Saturday, October 31, 2009

Le tour de Ipoh

First posted at Yahoo 360 blog Oct 2007

Even though I was 'active' in sport in primary school - active here is of course relative and played rugby for a school team that won the Perak state title, I was never known for my sporting prowess. I guess the only reason I was an 'important' member of the King Edward VII-1 primary school rugby team was my sheer size when I was twelve compared to my other schoolmates and they needed someone my size to be the scrum leader.

Other than that, you are looking at a 'kaki bangku' here!

In secondary school, I didn't make it to any school team. The closest I have been to one was when I was shortlisted for goalkeeping role in 1977 and was asked to attend training. Of course Cikgu Nawi wasn't impressed at all with my display, even after I had stopped a goal-bound ball from a senior at close range. He made it clear, and in no uncertain term what he thought of my performance when he said, "Allah goalie, sedihnya." I knew then I would not be selected.

But I do enjoy a bit of sport every now and then. Then during summer holidays in Kuala Kangsar, with nothing else better to do, I got myself into cycling. I guess after failing four driving tests in Perth a couple of years earlier (yes, you read it right; 4 driving tests!), I have no choice but to turn to cycling as it didn't require a license to operate!

I guess in 1983, that was the only toy I have at our home in KK - no internet, the PS3 or the WII and no girlfriend! And of course with the results for year's exams were known, I was under no pressure at all during my yearly vacation back home.

Ah well, those simple days!

Being a full-blooded young man at the peak of determination and energy - at twenty, I could leap tall building in a single leap! , so I decided to do something which I would now consider as stupid. I mean I would never do this again in 2007, even if I am young again.

I decided to cycle from Kuala Kangsar to Ipoh and back in 24 hours - alone!

In the 80s, the journey from KK to Ipoh is a bit more convoluted than at present. You are practically going through the circumference of a half circle, rather than going to the shorter distant radius.

So armed with my brother's racing bike that bapak bought him as an encouragement for him to do well for SPM, I started from our house in Bukit Kerajaan early one morning in late 1983 or early 1984. At that time, there was no North-South Hiway yet, so I used the old trunk road that will take me through Sungai Siput and Chemor.

So I cycled past KK town heading towards the Iskandar Bridge, crossing Sg Perak, heading towards Sg Siput, it was quite an easy journey. The road was practically flat - that's the very reason I decided against a KK-Taiping-KK trip even when it was closer. I would have to climb the Bukit Berapit, quite a steep terrain to reach Taiping and it would be reasonably tough and taxing for someone without any training.

The majestic Iskandar Bridge in Kuala Kangsar was built by the Brit - majestic, minus the extravaganza. Compare the bridges built by the government (Azlan Shah Bridge at the NS Hiway near KK) - pathetically non-descript and unworthy of the name. On the other hand, the bridges at Putra Jaya are simply a waste of taxpayers' monies.

While the road was reasonably flat, the nearby terrain was not. With rolling hills cultivated with tapioca on both sides of the trunk road, it was quite a sight to enjoy. My understanding was that it has one of the biggest tapioca plantation in the world. At one spot, one would cross underneath a railway bridge that has only one lane for both north and south bound traffic, hence you have traffic light in the middle of nowhere.

As this was the main trunk road for traffic from Penang to KL, the traffic was reasonably heavy even in 1983. I had at least one near-miss when an oncoming bus decided that he has the right of way in my lane. Luckily I saw him coming, so I stopped on the road shoulder and let him pass. I guess "might is right" in this case, though to his credit, the bus driver did acknowledge my stopping for him with a thank-you wave.

I am sure drivers are no longer as courteous as they were back then.

Even tho the bicycle was powered by a young man at the peak of his physical prowess - 'peak' is of course relative, I could only average out a mere 10 km per hour for a journey of about 50 km to my auntie's house in Rapat Setia in Ipoh, of course with the help of multiple stops for some ice tea at roadside stalls in Sg Siput and Chemor.

I reached Rapat Setia at noon. Of course my auntie was surprised to see me, not expecting me of course and my 'bike'. She commented that I looked so dark from being burn in the sun; otherwise I was in one piece, which is the most of important thing.

I stayed a night at her place before embarking on the reverse journey back to KK. I guess the return journey was more uneventful; just the way I like it.

In hindsight, I thought I was stupid as I was unprepared for the journey. No drinks, and no tools were brought along with me during the journey. Should I have a puncture, or should anything happened to me, I have no mean of rectifying it or be able to call anyone for help. Worst was that I didn't actually train for the trip. Of course then there was no cell phone for me to bring along.

As I have said I was only armed with determination and a young man's energy.

In some ways, I would say that I am 'glad' to have done it and still be in one piece. I would be able to tell my grandchildren, if I live long enough, how stupid the grandad was when he was younger to embark on such journey alone without proper car escort. Or that they would be able to read it in my blog. I would not encourage Arif or Akmal or anyoen to undertake such stupid journey that saved me less than RM5 of bus tickets.

Unless they do it properly of course.


I don't think it is safe to cycle anymore. There are just too many cars; and mostly speeding without any care for others. I would like it very much if our suburbs is cycle-friendly; that we need to only cycle to go to most places as cycling is a very efficient mode of transportation.

What did I get out of this? Nothing much I guess. Only the right to brag that I have been there and done that, like what I am doing right now.

