Thursday, 15 December 2011

Escape To Return

"Helloooo....   a penny for your thoughts..." asked Aunty Teh as I was looking out into the driveway of her younger sister Aunty Yah's house.

"Errr, just pondering on the limited time that we have, Aunty".

Both she and I and many of our relatives had gathered there that morning after the news of Aunty Yah's passing the night before.

Her demise was totally unexpected as she had always been known for her spiritedness and cheerfulness, an  outstanding lady who had contributed so much towards the development of education for the hearing-challenged of this country.

Many of her ex-students were there too, and I shan't deny that I was quite fascinated by the animated signing that was going on among them.

Aunty Yah had returned to Allah while resting at home after an outing. Aside from her husband Uncle Wan and their four children, as an educationist for over 30 years she left behind a legacy of specialised  knowledge, and legions of the hearing-impaired who had benefited from her teaching.

She was 70 years old.

May Allah bless her soul and place her among the righteous.

Actually quite a few of our elders did not see the year's end, four others in fact, who were in their 70's and 80's when they passed away.

Which was what made me realise as I looked outside into that driveway, that between me and  the ones who had preceded us had been only one or two decades in years, and that in the overall scheme of things the difference is really very minimal.

And it reminded me of the lesson we had with our regular ustaz just the night before as well.

It was about the concept of fear in a believer (in Arabic "khauf").

At the lowest level, a believer only fears Allah's retribution in the Hereafter for his bad deeds.

The middle level is the fear that his worship and good deeds are not accepted by Allah.

At the highest level a believer fears that Allah retracts His guidance and forgoes His blessings on him.

It had me thinking at which level I am...  which is very frightening. And the little time left to make amends.

The concept of "khauf" is different from the usual kind of "fear" where one usually tries hard to escape from that which is causing it.

As Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) clearly explains:

"Escaping means to run away from something to something. There are two kinds of escape: one of the fortunate and the other of the unfortunate. The unfortunate run away from Allah, not to Him. The fortunate run to Him. As running away from Him to Him, that is escape of His friends. (Ibid 1/504)"

So if we have "khauf" of Allah in our hearts, shall we all now make our ESCAPE to Him, before we are made to RETURN to Him?

And to the families in bereavement, may Allah grant us patience in our time of grief.

Details of Aunty Yah's dedication to the world of education of the deaf here

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Thinking Prevention

Even a kapcai-grade car like the one I have been driving the last six years needs preventive maintenance.

And I have not really slacked in that department. Every 5,000 km I would take her in to be lovingly lubricated by the Hyundai service agent nearby.

Sometimes there would be parts that needed to be changed. Sometimes according to schedule like the filters and watchamacallems; sometimes when they just decide to expire on you, for instance the horn.

Yup, my car's horn with it's impertinent-sounding honk. In fact it wasn't the horn per se that was the problem but as the supervisor found out after some testing, it was the "honleelay". And I went "aaah... honleelay...", nodding my head.  Just a small electrical thingamajig, it turned out to be.

Then it dawned on me...

With a snap of my fingers I excited told my daughter who was with me at the time, "Actually it's the HORN RELAY!!".

And she went "aaah... the horn relay...", nodding her head as if to say yes... that figures.

The other thing that can unexpectedly die on you is the battery.

Well maybe that's not quite right. In actual fact you CAN EXPECT it to conk out anytime soon through observing a couple of signs.

For me I would notice a slight but perceptible delay in firing up when I start the engine. That serves as a warning for me to check the terminal connections (sometimes one or both can get loose) and/or to reserve some cash for a new battery if the present one is about 18 months old. I would then usually wait for it to die a natural death wherever it has been destined to do so, and then by hook or by crook get it's replacement installed.

The other sign is when the remote starts to misbehave even though it's own battery is alive and kicking. It would refuse to unlock the door. But when you try to unlock the door manually, it'll make such a racket sounding the alarm. And then it won't shut up by you pressing the remote switch. You'll have to locate the silencer button somewhere in the dashboard or in the bonnet, depending on the car, and fiddle with that with the key in the ignition. Sometimes the battery gets totally drained out at that point, so by hook or by crook you go get a new battery installed if it is about 18 months already. Otherwise you attach jumper cables to someone else's car and start your car that way.

Yes indeed, each car has it's own individual quirks. And it's mistress learns the signs of distress.

The recent ones were the tyres. The front ones seem to lose air pressure quite often and the steering wheel had started to shake when the car's going at about 100kph. The mechanic says they, the front tyres, have to go and the damage will be RM138 per tyre, but "no stock today". 

So off we went, hubby and I, to his favourite place where the boss always pays for his mamak teh tarik that he has next door.

"Ah Moy, all four of your tyres are spoilt - worn unevenly and bits of tear here and there - very dangerous" he said.

"Oii, where got Ah Moy,  Ah Soh lah... " I said, kneeling down and looking at the treads.

"Change to 165, better".

Hubby okayed it. They're narrower than the 175 tyres I've been using so logically there'll be less surface area subjected to wear and tear due to the car's apparently dodgy camber. It's a kapcai grade, can be expected.

As we were having teh tarik, he called hubby over and said "A lot of potholes langgar your Ah Moy's car. Three rims are bengkok. Change to alloy, better".

Hubby okayed again. Yeah, he really liked this boss mechanic.

He fixed on two models and asked me to select one. I chose something suitable for a warga emas.

"Alignment and balancing on the house, but must also change to matching wheel nuts, baru ngam.  I give you cheap".

Hubby okayed again. Me too okay.

While they were doing the alignment, he came and suggested changing the camber screws from the fixed version that came with the car to adjustable ones. "Better" he said "One pair only seventy ringgit".

And that was the final okay.

Rims, nuts, screws, tyres came to a whopping RM1,200 damages to wallet. "How to raya like this?", I jokingly complained.

"Ah Moy, NOW you can raya without worry".

He's probably right. It's a preventative cost, to avoid mishaps insha Allah, and hence for peace of mind.

So if you happen to spot a warga emas driving a kapcai-grade car that has new gold-coloured rims with new tyres, then smile broadly and give a frantic wave, because that warga emas might just be me...

And for all Muslims, here's wishing you a blessed Eidul Adha next week.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mind Ramblings

Friday October 28th 2011

It was beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies at 5.00 pm and I was thinking maybe I shouldn't have declined that invitation to a Deepavali Open House after all. It had been raining monsoons this past week so I didn't see why today should be any different.

But as I was deep-frying cekodok pisang to have with afternoon tea, it suddenly poured cats and dogs and monkeys. Lightning clapped every so often it was a wonder the yellow electric switch did not trip, however the automatic gate went wonky like it sometimes do in this kind of wet situation, opening one side and then refusing to close at my commands ie. me pressing the switch repeatedly. Today it wasn't that bad though; it has been known to open and close countless times by itself like a malwared PC.

Anyway, I guess it was good that I need not attend that Open House, what with having to drive myself there in a car whose front tires are balding and which the mechanic had said need to be replaced but they did not have stock that day. He too had pumped air into my tyres a few thousand psi's over normal that it feels like I'm driving.. or rather pirouetting on pointy ballerina shoes, whenever I turn a corner.

It was good too I suppose that earlier today I had stopped by at the gym after dropping off my youngest at the LRT station on the first leg of her journey to college. She'll be catching the bus home and I hope she won't get too wet in this weather.

I did nothing fancy at the gym, only walked "briskly" (averaging 4.5mph) on a treadmill at a 5% incline for 30 minutes, while reading... random paragraphs from a book.

That's the thing with me. I rarely read a book from cover to cover (not counting the Quran which I take ages to finish outside of Ramadan). I read snippets, especially non-fiction, which was what I had with me at the gym, a how-to book on mastering the mind, body and character to attain a perfect life.

Whoa... sounds impossible. A perfect life?

