Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Alamak! Dua malam tak dapat ni..

Tengok bola la. What were you expecting? ;-)

I think I am having withdrawal symptom. After four straight nights of staying up late and waking up very early, and after purposely depriving myself of much needed forty winks, I am left wondering today of what I am going to do tonight and tomorrow night when WC soccer takes a break before the quarter finals.

And even when there was no telecast by RTM - mine is perhaps the only house in Kuala Lumpur without Astro (apala RTM, heboh je live telecast, tengok2 tak cukup 64 game - tension tengok RTM1 kosong je), I decided to drive myself a couple of kilometers out of my housing area to the nearest mamak joint which would have live telecast at the wee hours of the morning. I had never been out that late in the last 8 years and that was how long it had been since I had to do my duty for Rukun Tetangga.

But tonight, I would need to sleep early, but I wonder if I would be able to pass through 2.30 am without waking up. It had been automatic for the last four nights.

Would I survive till Friday?

Would I survive when the tournament ends on the 11th July? By then I think Wimbledon would be done with and I think I would not have the chance to be watching Sharapova. Then again, I can't be watching anything that is not on terrestrial TV.

I think FIFA should hold the WC every year, and RTM make sure you bid for it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Capello in the aftermath of the German Annihilation

Now that England has been dumped out of the World Cup that they are supposed to win, you'd wonder what would Capello be doing this summer.

Wonder not; just watch this video - hot from wintery South Africa.

Now you know.

What do you think?

EPILOGUE

Sorry, I only had a couple of hours of sleep last night. Went to the mamak to watch the Engelund game. I was full, but the restaurant keep asking if I wanted to eat anything. So I had no choice but to continue munching my way through till the very end of the annihilation.

Then woke up at 2.30 am to watch the champions-elect play - The Argies. Can't afford to miss it and the woke u at 6 am to prepare for office, so someone had to pay for my lack of sleep.

Actually that was a fun song from 1981 - it hit no 1 in UK and Australia, and you'd wonder about our taste of songs in the 80s. It is a fun song to sing along. Try it - it is infectious. You might just lighten up in the aftermath of the Engelund game.
What's-a matter you, hey, gotta no respect 
What-a you t'ink you do, 
why you look-a so sad 
It's-a not so bad, 
it's-a nice-a place 
Ah, shaddap you face
I am sure Capello would not mind telling the English press just that - Shaddap You Face.

The singer is not Don Fabio but Joe Dolce. And no, I don't blame Capello at all. And I do believe on the wisdom of Maradona. At 2-2, he said, it would have changed the complexion of the game.

As a consolation, England can leave South Africa with that pleasant thought.

The what-if thought!

For whatever it is worth.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anak Sungai Pun Berubah


A classic Ahmad Wan Yet's song and covered beautifully by three different singers Saloma, Uji Rashid and Endang S Taurina in three different decades.

Which one do you prefer? To me, all three versions are reflections of their time and they are timeless classic in their own separate ways, and each does not take away the beauty of the others.

I think it is a credit to the song writer - Ahmad Wan Yet. I love all three versions, but since I grew up during Uji Rashid's era, I guess hers is version that would remain close to my heart. May be, just may be; by a whisker. The Saloma's version remain timeless to my mind, despite it being released in the 60s.

The lyric speaks for itself. Nothing much I could add, and it melts me every time I hear this song.

Aah, anak sungai pun berubah, ini kan pula hati orang.

Anak Punai Anak Merbah
Terbang Turun Buat Sarang
Anak Sungai Pun Berubah
ini Pula Hati Orang
Mengapa Dikenang

Asal Kapas, Jadi Benang
Dari Benang Dibuat Baju
Barang Lepas Jangan Kenang
Sudah Jadi Orang Baru
Mengapa
Dirindu

Kasih Yang Dulu Tinggal Dalam Mimpi
Kasih Yang Baru Simpan Di Hati
Kasih Yang Dulu Tinggal Dalam Mimpi
Kasih Yang Baru Simpan Di Hati

Selat Teduh Lautan Tenang
Banyak Labuh Perahu Aceh
Jangan Kesal Jangan Kenang
Walau Hati Rasa Pedih
Mengapa Bersedih

Kalau Pinang Masih Muda
Rasanya Kelat Sudahlah Pasti
Kalau Hilang Kasih Lama
Cari Lain Untuk Ganti
Mengapa Dinanti

Patah Kan Tumbuh Hilang Berganti
Akan Sembuh Kalau Diubati
Patah Kan Tumbuh Hilang Berganti
Akan Sembuh Kalau Diubati

Saloma
Uji
Endang

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Mee Rebus Tulang Sum Sum Town


To me, Taiping would always be the mee rebus capital of Malaysia.