This is me a week or so before the tour. A self photo taken at our house in Bukit Kerajaan Kuala Kangsar. I was better dressed than this of course during the tour.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm a fool to want you

I was mesmerized when I heard the latest Chanel No 5 advert.

You read that right! When I HEARD the advert. On the telly, mind you.

It is to the tune of a familiar song that caught my attention, though the vocal is not a voice I am familar with.

Don't get me wrong; I thought it was a catchy advert. The scene and scenery was breathtaking to say the least. It is the stuff romance is made of - the Orient Express, the tunnel and the arch bridge. I should not comment much on the actor/actress or the models, if you must, in it. The model was not up to my standard, to be honest, but then again, what do I know about casting, right?

It is also stuff murder is made of - Agatha Christie's style.

Here is the advert again.

But what I would like to highlight is this is one song I have been listening to at night, coming back from the harsh working environment at Perak Hanjoong Simen in mid 80s, and I have known this song from my uni days circa 84-85. Her voice is so soothing.

The orchestra, helmed by Nelson Riddle, was fantastic and Linda Ronstadt's voice was simply awesome and full of bodies. I can listen to this over and over again 25 years on. How I would melt over and over again if she would sing it for me! ;-)

The arrangement showcased the voice beautifully. YOu can immersed yourself in her voice, and yet still able to listen to each one of the instrument; the piano, the viola, the horn section. Wonderful.

I'm a fool to want you
I'm a fool to want you
TO want a love that can't be true
A love that's there for others too

I'm a fool to hold you
Such a fool to hold you
To seek a kiss not mine alone
To share a kiss the devil has known

Time and time again, I said I'd leave you
Time and time again, I went away
But then would come a time
When I would need you
And once again these words I have to say

I'm a fool to want you
Pity me I need you
I know it is wrong - it must be wrong
But right or wrong,
I can't get along

without you

But here is the version by Billie Holiday as used in the advert. She sounds so painful to be honest though it is a pleasure to listen to her too. While I have always been a fan of Linda Ronstadt, I would give credit to Billie Holiday for this 1950s version. The arrangement is great too.

She sends shivers down my spine. She sounds like she was in pain. Frank Sinatra has a hand in writing this song though his version to me is forgetful.

I did not realize that the 'you' in this song was really a fragrant! ;-)


Listening to both I am a fool to want you and What's New, I was transported to another era and another equally haunting song, of course this remake was by Linda Ronstadt and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Both of song I am a fool and the one below When your lover has gone are songs from her Lush Life Album.

If only Arif and Akmal would one day produce this kind of work, I would be extremely proud. Never mind Mozart or Beethoven. That's why I thought the Lush Life album is one album I would take with me if I am stranded on a deserted island.

When Your Lover has Gone

What good is the scheming, the planning, the dreaming
that come with each new love affair
The love that you cherish,
so often may perish
and leave you with castle in air

Aah, what a voice, and what an era. Err, never mind the lyrics of both song OK. It may have some negativity in it, but I guess they are reflections of the time they were written . If I may term the 40s and the 50s as the romantic era, with apologies to the real romantic era of classical music.

Here is what I found in Wikipedia.

The album was released in 1958. Says Ray Ellis (composer/arranger), "I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of "I'm a fool to want you" There were tears in her eyes...It wasn't until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was."

And I thought I would never see her again..

in the full splendour and glory of the song and the video clip, as I saw them in 1983.

I have been posting about this song (you can read it here) and mainly it was her singing live with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. I love this song so much that I keep on re-posting thinking that I have not done so.

But for some reasons, I can't find the real video as I knew it then until today.

Aah, thank you Youtube. Thanks you for the person uploading. Been looking for this for years and suddenly today, here she is

She was born to sing this 1939 song.

Actually, upon further mulling, I didn't actually see the full splendour of this song back in 1983. I was expecting a B&W version of this video clip ala Casablanca. But then again, my memory was playing the trick on me.

My TV during those years is a B&W telly, so I could only be seeing this clip in B&W!

So it was an anti-climax for me to see them in colour. I still prefer if the video is b&w.

I also wrote the following on June 20, 2007.

"The video also features Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the B&W Casablanca, so it is always nostalgic to see the clip."

There was no Ingrid Bergman nor Humphrey Bogart in this video clip and there was no Casablanca. Only Linda Ronstadt and an unknown actor reprising the roles. See how memories can play the trick on you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Check you bill please - carefully!

Sometimes you wonder to what extent Malaysian companies would take to trick (read:cheat) the Malaysian public just to fill in their coffers.

They need to do it fast, before Malaysian public could be awaken.

I spent 2 hours at Ampang Puteri Hospital today. Nothing out of the ordinary I must say and nothing to be concerned about, I am glad to tell you. After informing the receptionist at the (specialist) clinic that we have been here (Ampang Putri) before albeit at another specialist clinic, she didn't have to register us, and within 30 mins, we were ushered in.

Not bad for a walk-in clinic without appoinment.

The doctor was chatty and more than I had expected. I mean we had been to another specialist here in the same hospital whose answers were one-liner so much so that I had to send an SOS message to a former colleague at Monash University for him to take our case or at least recommend us another doctor.

That Dato' doc at the specialist hospital thought that we the public could not comprehend medical terms and descriptions.

