Sunday, 27 January 2013

Best wishes... all around

It has been a really packed weekend. Three weddings and one birthday. So my best wishes go to 4 persons in the past 2 days...

1. Selamat Pengantin Baru to my lovely niece, Noraliah Nawawi who tied the knot with a handsome gentleman from Selangor, Joreme Othman, yesterday 26 January 2013. Aliah is the eldest child of my brother-in-law Nawawi Mohd Amin and his wife Noraini Uteh. The wedding reception was held at Rawang, Selangor.

Joe and Aliah... semuga hidup bahagia dan berkekalan, insyaAllah
My previous reference to my niece in a blog post -> Faster than CNN

2. Selamat Terima Menantu to my good friend, Mohd Tahir Hamdan, whose eldest son's wedding reception was held earlier today in Johor Bahru. Tahir and I worked together in the same department at my very first workplace.

Old pals
My previous reference to my friend Md Tahir in a blog post -> No silver lining in the dark clouds over Perak

3. The same wish of Selamat Terima Menantu to another good friend, Prof Shahrin Mohamad, whose eldest son also got married today. The reception was held at UTM Johor Bahru. Shahrin is a former classmate from my MRSM Kuantan days. We also did our A-levels at the same college in Wrexham, North Wales.

Another old pal
4. Happy Birthday to our youngest boy, Imran Azizi. He is 18 years old today and just completed his SPM exams last year. Now taking on a part-time job to fill up his time.

No longer a child... but still our baby
So there you have it... weddings of three children who are anak sulong, and the birthday of one who is anak bongsu. May the Almighty grant his blessings to them all. Isn't life wonderful?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Re-visiting the past

Some time back, I saw a link on Facebook posted by a friend, displaying a quote which goes like this : No matter how much you re-visit the past... there's nothing new to see.

I do understand the underlying message of the statement but I do not entirely agree with it. I like re-visiting the past... because sometimes you miss seeing things the first time around. And when we discover things in our second or third or even fourth review, our perspective of the subject may change or we may realise that we have learnt something new. Or perhaps rekindle warm recollections of an event long stored in the depths of our memory. Which is why I like to re-read books I finished reading many years earlier, or watch DVD of movies I have already seen on the big screen, or dig up the archives of old blog posts.

Having finished digesting through the stock of new books I bought late last year, I decided to read some of the old novels in my collection. I am presently re-reading The Veteran by Frederick Forsyth, a book I bought in 2002. It is not quite a novel but a compilation of 5 separate stories or novella. The first novella in the book, which also lends its title for the whole collection, tells the story of the fatal mugging of a senior citizen somewhere in the north-east district of London and how a prominent lawyer intervened to get the criminals off the hook.

Although I had read the story 10 years ago, this second reading is no less exciting, even though I know of the twist at the end of the tale (as there is, in almost all of Forsyth's writing). This time around, I was caught by an interesting passage that made reference to the battle of Mirbat in the country of Oman. Surprised me a bit that I had not done follow-up reading of this event in the first instance.

The Battle of Mirbat is an actual historical episode that Forsyth had cleverly weaved into his fictional story. In 1972, the British government sent a small group of army personnel from their Special Air Service (SAS) to train Omani soldiers to help quell a communist-assisted rebellion in the southern region of Dhofar. The SAS team was based in the small fishing port of Mirbat, near Salalah. On 19 July of that year, the SAS training base was attacked by 200 to 300 local guerrillas. The story goes on to relate how the nine (9) SAS men rallied the aid of 30 to 40 Omani soldiers, gendarmes and militia, to fight and stave off the rebels until the arrival of air support. It is a story of sheer bravery to fight on even though hugely outnumbered.

I have been to Oman before but on short trips related to work rather than a holiday... which is a bit disappointing because it really is an interesting country with friendly people. It was also where I had my first taste of lamb mandey, that very delicious arabic rice dish that is becoming famous here in Malaysia. Hopefully, I get the chance to visit Oman again someday...

Sohar Fort, on the north-eastern coast of Oman
An Omani fisherman prays on the beach, just soon after he had landed his catch

Saturday, 19 January 2013

When the chips are down

Last week I had dinner with two friends whom I have not met in years. Both of them are architects and both previously studied at MRSM Seremban. But I first met them separately at different times during my student years in UK. The first friend, who is now based in KL, was my college-mate during A-levels at Wrexham while the second one, who in now in JB, I met while at Sheffield.

