I would never forget the fateful day of December 26, 2004.
Prior to that day, tsunami was just a Japanese word, and a phenomenon that will only occur in Japan. Now, I believe it is Indonesian - Acehnese to be precise, and can occur even here in Malaysia. It is no longer as foreign as the Japanese Katakana.
That week till end of the year of 2004, I was on leave. I had not taken long leave for a long time and I thought the family deserves some kind of holiday. So I decided to take a driving tour of the peninsular, going up North, up to Langkawi.
This holiday was supposed to be a leisure one. The destination was not important. What matters was to enjoy the journey itself.
So I drove to Lumut using the coastal road through Kuala Selangor and spent a couple of days there. Nothing fancy there I guess. We spent a couple of hours on the beach in Teluk Batik Lumut, lazing around. The kids took up kayaking and enjoyed the water there. An uncle living in Manjung provided the accommodation, so it was a plesant two-day stay.
On the 24th, I drove to Taiping. Taiping was just a stop over and we are supposed to move on to Penang on the fateful day of Dec 26 for a beach picnic and by end of the day, move on to Langkawi.
I had it all figured out.
Or so I thought.
I fell ill - I can't remember the exact date, most likely upon reaching Taiping. It was a case of bad flu. I was in no position to drive, and being in Taiping was the perfect tonic for it. Like I have said, we were in no rush. I may have gotten the long leave, and we have ample of time.
Noon that day - the most tragic day in human history, I received an sms from my uncle in Manjung, "Aman kat mana?" he asked. I was surprised with the question as I didn't expect him to be wanting to monitor my whereabout. "Taiping. Kenapa?" was my response. But he didnt reply.
I only came to know of the tragedy during the 8 pm news. By then the news of the devastation was trickling in. No one had any inkling what was exactly happenning or the extent of it.
By then, I knew that my family could have been part of the statistic. We could have been wiped out. I was definitely planning on a sea-side picnic in Penang that day, and we definitely should be in Langkawi by end of the day.
But we didn't make it - thanks to the flu.
Over the next few weeks, colleagues through out the Hyprotech offices worldwide were sending me emails asking me about the situation here in Malaysia. We were lucky, the devastation was just a fraction of those experienced by the Indonesians and other countries. "And I am thankful," I told them. " For I could have been there along with my family enjoying the beaches of Penang."
But fate intervened that day.
Pardon me if this entry sounds like it is about me. No, it is not. It is about the 250,000 who died in the tragedy and many more millions who lost practically everything to the tsunami. My near miss is nothing of concern and just like a particle of dust in the history of mankinds.
Alfatihah to all who died.
I sincerely hope those affected by the tsunami have been able to rebuild their lives. And my hope is that all the funds collected have been fully disbursed to those victims. But I know this is only wishful thinking on my side. Remember the Penang victims who only got their house prior to Raya puasa this year, nearly three years later?
I wish we would audit all these accounts.
To think that nearly 200K people died in Aceh alone is mind boggling. It was the most tragic of all of human tragedy. For someone who had spent weeks in Aceh (albeit in the PRamlee's home town of Lhokseumawe - an oil and gas town bigger than Kerteh) - training the Acehnese process simulation, I felt it for them. Especially the Hariri clan do have some Acehnese bloods.
You feel so small in the face of the earth.
I had thought of adopting a kid in the aftermath of the tsunami. But it didn't work out.
This week has been a slow week in as far as visitors are concerned.
I guess it is inevitable. I have been less political in the past weeks since Bersih and Hindraf, and people like to read those better than stories about me and my families. Hahaha, I have no problem with that.
Other than that, people have been getting plain bored with my story mory lah.
Talking about politics, I have been warned by a concerned friend to start burning any yellow t-shirts, if I have any, for fear that one day the police might come a-knocking at my door.
I responded to his serious-sounding sms, half jokingly said, "Eh, you know where I can buy that Bersih t-shirt? I should have bought it earlier."
He was half screaming at me back, "Dude, I am asking you to burn it, not buy it. If I were you, I would even burn my yellow underwear!"
