were paintings, sculptures and frescos galore to admire.

Off course food in Europe is very expensive once you do the conversions but the portions are huge and very filling for Asians and typically 2 girls prefer to share 1 portion.

Where we had crepes and coffee. Well, hardly time to take a foto before the crepes were all gone!

Halal joints are easy to find but just be wary because we came across restaurants in Paris with halal certificates on display but which also serve pork chops!

We pack bottles of water in our luggage from Malaysia, thus saving the RM5 or so equivalent per small bottle if we buy there. Tap water is drinkable in Western Euro, so we fill the bottles up with tap water when our supply is finished. Bringing along empty bottles in our hand-bags is also useful when having to freshen up, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).

And by the way, we also buy chocolates from the KLIA Duty-free to take with us on our sightseeing trips. They are cheaper than those in Europe and also tanpa was-was. Great for snacking and for the energy boost.

Walking from the station to the point of interest we are visiting is unavoidable, when we're travelling on a budget. Even changing lines in the subway involve walking up and down long stretches of corridors and stairways. It's best to make sure that people in the party are somewhat fit before the journey, to be able to do this.

Anyway, the amicable summer climate and the long daylight hours make it really pleasant to walk from place to place.

Otherwise you can make use of the hop-on hop-off buses, but we have never used this mode of transport before, I think because of the limited time periods and restricted routes and such.

For us, European vacations are never for shopping. We buy a Made In A Third-World Country t-shirt or two for ourselves, also some similarly-made stationery and key-chains and that's it. Additionally, on our return trip, we buy more chocolates at the KLIA duty-free before collecting our luggage and these become additional souvenirs for friend and relatives. If we fly MAS, I'd buy those little packs of duty-free perfumes and lipsticks as gifts and off course for myself, too.

I find that travelling with the family bonds us together. Yeah we argue on what sights to see, which route to take blah, blah but at the end of the day, we are all richer for the experience.

Well like I said, I didn't how to begin telling about the Paris trip, but this posting had turned out to be more on tips for travelling to Europe. Sorry. Maybe I'll put up some pictures next time (Done).

For impressions of Paris and other places in Europe, why not make the trip and find out for yourselves! Bon Voyage!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Hey kiddos, 28 years ago today

Uncle and Aunty were married

To play, scroll down on the amp and click the start arrow button

"You're Still The One"

(When I first saw you, I saw love.
And the first time you touched me, I felt love.
And after
all this time, you're still the one I love.)
Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come my baby
We mighta took the long way
We knew we'd get there someday

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night

Ain't nothin' better
We beat the odds together
I'm glad we didn't listen
Look at what we would be missin'

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night

[ ]

Aiiyo, still at it
walau dah tembam!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sin and Salvation - For the Weight-Challenged

a.k.a Project LTHIN30 (Lose These Handles In 30 days)

Starting Vitals:
166 cm
71.6 kg
36.1 BF% (Wow I've dropped 2% since I last checked!!!)
43.9 %Hydration

Day 1 - 11th June 2009
Sin - Mee Goreng Mamak with Telor Mata and Teh Halia Kurang Manis
Salvation - 45 mins on StarTrac cross-trainer Level 1; Triceps 21 (not sure lbs or kilos) 3 sets - 8, 6, 4 reps; Spinal Rotation 30 lbs?kilos? 15 reps on each side; 20 mins on LifeFitness cross-trainer Hill-Plus Level 6; 5 mins cool-down; stretches

Day 2 - 12th June 2009
Sin - Last night's extra half-portion of big juicy lamb-chop
Salvation - home-video workout - Buns and Thighs by Kathy Smith - 4 mins warm-up; 16 mins step-aerobics; 10 mins squats, dips, one-legged squats; cool-down; 10 min floor-work for glutes, hamstrings, quads, inner-thighs; stretches.
This video always works for me after a long exercise hiatus - yesterday was so-so, level 1 is just strolling

Day 3 - 13th June 2009
Joy - 1.5 hrs Poco-poco with Ezan. 1st phase - 40 mins regular poco-poco; next phase - stretching lower body, then engaging more upper body dance movements (shoulders, arms, including belly), cha-cha steps; next phase - floor work - upper body stretches, pelvis, abs, legs, spinal twists; finish off with choreographed dances - this week: "Sway", Chinese Off-beat, "Made in India", Zapin
Reward - truly creamy mushroom soup (mmmmmm), cheesy mashed spuds, grilled salmon, brocolli

Day 4 - 14th June 2009 Sunday
Double Joy - No exercise: Recovery Day!

Day 5 - 15th June 2009 Monday
Double Joy - No exercise: Another Recovery Day! (from a hectic Sunday haha)

Day 6 - 16th June 2009
Sin - Nasi Goreng breakfast with ikan bilis and telor mata, leftover telor mata sandwich or lunch
Salvation - 20 mins on LifeFitness cross-trainer Fat-burning program Level 1; Lats Pulldown 30 3 sets 10 reps each, Pec flys 19, 3 sets - 10 reps each; Triceps 25 10 8 6; Spinal Rotation 30 lbs?kilos? 15 reps on each side; 45 mins on StarTrac cross-trainer Random Hill Level 2 4 6 - change every 15 mins; 5 mins cool-down; stretches

Day 7 - 17th June 2009
Alamak! A bit sore from yesterday evening's work-out. Good excuse to rest today. 4 days of exercise out of 7 - not bad to start.


