Sunday, June 26, 2011

Keropok leko terpanjang


From the NST:

KUALA TERENGGANU: A 400-metre long keropok lekor, weighing more than 2,000 kg made at the Dataran Shahbandar here yesterday went into the Malaysia Book of Records as the longest in the country and probably the world.
The mammoth effort was part of the attractions at the state-level Bank Rakyat Cintai Alam carnival.

Bank Rakyat managing director Datuk Kamaruzaman Che Mat said the giant keropok lekor gave a unique local touch to the carnival.

"It is also fitting as the previous record holder, a 300m keropok lekor was also made in Terengganu in 2006," he said.

The keropok was then cut up, boiled and sold to the public.

Kamaruzaman said the proceeds will be given to various welfare organisations.

The keropok was made with 1,200kg of fish and 850kg of flour.

The flour and fish paste mixture was put into the blender for two hours before being kneaded into shape.

Industri Keropok Warisan Sdn Bhd managing director Mohd Zaman Muda headed the team of 25 keropok lekor makers and about 100 university students to knead and shape the dough.

"We used a diesel-fuelled burner specially brought from our factory to boil the keropok lekor after it was certified to be the longest in the country by the Malaysia Book of Records."

Read more: 
Longest 'keropok lekor'

My take on this:

Honestly I applaud it, but at the same time I am appalled that the longest is only 479 m (beating the old record of 300 m that has been the record in the Guinness Book of Records).

I really do applaud the effort by Bank Rakyat and Warisan Terengganu in making this the longest yet.

In fact, I can't wait for this time next year, and really hope they will go out of the way to ensure it would not be beaten ever again.

Why stop at 479 m then?

I really hope that they would make long enough that it would reach Kuala Lumpur - that's nearly 380 km from Kemaman. IN fact I believe it is long enough to reach my home in Cheras, all the way from Kuala Kemaman.

What does that means to me?

I would be getting fresh leko, right here in Klang Valley. It means that I would not have to travel to Kuala (Kemaman) to get my monthly dose of leko

And why not? - I think the biggest market is here in the Klang Valley and not necessarily in Terengganu. Let's not forget that!


Actually as usual, I am being sarcastic here.

I have no idea on how doing the longest leko would get us anywhere, especially on attracting tourists to like the leko so much so that they would want to import leko fresh from Kuala Kemaman to Europe and Japan on a daily basis.

I have been thinking a lot about this everytime I would buy leko in bulk on my monthly trip to Kerteh.

How can we expand the leko market?

I don't know if the Malaysian market is expanding, and expanding fast enough. We need to be thinking big, and not limit the market to the Klang Valley or even just Malaysia. We need to go international. We need to think on how to ensure that the Japanese would need a dose of leko for their tea ceremony, the Brit during their afternoon tea, or even replace their fish and chips national dish to fish and leko instead, etc etc.

Fish and Leko is definitely healthier than Fish and Chips!

I am thinking that we need to have different flavours of leko for the different markets, and we need to freshly air-flown leko to the various markets. As it is, I don't think we can make an impact with the various taste-buds, so I am suggesting some modifications to the flavour of leko:

1. Wasabe Leko for the Japanese market
2. Cheesey Leko for the western/European market
3. Tomato Leko for the italian market
4. Curry Leko for the Indian Market
5. Salsa Leko for the Mexican market
6. Kimchi Leko for the Korean market
7. Soto Leko for the Indonesian market
8. Tom Yam Leko for the Thai market

I think you got my drift, right?

I am beginning to count my millions. Hmm...should I start changing my lifestyle? ;-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kenang-kenangan Hidup

So my youngest two siblings want me to write about their bapak. I don’t blame them. They didn’t get the chance to get to know their bapak like we the elder siblings did. We spent nearly 20 years with him, while my youngest sis, for one, for barely for 8 month.
It is not easy writing about him. For one he is no longer with us. He can't defend himself in my writing for sure - not that he needs to defend himself. On the other hand I don't want to paint him like a saint that he becomes so unreal, even when he is a very religious person. But his exploits in the course of discharging his duties and 'amanah' would make him nearly a saint, especially vis-a-vis today's morale standards.
Another bro wants me to write more on Taiping, another topic close to my heart. I have a story on the Tekah airfield aka Taiping Aerodrome (in Assam Kumbang Taiping), where Sukarno & Hatta had landed in the 40s; another on a writing by one colonial officer in the 1900 beautifully describing Taiping after-the-rain that had me jumping and screaming “That’s my Taiping; that’s the Taiping I knew.” Yes, I have been wanting to write about both topics – it is in my mind all the time.