Nonetheless it's an OK book to read, in snippets, to help me stay motivated on the treadmill, and to keep zee eyes from vundering to the huffs and the puffs and the grunts coming from the resistance machines.

I read that former chess superstar Bobby Fisher focused most of his training not on studying chess strategies but on becoming physically fit by running long distances and doing laps in the pool, hence increasing his stamina and mental endurance.

Hmmm... I must admit we all can do with a little more of those.

It says the mind is a terrible master but a wonderful servant.

Didn't know what that meant, a master-servant relationship with the body perhaps, or the spirit? Like the treadmill and me? I set the pace, and the incline and how long to walk, hence I'm the master. But for as long as it's moving I'm it's servant? For I HAVE to move at that set pace otherwise I'll fall off. It's a terrible master to let me fall off, isn't it?

Unless of course it is never my master. On the contrary I am always the boss of that machine. Because I have the power to stop it at any time.

So I was thinking that's the kind of relationship to have with our minds. We can let it "rule" us in ways that benefit us, but we need to be always in control of the stop button. Sounds plausible?

OK. I just did some research about this and found a good explanation here, which I have reproduced below:

"It's like this. There are two things here, You and Mind. Either You are in control (of your Mind) or your Mind is in control (of You). Either you are the master or the mind is the master. It has to be one or the other. If You are master (ie, in control of Mind) then Mind is a wonderful servant but if Mind is the master (ie, in control of You) then it is a terrible master.

So the question is who is in control.

If You truly are in control of mind then you can do wonders, indeed miracles. You must have heard of mastery of the mind, mind over matter, mind science, etc. You can have peace of mind, real happiness, you can channel your thoughts, you can stop all thought, you can cure yourself and others, etc., etc. The list is endless.

However, when the Mind is in control, when Mind becomes Master, then you are in trouble. Mind can tear you apart because with mind comes ego, desires, emotions, frustrations, etc. Mind wants to survive too.

Your thoughts will take free reign, going this way and that way. You will succumb to all sorts of temptations. There will be no end to desires. You will never find true happiness. The uncontrolled mind will drive you this way and that way as your thoughts come coming freely, with no one in control, just as wild horses will run this way and that way. Unfortunately in the vast majority of mankind it is the mind that is in control.

And indeed this reminds me of the concept of Nafs in Islam (desires, ego, mind) of which there are basically three dimensions as referred to in the Quran, and explained thus:

Sa'id Hawwa says regarding these Nafs:

"Depending upon its condition, the Nafs exist in multidimensional form. When the Nafs is tranquil because of obeying Allah, and the soul opposes its desires, this soul is known as Nafs al-Mutma`inna. Regarding this, Allah has spoken about it in the Qur'an (89:27-28).

But if the soul does not attain peace with itself, rather being exposed to desires, then such soul is known as the Nafs al-Lawwama because this soul reproaches its owner due to the owner's carelessness in fulfilling out Allah's wishes - Qur'an (75:2).

More so, if the soul submits to lusts and allows itself to be seduced by Shaytan, such a soul is known as Nafs al-Ammara Bissu'. Allah tells the story about the wife of al-Aziz (Zulaikha) in Qur'an (12:53).

(Tarbiyatun nar Ruhiyah, pg. 32, Cairo: Dar al- Salam, 1408)"

Being forgetful humans that we are, I believe we transit between these three nafs as often as we have thoughts.

The tranquil nafs is what we want to achieve ultimately, we just need to put our minds to it every second of everyday, rain or shine.

And not let a little lightning scare us into inconsistency... God willing

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Secrets of The Cave (Surah Al Kahfi)

Attended Dr. Fatma el Zahra's tafseer class yesterday.

She changed the format from the usual recitation and explanation of each individual ayat of a surah, to teaching us it's overall message.

It's a good change for me: before it was easy to overlook the proverbial forest for being too involved in the trees.

Anyway, this entry is an attempt at reproducing the notes that I've managed to scribble in class, Insya Allah.

We study the Quran because 
  1. it is a guidance from Allah
  2. it heals the ills in our hearts
  3. it intercedes for us on the last day

Every surah in Al-Quran has one message.

The "mother" of the book, Surah Al-Fatihah, encompasses the teachings of the entire Quran viz:
  1. History
  2. Worship
  3. The Uniqueness of Allah
  4. The Last Day and Hereafter
  5. Human Character

Surah Al-Baqarah teaches us about the role of mankind as khalifah above all other creatures on earth, and the deviousness of the Jews

*tip - recite this surah when there are signs of syaitan in the home (eg. problems between husband and wife, their children bickering), then syaitan will not enter the house for 3 days, it wards off black magic, prevents betrayal by enemies masquerading as friends.
If time does not permit (because of the length of the surah) just reciting the first 5 ayats (alif-lam-mim), followed by ayatul kursi and the last part beginning with aamanarasul, is deemed adequate.

Surah Ali-Imran dwells on practising consistency and patience in worship

Surah An-Nisaa on  justice in relationships

Surah Maa'idah teaches about  trust  and fulfiling promises

Surah Al-Kahfi which was the subject of yesterday's class tells us about the four temptations (fitnahs):
  1. the temptation of wealth - from the story of the boastful owner of two gardens
  2. the temptation of knowledge - from the story of Nabi Musa and Nabi Khidr
  3. the temptation of religion - from the story of the companions whom Allah put to sleep  in a cave
  4. the temptation of power - from the story of King Zulkarnain
Hadeeth says at the end of time (qiamat) mankind will be tested by these temptations brought to them by the false messiah Dajjal.

The minor signs of qiamat are already upon us: fornication, decorative masjids, raised voices in masjids, inadequate covering of aurat, mothers being slaves to children, fathers raping their children. However there is still time to repent.

 One of the major signs is the appearance of the Dajjal, the form of of which we do not know and when it will come.

From a hadeeth, it is said that whoever memorises and recites the first 10 ayats of Surah Al Kahfi is protected from the fitnahs of Dajjal.

*practical tips to avoid these fitnahs
  1. choose a friend of good morals and principles (as in ayat 28)
  2. remember akhirat (ayat 29)
  3. avoid worshipping of dunia (ayat 45)
  4. remember we will be brought to account for our deeds (ayat 49), for this it's good to recite istighfar at least 100 times a day 
  5. avoid being arrogant (ayat 69)
  6. be sincere in deeds and worship (ayat 98) - not to show people (which is minor syirik) but only for Allah
*More useful tips from Surah Al-Kahfi:
  1. Read the last 3 ayats before sleep to awake fresh for Solat Tahajjud, no matter what time you went to bed
  2. Best doa when in difficulty is doa Ashabul Kahfi (ayat 10)
  3. When you see or hear  something beautiful, say "Masya Allah la quwwata illa billah" (What Allah wills is done! There is no power but with Allah).  (ayat 39)
It is also sunnah to recite this surah on Fridays beginning after maghrib on Thursday night - according to hadeeth "Whoever reads Surah al-Kahf on the day of Jumu'ah, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next."

Wallahu a'lam....


Monday, 10 October 2011

A Meaningful Nine.Ten.Eleven

Yesterday was Sunday the 9th day of October in the year 2011 AD of the Gregorian calendar.

The date written in its simplest form thus: 9.10.11

...which has a nice ring to it and easy to remember,  if one can count up to eleven.

That it fell on a Sunday gave many people ideas to get married and/or hold their wedding receptions on that day.

And that was why we had received four wedding invitations for just that day - three for the standard 12noon-5pm affair of which we had to forgo one for logistical reasons, and one a dinner do.

Attending weddings is an excellent way to maintain bonds of kinship or silaturrahim. This is accorded prime importance in the daily affairs of a Muslim.