For this is where one would find the best mee rebus in Malaysia and I have blogged it a couple of times (Mee rebus, anyone? and A Blast from the Past - Taiping Station). When I was first posted to Terengganu, I had a craving for mee rebus and all I got in the land of kepok leko was a watery mee sup.

Until I found Mee Rebus Mail Penang at Melawati, that is. This is one mee rebus my late uncle Pak Long and I would drive to from our homes in Ampang on a Saturday afternoon for our meals. As a rule of thumb, I am not a food lover and I would never not drive more than 1 km to fill in my stomach, except Mail Mee Rebus.

But I was introduced to mee rebus tulang sum sum when I was living in Johor Bahru in 1994, and I thought highly of it too. Though I have forgotten about it as I seldom would be in JB as I have no reason to do so.

But early this month, I was back in town and I would not want to miss this opportunity and sample my favourite dish again.
Here is a sample of the grand mee rebus tulang sum sum that we had last month when we were in JB for an engagement party for my cousin.

It would rival mail mee rebus for sure; I would give it a slight edge as it comes with the tulang sum sum, complete with a straw for you to suck the succulent sum sum. Can you see the straw sticking straight up in the middle of the noodles?

Whoa hoa! Beware, all those with high blood pressure. Make sure you have taken your medicine if want to live long enough to tell your family of how delicious these mee rebus was.

But where would you find similar offering in the Klang Valley?

But life isn't always about food. Men, they said, don't live on food alone. So I went back to my normal self driving down memory lane in JB, not just for me, but for Akmal and Mak.

We went roaming JB that Sunday, and while showing Akmal where they used to live when they were little, we came across this unique school building. It looks odd and at first sight I thought it was an army barrack, but it is a school. A beautiful one at that.

SK(P) Bandar Tinggi.

Let's pray that someone would not read this blog and suddenly had a thought of demolishing it and then commercializing this area too.

God forbids!
This is Mak's school in Johor Bahru - the famous SIGS; Sultan Ibrahim Girls' School. It is not far from my Jalan Petri apartment where I used to call home. I like the architecture too of this old building.

I think this could be late 40s and early 50s for her.
This is where I used to wait for my bus to JB Bus Station for my daily commute to Singapore.
And of course the apartment itself. From this apartment, we could see Dataran Bandaraya, the first picture in this entry above. It is beautiful at night.

I always love this Jalan Petri and the nearby Jalan Mahmoodiah. It is always green, and shady. What I love the most is the old colonial bungalow dotting these streets. So peaceful and tranquil.

LIke this old cemetery - Jalan Mahmoodiah Cemetery.
One of the better kept muslim cemetery in Malaysia, I would think.
I did enjoy my stay in JB. I may dislike going to town on a Saturday when the town is filled with Singaporeans as it would be congested. But beyond that I like the greenery of JB, and the old colonial buildings.

There is nothing to shout about in downtown but the surrounding is better than whatever I can enjoy in KL.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Extra, Extra - Happy Father's Day


I was reminded that today is Father's Day, and being a father myself, may be I should not be writing about it as I have vested interest. But then again, I am also a son, and hence I have the right to be writing about as much as the next person.

Well, unlike mothers' day, I could not be wishing anyone a Happy Father's Day, since bapak is no longer around. Of course I could wish friends and relatives, but somehow I thought Father's Day pale in comparison to Mother' Day in terms of significance, so I thought I should not.

So with no neckties to buy, no card to send, and no phone call to make, today is like any other day of the year.

But I was reminded by an article in International Herald Tribune (Friday issue) that there are things we should be doing instead of the above commercial things. Nicholas D Kristol reckons that in his article published last Friday, Dad Will Really Like This.

He said, "For Father's Day, let's forgo the neckties and give instead to father friendly organizations." For Father' Day, he reckons, tends to be less a celebration of fatherhood than a triumph of commercialization.

