Tuesday, December 29, 2009

At KLIA en route to Labuan

8.22am: At airport waiting for flight to Labuan for a meeting.

Pic above shows the aircraft which will take me there.

The craft had just arrived from somewhere and luggage are being emptied from it.

Be back home tomorrow insyaAllah.

Friday, December 25, 2009

At Pantai Cahaya Bulan

I am updating this blog direct - ''live'' if you like - from PCB, Kota Bharu.

My family and I arrived in KB from Ipoh this afternoon having picked up Emak from Kampong Kepayang.

We are now having dinner at PCB. Off to Kuala Terengganu tommorrow, insyaAllah.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gone Fishing

Our first catch of the day, a lampam sungai

One happy fisherman with the one that didn't get away

Novice fishing family in action

Our whole catch for the day (after 3 hour's work)

The end of year school term break is almost coming to its end. Yet - apart from the trip back to kampong - my family and I have not gone anywhere for a holiday.

I have not been able to take a leave for the boss has gone to Makkah for his hajj. And yours truly has had to cover up for him whilst he's in the holy land.

Consumed with a sense of guilt, I had to think of something to make up for it and found myself having to resort to something a bit more creative, albeit quite out of the ordinary somewhat.

Just last week we took the KL Hop On Hop Off bus ride around KL.

Yup, you heard me right. We became like foreign tourists in our own country. But it was a joy nevertheless. Got to go to a few places that we'd never been to before.

For me especially, it was a much welcomed change because for once I did not have to concentrate on my driving. I just sat back and relaxed and had the full opportunity to view and enjoy KL streets, buildings and its people.

Today was a totally different experience altogether.

We went fishing in Putrajaya.

The Putrajaya Lake is teeming with fishes. This includes much sought after species like the baung, tenggala and even the odd kelah. More common species are the lampam sungai and predators like toman.

But one cannot just fish anywhere in Putrajaya. The lake and its flora and fauna are strictly regulated and managed by Perbadanan Putrajaya so that they are not plundered by overzealous fishermen.

To do fishing one can always head to the Lake Recreation Centre in Precinct 13. Here, upon paying a small fee, everyone can fish to their heart's content from 9.00am to 7.00pm.

For a novice fishing family, we did not do that bad today. For a three-hour's work, we managed to catch four lampam sungai.

One tenggala was donated to us by a kind angler by the name of Hassan who took pity on us upon seeing our meagre catch by his standard. Hassan managed to catch eight lampam and two tenggala in just two-and-a half hour!

We had the fish for dinner. They were just delicious.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Boeing 787

Boeing's new B787 passenger aircraft successfully completed its first test flight in Seattle, US two days ago.

Dubbed as the Dreamliner, it promises to be one of the world's most fuel-efficient planes due to its very lightweight design using carbon and titanium construction materials.

In this day and age of rising fuel costs, it is no wonder that the Dreamliner has attracted some 840 orders from all over with Japan's All Nippon Airlines scheduled to take the first delivery by end 2010.

The 787-8 Dreamliner will carry between 200 to 300 passengers on routes ranging from 5,650 to 15,750 kilometers depending on different versions of the aircraft.

The aircraft looks so sleek and beautiful that aviation enthusiasts would find it hard not to fall in love with it at first sight.

I wonder if MAS is one of those putting an order for one of this aircraft. It would look great in MAS’s colourscheme.


Friday, December 04, 2009

In Melaka

Views out from the hotel

I am now in Melaka - with the family in tow - for a leadership training course.

I've been to so many training programs before. But this one is rather different. It is a leadership training course with emphasis on mind development.

But this is no ordinary mind development course either. For it is based on the Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) methods. It is quite a heady stuff which includes talks on self-awareness, the meta-physics and spirituality.

As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on this approach to leadership training. Nevertheless it's quite intriguing.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

A very old photo of Wukuf at Arafah. Besides submission to Allah in the fullest sense of the word, the hajj is also about sacrifices. Looking at the condition of wukuf in years gone-by, pilgrims nowadays have never had it so good.

Yesterday was wukuf day at Padang Arafah. This was the very climax of the hajj pilgrimage.

It is also the day when pilgrims get to be the closest to Allah s.w.t. spiritually.