At our recent weekly usrah with Ustaz Shihabuddin Muhaemin, he spelt out 10 benefits for one who maintains and extends silaturrahim:
  1. his heart is cleansed and pure
  2. his soul is tranquil
  3. he thinks positively
  4. he has respite from illnesses
  5. he maintains his youthfulness and enjoys long life
  6. he has barakah (blessings) in his sustenance
  7. his prayers are answered
  8. he leads a productive life
  9. he has close family ties
  10. he is facilitated in the hereafter on his pathway to Jannah
There is an order of precedence to be observed though:
  1. Kin
  2. Close friends
  3. Neighbours
  4. Good / Knowledgeable men and women
  5. The poor
  6. Friends in conflict
And the ways to help resolve the conflict are:
  1.  by meeting face to face
  2. verbally over the phone
  3. by the written word
  4. through a mutual friend
  5. pray for a resolution
  6. failing all the above, then just remain quiet

Incidentally, while both are obligatory duties of a muslim in his community, attending a wedding - which is associated with joy - takes precedence over attending a funeral.

But I think common sense should prevail in such a situation of which to attend first since the deceased also has his rights due on his relatives and the community as well.

Back to 9.10.11...

Our Garmin GPS literally gave us the run-around that day. We were to go to Seremban first and then Putrajaya before heading for Selayang. On it's "Faster Time" setting, I noticed that the route was through the fairly built-up areas of Puchong and Kajang, bypassing the more familiar but longer E6 expressway. We started on the E6 anyway and I thought I could trick it  by setting it for "Less Fuel" thus forcing an expressway route, since it's only logical that fuel consumption is very much lower on expressways.

But then it said to exit left into Putrajaya and hubby was curious to see where it would lead us to.

Apparently, what Garmin concluded by us setting it for "Less Fuel" was that we probably had little means also to pay expressway tolls. So we ended up doing a tour of Putrajaya followed by a long spell of driving on B routes into Kg. Sg. Merab and even on an unmarked very narrow road into Kg. Sg. Buah (where interestingly some people have built quite huge bungalow homes there).

In the time it took for us to arrive in Bangi, we could have reached En. Ahmad Ali's home in Senawang, Seremban. So we made our way to the Plus Expressway instead where from there it was a quick hop to the wedding...

Hubby said there certainly is a hikmah (lesson) somewhere hehehe... but I tell you, maybe it is that we now understand our GPS better....   especially useful for planning trips in the future when we may no longer be able to afford tolls....

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

"When I Think Of Perfect Moments..."

All our yesterdays
are ours forever memory

"the joys are well-savoured
the tribulations a real education
a relationship so perfectly tempered
that the forging has its own
strength and power
only we know" 

Our tomorrows are waiting
like mysterious presents,
wrapped up in time,
for us to open..
one by one

"In such premise
I'd only have faith 
in our destiny
made good truly together
Allah willing"

But today is here and now
It belongs to us
this perfect time
for love

"ever more happier 
we are married
perfect being made...
more perfect "

"no time better than now
to say
I love you truly
and will always be so"

"By Allah who answers our prayers
and loves us
and defines our needs
for he is All-Knowing
gives us each other" 

This promise of a perfect life
with you


These beautiful verses by Dean Walley are interspersed with romantic scribblings (in italics) by my dearest husband on a flight over the Pacific Ocean on September 20th 1981

30 years later almost to the day, we sat together in celebration with our then-awaited "tomorrows", still unwrapping each one... to unveil his/her own unique mysteries

What better gifts can we ask for other than these - our children...

Happy Birthday to you "Red Alfa" - who is all of 59 years young today! 

May Allah grant us refuge from a knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart which does not tremble, from an ego which not sated, and from a supplication which is not accepted.  Ameen...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Facebook Down - So I'm Back Here

Dear Readers, especially masterwordsmith, Al-Manar and Nin who are probably feeling neglected by me not responding to their comments of my previous entry.

It seems that I have gone AWOL.

Just like many of those on my blog-roll I am now mostly domiciled in my other retirement home over on Facebook, chatting over the garden fence as it were.

However, this happened:

So I took advantage of the downtime to return to my Blogger for a look-see, me not being nimble enough to be plying back and forth between my two abodes on a more regular basis.

Well then, let's catch up on what's been happening in my little corner of terra-firma since Ramadan.

There was Eidul Fitri or Hari Raya as it is called here in Malaysia.

OK, you may try to get into the festive mood by clicking on the player. I have for you the late diva Saloma and her iconic eid song.

Hari Raya this year was just a teeny bit different with two sons now having their wives to celebrate with.

The pilot and wife went back to Terengganu whilst the doctors remained in Sabah for a while, returning later for their delayed wedding reception.

As per usual our Hari Raya fare was courtesy of the culinary skills of my sister-in-law in Ampang Jaya, assisted by our two princesses, thank you so much Kak Awi and the puteri-puteri.. I only had to provide the cookies and tidbits and cook the ketupats.

We spent most of the day and the next doing the rounds calling on the seniors in PJ, Shah Alam, Kepong and Ampang, and catching up on the latest buzz. Our relatives are mainly in the Klang Valley which is rather convenient.

At Mum's was where there was a lot of snapshots taken. Each of her children's family posed with her, then all the men, all the ladies, all the girls and all the boys... a few takes each time until she became tired of smiling. Am sharing a few here:

It was a very enjoyable couple of days but ever present in the back of our minds was the preparation of the upcoming wedding reception.

That will be a story for another day....  when Facebook is down again?

No, hopefully not...

Till then, keep tuning in....


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Up My Nose

Like most mammals, I think I possess a rather sensitive olfactory functionality, in other words I pick up smells quite easily.

And if you watch "Animal Planet" you'll learn that mammals use this capability to hunt or to hide.

As for me my instinct is for flight rather than fight.

Hence I am one of those breed of humans, probably rare, who is not an animal lover - not cat nor dog or chicken or duck or horse or worse... cow.

I am not one to mess with other mammalian species.  I do not aggravate them or pet them, neither do I hate them - I just leave them well alone.

Chiefly because of their distinctive odours. Cows especially.

I'm not saying I do not drink their milk or eat their meat. In fact I enjoy creamy and beefy foods.

But many decades ago while living temporarily on an English farm during my practical year, I woke up every morning to the wondrous aroma of fresh countryside air - laced with more than the occasional whiffs of Mabel's or Clarabelles's or Daisibelles's farmyard offerrings (yes they had names and I cannot recall the other 20 or so).   You can say I was a tad overdosed.

Twenty years on the memories returned when we checked in our pilot son at the sekolah asrama penuh in Kuala Pilah. The narrow road leading to the school was scattered with green splatter whose odour hung stubbornly in the air that I wondered about the degree of bovineness the kids will smell of after five years there. Well I shouldn't have worried, when mingled with teen sweat they had probably cancelled one another out.

Anyway it's just odours of animal origin that I'm sensitive to. And also aerosol-based pesticides.

I'm OK with strong-smelling foods though like durian, cheeses, petai, korean kimchi, goat meat, tempeh, belacan. I do consume them as well, not with extreme gusto like hubby but I partake of them a little at a time.

Yes hubby has quite an affinity for such foods (except for tempoyak, due to a bad experience which is not fit for publishing).

And this Ramadhan he had cravings for beef tripe! Not for him to buy the pre-processed, white and cleaned ones which he says is tasteless. He has on three occasions so far brought home the original straight-from-the-cow tripe. Needless to say, that triggered long-forgotten memories of Mabel, Daisibelle and Clarabelle.

Fortunately hubby took on the task of brushing those sheets of stomach whatchamacallems with lime bleach before I turned them into masak lemak perut.

You have to boil the darned things first before cooking and throw away the water. I tell you the house smells like a barn each time and once I caught the neighbour's maid looking our way disapprovingly or could it be nostalgically, she's Javanese anyway and where she comes from cow tripe is a relish I was told.

