Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Antics of AsH

Our GP Dr Newley  confirmed that I have a  'good heart', after an ECG two weeks ago.  I had decided that during this time back in Leicester I need to submit myself to the equivalent  of an MOT, which is a test check for a vehicle to make sure it is in  roadworthy condition.  Despite the results of the ECG, and despite doubling the blood pressure medication, the breathlessness did not go away.  Went for another visit, only to be told I had an infection and thus given a week of antibiotics.  Tomorrow I'll be taking a test for asthma to check on my 'heavy breathing' - which happens when I'm up and about, but not on the telephone hee hee.

I was advised by Dr Newley to get out of my comfort zone and undertake exercises, as if I don't get enough walking into the City Centre and running around and going up and down the stairs doing domestic chores.  A lot of the time I moan  and wish that Rodiah, our home-help in Setiawangsa, was just a  bus journey away.

Our outdoor gym at Victoria Park,  a Zone of Discomfort.

AsH getting out of her comfort zone, being supervised by the spouse (in the shadow).  Note the handbag between the shadow  and Ash.

Old age sneaks up on you when your back is turned.  It is no fun even though my brother-in-law Harun  (Abang Long), who is slowly losing his eyesight to glaucoma, said to me before we left Kuala Lumpur:  "No, old age is beautiful".    Bless him and his wisdom.

Deep in me, I accept and appreciate the life I have and all its blessings, and its up and downs.  But for one who has led a pretty active and mobile life, losing my precious ability to walk and walk and walk on God's earth requires some forbearance.

See that handbag in the picture above?  Four and a half hours' ago, it was stolen while we were having lunch at British Home Stores.  It was placed just next to me, either on the floor or draped on my chair.  The most worrying loss was the Debit Card, the National Insurance Card and my Bus Pass and the whole set of our house keys.

For the first time since I was 60, I had to pay for my bus fare - GBP 1.90 (for just over a mile).  When I first came to Leicester in 1984, it was just 22p!  The police were very kind and helpful.  After reporting the theft on the phone (undertaken by the HSBC staff), I received two calls from Leicestershire Police as they needed more details and to record the information.  Just 10 minutes ago I was informed that they had gone to  BHS to make an inquiry.  BHS  it seemed, had no CCTV camera in the restaurant.  I was then given some advice about handbag security for a pensioner.  It's a sign of our times that even restful places like a restaurant have to install a CCTV camera!

There you are 'Bang Long - you would not have had that nasty experience in Kuala Lumpur. We have wandered in the streets of Mumbai, twice in the mid-1980s, and had no such problem.   At the turn of the century, in South Africa, we  took the local 'pirate taxi' in Port Elizabeth to get to the city centre, where  we  walked about in an all-Black and near-ghetto area looking for bookshops - and we suffered no such grief.

But the world today, to put it mildly, is not a nice place.  There are people who want too much without having or wanting, to do the hard work  for instance, the bankers and those in the investment industry.  With the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the have-nots are desirous and seduced into grabbing what they can to savour the 'good life'  of the well-heeled.  The media and the communication industry are culpable - titillating the appetite for all the gimmicky baggage of a materialistic lifestyle.  The sense of shame and accountabilty  -  personal or otherwise -  is just non-existent today.  Greed Rules OK.  But isn't that what an old fogey like me would say?

In half an hour's time the locksmith is coming to change the locks so that we can go to bed tonight feeling safe and sound.  Tomorrow we will go to the City Council to replace the Bus Pass.  As for the National Insurance Card that will have to wait.  We know there's a lucrative racket going on for selling National Insurance Cards.  It's a valuable item to gain, enabling you to get a job in UK without any questions asked.

P.S. I had planned this posting to be a riposte on one of the comments in a previous posting.  But that will have to wait - again!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Pa'Ngah and Ma'Ngah balik.

We have been taking this journey (since the mid-1980s) to Heathrow from Singapore/Malaysia for at least 37 times and this time we had the most hair-raising landing.  The weather was bad enough as the plane started landing procedure and when Etihad touched the runway it began skidding madly like a car going out of control on a wet and slippery road or like driving on black ice.

