Friday, 31 August 2012

Sometimes it doesn't last...

I have been pondering for a while whether to post this, the reason being that it is not a happy story. There is always this reservation of possible regret, or being ashamed or causing embarrassment. As the Malay proverb goes, membuka pekung di dada.

But then life is not always about the rosy things that happen. It is not always a fairy tale. We have to take the bitter with the sweet. Langit tidak selalu cerah. Writing about it may not change anything but hopefully it will serve as a reminder to myself that things do go wrong sometimes, and that there is nothing that we can do about it. Except to learn and persevere.

In the past year and this one, two of my closest kin ended their respective marriages. By some twist of fate, it is the youngest sibling of each family, one from my side of the family while the other is from my wife's.

My youngest and only sister got married in January 2000. It was a very happy occasion. I played a lead role in the wedding arrangement, helping to plan the proceedings and even became the `ketua rombongan', a role traditionally held by my father. Things went nearly perfect and we received praises from guests and relatives who attended. It was a good training for me because in the near future, the experience would be useful when I plan for the weddings of my own children.

My sister's marriage lasted almost 12 years. She and her husband divorced some time last year. I had suspected that things were not going well for quite a while but I have never asked her on the details. It is not that I don't bother but I prefer that she comes to me voluntarily for advice. She chose not to.

She has never revealed to me the real reasons for the break-up except to offer the well-used reply of `we are not compatible any more'.

So who is to blame, if indeed there is a need to find fault? As it stands and based on my own assessment of the situation, I would not blame my former brother-in-law. In the years of being married to my sister, he has behaved in a very respectful manner. He speaks in a soft tone and gets along well with my sons and his other nephews and nieces.

I know it is hard not to side with my own kin but that's the way it is. Some things will never change... although we pray hard for them to. Subsequent to her separation, my sister's life has been going downhill. I helped her out of trouble on occasions but sadly she does not keep to her promise of changing for the better.

Am I disappointed? Yes, I am.

Do I love her any less? No, I don't. But my patience has its limit.

Ok then, now to the other sibling story. Two weeks ago, during the aidilfitri gathering on my wife's side of the family, we received news that my wife's youngest brother is now back to being single. The divorce actually occurred a few months earlier but my brother-in-law chose to keep most of his family in the dark. Needless to say, my wife (plus the other sisters) are very disappointed. But we will leave it at that, for now.

Selamat Hari Merdeka to all Malaysian friends and readers. May the Almighty grant us peace and patience in all the tough situations we face in our daily life.

Monday, 27 August 2012

If you have nothing better to do...

I have just discovered this amusing little website that allows you to create word clouds out of any passage of text that you have penned down yourself or copied from somewhere. It is called Wordle.

The output from the word jumble can be formatted to a number of preset layouts, fonts and colours. Enough variations to fit whatever is your mood or fancy.

The following is the result of a wordle run using the text from one of my earlier blog postings. Now, is that cool or what... or perhaps something utterly unproductive. Don't blame me if your boss catches you wasting time on this thing...

Update 28.08.12

Can't resist doing another one. Here's the result from my Pantun 4 Kerat post...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Aidilfitri greetings

In a news article on The Star Online yesterday, a retired teacher laments the dying tradition of sending and receiving Hari Raya greeting cards. En. Mohamed Yahaya of Penang, collects such cards over the years and to date has more than 300 pieces in his collection. This year he has received only two.

Well En. Mohamed, I have to admit that I am one of those who no longer sends Hari Raya greeting cards. I stopped doing so around 10 years ago when it became convenient to wish my friends via sms. Nowadays, we have even more options to convey our greetings by way of social networking websites.

At one time, I was an ardent card sender. I had a mailing list of around 30 to 40 names which I update annually. It was a nice way of keeping in touch with friends and business associates. A personalised message written on a greeting card gives that satisfactory feeling of closeness compared to a short text message on a mobile phone that is sent to many.

When I stopped sending cards using snail mail, the number of cards I received of course, started to dwindle as well. This year, the postman has delivered to me only two. One from a former colleague who has never stopped the practice while the other is from a former employer. Of the many companies that I have previously worked in, this particular one has never failed to keep in touch. It feels good to be remembered.

I take this opportunity to wish my friends and readers a wonderful Eid Mubarak. May the Almighty keep us all in good health. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Going for gold

The 2012 edition of the Olympics in London has ended. Quite an exciting sporting event. I stayed glued to the TV to watch a few sports, some of which I never had any interest before. Looking back to 4 years ago, I can't recall any significant time I spent watching the Beijing games. This time around, I eagerly switched channels to view athletes perform their skills in archery, shooting, diving, weight-lifting, volleyball and of course, track & field.