So we dumped him for another specialist, at the recommendation of my old friend at Monash (a professorial doc minus the title who had taken cases of utmost political consequence a decade ago) who unfortunately could only take adult cases.

Sorry I digress.

At the outpatient pharmacy, we were explained about the medications and then were told that it would cost us RM381.60. I didn't bat an eyelid, though I thought it was expensive. But you are talking about Ampang Putri and not Taiping GH here, so I would just pay up.

Given them my credit card and after I had signed the chit would they produced the detailed bill. By then, I had already paid my bill obviously.

So I scrutinized the bill while I was walking out, and what I saw was interesting. They had charged us RM15 as a new patient.

And we are not new patient.

So I went back and make noises about the charge. RM15 Alhamdulillah is not a fee I would normally baulked over, sometimes our lunch would exceed that amount, and I guess Arif's pizza bill would amount higher than that.

But she told me that the last time we were there was 5 years ago and that after 5 years we would be considered as new patient.

"How convenient!" I told her.

"So you would want us to come here every year or every month even though we are not sick?" the loyar buruk side of me was starting to talk.

She laughed. "No, that's the rule."

"But I can take it out for you if you wish."

Now she is talking.

I told her in no uncertain term that at hotel, we are always given the detailed bill before we sign the chit. Here they tried to con us by giving it after they had charged you.

So she reversed the bill and saved me RM15. She knew looking at this serious looking guy, that this is one guy willing to kill someone over that amount of money, if he feels that there is an element of cheating involved.

Here are my take on this:

1. Every 5 years you would have to renew you membership at the hospital. With computerised system that would record everything, it costs practically nothing for them to have you in the system
2. How convenient it is that we have exceeded 5 years since our last visit. If it were there say 3 years ago, the rules would be changed to 3 years and still they would charged us.
3. The detailed bill was given after we paid up. In this case, I would consider it a hassle to reverse the credit card charge and would have preferred to leave so as to avoid traffic jam (it was 5.30 pm by then).
4. You can ask for a policy reversal if you were to ask for it. Rules are after all meant to be broken.

I think Malaysian companies, especially the GLC, can always get away with murder. Tell me how many Malaysian companies are there in the Fortune 5oo list who rake in more than 60% of their revenue from overseas operations?

Other than this singular company, most other big Malaysian corporations who make at least RM1 billion a year would use this kind of trick. Maxis for example would charge RM3 per call to TM 103 line instead of RM0.30.

That's why I thought many Malaysian companies can get away with murder.

But at least, to their credit, Ampang Putri were willing to reverse the charges and I didnt go through too much hassle to get them do it. In fact she did it willingly.

EPILOGUE (Updated 8 am 27 Oct)

I just browsed the net and found an article on an alternative website entitled Getting Away with Murder. I just read this Tuesday at 8 am and hence my above article has nothing to do with this murder - so to speak.

I was talking figuratively and they were talking literally!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Raya 02 Open House


I still have not had the chance to write about my 2009 Openhouse tho I have posted the pics over at I thought I should for the purpose of record post the one we did 7 years ago here. It was posted in late Dec 2002 in KB76ers' forum at Delphi. Obviously then, I did not have a blog to keep myself amused.

Compare this with the pics and what I wrote in fotopages on the 2009 Open House. Interetsing - to me at least. Well, almost 7 years on! How things have changed since that day seven years ago.

Dear Friends,

I am still in cloud nine, a week after the open house and why not? Three who came were my ex-classmates whom I had not seen for 22 years, another one drove all the way from Melaka (or Terengganu - depending on the perspective) and yet another came even though he was down with fever. I have not seen many others for many years now.

It was supposed to be a small one - housewarming for selected neighbours, and open house for relatives, officemates, KB76 nearby and my study group at UIA. It escalated into the whole neighbourhood, KB76 and all my present classmates at the uni, with me having to put up the white tent, so much so someone was commenting that he thought there was a wedding khenduri going on! For sure it was not mine (and no, I am not hinting at anything here), and my kids are still a long way to having one. :-) ( For that it would have to be a blue tent, to use the Tenda Biru’s song by Desi Ratnasari.)

To be honest, the main draw card was the K676 group for me. I meet with other groups every day or week, but I have not seen most of you for years. In fact my mom was commenting that practically every other person she spoke too was either my ex-classmate or the wife of one of you.

(Caption: Syed Abu and family chatting with the blogger before the tahlil)

Syed Abu led the tahlil at about 1220 hours. It was more of a doa selamat with some neighbours and relatives. He came with his wife and youngest four. And I am talking about his children ;-)

Around 1330 hours, KB76 starts coming in. Zaharah and family were the first. As I was trying to figure out who they were, she introduced herself first thereby saving the host from further embarrassment. What can one expect after 22 years? It was great seeing her.

I particularly remember her for giving the winning answer to one Kuiz Sejarah competition (my partners were Aliza and NorArt) – and she was not even a contestant. Can’t recall which class we beat for bronze medal, but would not have done it without her help downstage.

(Caption: Soraya and Zaharah and respective husband with the blogger. Razin's wife is seen chatting on extreme right with Sarah.)