But for the grace of God and a good pilot we got back safely.

So here I am writing a 'good morning' post accompanied by my constant companion - a big mug of coffee in my "Best 70 year old in the World" mug, says the Mug!

Whenever my sister Maznah and Abang Long came for a visit , we would hear this voice from the back seat, saying quite frequently, " Cantik-nya ; kuasa Allah."   This picture taken at 6.30 this morning - from where I'm doing this posting - is for you 'Nah, because I know how you love clouds.

Why this?  The cases I mean, not the shy macho male in the background doing the washing up.  We hate arriving at Terminal 4 because it means having to lug our luggage (by train) to Terminal 3 where we would then pick up the coach for the 3-hour journey to Leicester.  Old age and decrepitude forced us to ask for help from little Wania's father.

Wania in plaster, three months ago.

But he was otherwise occupied, on standby, waiting for Wania's mother to deliver Wania's little sibling.  So Mubashir came to the rescue.  He needed a photo of our luggage to see whether there was enough room in his 2-door car.   But all's well and Mubashir got us safely home.  Here were two young Pakistanis helping out a MOG (Malay ole git) and a British SOG (silly ole git).  What a wonderful world!!

But not really - for as long as such ideology continues to rain blood on Palestine and Gaza.

It's lovely to be back in our little haven here and I miss you all back home, especially our three moggies in Setiawangsa.  I think Comot was trying to make a point here, or she was just eyeing the ikan bilis in the bottle .

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Parting Shot

Two days ago my brother Mus sent me this poem which he got from Facebook.

It breaks my heart to read this passionate and sharp declamation.  This unknown warrior has underscored all my grief about the Malays of the late 20th and early 21st century.  Here is one soul who can see the total picture and we must take heed of his poignant plea for unity.

I have selected several images from my books on pre-1957 Malaya, cartoons, postcard and some of my own photographs to accompany this brilliant poem.  I think the spirit and commitment of Usman Awang still lives on.

Hai melayu!
rumahmu semua dibina indonesia,
ekonomi pula dikuasai cina,
golongan professional semuanya india,
warung makan pun, mamak dan siam yang berkuasa,
warga bangla pula menjadi jaga,
"Malay Shop"
orang Nepal yang menabur baja,

orang pakistan usung karpet jaja merata,
lalu melayu ada apa?
harapkan ustaz, saling menyesat,

harapkan hiburan, lagi best filem barat,

harapkan bahasa, banyak telah bertukar kesat,
harapkan tulisan, jawi pun mereka hambat,

harapkan tanah, banyak digadai kepada korporat.

Malay Street, Singapore
Hai melayu!
masih mendabik menjadi tuan,
sibuk mahu menjadi tuan,
rupanya kerja kelas bawahan,
ditipu mentah orang atasan,

konon perjuangan ini untuk kalian!
kerja sikit, sembang kencang,
banyak rungut, sikit rancang,

siapa tegur, dituduh lancang
duduk warung, gigit kacang!

Hai melayu!
konon kau pantang dicabar,
konon kau tangkas menyambar,

tapi cuma indah khabar,

rentakmu makin lama main hambar
kau melayu aku pun melayu, aku menulis bukan cemburu,
aku mahu engkau tahu,
kenapa melayu tak macam dulu ........

Hai melayu!
jari mu hebat bertutur di facebook alam maya,
bila berdepan ekonomi semasa kau tidak berdaya,

kau cuma tahu bergaya,

Hai melayu!
kau melaung-laung di jalan raya
bagi tahu kepada dunia ini bumi aku yang punya.
A little mosque in a big street in Penang.
pada hakikat ia digadai kepada sepet yang kaya!

Hai melayu!
kerana hendak bergaya kau gadai pusaka,
bila dah kaya kau jadi puaka,
bukalah minda mu,
bersatulah bangsa ku,
kerana malaya bukan lagi milik mu!

