Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Walk to Remember

Walking with my love in the morning is something for me to treasure. A walk followed by a short jog have become our routine for sometime now. It takes about an hour; so we have time to take the kids to school or wherever they need to go during this school break and make a quick dash to beat the punch machine. Yes my office is still using that old musical punch machine that gives you red for being late. It really  bothers me  but do it anyway for the sake of work ….whatever. I personally think it is ridiculous. The weather was perfect this morning; cool and quiet. The moon was still there when we started out; the full moon was barely visible before the sunshine took over for the day. It was really great to go out early in the morning and feel the freshness of the air. And more importantly to be alive to start another day in a long journey called life.

Walking ,in the UK for example, is a big deal. At first I did not really get it but as you heard the explanation it started to make sense. I mean it was something about their habit that then became a tradition to walk when the weather gets warmer especially in the Spring. They do the walking through the countryside sometime in groups. And when I tried walking in the Spring , it was really something. When all the trees get new leaves on and the landscape goes green, you can feel the joy and the excitement everywhere. And also during the long walk beside talking you tend to hit some stones with your stick and see who can hit the longest. Maybe that’s how golf came to the world. The history says that golf originated in Scotland; so that walking tradition might contribute to that in some ways. I mean people in the UK go to court for this walking rights. Some of them got summoned for trespassing a private land. They fought and won the case as the court found the path has been used for a long time (by their ancestors); so we are talking about a long tradition of Spring ritual. In the city they do the walking by means of parade. In Northern Ireland they fought to their death for this annual ritual.

So the phrase “ let’s go for a walk” that we can find in a movie or read in a novel has a bigger meaning to it. A therapy of some sort to have a private time together between two persons; mum /daughter, father/son, husband/wife etc. It is the time you slow down the pace of your life for a while. There is no need to rush just take one step at a time and enjoy the company. So beside the time and a partner, you also need a good environment; clean , green and settled. With our tropical climate it is easy to produce the green landscape but one thing that bothers me a lot is the rubbish and the dirty environment. The “tong sampah” are usually placed along side the path by the road side; and most of the time they are filthy beyond imagination. But not in Shah Alam where the environment is always clean and we respect the good habit by reminding ourselves, our kids and even our community to find a bin for the rubbish. Sadly in the other part of Malaysia where the town council is not in order or the attitude of the local community is not “good”, this thing still happens.

Anyway, maybe you think walking is trivial and old-fashioned, but try it anyway with your loved ones (like your mum/dad/wife) and treasure the moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shiah : the old nightmare is back

Yesterday was 10 Muharram which was the Day of Ashura and a holy day in shiite calendar. So the raid happened at the cell center in Gombak and made the headline. I am sure the celebration was held all over the country. I read the news and my mind went all the way back to the early 80s when we went to a small town outside Wichita, Kansas to ‘save’ our friend. If I remember it correctly, it was Emporia,Kansas where a big number of Malaysian students had turned Shiite including my dear friend. It was kind of sad to see them pray like Iranians where they beat the lap three times to finish off the prayers or call out the name of ‘Ali’ during the azan. But they were secretive and we did not get any information about our friend that day. Back in Wichita we had two of the top Malaysian Shiite: Jalal and his friend J. Both them were married and lived reclusively with their own way of life. They learnt Persian just to translate Shiite books into Malay. I wonder if they have anything to do with the current movement in Malaysia. But actually the movement has been around for a long time. Remember last time they were arrested already for the same thing; but now the new generations have taken over and we can see small children have been taught to do the body-beating. My arwah uncle headed a cell group in Kota Bharu sometime ago. He kept a few pictures of Iranian leaders in the house and one time his “followers” came by his house for Raya. So as the house guests we mingled with them. They proudly talked about new cells coming up in Kelantan and Kuala Terengganu. I listened with a burning pain in my stomach but controlled myself to get the whole story. So the “growth” has been active for a long time.

Shiah spells trouble. Period. Whatever people say about it just stay away. The catching phrase is always “ shiah ni banyak jenis dan yang ni tak bersalahan dengan assunnah wal jamaah”. Once you believe in that, then that’s it. You are gone. May Allah

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"artificial" Singapore

Crossing over the causeway brought us to the land used to be our place. Not anymore—physically or otherwise. It has become so foreign even the resident seems to be out of place. An old balding Chinese man with shorts ,slippers and a plastic bag walking along a well-manicured pedestrian path with a sophisticated building at the background, so contrast of each other that I wondered if the connection between the two has lost. It seems that everything around this place is built for someone other than its own people. I followed the tree line as we move along the highway with the road signs displayed in English with some traces of Malay heritage. Maybe that’s all what is left from the yesteryears when the place was used to be our hulubalang playground. I wonder if that would also be of us in the future when Malay culture would become a heritage of some long lost tribes of the past. I refused the analogy to be refuted and justified. We are different, I assured myself of the circumstances. But how different? No good answer to that, I supposed. But to tell you the truth I don’t see anything here which is better than back home, nothing excited me and nothing to be looked up for. This place is so artificial that I would be rather living in my kampong than putting up with all this hiked-up modern city. I want to be in a place that I can call home. You know like my place in Shah Alam where I can go back , put my feet up and feel so “saved” at the end of the day. It’s not an “anjung seri” interior but it’s my place, my home.

But some people would go all the way furnishing their house with expensive sofas , magnificent dining table and luxurious decorations so to entertain the guests. Maybe that’s what happening in Singapore; everything is done for the guests not its own people. The locals are tucked into the flats and housing estates as if they are the shame of the country. I smiled for I have never been so proud of my country, Malaysia. We are doing alright. I noticed how the faces of the locals have become everything but their own. The Chinese, Indians, or Malays without race identity as if they have become a new race of the land----or given up as someone told them to. It happened during the colonial time, so I can accept that. It happened when you were in a foreign country. So we do out of respect. But why does it happen in your own homeland? The words “ slave of the states” keep flashing up without warning; but not sure whether that’s a good thing or bad. I guess they keep the colonial yard stick to this very day and read it like some kind of a holy book. Can you imagine to see a Chinese boy who could not speak a word of Chinese; and told the Chinese couple to read the instructions themselves. The instructions were obviously in Chinese. Within that boy I could see a new generation that has lost their heritage and done away with history. Maybe they want to let go the things of the past for it has brought back nothing but a painful reminder of the brutalities they endured to defend this land.

I moved on to see the fish, the big crabs, the sharks and the jelly fish. I waited for the dolphin show only to find the tricks were outdated (I saw that more than 25 years ago in LA). The seals were also as old as myself. I was bored to my stomach could not even have a mood to snap some photos.

Could not get into the Universal Studios because the tickets were sold out. But again I supposed all the rides were at least 10 years old. I left the place angry to myself…..fooled by the belief that my place is not any better than this one.