Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
It’s a Friday morning and a weekend and a continuing day in the month of Ramadan, most people in Kedah would likely be lingering snugly in their homes happily knowing that they do not have to rush to office or work. Those who normally go marketing on weekend would likely delay till later in the afternoon: a departure from the normal weekend outside Ramadan. The housewives deserved a good rest having served the household during the weekdays with all manner of dishes and concoctions, tempting the appetites for those breaking fast when the sun hits the horizon and the muezzin calls the followers to prayer.
I am dragged into slumber too. Yet in such moments, you seemed to fathom issues. Foremost I begin to seek answers to an equally simple query. What task do we performed at home? What is its scale in relation to other activities? I am inclined to believe that more contributions by male folks are due and forthcoming. Maybe I am stepping on thin ice. Six decades of living cannot be a better reason to justify this observation. Do women work more or ‘harder’ at home than men?
I am not suggesting that men have to slog and do all the house-works. The question is “What do they really do when they are at home or don’t do? Do their duties measure equally with that delivered by their other halves?
The old adage that women stayed at home and the male went to work is dead and gone. Now husbands and wives fulfilled their obligations as career persons, leave and return homes almost simultaneously. Observably the ladies of the home change into another role almost immediately upon reaching home as housewives. Husbands: they change their garbs mostly to exercise, offer their prayers or relax; waited to be served with hot cups of coffee and maybe some delicacies that were bought on the way home. Would they leave their sofas and moved into the garden, water the plants or got hold of the hose to wash the cars? Your answer is as good as mine. The wives would be fortunate if they had helpers at home otherwise they would have to turn their attentions to the children, their needs and urgencies too. A chance to turn on the TV and hear the news broadcast at six? Not likely. Even to attend to prayers would be a matter of urgency.
It is an after thought that the equal or unequal sharing of responsibilities needed a look in. We notice that the women have a greater or heavier burden of responsibilities or duties. ( who impose them in the first place?) They seemed to have abundance energy diving into the roles of motherhood and wives etc, ready to serve the needs of the family.
Where do we start to weigh these sharing responsibilities? Could it be at the primary or secondary level education? At home itself, when children learn directly from their parents? Or wait for lessons to be included in the compulsory marriage courses (right now for Muslims only)
Yet with all that endurance and iron – women reflections, the tender genders have longer or prolonged lives and able to bear the consequences for what may come in the pipelines. Or would there be resistance as already seen in other countries when marriage becomes hard to come by?
(This is a point noted during one day in the last fasting month. Possibly my point of attention was directed at one particular sector and yet I remained to be corrected if it is untrue, biased or inconcrete)
Monday, December 8, 2008
As they stepped out with their right feet from the home attended by prayers from those who loved them just as many before them have done before.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
An fDi report recently accorded ALOR STAR, this city in KOTA STAR KEDAH in the following term:
" Of Asia's major cities, Tokyo scores top for infrastructures, while Melbourne comes out top for quality of life. Alor Star the state capital of Kedah in Malaysia is fDi's small Asian City of the Future, scoring well across several categories, including economic potential, cost effectiveness and business friendliness."
Now with such a laurel, what are we waiting for. Now that the city tops even others in the counting such as Newcastle ( Australia), Jeju City ( South Korea). Taoyuan City ( Taiwan) and Ipswich(Australia) over many categories too, it can be a big reward and even a major investment if it need be. But do we (State Government, Officials, Industrialist and Business people) are awake to this declaration? It is all quiet in the northern front except for a small extract in Utusan Malaysia, the Malay Newspaper recently. Given such an advantage and honor, Dato Bandar ( Lord Mayor) especially would grasp the opportunity and together with the tourist development authority bring about greater participation and increased flow of tourist and visitors into the state and city especially. Maybe it needs a wakeup call.
The report is available: http://www.fdimagazine.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/2228/Asian_Cities_of_the_future_2007_08 html
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It would not be safe to take them to the fast flowing Baling River and with the water quite coffee-colored after a heavy downpour the previous night. So the stream was suggested. It was a marvelous suggestion as we found the place extraordinarily peaceful, tempting and delightful for the children as well as anybody who have been in the maddening cities for sometimes. The cool, light forested corner with gentle flowing mountain stream dashing against pebbles and sand that have barricaded one piece of its bank is indeed a good respite for the juniors and seniors alike. Not likely to impress anybody with descriptions however flowery and imaginative it may be, what excellent way is to take a look at the photos accompanying. I am assured you will be tempted to seek similar corners if possible. I came home with a basketful of polished eroded pebbles fit for the fish aquariums too among other things.