Why the increase in interest this time? Maybe because London is a place I am familiar with... but the real reason must be that Astro had so many channels on offer.

I have never watched archery before. I never knew about the format of competition, the method of scoring or which nation was favourite to win. This time, I learned a bit about the sport by watching it on television. The main reason for my interest is because Malaysia participated in the event. We did not win anything in archery but I believe we are in the right direction. A bit more training and talent search, I think we can be in the top flight of this sport quite soon.

I remember a chat I had with a friend, a long long time ago, about the chances of Malaysia ever winning a medal at the Olympics. At that time, badminton was not yet an Olympic sport. We had a few good track & field athletes but they never stood a chance against the well-trained and physically superior Americans and Europeans. The well-known Olympic phrase of `not about the winning but the taking part' was starting to sound bland. My friend mentioned that if we can't match our opponents in terms of physique, then we should involve ourselves in other sports that rely more on skill rather than just pure strength. Sports like shooting and archery.

Over the years, we have seen more of our participation in such sports. The medals aren't coming in yet but if we keep at it, I'm pretty sure we will have a champion soon. Just look at the sport of diving. Pandelela's bronze medal is something to be proud of after many years of hard work. The sporting authorities should build on this success and make diving into a more popular sport. Hopefully we can have both male and female winners in diving at the next session in Rio.

With 2 medals (1 silver and 1 bronze), it is the best Olympics we have had. Malaysia ranks no.63 in the medal tally, not as good as some less-developed nations (Ethiopia or Mongolia) but still better than our richer neighbour. I watched the badminton singles final match and I think Lee Chong Wei did his best. I don't think he can do any better in 4-years time, so BAM should perhaps plan for another strategy. We sorely need a replacement for Chong Wei. In fact, we should also have a top-class doubles pair too so that we have more options in our search for that elusive Olympic gold...

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Iftar with an old friend

I had iftar (the breaking of fast) with an old friend and ex-colleague earlier today. My friend, Wan Mohd Ibzaini and I used to work in the same engineering firm many years ago. We were once involved in the same construction project at Penang Port in Butterworth in 2006. Ibzaini is now supervising a dredging project in Pasir Gudang.

I took my friend to a seafood restaurant at Senibong, near Permas Jaya in JB. Senibong is a small village located on the coastline of the straits that separates Singapore from Johor. It is a popular spot for seafood dinner because there are a number of good restaurants located in a row of stilt buildings built over the water. Generally, the food here is expensive... most likely due to the purchasing power of our neighbours from the other side of the water. But having said that, I guess people continue to flock to this place because the restaurants serve quite delicious food.

I haven't been to Senibong for quite a while, so I thought it was timely to introduce my friend to this makan place which happen to be one of my favourites. It is called Permata Senibong Seafood & Steamboat (No. 8). Putting aside our cholesterol worries for a while (both Ibzaini and myself are on cholesterol medication), we had crabs, prawns, mussels and a unique vegetable dish called crispy kailan. Simply delicious...

Ketam telur masin (crab cooked in salted eggs)
Kupang masak cili (mussels in chilli sauce)
Crispy kailan
P/s : Sorry for the blurry pics. They were taken using my BB phone. The camera on my previous SE phone is much better.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The fast... but not furious

We are already past the first third of the fasting month of Ramadhan. The Almighty has graciously extended our lives to be able to savour and experience this holy month once again.

To those of us who have undergone the ritual of fasting for many years, the physical act of not partaking food and drink during daylight hours should by now, become routine. The real challenge, to me at least, is to ensure we do not spoil the reward of the fast by improper actions.

Do not tell lies. Be patient. Control our temper. Do not speak ill of others. No back-biting. Refrain from insulting. Be charitable and generous. Do not be wasteful. Beware of what we look at. Control our desires... plus much, much more.

The above are all noble virtues that should already be part of our system all the time and not just for this month. But such attributes take a special meaning during Ramadhan because our failure to observe such qualities would result in an imperfect reward for our daily fast. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had said, "It may be that all a fasting person gets from his fast is hunger and thirst. And it may be that all a person who prays at night gets from his prayers is sleeplessness."

May the balance of this holy month be gainfully used to achieve the objective of fasting... and that is to gain taqwa.

"Allahumma innaka 'affuwwun tuhibbul 'afwa fa'fu 'anni' ". Allah, You are The One Who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.

Iftar at my mom's last week was a dish of `kacang pool', a family favourite.