Emergency Festival Poster

aku pun melayu

engkau pun melayu, bodoh sombong harus di tepis,

riak, bongkak dan hasad dengki sesama bangsa harus guris,
bersatulah melayu kerana agama, bangsa, moyang-moyang yang telah berjasa,

by Ian Morrison

kerana ini mungkin peluang akhir bangsaku untuk negara, berjasa dan berkuasa .......



There is no desire and pressure for going back to  life before Merdeka but Malays have to remember and appreciate where they came from.  What they have acquired today was built upon the dreams and passion,
sacrifice and enterprise of yesterday.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Top 10 tips for happiness by Pope Francis

Speaking in the Argentine Weekly "Viva" this week  ( which was also the second(?) or third (?) week of the massacre in Gaza)  Pope Francis shared with the world his recipe for happiness.


1.  ' Live and let live '  which is similar to the saying in Rome ' Move forward and let others do the same."

Image 1

I think it very much depends on who is holding the gun and the money-bag.

2.   "Be giving of yourself to others."   People need to be open and generous ......

Image 2.  "We are left with nothing.  Our vocabulary is full of words:demolition, detention, beatings, killings and closures."  From War on Want, Association of Gaza Artists.  I bought a series of these postcards in the early 1990s.
Well, the Palestinians have been very giving ; of their land, their homes, their livelihood, their children and their lives.

3.  "Proceed calmly in life"

Image 3.  Mor Ostrovski, an Israeli Defence (?) Force (IDF) sniper,  calmly aiming at the back of the head of a Palestinian boy.

It's easy to be calm when you are holding the gun and clutching the money-bag.

4.  A healthy sense of leisure.  The Pope said  "consumerism has brought us anxiety."

Here's a picture of fulfilling consumerism.

Image 4.  " Spot the baby in the buggy!"  A mother doing her post - Christmas Sale shopping in Leicester.  Picture from the Daily Mail.

 The Pope further added, " ... set aside time to play with the children and turn off the TV when they sit down to eat."

 Looking for sustenance in the rubbish dump in Catholic Philippines.

As for eating in front of the TV, the urban poor of the Philippines survive on food scraps from trash bags.


For the past month or so,  there should be a warning sign about watching TV while eating.  You may just about throw out your stomach contents if you are confronted with this.

 5.   Sundays should be holidays.  Sunday is for family.

As for the families of these children, there will be no dinners on Sunday or Monday or Tuesday etc, etc  only grief and heartache.

As for this Rabbi, he has chosen which children do not deserve the Pope's vision of a family Sunday.

6.  Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people.

Young Palestinians will not face unemployment problems because they have been culled by the Zionists.  For those who survive, there won't be problems like 'drug addiction' and 'suicide' which was referred to by the Pope.  They just live in abject poverty and fear and degradation.

Perhaps the Pope was thinking of young people in United Kingdom, a nation who are great friends of Israel. Their young people have no worries over their tomorrows.

 7.  Respect and take care of nature.  Environmental degradation " is one of the biggest challenges we have."

Often on my trips to New Zealand to visit the spouse's relatives, I have to endure questions or comments about how terrible Malaysia is with regards  to deforestation and environmental vandalism.  But when I observe how treeless NZ is - and how sheep are more populous than humans, I reckon they take the prize for hypocrisy when it comes to deforestation.


According to the above article, one small burn-off of forest on the east coast of North Island, in the 1900s, destroyed 30,000 acres of indigenous forest.  We are rapped on the knuckles for cutting the forests for oil palm, the Kiwis do it for sheep.  We are regarded as vandals when the slash and burn technique is used for forest clearance.  Well, the Kiwis did it many, many years ago as from the 1900s because they found this technique  low-cost and efficient.   According to the same article " the rate of forest loss in NZ is the highest in the world."  So, 'goosey-goosey gander, whither shall you wander?  Upstairs and downstairs in the master's chamber.'

