Friday, 9 July 2021

Two reasons to be ludicrously happy - Irene and Lely

 Borrowed from The Turtles ""Elenore" - with thanks.

Elenore (Irene and Lely) gee I think you're swell,

And you really do me well,

You're my pride and joy et cetera.



Lely and Irene  are my two lovely ex-students whose friendship with me (and later with my spouse, since 1986) has lasted yonks, since they were two scruffy, tetchy teenagers in 1976.

We have walked and shared many miles together, some sad and painful like losing our loved ones, some traumatic illnesses like stroke and cancer, and how these two girls survived with their heads held high and their hearts and spirits ever joyful and positive.  Iain and I have a lot to learn from them.

Years ago when I was in Sixth Form at RGS, I came across this poem Invictus by W E Henley.  It  never failed to inspire when life threw its brickbats at me.  And this second verse I believe ....

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

...... was specially written for them two ex-tetchy teenagers!


From her school days, Irene has always excelled in Art and English.  But she sings and plays the guitar too.  That hobby of hers has been keeping her busy and happy ever since she touched the half-century mark some years ago.

A few days ago Lely sent me a video of "Irene at play".  I thoroughly enjoyed it as it brought such a ray of sunshine and hope in these dark Lockdown Covid 19 days.  Furthermore I do like the Turtles, especially the song "Elenore".  

I contacted Irene if she could send me this video which I could easily transfer to my blog.  Here it is, "Happy Together" sung by Irene.




Thank you girls. And here is my collage of some of our "Happy (days) Together " 


Clockwise from top left: Norfolk 2008, Singapore 2010, Boon Lay Singapore 1993, Kuala Lumpur 2009.


Lely and Irene :

You are my pride and joy et cetera.

Monday, 14 June 2021

LOCKDOWN lotto

 This song "Mengapa" sung by Rien is from the 1957 Indonesian movie "Delapan Pendjuru Angin".  Our whole family went to see the film at Starlight Cinema, Pasir Panjang Road sometime in 1958.  It was a wonderful love story with such beautiful songs that absolutely took over the mind of this 13 year-old budding teenager.  

Years and years later, sometime in the late 1980s, while wandering around Arab Street with the spouse, we discovered this shop selling Indonesian 10 inch long-playing records - for SGD5  each - and we bought the lot. Actually there were ony 3 copies of each album!

It was the late 80s and all I could do was to transfer these songs to a cassette because the vinyls were not in good condition - marked with bubbles, due to age and the heat maybe.

In 2003 or thereabouts, after CDs came on the scene and cassette tapes were getting redundant, I decided to transfer my Indonesian tapes - which were getting a little frayed -  to a video using my little camera - all very unprofessional and lacking in audio perfection.  But it did the trick and I can still sit back and relive those 'romantic' teenage years!

All this hi-tech reproduction was conducted in my study in our house in Leicester.   It was a cold winter's day.    Outside my window, the scene was grey, with people wrapped in overcoats and bent against the wind.   What lovely memories -  to listen to this once again in hot and sunny Kuala Lumpur during a Covid 19 Lockdown!!



With regards to the video above, please note this.


Thank you.

           ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



But, in the midst of this nostalgic bliss, reality came a-creeping.


While we were still reeling from the surge of Covid 19 cases in Malaysia , our politicians have also been carrying on with their own personal 'surges' for power.  For the past 2 or 3 days we were once again seeing the spectacle of our great parliamentarians making a bee-line for the Istana.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the prettiest of them all?"

This time, what have we got?   Surprise, surprise.  We have got the same drama kings, the same salesmen and fortune tellers.




You might have noticed I arranged the images of these alpha males, these PM hopefuls (and incumbent PM)), and their movers and shakers in alphabetical order, not according to the size of their clout or their ego. 

What are they offering us - in concrete practical language - the Rakyat,  this time.

Aaaahh, democracy!!!!


However, our Parliament is NOT an "assembly of ONE nation with ONE interest".  It is a web of "different and hostile interests", empowered by a great deal of horse-trading (inside and outside Parliament) to determine the direction and future of the nation.