He suggested that donation be made to giant rats - you read me right! - which Apopo, a Dautch pharmaceutical company had trained to detect mines (they are light enough not to ignite it) and also, of all things, detect tuberculosis. For USD36, you can buy a year's supply of banana for them. Americans, according to Mr Kristof, spend USD9.8 billion a year for Father's Day alone, which is enough to to assure education for every single child on planet Earth currently not receiving education.

For more ideas, please visit National Fatherhood Institute (www.fatherhood.org), an organization which works to support dads and keep them engaged in their children's lives. There are evidence that absent fathers create vicious cycle: boys grows up without positive male role models, get into trouble and then become absentee father themselves.

In our own context, we can still celebrate Father's Day by doing something meaningful in our dad's name. We could give alms and sadaqah for orphanage or mosque instead of celebrating it the western way. For one, we could be the fathers for many children without father or fatherly figure in their lives. It is better to be doing good deeds in his name, rather than buying stuff for father which he does not need.

It would stop Father's Day (or Mather's Day) from being commercialized for the benefit of corporations.

I am not sure of there are similar organizations here in Malaysia - I am sure and I hope that we do have them here. A paradigm shift as advocated by the columnist of the International Herald Tribune is warranted even here in Malaysia.

Let's give to them and help others, instead of buying more ties or pelikat or baju melayu for our dads, for which they will feign ecstasy and we will pretend to believe our protestations of pleasure.

This is especially true if our dads are no longer around. I am sure they would smile in pleasure at our deeds on their behalf, no matter where they are.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cerita dari Seberang - "Minta Tolong!"


Indonesia never ceases to move me.

I was watching the telly one of the rare free afternoon I had and saw a segment called Minta Tolong! In this program, a decoy girl (it was a set up) was telling a sob story to the public to get their sympathy. She needed to buy a new school bag for RM9 (Rp25,000), but did not have the money and hence she tried to sell a basket of (withered) onions.

To my mind, she was convincing.

Of course many turned her away. You don't spend RM9 on onion, especially if it had withered. One lady did question her about her being on the street selling onions and even asked her to be her adopted daughter. But none beat this Ibu Yanti, who is a sole breadwinner selling some cookies by the street. She was moved by her stories, give her the Rp25,000 that she needed, and bought her onions; justifying it to the undercover reporter (she didn't know she was being interviewed and recorded by a candid camera) later that she could use that onions for her cooking. Apparently Ibu Yanti thought the girl needed the money more than her.

Despite having a husband with all kind of health problems and can't fend for himself.

The undercover reporter then rewarded her with a stash of money - I could not figure out how much, but I saw stacks of Rp50,000 notes, so I guess it would be much more than what she could make in a month.

Life is difficult in Indonesia. Having traveled the length and breadth of Indonesia the past 15 years, I think I have seen the most squalid of houses - if I may call them houses. In fact I have talked to many living on the streets - many with small kids or even babies, some may even be the poorest of the poor, beyond our comprehensions. This was long before I became a blogger, so I did not record them, but many are vivid in my mind.

She was stunned with the reward, so much so that she just slumped there and then cried at her good fortune. She would have never thought that her good deed would be repaid so instantly, and reasonably handsomely. It was touching; in fact too touching for me to take it on my own.
Caption: Ibu Yanti and her husband during a poignant moment after she went back to her house to inform her husband of her good fortune with TV camera in tow.

That afternoon I could not help it but shed a tears or two myself.

EPILOGUE

Here is a segment showing a kid trying to sell eggs and this guy with only Rp13,000 on him decided to help.

Ibu Wisni has no money to buy milk for her baby and had to resort to selling used bottle to buy the milk. She wanted Rp25,000 for it. Would you part RM9 for 3 used bottle?

I think I know the answer to what I would do and I am ashamed!

Funnily the old man was willing to help, but was prevented from doing so by his wife. I think the wife was simply jealous! ;-)
Part 2
In some of these scenario: 97 people in 3 hours would not help the girl by buying her coal for the money to buy her mum some medicine. In another, some 174 people in 8 hours would not want the old man to shine their shoes in order to buy medicine for his grandson. With due respect, at least two did offer some cash as alms, but were refused by him.

With due respect too, some were simply too poor perhaps to even help themselves.

But again, the lady smalltime seller of cookies did help and without string attached. May be her daily profit went into paying for the coal to help the child.

In this instance, she would kneel in gratitude to God for the reward given and cried.