It is fortunate that such corners of serenity are still available
The young brother and his sister having the best time frolicking in the mountain stream. Notice the pebbles strown on the side.
It was not the delightful spot that really struck me so much, but the peripheral activities just close by which invariably I perceived escaped the attention of many including those who came regularly to share the splendor that was there.
Remember Shahnon Ahmad and you will of course linked him to one of his great novels namely ‘Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan’ translated it meant “No Harvest but A Torn” It was to be my close apprehension of Lahuma.
Today perhaps I came face to face with ‘Lahuma’. The elderly person tending to his small plot of land was busy moving around doing the necessaries, aided by his wife and relatives. His plot of hill padi was ready for harvesting and he had to reap them as fast as possible. Already, just as Lahuma had dreaded, the small tiny birds have come in groves, chirping away and their resonance echoed in the quite afternoon sun. Any man would panic. Our man Pak Daud by name was in no rush but tended as calmly as possible.
I quote abstracts from the novel Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan:
“Lahuma dijemput menghadapi ILAHI”
“Hidup mesti diteruskan. Tugas Lahuma perlu dipikul oleh Jeha dan anak-anaknya. Mereka tidak harus mati kelaparan, sawah padi perlu menguning. Hujan lebat, banjir besar dan kedatangan ketam serta burung tiak yang menjahanamkan padi perlu ditentang.
Berbekalkan doa dan usaha, mereka tekad – tiada apa yang dapat menghalang perjalanan hidup ini”
I knew Pak Daud was as cautious as possible. He had ascertained the birds ‘burung tiak’ were eliminated as far as possible. But these little creatures can come in squadrons and make light works of the rice stalks. Pak Daud held a pair of the small creatures in his hand, cursing them for continuing to invade his plot although he has taken the necessary steps. So these were the tiny crop destroyers. Just like the grasshoppers, ‘burung tiak’ are just as vociferous. He offered the little creatures if I cared to keep them. They are small. The one he held was the size of Pak Daud’s thumb but in numbers they are disastrous. Still the crabs have not been taken into account yet.
He and his family went about harvesting the crop in the traditional ways and hopefully pray that all would go well. In their moments of exuberance, they ascertained that they would reap a gainful harvest; thankful that they had worked hard. Unlike Lahuma, Pak Daud was still the core member of his family. I looked at him, a man who must have crossed seventy years plus, maybe nearing eighty but still agile, strong and focused at making the best of his toils. No not many would be that exemplary as shown by many hillside plots in the neighborhood left vacant, unattended and overgrown with ‘lalang’ and bushes.
They had built a frail hut on the plot of land, temporarily giving them shelter day or night if necessary. Perhaps the main tarmac road, supply of electricity and closeness to the neighbors and the ‘cherok’ added to give some comfort and security. Lahuma and Jeha of Banggol Derdap in the district of Sik, no more than an hour drive from this village, had no such luxuries forty years ago when Shahnon wrote his novel.
I am thankful that either ordained or by chance I had the opportunity to come across a live situation much discussed by Shahnon Ahmad in his epic novel, read, discussed even crucified at secondary, college and tertiary levels. That it has been made into a film ‘Rice People’ produced in Cambodia in 1994, directed and co-written by Rithy Panh speaks highly of the intrinsic value of the peasants and their livelihood. (The film premiered in the main competition at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was submitted to the 67th Academy Award, the first time a Cambodian film had been submitted as a possible nominee for Best Foreign Language Film) See https//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_People
I have read ‘Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan’ before; imagined the hardship and landscape as described by Shahnon but sincerely have not seen its true self. Today I did even though at a neighboring kampong site and thankful for understanding all that are worth. Maybe the children’s thrill and frolicking in the mountain stream put off what would have been a much deeper recollection of time past when hardship knocked on most peoples’ doors irrespective where they were.
3 December 2008
"Lahuma tending to his small plot of 'hill padi' which has taken six months to give him the substance"
Notice the special traditional instrument used to reap the rice stalk. This is the 'ketam padi'
He is a happy man. Thankful that his hard work has given him the wealth of hard toiling and the richness of the earth
Tiny tots but the plague of the farmers especially when they come in squadrons
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
For those when schoolings started half a century or more ago, present trends are a far cry from the practices then. Only the ‘lucky’ one would get places as the number of good secondary schools in each state in Malaya would not exceed the number of fingers on your right or left hand. To qualify for a certificate that was a license to higher education or the work place you had to sit for an oversea conducted examination. It was known as the Cambridge Oversea School Certificate with awards in three grades besides distinguishing in the particular subjects and the necessary passes or credits rating in certain subjects.
