Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kick Boxing Fever

How do one support the spouse who is all into kick boxing?  Not that he is a violent man, far from it, but kick boxing had been in his blood all the while.  Growing up in Rantau Panjang just across Sungai Golok helped fire his passion for the sports, albeit just being a spectator.  History goes that my late father-in-law would go out of his way to get the tickets to the various muay Thai bouts held in Sungai Golok.  Being a border town resident, one doesn't need a passport or any form of paperwork to cross over into Thailand.

The recent AXN Muay Thai airing the sports (held at UPM) did somehow get me involved, though just in the confines of our living room viewing the show on the TV screen.  It was fun but bloody and I find it more of a sports compared to the seldom viewed so-said 'entertaining' WWF.

The son-in-law got wind of the father's interest and got tickets for the Titiwangsa muay Thai bouts.  Abu and the wife (Shaida) accompanied the father for the first show and the kick boxing bug had bitten him (the father) again.  Now he'll be there at every opportunity and even for lesser bouts in town, alone.

Just for fun, I teased him for not inviting me along.  "Nah, the place (music) is too noisy and they only have plastic chairs.  Won't be comfortable enough for you."  He should have tried me though. "Hah, who knows that I might naik angin enough to be the one dancing to the muay Thai introductory music.  Soon you may be wondering as to who is that dancing makcik."  It might be too late for him to realise that I might be the dancing makcik.  Maybe that comment of mine sealed the no-invite, forever. 

Last night, with an extra ticket in hand he managed to entice Nazim to join him to the bout in Titiwangsa.  Seemed that father and son finally found their bonding ground.  Good for them, and that put the final seal for me not to be invited along.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Name Calling

When Oldstock addressed me as Kak Wan, it drawn on to me that with accumulating years, I have gathered roughly equivalent name calls too.  As far as home name goes I was Midah to close relatives.  Don't know how that came about though I addressed myself as Dah when talking to them.  Midah stuck long and fast and I remember the name call to be home around Magrib time together with greatgrandma calling her ducks home.  It went  'di..di..di..di...., Midaaaaahhhh...keleeeek' repeated several times over.  That call signified that I was long overdue for my evening bath and it grew louder should there be no response from me.  Put the blame on the folly of kampung friendship and games we played then for the whole village was our playground.

When it was time for primary school, I was known as Wan Faridah to teachers and friends alike, though a few teachers would address me as adik Wan Ibrahim (sister to Wan Ibrahim).  Having an elder brother in school has its advantages.  Close friends called me Dah for short.  It's the Kelantanese way of addressing, picking up the last syllable as gi for pergi (go).  With yet closer friends we just go by mu (kamu, you) and aku (I).  This went on into secondary school, though we have nicknames by whatever the caller fancy addressing you by, some which may not be even to your liking.  But that was how one was known to the 'world' then.

I moved out of the state for my high school.  Contrary to the Kelantanese, they picked the first of the name syllable.  So I was Farid to my peers and Kak Farid to the juniors.  That Farid is a male name was small matter as it was an all girl boarding school.  Going on into college life the prefix Wan was added on and Wan Farid it was.  Dah remained among close friends from Kelantan.

Going to the States for my further education, our name is indeed confusing to foreigners used to the surname and family name calling.  To solve matters I told them to address me as One (spelt Wan).  It was pretty convenient then and being the only Wan around helped.

Coming back home and appointed to a Serdang posting, I remained as Farid or Wan Farid  to my former school and college peers and Dah to my close Kelantanese friends.  Staff would address me as Cik Wan and Puan Wan when I got married.  Junior colleagues would  address me as Kak Wan.

Then came the time when we have a new generation of staff intake in mid 2000s.  They were the same batch as my children with some of the mothers younger than me.  Some ventured to call me Mama or Ma for short with the officious few retaining the Puan Wan call.  Returning from my Haj trip in early 2002, the prefix Hajjah Wan came by.  All were acceptable.

On the home front, the title heaped too.  New to motherhood with my first born, I wasn't prepared as to how my daughter was to address me.  My step-mom came to the fore with mummy and the name call stuck.  Even my husband came to adopt that call.  Gladly I have now graduated to Mami Tok.

Over the years, I have grown to recognise who is talking to me by the way they address me.  For his age, Oldstock has address me right.

