Friday, September 23, 2011

Our very own Hari Raya do - Corporate Affairs Division

We have our office very own Eid celebration today.  The practice is that we would throw in other celebrations in a gathering normally attended by most in the department.  For today's gathering, apart from the Eid, we'll also have a new child celebration (should recommend that a grandchild celebration be also held), birthdays and partings for those going into retirement.  The KP made time to grace our gathering and he has the Datin accompanying.  Thank you Datuk and Datin.

For the on-goings, I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

The food spread.  These pictures has to be taken as a bahan
bukti to make the CSI a much easier job later. 
The Baryani rice has yet to make its entry
The food at the main table.
The best tasting peanut sauce I've ever taken, 
prepared by Lynn's 70 year old grandma. 
Lynn should ensure that she masters the recipe to keep the tradition alive.
 Joha, our club president, welcoming us.
Datuk KP reminding us to spare a thought for the Somalis.
Datuk KP and Mr. President enjoying the spread.
 Zul, the past President, playing host to Datin.
 Patiently queing for the spread.
 The birthday boys and girls.
 Datuk congratulating Zaher for his new born.
 Part of the family.
 With Mama Leha (retired), Ven (the Club Treasurer),
Kak Noriah (scheduled to retire soon) and yours truly after our satisfying fill.
 Like mother, like daughter.  Lina and mother,
Kak Lang who retired just two days ago.  
With the retirees.  I'll be next (
Our busy cameramen.
Caught a reflected frame.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Big Hari Raya (AidilFitr) Organisation Do

As the saying goes, you fast for a month (Ramadhan), you'll need to celebrate hari raya (Eid) over an equivalent period (Syawal).  This Syawal open house is very much a Malaysian culture.  Believe me, but some would even have their open house do way past Syawal.

Over the years, our office Eid celebration has evolved into a big do.  I remember we started with polystyrene packed food in the early 90s, to cart laid out with several food picks in the parking lot, to simple tents with the majority of the crowd crowding under the tree sheds of the parking area (the sun was merciless and the asphalt parking lot offers no respite), to elaborate Arabian tents with equally elaborate food spread.  Wish I've kept photos of all those events.  You never know when you are part of history until it is all over (and years later). 

Later we have the advantage of the fully air-conditioned MAEPS (Malaysia Agriculture Exposition Park Serdang) at our disposal.  First MAEPS only offered us the not-so-fantastic Level 1 of Hall D.  The many pillars were too much of an distraction.  For the past three celebrations we were offered the fully carpeted Level 2 and a live band to go with!  We have moved on, and with it the escalating cost.

But anything good has its lifespan.  The recession hits everybody but being the only get-together that has been cultured as a must, it has to go on albeit on a much smaller scale.  Being pampered over the years, I wondered should anything less be acceptable.  It was really a struggle for us, the organising committee, to manage such a big event on such a limited budget.  Nothing was coming from the organisation and it's a 'crime' to be seeking external sponsorship for something construed very much an internal matter.  Should we go for the asking, there would be willing sponsors, more than we could possibly manage.  But as said, that option is no option at all.  Further, taking that option would draw too much attention where you least want it, and the flacks too.

We had our first organising committee meeting during the fasting month itself.  The prospect was gloomy.  However, we had what we won for the IDB S&T award and a per head sum was promised.  That is some relief.  Then our Cooperative Society pledged us  5K (Thank you Mr. YDP, Sir). Our subsidiary company promised to take care of the mutton grilling cost.  The Dorper sheep come from our very own farm.  We enticed MAEPS management to write-off the venue cost, which they agreed (Thank you, Dato').  Alhamdullillah, we are back in business. 

The celebration proper was today, 22 Sept 2011.  Due to our present constrains I took to reminding the staff via e-mail to please have their fill but just take (the amount) what they need and to refrain from wasteful food piling.  Hope the message would not be taken out of context.

We did cut back on a few items (which we considered as extras) and the amount compared to last year's.  But things that make what Raya is were not compromised.  The ketupat, lemang and rendang; the roti jala and chicken curry; the laksa Johor; the satay and peanut sauce; Bukhari rice with chicken in red sauce; and of course our iconic grilled mutton were retained.  Apart from the normal kuih raya; we have our minimally processed fruits, fermented rice (tapai) using our very own yeast culture, and jelly coconut for dessert.  The teh tarik (bubbled tea) top it all.  The more adventurous ones would go for ginger flavoured teh tarik.  A new addition replacing our ABC (shredded ice concoction) is the cendol.  The cendol is the KP's pick.  I've never tasted cendol that good Datuk!!! 