Just to bring a touch of levity to this fiasco in Malaysia, I shall escape into the lyrics of my romantic  song by Rien to get an insight into what will be in store for us, Covid 19 or no Covid 19!


M.  Habis ni, kita pergi saja dari sini. Kita naik mobil ..........

F.  Kemana?

M. Ke langit! ke bulan! ke bintang!


Aaaah, promises, promises, very like what's coming from our movers and shakers and politicians.


F.  Kau nakal Seth. 

M.  Kenapa?

F.  Kau berbuat aku lemah, seperti hilang tenaga melawan.


Yeeess, yeeesss, yeeess!  All this political jiggery pokery, MCOs, Covid 19, SOPs - we are absolutely at your mercy!!!!

There!  When we get over Covid 19, someone should write a play about Malaysia's political saga during this pandemic and our hero will be Lord Buckethead or Tun/ Tan Sri/Datuk/ Dato Seri  (just insert the right honorific title here) Kepala Baldi.


It will be cheap to produce.  You can stuff any idiot into this outfit.


The future of this nation is like a game of lotto.  You are free to pick a number, any number or numbers.  But the certainty of picking the right one, the winner for Malaysia; is almost zilch at these present times, with this political scenario.



We are used to acronyms like PKP, PPKP, PKR, DAP, UMNO, PAS, EMCO, SOPs and MAGERAN (NOC 2).  

We might as well add SRRS to our list - Shifty Rogues, Rascals and Scalawags. 

So, I am no Optimist. And I have not as yet, gone to the edge to be a Pessimist.

Maybe a Pesseptomist.  Maybe I can still make a journey up to the Sky, the Moon and the Stars!

Maybe I shall just seek comfort in this dream ......



..... and maybe on 29 June, I will be able to go out for my tosay breakfast.


Saturday, 12 June 2021

LIGHT of LOCKDOWN - a much-appreciated gift from all our Frontliners and Volunteers.


Thank you Malaysia, from a Malaysian bumiputera (left) and a UK 'bumiputera' (right).



Here's another contribution from my Anglo-Scots spouse. The last time, he expressed his dismay at the blatant ignorance of some expatriate Malaysians about their country's health system:

https://anaksihamid.blogspot.com/2020/11/dr-audrey-yi-hui-teh-kota-kinabalu-lass.html

But this time he's a lot more cheerful!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   

We had a marvellous experience on Monday 7 June, at the Putera World Trade Centre.     Actually, it was something we'd been expecting for weeks, nervously, fearfully, full of deep, dark forebodings.    I won't say we were both nervous wrecks when we arrived there - but we were pretty close to it.

We had our vaccine appointments, and we weren't looking forward to them: perhaps we'd be turned away because both of us had underlying health issues; perhaps we'd be waiting for hours in the sun; perhaps the organization would be chaotic and we'd be chasing our tails.    Perhaps we'd have terrible after effects.     Perhaps the sky would fall on our heads.

Well, nothing like that happened.      And this is the story.

We arrived early, and the security men at the entrance were paragons of courtesy and helpfulness.   We were directed immediately to the Special Needs section (although we didn't ask to be), and from then on we were guided by ushers, both uniformed and not to the registration desk deep on the ground floor of the building.    These two late-septuagenarians were treated like royalty.     But so too were all the other elderly souls who were arriving for treatment.      For once, it felt good to be old.

We were cleared for vaccination by a volunteer called Puteri.    Puteri is a Pisces lass completing a Masters course in Computer Engineering at UITM.    She had been working at that desk for almost a month, from 8 o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock at night, and she was still as fresh and cheerful as a daisy.    She talked us through our consent forms, and filled two of them in for us because we'd completed them wrongly.   She checked Maznoor's particular drug allergies with a medical colleague, and told us she'd be held back at the end for a longer observation.    Just in case.    She was a model of cheerful concern.