I took this photograph of a forest clearance on the road somewhere between Kuching and Lubok Hantu in the mid-1980s.

Now take a look at this one.

The image above shows a clear-cut forest in Oregon (Credit Calibas).


And here's another self-righteous "green" country - Great Britain - selling off their woodland "to meet financial targets imposed by successive governments."


Sermon for the Day:  People who live in glass-houses should not throw stones.

8.  Stop being negative.  "Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem."  That means "I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down."

Image 6
Image 6A

Oh dear, if the two groups above do what they do because they suffer from low esteem, where do the Gazans fit in?  According to the Israelis they are no different from cockroaches.

9.  Don't proselytize:  respect other's beliefs.  Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!!!
Long, long ago Christian missionaries came on the coat-tails of Western Imperialism to convert heathens, but especially Muslims to Catholicism and later Protestantism.


Today we do not see any less fervour in capturing the souls of  Muslims and others.  The method may have changed but the desire and objectives remain the same.


Sermon forToday :  Fine Words Butter no Parsnips.

10.  Work for Peace. " We are living in a time of many wars."

Peace will not come if there is no Justice.

The Pope further added, " the call for peace must be shouted."  It all depends on who shouts the loudest and on what and whose terms?

The British, the Balfour Treaty and the Zionist State of Israel.

Image 7

Image 8

Image 9

Finally, my gratitude to the Pope for showing me the path to happiness.  I do apologize if  my translation seems jaundiced and unpalatable.  But we do not live in a fair and promising world - especially for the Palestinians and Gazans and many, many others.


I do recommend Mohammed Jehan Khan's blog

It is one of the best on Palestine and Zionism.  Furthermore, he draws his own cartoons - a remarkable young man - wish we could have a homegrown version like him.  Images 1, 4A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, and 9 were taken from his blog.  Thank you Mohammed Jehan Khan.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

No Justice, No Peace

Margaret, my supervisor at CPI Leicester, where I worked for nearly four years, shook her head and asked a rhetorical question,  "Maizie, why do you keep on fasting?"   I had just gone to the rest room to put on my duffle coat  to top up layers of a thermal undershirt, a flannel shirt, a woolen jumper, and a gilet because fasting in winter makes you feel very, very cold, a biting cold which gets right into the marrow of your bones. It stops as soon as you break your fast and down a  mug of hot tea.   And people like Margaret will never know how it feels to taste the sustenance that-God gives and which we all take for granted.

In that year,  (2004, I think), an earthquake  struck a remote mountainous part of Afghanistan and I can just imagine what those poor souls were going through in that winter.  The rest of the country was in the thick of the Judaeo-Christian War on Terror fought in a Muslim country, maiming and killing civilians.  Aid was short in coming.  Islamic Relief (UK) had dropped in a flyer in our letter box and I read of this Muslim engineer from UK who had gone over with the IR Team to open up communication with the stricken area. From that day on Islamic Relief has been the main recipient of our Zakat and a beneficiary in our Will.

'Man was telling us about his experience at the CIMB Bank (not the Setiawangsa branch) just a few weeks before Ramadan.
'Man and Aisha taking a break at our porch
He had gone to the bank from his place of work - as a street cleaner - to pay his mortgage.  He was given a form to fill in.  He asked for help from a (hijabed) bank officer as he could not decipher the instructions.

She (snapping) :  Tak tahu baca?  Tak pegi sekolah kah?
'Man :  Bukan.  Saya lupa bawa cermin mata.

A male bank officer  then came along to help him.  I asked 'Man  why  didn't he report her rudeness to the manager.  'Man said, "Ala Kak, siapa 'nak pandang dan layan saya.  Ini perkara biasa untuk 'Man.  Kena di DBKL, di klinik, di mana mana saja orang tak pandang saya."

That little episode brings me to the end of Ramadan.   Tomorrow will be 1 Syawal - our Hari Raya.  I wish to convey my warmest greetings to family and friends and to AsH's followers and readers, far and near.