Hahaha, he is a funny guy. Of course he doesn't know that I don't have a yellow underwear.
I told him that I am no Anwar Ibrahim or Mat Sabu!
Anyway, I have a couple of yellow t-shirt, long before it was made fashionable by Bersih. I am not worried about t-shirt to be honest. At times though, I do wonder about blog. Then the other question would be, should I delete the entry and pics in my blog on the rally? We didn't do anything wrong. This is not a police state, even if the police would like to claim it as theirs.
When I sms-ed my sis on Nov 10 about the rally, she told me later that her thought was more like, "Oh no, not another one. Would I need to visit him at the Penjara Kamunting?".
Again I thought she was funny.
Well, I think the police has been witch-hunting with the recent arrest of many activists, not-with-standing those of Hindraf. And the Nurin murder case is still unsolved. The culprit who released the the pictures of her post-mortem is going to get away scot free despite police statement warning the public that they are closing in on the suspect.
Empty promises. Typical.
Similar to those feel good statements our politicians are keen to tell the public to show us how lucky we are.
I remember in 1998, a few months after Anwar was sacked and arrested, Rafidah Aziz was in Houston for a conference. So us Malaysian Houstonites were invited to a public forum with her at the Four Season Hotel (??). After the speech on mostly bitching about Anwar, during the question and answer, this writer found the courage to ask her this question.
"Dato Seri, we have been warned many times about the over-heating of the economy and the impending economic crisis. Why didn't we pay heed to all these warnings? Instead, we kept on saying how well our fundamentals were," I asked.
She didn't look too pleased with the question. She prefers political question.
Of course she went on denying that there was the overheating of the economy, and blamed it on the speculators. Since then too, I have read books by Prof Jomo, and attended many lectures by Prof Ubai as part of my MBA program and I guess I knew a bit more now than then.
Nonetheless, why can't we all call a spade a spade? If the economy is doing badly, why don't we admit it, and takes actions to rectify it?
We don't like bad news, especially if it is painful to all. We prefer good news, even the news is not true. It makes us feel good. The economy is doing well. We will have 6% growth this year. Our inflation will be at lowly 2%; never mind that actual is over 20% or more. Our election is fair, nevermind that they would gerrymandeer it every now and then. Everybody is getting their fair share of the economic pie despite report saying that Malaysia has one of the world's most skewed wealth distribution.
So that Gerakan vice youth chief would be sacked by Koh Tsu Koon for saying what many believe to be the truth, even if part of it was exaggerated a bit. The government is saint, and infallible. They are the untouchables; like their counterparts in India.
We feel good when Pak Lah gave 180 cows for Korban; as if it comes from his pocket. We feel great when Kayveas gave 30 camels for korban himself. At Hussein Onn, the mosque committee invited a Chinese MP to officiate the Kurban ceremony; oblivious to the fact that this is a religious event. What's next? Invite him to be the imam for the Solat Raya too?
What some mosque committee would do to show their political connection and affiliation even while doing something for God.
I don't know; I think things are going from bad to worse. We should be able to take stock and rectify the situation. It takes a man to admit mistakes; and I don't see that man in the establishment right now.
This is what I call a rambling. Hahaha, what's my point, really?
I really don't know myself!
What has gotten into me?
Three helpings at a wedding feast in Seremban today is not going to help me lose weight, and I need to lose weight fast. The foods at the wedding were too good not to be finished off by this writer. The fact that it has been months since his last jogging rounds in Hussein Onn is only making it worse for him.
Of course cendol as a desert after that hearty lunch is not going to help either.
In any case, I love going to family and relative's wedding. Actually the idea to meet up not-so-distant relatives that I don't frequently meet somehow appeals to my senses. It really makes me feel good today to be meeting with the host Pak Karim who was nice enough to come to my house 4 years ago for a small kenduri. Since then I have been back twice to two of his childrens' weddings. Not to mention seeing again PCAziz, cousins Abg Nai, Ned and Kak Anne and many other long lost relatives.
The Hariris were in full force today. Mak, KSham, this writer, Aboy, Ani, Ata, Farah and Aishah were all there. It is the biggest assembly of the Hariris outside of Raya gathering.
