Sunday, 6 September 2020

7.2 million people live in the Klang Valley and Air Selangor is the sole provider

By yesterday evening (Saturday 5 September) this was just about all we had left of our water supply.

The black container is almost half-full plus another half-bucket. 

We also had a bucket of water in the kitchen for drinking water and washing-up plus a laundry-basin full in the bathroom.  The spouse and Ash, since late Thursday, had carried about eight buckets of water upstairs for toiletry use.

Prior to this at about 11 am on the same day, our nephew Shah delivered these.

Most of the supermarkets had run out of bottled water.  He was at Great Eastern Mall when he saw a big stock of bottled water.  I cannot guess how many he bought, but enough to supply his parents and sister, Pak Ngah and Mak Ngah and his family of five.

Bless you Shah and thank you for your kindness and generosity.  

When this sturdy young man and Water Boy came to our house yesterday, I recall that 1981 photograph of us in the Boon Lay flat.  That cheeky grin is still with you today.

I tried to understand why the Klang Valley was brought down to its knees when we were deprived of our right to water in the richest and most developed State in the Peninsula.  This answers it all.

 The Victims are on the left and the Perpetrators are on the right.

I remember reading this poem/proverb when I was in Secondary School and I now find it very apt for understanding and explaining why things get botched up the way they do.  All  it takes to do a task properly is to plan and prepare ahead and to keep on eye on the details.


For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Today, looking on at the political jiggery-pokery that's going on in Malaysia,  I thought I'd take liberties and commit poetic licence by re-jigging the poem to fit this country which,  after the premiership of Tun Razak,  has been led by the likes of people akin to the "Emperor's New Clothes".

The missing crucial ingredient in this Tanah Pusaka is not a nail or any other tool.  It's integrity, an element sadly deficient in a nation which boasts  so many highways, cars, universities, mosques, churches, temples, schools, people with PhDs, tycoons, CEOs, international bankers, mega-billionaires (both men and women) AND a Parliament!

Here's my take.

For want of integrity the direction was lost.

For want of direction the probity was lost.

For want of probity the leadership was lost.

For want of leadership the morality was lost.

For want of morality the cause was lost.

For want of a cause the Tanah Air was lost.

And all for the want of integrity.

To add salt to the cut, the authorities and the media - in referring to the areas affected -constantly mention the number as being 1.2 million consumer accounts.

How disingenuous!  We who live in Klang Valley are not just an accountant's digit.  For every consumer account there would be an average of at least five human beings living with that account holder.  Multiply 1.2 million by 5 or 6  or 7 !!  How well they camouflage and massage the figures -  no integrity

Malaysia Boleh and Malaysia Baru has transmogrified into Malaysia Boh Liau and Malaysia Ilek.

Have a glorious Malaysia Day from all the residents of Klang Valley.


Sunday, 30 August 2020

Hari Kebangsaan Malaysia 2020

I think love is so beautiful ........

Top left : Ros and AsH at the Pavillion in the grounds of Tugu Negara. 
                  Top Right :  A similar sense of affection and friendship, though of dissimilar age.    Thank you Dora, for capturing that moment for posterity.             
As for the picture on the right and the caption below, it came from an article in a magazine of picures of children and their quotes which I had cut and pasted into a Scrapbook that I kept during my years of teaching in Brunei from 1978-1984.

If there wasn't any love there would be madness.

In 1983 I took the first of my two trips to India, accompanying the spouse on his research work during his sabbatical.
I was not prepared for the poverty that existed in India.  More so when one noticed the obscene gap between the rich and the poor.  The poverty that surrounded me was quite overpowering and so despairing that you almost lose your sense of humanity.  When a group of child-beggars gathered around me at Bombay's Victoria Terminal ......

with their big doleful eyes saying, "help me, I need food", I broke down and yelled,
"Go to Rajiv Gandhi!" He was then the PM of India.

That was my breaking point after being constantly confronted and assailed by the poor, especially the children and women on the streets of Bombay.

Having a bath on the street.

Got back to my job in Brunei, and I just had to take a picture of this billboard along Jalan Gadong on my way to Maktab Perguruan Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Polo has been described as the Game of Kings.

When I got home to my flat at Anggerek Desa, the very next day, I wrote this poem which took me just about ten minutes to write.