I honestly were wondering who were the Datuk and Datin coming to my open house as I dont recall knowing anyone of that stature. My oh my, it was another of my ex-classmates. I'd swear, if I were to pass by her anywhere in KL, I would not have known it. Soraya and I share the same hometown and yet we have not met for over 22 years. But one thing for sure, none of the ladies who came to the open house (Zaharah, Soraya and Aliza) looks like they are approaching 40's, while the host looks like someone approaching 50's. No wonder someone told him once that may be, just may be, his parents lost his birth cert and had to make new one for him and hence the jumble up on his date of birth ;-)

(Caption: CEO Razin and the blogger chatting)

I believe Razin and family were the next to come. Thanks for coming dude, even if I had not been active for the past year with KB76. But he wanted to make a safety and risk assessment check on my house! I was afraid that he is going to close down on my open house after such a tour and hence managed to force him to take a bite first. He mellowed down a bit after that, and must have given the dining and kitchen an OK rating when he passed through them to clean his hand. Phew! And it was thoughtful of you to bring the house-warming gift.

Man Ahmad came with his kid, and he had to leave soon after as he has a few open houses to go. Sorry for not being able to chit-chat, Man.

(Caption: Kodeq and Jamil at the lunch table. This is the n-th time the blogger is grinning. Can you not see it?)

I lost track who was next, but they may be Kodek and family and Jamil and family. Thanks for coming, friends. I had been trying to track Kodek down for weeks and even enlisted Zul to help me. Managed to track him at the very last moment. The funny moment was when Hada (was it Jamil?) and Kodek trying to gauge or size each other up, one not knowing the other. I love this! I am not the only with bad memory. Kodek and I were good friends before SPM, and he would be commenting on my love for Sudir’ songs.

Jamil is such a doting father with his new baby. And thanks for trying to get me to have one too. I don’t think so, brother. My days changing napkins and buat susu are over ;-)

Japaq came with his clients. Hope you were able to close the deal over the gulai nangka ikan masin.

Sabirin was the other person I have not seen for 22 years. I must admit I can recognize him anywhere. He has not changed at all. All the best with the upcoming Haj, Sabirin. Semoga mendapat Haji yang mabrur.

An, Liza and family were there too. To be honest, I owe the open house to them as they had invited us to their house many years ago. I told her that my problem coming was that my kids would not want to go as they would not eat the normal fare but roti canai. So when we were there, we found that Liza had cooked roti canai for them! Payback time was when I managed to get Liza and her kids for a second round in the dining room! An would not - must be on diet, eh An?

An and I were sizing up our kids too. He told me that his daughter is very tall and is indeed taller than her parents, or for sure Liza. Not wanting to be beaten, I told him he should see my eldest too. We did not put them side by side, but I think my son won the contest hands down even though he is a year younger. I dare not compete on the academic side though. Cannot beat the daughter of two mathematicians!

Hada was there too. How come solo saja, bro? And sorry for the lack of cold drinks. It was such a hot day under the tent and this host has been slow with the drinks. Sorry. Shafie, my pingpong partner, whose house is within the 40-house radius to be considered a neighbour was there also.

Zul came with the family. It was good to see you and family again Zul. Your kids are adorable. I didnt realize when you left actually. Sorry if we werent able to sit down and chit-chat. That is the problem of doing an open house of this magnitude. May be over lunch sometime.

Zai and family drove all the way from Melaka as they were attending a wedding there. As far as I am concerned they drove all the way from KT! I really appreciate your effort. Zai and I went a long way from KB to Perth (before I moving on to Melbourne) to Dungun, and I think I have practically told everyone how we met up again in the late 80’s in a grocery shop in Dungun.

He (Zai) waited till about 5.30 pm for the next guy to turn up. In fact I had to call him up. I guess I must have woke him up and in his groggy, deep baritone voice (that would make Barry White proud) told that he was having the fever and may not make it. I told him of all the people who were waiting for him. Guess what? In 30 minutes he was here with his big bike. One can really sense that he was sick, so it was a gallant effort by Mat Jepun to come.

All these can bring tears to one's eyes. From friends I have not seen in 22 years, to friend who had to drive a long way, to friend who was sick and of course many others who had to re-arrange the family schedules to make it to my open house. I had not been going to any gathering the past year due to other commitment, and yet this was of no consideration to them. I am deeply honoured and really appreciate all those who had made it or had intended to come. In synopsis, Zul Golok said he would try to make it some other day, Azli was not in town, Nor Art in the end could not make it, Abu and family were down with fever. Najib made it over the weekend and found that his wife and I shared the same alma mater (primary school). This is indeed a small world.

(They are of course other classmates that I have been wanting to see. Roshaima (could not come as she has a wedding to attend), Amizah, Sahara, Junaidah, An, Salina, Budi, Mat Raman, Jef, and many others. Of course, top on my list would be our dear and precious Minee. I have always wondered about her whereabouts. )

There are a lot of shortcoming. I have not been able to personally sit down with all of you during lunch. Cold drinks have been too slow to come. The first group (Zaharah, Soraya, Razin etc) missed some of the afternoon tidbits. Some cannot eat gulai nangka and there was no alternative. Of course my biggest regret is that I was not able to sit down with all of you individually as a gracious host. My apology. If I were to do this again, I will make it on a smaller scale with perhaps one group at a time, so that I can really mingle.

Some said that I look like a YB giving away Raya goodies to their kids. Actually been lobbying many political parties (government and opposition alike) to give me a seat but to no avail. So I was hoping to entice the younger generation (your kids) for their future votes ;-). You guys think I can give Amir or Mat Yus a run for their money?