Yikes!!! It says here you have to boil it and replace the water at least 6 times before the odour goes away. I did it only once but for an hour or more, thinking that might really kill any bacteria.

Nonetheless, on those occasions hubby wolfed down the finished product, surviving without any untoward after-effects.

Sheesh... now that I know, I'd have to process those sheets at least 6 times next time he brings home tripe.

And even how many times for that matter, I'm sure my olfactories will still not be desensitised.

But I have been conditioned not to take flight though.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

We May Or May Not Learn

Actually why do we Muslims observe the fast of Ramadhan?

Many might say that they are simply observing one of the tenets of Islam. It is a mandatory requirement which if neglected lands one in the fires of hell.

We teach our young children this as well albeit with promises of rewards such as cash and new clothes for those who make the effort to fast.

As for us adults we too are motivated by promises of rewards that get credited to our spiritual account for the day of reckoning, and in this month according to hadeeth, rewards for good deeds performed sincerely in the name of Allah are MULTIPLIED by 70 times.

In the last ten days of Ramadhan when the going tends to get somewhat tougher (for me at least), we are also motivated by the promise of blessings of the Night of Power/Destiny which are better than 1000 months ie 83 years. In these final days we try to up the ante in anticipation and hope of being bestowed this night.

So this is the month in every year of the Islamic calendar when we strive to earn all these rewards by doing all that is good and avoiding all that is forbidden during the fasting hours and even after.

In fact this is the one month in every year where we undergo a refresher training not only in spiritual matters but also in our worldly affairs.

In the preceding months while still unfailingly offering our prayers, we probably had slipped into behaviours unbecoming of good Muslims, and tainted our hearts with arrogant thoughts, perhaps of vanity and pride at the very least.

Allah says in the Quran that fasting is prescribed upon us believers so that we MAY learn Taqwa.

And of course, this Taqwa is the ultimate reward of Ramadan, the supreme triumph.

It is not guaranteed like the extra credits are guaranteed.  Like  the elusiveness of the Night of Power, Taqwa is a virtue that we MAY or MAY NOT learn.

And how to know that we have learnt Taqwa?

It's by our behaviour on the first of Syawal and beyond! Do we still practise Allah-consciousness and self-restraint on the first of Syawal and beyond till 29th Syaaban?

Or not?

I for one hope that Allah grants me another Ramadhan, not just for the rewards but also the opportunity to develop/redevelop Taqwa.

For Allah says:

" The best of you are those who have learnt Taqwa" (49 : 13). 

~inspired by Ustaz Shihabuddin from last night's usrah 

~also this article:
The Greatness of Ramadaan
by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, Head Mufti (1998) of Cape Town, South Africa

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Bussing It Home

My youngest daughter Syirah and I had made an unplanned trip to One Utama by bus, the longest journey we have ever made on RapidKL including the 20 minutes "transit" at KL Sentral.

What was also unplanned was the damage to my purse incurred at Mark's and Spark's but thanks to years of preventive instincts it survived being completely totaled.

Unfortunately such instincts are not applicable for bus routes. We emerged from OU's old wing with no inkling where to catch the bus back to Pusat Bandar Damansara and Kl Sentral.  An OU general worker told us to wait at the cross-roads across the LDP viaduct, on the TTDI side. An Indon sweeper also said the same. Don't worry about there being no bus-stop, she said, the KL-bound bus will stop for you at the corner after the traffic lights.

Hello? No bus-stop? Isn't that not proper and dangerous?

Oh well, let's just experience this, I thought. So we trudged over to the said corner looking dead green under the hot sun anyone could take us for a ride.

Several other people also came over to wait so that was a relief in a way.

The  U88 Kota Damansara - Pasar Seni bus soon pulled over. Syirah used the debit card for her fare and paid cash for mine - RM5.00 altogether.

When the bus u-turned into Damansara Utama commercial centre and then into SS2 after that, I knew we were in for the long haul, as it were. The route goes through Sea Park, Paramount Gardens, Section 14, and Asia Jaya before it hits the Federal Highway and then on to Bangsar, KL Sentral and Pasar Seni. Very, very long way - it took about 60 minutes but it wasn't unpleasant and it took us to KL like the OU man and Indon sweeper said. Only we hadn't mentioned via Pusat Bandar Damansara.

But we had ample time to catch the U63 back home before the rush hour. For this we had to wait at the bus depot adjacent to the Pasar Seni LRT station. In my school days it used to be known as "Klang Bus Stand". It  was hot and stifling inside, littered with paper and plastic bags and it seemed like ages before the bus came along. This is the part of KL which probably has changed little.

Thankfully the air-conditioning in the bus was working, just about, because now we get whiffs of BO from someone at the back, mixed with the aroma of jackfruit a lady was enjoying in the seat across the aisle. So just tahan lah…

The passengers seemed more chatty too although their tongues were foreign… some Tagalog, some Myanmar, east Malaysians, and the loud ones shouting into their handphones were from the sub-continent, unmistakably.

As we approached home territory on Persiaran Kewajipan in USJ, the bus circumnavigated Taipan, USJ 11, and USJ14 taking us on a local tour before finally terminating at Subang Mewah. We had actually travelled the route from it's starting point at "Klang Bus Stand" - a journey of 60 about mins.

So that was our day out on the busses - a learning experience on the whole, which made us really earn the teh tarik and mee goreng we had at Richfield Banana Leaf Curry House before going home.

Should we try the early morning Route BET3 next?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bussing It

Last Tuesday my youngest daughter Syirah and I rode into KL on RapidKL's bus service. Specifically we wanted to check out the ride to Pusat Bandar Damansara from our area in USJ, a distance of about 25 km.

Syirah will be starting college there in September and we are considering RapidKL as a possible mode of transport, other than her driving or be driven. There are considerable savings cost-wise if she were to use the bus on a daily basis as the student pass is only RM50 a month for unlimited travel.

That morning we boarded a spanking clean bus plying RapidKL's route U63 Subang Mewah to Pasar Seni (Central Market) at it's starting-point opposite the Jati apartments. It helps that this place is only a stone's throw from my house and thus is quite convenient, also boarding from there meant we are practically assured of a seat each

The driver wore a cheerful smile when collecting our fares of RM2.50 per person and was also helpful when we inquired about an express service route BET3 that we had really wanted to use. We were two and a half hours too late for that one though, the last bus being at 7am serving mainly people going to work in KL. So we had to make do with the normal one instead.

The ride was quite enjoyable. The bus was air-conditioned, and it moved at a fairly decent speed as the usual peak-hour traffic had already begun to ease, only stopping now and again at the stops for passengers to alight or board. No untoward incidents except once the driver had to stop and get down at a tight corner to push a stalled car out of the way so he could negotiate the bus round the turn. Kudos to him, he did it as a matter of fact, and I heard no swearing nor complaint.

This is link on the RapidKL site for the route:

It took about 45 minutes to get to KL Sentral where we had to change to the U83 for Pusat Bandar Damansara (PBD). The bus stop is actually on Jalan Tun Sambanthan and and it was a good 20 minutes or so before we located the onward bus terminal at the ground level of the KL Sentral complex, partly because  I had decided not to use the shortcut because of the construction going on around there - an unwarranted fear it turned out to be.

Anyway, when we got to the terminal, there was a U82 bus to Bandar Utama already waiting and another one driving in soon after. Apparently U82 also stops at PBD so we boarded it. The driver couldn't accept cash as fare as the ticket printer was faulty. He suggested that we buy the company BIT debit card instead and load in RM10 which is enough fare for two persons. And so we did and off we went. Less than 10 minutes later we were already at PBD but decided not to alight there because the place was teeming with foreign workers taking up the government's generous legalization offer.

What better reason then to go on ahead to One Utama (OU) for a little retail therapy!