Watch this.
We can take heart from Ibu Nasti, a small time kue seller. She cycled everyday to sell, while we are not sure of her daily profit, we are sure it would not be much, but she would still help people in need.

Would we?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Name is Datuk Seri

I once was introduced to a person at a college cafe. I was just checking the college out at that time. Apparently his son is studying at the college, so I thought it would be a great way to know about the college.

And this incident happened quite recently - 2009 to be precise.

"Hi, I am Rahman," I said, while offering him my hand as a friendly gesture.

He smiled broadly and looked very much a friendly and jovial person that I am not.

"Hi Rahman, my name is Datuk Seri," he said, while shaking my hand. Firmly.

I was (slightly) taken aback. I thought I must have misheard him. For sure his parents would not have given that name to him. "Sorry, I didn't hear you. The noise in the cafe a bit too loud," I excused myself.

"Datuk Seri, just call me Datuk Seri. I am the (a Selangor district) branch chairman of (name of political party)," he said proudly.

He then gave me his card. Of course he has a Malaysian name, with a Datuk Seri's title before his name, but his name is not even mouthful for me to pronounce. So I am not sure why he would have to introduce himself in this manner.

And then we moved on topics of mutual interest. As I have said, he was not brash, to be honest; he was actually quite nice as a person.

That day I left the college with a cynical smile. I would have never believed what I have heard if I didn't hear it with my own ear. I have heard many stories about the datuks and datins showing tantrums when they were not accorded proper protocol and treatment.

"Excuse me, don't you know who I am? I am Datin so-and-so!" would be a common phrase used in such incidents. Or they would give you a Muka 14. I have just heard one story last weekend while attending an engagement party in Johor Bahru.

When I was a rookie engineer at Perak Hanjoong Simen in 1986, my Korean boss told me that in Korea, if one were to climb a hill and from the top, one can see a village full of people, and if you were to throw a stone at them, he was sure it would hit a person by the name of Kim.

When I first heard this, I was tickled pink. I thought it was funny.

I guess that story is true for Datuks and Tan Sris in Malaysia. But in this case, there's nothing funny about it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Makan Bola, Minum Bola, Tidor Bola


A friend texted me yesterday about a ex-classmate of ours (UIA MBA Batch 10 2000-03) getting married this Sunday in my wife's hometown of Batu Kurau.

But instead rejoicing, I was lamenting to her, telling her what a shame that this friend of ours is getting married in the midst of World Cup fever. I thought it is not conducive to get married during this clash of school holidays and world cup, since the husband would probably be sitting in front of the idiot box all night long, instead of his new bride!

Sorry, mischievous me. ;-)

I am not too great a fan anymore - I can't take the stress of watching Manchester United after supporting them since my childhood days, and since I have removed Astro from the luxury items that I would have in my home, I have not been watching football at all.

But this time around, thanks to RTM, my telly would have world cup football match streaming in, and it has been ages since we last saw it in my living room.

We have no TV in 1974, so watching anything including world cup games would be impossible for us. But I do know Gerd Mueller scored the winning goal from what I could read in the NST.

I am not sure if in 1978 we have the privilege of watching the games on our telly or just reading about it in the newspaper. I remember though Argentina losing their opening game. I thought that would be the end of the host - that they would not be able to emulate the previous host's achievement in winning the tournament on home ground.

In 1982, when we had the privilege of watching live games on telly in Melbourne Australia, I was in the middle of mid-year exam, and since I was a struggling student trying to decipher the Ozzie slang and understanding engineering principles, I missed a lot of the games. I don't remember much of the 1982 World Cup, beyond Paolo Rossi that is.

So when I returned in 1986, and I was not working yet when the WC in Mexico started, so I guess I would have the opportunity to watch and I believe I did, if my memory serves me right. I remember the game England-Argentina game very well and of course who would not remember the Hands of God incident! Until today, due to WC '86, I still think Maradona is the greatest soccer player ever.

But to be honest, of all World Cup, the 1998 was the saddest one. For me, at least. This is one world cup where the game is played in daylight, and I would not have to bother burning the midnight oil, so to speak. I would have to, instead, watch it during office hours and for me to do that, I just have to make sure the bosses would not know.

And chances were, they would not even know that world cup was taking place in France that year, for for sure they were not soccer fans. Secondly everybody have their own office, and we were normally seated facing the door, so no one would be able to see exactly what we were doing.

