Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Tsunami: Sendai on the way to revival

I received an email from an old friend, Toru Tanaka, from Sendai, Japan, recently. Sendai is the capital city for Miyagi Prefecture in Japan. It is a city of a million inhabitants. Quite recently, we also got to know Sendai (and its vicinities) as being the area worst hit by the tsunami which overwhelmed the east coast of Japan in March of this year.

One would surely recall the images of destruction played out umpteen times on the television when the earthquake hit the area, only to be swiftly followed right after that by the devastating tsunami. The physical, social and psychological damages to to this island nation have been deep and profound.

But if there is one thing I have learnt from my three year stay in the Land of the Rising Sun, it is that the Japanese are a disciplined, hardworking people with a strong sense of identity.

They will rebuild, recover and rise up again from the disaster. And I'm talking from experience. For I have seen how they've rebuilt Kobe after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995.

Being located 10km from the coast, the Sendai city centre itself is not much affected by the tsunami. But the outlying town and villages in the coastal areas were devastated and some have disappeared completely.

Some people are still staying in temporary housing as they still cannot afford to rebuild their homes. But the good news according to Tanaka-san is that the revival plan for Sendai City has been approved at the City Assembly last month. So, a full-scale revival of Sendai is just waiting to happen.

Incidentally, Tanaka-san just got married last September and is building a new life for himself too. He is also now in charge of managing the budget for the road planning program for Sendai.

The beautiful pictures of autumn Japan above were emailed to me by Tanaka-san. It makes me miss Japan. Very much.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lyon Light Festival 2011

The City of Lyon by the River Rhone, all lighted up

Lyon is the second biggest city in France located 470km south-east of Paris. The Lyon Light Festival is one of the most famous lighting festivals in Europe. 

The festival has been held every year since medieval France. It has its roots in a religious-related event. But nowadays it has been re-branded into a modern, high-tech lighting festival much anticipated by many in France and near-by neighbouring countries. It attracts some of the best minds and most creative lighting experts in Europe who come to display their flair and hardware.

We were there at the festival to soak in the atmosphere and to see first-hand how a lighting festival is run.

Come 2013, we will have our very own full-fledged world-class lighting festival: The Putrajaya Light Festival.

Watch this space.

Town Planning lessons in Paris

Avenue de La Grande Armee, one of the many boulevards put in place by Haussmann, viewed from  the Arc de Triomphe

I was in Paris two weeks ago. Yes, France, land of the guillotines and home to Zinedine Zidane.

We landed at Charles de Gaulle at 6.20 am and was received by a cold Paris weather with temperature hovering at 5 Celsius. Charles de Gaulle is an old airport. But it is very functional in its design minus all the frills of a so called "modern" airport. For example,  it has proper, separate prayer rooms for all the major religions. Even fancy, modern Changi can't beat that.

The airport is only about 20km away from downtown Paris. But due to the notorious Paris traffic jam, we were forewarned by Thomas, our guide, that the journey would take us a good one hour plus.

We were also told by Thomas that Paris is a city of more than 12 million inhabitants. That's big. But still, that's no excuse for gridlock traffic jams.

Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice that the Paris traffic is a tad more chaotic as compared to say, London or Tokyo. The French drivers also seem a bit more, well, should I say, more of a dare-devil? They'd just weave in and out of their lanes almost without a care for others. And then there are the scooters and motorcycles. Their numbers are noticeably much higher then in other major cities I've been. And their riders are just "super crazy" according to Thomas.

Surprisingly, over the course of one week I was there, I didn't notice any accident. Not even a single one!

Paris is a city of many long straight boulevards lined by trees like the one above. Now this is mainly the work of one fine gentleman by the name of Baron Georges Haussmann. Haussmann was civic planner commissioned by Napoleon III in 1852 to re-plan Paris. 

I had studied Haussmann when I was learning to be a town planner at university. Only now do I see his work with my very own eyes. Quite spectacular and very visionary.

Another feature of Paris town planning are the courtyard building typologies.