With the odour of shameless poverty in India still reeking in my psyche, I wrote of  "the hungry Child (who) dissipates into an echoing hunger and craves for carrion's share".  In my memory I recalled a scene at a railway platform of a comfortable-looking Indian resident throwing his unfinished bhaji to a beggar squatting at the side of the wall.  The beggar grabbed the leftover.  It was like throwing rejected food at a stray dog!

Abah would get us the Straits Times Annual every year.  One picture from the early 1960s (I think) stuck in my mind for years, that of an exhausted, weary and weather-beaten fisherman from Dungun with his catch, which I think could provide just one meal for  his family and a liitle more which his wife could turn into kropok to bring in some cash.  I finally managed to get to Dungun in 2019 and from what I observed in that fishing town, I reckon the children of that fisherman have done quite well in the space of 59 years.  But of course, the Malaysians on the 'multiracial' West Coast and especially the urbanites,  have progressed by leaps and bounds in comparison to the Malays on the East Coast.

Today, the child who wrote that little quote about love and madness ......

........ might think the world has become a lunatic asylum.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it's just a cynical and pesimistic AsH who has seen too much and been too long on the road.

But something wonderful was in store for AsH.

When I started blogging in 2008, I encountered several like-minded spirits, good souls like Ros and her daughter Catharsis aka Dora.  Early this year we met up with Dora and just a month ago we had the pleasure of the company of her Mak and Abah, Ros and Kadir.  Dora has been like a guardian angel, and a lady-knight in shining armour for us during the Covid 19 MCO.  But after several months of knowing her she has turned into our "me duck" ( a term of endearment used by the good folks of Leicester).  As a result I think she is going quackers hoo hoo!

On Sunday 20 August, Ros and Kadir and Dora took the two geriatrics for a Malay breakfast at Nasi Lemak Tanglin followed by a stopover at Tugu Negara. We are not one for monumental structures but I must say it was quite breath-taking.

I just wish Abah and his mates, the LEP (Local Enlisted Personnel) in the RAMC or Royal Army Medical Corp of the British Army could have seen it too.  That generation sacrificed a lot before, during and after the Communist Insurrection from 1948-1960.

Left:Ros and Ash.   Right:Their (In)significant Other,  Iain and Kadir

And so, we got home to Setiawangsa to partake of hot lemon tea brewed by a genuine English bloke.

We had a warm cosy tea-chat  on the verandah facing Iain's garden.

He was quite chuffed about how Ros and especially Kadir, were the only guests we had who really appreciated his "wild garden",  a habitat for birds, toads, tree shrews, butterflies and our nerdy cats.

Kadir, my favourite 27 year old kampung rotan chair and Ros; with Rusty in the background  getting narked with all these 2-legged creatures interrupting his kip.

But Dora landed herself in hot soup/tea :

Ooooh , you're in trouble.
She had nicked Uncle Iain's personal Union Jack mug!! Even AsH has to ask his special permission just to clean that tea-stained mug.  One day that mug might be classified as racist because of the (late Empire's) flag.  After all the BBC have banned quite recently the lyrics of "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Rule Brittania" for the Last Night of the Proms.

On that day, thanks to Ros and Kadir and Dora we savoured the meaning of that quote.

Merdeka and Freedom would be futile if we cannot translate it into friendship, sharing and respect for one another and the values that each one of us hold dear.

Here is a fitting image to end this posting.

With the Tugu Negara behind you, my generation is passing on the baton to you and your generation of kindred spirit to preserve and protect what your forefathers and foremothers have sacrificed and upheld for their future generation.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Why Crucify Malaysia?

This is for the eyes and ears and mouths of Aljazeera, for Malaysia's  rotweilers and watchdogs of Human Rights, for our very own home-grown self-appointed and self-regarding crusaders in Malaysia's League of Human Justice like Captain Malaysia ( Branch Office in Penang), Kelawar Man and Murai (with Kelawar Kar awaiting the completion of Penang's Undersea Tunnel), Minah Hebat and Minah Kelawar  (ubiquitous and merata rata in the cosmopolitan centres on the west coast of Semenanjung Malaysia).  Or to simplify it, let's lump them all as the BHL or Bleeding Heart Liberals.

We are all concerned about the situation that Bangladeshi migrant workers - like all migrant workers - find themselves in.    Often, it is a cruel situation.    A situation of unfairness and exploitation.    So let us see what one who really should know thinks about Bangladeshi migant workers.

