Monday, 31 January 2011

The price of getting hitched

I attended two weddings and one engagement ceremony this month. The weddings are those of my former co-workers while the engagement is that of my niece that I have posted about previously. All these events were held at different parts of the country (Temerloh, Tangkak and Melaka) and it was interesting to observe the different ways people celebrate such occassions.

Wedding and engagement ceremonies in the big cities such as KL and JB can be elaborate affairs. The scale of such events depend entirely on what the families can afford. But nowadays, I note that the average asking price of the `wang hantaran' the prospective groom has to fork out is around RM10k, and even that I am told, is towards the bottom end of the range. It is not too surprising to hear asking price of RM15,000.

During my day in the late '80s, five-figure wang hantaran are the realm of the rich and famous only.

I have three sons. I wonder how much the rate would be when their time comes to get hitched...

01.01.11 (Temerloh) : Bride Zalina Mohamed getting the final touch-up

30.01.11(Melaka) : Groom Norfaizal Khafid (ex-colleague) and bride Norahayu, at the bride's house.

Friday, 28 January 2011

A different taste of KFC (kampung fried chicken)

On Thursday, The Star Online carried a news item about a blogger and Google being sued by the owner of a fish head curry restaurant in Kota Kinabalu. Apparently the blogger had written a negative review of the restaurant in May of last year and this supposedly caused a drop in the restaurant's business.

Although the suit has just been filed, does it mean that bloggers cannot do anymore food reviews, or at least the negative ones? I have read the blog posting in question and except for a demeaning phrase, I consider the rest of it as the blogger's personal opinion of the food that he had tasted. If the restaurant's business can significantly suffer because of that one review, then whoever wrote that piece must've been one influential blogger indeed! Instead of trying to improve the taste of his dishes, the restaurant owner has decided to sue the blogger... and amazingly dragging Google into the process at the same time. Let's pause for a moment and consider the reverse scenario. If the blogger had written a ravingly positive review and this helped improve the restaurant's income, would the owner pay the blogger some form of reward?

Lest I get sued next, I am not naming the restaurant or the blogger, or linking the post that caused the restaurant owner to be upset.... read the Star article and google the names for yourself. I note that a few other blogs have also picked up on the story.

I have written a few restaurant and food reviews myself... and why not? Food is my second most favourite subject. Will I be discouraged to write anymore reviews because of this incident? I don't think so... in fact, I am writing one right now...

Ever since being transferred to Kuala Lumpur early last year, I have heard a few friends mention of a certain makan place in Cheras that serves tasty ayam kampung goreng. The proper translation for this is actually `fried kampung chicken' but saying it as `kampung fried chicken' gives it a twist in comparison to the other more famous fried chicken variety. The operative word here is `kampung', which is the adjective describing the chicken. Translating it to `village chicken' somehow does not sound quite right. The closest equivalent in English that I can offer is probably `free-range chicken'. This is the variety of poultry reared in open farms as opposed to the broiler chickens bred in closed pens strictly for their meat where their lifespan is a mere 42 days (or thereabouts) from hatching to slaughter.

Restoran A. Hassan is located next to the KL velodrome in Cheras. Their signature dish is ayam kampung goreng. Yesterday, with the help of a colleague, I visited the place for the first time. It was packed with the lunchtime office crowd but there were tables available because the restaurant has additional eating areas on the upper floors. That fact alone tells us how popular the place is. If fried chicken is not your fancy, not to worry.... there are plenty of other dishes to choose from. Prices are reasonable and parking surprisingly is very convenient. Made me wonder why I had not discovered this place much earlier.

So the next time I am in Cheras during lunchtime... you know where you can find me. That concludes my first food review for the year.

Sorry for just including the pic of the building. Pic of the actual ayam kampung dish is too blurry...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The first engagement of the year

Ever since I got hold of a DSLR camera about a year ago, I became the unofficial photographer at most of our family functions and events... namely weddings and engagements. I cannot claim to match the pros because my arsenal of lenses and photo gadgets is still very basic. But the joy I derive from taking pictures becomes meaningful because after loading them online, the pics can be viewed by other relatives who could not make it to the event.