I could have a fun day watching soccer in my office.

The catch is that I was in Houston Texas and there was no live telecast of the match whatsoever. The cable I had in my apartment did not offer such privilege either.

In the office, I was the only Malaysian and another Brit, Paul, would be my partner in crime in as far as soccer is concerned. We were the only two engineers at the office who would be exasperated in our inability to watch the actions.

There was one solution though.

Soccernet!

Soccernet offer live telecast in 1998 and Paul and I would be feeding each other on the status of each game. Every five minutes, I would drop by at his office and he would do the same at mine.

The problem with that is that it was not live video streaming into our computers. It was live commentary - minute by minute, blow by blow.

It was like in the olden days listening to Merdeka tournament on radio.

"..dan Mokhtar mendapat bola, pemain pertahanan Korea menghalang, Mokhtar berjaya menggelecek dua pemain Korea. Cantik. Dari arah kiri pintu gol, Mokhtar.... menendang bola ketengah kotak, Isa Bakar berada di sana...dan peluang untuk Malaysia menjaring kan gol.."

"Dan Isa Bakar....terlepas!"

Actually it should be read "Terlambat". I am sorry, En Isa Bakar. I think despite my perception, we would probably be in the World Cup in South Africa if we ever have a striker half your stature again.

Sorry, I digress. That was what I can remember from the 70s Lenggong at Kampung Sira.

Beyond 1998, with the advent of Astro, I have missed it. I hate to have to pay to watch World Cup. I in fact had taken out AStro from things to have at my home, so it had been quite for me as far as WC in the new millennium is concerned.

I do remember reading in the news how Malaysians would set up the funds so that we could have soccer on the telly. Every Malaysian was required to donate RM1, if I am not mistaken. Was that in 1982?

Until this year, when RTM won the right to broadcast the game on terrestrial TV.

Thanks RTM for bringing back the game to the masses. I think you can all unsubscribe Astro this month. ;-)

Make that for good, please!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Keroncong - Senandung Lagu Lama


I love keroncong, though I believe not as much as the late Sultan of Johor.

The urban legend has it that FM104.1 keroncong segment at 11 pm in the old days is meant for the Sultan of Johor, and apparently he slept to the melody of keroncong on a nightly basis. And his are hardcore numbers that even I have not heard of.

I have no idea if that is true. It does not matter to me. I love the soothing melody and like the late Sultan, it could lullaby me to sleep. It is just very relaxing. And if I have my way, I would like Arif and Akmal to learn how to play keroncong, just like the determined Hassan in the Anakku Sazali movie.

I love a wedding that has a keroncong outfit providing live music. I think it is classy and elegant.

So I head to MPO last night to be immersed in live, classy keroncong that one can expect from a world class philharmonic hall, only to leave exasperated.

Yes, I have enjoyed it tremendously. The second half with a nearly full symphonic orchestra was as wonderful a music that I have heard at the esteemed concert hall. Sayang diSayang in the full splendour of symphonic orchestra and the wonderful voice of (Datuk) Yusni Hamid is one song you would not want to miss even if you have heard Kartina Dahari's version a thousand times.

Sayang diSayang, Tinggallah, Kini Hatiku Telah Tertawan, Uda dan Dara, Alunan Biola, Aku dan Dia, and Selamat Tinggal Bungaku are some of the classics that were reprised wonderfully last night. One could do no wrong with these songs. The arrangements are not necessarily better than the original, and in many cases I still prefer the original arrangement - may be I am so used to the original arrangement anyway.

At the hand of Yusni Hamid, even the unfamiliar but catchy tune of Ampang Pecah, an Ariff Ahmad's song had the audience clapping, despite this full house crowd being quite a subdue crowd. You just wish that she would be the only singers that night.

The others leave much to be desired. Bob did an ok job with Pahlawanku. Adila - please don't ask me about her - certainly did not deserve her place that night. She has a weak voice and her pronunciation is unclear that even as a keroncong buff who had memorized all the keroncong lyrics, I have problem trying to decipher her. To quote my sis, "Stop giving us half baked singer." Strong words, I told her, but it is not something I would disagree with.

Her try at Sharifah Aini's classic Kini Hatiku Telah Tertawan failed miserably. One would have no choice but to compare her with the Biduanita Negara.