Day 8 - 18th June 2009
Sin - Nasi Lemak dinner last night with sambal sotong, ikan bilis, kangkung celor and telor rebus
Salvation - 1.5 hrs poco-poco with Nah - begin with stretches, 40 mins regular poco-poco, practised "Made in India" - Nah's choreography (more challenging), Rock Around The Clock, and Chilli Cha-Cha. Dropped by the gym after lunch: 7 mins limbering up on StarTrac cross-trainer Random Hill program Level 1; Lats Pulldown 30 3 sets 10 reps each, Pec flys 19, 3 sets - 10 reps each; Triceps 20 10 10 10; Spinal Rotation 30 lbs?kilos? 15 reps on each side

* Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday - in Banda Acheh - maybe can't exercise, see how it goes

Day 9 - Friday 19th June 2009
Sin - Breakfast at Kak Nani's - burger and fried egg sandwich; On the plane - cheese and chicken sandwich; Lunch - gado-gado and popiah; Dinner - sea-food galore at Banda Sea-Food, avocado and choc shake(burrrp)
Salvation - 30 mins of poco-poco moves

Day 10 - Saturday 20th June 2009
Sin - Hotel buffet breakfast; Lunch - Acehnese table spread: rice with asam ke'eng, ayam tangkap, bayam bening, sambal ijo, rendang daging, avocado and choc shake; Dinner - rice with more asam ke'eng
Salvation - Shopping? Sightseeing?

Day 11 - Sunday 21st June 2009
Sin - Hotel buffet breakfast; Lunch - Acehnese Kenduri Kahwin: rice with rendang daging, sambal kentang, sayur capcai, ayam masak merah, bubur lambuk, air tebu; Ngopi: Kopi Ulee Kareng, pisang goreng salut keju (mmmmmm); Dinner - Nasi Padang at Sari Bunda: rendang minang (daging), otak lembu masak lemak, ayam tangkap, asam ke'eng, kacang pindang, avocado and choc shake;
Salvation - morning: cycle 20 mins, chest press 2x15 reps, leg press 2x15 reps

Day 12 - Monday 22 June 2009
Sin - Breakfast at Restoran Inti: Nasi Gurih, Ayam Tangkap, tempeh goreng, pelbagai sambal, kopi Ulee Kareng; Lunch on the plane - Tuna sandwich, Nescafe; Tea-time at Dengkil R&R: Sate Kajang Hj Samuri 6 sticks ayam, daging, perut plus nasi impit, teh tarik; Dinner - Sop kambing and mee rebus (half n half)
Salvation - Grocery Shopping?

Day 13 - Tuesday 23rd June 2009
Sin - Lunch - Curry laksa with chicken, cockles, fish-paste, and tofu-wraps
Salvation - None: didn't want to unbalance my re-aligned joints after Thai massage!

* Didn't dare to weigh myself!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Deflowering (To be read with the previous entry)


Ten interesting facts about myself, on whose lap an award has now landed.

Oh my, this is such a walk in the park because I am as uninteresting as they come. So here are the boring details:
  1. I am a wife, a daughter, a mother of five and a sister to eight - my position being smack in the middle between two elder brothers, two elder sisters, two younger brothers and two younger sisters.
  2. I am at the best age to be i.e. 55 years - retired from a lack-lustre career, free from the ups and downs of hormonal fluctuations, not too bogged down by the demands of a family, and still have the energy to indulge in my favourite pastimes.
  3. My physique is similar to that of Madonna's .....hahahahahaha...... just wishful thinking. I am tall for a Malay woman... and a Malay man even, at 5 feet 6 inches or 166 cms bare-footed. This is very useful especially in a crowded lift or LRT where I am able to breathe air quite easily, and not someone else's stinky deodorant.
  4. My friend Nah, formerly a HR counselor, analysed me as being a shy "one-liner" person, on first viewing that is, and my hidden charm and warmth are only discoverable by a discerning few. Waah! Like an unpolished diamond. Hanya jauhari yang mengenal manikam.
  5. Nah is also one of my poco-poco teachers, the other being S.Ezan. Attending 1.5 hour poco-poco classes twice a week is something I enjoy tremendously, which helps somewhat in the keep-fit department. Occasionally I tag-along with the mak-datins to their all-ladies functions where we let off steam poco-pocoing to our hearts content. There's one coming up on the 24th of July - anyone interested?
  6. I enjoy gym work-outs too, but I can't seem to shift this body-fat percentage of 38% any lower. Darn! But WTH, a gurl has got to have some fat, otherwise a hunk she'd be. Nobody loves a she-hunk, owh nowh!
  7. As a consolation (to me at least), my body-mass index stands at 25.8 which is just slightly overweight..... on account of my dense bones......... Really, no joke......... hehe
  8. OK, OK I love to eat too. Chocolates, burgers, kebabs, steaks, lamb-chops, roast lamb, sea-food, rice, noodles, pasta, pies, fries, chips, nuts, keropok, kerepek, bread, cheese, milk, cereal, jagung, pisang goreng, keledek goreng, keladi goreng....... you name it - except cakes, and kuih-kuih. So that quite easily explains the 38%.
  9. I love travelling to foreign countries as well, especially on holidays with my family. Rather than sightseeing, I am more inclined towards people-watching, listening to their mother-tongue being spoken, and I would likely try to speak a few phrases myself.
  10. And finally (phew), there is a salasilah in mum's family, the authenticity of which I cannot attest, which indicates a Bugis ancestry from the line of the infamous plundering brothers, whilst father's side is mainly Malay as suggested by his stocky build and slightly heavy moustache. We have tall genes in our clan; many of our males hover at six-feet, and are athletes (at least at school). I cannot guess where these genes come from.