The merriment was accompanied by our very own live band, though nothing official.  They are just a few guys who loved jamming and were given the opportunity to go public.  They have a few aspiring singers accompanying.  Had only they knew that the band offered to us my MAEPS would make us poorer by 10K!  Thank you guys.  We love the spirit.

I'll let the pictures tell the full story once I have them from our cameramen.  I was too busy entertaining the guests to be clicking away myself.  Furthermore, it's better to have 'professionals' attending to that job.

The photo shots are finally here......
Many thanks to Khairol Azhar for them all.

The management waiting to receive staff and guests. 
The staff made them wait as they trickled in very slowly.
In-line to receive the guests.
Yours truly with Dato' Masri, the DDG
.......receiving Dato' Arif, CEO MAEPS

Feeling welcomed....the happy faces.

Receiving staff and guests.
You'll never feel left-out with this kind of welcome.
The iconic grilled lamb has to be shown...
Hjh. Rahila at hand to ensure fair distribution...
seconds are allowed, even thirds
but you'll need to repeat your position in the que. 
Hjh. Rahila stood by that ruling...

The crowd, spoilt for choice of what to start-off with.
The satay stop.
The hi-topped cendol 'dishers'.
Teh tarik (bubbled tea) that goes by the distance from the
spout to the cup.  These guys were really getting good at it.
Dishing out the Bukhari rice.
Nearly always, the guys are out-numbered...,
......with exceptions....
Having a photo shot with Datuk KP.
YB Dato' Wira Jo, the deputy minister (MOA) gracing our celebration.
Thank you YB.
The band entertaining us with their sad melancholic songs.
Com'on's supposed to be raya remember, happier notes please.

Our deep-felt appreciation to everybody for making the celebration a success.  It started with much apprehensions but ends well.  Thank you all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy B'day My Dearest

It's my husband's birthday today.  His 62nd.  It's a double celebration as our second born and first boy, Nazim, was born on this date too.  It was not planned, but he chose to come in (out?) to the world earlier than anticipated.  In my labour I forgot all about my husband's birthday.  It was only when I was back in the recovery ward and when he thanked me for such a fine birthday present (the son) that made me recalled his birthday, and that was 31 years ago... Now Nazim is a father of two. 

Happy birthday to them both and may they both be blessed..........

As narrated by my late father-in-law, my husband arrival came days earlier than anticipated too.  My late mother-in-law came into labour traumatised by a robbery that took place earlier in the night.  Seemed that eight of them robbers took to breaking the door in the attempt to rob the family. 

My father-in-law was born to a family of nine boys and he was the eighth born.  Brought up in the village they took to religious education and the silat, the art of self-defence.  By then he had a five year old daughter and a three year old son and was working as a porter for the Malayan Railways.  He put up a strong defence leaving three of the robbers dead and the rest escaping into the dark of the night.  What a way for my husband to arrive into this world.

Nazim didn't come easy too.  I was put into induced labour as my gynea then, Dr. Prakash, suspected something amissed during my last ante-natal check-up.  He must have been super active, as at delivery it was realised that the umbilical cord was all around his neck.  He too was handed to me with a small cut on his head.  Seemed those in the labour room were over zealous when they tried breaking my waters.  In spite the journey, comparing among the siblings, Nazim was easiest to care for as an infant.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Of Travel Agents and Failed Service

We were at KLIA on the early evening of September 13 to see Ya (Wan Nor Shaheera Wan Hanafi), my niece, off to Cairo for a four year degree course in Arabic language.  The 5th floor check-in level was indeed crowded with students and family members sending them off.  Ya and the group from Kelantan had flown in earlier from Kota Bahru airport.  They came in two batches, by the early and late afternoon flights.

I left the office earlier than normal (with permission) for home to see Ya off.  We are to also deliver her excess baggage (by local flight standard) that was sent by bus yesterday.  Since Ya came in the early flight, I know she should be panging for rice. I prepared nasi goreng kampung for her and friends.  It was around 7 pm by the time we arrived at KLIA.  We managed to locate Ya (thanks to mobile phone technology) and get her and friends for early fried rice dinner.  They had their picnic on newspapers on the airport floor.  The fried rice was thumbs-up and they recommended that I go into the catering business after retirement!

After the 'picnic', we ushered them to the nearby surau for their Maghrib and Isya' jama' prayers.  What a crowd.  We can literally see people solat one on top on the other.  Luckily for me that I performed my ablution at home, else the que would be worse than trying to get a ticket for the local football Premier Cup.