Let us hear from the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Firstly, on 6 December 2014, the PM of Bangla Desh Sheikh Hasina had a "successful and effective" three-day visit to Malaysia.


Other than deals on easing visas, promoting tourism etc, note the very glaring export drive, that of "manpower export".  According to the PM, citizens of Bangla Desh can be itemised as a commodity to be sold on the free market like mangoes or iron ore.

I would like to ask Md Rayhan Kabir (the gentleman used by Aljazeera as the spokesperson for the benighted Banglas in Malaysia): do you agree and are you happy with your Government's description of you and your countrymen as part of Bangla Desh's export trade, as the export of the brawns and sweat (and despair) of your kinsmen?

As an export entry, your countrymen, according to Wiki .....

........ remitted from Malaysia to Bangla Desh about US$5 million in 1993 - up to US$57 million by 1999.

According to the World Bank, remittances from this export of manpower in 2016 were nearly $15 billion which accounted for about 9 per cent of Bangla Desh's GDP.

When you were "sick with worry" about how the Malaysian authorities were treating your 'friend' during the peak of the Covid 19 pandemic, did you stop to think about how you and your 'friend' would be treated (medically) if you, as an unskilled worker, remained in Dhaka, Chittagong or Sylhet?  Can you see yourself haranguing your Government authorities (or perhaps calling up Aljazeera) for better treatment - especially since you and your friends contribute so much to the national coffers when you worked in Malaysia as legal or illegal foreign workers?

Here in Malaysia, we have some citizens who by virtue of paying Income Tax and contributing little/much (????)  to the national Treasury (like you do in your country), are allowed to demand that members of the Malaysian Armed Forces who only "eat and sleep" should be put out to work in FELDA  plantations!  Some of them even question the validity of the Monarchy as enshrined in the Constitution.

We await with bated breath for  Aljazeera's 101 East Team to investigate another blot on Malaysia's landscape.  This team consists mostly of Aussies like Senior Reporter and producer Drew Ambrose, Executive Producer Sharon Roobol, Producer Jenni Robman, Digital Producer Rhionai-Jade Armont and cameraman Craig Hansen.   Is that surprising?    There is a long pedigree of Aussies who take it upon themselves to expose and pontificate on the ills and errors of Asian countries, especially Malaysia, notwithstanding their very own scabs on their chest (pekong di dada dan kuman di seberang) especially the abysmal mistreatment and discrimination of the Australian Aborigines.

The Aussies seem to have a fetish about denigrating Malaysia.  I don't think many of our BHL know much about the problem of Vietnamese refugees on the east coast of Semenanjung Malaysia at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

See my previous postings :

All it takes to whip up a strong brew of bile and prejudice against an Asian nation is a bunch of Aussie cobbers by the billabong, cobbling up a mish mash of ignorance and bias in their billy cans.  But I digress.   I must confess (some) Australians and Australia leave AsH with a nasty taste in the mouth, especially their double standards with regards to the non-white nations of Southeast Asia.

In our part of the world,  we tend to think (wrongly) of Bangla Desh as nothing but a poverty-stricken nation.  But how biased can we be, especially when we remember that song 'Bangla Desh' by George Harrison, an eminent Beatle from the 60s?  Bangla Desh (or originally East Bengal) has a sad history of wars, famines, natural disasters, and today a rising sea level (as a result of global warming) threatens to inundate villages and fields along the coastline.  Not too long ago, during the Second World War, 2.1-3 million Bengalis, out of a population of 60.3 million died of starvation during the Bengal Famine of 1943.  If Md Rayhan Kabir thinks his people are badly treated in Malaysia, here is what Sir Winston Churchill (much admired strangely enough in India, Bangla Desh and at one time Brunei as well) thinks about his forefathers, the almost 3 million Bengalis who died of starvation.

We can happily say that 77 years after the Bengal Famine, Bangla Desh has moved on.  It has, like Malaysia, a burgeoning middle class.  (See video below)

Perhaps concerned and unhappy Banglas like Md Rayhan Kabir should turn to the middle class in his own country to connect with our middle class liberals to set up a united front to defend the cause and human rights of "suffering foreign workers" in Malaysia.  They could draw up a working agenda to co-ordinate the conditions and regulations concerning these foreign workers.  Md Rayman Kabir and friends (not just his fellow kinsmen)could perhaps begin with cases like corruption and exploitation by Bangla Desh's consular officials in Kuala Lumpur who, according to Wiki overcharged Bangla workers by RM 200-300 for their passport renewal.