The buildings which line the boulevards always seem like they are surrounded on all sides by long, unbroken street walls. Whereas one know very well that many of the buildings are mixed-use buildings accommodating commercial as well as residential elements. So, where are the back-of-house facilities and car parks then?

The answer is that they are right there in the centre of the buildings themselves, within the courtyards.

Now I know better what the planners in Putrajaya are trying to achieve through their urban planning exercise, especially for the Core Island.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Cold Paris!

View from my room at Hotel Pullman Montparnasse, Paris. The sun just coming out but the temperature is actually around 5 Celcius.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Double-tracking comes to Kg Kepayang

The railway line passes by our kampong. As far as I can remember, it has always been there. The trains pass by every few hours daily and as they approach, we were sure to feel the rumbling and vibration and hear the unmistakable chugging noise of the engine.

We used to spend many happy hours playing on the track and the areas within its vicinity. We used to fly kites here with Apak. We used to lay nails on the track so that they'd be flattened by the trains untuk buat pisau. We used to wait and watch for the trains to pass. Or sometimes, we'd just come here just to take in the beautiful views of the limestone hills and the trees and the long rail track which disappears into the horizon.

There used to be just a single track. But now, as the picture above shows, there are three!

Actually the line is undergoing the double tracking development as part of the northern Electrified Double Track project from Ipoh to Padang Besar.

A massive 329-km project, it involves the laying of two new parallel tracks to replace the existing single-track. In the picture above, the track on the right and in the middle are the two newly laid ones. Whilst the one on the left is the old one which will be removed soon.

The electrical cables and power system are not yet in place. Once those are up, electric-powered trains will swoosh by our kampong like never before.

Modernity comes to quaint, old Kg Kepayang.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Father, The Kirkbyite

Today, it is exactly three years since the passing away of Apak, my father (AL-FATIHAH for Hj. Ahmad Termizi b. Mat Nor).

In his memory, I am posting here an article that was first published in the coffee table book Kirkby College: A Heritage.

This story was written with the help of Azman, my brother. He started the piece, and I added to it and completed it before adding the photos.

For lack of space, the article that was eventually published was heavily edited and much shortened. Here, you will read the full and original version of the story.

What saddens me is that the book came a month too late for Apak. It was published and launched in conjunction with the Kirkby College Grand Reunion in November of 2008.

So Apak never got to see the book, nor read this short story of him as a Kirkbyite, written by his sons.


I call him Apak, a common term of endearment for father, widely used in Perak. Apak was born Ahmad Termizi bin Mat Nor on 1 March 1936 in Kampong Selat, Layang-Layang Kiri, near Parit, Perak. His was a typical kampong within the rural Malay belt, located on the banks of the Sungai Perak.

Growing up, I used to enjoy our occasional trips to his kampong when we go to visit Tok Mat Nor, my grandfather. One thing I’d always noticed was that, whenever we bumped into Apak’s childhood friends at the kampong mosque or the local coffee stalls, they would speak fondly of their “long-lost” friend. And then they would also praise his academic feats. Yes. And Apak’s academic achievements would prove to be the reason for him to be packed and sent away from his kampong, leaving behind his friends.

Much to the dismay of his uncles and aunties who had wanted their favourite nephew to be enrolled into a religious school, Tok Mat Nor had other plans for Apak. He wanted Apak to realize his full academic potentials by having an English-based education. So, Apak was sent to the famous Anderson School in the big town of Ipoh, at the tender age of 12, for his secondary education.

And as it turned out, this was to pave the way for his long and eventful journey to the Malayan Teachers’ Training College in Kirkby, England.

Apak spent two years at “Kampong Kirkby” near Liverpool. Amongst his friends from the 1956-1958 batch include Jaafar Saidin, Isa Ramli, Marmuji Koso, Zainal Abidin Mohamed, Tunku Yusof Jewa and Cheah Kok Choy.

Apak is a man of few words. So, although we heard bits and pieces of his days in England from Apak himself, most of the stories about Kirkby came to me through my Emak, Non Aziah. And then of course there were the many old, black and white photos from his Kirkby days at Tok Mat Nor’s house.