Then we were guided to Dr Zafirah.    Dr Zafirah is a doctor at KLIA international airport.   She too had been working at her PWTC desk for almost a month.     She too was lively, attentive, and enormously helpful.    She reassured Maznoor about her allergies and her medication, and the look of relief on Maznoor's face was a joy to behold.    Then she went through my various problems: she reassured me about the danger of bloot clots, with some well-chosen medical facts and figures; and she clearly knew plenty about one of the rarer blood disorders - haemachromatosis - which I happened to suffer from.   Dr Zafirah, too, was a model of cheerful concern: she was clearly a lady of sound medical training, deeply and widely informed, with an excellent bedside manner and a wonderful sense of humour as well.     She, just like Puteri, was a pleasure to meet.

From Dr Zafirah we went straight to the desk in front for our vaccination.    It was quick, straightforward, and painless - and the lady who did it held up the syringe so we could measure its contents, just as she'd done 200-300 times every day.   She was sweet and efficient and said little - and I shall always regret that I don't have her name.    After all, without the people who put in the needles, the entire programme would fail.    Please, dear lady, accept my apologies.     You did an important job to perfection.

Finally, for our clearance papers, we went to see Pirin.   Pirin had just finished at Medical School in Kedah and was waiting for a hospital placement.    Like all the others, Pirin was attentive and solicitous.   She checked us out just as lunchtime arrived, and when we were finished she personally led us to the exit and helped us take our souvenir photo.

The entire process, from start to finish - and including half an hour's monitoring at the end - took just over one hour.    Every worker we met was a gem.    From the security men to the ushers to the people at the desks - there was not a single unhelpful person.     And not the briefest delay.

There's a moral in this story.     Here was a major logistical operation, to address a critical situation in the health of the country - and it went off without a hitch.     Yes,of course, as elderly people we were favoured, and younger people might have to wait a bit longer.     But surely one measure of a good society is how the elderly are treated.   There are other measures: for example, how all the components of government and "civil society" come together in a crisis; how "front-liners" acquire and apply their skills; and how courtesy is made part of the job.

In all these respects, and judging by what happened to Maznoor and I, Malaysia has a lot to be proud of.   And so do all those "front-liners" and volunteers we met on Monday at the Putera World Trade Centre.   A very necessary job, and a job excellently done.

Congratulations and thank you from two elderly admirers.

   ....................................................................................................................................................


It only goes to show, doesn't it, that Penang and Singapore aren't the only places where things are done properly!


Friday, 4 June 2021

LOCKDOWN LAMENT - TRANSLATION OF HIKAYAT ABDULLAH by JMBRAS

 This morning, the spouse read my posting and he said, "You know, I have a translation of Hikayat Abdullah in JMBRAS somewhere upstairs.  Would you like to have a look at it?"  My eyes lit up; which meant, "Yes, please!!"

Of course, the said book would be tucked away somewhere within his jungle of books and it was not until after lunch-time that he managed to locate it. Bless his cotton socks!


The Book

The Contents Page



THE TRANSLATION BY A. H.  HILL,   M.A., B. Sc.    (Pages 161 - 163)


Page 161

Page 162a

Page 162 b




Page 162c




Page 163



For our readers who are bilingual,  you will find the translation does not quite fit Abdullah's original text.  The difference is not in the general gist but in the inclusion of bits of details.

 

Allahu A'alam     (Allah Knows Best)

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

LOCKDOWN LAMENT

 Thanks to our Ramadan and  Hari Raya revellers, our happy shoppers and diners, and our "patriotic" factory and business owners, a total lockdown is upon us again.  In the streets around our house, a so-called "elite area" as claimed by our well-heeled middle class neighbours, every night for almost the whole month of Syawal, there were crackers and loud fireworks  galore .  Most of the time, out of respect for prayer times (bless them), the show did not begin until after Isyak, from 9.30 pm to 11 pm!!  Good night, sleep tight, Setiawangsa!

I am in awe at the guts of these Malays.  They scrambled over highways and ratways to "balik kampung". The ones remaining still had money to burn for crackers and fireworks.    And I thought this country had to tighten its collective belts to see it through this Covid-19 struggle over life and livelihood.  

Of course, because of our seasonal happy abandon, our medical facilities and frontliners are at breaking point.   But never mind, for most Malaysians it's business as usual.

