Thursday 31 December 2009

Lidah Tidak Bertulang - The Spineless Tongue

Tonight is the last night of 2009. For the past year my mind and thoughts have dwelt much on the bloodbath in Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan.
The Chilcot Inquiry on the war in Iraq has dredged up once again my despair and anger at the unrelenting sufferings of the Iraqis, the Afghanis, the Gazans and Palestinians and especially the culpability of that "holy huckster", Tony Blair.
He is due to appear in the Inquiry in the new year and so far the situation has been getting a little hot for him. Fortunately he was given a chance to smoothen his path when the BBC granted him a slot to appear on its religious programme on December the 13th. Here's an extract.

Question :If you had known then that there were no WMD, would you still have gone in?
TB :I would still have thought it right to remove him...Obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.

Why is it right for TB (and GW Bush) to dispense with the Rule of Law to invade another sovereign state? "He's arrogant, deluded, and dictatorial, a classic self-righteousness," said one commentator. Iraqis and Afghanis (and in the present climate Iranians, Yemenis and Somalians too)are regarded as lesser humans in need of his ex-High Anglican and Catholic guidance - a typical evangelical mindset.
In 2006 on Parkinson's ITV1 chatshow, Blair said to the host that he had prayed while deciding whether to send troops to Iraq. "In the end there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people..and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well." Was he praying for the civilians of Iraq as well as his troops?


The Bible describes the Seven Deadly Sins as : Pride, Envy, Wrath, Avarice, Sloth, Gluttony and Lust.
Since leaving Number 10 Downing Street, TB has accumulated a lot of feathers to line his nest.
1. £4.6 million for his memoirs.
2. £2 million from his 'job' with JP Morgan, the investment bank.
3. £1/2 million from Zurich Financial Services.
4. £84,000 taxpayers' money to run a private office and an annual pension of £63,468
5. He is the most expensive public speaker with a 2-year waiting list for bookings. His 'customers' must be prepared to cough up £90k for a 20-minute speech.
6. Recently, (February 2009,)the Dan David Foundation of Tel Aviv awarded a $1 million prize for his "exceptional leadership and steadfast determination in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions to areas in conflict". (???? what agreement? what solution? which areas of conflict?)
A caveat here. I bear no fellow human any envy - no matter how famous and popular and wealthy they are.

So, when TB came to Malaysia in August 2008 to give the University of Malaya 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture on "Upholding the Rule of Law: A Reflection", what was the hire-fee? I attended that lecture and I was stuck between amusement and disbelief listening to this fox lecturing the poultry farmers on how to protect their hens and their hen-house!!!
I also remember this posting by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar on August the 5th, 2008 about TB's Lecture.
"...Mr Blair presented the key aspects of the subject winningly and poignantly, lending important validation to what it is civil society has been saying for more than two decades now: an independent and competent justice system is crucial to democracy and the sustainable growth of a nation."
However, according to TB's countrymen, during his watch he presided over the erosion of civil liberties and the politicization of the upper echelons of the Civil Service. Spin and 'sofa government' was the hallmark of his premiership.
As for the War, MIS wrote:
"I do not intend to put Mr Blair on a pedestal, but leaving aside his more questionable decisions including those on Iraq - I know of no leader whose every decision has been universally acceptable and if we are going to accuse Mr Blair of war crimes then we should be accusing those who wield the ISA for political purposes of crimes against humanity - here was, simply put, a world class leader."

I am as stunned today as I was then when I first read that review in 2008! (I did a posting on this review on September 27, 2008 - Disqualified Disquiet - Revisiting Malik Imtiaz Sarwar).
Tony Blair's countryman and a credible journalist with The Guardian, The Observer and New Statesman had this to say: ".....widespread contempt for the man who has made millions while Iraqis die in their hundreds of thousands due to havoc unleashed by the illegal invasion, and who with, breathtaking arrogance seems to regard himself as above the rules of international law." - Neil Clark.

Finally, congratulations to Mr Malik Imtiaz Sarwar on winning the 2009 Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award on April 2009 - for his fight against injustice. He's lucky that he is a Malaysian and his pond is small, not like the Iraqis and Afghanis or Palestinians who are fighting and dying for justice and their human rights in the cesspool of Western neo-imperialism.