(Yeah, right. In my dream. I am still ill-at-ease in public. )

Thank you friends for coming. I hope to reciprocate your effort sometimes in the future.

Your indebted hosts,

Rahman Hariri, Siti Sarah, Arif Kashani, Akmal Hariri

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet

Here is the kids' interpretation of the classic from the Theme from Romeo and Juliette.

Or known to many as A Time for Us.

Again not the best of rendition by Arif on voilin and Akmal on piano, but I thought they werent that bad.

But a lovely song for sure. It was written by Henry Mancini. It topped the Billboard 100 chart for two weeks in 1969.


Here is one from the master itself Adre' Rien. This is so beautiful - the song, not the model. Well, sort of.

Well, one can't compare between the two. The first is by amatuers and the second was by professional. The skills and the instrument quality were so different. Of course the latter were backed-up by full orchestra and recorded in the studio with sophisticated equipment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

His First Solo Flight

Updated 26 Oct 09: Read the real thing here.

After 10 hours of flying, Arif did his first solo flight in a Piper late yesterday's afternoon.

I am still wondering about the thought of him flying solo without the benefit of a captain/instructor. I mean I worry about him driving that small car going back and forth Melaka. I would not have given anyone permission to drive my car, not even my beat up Ford after only 10 hours of driving lesson.

So I complaint to my uncle Captain Asgar and two of my cousin pilots about Arif doing his first solo flight this week, and they didn't bat their eye lids - I was on the way back from Melaka for a meeting when I dropped by at their house in Seremban 2. "Different," he said, "up in the air you are all alone whereas down here the traffic can be intimidating."

His son Afzal - he completed his cadetship 2 months ago, concurs. "Once you are up there doing your solo, you would be screaming and releasing all within you," he opines.

"Bebas! Bebas!" he would screamed on top of his lung during his first solo flight.

(If I were him, that would be the last thing I would be thinking of doing. I would be planning and worrying on how I could get the plane on the tarmac as soon as possible! And that's one reason my friends, I am not a pilot.)

So Arif completed his first solo in 15 mins late yesterday, and he was back on the tarmac at 6.45 pm. He was just circling down the airport. When I complained about the short flight, he said, "It's OK. All you would remember is your first solo flight and nothing else."

Here back on earth, I am battling the KL traffic and grinding my way (and teeth obviously) on a daily basis [sigh].


Obviously there isn't any pic of him in his solo flight. Otherwise this would not be called solo flight, eh? There would be no one to take pics, but he should have just hang the camera somewhere and let it take pics automatically.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Best Time to Plant a Tree


Since it is Raya time - still and I am consolidating my blog, I thought I should post here what I wrote more than six years ago in the MRSM KB76ers' forum on the Raya Potluck gathering at Lake Garden KL.

Just for the record.

And I thought it would be applicable to my primary classmates too, six years down the road this entry was written.

I don’t know why all of the sudden, I have the urge to write. Not that I don’t have enough assignments that I need to submit this weekend. I am quite sure Mat Jepun and Sapurah would know what I am talking about. Then again, may be this writing binge is due to the fact that I am a student. Just may be.

Read On.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.

The second best time to plant a tree is today.

By Unofficial KB76’s Nosy Reporter aka Man Hariri

Dateline: 1 January, 2003
Time: 0800-1300 hours
Place: KL Lake Garden

Overheard during the gathering - "I don’t know know them well. What I should talk about?"

Isn’t that always the dilemma we all face at one time or another in our lives. Typically at any reunion or for that matter any public gathering, this writer will look for the comfort of familiar faces. How we would all be lost without them.

This time around, this writer was adamant, that besides renewing acquaintances with old colleagues – should it be rephrased to the more politically correct term of former colleagues? – he was going to get new ones. Obviously seeing friends like Munawir, or Roshaima and Sahara, and catching up on lost time with Soraya, Mat Jepun, Aliza, Fishal or Abir, might be a big motivation, but surely getting new ones can be as important in a reunion as maintaining old ones.

He remembers the above African proverb well (as he keeps on thinking about the durian trees he wished he had planted) and somehow he thought that it aptly describes the situation and hence the title of this piece.

Twenty years ago and more, we all sow the seeds of friendship by virtue of being under one roof of MRSM KB. Though we all share the same roof, this writer would be the first to admit that he hardly knew many others beyond the comfort zones of his former classmates, dorm-mates and other smaller groups where he can relate his own existence.

And as such, he thought that may be he should be sowing some friendship seed now. This writer, by virtue of attending two gatherings within a space of eight days, hopes to have done just that.

And for both gatherings, he did not take one single bite. Not during his own open house on the 25th December – he had his first bite that day at about 8 pm, a good one hour after the last person had left and nothing at all during the 1st January 2003 Raya gathering.

Not that he was on diet. And definitely not that the foods weren’t great. Far from it. The foods sumptuous and look delicious. He guessed the idea of meeting long lost friends overrides his physical needs and craving for foods. Or that somehow, his brain was all screwed up so much so that whatever remaining gray matter he had thought that chatting and gossiping can replenish the soul and the body!

With so much food brought by everybody, that was a shame. Talk about starving in the sea of food. It could have been him.