Yesterday was the first engagement ceremony for 2011. Our niece, Siti Nurul Solihin bt. Zaid, is now promised to be married to a handsome young chap from Besut, Terengganu. The ceremony was held at my brother-in-law's house in Tangkak, Johor.

Congratulations to the family of Zaid Md Amin and Noraini Ali Afendi on the prospect of welcoming a new member into the family. God willing, I will join the trip to Terengganu next year.

The future groom is Muslim bin Mausin
Sweet... but brutal too!
Used the old road on the way back to catch this view of Gunung Ledang

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Badique in memory...

On this date last year, I posted a story about 2 birthdays... the second of which was the birthday of my friend, Bahruzzaman Abdul Kadir, or better known to us as Badique.

Badique and I studied together for our A-levels at the UK, first at Centre for Business Studies in London and later at Aston College in Wrexham, North Wales. He later continued to do his degree in Mechanical Engineering at Birmingham while I went to Sheffield. I met him once in the early years of our working career back in Malaysia after which we lost touch for a long time, only to be re-connected in December of 2009 by way of Facebook. I visited my friend at his house in Shah Alam on 19.01.10, the eve of his 48th birthday.

If Badique were alive today, he would be 49-years-old. Alas, he died of cancer in April last year. I can't help but shed a tear as I type this...

Rest patiently my brother... we will be there to join you soon. May Allah swt place you among the soliheen..

Badique is third from the left with yours truly on the far right, Wrexham 1980

Friday, 14 January 2011


There was a news report in yesterday's The Star Online about DPM Muhyiddin planning to discuss with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about reviving the US Peace Corps programme to get American volunteer teachers to teach our students the English language. It makes me wonder if the quality of the teachers we have now are not up to par for us to resort to outside help. If really such help is needed, then I would think it would be better for the Americans to teach our local English language teachers, rather than directly teaching the students. I am sure the local teaching profession has some views on this.

In the 1970's, there was a group of American Peace Corps volunteers who helped teach the students at MRSM Kuantan. They taught us Maths and the Science subjects... but not English. The English language was taught entirely by local teachers, and such good English teachers they were. I love and respect all my English teachers then... and I do trust the present-day ones have the same capability and skills as those who helped me those years ago.

On that note, here's the first interlude for 2011 :

A Malaysian girl whose command of English is not too good, accidentally bumped into a Matsalleh tourist.

`I am sorry,' the girl said.

`I am sorry too,' responded the tourist.

The girl was puzzled and replied, `I am sorry three...'

The Matsalleh was even more confused. `What are you sorry for?'

Girl desperately offered, `I am sorry..... five?'

Monday, 10 January 2011

The previous year in pictures

I have been going through my collection of photos taken last year (2010) and had a tough time deciding to pick one pic for each month. My personal preference has always been landscape photography but I've decided to include some pics taken during weddings and engagements. I attended quite a few of such events last year.

But the event that really makes me spoilt for choice is Floria `10 in Putrajaya. I took hundreds of shots of flowers and gardens on that day but I finally decided the photo of the yellow bee is the best of the lot.

p/s : click on the photos if you wish to view a larger image... but I guess you guys know this already...