CNY - Naga Air 2012

Malaysia is known for the many public holidays and CNY is no exception.  It means so many different things to the assembly potpourri of ethnic groups here.  One thing common is that we would all have a long break.  Two days to be exact for the CNY proper, Monday & Tuesday.  With the weekends thrown in we have a four day continous break.  Hey, what is another extra three days (Wednesday, Thursday & Friday) and add yet again another weekend, the celebrative few would have a nine day break! about some of us who would play seriously and work playfully!

For me I look forward to the family gathering.  No, I detest the traffic enough to avoid the balik kampung trip.  I look forward instead to Shaida and family who will be back from Banting and Nazim and family will be home from Sunway Subang.  As it turned out only Shaida and family were back.  Sherli took the long break opportunity to toilet train their two kids.  With Amir 3 and Meera going two, plus another on the way, the training is indeed timely.  The diaper cost is indeed eating into their budget.  So a get together was not to be for us.  Further Shaida with her impending transfer to USJ is taking the long break opportunity to ready their new abode.  On the up side Adam was left in our care while she went about clearing and washing their new place.  Faiz took the opportunity to go to Langkawi for a much deserved break.

Normally nasi dagang is a must menu for Hari Raya but I missed on that the last AidilAdha as I was not up to it.  So nasi dagang for CNY it was.  Realising the menu, Shaida SMSed me, "Feels like Raya".  My response, "Gongxi Fa Chai...maaaa", got her bursting in the seams.

My belated Gongxi Fa Chai to all my Chinese friends.  Reminds me of Swee Chuan, Datin Tay, Dr. Chee Koon, Ms Wan, Ms Lim, Kim Geok, Liang Hui, Say How, Hi Ben, Fatt Kow (to mention a few).  May all of you be blessed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Medical Shopping

I've been wrong all this while.  So used to having my medical bills charged to the office, and going to government hospitals or health clinics for 'chronic' matters, I've got to thinking that medical charges are within a standard range for a particular ailment/treatment.

We are planning on some foreign travel and had been advised to go for meningitis vaccination.  Initially we were told that government health clinics provide the treatment for free only to discover that the offer is only for Haj trips. The hubby took to calling a few private clinics.

The few things that we gather from the calls:

1.  The cost for the meningitis vaccination ranges from RM95 to RM180.  That's a big range spectrum!
2.  We have to place orders for the vaccine as clinics do not normally stock it.  They'll forward the vaccine orders from the pharmacy upon request.
3.  The vaccination comes with a WHO booklet, dully signed and stamped by the attending doctor.  The booklet is a must for the travel agent to make the visa arrangement.  The surprising part, a clinic is willing to dispense the booklet at a cost but with no vaccination without us asking for the possibility!  The reason being that they have customers/'patients' unwilling to pay for the vaccination cost.  Some people are corrupt to the core, cheating on themselves, and the clinic willingly playing along with it.  How low can one gets?

So indeed medical treatment (even non-treatment) is no longer giving treatment to the sick but more of a business dealing between willing supplier and customer.  Wondering whether medical practitioners still take that famed sacred medical oath.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Adam's Entry

I am more of a buai gantung guy
(7 Jan 2012)
.....but in case of emergency, this bouncy net will suffice.
Much later I would need the garden trampoline.
(2 Jan 2012)

Who is the fairest of them all?
With Abang Kimi & Cik Man (2 Jan 2012)

My visit to Mami Tok's office after her retirement.
The room's a mess as she was clearing off the unwanted.
I could really make a bigger mess should I be allowed to.
(14 Dec 2011)
My newly discovered toy, my own hand!
(28 Dec 2011)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kudos to PTPTN boys

My son took a loan from PTPTN for his college education some years back and PTPTN had been hounding him for payment ever since.  Everytime a PTPTN letter came we were quick to highlight him the urgency to make payment to settle the loan (or at least make effort towards it).  Our concern must have fallen on unwilling ears.  It was also unfortunate that we moved house and as a result had been missing on most of the PTPTN communications.  It was when we were at the immigrations for his passport that we realised how he had been procrastinating way too long.  Duty bound we took it upon ourselves to get over this problem the soonest possible.

My husband spend half the morning over the phone talking to some PTPTN guys armed with just my son's IC number.  From the tone of his voice I knew that he was being passed around from one guy to the next, not to mention unanswered calls.  Finally he ended with an En. Hafizi.  Hafizi managed to track all information required and we promised Hafizi to see him in the afternoon.  After the Friday prayers, we rushed to Damansara Heights without a real inkling where the PTPTN office really is.  Good thing that Jalan Semantan was on my husband's route while he was at his Damansara Uptown office.  We were right at the Chase Perdana building before we knew it and the parking attendant confirmed that the PTPTN office is located in the building and directed us to an available parking lot.