 They managed to appropriate RM 10-15 million.  And a valid passport as we know, is crucial for documentation of their legal status.

So what degree of culpability has Malaysia got to bear over the situation of foreign workers (not foreign immigrants), whether they are PATI or legal during this Covid 19 pandemic that is tearing apart the world's economic and social infrastructure on a global scale.  Are any other nations like Singapore, Burma, USA, UK, the EC, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Russia, China doing it any better to meet up with the Gold Standard Ratings drawn up by the bleeding heart liberals in Malaysia?  If our Aussie crusaders wanted to, they could produce a score or more similar videos which demonstrate the "inhumanity" of the policies of their fellow-Caucasians in comparison to what dastardly Malaysia is doing - with reference to foreign -migrant workers and foreigners.

Where does the buck stop?

Well, here's the Prime Minister of Bangladesh once more.

Secondly, on 25 May 2015, PM Sheikh Hasina denounced the country's  migrants as "Mentally Sick".

According to Md Rayhan's PM ...

If that's the case why is Malaysia, and especially Malaysia still facing a flood of illegal foreign workers from Bangla Desh?

However ....


In New York, there is a plaque on the Statue of Liberty which reads ...

Malaysia, when it was still Semenanjung Tanah Melayu, had this ''greatness" thrusted upon them when our British overlords required cheap foreign labour from India and China.  The Malays, like other natives whose territory was "founded" by Christian Western nations had no say and no choice -they are now living and managing and coping with all the trials, tribulations and challenges of having a mult-racial population foisted upon them.

For most larger and richer nations, they have the room to take in such "huddled masses".  The USA especially under Trump has reneged on this proud heritage of America and Americans.  China, India (under Modi, Muslims are not welcomed), Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the EC and UK have no room for the "tired and the poor" except for those who are professionals (educated in their own country) and wealthy (with wealth derived from their country of origin).  With regards to Rohingyas and Bangla Deshis who flock to Malaysia, they are out of the equation altogether.

As for Malaysia - supposedly a nation of racists, full of Malay-Muslim extremists and fanatics who have no respect for the Human Rights of the populace and impose gross inequality on the minorities (translate that as non-Malays) who end up as victims of discrimination and treated like the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" - we are expected to be whiter than white and as pure as the driven snow according to the demands of the Human Rights Confederacy.

If we are so despicable, why are our shores a favourite landing spot for Burma's "refuse of your teeming shore" and the "helpless tempest tost" of  Bangla Desh??   We have no "lamp beside the golden door". We have our own poor and needy to look after.  We do not farm them out as human exports to foreign fields so that they can remit their wages to support their families at home.  But we do have a different calibre of human exports, with one difference.  They consist of our educated and well-heeled who for the most part do not have to support impoverished families at home.  Instead they, especially those residing in Australia, have the privilege if they so wish, to slag off their ex-country in the hope of  gaining more kudos and looking more presentable and acceptable in their new country.

So why oh why are we still being crucified ....  by Aljazeera, by the liberal Western press, and by social media both home grown and foreign?  

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Today and Tosay and RMCO

Thank you Abah Muhyiddin, Pa'Long 'Mail and Pa'Ngah Hisham.  This morning, the geriatric Dynamic Duo had the time of their life enjoying a tosay breakfast accompanied by teh tarik biasa (exquisitely brewed with tea dust) and kopi tarik kurang manis (for AsH).  To top up the celebration I bought a packet of nasi lemak (just a tiny packet) for brunch.  But I promised the spouse I shall have only an apple and papaya for lunch.

But it was not to be.  Rusty, our cat who has a stomach like a bottomless pit decided otherwise.

Rusty jumped on top of the freezer to pull down the packet and tore it apart.  I rescued it just in time!

But that's life eh?  This violation of my brunch by 12 year old (in human terms, he's 84) Rusty will be replicated by an attack on the present government by the  Absurd Axis of Tun Dr Mahathir (Party X), Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PKR), and the DAP led by Lim Kit Siang & Son - all of whom (excepting the Son) are a bit long-in-the-tooth like dear ole Rusty and Ash of course!

From The Star yesterday.