This writer had lost track of how many friends he has met that day. If on the 25th the brain was working overtime trying to figure out friends, the 1st January gathering was far worse. If on the 25th Dec, he would have to figure out mainly ex-classmates, this time around, it could be anyone from any class. It is probably easier to figure out the guys. The problem this writer and many guys faced were trying to face up to the ladies, though the feeling may be reversed from the gals’ perspective. That was about to change that day, thanks to the organizers. He was told that the Sapurah, the two Aya’s, and Ku were instrumental in getting the gathering going. A thousand thanks to them. Atuk according to the website came as early as 7 am to book the place and Sapurah was like a superwoman carrying all the drinks while this writer behaved like on big shot, and watched. Shame on him!

Atuk was the unofficial photographer that day, even though Halim was around. Must have retired, eh Halim? Or concentrating on the Solat website. He (Atuk) would be busy clicking his camera, while most of us were busy chatting. Of course, there are many others budding photographers, even at 40. First there were couple of pictures taken just because the writer has not been around. Then there were picture taken as the Taipingites were chatting. Then it was the Yob photo. May be Penangites, Kelantanese or just about any reasons to have to take photo actually.

This one is the Yobs and the Yongs picture.

Atuk was busy promoting his photo album when this writer arrived. Don’t forget to post some over the website, Atuk and those with the camera. Would like to see how they all turned out. Obviously there was one big session of photo taking, with practically everybody in it (Remember the barbarian pizza joke? He ordered pizza with everybody on it!). Never heard of it? Ah, well, never mind.

There were ample of foods from nasik lemak, to bihun goreng, and karipap to cheese cake and pudding. This writer certainly hopes each one of the guys will not be upgrading their spare tyres from bicycle-size to bike-size and bigger. He vaguely remembers someone reminding to bring the sports attire. I think we need Judane here.

Razin informed that indeed there were 32 of us yesterday.

From a personal perspective, it was great to see Sahara and Roshaima. Can wifey some discount on Avon products, Sahara? While talking at one time with Razin, out of the blue he said, “Man, rubber and erazer dah datang!” I stared at him, wondering what on earth he was talking about. Of course he was talking about Roshaima, my ‘rubber & erazer’ classmate. Good to see you again, Shema. For some reasons, had never met with you in Cukai or Kuantan. If this writer had not welcomed you to KL yet, well, welcome to KL. Good to hear someone purposely choosing the Ampang/Cheras area, where the working class lives (ehem Jamil!).

This writer remembers talking to Nadiyah (over emails months ago) about how we were on the opposite end of the constellation, and as such never had the opportunity to get acquainted. May be. But the same can be said of this writer, and the gals like Sapurah, Kauthar, Norhaniza, Aya and a few others. But at the end of the gathering, for the first time in 27 years (since 1976), we managed some lengthy small chat. Norhaniza must still be wondering who on earth was this other Taipingite (this writer and he thought he was a Taipingite through and through), but he had good conversation with Kauthar and Sapurah. At least if he were to meet Kauthar at Pasar Suntex again, he would know it is her (and she of him) and probably get some tips on fish quality and prices as this writer is the one doing the weekly shopping. Of course this is not to belittle her real expertise in energy. As for Sapurah, it was an interesting conversation on career, study and family life. It never occurred to this writer that was our first conversation after all these years and it was like old friends, right Sapurah? Good luck with the study. If you need info on Islamic banking at UIA, let this writer know.

A few others were there, but somehow he did not have the opportunity to converse. He saw Nazila, and Sufiah from afar. May be some other time, ladies. Aya, he believes was busy promoting Zaharah’s jewelry to this writer. Wrong person, Aya. Should be promoting to wifey. Irrespective of what she said, she is the one holding the cheque book, right honey? (Say again, darling, how much do you want me to sign on this one? Hehehe No, I don’t think she would reading this ;-)

I think that answers the question about what to talk to someone you have no past together. Talk about the present. Talk about the present. KB76 bonding is strong enough for us to relate to one another.

Of course, Ohm broke the news that is of interest especially to Darwin/pasteur class. He managed to contact Rosminee Mustapha - fondly remembered as Minee. That is Rosminee with double e, mind you Webmaster. Congrats Ohm. You know you can trust your local BPR guy;-). At practically every gathering this writer had attended, whenever the Darwin/pasteur classmates sat down together, someone would always asked for her whereabouts. And typically we would be asking Aliza, right Liza? From that 1994/95 bukak puasa at Telekom Training Centre, right to the writer’s open house last 2 weeks. With one kid already at USM, we would certainly be looking forward to see Minee.

Here are some prizes we should give out – guys only, except for one. This writer dares not make fun of the gals. Takut kena pelangkung. Not after just getting to know some of them.