Inikah dia lakunan hidup
Dipentas dunia insan berpura.
Tipu dan daya mencapai maksud.
Budi dan harta merangkum noda.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Internet Blues - A Photo Gallery.

Our internet collapsed on Monday morning and left us bereft, quite lost and lonely ......

...... cast adrift like two old ships-two old bucket ships rather.
The technician came on Tuesday afternoon and repaired the damage to the cable box.
On the right is our repaired box and to the left is what the neighbour's box looked like.
However we were not the only ones. This is on the other side of the road. The technician said he had to do three more along our road.
Oh well - vandals, savages, hooligans, louts, barbarians - they are also alive and well in lugubrious Leicester. In Leicester dialect (loghat Leicester) the ensuing conversation will look like this.
Y'had vandals aint yer? Wossit bad?
Hour fuming
(I was fuming)
Ah, no harm done. (so everything will be O.K.)
That's a dead cert! (that is absolutely certain)
Still, hav' met wuss. (I've met worse)
Bleeders, some on um. (terrible, some of them)

So, I spent the time sorting out my collection of recipe leaflets- carrying out a rebooting - sort of.
Cut and paste into my Premier Recipe Book, 'The Yummiest'
My other venerable Recipe Books. They're a dead giveaway as to where I've been.

We went for our usual walk to Victoria Park - very refreshing and inebriating.
There is life without the Internet. WE ARE NOT ALONE.

P.S. After reading this post, the spouse held up his hands in supplication and pleaded, "Oh help!! I want a different wife."
The wife's riposte. "Shurrup or I'll knock yer one." Translation: "Be quiet... I'm liable to be quite violent."

Sunday 27 December 2009

Remember, Remember the Cull of December

To cull is to kill surplus animals. It also means to kill the weakest unwanted members.
To Israel, Palestinians are unwanted for the sake of Greater Israel. They are weak because they do not have the sympathy and support of the World's Superpower. In the Israeli dictionary Palestinians are likened to animals-they are regarded as cockroaches-to be squashed.
A year ago, almost to the day, Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead and in the carnage, 1400 Palestinians were killed. Of these, 773 were civilians and among them were 412 children and teenagers under the age of 18 and 110 women. Between 27Dec to 17 Jan 2009 there were 13 Israeli dead of which 3 were civilians. Of the 10 soldiers killed, 4 died because of 'friendly fire'. Of course these figures will be disputed but when the Goliath state of Israel (with the backing of their Godfather USA) attacks puny Gaza any cretin can tell who pays the price.

As 2010 is just round the corner the media here are caught up with celebrating and categorising highlights of world events between 2000 to 2009 - the Noughties.

The website The First Post did a picture gallery of 21 photos to signify this period.
In their list are 1. Fireworks at Tower Bridge on Dec. 31 to celebrate the Millenium 2. The actor Ricky Gervais in the sitcom "The Office". 3. A New York firefighter on September 11 2001 4. Osama bin Laden who claimed responsibility for Sept 11 5. Bush, Blair and Rice at Crawford Texas in April 2002 6. Jade Goody leaves Big Brother in 2002 7. H5N1 Avian flu 8. The toppling of Saddam's statue on April 9, 2003 9. Britain's top model Kate Moss 2004 10. The Harry Porter movie 2004 11. The Asian Tsunami 2004 12. Burial of Pope John Paul II 2005 13. The London Bomb of 7.7.2005 14.Hurricane Katrina 15 Apple unveils the iPhone, 2007 16. Uganda Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leaving Court 2007 17. Pro-democracy demonstration in Burma 2007 18. Usain Bolt who won the 200m at the Beijing Olympics in August 2008 19. Lehman Brothers employee leaving the Company HQ. This collapse triggered the financial shockwave of September 2008 20. Street art portrayal of Obama in New York, the first black (should actually be categorised as dual culture) President in November 2008 and 21. Michael Jackson's daughter during his memorial service of July 2009.

Note the marked absence of pictures of the bloodbath in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza. It is as if Item 17 for instance, has more credibility and significance than the deaths in Gaza. More ominous-in the invasion of Gaza-is the systematic and almost total destruction of Gaza's infrastructure. Today Gaza depends on 1,200 tunnels into Egypt to overcome the Israeli blockade and secure their supply of food and other necessities. Of course these are regarded as 'smuggling' tunnels.

