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.