1. Black-Hair category – An/Zaid
2. Hair-still-intact & Blonde hair categories – Mat Jeng
3. Awet-Muda category – Soraya (guys sapa?)
4. Mulut-Laser category– An (ini kena tanya sama dia ;-)
5. Did-not-put-on-weight category – Jamil
6. Where-have-you-gone-missing? category – Munawir
7. Famous-people-category – Ohm (Norian Mai)
8. Now-u-c-him, now-u-don’t category – Mat Jepun
9. I-have-new-job-at-every-other-gathering category – wak Leh
10. Sendirian Berehat category – Amir (to quote him)

No offence meant here, guys. Add on category as you see fit. From a personal perspective, I would like to add the following categories:-

1.Always-bring-roti-canai-for-Man Hariri’s-kids category – An/Liza
2. Always-reminding-their-dad-that-it-is-time-to-go category – This writer’s kids (ask Fishal, they would remind him (this writer) at every 15 minutes interval and yet none of them has any watch)

Hada, Shafie, Sudeng, Mat Yus, Midah, Din Salleh, Mun were all there. My apology to those whose name this writer did not mention. This writer wants to book their time the next time he is around, not forgetting Nazila and Sufiah. Have tried to be as comprehensive as possible.

Till next time. Is there another small on before the big gathering? Let’s hope so.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A blast from the past - Taiping Station

(posted Nov 27, 2007 in Yahoo 360)
Anyway Taiping as a whole is one town trapped in the past, like many of her former inhabitants. For some reasons, this is one town that time had forgotten. It used to be said of Malacca; but that is no longer true.
In some ways I feel sad for Taiping; in many ways I am elated. I can go back to my home town and I can really go back in time when I was in primary school. Nothing has changed, albeit the traffic being a bit more heavier than what it used to be.
There is one particular icon of Taiping that had not changed at all since the 70s. And it is captured in this pictorial blog in tribute for the first ever railway station in Malaysia.
Welcome to Taiping - this is what would greet weary travellers when the train reached Taiping station. Being the oldest station in Malaysia, one would thought that the building is a bit more of an architectural wonder like its counterpart in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. However the building is a bit nondscript and dilapidated and nothing has changed since I was kid in the early 70s.
This is the station we embarked at when MRSM KB decided to transport her students using the train (instead of the bus) at one time. This is the station we would embark everytime we head to KL for our school hols. The beauty was that if one were to embark at Taiping enroute South, one would pass a couple of tunnels at Bukit Berapit, and no one would not want to miss the unlighted tunnel experience.
The tunnels were built by the Brit in 1893 and completed in 1905 [Wikipedia].
All of the sudden, the day would become a very dark night, with the coach lighted up by dim and yellowish lampu mentol. One would not be able to the the sunlight at the other end of the tunnel at all. It was fun for us kid, when those were the only tunnels in the country then. No Genting Sempah tunnels, no Menora tunnel, no Smart Tunnel - then in existence in Malaysia were the Bukit Berapit tunnels and they are as Taiping as the Maxwell Hill.
I guess Taiping station is a workhorse station for the British and Malayan economy, hence the bare station architecture. Eventhough the Taiping-POrt Weld route was completed in 1885, this station definitely was not built in 1885, as the original site was said to be where my primary school King Edward VII-1 is now located.
This magazine and bookshop has been around since time immemorial, if I may exaggerate a bit. It has the best collection of comics anywhere in Taiping for sure - not even bookstores like Perak Bookstore at the Main Road can beat the collection here. We would come here for our doses of Beano and Dandy for sure. Do you all still remember those comics?
The pic of the right is the station master's office. No change here either.
Aaah, if someone told me that these pics were taken in 1975, I would believe them. But these were taken in 2007. This is the view of the station with the station master posing for the pic; we are facing North and the Banjaran Bintang on the left. In the background, one could see a flyover which will take you to the two notable suburbs of Taiping - Aulong and Assam Kumbang, and of course to the infamous Kamunting (where many ISA detainees are being held).
P1010104Prior to having this flyover, the traffic was notorious as Taiping was divided into two by the line. Flyover was promised even when I was in primary school in the early 70s. Even shunting trains (which would happened a few times a day) would cause massive traffic jams; with Lim Kheng Yek many times promising to solve it with a flyover. But I guess with Taiping being a sleepy hollow, that promise was broken many times over, over many elections. In the end, it was completed - but I forgot which year (sometimes in the 80s).
The pic on the right is another view of the railway yard, this time facing south on the right - including towards Port Weld.
I used to cycle back to Aulong riding along the Taiping-Port Weld (now Kuala Sepetang) line. It was a shortcut for us kids then; and it was pretty safe. I don't believe the line is still existence; I am sure it was dismantled for its scrap metals.
The same old mechanical shunter at Taiping Railway Station
For more pics on Taiping Railway station, please go here. Honestly I feel many of Malaysian train stations are trapped in time. To many while some of them are architectural wonder (KL station, Ipoh, KTM HQ etc), many are in dilapidated states, and it is a shame. The KL station and the KTM HQ, to me, are what made Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur (along with Sultan Abdul Samad building).
Taiping Station - A response to the response
Taiping Station - A response to the response magnify
You have opened up a can of worm, Aya. No, make it the Pandorra box.
You see, a friend of mine commented on my story on Taiping station. Actually it was not much of a story, since my memory is fast fading. It is more of a pictorial blog than anything else. You know - take some pics, write some comments, and paste it in here. Easy daisy. No thinking required.
But she gave me the real reasons why Taiping station is an icon to Taipingites, despite the fact that the nondescript building has been in dilapidated condition since time immemorial.
It was the social and economic reasons that make it so important.
Yes, the mee rebus there was great. For the uninitiated, Taiping is the place for mee rebus - you know the noodles with the sweet potato gravy. Taiping station, Assam Kumbang and of course Cashier Market were the place to get this special noodles. You would need to queue then to get your quota, especially at the first two places.
Years ago, a couple of months after my arrival in Kerteh, after being back in Taiping (and working there) for two years, I was craving for mee rebus. So during one weekend, we head to Cukai Kemaman, and at a restaurant (it still exists), I saw a menu that says just that - Mee rebus. Great, I thought. Hope this is a good as Taiping's. But I was given a watery nooodle - it was basically mee sop. Don't they know the difference?
(Ni nak kena komplen kat Shema!)
No chance for the sweet potato gravy in the land of keropok leko.
You know Aya, the Taiping-Port Weld railway track was our playing ground too and just like you, we had our fun on the railway track. I didn't know your grandma's house was nearby. I am sure we would have cycled passed by it as the track was our favourite and fastest way to get to town. This track would pass by Aulong; and our house, and that of our maternal grandparents while not fronting this track, unlike your grandma's, were within walking distance to this historic track.
I am not sure if there was ever any train plying this route during the 70s. May be there was. I do remember doing what you did with the caps and even coins. Of course they were all flatten by the sheer weight of the train, and we kids would 'wow' at the flatten caps and very thin coins. I am sure Twiggy would have been proud!
And we didn't go any further than that of course - we were good kids then!
I also think you have been reading too much of the Famous Five (Enid Blyton) to be listening for oncoming train on the track itself. Hahaha and I must have been reading the The Three Investigators (Alfred Hitchcock) too much too, for I had done what you did on the track; pretending I was Jupiter Jones investigating a runaway train case. Don't you think it would be much easier to be calling the train master for a schedule?
Original 3rd edition cover of the first book in the series Five on a Treasure IslandFive Go Down to the Sea (1953). Knight 1973 paperback edition. 188 pages
From the description of your activities then, you must be George (and not Anne), right?
Yeah, to us I guess, the Taiping-Port Weld railway track is not merely pieces of metal long gone in the history of Malaya and Malaysia, that is not worth more than just a passing remark in history books. It is part of my childhood, and it will remain a part of me.
I am sure it is for you too, Aya.