We took to Level 6, the payment level, got our serving number and waited.  The time was 2:45 pm.  The waiting seemed like forever as everbody served at the counters were taking their time with endless questions.  My husband was again on the phone and soon we have Hafizi by our side.  Hafizi did wave the magic wand for us to soon have the statement in our hands and directed us to the payment counter.  The PTPTN client charter have it that the immigration blacklisting will be lifted after 7 working days.  Hafizi again worked his magic and have it lifted the very minute.  The unbelieving look must have really shown on our faces for him to direct us to a web address to check for ourselves.

By the it was 4:20 pm.  Thanking him (profusely) we rushed home to beat the weekend traffic.  The computer was switched on the moment we entered the house.  The immigration check says "Tiada halangan", the status we have be wanting all the while. 

For all the negative comments we've heard of the workings of PTPTN, we choose to differ.  Good work PTPTN and kudos especially to Hafizi and his team.  Incidentally towards the end of our dealing we realised that Hafizi is a Machang boy (you can't suppress the Kelantanese slang for long).  I'll go by that calling for him for he looks fresh out of college (I am pretty sure he is still paying his PTPTN loan) but I salute his job efficiency.  Thanks again Hafizi.

My husband's words rang in my ears.

"Mana boleh, you ambil loan untuk tuntut ilmu.  Kelulusan dan ilmu untuk dapat dan buat kerja bagi dapat rezeki untuk tanggung diri, anak & isteri.  Kalau pinjaman liat nak bayar, mana berkatnya rezeki tu?  Duit bayaran pinjaman tu untuk giliran orang lain dapat peluang pula."

Powerful words from a simple man.  I salute you dear.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gua Kelam Anybody?

Some pictures from our Gua Kelam, Perlis trip.

The welcome at the entrance to the Gua Kelam.
The pitch black cave inspite the electrical lightings provided.
The natural oxygen supply cavern that explains
the ingenuity of earlier mining engineers.
Crystals in their early formation from the dissolution of the cave walls.
We'll have to wait another million years for the diamonds to materialise.
The fresh water harvesting spouts deep inside the cave,
another case of yesteryears' ingenuity.
En. Mohd. Sobri Othman, the forest ranger who volunteered
to be our guide, further briefing us after our cave adventure.
The lush equatorial rain forest of Nakawan Range
(Banjaran Nakawan) holding the secrets of the caves.

Adam Update 2 - My First Haircut (The before and after look)

Adam is growing fast.  We can really see the change in his development even after a short week absence away from us.

To the envy of all, I'm born with a heavy crop of hair.

10 Dec.  In memory of my hair.
28 Dec 2011 (before the haircut)
What have they done to me when I am defenceless?
These people showed no mercy.
After the haircut.  It really makes me take after Ayah. 
Wonder where that apek look comes from.

Retirement & Health

I am about three weeks into retirement.   Friends warn me that I'll soon be bored.  So far there are more things to do than there is time available.  Though what needs attending to are not at all mentally challenging, they nevertheless require some level of managerial planning, critical path methodology with some level of time management though at a less grandeur scale, else things will just go topsy-turvy.  Think I am more rested when I was working, only advantage is that I have myself to answer to.  I am enjoying this freedom and being bored is still far far away.

The house is indeed a riot today with everybody home, Nazim with the wife and two kids, and Shaida with hubby plus her two kids.  Faiz, however, excused himself for his company dinner.  Dinner for us remaining was a nasi Arab take-away that Shaida bought from a Cyberjaya restaurant on her way home.  Was planning on masak asam pedas ikan pari for dinner but shelved the idea when Shaida volunteered 'to take care' of it.

Was at BB Bangi Health Centre for my regular medical check-up on Friday.  My weight is worrying (nikmat selera dianugerahkan, Alhamdulillah) and I REALLY need to do something about it.  This has some implication on my blood sugar level which could turn me into a diabetic should I not put my weight under check.  The BP is surprisingly good so is the cholesterol level.  Not a new year's resolution but I'll have a workout schedule and be regimented about it should I really want to enjoy my retirement.  A visit to Serdang Hospital yesterday really gave me a scare.  A friend's husband and my former CEO were both down with stroke and are in neighbouring rooms there. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rice Culture and Us Malaysians

On our way home from our latest Perlis trip, we made a detour to Muzium Padi at Gunung Keriang, Alor Star.  My youngest was there with the eldest sister and father sometimes back while I was at a meeting in Alor Star.  "It's a must see," she came back all excited.