Today is Aidil Adha, or "Raya Korban" as it is sometimes called here in Malaysia.

All in the family are back home. We shall do our solat Aidil Adha here in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn. After that we will set off for Ipoh to visit Emak.

I wish everyone a happy Aidil Adha. And hope that the significance of the word "korban" is not lost upon us as we busily and happily go balik kampong to meet friends and families.

Let us ponder, for a moment, the sacrifices that the Prophet Ibrahim a.s. made in the name of Allah thousands of years ago. And then, let us reflect on the sacrifices that we ourselves have really made for that cause.

It pales in comparison, right?

Salam to all and everyone.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Two weeks to wukuf

The atmosphere around the Masjidil Haram today (13 Nov. 2009) during Solat Jumaat. Photo courtesy of Manzlie Makkah Blogspot (this blog is updated daily bringing latest development in the Holy City)

It is now just two weeks away from wukuf. I still remember clearly when I was in Makkah for hajj three years ago that during this time - just two weeks away to the climax of the hajj - the holy city of Makkah would be choked-full of people.

The Masjidil Haram would be jam-packed with pilgrims 24 hours a day either praying, doing the tawaf, doing the the saie, reciting the Quran or just lying on the floor, resting.

I would watch in awe at the pilgrims going about their business. To think that all these people of varying nationalities, and shades of skin from the four corners of the globe could congregate in this holy city fore-going the comfort of their homes in search of Allah's pleasure really struck me as an act of the highest order of humility and total submission to Allah, the Lord, our Creator.

This year's hajj season sees quite a number of my office mates - including the boss - answering the call of Allah the Almighty. My mother-in-law is also there now. One of my riding mates, Kolonel Azudin, shall be leaving this coming Monday.

I pray that they will all be able to perform their duties well and come back safely, recharged and rejuvenated in their iman.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Injured semi-pro rider STILL planning on comeback

The elusive mtb wheel set

I think it is now almost five months since I last went riding on my mountain bike. That's a very long lay off.

Despite getting the green light from the good doctor to ride again, I am still some way off it. Reason being is that I am still searching for the replacement wheel sets.

Perhaps I have not been searching hard enough. If I were to head to the nearest bicycle shop in Sg Long, I am sure I could find a set. The problem is that they might be too expensive. I don't have a fat wallet. And this month my budget is a bit off, especially because the last pay-day came a tad too early due to the festive season.

I got a tip from a riding buddy, Jefri, that another rider friend have spare sets he'd like to sell off. But the tip came in a bit too late. I was beaten to the sets by Dr Azmi, yet another of my riding mate.

Sigh...I am still hoping to get my hands on a second hand set of wheels. But my patience is running thin. Just this evening whilst driving home I spied with my little eyes a middle-aged, slightly overweight rider with a decently bulging stomach to boot passing right in front of me at the traffic lights.

He seemed to be smiling at me as if teasing me "hey, aren't you supposed to be riding yet?"

Well, at least I think that's what he was saying in his mind. Or, was is just me being overcome with extreme jealousy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In Ulsan

I am, at the moment, in a conference hall in Lotte Hotel in Ulsan, Korea.

I am here to present a paper and represent Putrajaya in the 2nd Asia-Pacific Mayor's Forum.

Paper already presented, I'm now whiling my time away whilst listening to other speakers.

Located on the south-east coast of Korea (facing the Sea of Japan) Ulsan is only Korea's seventh largest city. But it is its premiere industrial city bar none, boasting the highest GDP of any Korean city. It is home to the world's largest automobile assembly plant operated by Hyundai and the world's largest shipyard operated by Hyundai Heavy Industries.

It being autumn, the weather's nice with temperature hovering around 20 celsius outside.

Be back home this Saturday, insya-Allah.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In loving memory

Apak on the morning of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 2008

It is now exactly one year to the day since Apak left us.

How time flies. Many things have happened since then. And some things will have changed. Some for the better, but some – like the economy for instance – not necessarily so.

But one thing is or sure. Apak shall always live in our memories.

I missed him a lot during the recent Hari Raya.