We had dinner at the mee rebus tulang restaurant at Damansara Aliff in Tampoi. The dinner was actually the secondary event... we spent most of the evening catching up on news and developments of each other. Both of my architect friends are going through a rough patch in their professional careers and sharing of stories sort of help lift some of the gloom and perhaps spread some moral support, however little that may be.

Slightly more than a year ago, I read the story about a multi-storey carpark built by the Penang Development Corporation that had to be demolished because of so-called improper design. The news article mentioned that PDC would take civil action against the building's original architect, including reporting him to the Board of Architects. That particular architect is the friend from Wrexham days.

When I first read the newspaper report, I did not believe my friend could have made such a basic mistake as under-designing the space requirement for each parking lot. There must be more to it. Indeed there was... and during dinner that night, I got to hear his side of the story.

My friend told me that he had been made a scapegoat by certain people in power. The incident was one of the lowest points in his life. It wasn't enough that they fired him. They even wanted to ask the Board to withdraw his license to practice. But my friend wasn't going down without a fight. He had kept all the necessary documents to prove his innocence. To date, his case is still under negotiations, so I am not able to share more of what was told to me. My friend would just like to see a quick settlement because he wishes to move on.

The sad part of the whole episode, my friend said, was that during the most critical of situations, the friends whom he had previously helped out, turned their backs on him. You learn who your true friends are when you are in deep trouble.

As for my second architect friend, he told us the story of how he was doing quite well a few years ago. His firm had a few reasonably-sized projects in hand and had minimal debts. The situation made a u-turn when, unknown to him, his partner spent the firm's profits on personal interests. Since the expenses were made under the firm's name, my friend became jointly responsible. To avoid being declared a bankrupt, my friend has been scraping funds for the last few years to make monthly payments to creditors.

Listening to the stories of both these friends had me count my own blessings. I have been through tough financial situations myself but they are nowhere near the emotional stress that my friends are facing now. I may not be able to offer any monetary help but I hope the time spent in re-living our friendships would somewhat help ease some of the pain...

Friday, 4 January 2013

The previous year food adventure in pictures

Let's start the first post of the new year with a collection of photos taken during my makan-makan adventure throughout 2012. Some of the pics have appeared previously while some were taken from my FB album, so please excuse the repetition.

It is slightly different from the pictorial series I did in 2010 and 2011, which was what I had initially intended for this year as well... but when I browsed through my picture library, I decided that a series of delectable food pics would probably make an interesting entry. So the following are my selection...

Lamb Kabsah. Banafee Village, Jln Abdullah Tahir JB - Jan 2012
Lamb mandey. Wadi El Arab Restaurant, Majidee JB - Jan 2012
Crab in salted eggs. Permata Senibong, JB - Feb 2012
Tropika Steamboat & Grill. Setia Tropika, JB - Feb 2012
Grilled lemon chicken. Aunty Aini's, Nilai - Feb 2012
Mayami burger. Planetz Burger roadside stall, Taman Munsyi JB - May 2012
Nasi dagang. Stall at Mersing Kanan, Mersing - June 2012
Mee bandung udang special. Stall next to Sg Rambah, Pontian - Aug 2012
Mee bandung, satay and coffee. Wah San Kopitiam, Muar - Sep 2012
Rice and chicken kebab. Del's Kitchen, Tmn Pelangi JB - Nov 2012
D' Chagar Steamboat & Grill. Tmn Molek, JB - Nov 2012
Nasi padang JJ. Tmn Johor Jaya, JB - Nov 2012
Briyani hyderabad. Kempas, JB - Dec 2012
Grilled prawns. Din's BBQ Station, Nusa Bestari, JB - Dec 2012
Mee udang black pepper. Roadside stall at Kg Tiram Duku, Gelang Patah, JB - Dec 2012
Char Kuey Teow. Jalan Rawa Tmn Perling, JB - Dec 2012
Update 09.01.13 : I've gone to Tropika Steamboat & Grill (the 4th pic above) twice since my last visit but they were not open. I think they may have `closed shop'.