We complied and made the trip part of our travel package this time.  The signage by the Kangar-Alor Star Highway showed Muzium Padi and Pusat Akuatik.  I was thinking more of a water centre, assuming something was done to the padi fields as an added attraction.  Lo and behold, it is indeed an Aquatic Sports Centre.  However, the place looked pretty neglected with no life detected.  The fencing was overgrown with weeds.  Could be an aquatic centre for snakes and monitor lizards.  What a waste of such a great facility.  I wonder why it was built far away from the population centre.  Kids should be able to just cycle to the place to make full use of it.

Surprised us too that there was also a signage directing us to Alor Star Science Centre.  The place was dead silent too when we arrive except for a few cleaners sweeping the area around the ticket counter.  Checking with them, the place is indeed open to public.  Seemed that we were the earliest birds to arrive.  Too bad I was down with a terrible fever and recking cough.  Told my kids to go ahead with the father while I downed two Panadols, have the hubby parked the car in a shaded area and went to sleep instead.  They spent close to two hours there.  Must be pretty exciting.  Seemed that it's a mini version of KLCC Petronas Science Centre.  I reserve my comment here I've never been to either.  By the time they came out from the place I was pretty recovered and spent my time walking the grounds of the centre.  They have DIY sort of displays in the ground too.  I strongly recommend families with children in tow to have this centre in their travel schedule.  Guided tours would be good for visitors to fully benefit from the facility.

Our next stop was the Muzium Padi.  Indeed it is a must stop.  The whole rice culture and history is all there for those with time to spare to benefit, especially the younger generation.  For those of my generation, it would serve as a romantic reminiscence of yesteryears.  I captured a pantun series that was on poster display that tell how close the rice culture is with our Malaysian life.

Buat apa kepok di ladang
Kalau tidak berisi padi
Buat apa berambut panjang
Kalau tidak berani mati

Pagi-pagi pergi ke ladang
Buat menyemai si benih padi
Tinggi-tinggi si Gunung Ledang
Tinggi lagi hajat di hati

Penat saya menanam padi
Nanas juga di tanam orang
Puas saya menanam budi
Emas juga dipandang orang

Dari mana punai melayang
Dari sawah turun ke padi
Dari mana datangnya sayang
Dari mata terus ke hati

Kalau masanya bertanam padi
Padi di bendang padi di huma
Bukan bangsanya ditanam budi
Kalau ditanam terbuang cuma

Kalau padi katakan padi
Jangan kami tertampi-tampi
Kalau jadi katakan jadi
Jangan kami ternanti-nanti

Dari mana hendak ke mana
Tinggi rumput darinya padi
Bulan mana tahun mana
Dapat kita berjumpa lagi

Siapa kata padi tak lenggok
Padi Senggora di makan belibis
Siapa kata hati tak mabuk
Didengar suara rupa tak kelih

Going through the various rice variety samples grown the world over, a KL variety grown in Papua New Guinea caught my eyes.  This looked very much like our Improved Mahsuri.  Must have been taken out from the country somehow.  Or it could be through an ex-change program of sort.

Another thing that caught my eyes was the Bahasa Kerbau/Cattle Language poster.  The buffalo (kerbau) and cattle (lembu) in some states had been our rice field work horse way before the tractors and combine harvesters came into the scene.  The farmers use certain language means to work the animals.

Haih - direct the animal to move
Chah / Paling chah - direct the animal to move to the right
Sok / Paling sok - direct the animal to move to the left
Diam - direct the animal to stop
Serot - direct the animal to move backwards

In Kelantan I remember my  great grandpa using terms as chi-chi and no-no.  The cattle were smarter than me then.  Even now I still could not make sense of those words, yet the fields got ploughed and levelled for the padi crop to flourish.  Their genetic pool could do NFC some good.

The circling screen of the Muzium Padi tower giving an overview
of the rice culture from field preparation to harvest
and a preview of the padi culture community

These are great educational places to be while in Kedah.  I do wish there be more publicity by the agencies concerned or the state government.  They should do what Perak state had been doing the past year.  Perak was doing a great job publicising places in the state.