Anyway, tahdaaah! Sudah ditebuk.

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Deflowering of a Cyber Virgin

named Zendra. Yup, I'm still a virgin in blogland according to the mighty Kama (the tear-away) At-Tarawis. Check it out here (right-click and open new tab, please).

There's this thing called a "tag" which is dished out to the unsuspecting uninitiated to which he or she must respond to, to earn a pingat kecemerlangan. Which is not unlike the AMN, or for the men, a JSM - only that in this context they stand for "Ahli Makcik Ngomelan" and "Jolly Sexy Male" respectively!

Though it's nice to still be a sweet and innocent virgin, all good things must someday end; IT SHALL BE TODAY!

Here's the deal:
I must write / state / present

1. Five interesting facts about the person who gives me this award.
2. Ten interesting facts about myself, on whose lap the award has now landed.
3. Choose the next victims.. eh.. recipients, and get my own back (it's payback time!)

This tearing of my maidenhood should be fun. Let me do it the way I used to when I had to tackle exam questions - do the easiest first. Here goes.........

My Chosen Recipients

1. First and foremost, the jolliest of them all who gave me my 1000th hit CAPTAIN LIGHTHOUSE - Pirate of Kapas Island who recently celebrated his ??th birthday!!! Yaaa!!!

2. Sista MAMASITA MAMAMIA one of the very first who dropped an encouraging comment here, egging me to press on in this time-encroaching activity. She almost shares a birthday with Captain Gemini above.

3. Sista of many monikers - the fearless AN-NIMR aka MALAYSIAN TIGRESS aka SAYA aka ME, MYSELF AND I. Sock it to us, Sista.

4. DR SAM - self-professed kiddo with a following of tsunamic proportions. Being both left-brain and right-brain orientated, we have in Dr Sam a scientist and a poet in one.

5. and introducing ROSE.SINI.MY - mum of my watch-dog, aj!

Five interesting facts about the person who gives you this award - Kama At-Tarawis

1. What more is there to say other than she is the creme de la creme of the Malaysian social blog-scene,based in Malaysia I might add (lest I annoy bloggers from the other side). She is on the roll of almost all outstanding Malaysian blogs that I have visited, and I am very truly honoured that she had tagged me.

2. Kama was one of the first that I had joloked for a comment when I tentatively started cut-n-paste blogging, and my weird blog-name must have piqued her curiosity enough to drop by and throw me one. Thanks Kama. That gesture spoke volumes of your friendliness and encouraging nature.

3. I read with much interest of her spunkiness in getting herself married and de-married at a young age, of taking on the challenges of single-motherhood, and then taking the plunge again at a time when for most of us, romance is but a memory. Kama is one courageous and adventurous person.

4. It is most likely that Kama and I share the same top-to-bottom silhouette. I am also 5 feet 6 inches tall, wear undainty size 9 (Malaysian) feet apparel, and is curvy in a non-voluptious way. However I do not sing like she does, but can only croak and I think I am talking more about myself now and should re-use this point in the next section.

5. (Phew!!!) Kama has blue-blood of the Perak line.

Ten interesting facts about myself, on whose lap the award has now landed.
(To be continued in my next entry)

Monday, 1 June 2009

Twouble with Twitters: SuperNews!

Hey kiddos, enjoy the video but check my tweets just the same!

Sisters We Are

E-mail from my travel sista:


A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of
adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter

'Don't forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them.'

Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women... your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women always do.' What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman Thought. Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact with her Sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After 53 years of living in this world, here is what I've learned:

Time passes. Life happens. Distance separates. Children grow up.

Jobs come and go. Love waxes and wanes. Men don't do what they're supposed to do. Hearts break. Parents die. Colleagues forget favors. Careers end. BUT...

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you... Or come in and carry you out..

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers, Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other..

Every day, we need each other still. Pass this on to all the women who help make your life meaningful. I just did. Short and very sweet:

There are many angels in this world. And one is reading this at the moment.