Monday, June 6, 2016

The Nine States

The newest addition to our extended family of the Hj Mohd Amin clan is a sweet lass, Nur Diyana Zainal Abidin, who married our nephew, Ridzuan Zaid in March this year. Diyana hails from the neighbouring state of Negeri Sembilan. Literally, the name translates to Nine States but perhaps is more appropriately mentioned as nine districts or provinces.

I am surprised to find out that modern Negeri Sembilan has 7 (and not 9) districts. The original 9 districts were :

1. Jelai
2. Jelebu
3. Johol
4. Kelang (now a district in Selangor)
5. Naning (now part of Melaka)
6. Rembau
7. Segamat (now in Johor) / Pasir Besar (now in Tampin, a town that straddles the NS - Melaka border)
8. Sungai Ujong
9. Alu Panah (now divided between Jelebu and Pahang state)

Diyana's hometown is called Batu Kikir which is in the district of Jempol. As you can see, the present-day Jempol is not one of the original 9 districts.

Anyway, to get to Batu Kikir from Johor Bahru, we took the North-South Highway and exited at Senawang interchange. From there we took the road heading towards Kuala Pilah. I had been to Kuala Pilah twice before, the last trip more than 25 years ago to attend the wedding of a close friend at his hometown of Seri Menanti.

It was an interesting drive on the road to Kuala Pilah. Once past the area known as Bukit Putus, you can see many stalls by the roadside selling roasted duck. This is quite unique because duck is not commonly consumed by Malays. Outside of Negeri Sembilan, you would be hard-pressed to look for halal duck meat.

The royal town of Seri Menanti in Kuala Pilah district is an interesting place to visit because of the old palace or Istana Lama. However, on the day we were there, the palace was closed for renovations. From what I read in Trip Advisor, the renovations had been ongoing for a fairly long time, causing much inconvenience to tourists. A sad thing, really.

Another little known fact is that the source of the Muar River (the length of which is mostly located in Johor state) is in Kuala Pilah. I took a detour off the main road to explore the upper reaches of this famous Johor river. As I passed one of the isolated villages, I saw a young boy probably still in his early teens, riding on an awesome looking motorbike which had the shape of an extended custom-made chopper. I was too slow in getting my camera out and hence missed out on an opportunity for capturing a classic scene.

Ok then, that's enough of a write-up on the 9 States for now.

Best wishes to my muslim friends and readers in this holy fasting month. Ramadhan kareem...

Batu Kikir, a town made famous in a local pop song, sung in the Nismilan dialect
Istana Lama Seri Menanti
Sungai Muar in Kuala Pilah

Too late to capture a side view of this kid on a chopper

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Back to writing.... again (I hope)...

My second son Harith, who studies at a university in Makassar Indonesia, sent me a whatsapp message last week. He asked why I have stopped updating this blog. I messaged back, saying that my interest in blogging seem to be waning although I do have a few stories floating about in my mind.

As a form of encouragement for me to continue, my son told me that I have a readership base in Indonesia (hmmm... really?). He has an Indonesian friend who likes to read this blog, especially on things relating to local Malaysian culture. Well, I guess that's a good reason enough as any to keep this sparsely-posted blog alive.

I'll resume with a short post. Below is an outdoor wedding photo of our nephew, Ridzuan Zaid during the reception at his parent's home in Tangkak, Muar last month. The pretty bride is Nur Diyana Zainal Abidin, who hails from the small town of Batu Kikir in Negeri Sembilan.

We had made the trip to the bride's family home for the engagement ceremony some time last year and I had hoped to write more about that visit. I'll try to do that for my next post, insyaAllah...

Ridzuan and Diyana. 16 April 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Fatin gets married...

Around 4 years ago I posted an anecdote about an old friend named Atan, who married a young lady named Zaiton, who later gave birth to their first baby girl whom they named Fatin. Read the piece here -> Tan Tin Tun.

At that time, I wrote that I could not remember Fatin's full name. Well, now I can. Last month, I received an invitation card from Atan, inviting us to attend the reception for his daughter's wedding held earlier today.

Nur Fatin Syuhada Bt Hj Atan is now married to a gentleman named Mohd Fahmi Bin A Wahab. We went to the reception a bit early and did not wait for the Bersanding ceremony, hence did not get to meet the bride and groom in person. So I just snapped a pic of their wedding banner to share with this post.

There you have it... Tan Tin Tun revisited.

Congratulation to the newly-weds, Fatin and Fahmi
The invitation card. I wonder if the groom can see the connection between the names of his in-laws and his wife... but I doubt it. The Tan Tin Tun comic in Gila-Gila magazine was way before his time...