Never mind that she was wearing body hugging dress; I was not impressed with her performance at all. Wish that Yusni would be taking on the song.

I was initially impressed with her rendition of Senandung Lagu Lama, again a Kartina Dahari's classic. But it would soon be obvious that Jamilah Abu Bakar, a 15-year old singer that had Tun Siti Hasmah apparently raving about her, is not in her league. At least not yet. She did better than Adila though, and she has a stronger voice than her, but still, you need a full-body voice like Yusni and Kartina to deliver any keroncong song in its full splendour.
Caption: Obviously we were not able to record it, but I guess the penyanyi cilik Jamilah had uploaded the practice session. Alamak, but this is a guy song, so feel a bit weird when she sang it.

But she is only 15, and has time on her side to polish her singing skills and voice control like Kartina. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she would do better as she grows up. Yes, she needs to diversify her left hand movement a bit. ;-)

But the problem I think lies when the producer tried very much to put up political message in a music concert. Just imagine; you have a song called Semalam di Putrajaya.

Semalam in where?

Give me a break. Putrajaya was not even born during the golden era of keroncong!

I know lah that Dr M had graced the first night of the concert.

Just do away with the modern numbers - Bukan Aku tak Cinta, Pergi and others that should not have been there in the first place. I cannot comprehend them as a pop number and I can't comprehend them when they were keroncong-ed, to be honest

Where is Terkenang-kenang, Sejak Kita Berpisah, Jangan diTanya, Kisah Cinta, Dari Hati ke Hati and many others? I know lah, some of these songs are Indonesians - only some, but they are classic Malay keroncong nevertheless, if you know what I mean. Kemayoran is perhaps more of Javanese keroncong and may not be suitable that night.

I was dying to hear this classic keroncong song.
Seruling Senja. Ah, you cannot get a more classic keroncong number and a classy rendition by Kartina. Perhaps none of our singers are fit to sing this song? Her voice control here is nothing but amazing.

How about asking Kartina Dahari herself to come and render them! Is it too much to ask?

Nonetheless, I would like the PPAG to continue their performances - I hope next season would bring us more of Asli/Zapin concerts, more keroncong, and perhaps just PRamlee and other classic from the 40s and 50s. We need to showcase these songs.

We need to bring to the fore these classics and get a whole new fans to enjoy them in the full splendour of symphonic orchestra.

EPILOGUE
Caption: The blogger in serious discussion with Datuk Yusni Hamid at the end of the keroncong concert on the direction of keroncong in this county - as if this blogger knew much about music! Actually, he is more like a fan since 1991 and I was only telling her of my fav song of hers Antara Kita Berbeza which I had blogged here. I guess she is the only infallible person that night to my ears!

She realized that Akmal was busily taking pics of her, and asked if he is my son. Unfortunately I am also taken Datuk. ;-)

Oh, and please do accept more criticisms from me. At times, I know I am hard to please, but this is nothing to do with me per se. It is about the maintenance of the DFP.

I think the cables at Dewan Philharmonik Petronas are going to the dogs, especially those connected to the amps. We had had two loud electrical 'explosions' (for the lack of a proper term) during the concert and it is both irritating and embarrassing to have it happened at such stature of a concert hall, but poorly maintained.

The explosion is very loud and ear-drum shattering!

I think this is the second time it happened in the last two concerts that I have attended this year, and it certainly does not bode well to the DFP team. We do get that if you have an amps at home and the cables are 'shorted'.

I think they just need to replace all the cables - that's all. But don't take my remedy at face value.

Get professional advice please.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

China Beach - Reflections on Vietnam

This is one TV series that caught my attention due to the catchy song by Diana Ross and the Supremes - Reflections.

Never mind that this is one series is poorly rated, eventhough the critics loved it. It was screened for four fantastic seasons from 1988 until 1991, and I guess this is one series I would remember my life in Dungun in the late 80s.

Once I watched it, I was hooked. I thought that it was one series that depict the Vietnam war from the perspective of the civilians - the US Army nurses, officers, and volunteers and how the Vietnam war impacted the lives of the non-combatants. Despite the perspective of civilians, the show did not shy away from showing the gruesome of war.

But there weren't endless of gruesome, and certainly not just for the sake of it. In China Beach, it is the human characters, and relationships that count, and it made it palatable to my mind.