I missed watching him as he has his customary Raya morning lemang with Emak's rendang. I missed taking him to the mosque for solat Aidil Fitri, and watching him sitting – hunched forward, in the mosque prayer hall as he patiently waits for the prayer to start. But most of all, I missed hugging him, and holding and kissing his hands in asking for forgiveness.

Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmatNya ke atas rohmu, Apak. Dan semoga ditempatkanNya di kalangan orang-orang yang soleh dan beriman.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan 2009

This whole month of October is designated by the government as the Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan.

What, you didn't know it?

Shame on you.

The national level Bulan Bahasa was launched in Kuching on 6 October by the Deputy Prime Minister. Since then, every state has also launched their own state level Bulan Bahasa program.

The government says it is serious in retaining the role and dignity of Bahasa Melayu as the national language. Language after all is a powerful tool in our endevour for national unity, especially in a plural society like Malaysia.

The Bulan Bahasa program had its beginning as the Minggu Bahasa Kebangsaan in 1960. Since then it has come in various forms and guise, and been through its fair share of ups and downs.

Now, with the Deputy Prime Minister heading the Minsitry of Education, it has come back with a bang - albeit just a small bang.

The Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan Peringkat Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya was launched just recently on 22 October. Working with some officers from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in preparation for this event presented me with some new exposure to the world of Bahasa Melayu. Admittedly, it was just a short exposure. But it was a valuable one nevertheless.
A much needed one too.

Yes, of course Bahasa Melayu is my mother tongue. So therein lies the irony. Like many others, I tend to take it for granted and stop learning it the soonest I left my secondary school.

Meanwhile the language has gone through some changes. It has been adapted and updated to suit the current day and age. To illustrate, consider the following sampling of spelling of everyday words:

bola sepak (not bolasepak)

surat khabar (not suratkhabar)

insya-Allah (not insyaallah)

maksimum (not maksima)

There you have it. And these are just for starters. The rest you'd have to make the effort to find out for yourselves.

As the saying goes: "Tak kenal maka tak cinta". So go on, make some effort. Get to know your national language now.
"Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Liverpool in dire straits

Two balls? The freak goal which cost Liverpool the game against Sunderland last night

Liverpool lost their fourth game for this season. That's already double the number of games lost the whole of last season.

If things continue the way it is, then we can kiss the title goodbye well before the busy Christmas period. Heck, some even say we could have kissed it goodbye last month!

This is not good. Unless Liverpool improve, I shall have to find some other things to muse with over the weekends.

Its a depressing thought.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Opah Chu

Two days before Hari Raya I made my way to Parit. That is where my late father hailed from in Perak.

Parit generally refers to the area in the mid-Perak region, straddling both sides of Sungai Perak and its vicinity, stretching from Parit town to Kampung Gajah downstream. People from this locality are thus referred to as “orang Parit”.

In reality the “Parit area” comprises numerous small towns and kampongs sprinkled all along both sides of Sungai Perak. My father’s very own kampong was called Kampong Selat in Layang-Layang Kiri.

The “Kiri” here denotes the fact that this place is located on the left bank of Sungai Perak if one were paddling the sampan upstream during the old days. And whenever there’s a Kiri, there’d always be a Kanan settlement. Thus, we have Bota Kiri and Bota Kanan, Layang-Layang Kiri and Layang-Layang Kanan, and so on, dotting the banks of Sungai Perak.

Parit was a backwater of sorts. It still is, to a certain extent. That my father managed to get a good education and continued his studies in Liverpool all those years ago still amazes me no end.

My trip to Parit this time was for the specific purpose of visiting my Opah Chu in Padang Tenggala, about 10 kilometers from Parit town.

Opah Chu is Salamah binti Alang Pintal. She is my late grandfather’s youngest sister, and the last of his surviving siblings.

Ever since I was small, I always remember her to be one very kind lady. But what I remember most about her is how much she loved her favourite nephew – my Apak – whom she fondly referred to as Amat.

Whenever Opah Chu meets Apak, she never failed to grab Apak and gave him a loving peck on the cheek as if he was still a toddler. That my Apak was now all grown-up with five kids of his own was never a cause for concern in the slightest.

As a small kid, I was so touched by this gesture. Especially so at the sight of my big and macho Apak looking sheepishly at us after being hugged and kissed by his aunt right in front of everybody.

