Sunday, June 24, 2012


 We were at Kota Bharu for thirty six hours having arrived past midnight on Thursday morning and returning at noon on Friday. The drive from Alor Setar to Kota Bharu via the East West Highway is not one you would like to repeat immediately. Nevertheless you would not decline to drive on the North South Highway if ever invited at any time.  For one it takes no less than six hours and driving at night especially would not be a pleasant venture. Mind you we also came across an elephant that was retrieving some shoots by the sides of the road.Thankfully it was not misty as well as there was less heavy traffic. If you would like to test the idiom 'sleep like a log' then the drive would give a good answer especially after the arrival.

The sudden visit was for a 'ziarah' to my sister's home for the bereavement of her husband's sister. In moments of loss such as the departure of a loved one, a visit would no doubt be a consolation. 

However my visit for all its timing, insists that I paid a visit to the barber as some grooming does call for it. Wow. How could you look for a barber shop in the town unfamiliar to you? Leaving it to my son to find his way, we came upon one, however not in the centre of the town. Now I have had hair cuts in several places before and especially preferring to choose one you are familiar with.  

I would place this experience on Thursday evening at Wan Shukri's barber shop an extraordinary encounter. I had noticed the name 'Wan' on a mirror and asked for his full name.Thus his other name.

Upon entry into the small yet comfortable room, I found myself in the queue with four others waiting for their turns. Only after serving five customers, it was my turn as the barber ushered me to take a seat on the barber's chair. I had casually observed how he had performed his service, fast and speedy, quite professionally. Neither would he lose time talking to his customer. I did not tell him my liking for the hair cut, allowing him to do the necessary believing that he would know the correct style and necessities. Indeed he did what was best. Thus this special write-up for an unexpected discovery.

Wan Shukri's attire struck me as here was a professional yet he told me that he never attended any courses but picked up the knowledge of hair-cutting and grooming from observations and experiencing from cutting and trimming hairs of his friends initially. Yet here was a young man with a gauge over his mouth and nose and a jacket as his attire. He projected a clean image himself. Particularly he held a blower rather than a brush to clear the hairs off , an approach I have never seen used by other barbers excepting lady barbers in the hair dressing saloons.    

 The barber in action. I was told that he works from 2.00 pm till midnight, clearly showing that he has a full number of customers.

           Realizing a good story to be told I asked my son to snap the photos.

Satisfied to see a young man at work and an entrepreneur at heart, it was a hair cut I would gladly come for a repeat if ever I am at Kota Bharu again. Anyway I mentioned  about this discovery to Hj Omar Ismail, a friend from our Kirkby days who lived a stone's throw from the barber shop. He was not aware of this special service near his home. Hopefully Hj Omar and other friends at Kota Bharu will find their ways to this barber shop.

B.   Breakfast ala Nasi Bungkus Daun Pisang

Two old friends were notified of our arrival and early Thursday morning they were at the hotel we were staying inviting us to have breakfast. Away from the normal breakfast served at the hotel, an invitation in Kota Bharu would surely promised a delicious change.  It was indeed one. We were at an establishment called " Selera Daun Pisang'.We sat down for a delicious 'nasi dagang' , a breakfast dish served in the eastern states of Kelantan and Trengganu specially. The dish at 'Selesa Daun Pisang' was special because it was served wrapped with banana leaves. The aroma and the rice with the 'gulai' and 'acar' made me wonder why 'nasi dagang' never gets to replace 'nasi lemak' another popular breakfast dish on the west coast. Chefs and restaurants all over the country go all out to serve ' tongyam' and other Thai styled dishes. Now why does 'nasi dagang' remained put in  the east coast. If any it would be sold only by Kelantan women folks who moved outside the state.  

The friends all enjoying breakfast at 'Selera Daun Pisang' and of course the babbling took its precedence when old friends met and continuing later in the hotel lounge..