For the record, I would paste Aya's comment here for ease of referencing. Thanks for being my loyal reader and commentator since day 1.
"Loved ur taiping stn write up. Tak sempat nak comment before. The tpg-port weld line used to run right in front of my grandparents' hse in kg boyan (till early 70s). My earliest memories were of the old railway track. Used to put my ears on it to listen for oncoming trains & leave bottle caps & pebbles on it to see what happens to them after the trains pass over them.And may i add the food stalls across fm the stn.. u can't get mee rebus mamak like that around here!:) "
See Aya, you are a better story teller than me and you should be putting this and more in your blog!
Everybody has a story to tell.
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Keeping Up with the Joneses

My neighbour said something to me last weekend over an over-the-fence chat that had me sporting a smile as courtesy, but causing bewilderment at the same time.

I was re-doing the small garden we have at home with the kids - you know pruning, cutting the grass and revamping it a bit after years of neglect, when the neighbour from the front house popped up and we had our small chat over the fence. I could not invite him in for a small Raya chat instead in the house as we were not in the state to take guest with our sweat and dirty appearances.

Anyway, back to the chat.

I guess he would like find out about Arif taking his flying classes as that was the second time he asked about him. His daughter was a classmate of Arif at SMK BTHO for him to keep a distant interest in him, I guess.

Once he completed his small chat on Arif's flying (and me on his daughter's at UIA) , I complimented him on his new vehicle. It is easy to get on the neighbour's or anyone's good book. Just compliment them on about anything. Their slimming down over the Ramadhan, the new coat of paint on their old gates, their new sport rims etc etc.

Not that I would notice much of the happening surrounding my house. Me, going back and forth from office would take most of my energy anyway. But since his house is practically in front of my house, and the fact when we returned on Thursday on Raya week, there were only a few cars parked on the street, hence I noticed it .

You know his response?

"Aiyah, Rahman, terpaksa lah. Everybody semua kereta baru. Habih we all dah cornered ni. Org depan (not my house) new car, org tepi pun sama, orang belakang pun kete baru jugak. Tinggal kiterorang je kete lama. Mana boleh tahan!" he said. He was smiling when he said that; he was non-chalant too but I know he was serious.

To be honest, I have no inkling about what he was talking about. I have not the faintest idea over which neighbours would have what cars. I don't keep track of them - I try not to. He mentioned their names and their new cars, but for the life of me, I simply would not and could not remember those.

I know there is no point for me to keep track of them. I know I can't compete. If I have one neighbour who lives below my income capacity, there would be 10 more neighbours above it. If I can afford Saga, they could buy Waja; if I Perdana, they can buy the latest BMW 5 series.

Why bother?

The reason I bought a car is that I need it for my work. Not to keep up with the Lees, the Alis and the Ahmads. The same reason I would buy a house is that I need to live in one and I need to shelter the family, and not for me to compare with my neighbours.

It never ends.

To be honest, I was not taken aback by what he said. I honestly thought he would use the excuse of replacing his 'old' 4WD SUV. I would have bought that. May be he was trying to do small talk with me. I seldom sit with them and have a chat over nothing. May be that was what he was trying to do. And I will keep him and myself entertained I guess. ;-)

And amused, if I may add.

But for anyone to keep up with the Joneses....hmm...