Even when Apak passed away, despite having problems with her knees, Opah Chu still managed to pull herself right up to Apak’s bedside to give him her last kiss on his forehead and a peck on the cheek. She then raised her hands and ran her fingers lovingly over his face.

That Apak loved her aunt, too, was obvious. I remember whenever we visited Opah Chu during Hari Raya, Apak would always look forward to his Wan Chu's lemang, rendang and dodol.

And as he sampled Opah Chu’s festive goodies, he would never fail to urge us to have a bite ourselves, saying “rasa la, sedap ni Opah Chu punya lemang”.

Opah Chu is now in her mid-eighties. Her knees are giving her problems – osteoarthritis, I suspect. But otherwise she is still healthy and alert. She still remembers many stories and details from her younger days. Especially stories about Apak and stories with her Yop (her eldest brother – that’s my grandfather).

Opah Chu has eight children, all daughters. She is now staying in PadangTenggala with her third daughter, Sabariah.

As I left her that Friday morning, I shook and kissed her hands and wished her Selamat Hari Raya. Quite un-expectedly, Opah Chu grabbed me and pulled me close to her and planted a kiss on my cheeks just like she used to do to Apak.

I almost got teary-eyed.

May ALlah continue to give my Opah Chu good health and the best of iman.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

“Injured semi-pro rider plans comeback”

Don’t be surprised if you read the above headlines in the newspapers over the next one week or so. Because, yes, I am (finally) planning my come back after a long lay-off from riding.

During the long break, I was reduced to merely reading emails about the exploits of my riding mates as they ride off into the sun set and enjoy their rides in such exotic places like Broga and FRIM.

That I missed my rides would be an obvious statement of the year.

Whenever I’m driving, the sight of dirt tracks such as those above would bring an inexplicable urge to grab a bike and hit the trail. Alas, I could only look at them longingly from afar. If I stumble upon a group of riders along the road I would watch in envy as they enjoy themselves. And to make things worse, the Mem Besar by my side would never miss the opportunity to tease and snigger at the sight of me ogling at the riders.

But just before Hari Raya I visited the doctor at HUKM and I’ve been given the green light to ride again, albeit with a stern warning to “behave yourself, and be extra careful next time”.

But, first things first. I have to get a new set of rims for my bicycle because the ones I had had been damaged during my fall last June.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri

The holy month of Ramadhan has come and gone. We all know that Ramadhan is the month of barakah where all good deeds are amply rewarded.

I pray that whatever little ibadah that I have had the strength to undertake will be accepted by Allah SWT. I also pray that, having graduated from the madrasah of Ramadhan, my ibadah therefrom will live up to, and be the guided by, the standard set.

Not that it was such a high standard, of course. But I should aspire to keep it - if not further improve upon it.

But most of all, I pray that, by the grace of Allah, I would be given the opportunity to be present come next Ramadhan.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri
Mohon Maaf Zahir dan Batin

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Of planning philosophy and iftar at Putrajaya new mosque

Masjid Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, Precinct 3, Putrajaya
Photo courtesy of Firdaus Mahadi at Photosantai.com

Putrajaya is a beautiful city. It presents itself as a dignified and orderly town. Some say it’s too orderly and clinical. But that’s another discussion reserved for another day.

When the pioneering city planners set out to plan the city, I’m sure they must have struggled to come up with a convincing concept and a coherent philosophy for it. Try projecting our leader’s obsession for achieving a developed nation status, whilst at the same time, blending it with THE Malaysian identity – whatever that might be – and you’ll get an idea of what kind of a mishmash and hodgepodge you’d get at the end of it.

But eventually they settled on for a philosophy which gives due recognition to men’s existence as the vicegerent of the Creator and his role vis-à-vis his fellow men, the environment, and of course his place in front of God.

Heady stuff, yes. But as a guiding philosophy, certainly workable.

For a start, Putrajaya is already planned to have places of worship for every religion and spiritual belief be it Islam, Christian, Hindu and so on.

