Wednesday, 31 August 2011

This year's Aidilfitri...

The first day of Aidilfitri this year was spent at my parents' home in Singapore. My father and my mother are the oldest surviving family members this side of the causeway and as such, they have become the focal point of visits from relatives during this festive occasion. My wife and I have to act as hosts in receiving the large number of guests, most of whom are my cousins and their children.

As always, it was a noisy and joyous day throughout, even though it was pretty tiring... but then, it is only for one celebration each year. Otherwise I doubt us cousins would meet up at all.

It was also a happier hari raya for us this time because my youngest brother who's based overseas, is presently home for the holidays with his family. I got to meet my two nieces and one nephew whom I last saw more than three years ago. With the exception of my second son (who is back in college in Indonesia), my father and mother had an Aidilfitri with the full complement of their grandchildren.

Grandparents and their grandchildren. The eldest grandson is 22 years while the youngest granddaughter is 8.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Kekurangan jemaah

Tapak projek di mana saya bertugas sekarang terletak di kawasan pendalaman di daerah yang dikatakan sebagai tanah paling selatan di hujung benua Asia. Nak kata jauh dari jalan utama... tak juga sebenarnya, tapi kira memang kawasan kampung.

Banyak juga kampung di kawasan ini yang mana penduduknya rata-rata adalah pekebun kecil ataupun nelayan. Dengan adanya beberapa projek pembangunan, maka adalah peluang pekerjaan bagi anak-anak muda tempatan untuk bekerja sebagai pekerja binaan mahir ataupun buruh biasa. Namun begitu, tugasan seperti ini bersifat sementara. Anak-anak muda dari kampung lebih gemar mencari pekerjaan tetap di bandar-bandar besar.

Pejabat tapakbina syarikat saya terletak berhampiran dengan kampung yang sedap namanya... Kg Sungai Dinar. Bila ada kelapangan, saya serta staff-staff yang lain gemar melaksanakan solat waktu secara berjemaah di masjid kampung itu, lebih-lebih lagi di bulan ramadhan yang mulia ini. Apa yang saya perhatikan pada setiap solat jemaah ialah bilangan makmum yang tersangatlah sedikit... itupun majoritinya dari kalangan kami yang bukan penduduk tempatan. Kalau dalam satu saf itu ada sepuluh orang, tujuh darinya adalah kami pekerja-pekerja dari syarikat binaan yang terlibat di sana.

Pada solat asar petang semalam, saya ke masjid bersama seorang rakan setugas. Setelah azan dilaungkan oleh Pak Bilal, tiada lagi makmum yang muncul tiba... jadi akhirnya solat berjemaah kami tiga orang sahaja. Ya, mungkin orang lain sudah bercuti atau sibuk ke pasar membeli persiapan hari raya... tapi sedih juga lah kan.

Dan saya rasa... perkara yang sama turut dialami oleh masjid-masjid kampung pendalaman, di mana jua di tanahair kita ini.

Salam Aidifitri buat semua pembaca. Semuga Allah swt menerima amalan kita semua...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Ada mee di sebalik udang...

If you happen to travel from Pontian town towards the fishing village of Kukup, you may notice a bridge crossing Sungai Rambah. Next to this bridge is a small fisherman's jetty and a simple foodstall. The look of the foodstall is nothing to write about... I've passed by this road countless times and had not noticed it until a friend suggested I try tasting the mee bandung udang. And when it comes to trying out tasty makan places, I'm always up for it...

A few days ago, I was on my way to look for a place to break my fast and noticed that the foodstall was open. I made a stop and had a look at the simple handwritten menu on a large card pasted on the wall. I ordered a nescafe tarik and mee bandung.

The stall owner asks if I want mee bandung biasa, mee bandung udang or mee bandung udang special. `Yang special tu macam mana bang?' I ask back.

`Oh, yang itu udang lebih,' was the simple reply. Of course I have to go for the special la kan?

Prawns and noodles are really meant for each other. Any dish involving the combination of these two ingredients normally cannot go wrong. When my plate of mee bandung udang special arrived at my table, the large prawns actually covered the noodles. The whole dish was delicious. The prawns were fresh and the gravy tasty too. Of course I had to sort of not think about the effects of increased cholesterol intake... if you know what I mean.

Makanlah selagi ada selera.... that's my motto.

At only RM8 a plate, this dish was worth it

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Going back to my roots...

It has been quite a while since my last post. The new job I'm involved in now has really sapped up most of my time and energy. There have been times I have thought of giving up but that would've been the easy way out. Things have gotten a bit better the last few days and I guess it is fair for me to follow the sort of advice I normally give to others when facing similar situations. Going through tough times can only make you tougher... you won't learn much by doing things the easy way.

I am now working at a project located in the district where I was born. I can't actually say it is my hometown because I did not grow up here. I was born at my late maternal grandfather's house in Pontian, Johor but I grew up in Singapore when my father moved the family across the causeway the year after I was born. The only childhood memories I have of this small town are the times when my father took us back to visit our grandparents for Hari Raya.

My grandfather and grandmother of course, both have left us a long time ago but the old house is still there, now occupied by an uncle and his children. The story of this house was posted earlier here -> Day trip back to the kampung.

Now I find myself spending a bit more time at this small town, probably more often that I have ever done before.

After settling most of my work stuff earlier today, I had some time to kill and so decided to take a drive to Pontian and look for a place to break my fast. On the way, I stopped by a recreational park near Rambah to enjoy the beautiful sunset. There is this Bugis Museum nearby but it has already closed for the day. Maybe I'll drop by another time and have a look at what's on display.

Suspension bridge
The sky at sunset. The dark shape on the horizon is Pulau Pisang.
After snapping some photos of the sunset with a simple compact camera, I left the park and proceeded to Pontian town for some chow.

I'll end this post now with my first fasting month story. This incident actually happened last year and I am prompted to tell it after reading blogger-friend Kak Teh's status update in her Facebook yesterday...

The family and I were visiting a Ramadhan bazaar near our home in JB. We stopped by a stall selling nasi lemak ayam goreng berempah. While the seller was packing our order, I casually out of habit, picked up a kacang tanah goreng (fried groundnut) from the large plastic container in front of me and popped it into my mouth. I was happily munching away when I noticed the seller strangely staring at me. My first thought was... eh, tak kan kacang sebiji pun kau nak kira ke? Lokek sangat.

After paying for the purchase and walking away, I then realised he was staring at me for another reason! Orang tua ni tak puasa ke?! Hahaha....