However it was a very convoluted way to get to OU, passing through Damansara Utama and the streets of Taman Tun Dr Ismail. It took nearly 40 minutes even though very few people got on or off along the way. The fare displayed on the reader passengers have to touch their debit card with before alighting was RM5.00 for two persons.

Here's the link for the route:

We had lunch, then stopped by at Mak's Spenders… ooops Marks and Spencers, to buy  a couple of slacks for myself. It's the only place with apparel for my Mat Salleh-like proportions. And we can't go to OU and return empty-handed, can we?

After afternoon prayers and buying a casing for my Nokia C6, we started on our  journey home.

(To Be Continued)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Back In The UK

If there's one thing that I must be grateful for thus far, it's my back. It's probably a gene I have inherited from Mom. All my life I have not heard her ever complain of sakit pinggang. Even now when she has spondylosis, the discomfort shows up elsewhere.

Recently, on a nine day trip to the UK for my son Azeim's graduation, we all ie. hubby, our two daughters as well as Azeim who planned the holiday, had to put our backs to the test.

Of the 7 nights on terra firma, we had the luxury of beds on only three.  2 nights on  coach seats in the Glasgow-to-London sleeper train and back, and 2 nights in a rented car on a marathon Glasgow-Land's End-Andover(Stonehenge)- Brighton-Dover-Glasgow road tour.

Which made the three nights at an inn near Inverness, a hotel in Glasgow and a B&B in Andover like god-send and thoroughly appreciated.

I had wondered loudly if I would ever get to go on a luxurious holiday,  flying first-class sleeping on recliner seats, checking into a classy six-star hotel, being chauffeured here, there and everywhere in limousines and eating  the finest cuisine.

 BUT...  that'd be the  kind of holiday  that spoils you rotten, that might actually weaken your muscles and may even make you suffer back pain actually.

And you learn nothing from not getting lost and finding your own way around a megapolis like London.

You might not quite feel the exhilaration of looking onto a beautiful Atlantic Ocean at the south-western tip of England they call Land's End, after a long overnight drive that is.

What more negotiating  the scenic route along the sunny southern coast all the way to Dover and walking on it's white cliffs overlooking the majestic ferry port where in the distance you  can even see France.

And how tremendous it was on the morning of your flight home which was at 1400 hrs you had your final shower at the motorway rest area outside Glasgow

and then you limited yourself to only one and a half hours shopping for summer bargains, which did not include kilts

Alhamdulillah, the old back held up.

Then again, a luxurious holiday might be very nice indeed.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Amin and Hanis

She was giggling sweetly like a schoolgirl when Amin put Hanis, his wife, on the phone. My guess is all is hunky-dory in their 2-week old marriage.

The first nine days were spent in Terengganu and KL and now they are settling into their new life as husband and wife in Tongod, a remote little town in the wilds of Sabah.

And incidentally, they also function as a husband-and-wife MO team at the district's Kelinik Kesihatan.

I am not denying any nervous apprehensions with this arrangement….  you know, having a spouse around you 24 by 7 by 365. But I believe they both are strong and committed to face their future together, Insya Allah and what better way than this to really get to know one another.

You see, like my mother and late father, Amin and Hanis had never dated before they married, preferring to stick to Islamic principles. They had only "met" briefly when they were house-officers in the same department at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital in Kota Kinabalu.

Obviously the attraction was mutual and through the help of a common friend, contacts were made with the various elders to facilitate their union plus Hanis's subsequent posting to Tongod.

Alhamdulillah after a six-month engagement the betrothal took place on July 1st in Rusila, Terengganu. It was a pleasant, straight-to-the-point affair. A short sermon was read by Ustaz Mujahid who was Amin's good friend when they were both studying in Jordan.

The ijab was performed by Hanis's father himself, and Amin's qabul was a simple statement of acceptance "Saya terima nikahnya seperti yang tersebut itu".

The following day the reception was held in honour of the newly-weds. This time we brought along the trays of gifts on the proper day (unlike the previous do).

As is traditional on the east coast, kith and kin were feasted earlier before the rest of the guests arrived after mid-day. I think it is a good idea to adopt for logistical purposes. Before zohor prayers we were ready to make our way back home to KL, leaving Amin to his own devices, and his dad's yellow alfa.

Amin's reception have had to be postponed till after Eidul Fitri as we had to fly to the UK  to witness his younger brother's graduation ceremony. Also Hanis would have to start her posting in Tongod a.s.a.p

With her sounding so happy on the phone yesterday, I can't help but feel that they both have started this phase of their lives on a sound footing. May Allah bless their marriage with love and understanding for all time, Ameen…

ooops... and many children too... *winks*


Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Replacing Loss

Over the last few years I have lost a number of essential but not necessarily treasured possessions. The latest was my multifocals with the retro-look frames, what I used to call my Saloma glasses. I must have dropped them somewhere in Kuala Terengganu last trip.

I've had them for yonks, ever since I had to use reading glasses. I didn't want to look like a granny at work so I had mulifocals made even though I had and still have perfect vision for long-distance.

Last week I had a replacement done, and it wasn't cheap. The optometrist who checked my eyes told me the power I now need for reading is extremely high - 275, 25 shy of a full-fledged magnifiying glass. Time I stop these late-night surfing before I have to start carrying one around like Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Recently I had also lost...  not physically, but the use of my shocking pink, senior-friendly Nokia. It had fonts huge enough that I could read text messages quite easily even without ye olde reading glasses.

It had fallen about four feet onto hard tiled floor from the banister at the bottom of the stairs where I had parked it. I hadn't expect anyone to want to talk to me at that hour but someone did and the phone fell when it started to ring and vibrate, spilling out it's gut - the battery.

From then on the casing couldn't latch properly and I kept losing the battery connection.  So yesterday after I collected my new focals, I settled for a new Nokia C6-01 which also wasn't cheap but cost much less than the latest Blackberry or iPhone for which I had heard more than enough recommendations. It was an expensive day.

About 10 days ago I had also made another "replacement" purchase for something that I had lost to burglars in 2003. It was unplanned and unbudgeted for, but as most ladies have a fondness for accessories, more so the yellowy, shiny and gleaming kind, I blame the purchase on a moment of weakness.

Although I lament my loss to temptation, there is nevertheless that feeling of gratitude that I at least have the means, on a small scale at least, to indulge in my baser desires.

Yes it has been an expensive month so far.

But they are all wordly possessions... they do nothing to tip the "brownie point" scale in my favour. 

What I should be guarding myself against, as a Muslim who is getting on in years,  is the possible loss of faith and guidance in the remaining time that I have - could be days or could be decades.

And I should be stingy with what little measly credits I've managed to earn thus far since I can lose them all to some person that I have backbitten or wronged in any way, and that I shall be the receiver of all of that person's negative marks in return...  This I think is from a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW.

Most of us however, feel that a much greater loss is the passing away of someone you really love and respect wholeheartedly, in my family's case he is my Dad. It'll be 18 years this July 12th. Dad was the rock of the family, a stoic gentleman and a role model. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.

You are irreplaceable, Dad. May Allah place you amongst the righteous.....   Ameen

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I Got Acquainted With iMovie

I used to be an avid user of Windows Movie Maker.

I'd piece together a few snapshots and video clips and plonked in some music, added in some effects and captions and voila, I have myself a video production.

Here's one of my favourites:

Today, after a long hiatus due to waning interest, I tried Mac's movie-maker apps, iMovie on my newish Apple.

It was straightforward enough but there is still a lot of the features yet to play with.

iMovie is programmed to get it's input from iPhoto and iTunes, so I first had to ensure the photos and clips I wanted to use have been imported into their respective libraries.

After that it was just a matter of putting in the captions and video effects while synchcronising the music to the transitions.