Last week end I had the opportunity to take my family to have iftar at the latest place of worship to be developed here that is the Masjid Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Sometimes referred to as the “Masjid Besi” by the press, this mosque serves the people on the Core Island of Putrajaya. Especially on Fridays, this mosque is a much welcomed relief for office workers who have had to endure the heat and traffic congestions when they go for Friday prayers all over Putrajaya and some even as far away as Bangi and Dengkil.

This beautiful mosque can accommodate up to 20,000 people at one time. It has a totally different design to the more classical and Moorish-influenced Masjid Putra. Modern and with simple, clean, design it also uses a lot of steel for construction by comparison.

When we were there, there were around 400 people for iftar. The iftar fare was just nice and simple: dates with some kuih and sirap bandung. After solat Maghrib we continued with dinner. And after solat Tarawih there was moreh, too. But we didn’t wait for that as we left earlier after 8 rakaat of Tarawih.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Liverpool off to a bad start

Liverpool’s new season hasn’t been off to a good start. I wouldn’t use the word crisis yet. After all, we are only three games into the season.

But, to put things into perspective, Benitez's side have lost as many league games in a fortnight as they did all last season.

And of all people, it is our talismanic captain who has to shoulder most of the blame.

Now, before Liverpool fans out there bombard me with hateful comments, let me be clear that I didn’t say it. Benitez did.

But we all trust Benitez enough to know what needs to be done. So I guess this was it. A kick in the backside for our Gerrard to wake him up.

I hope it does the trick – sooner, rather than later.

No doubt we have three key players to return – Aurelio, Agger and Aquilani. And I bet you that they could make a whole lot of difference. But my only fear is that it would be a case of a bit too late.

If Liverpool misses the title again this year – and that’s a big IF – then I hope Chelsea or Arsenal would win it. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind if Burnley goes all the way.

Anyone, except Man United.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's your Ramadhan KPI?

Ramadhan is here with us again.

Alhamdulillah. Praise be to Allah for we have been chosen to meet this holy month once again.

I have blogged about Ramadhan a couple of times before (see here and here). The message – intended for myself especially – is this: reap the most out of this one month which has been bestowed the most of barakah by the Almighty.

In this day and age when we are crazy and besotted with KPIs, NKRA and what have you, I’d be inclined to ask: what is our KPI for this Ramadhan?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My claim to fame

It is not very often that one gets to meet a top leader. Unless one works at his office – or happens to be a member of his family – it is quite a rare event.

But it is much rarer still to be able to meet two top leaders from opposing political persuassions on the same day!

Well, my claim to fame is to have met Tuan Guru Dato' Haji Nik Abdul Aziz bin Nik Mat and Dato' Seri Mohd. Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak within the space of sixty minutes.

This happened two weeks ago on the day of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office Complex.

It all started when I got a call from our President with the announcement,

“Zi, I’ve got a special assignment for you today!”

You see, Tuan Guru Nik Aziz being the Kelantan Menteri Besar, is a member of the ECERDC. Prior to the Council meeting (upon his request) he was taken on a tour of the Prime Minister’s Office Complex by a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

As part of the tour, a briefing was to be given to the Tuan Guru on the development of Putrajaya, which was where I came in.

As the ECERDC meeting drew closer, he was led to the meeting room and left in the company of other Menteris Besar and members of the Council.

I, on the other hand, was led to wait outside the Prime Minister’s office to be introduced to the PM as the officer from Putrajaya who gave the briefing to Tuan Guru.

So there you have it….my very own little claim to fame.
Next claim, Hollywood!?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Durian dah berbunga!

Some of you would remember the Perak-born comedian, Os singing,

"Oh kome, deghoyan dah berbunga...".

Well, durian dah berbunga indeed at Kampong Kepayang Fair Park, my kampong.

For those of you who haven't seen the flower of a durian tree take a good look at the pic above taken this morning in front of my mum's house. Beautiful, aren't they?

There are three durian trees at Mak's house. Looking at their flower blooms, there's a good chance that this Hari Raya we'll be having durian for breakfast, pulut durian for lunch, and bubur durian for dinner.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Malaysia Airlines System, 1973-1987

Commemorative stamps on the occasion of the establishment of Malaysia Airlines System

Did you know that our flag carrier, MAS, had its beginnings as the Malayan Airways which was founded in 1937?