To balance the above list, I would like to add this photograph.
The bodies of Palestinians are laid out at Shifa Hospital in Gaza after Israeli missile strikes. Photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters.

For the First Post's Picture Gallery of The Noughties , check http://www.the

He ain't heavy, he's my brother. Really????
Boy, you're gonna carry that weight - The Beatles.

Friday 25 December 2009


Thank you Puniks2112 for a brilliant video.
The smell of blood from the invasion of Gaza by Israel is still in the air. It is the same with the plight of Afghanistan and Iraq who are under the yoke of western Occupation and still suffering the bloody aftermath. Each year Britain commemorates the death of their soldiers during the First and Second World Wars. As for Israel, she is determined that the world does not forget the Holocaust. So we also need to remember the deaths of innocents in our 'part' of the world, the causes and consequences of the invasion by the neo-Crusade alliance of USA, Britain, Europe, Australia, Canada and other non-Caucasian sycophant countries.
When I recently got back to Britain I was amused to hear of another inquiry into the War on Iraq - the Chilcot Inquiry. After the Butler and Hutton Reports what difference will this one make? The panel consists of 4 knights of the realm ranging from two historians, a career civil servant, a career diplomat and a non-British-Bumiputra woman, Baroness Usha Prashar. It's all very PC.
Although this is supposed to be a legalistic inquiry, no QC or Senior Judge-who have the legal training to be sharp and astute during cross-examination-is included. There are no representatives from the military and witnesses are not obliged to speak under oath. But then one can mislead, be economical with the truth, oversimplify the case and still escape censure and accountability. Furthermore all the members were personally chosen by the PM Gordon Brown.

This is a common question that children would ask of their fathers who fought in the First and Second World Wars. (It's also the title of a comedy.) Here are some of the answers given by witnesses to explain Daddy Tony's deeds in the War in Iraq.
1. According to Tony Blair (TB) Saddam had a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which could be used against Britain within 45 minutes. Britain's former ambassador to US, Sir Christopher Meyer said to the panel on the 26th of November "We found ourselves scrabbling for the smoking gun ......we now bloody well have got to try and prove that he's (Saddam) guilty .......of course there was no smoking gun."
2.Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's former ambassador to the UN told the panel on the 16th of December that the invasion was such a "catastrophic success" that they were
"left holding the baby" without the materials, the resources and the know-how to organise a post-war reconstruction. Greenstock, who worked with TB to lobby the UN to support the War also said though the War was of 'questionable legitimacy' it is unlikely to be proved illegal! So why the Inquiry?
3.The former Attorney General and a buddy of TB, Lord Goldsmith, claimed that the PM was given a memo informing him that an attack on Iraq would be illegal, 8 months before the invasion. TB was also advised that getting rid of Saddam was in breach of international law. According to the Independent, on November 29 the letter was already in the hands of the panel.
It amuses me no end to read the revelations made by these Mandarins about the slip-sliding shenanigans of their great Leader. This display of their principles during cross-questioning- after the War Horse had bolted-I find very cynical and self-serving.

So now we have been enlightened. The attack on Iraq was illegal.
However, such a line of pursuit is a distraction. It is not just a simple dichotomy between legal and illegal, between good and evil or between right and wrong. We are not living in the 'barbaric' Middle Ages when clouting your weaker neighbour is an acceptable norm. We are supposed to have developed our human-ness beyond that. But the powerful are still working with the same barbaric motivation and agenda and then dressing up their greed and avarice with 'hurrah' weasel words like human rights and freedom and democracy. Iraq simply means oil. But again the reasons are not that simple. Iran and Iraq sit on 20% of the world's reserve. Although Saudi Arabia is an ally holding 25% of global reserve, she is also under pressure from her neighbours. It is difficult for the US to contemplate coping with 3 Muslim nations holding 45% of the world's oil reserve. Some other modus operandi must be considered given America's 'suspicion' of the Middle East and the Muslim world. Their resort to brute force will not meet with the turning of the other cheek. Violence begets violence and you cannot square the circle.
Anyway TB and the Blairites are very upset about all the 'distasteful' exposure and the effect on his reputation. But he really need not worry about finding himself hauled into the International Court of Justice. That place only caters to Serbs like Milosevic and in the near future-as many western liberals are baying for his blood- the President of Sudan.