The video is then compiled into Apple's .mov format. I uploaded it to Youtube under my Kaizendra channel.

So here is my first iMovie video production:

Note: Youtube has increased the time limit of uploaded videos from 10 minutes to 15. And also accepts .mov high definition format.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Mac Blues

 image from google

I'm only a recent convert to Apple/Mac. I can't say that I've embraced it with all my heart. Being used to Windows there were things that had to be unlearnt and new ones to get used to.

Like where they've placed those window minimiser/maximiser buttons at the top lefthand corner (yellow arrow in the pic below) and being teeny-tiny as well, is not very intuitive for righthanded users like me.

And then the Apple icon where you logout, shutdown, etc is also at the top lefthand corner of the screen sharing the menu bar of the currently active apps. Windows has its icon placed at the bottom left all by itself hence it's more prominent.

The other thing was the "delete" key. It's actually the Windows "backspace" key. Everytime you want to delete something you've got to take the cursor to the end of the word or phrase, which I find quite annoying.

There's more.

On my entry level Mac, they've  put in only 2 USB ports whereas on my Windows machine it had more USB's than I had uses for, plus a slot for SD memory sticks to transfer images and maps easily, but on the Mac - zilch :(

The other day I wanted to bluetooth-transfer an image from my ancient Samsung Omnia (that image on the left was googled). It had worked easy-peasy on the Windows but the Mac refused to connect with it. I had to research the forums and was surprised to learn that Bluetoothing with smartphones is a known issue with Mac OS. I mean like, really? The formidable Mac?

Anyway, a good samaritan shared his way of getting round the problem which I have copied below for my own future reference:

1) I opened the System Preferences.
2) Click on the Bluetooth icon.
3) A list of bluetooth devices that are paired with my laptop is reflected on the left.
4) I look for my Omnia or SGH-i900 (which was paired already before) and highlight it by clicking on it.
5) Look below the list for the "+", "-" and "" symbols.
6) Click on the symbol to reveal a drop down list.
7) Select "Show More Info" and the drop down list is modified to reveal more options. The drop down list will disappear.
8) Click on the again and select "Update Device Services". The Drop down list will disappear again.
9) You'll notice that the Omnia lights up and there is a connection.
10) At the same time (and quickly), click on the again and select "Connect to Network".
11) This time, the connection should hold and the Bluetooth PAN is up.

See how tedious it is, but I had to follow these steps as the Omnia's proprietary cable connector had long ago gone MIA.

A few good things I can say about the Mac, one of them is that it's  iTunes audio is very pleasing to hear, "fingering" the trackpad to this 50plus is also something rather cool, and most importantly,  it is known that buying proprietary products protects us somewhat from malicious hackers and viruses.

Oh well, as in any new relationship I've just got to get used to it's quirks.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Voice

In as much as untrained "writers" like me are able to express our thoughts through blogs and facebook, it takes natural talent and skill to use the written word to project our voices.

Without the help of the voice, sometimes our writings get misinterpreted. When we think we are funny, readers think we have a lot of agro.

However when we speak, the manner and tone of our voice reflect our true feelings (unless we are actors of course) which in certain cases can be actually hurtful to the one listening.

So... on the one hand we must be careful how we write to avoid misinterpretation, and on the other we should be careful how we speak in order not to give away our true feelings.

This delightful poem by an unknown writer explains:

“It’s not so much what you say,
as the manner in which you say it;
It’s not so much the language you use,
as the tone in which you convey it.
’Come here’,I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
“Come Here", I said and he looked and smiled,
and straight to my lap he crept.

Words may be mild and fair,
But the tone may pierce like a dart’
Words may be soft as the summer air,
But the tone may break my heart’
For words come from the mind,
Grow by study and art,
But tone leaps from the inner self,
Revealing the state of heart.

Whether you know it or not,
whether you mean or care,
gentleness, kindness, love and hate,
envy, anger are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
and peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words
keep it out of your voice."

But that would be just suppressing negatvity, wouldn't it?

Once in a while,  I'm game for verbal badminton too.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Do You Have A Back-up Language?

I know many people who are truly bilingual i.e they read, write, speak and think in two languages ever since childhood.

I also know a few who had tried to learn a third language a little later in life and managed to acquire a basic level of proficiency, one of them is my youngest daughter who learnt French for about three years at school. But on a short trip to France could barely make herself understood.

My eldest son, who studied formal Arabic up to SPM quickly picked up Jordanian street Arabic while doing his degree there.

They say the way to be proficient in any foreign language is to live among the native speakers and speak their language until it becomes a natural tongue.

I recently read that information about our native languages are stored in the left side of our brains, and that of languages that we are still learning or had mastered later are stored in other areas of the brain.

Why am I fascinated by this?

It is the realisation that an extra language can serve as a back-up communications tool should one happen to suffer damage to the left-brain and completely lose one's native language(s).

It happened to a 13 year old girl here:

It happened too to a friend who had suffered a stroke. He has reportedly lost his Malay and powerful English but is communicating now only in Thai, a language he was learning or had perhaps only just mastered.

I mean... seriously, though I do not wish it on anyone and certainly not on myself, a trauma to the left brain could leave us totally incapable of communicating to anyone.

But if we had been learning a new language prior to it happening,  this language might just kick in during recovery and help us be understood.

I'm thinking perhaps Mandarin, Tamil or even Javanese... there are many such speakers here in the Klang Valley

And also memorising more of Quran verses, for the Arabic capability......

I must reiterate, I do not wish brain injury on myself or even to anyone else, Na'uzubillah min zalik

Yes it is scary...  but hey, let's insure ourselves... just in case...


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"I Was Trying To Be Clever"

She's almost a wonder woman this little lady whom her nearest and dearest fondly call Tok Mi. She's my Mum, just turned 84, and she lives by herself with a very dependable maid in Old PJ.

All her life she has been generally healthy all and only in the last five years or so developed a touch of diabetes and hypertension. Tok Mi recently had a knee job done. Barely one month post-op she was happily walking around, albeit a little slowly, but pain-free and without a tongkat.

This year apparently is the year for weddings amongst our relatives and friends. In the recent school holidays there were weddings back-to-back. With her new knee she was looking forward to attending them all. She was with us in Terengganu for my sons' engagement and wedding, very much enjoying the change in air and fare. When I was still conked out from the various ceremonies, Tok Mi had my brother (no. 2 sibling) drive her to her little bungalow in the kampong in Melaka for the monthly stay-over and house maintenance.

Last Saturday at one of the kenduris she had complained of dizziness but seemed to be ok after taking some food, although not as chirpy as usual. We thought that she might be overly fatigued from her social jaunts.

Sunday, as everyone at home were getting ready to go out for our 30th anniversary lunch, my elder sister (no. 3 sibling) phoned me to come over to Tok Mi's IMMEDIATELY.

"Why, what happened?" I asked.

"CEPAT!! Ada EMERGENCY!!!" she loudly sobbed.

"OK, OK, OK.."

In the car as hubby drove I called another sister, the calm and collected youngest (no. 9).

"I'm going over to Tok Mi's now, so what should I expect?" I enquired.

"Oh.. Tokmi pengsan, I'll be on my way in about 10 minutes", she said coolly

When we arrived the UH ambulance was already there and Tok Mi inside it with no. 3. Turned out elder brother (no. 1) and his wife had rang for it when the maid phoned them about Tok Mi. Actually she had already regained consciousness and was very alert after the paramedics attended to her. She had had a hypoglycaemic episode i.e very low blood sugar with a reading of 1.6 when normal is about 5.5.

The maid found her on the carpeted floor when she heard her fall off her chair in the bedroom. Tok Mi's eyes were shut and she was in delirium. Thankfully the maid had the presence of mind to make the necessary calls fast.