With the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the airline was renamed Malaysian Airways. It was soon renamed again in 1965 as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA).

But when Singapore separated (some say “kicked out?”) from Malaysia, and what with both countries having differing aspirations, eager to develop and project their own distinctive identity, it was only matter of time that MSA would be disbanded.

This finally happened in 1973, giving birth to two different airlines. The Malaysian national carrier was from now on called Malaysia Airlines System (MAS).

MAS McDonnell Douglas DC10-30

Those early days saw MAS branding itself more of a regional carrier, connecting a myriad of remote destinations in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. But soon enough it expanded adding, among others, the lucrative KL-London route.

And it was just in time too, I might add. For when I flew to London on 9th September of 1979 to further my studies, it was in a beautiful, gleaming MAS McDonnell Douglas DC10-30 aircraft.

It was just awesome!

The economic boom in Malaysia during the 1980s further spurred the growth of MAS. By the end of the decade, it was flying to 47 overseas destinations. By this time it had also changed its name to the current Malaysia Airlines.

Today MAS serves over 90 international destinations in six continents and boasts a fleet of aircraft that is as good as any other international airlines you may get. This comprises the following:

Current MAS Fleet (Major Aircrafts)

Boeing B747-400SP: 13 crafts
Boeing B777-200: 17 crafts
Airbus A330-300: 11 crafts
Airbus A330-200: 3 crafts
Boeing B737-400: 37 crafts
Airbus A380-841: 6 crafts ordered (year 2011 entry into service)

A MAS Boeing 707

MAS Boeing 747

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I wanted to be a pilot

During my primary school days, if any one of my Apak's friends were to ask me the proverbial question "when you grow up, what would you like to be, son?" I was sure to shoot back "a pilot!".

Yup, there would've been no doubt what so ever in that answer.

For I love aeroplanes.

I think I began to develop this love looking at airline advertisements featured in old magazines and in the newspapers. One such magazine was the Asia Magazine which was distributed free of charge with the New Sunday Times newspaper, Apak's newspaper of choice. Another one was the Readers' Digest.

Old ads especially by BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation), the Malaysia Singapore Airline (MSA) and, much later, MAS (Malaysian Airline Systems) fed to my interest.

An ad for BOAC VickersVC10 aircraft

At first, it was the mind-boggling thought of long distance travelling - flying into the sunset - and being able to go to nice places that I'd seen many times in our encyclopedia set, that first got me hooked.

But later, it was also the sight of beautiful, elegant aircrafts with their graceful wings that further intrigued me.

As my interest grew, I got to the point where I could recognize and memorize the names of all the aircrafts in the papers and magazines. And if there was a picture of an aeroplane or an airline advertisement in any magazine or newspaper (I seldom miss them), you can bet that there'd be a hole in them by the end of the day. I would cut the pictures up and stick them in my scrap book.

MSA ad and timetable

The formation of our very own national airline, MAS, in 1973 further fueled my interest.

I still remember looking on proudly at the very first printed advertisement for MAS in the newspaper. It featured a picture of MAS's first ever fleet, seven spanking new Boeing737s, lined side by side on the runway in dignified fashion.

Oh, how it took my breath away.

They came in a new, bright red colorscheme. The logo on the tail unmistakeably showed the kelantan wau. How, nice, I thought. Befitting Malaysia's very own national carrier.

When I went to boarding school, and later entered university, the intensity of love for aeroplanes waned a bit as I got engrossed in (distracted by) other mundane things like study and assignments. Nevertheless it never faded away.

During one of the summer breaks in UK, I managed to get a part time job selling Red Arrows official magazines at airshows and festivals in which the Red Arrows team were featured.

I had a whale of a time not only selling those magazines, but also looking up the aircrafts on show, as well as, taking pictures (my new hobby then).

Airmen atop a Hercules C3. Pic taken at one of the airshows in UK


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Floria Putrajaya is here again

Flower lovers will be happy to know that the Floria Putrajaya for 2009 will be opened to the public this Saturday, 1st August.