For instance, there was this long-framed group photo of Apak and his batch hung above the entrance to the master-bedroom at Tok’s house. It used to raise my curiosity. Standing below it, I would squint my eyes trying to make out what that long picture was all about. There were plenty more photos stashed away in a cupboard in the living room where Apak’s old books were kept. And then there were some more, in a big suitcase under the front verandah.

Although he didn’t much admitted it, I know the Kirkby days were something very special for Apak. Even as a kid I could somehow sense it. And now that I’m all grown up and been through the rigours of higher education and trainings of my own, I can’t help but feel proud that my very own Apak was one of those few to have been selected to train in faraway England back in those days.

Upon returning from Kirkby in 1958, Apak was posted to teach at a primary school in Kg. Melayu Sg. Raya, Ipoh. He was then transferred to Parit and Telok Bakong. He ended his teaching job as the first headmaster for Sekolah Menengah Kampong Gajah, a school he had helped to open. The royal town of Kuala Kangsar was his next stop when he was appointed as an education officer taking charge of primary schools in the Kuala Kangsar district. This was later followed by stints in Tapah, Teluk Intan, and finally Ipoh, where he retired on 1 March 1991.

True to his Kirkby background, Apak has a strong passion for teaching and education. He loved his profession. In fact, he even once had a wish that at least one of his children would become a teacher like him.

In his own way, Apak had started instilling in us the virtues of education since my brothers and I were mere kids. He inspired us to enjoy books by purchasing us the Grolier’s Children’s Encyclopedia, “The New Book of Knowledge”. This encyclopedia had really opened our eyes to the world of knowledge and learning. I remember us spending many happy hours sitting on the floor flipping through the pages, enjoying the pictures, singing out the nursery rhymes and sometimes trying to do the origami with Emak.

Apak’s far-sightedness also saw my brothers and I entering a “good school” in Ipoh. It was the late 60s and I guess the schools in Bota Kanan, where we were staying then, were not up to the mark for him. The best schools were in the big towns. So, as what his father had done more than a decade earlier, Apak sent us to stay with our maternal grandparents, Tok Hussein and Opah Badariah, and enrolled us into the SRJK Ashby Road. Apak was already preparing us for our future lives.

Apak used to monitor – in his own peculiar ways – our progress at school. For example, when I got to study at Sekolah Menengah Sains Perlis, a boarding school far north in Perlis, Apak had ordered me to write home at least once a month – in English! What I didn’t know until quite recently was that each time my letter reached home, Apak would be ready with a red pen in hand. The first thing he would do was to “mark” the letter and “circled” all the grammatical errors I had made. By the time the others eventually got to read the letter, “it was just like reading an English exercise book, what with all the red markings here and there”, my brother Azman once told me.

Apak has six children altogether with Emak. I’m the eldest. Then came Azmi, Azman, and our sister Nor Aliza who passed away at a very young age. This is followed by Azizah, and finally Azizul. Thanks to Apak’s guidance, all of his surviving children succeeded in getting a decent education. I managed to graduate from the University of Manchester as a town planner. Later, with his blessings, I also went to Japan and got a Master’s degree from Tsukuba University. My brother Azmi, the artist in the family, graduated from the School of Architecture at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Azman studied Communications at Institut Teknologi MARA and started out his career as a journalist.

As for Azizah, although she made the grades to do law, she opted to go to Universiti Sains Malaysia instead where she graduated in Education. With that, she became a teacher, thus fulfilling one of Apak’s wishes. The youngest in the family, Azizul, followed in the footsteps of Apak and went to England. He studied accountancy at the Northumbria University in Newcastle .

Although Apak was strict with regards to our education, he can be full of fun to be with. He introduced us to English football long before the EPL had seen the day of light. We used to watch Star Soccer together on our black and white TV in the mid-60s. He was very good at making beautiful kites. We used to buy all the materials needed, and then go into the woods in search of suitable bamboo for the frame. Then we’d spend hours flying the kites together at an open area close to the railway line near Tok Hussein’s house.