The whole show reminds me of that children's story "Belling the Cat". So, are they men or mice? The cat, after all, escaped.
I end this posting like I began - with another schoolyard taunt at the enquiring authorities and their actors:


Monday 21 December 2009

Rindu Abah (Missing Dad) (CsH)

A week or so after our nephew Mahzan and his wife Sabrina left for the Hajj, their 10-year old Nabilla, while getting ready to go to bed in her grandparents' room, confided to her Tok Wan, " Tok, Bella rindu Abah". Nadia, her elder sister added, "Nadia pun sama, tok". Tok Wan then advised them to always remember to doa (pray) for their parents' health and safety. (Earlier posting on Nadia and Nabilla on 23rd May 2009)

35 years ago, on December 20th 1974, my Abah passed away. I have these photographs to record snippets of his life-a wonderful father and a man of honour. My dad, the bachelor heartthrob. While working in the Straits Settlements as a Health Inspector in Selangor he was quite a lad, running around on his BSA or Norton (?) motorbike, frequently doing the run from Pekan ,Pahang through Raub and then via Fraser's Hill and back to KL. Quite often he would be doing this at night especially over the weekend. He had a scar about 8 inches long on his right leg-a legacy of his wild woolly days. But that's my Abah - he enjoyed his youth and did no harm to nobody. He did not marry Kamisah until he was 31!
Abah's Sanitary Health Inspector's Certificate, 1934.
After the war, Abah was given the job of supervising the clean-up of the British Army's premises. At GCHQ Tanglin he and his workers found a room full of opium left behind by the Japanese. Several of his workers suggested that they should keep this cache and not inform the authorities. Abah ignored their 'advice' and that explains why our family is not one of the top 100 richest Malay taukehs. He very often reminded us that he can not leave us a legacy of money, houses and land (like some of my uncles in KL). He can only afford to give us a good education-something "nobody can take away from you".
My groovy dad in an Indiana Jones posture before Hollywood came on the scene. This was taken sometime just after the war, at Changi if my memory is right.
My very favourite photo of Abah wearing his John Lennon spectacles (well, almost) even before JL became part of the Beatles.
Abah at work as a Health Instructor at the School of Health, RAMC or the Royal Army Medical Corp, Nee Soon, Singapore. He retired in 1968.
Our last family photo (circa late 1950s or early 60s) before we all grew up and became too busy for such formalities.
Hamid and Kamisah on holiday (1968) at The Gap, Fraser's Hill. He called her 'Cha'.

On the 20th of December, 1974, my father passed away. My sister and family were living in Batu Pahat, my brother Mus and his wife had just gone home to their flat in Jurong, my late brother Akim had rushed out to call the ambulance and I was 6000 miles away pursuing my post-graduate studies in London. My mum recalled his last few moments. He said to her " Satu tak ada, semua tak ada, ya Cha? Hanya kita bedua" (As one is not here, it's fair that it's only just you and I) He recited his Syahadah and passed away peacefully with Kamisah's arms wrapped around him.
I flew home knowing I won't even be in time for the funeral. I was the last one home.
As soon as I entered the room, Abah's clock on the wall stopped. My mother handed me a folded item of clothing. It was my father's t-shirt, what he wore when he passed away. "Your Abah told me in a dream last night to give this to you," said my Mother.
I clutched the t-shirt and held it tight against my face. That scent still lingers till today.

Bella and Nadia, I know just how you "rindu Abah". Tok ngah never stop missing her Abah as well.
The 'new' grave at Pusara Abadi after the re-internment. They made a mistake about the date. It should be 1974, not 1976.

Al-Fatiha to Abah and Akim. And Al-Fatiha to Mak too.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Image and Outrage

Sometime in October 2009 the German and Israeli Embassies protested to Museum officials in Thailand against a billboard depicting Adolf Hitler. The authorities apologised for causing offence. The German ambassador described the advertisement as 'tasteless'.

