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


Pat said...

Have mixed feelings about this post ;)

Some things are best left in the past and not revisited, I feel. Some things lah, especially if you were hurt.

But, I agree that when we do re-visit, we are able to see things more clearly; perhaps with older and wiser eyes.

I agree with you when it comes to books. 100%. When you read a beloved book again, you find new ideas, nuances, phrases that you missed when you went by the first time. I've read some books more than twice or three times ;)

JohorMali said...

Lest one forget, it's the past that becomes what you are today. To dwell about the past and to be nostalgic about the old days are two different entities.
It's human instinct to ponder what one should or should not have done in the past. But as Frank Sinatra lamented, " regrets, I have a few, but then again too few to mention.."
And it is normal to a person like myself, when looking at things happening as they are today, to be easily transported to the carefree days of my youth.
How am I to relate ais batu kepal to my cucu? But the memories are deeply etched in the mind and nobody can take that away from me, InsyaAllah.

Oldstock said...


Yes, some things are better left forgotten... and that's the underlying message of the quote, I believe. Can't change what has happened, time to move on.

But you know me lah... always try to look for the silver lining in the bunch of dark clouds :-)

Oldstock said...

Sdra Johor Mali,

True as what you said, to dwell and to reminisce are two different things. And when we've reached a certain age, looking back at the fun younger days should bring about a smile or two. Hope you have fun looking after the cucu :-)

Wan F said...

The very reason for my preference for DVD compared to going to the movies (apart from Mamitok wanting to go the the movie would draw chuckles from my children, cruel indeed). I can always rewind or have a repeat viewing (in the comfort of home, of course) to better understand the plot. As in reading, I also like to apply certain scripts for everyday use (eg from Notting Hill, "Don't know, and don't want to know!". The same goes for books, knowing how the plot ends would just be one reading objective. Rereading normally enable us to pick up new insights into the plot and beautiful phrases we missed earlier on (maybe in the rush to know the ending.

Oldstock said...

Kak Wan,

You echo my sentiments exactly... like you, I like certain phrases or quotes from movies. When I can't remember from which movie, I google the quote and then look up the DVD and play the part where it was spoken. Like the one from Vertical Limit : All men die, my friend... but Allah says it is what we do before we die that counts.

Sampai hati depa gelak kat Mamitok nak pi tengok movie... hehe...