Monday, June 25, 2007

Things Japanese (3): Bon-odori

The month of July is just around the corner. This is the month for Bon-odori.

Bon-odori simply means "bon dance" in Japanese. In the old days, bon-odori was a festival to respect and welcome back the departed spirits of ancestors.

Today however, bon-odori has evolved to be more of a summer dancing festival, marked by merry-making and dancing outdoors under the warm summer sky to the tune of traditional music and the beat of Japanese drums (taiko).

During bon-odori the Japanese will go out dressed in their yukata, i.e. the traditional summer kimono. The festival site shall be decorated with coloured lanterns, dancing stage and so on. Stalls selling all kinds of food from roasted corn to yakitori are set up. Everybody will be in a carnival mood.

In Malaysia, bon-odori is celebrated on a fairly large scale in Penang and Shah Alam. The celebration in Shah Alam is held at the Matsushita Sports Complex. It is usually very well attended by Japanese expatriates, as well as, many hungry Malaysians out to get themselves stuffed with Japanese food and drinks.

I have been to the Matsushita bon-odori twice with my family. For us, its a great opportunity to titillate our taste buds with Japanese food such as sushi, Japanese curry rice and some peculiar and exotic-sounding drinks like the Pocari Sweat!!

According to the Japan Embassy website this year's bon-odori in Shah Alam will be held on 14 July 2007. So, see ya' there!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dunia baru! : All the best wishes to Sakinah…

In a few week’s time my daughter, Nur Sakinah, will set her her foot into a local IPTA. She'll be pursuing her dream to become an accountant.

As a father, I feel proud that my eldest child is now ready to take flight, striking out on her own to prepare for career. And adulthood.

My dear Sakinah, you will already know this, but let me tell you all the same. You shall soon be sailing into un-charted waters. A Dunia Baru, if you like. Insya ALlah, three years from now, after getting good grades in your diploma, I'm sure you'd choose a good local university to continue with your degree course. After all that is your final aim, right? And soon after, before you know it, it will be time to start out on your career.

Sakinah, to pursue a goal we all need to make some sacrifices along the way. So be prepared for them - "bersusah-susah dahulu, bersenang-senang kemudian..." goes the Malay saying. Enjoy your student life by all means (like I did). But be focused, always, on where you are heading, and whom you want to be.

“You can be anything that you want.
The only person who can stop it, is YOU!”

Remember those words from the movie we saw together recently? That movie might just have be for fun and entertainment then. But believe me when I say this, those words are as good a principle to go by, if we are ever to go far in life. Think about this my dear.

Sakinah, you've been away from home before. Two years at Sekolah Menengah Teknik was followed up by a tough 3 months stint at the PLKN in Pasir Putih. I know you’ll be able to take good care of your self.

And what's more, you've grown matured, too, now. Hmm, mind you, you have always been the cool-headed type - living up to the name you carry no doubt, “sakinah”, which means “ketenangan”. But whatever you do, and no matter how far you go, please do not forget your roots. Remember your family. Remember your duty as a student in search of knowledge. And most of all, do not forget our duties (yours, mine, and the rest of us in the family) to ALlah SWT.

"Jauh di mata, dekat di hati"... I want you to know that I am always available whenever you need a guide and a friend. I’m just a phone call away, you know! :-)

May Allah show His mercy on us all. And I pray that you will always be in His guidance throughout your quest in search of knowledge.

Abah and Umi love you Sakinah, and we wish you all the best and good luck!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Al Fatihah


My Father-in-law passed away peacefully last Friday.

Al-Fatihah

buat

ISHAK BIN ZAINAL ABIDIN
Lahir 16.4.1935 - kembali ke Rahmatullah pada 15.6.2007
Semoga ALlah mencucuri rahmat ke atas roh beliau dan ditempatkan bersama orang-orang yang soleh dan beriman.

Amiin

Monday, June 11, 2007

Happy Father's Day (1 week early)

I'm not really into celebrating all the "celebratory days" that you have . I don't keep myself reminded especially for them.

I guess that's why last year I got next to nothing in terms of a happy papa's day wish. So I ended up wishing my friend Dr. Andrew Chua happy father's day and then managed to persuade him (only just) to return the favour.

That being the case, you can imagine just how determined I am not to be embarrassed again this year. Thus it was with a little "help" from my son, Anas, that I excitedly sent "Happy Father's Day" wish by sms to almost all and sundry (all dads listed in my mobile phone) last Sunday.