Like many of his Kirkby days friends, Apak was also an avid photographer. With his Kodak Brownie in hand, he would holler at us instructions to pose properly for him. He would insist that we be in our best batik shirts for the photo shoots. Sometimes we’d be in short-sleeved shirts, complete with neckties. Of course, the neckties would always look a tad too long on us. They were his.

Apak was a decent cook too. He could whip up a delicious meal of spaghetti for us all. Sometimes, when we wanted something different for breakfast, it was potato chips or toasts with fried eggs and baked beans for us. Mind you, spaghetti, chips and baked beans are hardly your typical Perak dish. So I guess these must have been some of the legacies of his two year stay in Kirkby.

Another legacy of his Kirkby days – and a valuable lesson in life for me – is the loyal and faithful friends he has kept. He has many. But two of them whom I know well are Uncle Jef (Jaafar Saidin) and Uncle Muji (Marmuji Koso). These two are like family. Why, even all of Apak’s uncles and unties know them. Recently, I have been lucky enough to get to know more of Apak’s friends from Kirkby. And what a cultured group of people they are, I thought. No doubt, a result of their proper training which allowed them to return home as “polished ladies and gentlemen with savoir faire”. So described one Yunus Raiss, a Kirkbyite himself.

Despite his sometimes serious demeanor, my Apak is a loving person, and can be pretty sentimental too. For instance, on the night when I left for England in September of 1979 to further my studies, it was Apak who got glassy-eyed when my plane roared off into the sky at Subang Airport and disappeared into the darkness of the night. Not Emak. This, I found out many years later, from Emak. That’s my Apak for you.

Since retiring, Apak has been staying in Kampong Kepayang Fair Park, Ipoh. He is now 72 and enjoys very much the weekend visits of his grandchildren


A young Ahmad Termizi, ready to fly off to Kirkby

At the front gate of MTTC, Kirkby, with close friend Jaafar Saidin. Just visible in the background
are the distinctive pipes for central heating which used to criss-cross all over the campus

Teaching Practice at an English school somewhere near Liverpool

With sons (circa 1965)

In Putrajaya with wife and grandaughter, 2007

1956-58 Batch Members ready for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri Prayers, 1957

Standing L to R: Marmuji Koso (Selangor), Jaafar Saidin (Kedah), Zainal Abidin Mohamed (Kedah), Hashim Mydin (Kedah), Abdullah Abd Rahman (Kedah), Syed Annuar Muhayuddin (Perak), Mohd Alkaf (Kelantan), Zainol Rashid Ahmad (Perlis), Ismail Hj Salleh (Kedah).

Front row L to R: Tunku Yusof Jewa (Kedah), Md. Ali Mohamad (Johor), Tarmizi Ridzuan ( Johor), Isa Ramli (Perak), Ahmad Termizi Mat Nor (Perak), Abd Halim Shukor ( Johor)

Apak (front row, third from left) in his element, dressed as a ‘pirate’ during the Freshies Parade

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Putrajaya waterfront mountain bike ride

After a long lay off (again) I finally had a good, enjoyable ride this morning
accompanied by my trusted riding buddy - Syafiq, my son.

Actually we were accompanied by Emak and Nadiah to Putrajaya. But they opted for a walk by the lake side in Precincts 2 and 3. Whilst Syafiq and I hit the road, and some dirt trail, in Precincts 1, 8 and 7 right up to the promontory where the Perdana Foundation is located.

What's Perdana Foundation? It is the former PM Tun Mahathir's office. Ok? So, now you know.

In all we covered about 16km over 1 hour 15 minutes. It was a nice workout. I was sweating profusely (as usual) with max. heart beat rate touching 160. But Syafiq, he didn't even break sweat!

Must do more exercise. If it's not riding, then some walking would be good enough.


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Melodies of Arabian night: reminiscing the 70s

Do you have particular old songs which, when you hear it again after such a long time, brings the good old memories flowing back again?

I remember this tune from my primary school days.