When she came to, right after being given some oxygen and a shot of glucose directly into her bloodstream, she was surprised to see so many people around and even asked why my sister-in-law, who was actually on her way to a (yes, you've guessed it) yet another wedding, why she was dressed so nicely.

It was a great relief for everyone. The paramedics still had to take her to hospital so doctors can determine the cause of her low sugar.

When asked where she had kept her IC and Pensioner's Card, she immediately answered where. In that locked drawer and the keys are in... OK musn't tell this, it's her secret place. Amazing that she could blurt it out right after being unconscious.

Later we joked we should have asked for her ATM pin too.

At the ER, another sister (no. 4) who knew about Tok Mi's medications was puzzled the diabetes pills weren't in her pills purse. If she hadn't taken them she would have been hyperglycaemic (high sugar), not low. After all she had eaten rich kenduri food the day before and she said she had roti canai for breakfast.

"So did you take your diabetes pills?", the doctor asked, "what shape are they?"

"They are the little round ones, Doctor", she said, "I take half a pill every morning".

"Did you take it this morning?"

"Yes, of course, but since yesterday when I saw my feet were slightly swollen I was scared the diabetes might have gotten worse, so I took a whole pill in the morning and another whole one in the evening. Also this morning, one whole pill", she smiled...

Aghast No. 4 and I went "WHAT???? You shouldn't have done that..., the pills made your sugar hit rock-bottom"

"Alahai...  is that so? I didn't know lah, I was thinking going to the clinic is so leceh"

The doctor was relieved too that the cause was pinned down and told her in no uncertain terms that she shouldn't self-medicate at all. But they will still have to retain her overnight for observations and take the opportunity to do blood and urine profilings, a chest x-ray and a Mantoux test for some coughing from which she had not fully recovered from.

Tok Mi was discharged yesterday and called me from the hospital to fetch her. Yes she had looked up the phone-book in her memory, amazing the man who had lent her his cellphone. He was looking after his mother in the next bed.

Another younger sister (no. 8) came to help with the discharge procedures - at UH it can be a bit tedious, you'd have to queue at the pharmacy on the ground floor to get your prescription filled, then queue at admin. on the second to make the payment, though in Tokmi's case the whole thing was FOC by virtue of her being the wife of a government pensioner (even if  deceased), then you had to sign a form and leave your IC to borrow a wheelchair, and then return it to the ward, in this instance on the 12th floor.

While having dinner at her house and discussing this episode Tokmi remarked "Tak berani lagi aku nak tambah-tambah ubat bila doktor dah hukum. I'll never do it again".

"So why did you?", we asked..

"I was trying to be clever"..

And those were her exact words.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A Little Early For The Wedding

They say no wedding is perfect.

So too was my second son's wedding in Kuala Terengganu.

What was perfect was his lafaz nikah - pronounced only once to the complete satisfaction of the witnesses at the mosque in Manir.

And that is what really matters in the solemnization of the betrothal of a normal Muslim couple here in Malaysia.

The rest are merely activities held in celebration of the wedding of which some can be formal, scripted and choreographed affairs or quite informal, depending on the families concerned.

Ours tended toward the latter, easy-going and unassuming, nevertheless it wasn't without a goof-up or two.

Well... only one, I think.

The gaffe was that we had brought the gift-laden trays, all nine of them, to the mosque to be exchanged with those from the bride's, totally ignorant of the fact that in Terengganu, exchange of gifts are only done at the bersanding ceremony during the reception, usually the following day.

Whereas in Selangor and Melaka at least, gifts from both sides are laid out and pleasantries (pantuns in Melaka) are exchanged even before the kadi has a chance to give his khutbah and conduct the betrothal.

No wonder the bride's family looked kind of shell-shocked when we arrived at the mosque.

It was my besan (bride's mum), a single mother,  who saved the situation by suggesting a symbolic hand-over of the trays from me to her... well done Kak Fatimah!

 Isn't she cute? Yes, I'm younger than her but she looks not a day over forty, doesn't she?

Anyway, everyone took it in good spirits... after all it was the happiest day for Amal and Akmal who are now united as husband and wife, as well as marking the beginning of ties between two families from opposite sides of the Peninsular Malaysia.

The following day at the reception, we again carried in the trays (which had presumably spent the night in the bridal suite) and laid them out in front of the wedding dais alongside the ones from the bride's family.

I must say everyone enjoyed the Terengganu hospitality and merriment, not forgetting the delicious freshly-cooked wedding fare  of gulai kawah, gulai nangka etc, etc...

What's also unforgettable was the friendly Chinese cameraman who spoke perfect Terengganuese who took charge of the berarak and bersanding ceremonies, arranging the gift-bearers, telling us when to start walking, who to merenjis and in what order...

And hopefully our next Terengganu wedding, just a month away this time for number one son, will be much more correct... hehehe

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Penawar Kerimasan

Dalam keadaan rumah tunggang-langgang kerana operasi cat-mengecat, dengan scaffolding di tengah rumah, dan barang-barang lemari berserabut di atas meja dan lantai, sejuk hati ini apabila terlihat salah-seorang ahli pasukan empat sekawan Mat Bangla yang bernama Abdurrahman, sebelum berus mencecah dinding mengucap Basmallah dengan penuh khusyu'.

Sebelum itu memang saya terfikir sampai bilalah saya harus bertahan dengan keadaan rumah sebegini serta kebisingan celoteh team yang amat bersemangat.

Lalu memujuk diri dengan mengharapkan sesuatu yang baik walaupun kecil, dari Yang Maha Adil... kerana berpeluang membantu hamba-hambanya yang mencari rezeki.

Kebetulan saya sedang membelek-belek online Al-Quran dan rasa tersentuh pula dengan sebahagian ayat 195 Surah Al-'Imran (kononnya mengulangi pelajaran di usrah malam tadi).

"(195) And thus does their Sustainer answer their prayer: "I shall not lose sight of the labour of any of you who labours [in My way], be it man or woman: each of you is an issue of the other...."  ~ Muhammad Asad's translation.

(195) Maka Tuhan mereka perkenankan doa mereka (dengan firmanNya): "Sesungguhnya Aku tidak akan sia-siakan amal orang-orang yang beramal dari kalangan kamu, sama ada lelaki atau perempuan, (kerana) setengah kamu (adalah keturunan) dari setengahnya yang lain;


Malam tadi saya tertarik dengan ayat 190 dan 191:

(190) Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed messages for all who are endowed with insight,

191) [and] who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep,
and [thus] reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: "O our Sustainer! Thou hast not created [aught of] this without meaning and purpose. Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! Keep us safe, then, from suffering through fire!

Ustaz menerangkan yang "endowed with insight" itu lah yang "remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep". Memang sah saya amat berkurangan dengan "power of insight" tersebut, kalau mengikut terjemahan Bahasa Melayunya ialah kurang berakal... ooops sedihnya

(190) Sesungguhnya pada kejadian langit dan bumi, dan pada pertukaran malam dan siang, ada tanda-tanda (kekuasaan, kebijaksanaan, dan keluasan rahmat Allah) bagi orang-orang yang berakal

 (191) (Iaitu) orang-orang yang menyebut dan mengingati Allah semasa mereka berdiri dan duduk dan semasa mereka berbaring mengiring, dan mereka pula memikirkan tentang kejadian langit dan bumi (sambil berkata): "Wahai Tuhan kami! Tidaklah Engkau menjadikan benda-benda ini dengan sia-sia, Maha Suci Engkau, maka peliharalah kami dari azab neraka.

Banyak perkara lagha yang mengisi waktu saya - mana mungkin boleh mencapai "a happy state" tanpa mengingati Yang Rahman Yang Rahim...

Sedang saya membaca ayat terakhir surah, saya teringat seorang rakan yang terlantar sakit.