There was quite a brouhaha (the very same word used to describe Muslims' protest of 'Satanic Verses') over a church billboard in New Zealand which sought to 'challenge stereotypes' about Jesus Christ. "The Catholic Church, among others, has condemned it as 'inappropriate' and 'disrespectful'." The spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Auckland said the poster was offensive to Christians.
A cover-up of the offence.

Another example of an offensive depiction of a Christian festival.

Above is a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. In December 2008 the Mexican edition of Playboy magazine- on its cover- published a photograph of a nude model to resemble the Virgin. The outcry of devout (not extremist like the Muslims who protested against the anti-Muslim Danish Cartoons) Christians forced Playboy Enterprise US Headquarters to apologize.

A few years ago, President Sarkozy of France sued the makers of the voodoo doll made in his image. He lost the case, the dolls remained on sale but they had to carry a label saying they are offensive to President Sarkozy. With the Satanic Verses-when Hesham al-Essawy, the chairman of the Society for the Promotion of Religious Tolerance asked the publishers to include an erratum slip explaining the historical events on which the fictional structure was built, neither the publishers nor Rushdie responded. When Essawy spoke to Rushdie on a train in February 1989 about putting in a disclaimer, Rushdie said, "You want me to apologize. I will not apologize. Go away or I will fetch the Guard." (The Independent, 16.2.89) antidote to all the simplifications and hidden agendas in the press, policy and publications by 'popular writers on Islam who so often seem driven by hate, profits or notoriety'?? (L.F. Sherman)


Saturday 19 December 2009

A Messy Story

Eight in the morning on Saturday 19 December 2009

Messy Reflections in My Room

It had been a messy 10 days. They say people tend to suffer SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder when they don't get enough sunlight. I suppose that's why the inhabitants of the tropics always (maybe just most of the time) look happy and are full of smiles, especially the children. In comparison- while wandering in Leicester's City Centre- I noticed how the wrapped-up kids tend to look grouchy and miserable. I think what they want is a good dose of sunshine when they can run around like happy rabbits- just like my sister's grandchildren in Kuala Lumpur.
For me, the Mess had nothing to do with the weather because I love the bracing cold. I know there's something wrong with my body-thermostat because I can better withstand the cold than my temperate spouse. And he is more comfortable in the heat while I perspire like an over-exercised horse - with beads and sometimes rivulets of sweat dripping down my face and back.
Anyway my SAD of the past week had more to do with inclement man-made reasons just like the causes of global warning.
Firstly, I had to figure out why my Halifax Visa Credit Card which had been terminated since 2008 was still making deductions from my bank account. I know I had paid up all my outstanding balances.
The Halifax branch in Leicester could not or did not want to help. I had to make umpteen phone calls which got me nowhere. One even suggested I should just pay it all up because of the high interest rate! So, I spent days sorting out paperwork from 2008 and 2009 so that I could write to somebody who can explain and stop this hijack of my savings by a defunct Credit Card Company.
As if this wasn't enough, the washing machine started getting bolshie. The door refused to open at the end of the wash. I pushed several buttons and rotated 2 knobs to get it to work, but to no effect. In exasperation, I gave it a hard kick and switched it off at the wall, which I'm not supposed to do. Then I pushed and pulled at the door and it was open sesame! I now have to find the courage to try working that bl..... machine once again - while the dirty laundry keeps piling up.
Then the radiator in our bedroom began to malfunction. CUBAAN! (Shh..ugar!). I really should not gripe about this because the two occupants in this house were also in the same condition. It is my job to 'bleed' the radiators because the mechanical geek in me loved doing this - to unlock the screw, listen to the hissing bubbles and the hot water rising to the top. I can then happily exclaim "job done!". I know- it's sad isn't it? But no- it gave up the ghost on me, the hot water refused to rise to the occasion and we had to do what every householder feared. We had to call in the plumber. The clutter in the room had to be cleared. The plumber promised to come at 4 pm but we had to wait another 24 hours before he turned up. As for the ensuing mess, it's best left to the imagination.
About 15 years ago, when I realised how a plumber is more valuable than a doctor, I decided to sign up for a FREE course in plumbing, for women only, organised by the City Council. However, as I was not a single mum and I was reckoned as not being 'poor' enough, I was rejected. How poor must you be to qualify? Isn't a wife a deserving case too? Anyway I discovered later that the course was cancelled - not enough takers.
When I was about 10, I confided to my Abah that when I grow up I would like to be a train driver. He gave me an indulgent smile which said " we'll wait and see, shall we?".
I bought my first car- an open-top MG Midget with a souped up 1200cc engine, spoke- wheels and all, registration number SL 2009 at the age of 22. I thought it would be useful for me to attend a Mechanic's course at one of the night classes. I was serious but the calling of a wild hedonistic life beckoned. Anyway I can always depend on my brother who was crazy about cars and a lovingly-useful father to call upon.