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Is it worth being brand-loyal?

In our present world of endless material consumption, there are thousands of manufacturers who pitch their products to us in all manner imaginable. We end up buying, owning and utilizing the product after being influenced by advertisements. When we are buying a particular brand for the first time, we would sometimes seek the opinions of our friends or relatives who have possessed that brand before.

After that first purchase, our experience of the product's reliability, usefulness and suitability would influence our decision on the next time we buy a similar product. After going through a number of such experiences, we become convinced that the maker of the said product is top-quality and would have no qualms of buying anything else of the same name. This is part of the process of brand loyalty.

That would be the normal process for me although I cannot deny that some people do buy on impulse. Especially when an item is on offer so cheap. Such is the persuasive strength of commercials.

I am generally a brand-loyal person. I would normally stick to a particular make when the time comes for me to upgrade, replace or simply get new. When I do want to try a different brand, I would normally read up a bit to get more information.

Let's take the example of home electrical appliances. My old television set (the original bulky cathode ray tube type) was Philips. When I wanted to buy a VCD player, I went for the same brand. That TV set gave me great pictures and nice sound. It served me well for many years, undergoing two repairs along the way. I finally had to make the change when the third time it blacked out, the repairman said the parts needed are no longer available. Time therefore, to switch to the newer flat-screen TVs whose prices had fallen to within reasonable reach.

However, the new television set which I bought was not a Philips. I read a few consumer review websites and decided on a Hitachi. Not a very popular brand (Samsung and Sony are tops for flat-screens) and certainly not many outlets selling it. But I did manage to find a store in JB that sells it. This Hitachi has been in use for more than 5 years. It had a fault once while still under warranty. A call was made to the dealer who contacted the local service agent. The service guys came to my house the next day, diagnosed the problem, replaced the faulty component and the set was up and running in no time. I have not regretted making the switch to this different brand and when the time comes for an upgrade or replacement, I would probably go for a Hitachi again.

But it is the only Hitachi in the house. The other appliances are from different manufacturers. The refrigerator is a Samsung, running well. The washing machine was also a Samsung until being replaced recently by a Panasonic. The DVD player is a Sony. By the way, the Philips VCD player still works and is also hooked up to the Hitachi TV although I can't remember when the last time it was used.

The other Sony gadget that I have is a smartphone. I have been a loyal Sony mobile phone user for a long time, back from the days when they started off as Sony-Ericsson. My first SE mobile was a Walkman W660i (as seen in this Blogger profile pic). Sony was a bit slow in getting on the smartphone business. Samsung was leading by miles when Sony came up with their first model. But I still stuck to Sony when I made the switch to Android operating system. It was the small-screen entry-level Xperia X8. I later upgraded to Xperia V, which had a great camera. It hanged up on me once but a quick software fix at the local dealer solved the problem. Other than that, I was perfectly happy with the phone.

In September this year I resumed work at a friend's construction firm. He gave me a mobile phone plus line for business use. Rather than carry two phones, I decided to upgrade to a dual-sim handset. Naturally I opted for another Sony model. The new Xperia M5 Dual was launched just the month before and was attractively priced at mid-range with features approaching the top end. I made the purchase.

Just after over a month of use, the handset started to give me problems. It would suddenly switch off on its own and could not be turned back on unless attached to an external power source or a power bank. I returned the phone to the dealer who mentioned it as an `auto-off' problem. After a week, I called the dealer who told me that my phone is still with Sony Service Centre in Kuala Lumpur. No idea when it was coming back.

I logged on to the Sony Support website and sent an email. The reply came back, saying that it was a battery problem and my phone is expected to be repaired in one-month's time. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. How can a brand-new phone have such a problem? I then checked a few forum websites and found out that other M5 Dual owners worldwide also face the same situation. It is obvious that the M5 has a manufacturing defect.

I continued to send emails to follow-up on my case and even posted a message to their Facebook page. While the Sony personnel did reply to my emails and respond to my message, I felt that they were not doing enough to address the issue. At one stage, I even thought of cutting my ties with Sony, swallow my losses and buy a new phone from somebody else (perhaps an Asus Zenfone or, god forbid, an I-phone).

After the long wait, I now have my M5 back. It has been almost 2 weeks and so far it has been holding up pretty well. We shall see...

Beautiful phone. Bad first experience.

Happy new year to my dear friends and readers. May you all be in good health for the whole year to come.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Tuesday

Global Literacy Infographic

The above infographic from the grammar check masters, here ->