This year's theme is ‘Celebration of Colours’ and you can expect a riot of colours at the show alright, especially because this year's main flower to be on show shall be ORCHIDS.
The event shall be held for nine days beginning 1 to 9 August.
Admission is free.
Yes, people say nothing in this world is free. But Floria Putrajaya is the exception. And what a nice exception it is too.
For details please visit Floria website here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Swine flu hits UiTM Seri Iskandar

Syafiq’s campus at UiTM Seri Iskandar has been closed due to swine flu outbreak. At least 10 students have been tested positive with the flu.

So Syafiq is now with his Opah in Kampong Kepayang, safely away from the virus. He did complain of having a slight fever and a cold earlier this week. But alhamdulillah, he was cleared by an on-campus doctor as having just common cold.

Swine influenza virus is said to be very common throughout pig populations worldwide. But swine influenza was first recognized to be a disease related to human influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic.

The 2009 H1N1 form of swine flu is one of the descendants of the strain that caused that 1918 flu pandemic.

The H1N1 outbreak began in Mexico when it was first identified in April 2009. It led to the closing down of most of Mexico City’s public and private offices and facilities in order to contain its spread.

And, in early June, the virus spread globally. Malaysia is not spared, of course. Yesterday saw the first H1N1-related death in this country.

So everyone, please take extra to avoid being infected:

1. Practice good hand hygiene: wash your hands with soap and water often, particularly after travelling on public transport.

2. Use anti-bacterial hand gel: this is said to be better than using soap.

3. Use tissues: cough or sneeze into a clean tissue and throw it into a bin immediately.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The gift from Apak

During my pre-school days, there were only three kids in the family: my brothers Azmi and Azman, and I. We were very close to each other, especially because there was not much separating us in terms of age.

Being all boys, we were the heroes, but we were also the enfants terribles. We would run havoc and turn the house upside down on a daily basis. That our parents could cope with all the three of us at once is, perhaps, a testimony to their patience, and love, for us.

Oh yes, they treated us all with equal love and attention. And it showed, literally.

You see, whenever Apak bought us something, every one of us would get exactly the same things. The same batik patterned shirts. Same style of shoes. Same type of trousers. All the same, except maybe in terms of their colours.

One of the many things that Apak had presented to us all were these leather wallets. Perhaps wanting to inculcate in us the habit of saving, we had already much earlier received our colourful, animal-shaped porcelain coin banks. But the wallet, now that was something else.

I used to watch Apak as he prepared himself to go to work. I’d noticed how he would carefully put his wallet into the pocket of his pants. It seemed to be such an important item – one which he would never leave home without.

So you can imagine my excitement in getting my first wallet….my very own wallet. I felt like a grown-up man, ready to go out and work. Earn some big money.

That auspices day is more than forty years ago now. But the leather wallet which Apak gave me that day is still with me.

I cannot even start to tell you how I have managed to keep it with me after all these years. Because I really do not know. It has been popping in and out of my life over the years.

But one thing I know is that, I always have this thing in me that says anything given to me by Emak or Apak should be treated with utmost respect. They should be kept in their proper place and should never be given away, let alone be wasted, or lost. I would be consumed with guilt if ever I were to mistreat their gifts to me. In one way or another, I guess, it is these notions which have seen my wallet survive to this day.

The leather wallet is still fully intact. Well, almost, except for the plastic cover for the identity card compartment. The leather is still in fine shape, too.

But what really touched my heart when I was examining it recently was seeing my own name "Azizi A.T." printed by Apak on the inside of the wallet.

Apak had lovingly inscribed it himself using a pen (he had to, otherwise my brothers and I would end up fighting over our wallets). The inscription is still there, clear and un-faded even after more than forty years.

I will treasure this wallet till I die. And God willing, I shall not lose it again.

I might even take it with me on my mountain bike rides. Its design is so simple, and yet does the job just nicely for cyclists. After all, we cyclists just hate to ride with a big, fat wallet in our pants.

Thank you for the wallet, Apak.

You will always be in my memory, and may ALlah bless your soul. Ameen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Purification of the Heart

I seldom take notice of the daily "breakfast television show" dished out by our television stations. To me they are just there, in the background, to accompany me as I bite into my toasts.
But last week, Wardina, one of the hosts on TV3, started talking about this book entitled "Purification of the Heart" by Hamza Yusuf.