I was then stying with my Opah Badariah and Tok Hussein in Kg Kepayang, Ipoh. Whenever maghrib approaches, whilst waiting for the azan, the old radio atop the cupboard would let out this tune conveniently called by the radio announcer as "irama padang pasir". You could also hear it in the early morning, before and after subuh azan.

Almost similar tunes would be played on the TV (in those days, RTM of course) before maghrib, especially during Ramadhan.

The tunes are in fact the work of an Englishman by the name of Ron Goodwin.

What a gifted musician Mr Goodwin was. Such melodic and soothing music which manage to capture the mood and culture of the middle-eastern people.

This particular tune by the way is called The Cedars of Lebanon. It is a homage to the beautiful and majestic tree which is now the emblem of Lebanon. An ode, if you like, to a tree which is of such historical significance to Lebanon and many middle-eastern/Mediterranean nations right from the  times of the ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Masjid Negara: a national heritage

Standing proud right within the KL city centre, the Masjid Negara symbolizes the role of Islam as the official religion of the nation.

But more than that, it is also an iconic building. A landmark in itself. And now, an officially designated heritage building.

I am quite sure each and every Malaysian Muslim must have set foot here at least once in their life time. It could have been for a prayer break during one of those holiday visits to KL. Or it could be a short stop-by whilst on a trip to send their sons or daughters into one of the local universities.

Personally, I remember one trip to Masjid Negara with my brother, Azmi, when we were in our teens.

I think we were staying in Tapah at that time. Or was it Telok Intan? Anyway, Azmi had won a drawing competition and the prize-giving ceremony was to be held at the National Mosque. Apak couldn't make it to KL to accompany Azmi. So it was up to big brother to the rescue.

Not that I was familiar with KL myself! But we managed to reach KL safely by bus, and somehow succeeded in finding our way to the mosque. Right after the prize-giving ceremony, it was straight back to the bus station and home we went. For, as I told you earlier, I was not familiar with KL to go around and enjoy ourselves in the big city.

Completed in 1965, the mosque was designed by three architects at the JKR. It can accommodate a congregation of 15,000 at any one time. Featuring unique design features and a fascinating-looking roof, it was the biggest and most modern mosque at the time.

Once in a while I would pay a visit to the National Mosque. Its location is so strategic, one can just drop by when in downtown KL, or stopover en route from somewhere. It has changed a bit from during the day when I visited it with Azmi back then. But I am glad that it still retains its charm and calming ambiance.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reality check for Liverpool FC

Stewart Downing (L) was outstanding

Didn't do too well last night Liverpool. We lost 1 - 0 to a resilient Stoke City.

With that, we have now dropped a total of 4 points from games thus far. And to make things difficult, the two Manchester teams are firing on all cylinders - it's full steam ahead for them!

To be fair, the team did control the game throughout. After all, we had 60% of  possession.

But what we clearly lacked was the killer instinct to finish games off. That, and of course the big smile from lady luck. An array of chances thus all came to nought.

But there were positives to take away.

For one, the team played their hearts out right to the end. I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw the Liverpool machine harangued Stoke with wave after wave of  attacks. In fact, practically the whole of second-half was played only in Stoke's half.

Secondly, two of our new boys played commandingly well. Downing and Enrique. Enrique was ever reliable at left back. And as for Downing, his incisive runs and crosses were a headache for the otherwise solid Stoke defence walls.

After a reality check such as this, let's hope King Kenny will do some soul searching and improve further on our game strategies.

It is still early days into the season. There's ample room to catch up yet.

All the best boys. YNWA

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rindu kampong halaman di pagi Raya

All my life, except for the nine years I'd been studying overseas, I have always spent Hari Raya at my kampong with Emak and Apak.

Even after marriage, if we were to celebrate the first day of Raya at the Mem's place, I will always end up in Kampong Kepayang, eventually. It is something which I look forward to very much. And so do my kids.

It is a unique and distinctive time of the year. In the build up to Hari Raya, our kampong house would be a hive of activities for the preparation of the Hari Raya spread. There would be laughters, shoutings and even the occassianal crying as the children kid around. And the air would be filled with a combination of delicious aromas of the food being prepared.

