Sunday, January 5, 2014

Which day is your weekend?

Yes, it has been too long since the last post. Indeed, the thought of ceasing to blog has crossed my mind... sometimes other stuff take too much of your time; at other times the interest just isn't there. But then, you inadvertently come across some pearls of wisdom from other writers which makes you realise that more often than not, you are only making things hard for yourself.

`Only he who gives up is defeated. Everyone else is victorious.'

Which made me think that it is time to get off my butt and start writing again. It is now already 2014... and that means I'm almost entering the 7th year of this blogging experience.

To start off this new year, I'll touch on a subject that can be a sensitive issue to some.

Today is the first Sunday of 2014 AD. For civil servants in the state of Johor, that means it is a working day. The state government has switched the weekend back to Friday, which was what it originally used to be back in 1994 and earlier. This change of weekend also applies to schools.

The other states in Malaysia that already have Friday as its weekend are Kedah, Kelantan and Trengganu. To understand why these states have a different weekend to that of other states and also the federal government, we have to go back in history... which I do not wish to delve into here. Just that is has something to do with the status of Unfederated Malays States during the time of British colonial rule.

Anyway, what many people outside of Johor fail to realise is that the weekend implementation system here is not exactly the same as that practiced in the other three states. It is this slight difference which makes it a problem for many local residents. Allow me to elaborate...

In Kedah, Kelantan and Trengganu, the Friday off-day applies across the board, i.e. to both public and private sectors. In other words, generally everybody has a rest day on Friday, whether you are a government servant, a student or a bank officer. In Johor, there exists this peculiarity of the Friday off-day being applicable only to the civil service and government schools. The banks, lawyers, private doctors and nearly all other private sector services still have their weekend on a Sunday. This was the case even during the pre-1994 era. And therein lies the double-edged sword; if you work in the private sector, you are able to carry out any government related matters on a Sunday, thereby saving you the need to take a day off from work. Similarly, if you are a civil servant, you can take advantage of the Friday to go to the bank or send your car for servicing at the workshop.

But here's the cruncher... let's say you work with the government while your spouse works in the private sector. Or perhaps this more common scenario of you working in the private sector but still have school-going children? There goes your common weekend. Bummer...

The Johor Menteri Besar's office in Nusajaya

Monday, August 26, 2013

Terengganu kita...

I really do have to apologise to some of my regular readers for not keeping to my word. In the previous post, I had promised to write in greater detail about my trip to Jordan. However, hectic time at work plus a number of days out due to ill-health caused this blog to be stagnant for nearly two months.

I will make good on that promise, God willing... but in the mean time, here's another short post while on the road. We are in Kuala Terengganu at the moment, the main intention being to source for that beautifully woven classic textile known as the `songket samping', used by Malay men as part of the complete attire of the traditional `baju Melayu'.

My present piece of samping is more than 15 years old. Nothing wrong with it; it still looks good. Not surprising, of course, since I only wear it maybe once a year, during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I am one of those guys who tries his best to avoid attending formal functions.

This time though, I thought that a new piece of the hand-woven fabric is about due to be added to my wardrobe... because a special occasion is coming up soon. But is it really necessary for me to drive all the way up to Terengganu just to buy the cloth? Of course not. I could have purchased songket in Johor Bahru or Kuala Lumpur, albeit at slightly higher prices. On pure economic terms, it is more costly for me to travel to the east-coast for this objective alone but having worked and lived in this state before, any small reason is good enough for me to find the time to come here.

Indeed, with this multiple objective in mind, after completing the shopping I set about to look for a person and fellow blogger whom I have admired and respected for some time through the reading of his blog entries. Pakcik Hassan of the Al-Manar blog, is a personality who I have previously only interacted with in blogosphere. He comments regularly in this blog of mine and I visit his blog quite often too, although I must admit I do not comment as much... and this is simply because I am almost always in awe of what he wrote and can't seem to think of anything better to add. Drop by his blog at the link highlighted above (or on the blogroll on the left) and you'll probably understand what I mean.

I did not announce to Pakcik Hassan that I was coming. I do not exactly know where his house is located. I do not have his telephone number. I wasn't even sure he would be at home. In my typical style of just trying my luck, I set forth.