But where do I begin?
I am as clueless as to where to start as Pak Lah clueless about managing this country. No joke. Just relying on my memory and not talking say to his sister MakCak or his brothers PakLang and PCYa, I found it hard to recall all those memories of him. May be I don’t want to, I don’t know.

The life and Times of Hariri Bab
Bapak was born in Kuala Kangsar in April 1936 and went to Clifford School. The house they lived in was a row of government houses right in the middle of KK, which front the school. The house is more like a rumah berek on a stilt. Two room and a living room and you go down (and out) to the kitchen and another room, with an open space in between to dry your clothes. Of course in 2007, that row of houses is no longer there. It is now a bus stand and a new township for KK.
We had our chance in 1979-1982 (??) perhaps to re-live what he and his sibling went through living in the same row of houses. I remember coming back after SPM and that night after my arrival, I slept from after magrib till the next morning and felt like I had waken up from my death.
It was the most beautiful sleep I had ever had.
Sorry, I digress.
The Bab family in their KK home in the 50s
with their grandmother. Their mother had just passed away.
I don’t recall much of his life in KK to be honest. Life was difficult for the 8 sibling without a mother since 1947, and with a dad with a newly married wife (Tok Bab re-married after 3 months), it was not an ideal environment to excel. Tok Bab was a technician with Telekom and I am sure his pay in those days was peanuts.
But he played cricket a lot at a field near the house (not too far from KK's wet market). He had told me stories of his cricket exploit when I came back from summer holidays, but not having caught yet the cricket bug myself, I didn't give his stories much thought. Ah, well, those were the colonial times, I guess.
Bapak with PC Wan (on the left) at Bukit Bendera. This was probably taken in the 50s(??)
But he passed his senior Cambridge exam. Senior Cambridge, from my understanding, is the O level of the olden days, and going by the number who would passed SC, I think it was probably like getting a degree today. And during those days not many would have reached that level. I don’t know why he didn’t go on and further his studies. Money issue? Qualification issue? I had never asked him.
But upon passing, his eldest bro Zainuddin Bahari Bab (PakLong), who was then working at Utusan Melayu (which was then owned by the Ishak’s brothers – Aziz Ishak to bapak is Pak Jed) asked his friend for help for a job in the government sector for his brother Hariri. I remember this story well, as told by PakLong.
“But he is overqualified for the job,” Pak Long was told, “ I am not sure whether he would last there.”
YOu read it right. He was overqualified for the post.
“Trust me,” PakLong reassured, “I know my brother and he will not leave.”
Bapak at a field expedition in Batu Gajah (??) in the 60s.
This was his first job - and his last.
Leave he didn’t and Bapak died in office in 1984 in Taiping.
For as long as I can remember, bapak was a settlement officer (SO) at the Land & District office at the various towns in Perak (Taiping in the 1960s, Batu Gajah up to 1968, Lenggong from 1968-1972, back to Taiping (1973-1978), Kuala Kangsar (1978-1984) and then back to Taiping (1984)). Obviously he had gone up the ladder from being a junior officer to the most senior SO.
Bapak as a settlement officer in his Pejabat Tanah office
But the next step of the hierarchy eluded him. I remember that in the 70s he went to Ipoh and sat for an examination for promotion, but he didn’t get the promotion to ADO (assistant district officer). I don’t know why, I believe that may be it has something to do with his health; may be he didn't pass the interview, may be he didn't play the office politics well, who knows. He had stone in his kidney and hypertension, and especially in the 80s when it was at his worst, in some way I am glad he is not an ADO or DO.
While he was a government servant through and through, he never encouraged any of his children to seek a living with the government. "Enough that I am one," he said, "I expect you to work in the private sector." I think he can see it in the future, perhaps the private sector would be more rewarding. Except for one lecturer and one teacher daughters, we have basically steered away from the government sector (i.e. two out of thirteen).
He put emphasis on education for his children. “I have nothing to give you but a good education,” that was his mantra ("Bapak tak ada apa nak bagi kat anak-anak kecuali pelajaran.") I would get that small talk practically every time I came back from boarding school. He is right, he knew he didn’t have much to give his 12 children (excluding one adopted daughter) in term of worldly wealth. And he knew that the only way for the family to progress is through education.
That he went all out to get it for us. Nothing was spared in his pursuit of that objective. Even if he goes broke getting us there - which was most of the time.
While I don’t like to talk about other people’s salary; notwithstanding my own bapak, I know what he earned then was peanuts. And to support 13 of us was a burden to him but he carried it all in the spirit "They ain't heavy, they are my family." He had never had luxury in his life. No new cars for him throughout his life – the Morris Minor (AD 8479) was a second hand.
My brother and I riding a bike in the compound of SK Sentul
in Kuala Lumpur in 1967. IN the background is the Morris Minor  AD8479.