It made me stop chewing on my toast momentarily. For I had heard that title before. But I could not pin-point exactly where, and when. Memory failed me, I went on to finish up my half-boiled eggs and promptly left the dinning table.

It was only later on in the day that I remembered the book had been lent to me by cousin, Iwan, quite some time back. I had browsed through it. But I never really got to start reading it.

Thank you Wardina for reminding me. I really do have to catch up on my reading, haven't I?

Allow me to share some excerpts from the book's Introduction :

"The sound heart is understood to be free of character defects and spiritual blemishes. This "heart" is actually the spiritual heart and not the organ per se, although in the Islamic tradition, the spiritual heart is centred in the physical".

"Many in the West have long proffered that the brain is the center of consciousness. But in traditional Islamic thought - as in other traditions - the heart is viewed as the center of our being."


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All the best, Syafiq

Last Saturday was an historic day for my second child, Ahmad Syafiq. It was the day that he started out on a journey to higher education, the essential beginnings towards becoming a professional.

At 18, he's a grown up young man now, Syafiq. Standing at 5ft 10 and half inch, he's far taller than I was at that age.

But to me, he will always be the ''manja'' one.

Not that my three other children are not manja, of course. It's just that Syafiq is always the one who'd go to great lengths to call attention to himself.

Since finishing his SPM, he was a constant presence at home. He made himself useful by becoming the ever-willing un-official family chauffeur, my riding buddy and being the man-about-the-house (whenever I'm outstation). So, I will miss him a lot, now that he's in college.

But don't worry about Abah, Syafiq. Instead, cast your views to the future. Pursue your dreams of becoming a successful landscape architect.

Draw useful lessons from your five year experience at your MRSM. And take it to the next level.

Remember, excellence comes with hard work. As you always like to say yourself: NO PAIN, NO GAIN!!

All the best at UiTM Sri Iskandar, my son. Diiringi do'a Abah dan Ummi.

We love you very much.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Training shoes

Pic taken using HTC PDA, blog posted direct from PDA

I'm still on the mend from a broken metacarpal.

My right hand is cast in a ''back-slap''. And I've been advised to reduce movements of the hand (especially the fingers and areas around my palm) to the minimum.

And the boredom; its driving me crazy.

So to cheer myself up, I bought myself a present! A new Nike Air Max Run.

My partners in crime were none other than my son Syafiq (the driver) and my daughter Sakinah (the chaperone).

We slipped out of the house at about 11.30 hours. But that was not after my Mem Besar had left the house first to bring the mother-in-law to her kursus haji...hehe, crafty, eh?

This is the first time I've bought a Nike. Previously, right from my student days, it had always been Adidas plus one very nice Fila. But yesterday, upon the advise of Syafiq (he can be very persistent and persuasive, Syafiq) I opted for a Nike.

That's well and good, Syafiq. But now, what excuse can I cook up and give your mum for breaking the quarantine?


Yes, how timely and convenient.

Whoever first thought of the Father's Day celebration you're a genius. Thank you. You made my day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. A day dedicated to that someone in the familly who is the pillar of strength, the bread-winner, the disciplinarian.

He is also, usually, the more serious, less emotional and less talkative one of your parents.

But let not his serious demeanour fool you one single bit.

For deep down, a father's love knows no bound. He will sacrifice his wealth to see you succeed. And he will sacrifice his own life to protect yours.

Fathers the world over, they are a special breed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My guppy bowl

The guppy is a small freshwater aquarium fish. It is very popular, especially for those who are beginners in starting an aquarium. This is because guppies are quite hardy and relatively easy to rear.

Another reason is because they breed easily for they do not lay eggs, but rather they are livebearers.

My family started our ''project guppy'' two years ago.

It didn't get to a good start. We wasted quite a few of them. But after a few months of trial and error we finally managed to rear them quite successfully.

We have two bowls of them. The above is a big earthenware bowl which is located in the patio. Another is a small (2 litre) clear glass bowl.

Guppy rearing can be a very relaxing hobby as we can while our time away watching the guppies swim happily. Every once in a while you get some pleasant surprises too when scores of little guppies are born.