If only, oh if only, Muslims in Malaysia would endeavour  to continue the discipline, the devotion, the sincerity and commitment of Ramadan into their workplace and to our fellow beings for the other 11 months of the year.  Think what Muslims could achieve if these values are practised not just in the month of Ramadan.

Every Christmas, our local Animal Rescue Charity shop would remind people that  "A puppy is not only for Christmas".  People, out of the goodness (?) of their hearts, imbibe the spirit of   "goodwill to all men"  by giving away presents of puppies, kittens, and bunny rabbits etc.  By the twelfth day of Christmas or a little later, these prezzies would be abandoned and discarded like Christmas paper wrappers.

In the same vein our ibadah to God and our fellow human beings and all living creatures are not only for Ramadan.

This Hari Raya, most especially, will not be a Selamat Hari Raya  for as long as the genocide in Gaza does not stop.

As for Malaysians, be they UMNO, PKR, DAP or PAS Malays,  the 'can't-be-bothered' Malays,  the mayonnaise and belacan Malays, the 'I-am-holier-than-thou' Malays,  the 'I'm-alright-Jack- and-sod-everybody-else' Malays, the smug and full-bellied modernized Malays,  the 'in-the-kingdom-of-the-blind-the one-eyed-man-is-king' Malays, and septuagenarian Malays like me - we should go down on our knees and remember that "there, but for the grace of God, go I".  For we, at least, can greet our brethren with a Selamat Hari Raya. 

We are endowed with Peace.  Now we have to work for Justice.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Nothing Rhymes

Today I received a letter from my nephew Mahzan  which jolted me back to the real world - one I've been trying to evade for the past few weeks.

Dear Mahzan,

Thank you for your poignant, despairing letter on the state of our world, especially the plight of the Palestinians.  I can't find the words or the heart or the spirit to articulate the same pain, the same grief, and the same injustice inflicted on the Palestinians.  I looked through the labels  on the side of my blog - Gaza (13), Israel (7), Palestine (7), Zionism (23).  What more can I say?

Years ago in Leicester I saw a sickening news clip showing young seals being clubbed to death in Canada, supposedly to conserve fish stocks.


Israel, with the collaboration and blessings of the Judaeo Christian Western nations (and some Arab-Muslim nations as well) are carrying out the same culling every few years to conserve and expand their racist and racial stock.

Like you, I feel helpless and useless, and like a coward I switch off the TV news whenever the massacre on Gaza is shown on the screen.  

But you're a healer, a doctor, and not just a specialist in Occupational Health and you are giving what you can of  your rezeki  to help  others who are working and helping in Gaza.

Most important of all, you're teaching your children  to feel for the grievous suffering of the Palestinians and to try and do what little they can.  Hopefully - because of your influence - as Nadia, Nabilla and Adam go through  life, they will be inspired to ask their teachers about the woeful fate of the Palestinians just as children today, especially in the Judaeo-Christian world, are taught about the Holocaust - and to  say, for the Jews, " Never Again".   Who shall toll the bell for the Palestinians?  InsyaAllah it may come from a child in Johor Baru because of  his/ her Abah's persuasions.

And maybe, they will also, one day, ask their Ustazs and Ustazas and  Ulamas why the Muslims are demonizing and slaughtering each other.

My sleepless nights?  It's old age 'Zan, the world (and its inhabitants), at times, is too much for this septuagenarian to cope with.  I think of my first ( and second-hand ) MG Midget which I bought in 1967.  It was a small two-seater sports car ( which my Abah and your Mak and Abah also loved to drive)  with a 948 cc engine and twin SU  carburettors and  spoke-wheels.  I recall how the engine would purr beautifully as soon as you turn the ignition.  Well, my engine does not purr like that any more and it takes a lot of igniting to get it going - especially to sleep.

You're doing a good job with your children and if that commitment can be multiplied millions of times all over the country, then maybe I will have fewer sleepless nights.

Take care and salam to you, Sabrina and the 3 monsters.