Our Immigration appointment for this Friday was "rescheduled" to heaven-knows-when because of the lockdown.  But we count our blessings.  The stallholders on the streets around us have, once again, lost  their means of livelihood.  There are many, many other distressing stories - but who wants to know? 


STOP IT ASH  - you are beginning to foam at the mouth.  So let me take a much-needed break.    I usually find this video very therapeutic when I'm angry......



[Kev and Perry are two typical badly - behaving teenagers.  This video was during the era when Oasis from Manchester was the rage.  By the way, Perry is played by Kathy Burke, one of my top favourite comedians from the '90s ]

                  ...............................................................................................................

So now on to the point that I really wanted to make:

In anticipation of the start of the lockdown, I decided to fiddle around and about my room, to find ways to keep me sane.  I was not disappointed.  I have enough junk here to keep me occupied.  In one corner .....

A Cosy Corner


.......  I came upon this book.


An Anthology of Malay History


The Chapters

When I was 7 or 8 years old, while playing or resting in the afternoons at our kampung house at Lorong Abu Kassim in Pasir Panjang, my mother would often tease me;  "Kau bukan anak Mak. Mak pungut kau di tong sampah,"  (You are not my child. I picked you up from a dustbin ).  I did not know how to feel or to respond.  

I half-believed it, because our relatives and friends, and even my teachers and colleagues, would look  at me and say, "Kau ni muka Cina?"  (You look like a Chinese?)  People still say it today.  In Aeon supermarket, not long ago, a Chinese lady said to me in English, "You sure you not adopted ah?"   So I thought I'll jolt her a little and replied, "Wa bue hiao, lah" in Hokkien, which means "I don't know lah."  She looked so flabbergasted and I smiled and said,  "Sudah makan banyak blacan, mesti sudah jadi orang Melayu!".

Sometimes I get annoyed at these rude busybodies, but most of the time I just have to laugh.

How did I deal with my Mak's teasing?  One day, I had a little tiff with her and I retorted, "Ya lah. Nor tahu Nor bukan anak Mak dan Abah. Nor dipungut di tong sampah."  ( I know why. I am not your or  abah's daughter. You picked me up from a dustbin.)  My Abah overheard.  He looked shocked.  He went to my mother and they both left the room.  I never knew what happened.  But my mother's teasing stopped altogether from that day on!!!

During my mid-teens, Mak revealed that her mother was an adopted Chinese girl from the island of Bawean.  I later read that at the turn of the 20th century, the Chinese who came to settle in Bawean and the local Boyanese too found that eking a living in Bawean was hard.  That was why many of the latter moved to Singapore to find themselves a living (after all, moving around was a way of life in the Malay Archipelago).  My maternal grandfather was one of them.  As for the Chinese, what they tended to do was to give away their daughters because daughters were not as useful as their sons.  My grandmother was one of those daughters - and I'm guessing my Mak must have had a bit of teasing in her growing up years in Singapore about her non-Bawean mother.  Her teasing of me was probably what she had to go through as a child.  She certainly had no happy memories of her own mother who left  Mak with her ex-husband and took with her the two elder daughters and her son.  Mak was brought up by her stepmother who she loved immensely.   Every Ramadan, towards the end of that holy month,  while we were helping her to stir the dodol or halwa maskat, I could see a smile on her face as she said, "Aaah, your Nenek is here."  They were that close!


Nenek  & Tok Malik

And why am I remembering all this?    Because of this page on "Hamba Hamba di-jual di SIngapura" in the above book "Tawarikh Melayu".


The First Part


The Second Part


In blue are the victims, the slaves.  In red are the purchasers.  The Bugis were the slave traders.  And the venue is Singapura the great entrepot hub created by Raffles and today one of the richest countries in the world.

Singapore Today


When I read this page, just like Abdullah, "Maka aku pun meleleh ayer mata-ku sebab terkenangkan hal anak-bini siapa-kah ini?"

Many questions came into my mind.

Do these tormented slave-women look like this?