The students were caught up with subjects ranging from Malay, English, English Literature, General Science, Geography, History, Mathematics and Art. Students in the Science’s stream would go for Physic, Chemistry and Biology instead of General Science.
Physical Education meant exercises in the morning just after the first bell rang. It meant male students had to take off their shirts, lined up at some open spaces in the school compound in regimented rows and performed stationery exercises as conducted by the teacher. Variably the teacher would choose a student to be the ‘conductor’ as it would be quite strenuous for him, perspiring and uncomfortable for his next class lesson. Exercise would include arm, neck, leg, and spot running exercises to keep us lively and supposedly awake for the whole day. Of course the daily chore meant that some of the boys could show off their muscular bodies while some would work hard to make up for their lesser biceps etc come the next school sessions. If the teacher was to leave the session and return to the common room even for a while, then it would certainly be a complete stationery physical exercise till the bell rang. I believe such morning exercise has been discontinued for quite sometime replaced with a more rigorous physical education classes in the school gym or hall where applicable.
In the afternoon, twice a week after our lunch, we returned to the school to attend Islamic Religious Class. Our teacher came from an Islamic College in town. If we attended the morning sessions in school uniform, here we came dressed quite freely. Some even came in their sarong. I believed the camaraderie was much stronger among those who attended the afternoon classes, made more interesting by stories told by our teacher of his experiences while attending college in Cairo Egypt. Our mode of travel was of course the two - wheeler. Not the motorcycles but bicycles of course. Believe me, as students we cycled to and from schools daily. A fifteen kilometer ride one way was no exception. Public transportation much less school buses did not come our way at all.
More often than not we would stay back after the class. We would not lose the opportunity to run about on the large school field and joined in the activities. We would either get to play football, hockey, and rugby according to the season or participate in athletics. After an enjoyable afternoon, it meant cycling home. Not necessarily alone but normally abreast with colleagues from the same kampong too. No doubt the distance was of no consequence at all; more interesting if we were to cycle abreast with the fairer sex from the same school or otherwise.
Now I am quite appalled that ‘GEOGRAPHY” of all subjects is not taught in the upper secondary schools now. Without doubt it was my favorite subject. I can only imagine that present students would miss many things related to the world, physically and intrinsically. Many geographical terms would be beyond their comprehension and many of these terminologies are related to the work-place or career positions too. Could they make good sailors, navigators or astronomers? Already in the daily communication, they loose out on directions and place names. ‘House Hash Harers’ or ‘Motor-Cross” participations would not be their piece of cake as gradients, steep slopes, precipice, marshes, out-crops, contours etc become unfamiliar words. As much as we could count and name the series of towns stringing the drive from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Johore Bharu, it is much to expect present youth to do like wise and much so to define the physical, economical, human aspects of the townships and their surroundings. No way for them to pick up such values without a good grounding in ‘geography’. It would be your guess as good as mine, if our youth now can approach the school blackboard, hold a chalk and randomly draw the map of the country, extending to the whole of Asia and the whole world if possible, unless he or she has taken additional classes. Seriously I believe the subject has held back much knowledge to the detriment of our youth and certainly not of their making.
Present motor vehicles with their own navigation system is an answer to map reading, another adventure our youth has missed. Is it a wonder that many now complained that they can get lost in the concrete jungle?
Of course present disciples of our schools can vouch that they learn much more than their grandfathers, grandmothers or the senior dads or mums. Do they?
Six years later they turn up as young men ready to hit the job market, do service to the country or continue on the rung of scholarships. The blogger sitting next to the class teacher fourth from left. Besides him Dato Ishak Ariff former Director General Town Planning and on the left side of the teacher Tun Mohd Zaiddin Abdullah former Chief Justice.
Young teachers with their Principal ready for a 'Times Magazine" posing session.These brand of teachers have been taken over by a new generation equipped with skills in modern technologies.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
So it is with masterpieces of art. A few may fathom their intrinsic inherent beauties. Others may be floundering in the abyss of nothingness, declaring 'What do you see in it?' People who make their way to the zoo may not necessarily trot to the museum which stores dead, lifeless antiquities and even mummies. Each has their own preferences. For those that even in the thinness of shades have congruent with one another, it is a blessing. That of all things call for semblance of unity, comradeship, willingness to share each others interest and love.