Only problem was, Father's Day was not due for another week!

You see, what happened was that Anas had inadvertently "alerted" me one week early when he wished me Happy Father's day last Sunday when I'd dropped him off at Seremban bus station. Anas way on his way back to school after the school holidays.

Obviously Anas had got the date wrong. And poor, unsuspecting me, I just received his wish happily, even giving him a big hug for it (that's for reminding me).

Half-an-hour later, all sms wishes had been duely sent. And soon enough the return wishes came in one after another, but with some questioning the date, "hey, isn't it 1 week too early?" Sakinah did some hard thinking, and checking, and confirmed the worst ;-)

Anyway, no harm done, really. Its always good to be early, no? And thank you so much to Anas for the reminder. This year Abah got almost 30 Happy Father's Day wishes, albeit some with a big question mark tagged to it.

To all dads, wherever you are, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY...

p.s. could you please return me the favour ? ;-)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Movie at UiTM: An Inconvenient Truth


There are movies, and there are movies. However, nothing quite compares with the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”.

An Inconvenient Truth is an Academy Award-winning documentary film about climate change due to global warming, presented by former United States Vice President Al Gore. I had the chance to view it today at a forum organized by the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) at the UiTM Campus, in Shah Alam.

Never heard of it? Well, you’re not alone. Apparently, many Malaysians have not either. And that includes our politicians and leaders of society. Talk about being an ignorant lot! That’s right, us, Malaysians!

OK, then, let me give you a preview. In the film, Gore reviews the scientific evidence for global warming, and describes the consequences of global climate change if we humans do not do get rid of the inertia against taking any meaningful action.

Gore comes across as is a very genuine environmentalist. He first became interested in the issue of global warming when he took a course at Harvard University with Professor Roger Revelle, one of the first scientists to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Later, when Gore was in Congress, he initiated the first congressional hearing on the subject. That is how committed this politician is.

After the film, four panelists spoke briefly on the subject of climate change. A pertinent point to note is that Malaysia has already seen its average temperature risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the period before the onslaught of greenhouse effect.

The icebergs of Greenland and the Antarctica are fast disappearing, and that could lead to a 7 meter rise in sea level in the northern hemisphere - for Malaysia the rise could be 1 meter or more. In addition to sea level rise, there would be greater occurrence of flooding in many parts of the world, and longer periods of drought in other parts.

The big question is what can planners, and other professionals too for that matter, do to make a difference?

It was agreed that professionals such as town planners, engineers, architects etc. can do a lot to contribute towards minimizing climate change, as well as, reducing the adverse impacts of climate changes as can already be observed.

The key to success depends on our ability to take action now - and fast. Closely related to that is the need for us to tackle the issue in an integrated approach. “Multi-disciplinary” is the buzzword. For climate change is too real and big an issue to be looked at from just one angle. It affects all facets of our life from social to politics and the economy, as well as the whole spectrum of our environment, i.e. built and natural environment.

Thus, it is time that all professionals in the line of development should blend their efforts together. Mother Earth is the only home we have. For the sake for our future generations, let us not be too selfish and irresponsible. Let us try to save it, together.

Note: The film An Inconvenient Truth won the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Weekend in Sungei Petani

The Mem Besar hails from Sungai Petani in Kedah. Last Friday we got out of bed very early and drove up north all the way from KL to Sungei Petani in time for the Friday prayer at Mesjid Sg Layar.

Sungei Petani is Kedah's second largest town after Alor Setar. But in terms of growth, it outstrips Alor Setar big time. This is especially so after the North-South highway provided a fast and convenient link to Penang in the early 1990s. One can now drive from Sungei Petani to the Penang island in half-an-hour via the Penang Bridge.

Like all towns in Kedah, the paddy field is an ever present landscape surrounding the town. With the Gunung Jerai as a majestic backdrop, it makes for a beautiful and breathtaking view.

Our trip to Sungei Petani was to visit the father-in law. He is not doing too well of late. He is due for angioplasty in August. And on top of that he had a fall recently which badly affected his back to the point that he is not able to sit up for long. We pray that he will get well soon and be able to fulfil his life-long dream of preforming the haj in Mekah. Amiin.

Photo notes:

Flower plants and young fruit trees at the mother-in-law's garden. Nadiah and friends playing galah panjang to while the time away (kids will be kids). Boys playing soccer at the nearby field.