How the West caricatured Malay women in this 1931 postcard "Malay Natives. Penang"


 I can picture the torment of these slave-women.    If they were lucky they might have ended up as wives and concubines of those purchasers of many colours.   Many would have been maltreated and raped and their children would have been lucky to end up as family members of their owners.  Although more likely they'd end up as work horses for their masters - the same fate as the black slaves in USA.

I can understand why Mak vexed me about my origin as she must have had the same dose of mockings about her own mother who did not originate from her culture.   But this did not stop me from having difficult (to put it mildly) bouts of figuring out just who and what I was!  

I can imagine what the children of these slave women must have gone through in trying to understand why they didn't have the same physical configurations of either of their parents, where their mother came from, and the whole sorry predicament they found themselves in.  Surely, whether they "made it" in life or didn't, some of those women would have talked to their children about where they came from and how they were taken away from their homes and villages - what would the children have felt?     Would those women and their children and grandchildren wish to affirm such a heritage?     Or would it be put in the back of the mind - as a shameful episode to be blotted out?

History poses some troublesome dilemmas.

As an afterthought:  for such heinous crimes like Corruption and Slavery, we always condemn the one who takes the bribe and the trader who sells the slaves.  However, I think justice is better served  if the corruptor, the one who gives the bribe, and the purchaser who creates the market for slaves do not go unpunished.

And all I wanted was a little escapade into my books to see me through the lockdown!!










Thursday, 20 May 2021

APA SEBAB BURUNG TERBANG?

I have finished my postings (which I said I would do) on Remember Me -2 and Remember Me - 3.  But they have to remain in cold storage.

After I posted Remember Me - 1; on the very next morning I clicked on to it - and ..........

This was what I got (minus the part in the rectangle enclosed in black) and the address of my blog in the space in the paragraph above.


So readers to Ash, you have been warned that this is a deceptive site and and I just might "reveal your personal information, e.g. passwords, phone numbers, credit cards etc".

Aaah!  "Social Engineering"


What does that mean?

Really!  Did I do all that??

So, I got my knuckles rapped.   Sorry Sir/Madam, Sorry Boss/Madam, Sorry Guv/Madam.  I promise not to .........   

From now on I shall only write about food, fashion, celebrities, cars, Bitcoin, property investment ...... and nice fluffy rabbits!!!

What about Sinovac and prezzies and donations?

Can I make a mention of a teeny-weeny bit of Apartheid?

Pretty please?


As Malaysia is struggling with the horrendous rise of Covid 19 cases, we and the rest of the world are counting on the vaccines to counter this Third (?) Wave that is bringing chaos to our lives and our livelihood.

As usual, this boils down to accessibility and cost.  Last year we were fighting for ventilators.  This year the saviour vaccine becomes the main issue. Read ...

https://www.dailynews.lk/line/anis-chowdhury-and-jomo-kwame-sundaram 




Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram, of course, is a well-known Malaysian academic appointed to the now-defunct Council of Eminent Persons created by the last Government led by Dr Mahathir when Pakatan Harapan won a resounding victory in the 2018 Malaysian General Election .    Well, Dr Jomo is concerned with vaccine apartheid - but aren't we all?

Let's consider Penang.

Just recently and it's still ongoing, there has been quite a bit of kerfuffle with Penang over the Sinovac vaccine.

It seems that Penang has been given 2 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine .... but .....



There are several issues here.

1. Sarawak got the approval to buy.  How did Penang manage to get a gift of 2 million doses?  Who is the donor and why the handout?  Surely there is a difference between  a donation and a purchase.


Donation

Purchase


2. The application was submitted on 15 February but  ......... come May, even .....

Still waiting for approval.

3. Malaysia, on 23 April  allowed conditional registration of Sinovac.  Singapore was still making an assessment on 18 May.

It was left to the Chinese Embassy to highlight the arrival of Sinovac in Singapore.

....... and furthermore,


Just three questions.  

1.  If this Sinovac came free - who is the kindly donor? Is it from an individual or an Institution or commercial benefactor? 

2.  Why to Penang only?  Smacks of some kind of special selectivity, or a variation of apartheid?  Is it a reflection of the irresistible charm of the DAP government of Penang?