(200) O you who have attained to faith! Be patient in adversity, and vie in patience with one another, and be ever ready [to do what is right], and remain conscious of God, so that you might attain to a happy state!

Insya Allah beliau sudah melatih diri untuk  "remain conscious of God" "when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep" atau ditidurkan.

Saya juga harus mempunyai kebolehan seperti itu.

Ini baru sahaja menghadapi keadaan rumah yang lintang-pukang seperti dilanda angin puting beliung. Belum lagi ancaman nuklear dan sewaktu dengannya.

Belum lagi di.....    (iishhh.... tak mahu fikirkan lah)

Ya Ampunnn...

Ini juga penawar.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saturday TV

I accidentally watched some serious TV this morning.

I don't usually watch TV except perhaps the cookery channel or whatever whoever was in control of the remote was watching.

With 3 Banglas upstairs diligently transforming our boring beigy bedrooms into sensuous caves of "Lavender Print" and "Bouquet Orchid", I thought I might as well check out what's cooking on the Asia Food Channel.

That Pinoy chef "whats-his-name" was rolling out some apple strudels. It looks very easy to make and I love apple strudels and always order them for dessert when we "cafe/deli" out.  But then whenever I have apples in the fridge I think it's a crime to cut them up and cook all the vitamins away.

Flipping channels, "Crime and Investigation" caught my attention. It was showing a documentary about 2 kids involved in a  misadventure which started from an internet chatroom.

It was the year 2003 when chatrooms were all the rage. Teenagers (and not-so-teen internet-savvy) were making online friends  and gradually becoming addicted to communicating with one another for very long hours in this mode. (So what's so different with Facebook?)

John was an ordinary 16 year old, an only son of busy parents, who had made friends with 14 year old Mark, also an only child, in a chatroom for kids in Manchester.

Apart from Mark, John was also friendly with Rebecca, a teenage tease who often played on John's imagination and whom John had often arranged to meet in the flesh, but somehow the meetings never materialised.

Eventually Rebecca disappeared from the scene after being virtually killed off by an apparently  concerned Mark. The unassuming John remained friends with Mark and was actually becoming rather fascinated by his online capabilities.

His curiosity was answered when an older lady, Janet, a real-estate agent, made contact with John. It turned out that she was actually an undercover agent for The Crown, on a mission to recruit youngsters to groom them into the service. John's friendship with Mark was what had qualified him to be identified as an apprentice agent.

According to Janet, Mark was one of only two people who had access to an undersea vault which contained state secrets of the UK. The other person was the Queen.

As an apprentice, John's job was to protect Mark. He would be very well compensated financially... and sexually by Janet should he pass his assignments.

Every now and again Janet instructed John through the chats, to accompany Mark when he had to go somewhere like the dentist's or just hanging out, because of how valuable Mark was to the government.

With that kind of incentive, especially the non-financial, John was frequently with Mark after school.

One night Janet came online and said that John was doing very well indeed. His next assignment however was to be a big one - one that he would be paid 300 pounds sterling for in addition to some time with Janet herself.

He was to stab Mark...

The reason why was not revealed, only that he had to do it.

When they were out together that afternoon, John bought a kitchen knife, telling Mark it was for his mother.

Later on as evening approached, in a park somewhere in Manchester John stabbed Mark deeply in the stomach but called for an ambulance soon after.

The police then arrested John who told them everything about Janet and his recruitment into UK's Secret Service, confident that Janet would soon appear to vindicate him of his "crime". But she did not.

Mark had to spend some weeks in ICU recovering from his wound which was within an inch of being a fatal one. John was taken into custody.

Subsequent police analysis of John's computer hard-drives showed that John had been a victim of his own gullibility, believing that he was indeed marked out for a life of spying intrigue in the future. Someone, the police suspected a paedophile, had played on a teenage boy's fantasy.

And that someone, as police later discovered, was... Mark himself.

From his online interactions police investigators found that Mark had assumed about 190 different personas in the chatrooms, including that of Rebecca and Janet.

What gave him away was the regular use of a misspelling in each of his persona: instead of "maybe" he used "myebye".

What was puzzling though was why he had a death wish. This was something the documentary did not dwell upon.

John spent a year in remand before his case was brought to court.

At the end of the trial, John was acquitted. Thankfully the judge regarded the whole episode as something unfortunate to learn from and ruled that both John and Mark were not to see each other again, nor be allowed to be on the internet unsupervised and not to use chatrooms again.

I should think John and Mark are both young adults by now. I wonder how they are doing.

Is Mark instead of John being groomed for undercover duties?

Are they on Facebook? Or perhaps blogging?

Oh, American Idol now on Starworld.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


An ailing octogenarian gentleman conveyed a message to his elder brother, "Tell him I'm not leaving until he goes".

Elder brother who lived in a city 100 km away replied, "No, no, no... tell him not to hang around for me..."

His younger brother managed a laugh on being told the reply, even in his considerably weakened state.

Younger brother eventually succumbed to his illness

10 days later elder brother, who had suffered a stroke weeks before, breathed his last.

They were my uncles, Pak Man and Pak Lah. They had been very pious gentlemen, one had a brand of humour which can be considered legendary.

May Allah bless their souls and place them among the righteous, and to the families they left behind may Allah grant you patience in your time of grie

As my Mum remarked when informed of Pak Man's passing, this world is only temporary, we each will go when our time comes.

Mum was in hospital for a knee job when Pak Man left us.

They had been very chummy in-laws for as long as I can remember - often taking the mickey of one another.

Mum is also in her eighties - 84 this May

Even how impermanent the world, her independence and zest for life will be a hard act to follow should we, her children, ever reach her age.

Her left knee had been troubling her for the past few years and off late the injections of knee "lubrication" hadn't help much.

Despite our anxieties about her being under general anesthesia at her age, she was adamant about getting her ravaged knee replaced.

"It hurts very badly, it's not getting any better and you all do not feel the pain I am going through", Mum argued.

Last Friday, after getting good results for her blood tests, the surgery was performed by Dr Syed at Ampang Puteri Hospital.

The prognosis was excellent. She may be able to go home in 5 days.

Dr Syed marvelled at Mum's bone density being above average for her age.

She has been taking calcium supplements for the last five years actually, and has always been telling us to do so as well.

In fact her bones are dense enough that his surgical tool smoked when he was cutting through ker knee. He had to "soften" the bone with water! Also helped to cool the tool, I think.

He replaced the joint which had already fused together apparently, but retained her knee-cap and ligaments which are still in good condition.

On Monday, 3 days post-op, Mum was already on her feet walking in Physiotherapy with the aid of a u-frame and climbing up and down 3 steps as well. She had 2 sessions, morning and afternoon.

Yesterday (Tuesday) she ambled down the ward corridor with the frame to chat with a friend's 86 year old mother who was in for some geriatric aches and pains.

Being ambulatory has brought back her appetite and Mum is now clamouring for her own cooking. Hospital food "tak sedap"!

Alhamdulillah Mum will be discharged later today and I don't think anyone can stop her from cooking her favourite pindang fish herself when she gets home.

It won't be wrong to say this eighty-something is a living legend.

(I think I'll start on calcium supplementation pronto!)


Here is an informative link about Total Knee Replacement

An extract:

What is a total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure whereby the diseased knee joint is replaced with artificial material. The knee is a hinge joint which provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. The thigh bone (or femur) abuts the large bone of the lower leg (tibia) at the knee joint. During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower leg bone (tibia) is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem. Depending on the condition of the kneecap portion of the knee joint, a plastic "button" may also be added under the kneecap surface.

The posterior cruciate ligament is a tissue that normally stabilizes each side of the knee joint so that the lower leg cannot slide backward in relation to the thigh bone. In total knee replacement surgery, this ligament is either retained, sacrificed, or substituted by a polyethylene post. Each of these various designs of total knee replacement has its benefits and risks.