"The Day When Everything Went Wrong" was a must composition title during my schooldays. This is my version. Just change 'Day' to 'Days'.
But teacher never gave us this reward of a woman-made banana cake and man-made date cake and a mug of hot tea. Cheers!

Friday 11 December 2009

From AsH's Stockpile

I'm at it again. When you reach my age there's no end of 'junk' to clear up. This has been my usual pattern whenever I come back to Leicester. Although some of my best bits have migrated to KL there are still lots of mucky treasures to look over with nostalgic affection.
When I was teaching English Language at USM Penang in the early 1990s I met and taught a variety of students. Most of them were fresh 'A' Level 'graduates' and quite a handful were mature students, mainly teachers doing an Education Degree.Most wonderful of all, they were a bagful of Malaysians - of Malaysian Chinese, Indians, Malays, Eurasians and bumiputras from Sarawak and Sabah. It was a privilege for me to teach them. It was a 2-way process because I learned much from them as well.
My saddest experience was when one of my students-a teacher and a father of two- came into my room for a talk. With tears in his eyes he described a fracas he had with his lecturer, a local Professor. This academic had a habit of coming late for lectures and departing early or sometimes not turning up at all. In my parlez - from years of teaching - we would classify this pendidek(educator) as a kaki ponteng or raja tuang (rabid skiver). This student of mine had reminded this academic (not rudely, according to the former) that there was still 15 mins to go. All this Professor had to say to punish and reduce this teacher to a heap of tears was - " Awak ingat ya - siapa mentimun, siapa durian" (You had better remember this - who is the durian and who's the cucumber) - a threat, an ominous one by someone powerful. SPOKEN LIKE A TYPICAL COWARD FROM MALAY FEUDAL TIMES. Despite all the expensive education heaped on this Malay Professor, it has all been a waste I reckon. "Seperti kera di beri bunga." (like giving a flower to a gibbon).
My advice to my mature student when he asked for one? Through gritted teeth I had to counsel him to apologise to this Panglima Pendidek (The Warrior-Educator).

Me no speakee Engleesh

Most of my students were too scared to speak in English even during tutorials especially these 3 Malay girls from Malaya. Strangely enough the undergrads from Sabah and Sarawak were far more proficient in written and spoken English notwithstanding their racial background! (In fact my blind reflexologist in KL who comes from Sarawak was more confident in speaking English than some of those undergrads in USM). As for my 3 Malay girls, I called them over to my room and asked why they refused to participate in tutorial discussions. Their answer was to be expected. They were embarrassed in case people laughed at their lack of proficiency. They were often mocked by their fellow-Malay mates and teachers for being orang putih celup (an Uncle Tom), for reneging on their language and culture. Haven't I heard that before, many, many times? Seperti katak dibawah tempurung (like the frog under the coconut shell). Well, after spending 1-2 hours/week discussing various topics in English in my room, my three lasses, after a month or so began to take part actively during tutorials. I could see them stumbling-but with much courage and dignity-'not to disappear'. Their classmates were happy for them and their triumph over their handicap was one of the best memories I have of teaching in USM.
Oh, there are many other stories from these students of mine who were doing my course of HEK 201. I gave them a copy of this poem by Pablo Neruda, which I thought summarised some of their challenges and agonies.Please click on the text to get a better read. It's worth looking at and I apologise for my stumbling undignified technology. Just being "my same old lazy self".
A snippet from the last stanza:
But when I call upon my dashing being,
out comes the same old lazy self,
and so I never know just who I am,
Nor how many I am; nor who we will be being.
I would like to be able to touch a bell
and call up my real self, the only me,
because if I really need my proper self,
I must not allow myself to disappear.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Nasi Goreng Kampung in a Cold Climate