Malaysian politics consist of a pack of shifty rogues, rascals and scalawags unashamedly ridden with hypocrisy, self-righteousness,  greed, over-lusting ambition and treachery.  But we were told that democracy and parliamentary government is good and commendable, weren't we?  Unfolding before us would be another sick tragedy that will make Shakespeare's Julius Caesar seem like a fairy tale.  I can imagine all the horse trading going on in the background, like a bunch of pimply teenagers, running rampant on high testosterone, fuelled by the invitations of all manners of pimps and whorehouses!!!


Alas, my poor Tanah Pusaka.  What is in store for you?

Perhaps we shall one day be blessed with this.  We shall have a Tun/ Tan Sri/ Datuk Seri/ Datuk/Dr /Puan/Datin Kepala Baldi to lead us to a promised land built on shifting sand.

Every democratic nation should have a Lord Buckethead.

A plea from a septuagenarian : can we, until the ravages of Covid 19 are under control keep our Abah, Pa'Long, Pa'Ngah in charge?  Can we allow our economy , the B40s, the small businesses, the schools etc etc to get on their feet before we commence on the Politicians's (and their sons') Game of Thrones.

Why does it always rain on Malaysia?

Here's to more Days of Tosay!!!! - please, please.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Salam Hari Raya

THIS has been a worrying and despairing Ramadan because of the plight of a loving family who are very dear to us.  They are just "our bloody neighbours"  ( an endearing term we use for each other), but just as close and as good as being our "anak buah".

THIS has been a Ramadan of guidance, of revelation  which has enabled me, in the words of   P. Ramlee's "Suara Takbir" to savour the experience of  'rasa dalam kalbu, tenteram dan aman selalu'.

THIS has been a Ramadan that gave me hope for the future of my Tanah Pusaka with professionals like Datuk Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, with scenes like this : of our frontliners doing their duty with compassion and integrity towards all Malaysians.

We have a lot to be proud of, especially the Malays who make up a majority of the frontliners.  The job has to be done and done properly even though the Malays have been insulted  as if they are the scum of Malaysia, being accused not only of being shameless, untrustworthy, unreliable, dishonest, etc. etc. and most recently, of being bacul    (cowardly and weak).

Remember this abusive comment on the Malaysian Armed Forces by a billionaire beneficiary of Malaysia's corrupt and Malaycentric governance?

I hope Taukeh Koon Yew Yin and and the likes of him are now satisfied -  that they are getting their money's worth!!

THIS has been a Hari Raya where I had the opportunity to listen to a Prime Minister leading the Takbir Hari Raya.  At 76, I doubt if I will get another chance and this one by Prime Minister Muhyiddin bin Yassin is good enough for me - poignant enough to make me shed tears like each and every time I hear it on Hari Raya mornings in our Kampung at Pasir Panjang (1950s) and Jalan Mas Kuning (1960s/70s) when I still had my Emak, Abah and my adik bongsu Mustakim.  Al Fatiha.

Covid 19 or not, may Allah bless my beloved Tanah Pusaka.

Today is the tomorrow we thought of yesterday.  But my today is full of yesterdays.

My warmest Hari Raya greetings to all, Maaf Zahir Batin - with  a sweet memory of the Hari Raya that my Abah made for his children in 1947, Kampung Chantek Singapore.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Covid 19 - A Wannabe Twitcher

Ruth, my late mother-in-law, was an avid birdwatcher.  With her trusty binoculars, she pursued her interest wherever she settled and wandered.  She did her rounds in UK, New Zealand (where she finally settled down), Singapore, Malaya, Hong Kong, Fiji and and most remarkably in Australia when she was in her 70s.

Lely, my former student from Jurong Secondary School is another bird enthusiast.  She would spend many, many hours of her weekends in Singapore, her visits  to our abode in KL and Leicester, as well as her overseas trips (with Darby and Joan) to New Zealand; taking umpteen photographs of birds.  From Lely, I learned to recognise the names, the songs  and the plumage of some birds, especially the ones in our garden at Setiawangsa.  She has a stockpile of thousands of photographs of birds, flowers, iguana, bats, lizards and all sorts of creepy crawlies and even of our dumb domestic cats - in fact, all of God's creatures that she loves and respects.  Part of her collection is located at :

However, 8 years ago she suffered a stroke caused by AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) a very rare congenital illness in the brain.