Title : Sunset at Tanjung Langsat Port
Location : Tanjung Langsat, Johor
Date : 11.01.10

Title : Early morning catch
Location : Teluk Iskandar, Mersing, Johor
Date : 15.02.10

Title : Sarah's wedding
Location : Bandar Baru Uda, Johor Bahru
Date : 13.03.10

Title : Tropical rainforest
Location : FRIM, Kuala Lumpur
Date : 10.04.10

Title : Bukit Merah Lake
Location : Taiping, Perak
Date : 21.05.10

Title : Sotong masak lemak
Location : Restoran Nasi Padang Sofian, Kuantan
Date : 18.06.10

Title : Bee on yellow flower
Location : Floria `10, Putrajaya
Date : 16.07.10

Title : Kuala Lumpur night view
Location : Hulu Langat lookout point, Selangor
Date : 23.08.10

Title : Hari raya di desa
Location : Kg Sri Pantai, Mersing, Johor
Date : 10.09.10

Title : Fallen tree
Location : Hutan Lipur Sg Tua, Selangor
Date : 31.10.10

Title : Seafood lunch
Location : Pakbara beach, Satun, Thailand
Date : 20.11.10

Title : Sireh junjung at Fatimah's engagement
Location : Shah Alam, Selangor
Date : 11.12.10

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Someone watching over me (Part 3)

To read the preceding parts, click here -> Part 1 and Part 2

It has been 3 hours since they wheeled his wife into the surgical room. By normal convention, the longer the duration of surgery, the more complicated it is. But Amir is a patient man... he knows that all is now in the hands of the Almighty. He waits... for whatever news that comes. Seems like waiting is becoming something he gets to do often nowadays.

The doctor emerges from the surgical room and approaches him. He couldn't read the tired doctor's face for signs of any clear news, be it good or bad.

He is about to get up from his seat when the good doctor motions for him to remain seated. The doctor takes the empty seat next to him.

`How are you holding on En. Amir?' the doctor asks.

`As well as can be, I guess,' he replies. `But still, praise to Allah for giving us the health and strength to carry on. Hope that you are holding on too, Doc.'

The doctor nods in agreement. He isn't sure how to start relaying the news. But after more than 20 years experience of being an O&G specialist, he has mastered the skill in telling news in a tactful manner.

`A most amazing thing happened today,' the doctor begins. `We brought your wife into the room and were preparing for the operation. Just before we were about to start, her vital signs stabilised. I was a little surprised and waited for a while to check and make sure the machines were really reading it right. Then I noticed her eyelids start to flicker and slowly open. By God I thought, she's regaining consciousness... '

`I saw her hand move slightly and I offered to hold it. Her eyes were looking straight at me... as if she wants to say something. So I leaned over and she then whispered something to me... she said, "Doc, promise me you will save my baby." I couldn't say no.... so I said, yes I promise. She smiled a little and gave a very slight nod.'

`What happened next is something I cannot explain. I have never seen anything like it. She went into labour and after a few pushes, the baby is delivered. Like any normal delivery... it is like she never had any complications before. It is like... the baby is meant to live.'

`Because of your wife's history of thyroid cancer and her radiotherapy treatment, there were other specialists present during the delivery. You know.... err... we were a bit concerned about the physical health of the baby. But we needn't have worried. You are the father of a very beautiful and perfectly healthy baby girl...'

The doctor pauses for a while after saying that last sentence. Amir knows that what follows would be the part containing the bad news.

`But... ,' Amir prompts the doctor to continue.

The doctor lets out a low sigh and resumes, `But when we cleaned the baby and was about to show her to the mother.... your wife lapsed back into coma, start to lose a lot of blood and we had to take emergency measures. The last two hours was spent trying to save her.'

`She is now stable but it is still touch and go. I am sorry I cannot promise you very much...'

Amir looks into the distance. He tries hard to understand the situation and fights back the urge to let the tears flow. The waiting room suddenly feels very quiet.

He finally breaks the silence. `Thank you Doc, for trying your best. Can I see her?'

`We are preparing to send her back to ICU,' the doctor replies. `You'll be able to see her in a short while.'

`No,' he says, `I mean my daughter.'

`Oh, of course. Follow me please.'

He follows the doctor to another part of the hospital and is shown the newborn baby girl. The moment he lays his eyes on her, he knows she is the most beautiful baby he ever saw. After waiting for so many years, he is now finally a father.

But does getting this new love of his life means that he loses another in exchange?