The pictures following capturing scenes and moments at home, Perth and Kota Kinabalu caught the eyes of the photographer for reasons peculiar to himself. Could it be the beauty of the scenery, ideas for future planning, sweet temptation or people's artistry or craftsmanship with natural objects made him click the shutter? Your guess is good as mine. Truly the pictures that we focused upon reflect in no simple way our inherent interest and simply our character too.
We are thankful that digital photography has made communication a bliss with the ability to record and retrieve at a moment's notice.
I thought I saw the same picture in a friend's blog recently. It turned out his was on the east coast of the country while the above was at a seaside resort in Kota Kinabalu.
Once at Perth, I noticed the hedges in the background of this picture. A gathering of dry branches, neatly arranged no doubt with some skill make a spectacular divider at a park outside the city. Imagine the range of natural products we have and yet we do not make use of them.
It's a road layout with cycling and pedestrian roadway too. Safety and cleanliness however become the guiding factor. Why can't we enjoy such simple basic facilities?
It caught me having a good look. Maybe our 'anuk' and other push carts amidst a clean surrounding would be a crowd puller. Simplicity in arrangement seems to pay.
I can only feel flabbergasted alongside you when confronted with a scene like this. Obviously the owner has all the discarded tiles at his disposal to turn into a wonderful comfort room.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Indeed a beautiful homecoming scene and being greeted by the loving family. They may have hoped for his success but it it is the wildest dream come true. We have been at the airport many times. Do we ever think of getting a shot as this?
I am sure many of us would have sets of photographs but do not have any inkling of what to do with them. These photos taken through time would set back memories, if presented, arranged and captioned in a most popular way. Lately I have seen web pages and adverts of photo books now in the market which would readily sort out these collection of memories and bring back alive the nostalgia of old times as much as the present. If we have been viewing them, mostly in standard post card or 4R sizes glued or fixed to the old type albums, now they come resplendent in odd sizes and printed on beautiful glossy hard paper with a particular title if need be. Its greatest attraction is of course able to pull in newly weds, presenting them a much desired souvenir. Wedding photographers now have a harvest to reap of course.
Thank you one and all for coming. Sorry I can't shake hands.
Right now, President Elect Obama has his pictures in all the media and memorabilia of his days before 7 November 2008 is a hit. I happened to come across a collection of Obama photos and they certainly would be treasured items and more so a recognition of the photographer's prowess and challenge to record history which was in the making. You see them here. It remind us that such transition do occur anywhere and at any time and the person at the moment has the opportunity to be part of that happening. What more if he has a media that can record it. A good camera is exceptional but now even your hand phone can spring surprises. A video and a sound track would certainly add spice.
Our Malaysian Political Party is on the verge of choosing its candidates for the whole set up. If we struck on any particular candidate, we may be lucky enough to get the best photo stories of the year. Go for it. Do check out on the photo-album too .
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
- A late nocturnal excursion in town helped to reveal some aspects of the city which we seldom see in the course of the normal visit.The hues and colors as captured by the lenses and the steady adjustment of the camera and the tripod stand added a new dimension. One particular thing that came to mind was the variety of street lamps in the city that either decorate or illuminate the streets and its surroundings.That naturally will become a subject for review.
The State Museum at Bakar Bata mystifies as if its own collections helped to add to the magic of the night with the shrouded cloud above its roof.
These lights stand as sentinels alongside the Anak Bukit Road giving spirited confidence to those who pass by and guaranteeing safety to those behind its walls.
The new gate to the istana. A facade that appeared with the celebration of the Sultan of Kedah golden anniversary recently.
Light at the courtyard of Wisma DarulAman, the State Administrative building.
Wisma Darul Aman
Another view of the wall fronting Istana Anak Bukit
Perhaps the brightest section of the City even late in the night
This is the Rukun Negara Fountain at the round- about along Jalan Teluk WanJah and Jalan Sultan Badlishah in the city
Wisma Negeri in the centre of the City, was at one time the seat of the government
Soon enough before dawn the devout will approach Zahir Mosque, one of the most beautiful mosque in the country
Two pictures taken at Titi Gajah with the lights of the airport in the background. The padifield in the foreground and the darkening sky remind us of the threatening seasonal flood that comes far too often A new park built at Jalan SukaMenanti with the characteristic kris as one of its symbol perhaps lent a strong sense of confidence to those who wish to wonder around in the dead of the night.
For the photographer crazy enough to hit the street and whereabout of the city at the dead of the night, it was not surprising that those who met him wonder if he was a 'seeker' or a 'ghostbuster' moving around with his SLR Nikon and a steady tripod stand.