Love from Unc and ma'ngah

 PS   See?  No posting on Palestine!

Will I glance at my screen and see real human beings starve to death ( pounded to death in the case of Gaza)  right in front of my eyes.

Sunday, 6 July 2014


We made a trip to Singapore just before Ramadan to spend time with old friends and as always, a visit to Abah's and Akim's grave  ( with assistance from Jai, as usual), and a special call on Jai's mum, Macik Alimah.

Macik is a very special Malay lady, nearly 89, and I reckon one of the very few remaining "native Singapore Malays"  who lived and remembered her life as keturunan Orang Pulau Singapura.  I moan about the loss of  our kampung at  Kampung Abu Kassim, where we used to live at Pasir Panjang Road.

Memories of my kampung life immortalised by the spouse's drawing.

And on this trip I discovered that my last abode in Singapore , at Block 217 Boon Lay Avenue had been demolished to give way to higher blocks and smaller flats. Hard cheese Ash!!

Block 217, Boon Lay Avenue. Our  flat is on the 15th floor, second from the top.

Looking down to the car park from the 15th Floor.

15-89, the door to our flat from 1975 to 1995.

As for Makcik, her ancestral family home in the Southern Islands to the Southwest of Singapore was first used as a firing range for the Singapore Air Force and later stitched up with loads of imported sand and soil
into a world class oil refinery and industrial zone - into Jurong Island!  And they say,  "Only God can make a tree".

This was what happened to Macik's ancestral abode and world - which is more devastating than what  kampung Malays and my family went through.  I managed to load these images from US Geology Survey (USGS) - showing satellite images of Environmental Changes.   What a bland description of the demise of a people's physical and cultural landscape.

( In the images below, red = plants, blue-black =deep clear water, light blue = shallow and silty water, almost white = bare soils and pavements, grayish mottle = cities.)

Singapore - 1973

Singapore - 1990

Singapore - 2002

I hope this video (2012) of a conversation with Macik Alimah when she was about 87 will bear testimony to what can happen to the culture and way of life of a people when development and greed take over. They remain as memories, lovely and painful at the same time for those who still remember.  The younger generation, so immersed in their hi-tech and comfortable modern life will rue the day when they search for their cultural landscape and discover they're all dead and gone.  ( or will they? - especially when we have well heeled and well-endowed Malays in Malaysia who are so keen on  "emulating Singapore" )   See :

Is there a lesson here for Tanjung Putri  (Johor Baru) and Johor?  But I reckon it is too late.  It started with Raffles who re-scripted Singapore's and Johore's  history and heritage for his country's benefit and created the ripples of wealth and development that involved mainly the immigrants and constructed modern Singapore today.  But the Malays, the elite Malays of the old days and the corporate Malays of today, are too happy to collaborate, manage and profit from this globalisation of  'progress and development'.

In the above 2012 video, Macik is talking about the origin of Tanjung Keling, the 'town' on the mainland nearest to her Southern Islands.

She had become much more frail when we visited her this time.  She has lost her eyesight - the breast cancer is becoming more aggressive but her spirit remains as cheerful and positive as ever.  Macik used to supplement her family income by selling epok epok.  When Jai was a schoolboy he would help to sell her epok epok and kuih to the many construction sites in Jurong in the 60s and 70s.  She would also leave trays of her epok epok at the various Indian and Chinese shops. " Epok epok saya laku cikgu.  Semua orang suka dengan isi curry kentang.  Saya gunakan rempah asli, goringkan ketumbar, jintan , tumbuk dengan kelapa.  That's Macik's secret ingredient -  for making epok epok.  Curry puff and karipap is not in her vocabulary and I second her on that.

The most heartwarming part of going to Singapore is to hear Jai, Lely and Irene calling me "Miss Hamid".  And when Macik reaches out her hands to hold mine and she says,  "Saya kenal suara Cikgu",  then my cup runneth over.

When Jai played this song for Macik , tears ran down her cheeks.

Ditto for me Macik.