Then the wait begins.  It was supposed to be a group check-in, and we waited and waited.  As my knees would stand no longer I moved on to be seated and be away from the crowd.  I had time to get into the airport bookstore for a copy of Fatini Yaacob's Natrah: In the name of love.  So I have a reading material to while away my time. 

By then it was 9:30 pm but the group check-in line had not moved much, and that was for a flight that is to take-off at 10:45 pm.  It dawn on to us that Cairo is not to be for these kids tonight.   Soon the kids were called to assemble at their first meeting place.  The truth has to be told.  It turned out that the travel agent had delayed making payment to EgyptAir.  Poor kids, the excitement were wiped off from their faces.  I was in a state of disbelieve.  By then the travel agent representatives were no where to be seen (good move, else some relatives would go after them with their pent-up frustration). 

Luckily for the kids, the Kelantan Islamic Foundation representatives had by now took charge.  We also spied a YB around who is also on the Foundation Board.  They managed to secure rooms at KLIA Concorde Hotel for the kids to spend the night while waiting for tomorrow's promised flight.  Once things are secured for the kids, we baded Ya and her friends good night, goodbye and good luck and headed for home.  What a service from the travel agent.  They can rest assured that the business with the Foundation will not be theirs for years to come!!!

Ya and some of her friends finally left for Cairo last night (14 Sept).  She called in at about 8:30 pm telling me that once she had checked-in her baggage.  Not everybody was lucky.  Some of them from the group are made to wait another day for the next available flight.

For better or for worst, this served as a lesson to all concerned.

The Open House

For the past few years Hari Raya had indeed been a closed family affair for us all.  Just us and the children, lately with additions of their spouses and children.  Not that we are hermits among the crowd but most immediate family members and friends living in the vicinity of the Klang Valley joined the balik kampung exodus.

So raya means just us and my iconic nasi dagang for all (stretching from breakfast, lunch and dinner!!!), the solat sunat raya and spending the rest of the day lazing around.  I need to mention that my husband will have his must satay menu.  So the day will also be spent grilling the satay.  As this raya coincided with our Merdeka holidays, we have a whole week of full corum family stay-in.  The home is indeed a riot with laughter and kids screaming, not to mention Mami Tok needed to see to the daily menu change.  The things with my children, they do not fuss much around food, even fried rice is a change and well appreciated.

The Klang Valley populace was back to normality the week immediate after raya.  That's the time when friends chose to drop in while we are back to work.  So it'll be good to have everybody in at one go and be prepared for it.  I had been planning for the open house all along, but failed to commit the date until last Friday.  Due to a heavy work schedule up to the end of the week, the e-mail announcement only went out at about 5:30 pm on the day.  The invitation was for Sunday, September 11, 2011 from 12:00 pm onwards (while stock last).  By then most of the staff has already left the office.  I got to verbally invite those still hanging around the office and took to sending SMS the others and appealing them to forward to the others.  Was hoping of all hopes that they'll get the invitation.

Simple menu really, but the nasi dagang has to be there.  There was nasi himpit with satay and mee curry plus the normal raya cookies.  The nasi himpit was cooked the evening before for proper jelling.  So was the sambal kelapa for the nasi dagang.  The curry for the mee and the nasi dagang itself was prepared early in the morning.  The tuna and makerel masak kunyit lengkuas to go with the nasi dagang was prepared before I retire for the night. 

Faiz and a cousin, Faizal, took to the outdoor charcoal satay grilling.  Luckily for us, Faizal just arrived in the morning from Kelantan.  He is to register for an engineering course at UiTM come Monday.  A helping hand indeed.  My eldest was not able to make it home as the husband was on 24-hr duty the day before.  So was Nazim and his family as the kids were still recovering from a bout of stomach flu (how ailments come about to be called these days).  Amir and Meera were terribly dehydrated after bouts of vomiting.

In spite the rain and downcast skies, we had a great turnout from neighbours, friends and their family members.  The first drop-in was Fauzy and family around 12:30 pm and the last was Johaary and his family members at about 5:30 pm.  One noticable difference this open house was how the children and grandchildren of friends gyrate to our grandchildren's corner, some even refusing the food spread before them for their new found corner.  The battered toys were god send to parents who were able to enjoy the raya spread and spend time catching up with friends.

This could be my last raya open house while still in service as I'll be retiring early December.  But I do hope to have friends over even in my retirement.  Though tiring, the get together was worth it all.  Incidently the office will be holding our raya gathering next Friday, September 23.