Friday, June 22, 2012


EVER wonder why we never celebrate 'Glorious Grand Parent's Day? Yet we hear of Happy Mother's Day or Wonderful Father's Day? Why do we stop at that level? Yes there are multiple celebrations of all shades but alas none reserved for the grand dad or mum. No doubt as sons or daughters and now as fathers and mothers we would recall our 'ayah' and 'ibu' but why halt the grand sons and daughters from appreciating and honouring them? Among us ( I mean you and I who have passed the half century or coming to the platinum decade) we would be lucky to know or have met our grand mum and dad. We are the grand dad and mum now. Without doubt we would have a strong following by now. Some certainly would have more than enough to form a rugby team at least if they allow a mixed number of players. Not surprisingly some would be available to provide even an opposition team.

A friend in the east coast recently related a good account of his grand dad. Amongst the richness and highlights of his life we saw a picture of the old home. That would be a lasting reminder as it stood the test of time. Now what else could we salvaged to keep our memory of them? Photos? Documents? Heirlooms? All would have been lost or ravaged by inclement weather and the disaster of the Second World War when fear or timidity forced much to be demolished.

I consider myself lucky to have known my grand mother on the paternal side because she lived until I reached my teen years. Alas no reminder or memory of my grand parents on the maternal side. Providence works in mysterious ways and nothing could be more blissful than to be able to see their images in a photograph that survived.  More so to see the image of my mother when she was a very young girl. I am sharing the photograph below with hopes that we should try to keep intact our memories of them in whatever ways. 

This discourse to liken grand children to appreciate and love their grand mothers and grand fathers in more ways than one i.e other than meeting them during first of Shawal must be put into practice. Much so living grand parents must likewise embrace them in stronger terms, loving and living with them, sharing their lives to the full. Thankfully Malaysian life expectancy has extended with healthy living. We are given the opportunity to know our heritage and what better ways than to come together and be delighted by the presence of grand parents, parents, sons and daughters plus the  grand children .Certainly the life stories of the patriarchs must be made known less we continue to miss the links that has been on the trails for a long time. No we must let the children appreciate their grand parents in no uncertain terms leaving therefore a time line of successful men and women of the family.

Much to be derived from such a picture. Terima kasih tidak terhingga kepada jurugambar yang mengambil foto ini. Pada jangkaan dirakamkan pada 1916 - 1918. My mother and her parents in their 'Sunday best' as you would likely expressed. 

written while at Renaissance in Kota Bharu Friday 22 June 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Sdr Hj Yusof Darus welcoming all for the 'Sepetang dengan Guru-Guru Kita'
he is one of the 1959 students of Sekolah Keb Tunku Bendahara Kodiang. A TV3 newsreader before retired.

It has been a fleeting week but coloured with satisfaction and good reminder of the past. Looking back we share with friends the memories of the past. In this case, the friends are my former students of my first school attachment in 1959 upon my initial reporting after completing my teacher training at Kirkby. I record this in recognition of their close attachment with me since then. The relationship that has developed in the past 53 years speak aloud of their respect and affection. How could you explain when I was their teacher for a year only since I moved to Brunei the following year.

They were students of the Special Malay 1 of Sekolah Tunku Bendahara, an English medium school, the first and only one at Kodiang, a suburb at the border of Kedah and Perlis. Much later I learned from them how grateful and thankful that as 'kampong' boys and girls that they were selected among the cream for the English medium school. They lived with memories of my rapport with them and my 'jungle jim' practices. Being a rugby player I remember passing some of the techniques of the game even though we did not have a 'padang' . A small grass patch was sufficient. Yes they learned to tackle. Maybe that's when they picked the right approach of getting their partners too.  They moved from primary to secondary and later colleges and universities,held posts and vocations throughout the country.

We met again later and continue to do so. They would remember to invite us for Hari Raya get together and other functions. Likewise they are welcomed at our home. Such intimation and friendship is hard to find. At one Hari Raya gathering an envelope was handed to me after one of the students seek permission from my wife. We received with thanks and upon reaching home found RM1000.00 with a thank you for 'knowledge' rendered. The teaching profession sees its rewards in many forms. This continued friendship is one great feeling.

A recent 'Sepetang dengan Guru-Guru' saw three teachers of the time with  dozen of them and their spouses. My salute to them and recognizing their teachers and teacher's day. Already 29th August 2012 has been slotted for our next meeting meaning a week past the coming Aidilfitri. 