Though deprived of her ability to continue this great pleasure of her life, she retains her chirpy, optimistic self, just like her beloved birds!  She's still - in her spirit - flying free, joyous and rejoicing despite being in a wheelchair, just like her celebrated birds!

However, I must admit I am not a good student.  If I were Lely, I would give Ash just 3 marks out of 10!!!

During the PKP ( Movement Control Order),  I am beginning to appreciate even more the peace that our feathered friends  bring: their morning chorus, the tweetings  during brunch and lunch time and the busy chirpings before bedtime in the evenings.

Also, during the PKP I began to sort out my Stamp Album and opened a folder on 'Birds in Stamps' from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.  Here's part of the folder - on birds of Malaysia and Singapore.

Left to Right :  Hornbill (48 inches long),  Argus Pheasant ( 29 - 39 inches), Barred Ground Dove ( 9 inches )  

Left to Right :  Resident Paradise Flycatcher (7-8 inches ),  Tern, Chamar ( 13 inches),  Pittas (8 inches)

Left to Right :  Common Shama,  Murai Hutan, Murai Batu (10 inches),  White-breasted Kingfisher,  Pekaka (10 inches),  Yellow-breasted Sunbird, Kelichap ( 4.5 inches)

NOTE : On Malaysian Stamps, the country's name is firstly written in JAWI.  So why the vociferous opposition to learning Jawi in schools in 2019????

Birds I have seen and/or  heard in our garden

1. Perenjak/Tailorbird

But here is my pride and joy - my very own discovery in our garden in Kuala Lumpur.

The Nest of the Tailor Bird or Perenjak.
It had dropped(?),  fallen(?) into the garden.  I can't believe my luck, to be able to touch (and revere) this serindipity-find.  But I feel so sorry for  the mother-bird who had worked so hard to sew this nest.  My joy is this poor bird's sorrow!  Fortunately, there was no egg or baby bird in the nest.  The mother-bird must have just started on this little home of hers.

" The nest, which is similar in all the lowland Tailor Birds, is a very remarkable structure.  Most usually a single large, living leaf is curled round by twisting strands of spider's web silk round it, so that the opposite edges come together.  These are then joined by a method usually described as sewing, but really more like riveting.  Holes are punched opposite each other near the two edges, and tangled spider's webs or tree-cotton (kapok) is pushed through and teased out on each side so as to hold the edges together. ........ In the resultant pouch the nest is built of vegetable fibre mixed with kapok or lalang down, and firmly anchored by stitches or rivets pierced through the leaf. " 

(From 'Common Malayan Birds' by M.W.F. Tweedie, Longmans of Malaysia, 1960; pg 49)

The Tailor Bird is just one of God's creatures making use of its God-given skills to live and survive on this earth with the minimal damage to its surroundings. But this is not my first nest.

 The first time was in 1952/1953  when Ash discovered a little nest on the ground,  in the  grass-shrubbery patch not far from our local kedai Seng Teow at Kampung Abu Kassim, Pasir Panjang.   It was about 5 inches in diameter, made up of layers of tiny bits of dried leaves, grass and twigs woven into a kind of cup-shape. It was just about 2-3 inches deep, enough I suppose for a mother bird to sit on comfortably, while hatching her little clutch of eggs.  I gasped at its incredible design, so simple and  fragile and yet so practical for the pro-creation and continuity of life on this earth.  I can't remember seeing any eggs in the nest.  I let it be, and kept my discovery a secret.  I was fairly certain that this nest would be safe because no kids would find this semi-belukar a good place to play in and thank goodness, in those days, motorcycles and cars were rare in our kampung.
I don't know which came first - this unforgettable first encounter with a bird's nest or this reading passage from my primary school text-book;  The Radiant Way.

The Chapter - The Lark's Nest

The above  extract is taken from ...

It's a shame that the names of the authors were not in the book.  However, on the Internet, I found out the authors were Jane Brown and Elizabeth L. Sinton. You can, with a bit of difficulty, just locate the illustrator's name, Rene Cloke, from the little notation on some of the really beautiful colour-drawings. This series was first published in 1933.  Other editions were made in 1953 and 1960.  I guess I must have been taught with the 1953 Reprint.  I have in my keeping the 1963 Reprint which I excavated from a little bookstore at Chowrasta Market, Penang in 1992.  Another epic discovery!!