When he brought the 'new' car home in Batu Gajah, we asked him while he was taking us for a spin, “kalau kereta baru, kenapa dia buruk?” I don’t recall his answer – he probably took it in stride like that Burung Murai dad. He drove that car for nearly 20 years till he sold it in the early 80s and bought a second hand Opel Kadett (AW2002).
That was the car that we had a breakdown in the middle of the night in the early 70s that he had to ask us to wind up the window just in case if a tiger were to pound on him while he was out checking on the engine; at least his wife and kids were safe.
Oh, and you know what was his fav car - The Puegeot. I remember that he wanted it so much that a couple of times the salesman was at our house in Aulong. But he knew he could not afford the car, so in the end he resorted to buying an old Opel.
And still no aircond for us then.
He didn't get to taste living in his own house until the last week of his life.
That’s the kind of dad you have, Zali, Aisyah.
He would sit and read the books with us at night at our government bungalow at the edge of Lenggong. “Goodbye Aminah, goodbye Mei Ling, I’ll see you again tomorrow,” said Ali - we would read along (that was from a Std 1 book). That’s how he cultivated the love for books in his family. He would spend the time with us, and not just give a directive “Pegi baca buku!” like yours truly to his kids nowadays.
……….to be continued
If you want to get to know your bapak, listen to these two songs. We used to listen to this folk song by The Brothers Four & Theme from A Summer Place by the Percy Faith Orchestra in the early 70s on vinyl. Yes, the vinyl is still with me and safe in my collection. For some reasons everytime I listen to these two songs, it reminds me so much of him.
Greenfields & A Summer Place EP
This is the ori vinyl (EP) from the 60s that is still in good working condition. There are two songs on this side - Theme from a Summer Place and Greenfields.
This song was a very popular song in the 60s. Even Peter, my associate was stopped on his track when he heard this song one day on my notebook. He is just a couple of years younger than bapak.
The lyric is so poetic. I for one knew the lyric by heart, ever since I was in primary school. For he was our Greenfields & our Summer Place.
If you want to listen to the recorded version of Greenfields, click here. Otherwise click on the youtube below for the live version from the men themselves - the Brothers Four.
Once there were green fields, kissed by the sun.
Once there were valleys, where rivers used to run.
Once there were blue skies, with white clouds high above.
Once they were part of an everlasting love.
We were the lovers who strolled through green fields.

Green fields are gone now, parched by the sun.
Gone from the valleys, where rivers used to run.
Gone with the cold wind, that swept into my heart.
Gone with the lovers, who let their dreams depart.
Where are the green fields, that we used to roam?

I'll never know what made you run away.
How can I keep searching when dark clouds hide the day
I only know there's nothing here for me.
Nothing in this wide world, left for me to see.

But I'll keep on waiting, ‘til you return.
I'll keep on waiting, until the day you learn.
You can't be happy, while your heart's on the roam,
You can't be happy until you bring it home.
Home to the green fields, and me once again

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kelate vs Ganu - A neutral's perspective

I am not one following football.

Malaysian football scene that is.

It does not provide me with a sense of excitement. Not in the way the English Premier League does.

Both leagues are skill-less, but at the very least the English Premier League is fast and furious, and hence it provides non-stop actions.

So, while I was yawning at Malaysian football, the FA Cup with two east coasts states vying for the trophy caught my attention. I spent five years in one state while a teenager, and another five in the other state while in my early twenties, so I thought I should watch it.

While I do have affinities for both states, I have no preference for one, so it should be an occasion with no stress or pressure for me.

Ok, ok, may be I have a slight preference for M Karathu as a favourite coach of mine since he was the coach for Perak in 1990 when Perak beat Selangor 4-2 after trailing 2-0. That was perhaps the last thrilling match in an FA Cup final.

But to be honest, I did not see any excitement at all during the match. It was a slow as tortoise as a match if one were to compare to the Premier League's pace. I did not see anything that would make me sit up and glued to the telly.