Of course the main attraction was Dana Delaney, who played Colleen McMurphy, a US Army nurse at the 510th Evac Hospital, in Vietnam. I thought she was one fine actress, and her character was always poignant. The show is almost always about human relationship, in the context of war, so I can always relate to it.

Hehe, but I think it is more like watching her ;-)
This is one show I would not mind buying the DVD set which I believe has not be released yet, for some reasons. I would love watching this again and again.

When I started frequenting Vietnam in 1995 - the early days of Vietnam opening her door and you can count on the number of visitors by hand, I asked the clients about China Beach and of course no one knew about it. China Beach refers to a beach supposedly located in Da Nang but it was a nickname given by foreigners, so obviously the Vietnamese themselves have no clue of the existence of this particular beach.

Then it was tough to travel in Vietnam - I have difficulty to ask a restaurant to cook me fried rice with just eggs and veggie. That was about the only thing I could eat. Of course now in Vung Tau there are many Indian muslim restaurants and I even met a Campa muslim waiter while dining at a restaurant in HCM City.

I have a lot of respect for the industrious Vietnamese. After a few trips in the mid 90s, I told myself that in 20 years, they could surpass us if we were to stay stagnant. They are certainly unlike the people depicted in many Vietnam war movies or even China Beach. In some ways they were - resilient despite the hardship of war. They were unlike those depicted in the flying letters in the 70s - the communist regime bent on spreading their ideologies throughout South East Asia.

They are nice, soft spoken people and very friendly and gracious as hosts.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"We are not the real heroes"

So says one of the volunteer on Marvi Marmara, Norazman Mohd Samsuddin.

He went on to say that the real heroes were those who prayed for their safety, and those who helped secure their release.

I don't disagree with his first statement. He has a good perspective of reality. In a country where there is a dearth of real heroes however, we would just pick anyone - just about anyone and turned us Malaysians into hero worshipping. May be we should give them 1 acre of land each, and reward them hundreds of thousands of ringgit as compensation for being handcuffed for 15 hours, and not allowed to go to toilets for 24 hours.

Just like we would reward our sportsmen every time they underachieved.

I think Norazman and the rest of his colleagues are embarrassed by the attention everybody is giving them.

I however disagree with his definition of heroes.

Those diplomats negotiating for their release in the comfortable air-conditioned office in Amman, Jordan are not the heroes. They flew in first class, stayed at first class hotel and wine and dine expensive meals, and we called them heroes? Pleaze!

Neither were those of us praying in the comfort of our homes in Kuala Lumpur.

But he correctly pointed out about the plight of the Palestinian people.

"But the people in Palestine are in a worse situation than ours. They are constantly being confronted by the Israeli army who are prepared to kill at any time," he said.

The real heroes to my mind are the Palestinian people - the people who were oppressed, murdered, shot, beaten and raped by the Israel regime on a daily basis; those people in blockaded Gaza. We have no clue of the hardship of their lives despite them constantly being in the news.

Berat mata memandang, berat lagi bahu memikul.

C'mon guys - our people did not fight the Israeli army or won the war for the Palestinian. Yes, they did good deeds in trying to penetrate the blockade and brought much needed supplies for the deprived people of Gaza. Yes, they did much more than what I had done my entire life, so they should be applauded for the effort, but please do not turn them into gods, if you know what I mean.

What do we Malaysians living in comfortable Kuala Lumpur know about heroes?

Let us put things in perspective!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A New Day Dawning


A new day at Bera - and a new beginning.

It is not only beautiful when the sun is setting at Bera.

It is just as beautiful when the sun is rising over the horizon as well. You just need to be early to catch it.

And I am still wondering why Bera is not on the main itinerary of places to visit in Malaysia.
Have I convinced you enough to be visiting Bera this school holidays?

EPILOGUE

I remember this puzzle that my sis asked of me when we were in Aulong. In fact, during a Cikgu Nik Faridah's English Class in 1976, I posted this puzzle to my classmates, and no one was able to answer it.

I do remember someone asking, "How long is a Chinese name?" Obviously not even Jenny was able to answer him, let alone us with no Mandarin or Hokkien background.

Of course "Aulong" is a Chinese name. Aulong is a famous suburb even known to us in Kota Bharu Kelantan.

Anyway, back to my puzzle.

What falls but never break and what breaks but never fall?

I think it is common knowledge now. ;-)