                          The gathering at Dewan and Surau Hijrah in Jitra

               'Thank you Che Gu' and terima kasih kembali for the thoughts

two teachers and two 'students' sitting together

Four photographs of the 'Sepetang dengan Guru-Guru' All acknowledged 'warga emas' but young at hearts for the affection and friendship.

This story continues. Two days ago we visited the 'Butterfly Farm ' in Penang. It is naturally a must visit feature of the island and it has been there for the past 16 years. We managed to speak to the managing director who happened to be on site. Soon we received a call from his father Mr G.T.Poh who founded the farm and developed it to its present standing. It was our visit since more than a decade ago. There has been many additions to the old farm and therefore such strong attractions from locals and foreign tourists. 

It was another case of close attachment since Mr Goh was a teacher at Sekolah Menengah Darulaman in Alor Setar when I was the Principal. I recollected that he presented me a 'Raja Brooke' back in 1974 when he roamed the countryside for his butterfly collections during the weekends. Here was a man who ventured forth from the school room into a business venture that began as a hobby and expanded into a million dollar business.

We talked on the phone and vowed to meet again and so too perhaps with a few other teachers from Penang who were at Sekolah Menengah Darulaman in 1973 -1979.  The school had its success due to the teachers who gave their best at the time. Meeting them again help to rekindle the old experience and keep the friendship alive. 

A visit to the farm would allow you to see the following beauties as we have managed to photographed.Mind you many of the plants you would instantly recognized and they are favourites of the butterflies too. The visit is a learning process by all means. 


A scene from the Penang Club where the waves beat into the shore as the beaches were lashed with strong waves in the last two days, characteristic of the time at this part every two years, So says the local. June 6 2012.


With the right hand outstretched and clasped by the other, a solemnity is sealed. Witnessed and executed in all its forms and regulations a marriage is recorded. You and I would have attended such an occasion . I was a witness recently at such a happening but it was outside the country. 

Now why would it take place there? Necessarily marriage can of course be solemnized anywhere in the world and of course with all its principles. I am writing about this issue not in respect of the right or wrong but realizing that procedures of marriages across our Malaysian border have been a regular happening. No doubt you and I would rather allow such matter untouched. Yet again like many other things, experience is a creditable teacher. Recently I found myself in Songkhla Thailand and a witness to the issues at heart. Please understand that as expressed a 'witness' only.

          The Malaysian Consulate Office at Songkhla

                    Religious officials at the Songkhla Mosque

SONGKHLA is a thriving seaside town just north of Haadyai and about 90 kilometres  from the Malaysia -Thai border i.e Bukit Kayu Hitam. A drive northwards would take about one and a half hour. It has a large Muslim community and therefore a big modern mosque too with its administration. This is where facilities and procedures of marriage in this part of the country is conducted . The above picture shows three members of the mosque religious authorities 

                          The seaside at Songkhla

I am sure many of us have heard or read about matrimonial cases registered across the border. This could be marriages either for the unmarried couples or those who embark on additional marriage. I said additional rather than second as it could be an extension of more than one. Much as marriage is a sanctity and an obligation to be executed as ordered by religious procedures recognized by the religious departments of the country, there are regulations that no doubt lent halting brakes to those who require speed and less bureaucracies. Like all matters there are always situations that seek clarity or solution. People seek the light in the tunnel. Songkhla is a case that assist. The truth is it is recognized and registration is made with the Malaysian Consulate in the town. Be that as it may, it has to be reported to the Muslim authorities in Malaysia however.

No doubt you and I would rather allow such matter untouched but when situations grant the needs for a way out it has to be found. Yet again like many things experience is a creditable teacher and I found myself knowing plenty about the happenings of the day. Don't be surprised there is quite an attendance daily and from Muslims in Malaysia too plus the helping hands.

Issues of the hearts, love and attractions that are either reported or hidden in our kampong and towns do require solutions. Leaving them unsolved or allowing them to take their own paths would naturally add pain and disorder. We do not want calamity inadvertently reported in the media.  'Songkhla' is a solution but do we continue it to be the salvation rather than recognize procedures that help and solve problems of the hearts. Time was the essence as the solution that presented itself then was executed in quick time. 

What takes place afterwards is another chapter.