Based on his blog postings, I remember the mention of an orphanage located not far from where he lives. I also remember him writing about his house by the sea. Googling the name of the orphanage gave me the location of Batu Rakit, somewhere north of KT town. Another search on Google maps showed me a kampung road running parallel to the coast. That must be it, I thought.

Batu Rakit is located about 20km from Kuala Terengganu but in the heavy after-office traffic, it took me more than 30 minutes to reach. I discovered the orphanage easily enough and after doubling back on the same road, I came upon a house that looks most likely to be that belonging to a distinguished gentleman.

It was very quiet on the outside. I rang the doorbell on the left pillar of the sliding gate. After a few minutes, the front door opens and a senior citizen steps out. I give my salam, `Assalamualaikum Pakcik!' which the old man promptly reply.

By the will of Allah, two strangers who crossed paths in the virtual world have now met in real life. Pakcik graciously invited me and my family into his house and what transpired afterwards was an enlightening conversation with a very kind man that I'll treasure for a long time.

To Pakcik Hassan, again I wish to apologise for dropping by on you unannounced. Thank you so much for indulging us. May the Almighty grant us the time to meet again some time...

The primary objective of the trip to Terengganu
The secondary objective also successful. Pakcik Hassan and me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Week long travel to some places of history

We have just returned from a week long holiday trip to the middle east. I was surprised to arrive home to hazy weather. The places that we went to in Arabia were hot and dusty... but not half as bad as what South-east Asia is suffering at the moment.

There's plenty to write about and many more photos to share but I'll start with just the one. This is a picture taken at a place called Wadi Rum in south Jordan. A really spectacular desert and rocky mountain landscape. As to it's link to history, I'll give a brief write-up on that in a later post. There's still tons of unpacking to do plus sifting through the hundreds of snapshots that were taken. Hope to have that whole travel experience in a full-length blog post very soon....

A view into the sunset

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The last of the brood has flown the nest

As the cycle of day and night turn into months and years, the passage of time brings us closer towards the sunset period of our lives. A sure sign of this ageing process is when our offspring grow up to be as tall or even taller than we are, ask to drive our car because they already have driving licences and no longer feel comfortable accompanying us to social events like weddings and the like. And when they enrol into college and have to live on campus, you'll soon have to adapt to the quiet life where you wouldn't have anyone left to ask to do errands any more.

Our youngest son has left home to study at UiTM in Pulau Pinang. Two weeks ago, we sent him to register for the diploma course in mechanical engineering. It was our third trip to Pulau Pinang this year.

In the blink of an eye, the missus and I are back to being a sweet couple... a sweet old couple. It doesn't feel that long ago when we were busy handling 3 energetic boys through various changes and challenges. Now that they have all grown up, perhaps it is time for us to focus on other things and think of the days to come. I was thinking of doing more travel and possibly getting involved in some social work. And catch up on reading and writing too...

Our youngest son, Imran cutting his 18th birthday cake in January this year
Scanned photo from year 2000 with the youngest man in the middle
We took the ferry from the island to the UiTM campus at Permatang Pauh

Friday, May 31, 2013

Another meeting with the Wolf

When I went to the Big Bad Wolf book sales at the Mines Convention Centre in Sri Kembangan in early March, I came out with a haul of 14 books (see story here -> Buku Lima). In the almost 3 months period since then, I have finished reading five books and am now starting on the sixth. That's an average of 2 a month, just about right I guess.

The Wolf is presently in Johor Bahru. Even though I have another 8 novels still to devour from my earlier scoop, I can't help myself from searching for more. I dropped by Danga City Mall last night to browse amongst the hundreds of stacks of publications being sold at unbelievably cheap prices. This time around, I came back with a slightly modest haul... just 9. Two are coffee-table hard covers, one non-fiction book about language, a manual on digital photography and five fiction novels. Of the fiction collection, four of the authors are my first-time reads.

I hope this reading binge won't affect blogging too much...

Now let's see how long I'll take to read through all of this
The Big Bad Wolf book sale is on at Danga City Mall in Johor Bahru until 2 June 2013.