But this year it is a bit different. Actually, it is a lot different.

Here I am di pagi Raya, and still in KL. For this time, my family and I are staying put in Kuala Lumpur for the whole of Hari Raya as my mother is here with us. And so is my grandmother. 

So there's no need to balik kampong. But hopefully - in fact I expect - all my brothers and sister to come and join us once they are done with celebrating with their in-laws . If not, it might be one lonely Raya celebration for my family here. Thankfully, Zizah and family have already arrived from JB yesterday evening.

Time flies, and things change. I guess I shall have to get used to this new way.

But I will definitely miss the festive atmosphere of a Hari Raya in the kampong.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all. May ALlah bless us with the opportunity to witness the coming of next year's Ramadhan. Ameen.

Rindu Syahdu Di Hari Raya

Indahnya sungai yang mengalir
Nyamanya angin yang beralun
Kicauan burung dipagi yang dingin
Bersama terbitnya mentari

Terbayang sanak saudara
Gurauan sesama keluarga
Mesra berkunjung ruih suasana
Riang menyambut hari mulia

Kini ku di perantauan
Di kota indah dan menawan
Tapi hati rindu pada kampung halaman
Desaku yang telah di tinggalkan

Ku memohon maaf serta ampun
Salamkan ku kirim pengganti diri
Doa restu ayah serta ibu
Menjadi penawar
Rindu syahdu di hari raya

Nyanyian: Nurul Abdul Wahab

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Raya preparation begins II

Sprucing up our home for Raya, today.

The lawn has been mown by yours truly and the pelita (actually, we call it
panjut in Perak) has been filled with kerosene by Anas ready to be lit

The windows have also been wiped clean by Sakinah, and next, the blinking
festive lights will be put up with the help of lanky Syafiq.

Daging pun sudah beli.

So this evening the Mem would be start to be busy preparing the Hari Raya
spread with the help of Emak and my mother-in-law.

Top of the list, rendang daging cooked according to Emak's recipe.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Raya preparation begins

I remember when I was small, preparation for Hari Raya was like a festive in
itself. A joyous occasion.

A couple of weeks to the actual big day, my brothers and I would already be busy "helping out" Emak to cook the customary must-have bauhuluor kuih siput, and taking down the langsir or cushion cover to be washed. Sometimes, we would also be assigned to wipe and clean the naco window panes.

Two or three days before Raya, if we were in Kampong Kepayang, we would go into the woods and help Apak to get the buluh lemang. And of course we would also be asked to collect firewood for bakar lemang and for Emak to cook her big kuali-full of rendang.

So you see, Hari Raya preparation is always a good occasion to help our parents, for bonding with my siblings, and be enjoyable all at the same time.

Pics above show how my daughter, Nadiah, prepares the ketupat cases (sarung ketupat) for making ketupat daun palas using leaves from the palas tree.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Green city initiatives: some British examples

Bicycle hire station, London

Rows of bicycles for hire at a cheap rate, a brain-child of the Mayor of London himself

One of the many electric vehicle charging stations dotted around London

A car belonging to the City Car Club. The club has over 500 low-emission vehicles for people to hire. Car clubs help to reduce car ownership and encourage a transport mix mor ein line with being a sustainable city. This car is a Toyota Prius, a full hybrid electric vehicle

The London Olympic 2012 stadium under construction. The London Olympic aims to be the first Olympic ever to achieve 100% travel by public transport, cycling and by foot. That's 100%!

BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development). A zero-energy, environmentally friendly residential development in Hackbridge, Sutton near London. The houses have been designed to use minimum energy for heating and cooling through proper insulation and orientation of the buldings. Only energy from renewable sources generated on site is used. The buildings are also water efficient and constructed using low-impact materials. i.e. they are renewable or recycled materials from within 35 milesof the site, thus minimizing the energy required for their transportation

Walkable city. The new town of Poundbury in Dorchester has been planned based on traditional high-density urban pattern designed to create an integrated community of shops and housing. They are designed and built around the people rather than the car. The world famous architect and urban planner, Leon Krier, prepared the overall concept for Poundbury's master plan

This is an advertisement on the glass window of a restaurant. Instead of displaying the the prices of dishes on offer at the restaurant, it actually shows the amount of carbon emission that one could save (reduce) when one consume each type of dish
Small things matter. Even the carton which holds my breakfast egg & mayonnaise sandwhich was manufactured in an environmentally-friendly manner: recycled plastics, recycled paper etc.

The Malaysian Government has announced that Putrajaya - together with Cyberjaya, will be Malaysia's pioneer green city. That announcement was made way back in 2009, during his 2010 Budget Speech.

Not many people understood what that announcement really entails. But almost two years later, the two pioneering cities have managed to make some stride towards becoming Malaysia's true "green cities".

True, a lot still needs to be done. There was a lot of mis-conception. But at least now many understand that being a green city is not about landscaping as in planting more trees.

Green cities, in short, equates low-carbon cities. These are cities with conscious and concerted efforts and programs to reduce carbon emission.

Why the need to reduce carbon emission? It is because the release of carbon into the atmosphere will result in the phenomenon aptly called the "green-house effect" which would lead to global warming. And we all know what global warming means, don't we? Climate changes resulting in  sea level rise and dozens of natural disasters such as flooding, land slides, extreme drought and so on.

So how do we become a low-carbon society? There are numerous ways and means which will contribute to reducing carbon emission. Carbon reduction strategies would cover wide-ranging actions in sectors such as energy, transport, buildings, housing, waste management, and urban planning itself. More specifically, they would include activities like reducing the usage of fossil fuels (petrol, coal), increase utilization of public transportation, reduce long commuting, the use of renewable energy and so on.

Admittedly, we are still new in this. But in more modern societies, low-carbon development and environmentally-friendly life-style is already the way of life. From the housewife who does her waste seperation, right to the taxi driver who would chatter away on how his city is turning green, eveyone understands it and will do their bit to make it a success.

The pics above show some relevant British examples photographed during my trip to the UK last December.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Aahhh...bazaar Ramadhan

It's Ramadhan. So, it is that time of the year again when the perennial bazaar Ramadhan would sprout like mushrooms across the nation.

During Ramadhan, every evening, certain roads in cities, towns and kampongs alike would get choked with traffic and congested with people as they throng the bazaar ramadhan like ants attracted to sweets.

Granted, Ramadhan is the holy month much awaited by all Muslims for the bountiful barakah that it brings. All good deeds would be rewarded multi-fold during Ramadhan.

But more than that, it also brings joys and feel-good experiences of its own.

When I was small, Ramadhan is the month I would be sent on an errand to buy the ice blocks at the local sundry shop to be used to make cold drinks for iftar (break of fast). Then there was also the visit to the local mosque where I'd queue up to fill up our  "sia" (some call mangkuk tingkat) with steamy, delicious kanji or bubur nasi.

Today, my children never get to experience such chores associated with Ramadhan. In this day and age when everything is commercialized and available for purchase, the one experience much often associated with Ramadhan is the visit to the local bazaar Ramadhan.

I don't make it a habit to visit the bazaar ramadhan. Buying food on an empty stomach, most often than not, would make us over-indulge and buy food which we never really can finish during iftar.

But what is Ramadhan without a trip or two to your pasar ramadhan? So my family and I do make the odd trips.

Usually it would be a fairly rewarding trip. For if ever we want to "tukar selera" then the pasar ramadhan would offer you loads of choice to choose from - anything which fancies your taste bud! But more than that, the pasar trip is also a good means for community building and socializing.

As one wanders around - and drool over the food and drinks on show - one is bound to meet up with friends and neighbours. The customary salam and small chats would ensue, allowing for sillaturrahim and friendships to be strengthened.

Isn't it just lovely the holy month of Ramadhan?

Note: pics above are at the Bazaar Ramadhan Bandar Tun Husein Onn @ around 5.30pm today