3.  What if Kelantan or Trengganu received such a  "gift"?  That would be branded as Ketuanan Melayu.


The moral of the story is :  Troy was brought down - after a long siege by the Greeks - when they brought into the city what they regarded as a gift of  a wooden horse that the Greeks had left behind.

The phrase "Trojan horse" is derived from;

Somewhat like "musuh dalam selimut"?


Hence we get the term "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts".

Greeks bearing gifts.


But be assured this posting is not a Trojan Horse.

Fingers crossed, I hope big brother does not deem AsH as a "deceptive threat" again.

Tanya sama burung

Apa sebab terbang.

Nanti jawab burung

Sayap digunakan.















Friday, 14 May 2021

Remember Me - No 1

It's not due to compassion fatigue.  I must confess, as I grew into my 70s (I am now 77) I could not find the strength to carry on writing about Gaza and Palestine.


Thinking and feeling and writing for Palestine/Gaza is like breathing with "glass in your lungs".   [How one lady described the pain of Covid 19.]

Yesterday, Ros, a good friend I met on this Blog, sent me her Hari Raya greetings and her last two sentences said: 

"Hope you're both enjoying your raya fare. But it's difficult to swallow seeing what's happening in Palestine."   Ditto Ros, ditto.

 Since I started blogging in 2008 - up to 2018 - I have written about 27 postings on Palestine and especially Gaza.

For my readers who are not too familiar with the history and agony of a long-suffering people, I shall try in a couple of postings to compress and summarise the process by which Israel, with the complicity of United Kingdom, USA especially and almost all of the western countries contributed to the emasculation of an ancient, proud and brave people.  That did not take a century or so to achieve, just about 73 years since the end of the Second World War.

There were some brave voices like Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, George Galloway, Tariq Ramadan and so many others;and most recently this Irish MP Richard Boyd Barrett (see YouTube below).  

I also have the privilege of meeting Chris, the Caucasian-American husband of another good friend Siti, who I met via this Blog.  Chris spent much  of his adult years as an aid worker in the West Bank, helping, among other things,  to teach English to the childen.  Chris is now 70-ish and is almost crippled by respiratory problems from all the tear gas he and his pupils were subjected to by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force).  

Siti sent me this video at 7 am this morning.  Through Siti, I am in touch with our common concerns and interests, issues like Palestine/Gaza and Islamophobia.




A CAVEAT. It is necessary - almost compulsory - that when you embark on any attempt to speak up for the Gazans and Palestinians , you have to declare you are not anti-Semitic.  I am not anti-Semitic or anti any one because of their colour or their religion or race.  Those like me who criticise Israel - a Goliath state against a 'David' political entity like Palestine/Gaza - for their racist/apartheid policy are not anti-Jew or anti-Semitic. We take up cudgels for the underdog, any underdog, in whatever shape or size, or form or colour.

I have written 27 postings and I cannot find any more words to express my thoughts for Palestine/Gaza without repeating myself.  This - at this time of our celebration after fasting in the holy month of Ramadan - is all I can put together. In no way can this shed any hope or light for our fellow Muslims in Gaza.  Unlike Chris who puts his money and health where his mouth is, AsH is just a keyboard supporter, albeit after some years of  dashing from Leicester to London, a hundred miles away, with the spouse, attending protest marches and meetings in support of Gaza and Palestine and the anti-war movement in the capital.  Then; the spirit and the flesh were able and willing.  Today, only the fighting (but weary) spirit is left.  I have to exchange the streets of London and Leicester for just this keyboard.


All children deserve a happy and secure childhood.  I was blessed with that and so did the spouse and all of our extended family in Malaysia and Paekakariki, New Zealand.

Here are the voices of children from Palestine/Gaza.  Remember Me they ask us.








 








The spouse and I are life-long supporters of MAP (Medical Aid For Palestinians).  Since 1990, they have been sending us their newsletters and  Annual Reports.  This came, if my memory serves me well,  after the 2008/2009 attack by the IDF.

I wonder if these children managed to grow into adults, unmaimed and healthy.  And if they did, I hope they are still alive and keeping up the fight for their homeland.