All in all, I would say that this is the biggest assembly of the Bulan's Minang clan in the home state in recent years.
That's Mak with PC Aziz and MC Maznah (the anak-anak Adam Chemana, a Minang from Tasik Meninjau and a Royal Malaysian Custom officer), and in the next pics is with PC Yan.
Oh by the way, did I tell you the acar and the daging masak hitam (?) were excellent?
Oh my God, I am begginning to sound like Bapak, who loved his food!
This writer having the time of his life. I like this pic - it shows a different side of me I seldom see. It was taken by Arif. The gamelan band at the wedding. Not too bad, but personally I prefer a ghazal outfit anytime. But this is a nice change from recorded music.
Hang on a second. Where is the wedding pictures? Where is the bride and the bridegroom?
Unfortunately we were there very early and were able to catch with quite a number of relatives. But left while most were having their lunch. By that time, the couple was nowhere to be seen and hence we didn't get to meet up with them.
Hmmm, looks like we were just using their wedding to meet up with the clan. Ok, whose wedding is next, and when?
I don't understand why Genting is so popular.
The Singaporeans come to Malaysia, and they go to Genting. My Indonesian friends came and they went to Genting too. Personally though I think Genting is over-rated. It is boisterous, it is loud and it is noisy. Not to mention that it is unkempt and extremely expensive (if only to me).
If I have the choice, I would not find myself shivering in the cold at the entrance of Arena of the Stars. I would prefer to be in the comfort of my own home, watching the lizards fight for insect on the ceiling. But with me being the slave to my kids, I agreed to drive them to Genting to to enable them to watch their pianist idol Richard Clayderman in action. Mind you, more than a year ago, I did the same thing when they wanted to attend a concert by Maksim.
I do enjoy the romantic songs of Richard Clayderman. This is one popularity I can comprehend, though many a times his beautiful songs are just too painful. But seriously I don't want to indulge myself in concert anymore. I am not getting any younger, so I tried not to attend those things no more.
Arif and Akmal will be entertaining my guests at next week's office warming which should include one of my favourite teachers cikgu Dr Fatanah; so I guess this concert is nicely timed to get them into the performing mode.
Luckily it didn't rain on the way up, but I am nervous thinking about the journey down. The mist is quite thick and on a bad night, the road might trecherous due to limited visibility. As we were early, we went for our early dinner at the First World Indoor Amusement Park.
This is where I found it boisterous, loud and dirty. It is way too crowded and at times I feel like I am in Hong Kong.
May be I don't like crowded places, much like what I said in an earlier entry. May be, I don't know. If not for the kids, I would not be here.
The two briyani and the couple of drinks we ordered cost me a whopping RM38. Man, this place is damn expensive.
In the end, as I have two hours to kill while waiting for the kids to be entertained by the King of Romance - King Richard - I managed to convince myself that an RM11 hot vanilla is worth the price for me to get a sofa and a hotspot to write this entry at Coffee Beans - my first in more than a year.
Genting, anyone? Thank you very much. Gimme Maxwell Hill anytime!
FREE service provided by MusicWebTown.com
UPdated 22 Dec 2007 at 1958 hours
Someone sms me late this afternoon and said he was disappointed with the concert. Apparently he prefers the 'older' selections like Lady Di and many others. The kids didn't complain about the song selection; in fact enjoyed some of the surprises in the concert.
However, one common complain stuck out. For some reasons, his jokes were directed to the mainly Chinese audience. If you don't speak the language, then you are lost. As he pointed out, "Typical of the frog, simply refused to learn English."
I am sure the frog was directed to a certain pianist Frenchman! He is a funny lawyer, and a Clayderman fan. Apparently this was his second - and last, he insisted - concert due to that reason.
Well, what can you expect? For one, the audience is mainly Chinese. Arif said too few Malays were in the audience on the way back to KL. I said, "The Malays would mainly watch Konset JomHeboh!" He laughed. So in some way, King Richard was only doing what's expected of him to please his audience.