The Perenjak / Tailor Bird is a very common bird in our kampungs and gardens.  It is a very noisy - and I can vouch for it - and secretive bird.  Look out or rather, keep your ears open for this little (only about 5 1/2 inches in size) bird.  Here's a video by Azlina Abdul on this seamstress-chatterbox.

This is what the Perenjak/Tailor Bird  (D) looks like.

Plate 15  A. Magpie Robin,  B. Common Shama,  C. Chestnut-Backed Fork-Tail,  D. Long-Tailed Tailor Bird

It's taken from  .....

Although Tweedie's book was first published in 1960, it remains the main reference book for this wannabe twitcher since 2007.

.......................TO  BE  CONTINUED.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Covid 19 Mornings

Since the implementation of Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP) on 18 March, AsH's grey matter has also gone into an immovable mode.  The mind has been like a car in neutral (not parking) gear wanting and waiting to move somewhere but undecided as to which way to turn.

As a septuagenarian, I have gone through such critical times like the Malayan Emergency (1948 - 1960).  During the mid-late Fifties and early Sixties, my parents would take us on our annual (sometimes bi-annual) trips from Singapore to visit the relatives in Kuala Lumpur. Abah took a risk in driving all the way to KL.  We were not allowed to bring  much food and I recall seeing a group of soldiers running quickly up a hill, somewhere in Johor.  Abah would avoid 'black areas' like Labis and Yong Peng and would drive straight on to Muar, crossing the Muar River by ferry to get to Melaka and our destination in Selangor.  We were stopped at several road-blocks especially in Johor and Selangor. But the most scary part was to notice how sometimes, for miles and miles, ours was the only car on the road.

The riots of the mid-60s were something else! There was no prior warning of  an emergency approaching us.  I only knew how dire the situation was when, as I was approaching the Union House, Singapore University, voices were telling me to "go home, go home quickly".  The rest is of course history.  The curfew was imposed, there was no time to stock up on food or toilet paper! We just bunkered down and the villagers (Chinese and Malays ) set up a kind of Home Guard to protect each other and keep out any outsiders.

Years after that, we were never too complacent to reckon this will not happen again.  When I started teaching at Sekolah Menengah Yusof Ishak in 1967,  teachers had to set up a food bank for each class, consisting of a collection of tinned and dried food.  The kids thought it was fun to set up a food store in the classroom but we teachers knew better.  At a Staff Meeting, it was decided that married teachers would get home as quickly as possible to pick up their kids. As for the  stranded students who could not get home, they would be looked after by the "bachelor-teachers" who had to remain in school to see to their welfare.  Fortunately there was quite a good number of young, bachelor-staff members to be roped in, and I was one of them.  Sleeping areas and food and security were all  arranged and we knew what we had to do.

But unlike Covid 19, the 'enemy' was visible.  We did not have to maintain a secure distance between each other.  This time in 2020, the unseen 'enemy' could be nestling within our midst, the family, our friends and colleagues and our students!  Welcome to 21st Century Planet Earth - modern, prosperous, hi-tech, 'civilized'  Earth!  I think man has forfeited his tenure in this beautiful planet, it should be inherited by all of God's winged, finned, 2-legged and 4-legged creatures that walk, swim, fly, crawl, burrow or anything else but man!

Since the PKP our streets look eerie.  It's like a scene from an old black-and-white B movie, "The Invasion of Earth by Aliens from Mars".

But for AsH, it has its compensations. Covid 19 and the  PKP has restored the serenity of mornings at our abode.  Let me explain.

The Azan for me is the most beautiful and peaceful sound to be articulated by man . But for over 2 years something else came along to impair the message of the call of prayer and mar the tranquility of dawn and the early morning. I recorded two videos after the Azan on 30 July 2019.  The first was recorded at 7 am and the second at 7.20 am.

Certainly (at least for AsH), the second is more peaceful, in tandem with with the God-given sound of an early morning.

The birds you hear in both videos could be the Koel, the Tailorbird, the Pied Fantail Flycatcher or the Bulbul, all  good and lovely friends in our garden.  They come round every morning to contribute to the morning chorus, no matter who or what is about.

InsyaAllah I shall write about our feathered friends (other than the cats, tree shrew and the family of toads) in our garden in my next posting.

As of 18 March 2020, after the Azan, our feathered friends had the morning stage all to themselves and as a result we can enjoy our first class seats for this Morning Chorus.  Kawalan Pergerakan has its compensations after all.

Stay at home and keep safe.