High leg and reckless tackles, two-footed lunge and wild shots.

That's all I can remember of last night's final.

OK may be the Kelantan's goal was a good lob, but that was about it.

Now if these were the two top teams in the Malaysia at this moment, I think we should all pray very hard.

We certainly have no future in football.

On the other hand, I am disappointed with the Kelantan state government for declaring Sunday as a public holiday in Kelantan. For what, I must ask.

There goes millions of ringgit of revenue and productivity for the Malaysian economy.

If you wish to travel from KB to KL to watch the game, you should be taking leave from your annual leave. For the sake of 40,000 fans who have saved a day off of the annual leave, another half million productive workers were asked to stay at home and do nothing.

Oh boy. I cringe when I heard that.

In some sense I am glad that Kelantan are not going to get the treble this year, though I do hope that they will win the league (for Karathu's sake).

I think acres of land in Kelantan will be given away to the players and trips to Europe and millions will be spent for the jaguh kampung. If this persists, then soon we will run out of state lands to give away!

I am really averse to spoiling our sportsmen for mediocre achievement i.e. those not achieved at the world stage. I wonder how many thousand of acres of land the Ganu government will give away now.

Anyway, let me get back to my afternoon nap.

Good night and congratulations Ganu.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Weddings and a middle-age guy

I had never thought it would come to this.

Seriously, this is a thing I had never planned for; not when I was young, not as an adult.

But I guess this is part and parcel of life. Things do happened, you just try to adapt and make the best out of each situation. But things can change also abruptly, and all you can do is go with the flow.

Never in my wildest dream that I had thought I would come to this. If it was, it would have happened a long time ago. Then it would be worth it. I would have to do it more than five times, so the experience would be important.

I have no daughters, and hence I know that there was no incentive for me to do this at all, despite the fact that I could have easily learnt about it from Youtube.

So when the Tok Kadhi at Kajang Mosque asked me to solemnize the marriage, I politely declined. I know I was the wali, but I was not prepared to do things other signing the papers to give her away. The Tok Kadhi seems reasonably understanding of my reluctance, and he didn't seems to be pushy.

And I thought that that was the end of it.

So when the time comes for the actual ceremony - after the long lectures, suddenly he turns to me and asked (again) me to do it. He put me in a spot there and then.

What do you do if you are in my shoes? Make a fuss and politely declined for the second time?

Or are you like me, an introvert who seldom wants to rock the boat?

Just go with the flow, and make it happen.

I guess I could have said no, and I am pretty sure he would do the solemnization without batting his eyelids. But then again, how difficult can it be.

It is after all one liner. I have seen it a hundred times over in Malay drama, and I presume I had attended numerous wedding to know exactly how it is done.

Unfortunately I have no daughter/s to give away the next time around, and
she was the last of my sis, so this experience will come to nothing
to be honest. But what the heck, you only live once, anyway.
(That's yours truly's hand in the familiar white batik.)
So that day I became the Tok Kadhi! Not many men, even dads, can lay claim to having done the deeds for their walis.

I don't remember now if I had to do it twice or whether single solemnization was enough that day, but in any case, I know that the fault was not mine (if it had to be done more than once).

Second Wedding

So when my uncle Capt Asgar invited me to join them for his son's wedding in JB on March 12, I didn't bat an eye lid. After all in February I had became the Tok Kadhi, and I presume by assuming that role, I would know everything that needs to be known about wedding - Malay wedding especially.

But at the last minute, he called me to his side.

"Aman, nanti they all minta wakil cakap, Aman cakapkan sebagai wakil rombongan," he said.

Alamak, I was thinking in my mind, what choice do I have, five minute before the nikah ceremony was supposed to begin. This one, I don't believe there is one in Youtube. I can't disappoint him by turning down his request, so after I ask the name of the bride's parent, I prepare in my mind the 2 minute speech.

Fortunately, the surau was such a beautiful and cozy surau. The architecture is traditional Malay, even though it is not a wooden surau. I fell in love with it the moment I entered it.

So my mukaddimah is made easier. All I need to do is praise their wonderful and cozy surau - just to break the ice.

Some of the intricate carving in this cozy surau.
I can present papers at conferences; heck I have even chaired a couple during my lifetime. But typically they are all came with a notice and I would know it ample of time ahead. But still butterflies in my tummy would be there typically.

But at these two weddings, no chance that that would happen.

I am richer for the experience, nevertheless.