We left for Leicester a week ago today. I've satisfied my craving for fish fingers, chips at the market, marmite on toast, toasted hot cross buns with lashings of butter and a 5-star home-cooked meal of mushroom omelette,steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.
This morning I could not bear it anymore - I had to have my own 'native' food. I fried sliced onion, 2 pieces of garlic, 5-month old chili powder, ikan bilis,peas and leftover rice and voila we had nasi goreng kampung (kampung style fried rice) for breakfast. And the piece de resistance was sliced chili padi which never fails to bring the spouse to ecstatic heights! Oh joy unlimited. You can take the woman out of the kampung but you cannot take the kampung out of the woman.

The hand that holds the spatula ......... sedaaaap! yummy!

My Precious, my precious (with apologies for stealing Smeagol's lines) ikan bilis and cili padi.

"I didn't realise I could miss Malay food so quickly." quoth Donald Iain Buchanan.

Friday 4 December 2009

Ticket to Ride

The National Express coach pulled in at Toddington Services because of faulty windscreen wipers. The wipers met in the middle-got into a tight embrace and after a clackety time they separated. The driver, a Yorkshireman (it's easy to tell from his accent) called in reinforcements. The passengers bound for Nottingham and Milton Keyes were picked up by another coach and the one passenger for Manchester was sorted out in another coach. That left us-the only two bound for Leicester waiting to be picked up. Knowing our luck-it was quite a wait. Luckily the fitter came and corrected the errant wipers and we became the only two passengers in that big coach to be driven to Leicester. Does that sound familiar pickled herring?
While we were waiting we stared chatting to the driver and his name had to be Wayne!
From him we learned that :
1. There is no such thing as a National National Express because the services have been contracted out to various private companies. The uniform is the same, all the coaches have the same 'decor' but it is not a national transport provider.
2. The conversation came round to the topic of drivers, of the foreign drivers in the service. Wayne volunteered the information that in his company for instance 85% of the drivers are Polish - 'far too many' said Wayne. When we looked surprised he gave us a wry smile and said, "The boss's wife is Polish"!

Got back home at 11am, had a cup of tea and trotted down to our favourite Charity Shop to say hello to our friends. They were very pleased to see us and the feeling was mutual. Of course after the usual 'how are you' and 'how have things been' it came round to the usual 'you know, England is not the same anymore'. The topic then changed to that of the immigrants etc etc-of course the worst lot were the Somalis, we were told.
Later I mentioned to the spouse about how selective people are in their choice of immigrants to castigate. There are far more (white) East Europeans working and living in Britain than there are Somalis -at one time they numbered between half a million and 750,000 - a population bigger than the local Pakistanis or the West Indians. Now that jobs in Britain have run dry, many of them have gone home to their safe and secure motherland. ( I can imagine the same flight of foreign workers leaving Dubai for home now that Dubai is in dire financial trouble.). But however much British Bumiputeras want to see off the 'coloured' immigrants, the Somalis, unlike East Europeans have only a war-torn and famine-stricken home to go to. The British, and that includes the non-white British nationals are far more grudging about Somalis in Britain and happy to turn them into perpetual scapegoats. They keep their heads down when it came to East Europeans. Why? It's the preferred colour and religion.
I can see the sun shining as I look out of the window and so I have to go now for a refreshing walk in the park. No sweat!!

Tuesday 1 December 2009

A Winter's Tale

The journey back by Cathay Pacific was quite uneventful. We asked for Muslim food and what we got was excellent-certainly streaks ahead of MAS. For over 10 years we travelled by MAS but the service got more and more shoddy. We tolerated that and the awful food but when they started upping their price we gave up on them and opted for Emirates and Cathay Pacific despite the transit at Dubai and Hong Kong respectively. There is after all a threshhold to loyalty.
I've said this once and I'll say it again. Arriving at Heathrow is like entering a skip (a builder's large metal container for carrying away construction work rubble). It's a long, long walk to Immigration. It might do you good after sitting for 13 hours but not when you're also carrying your hand luggage. I do feel sorry for the elderly and those travelling with children. As for the trolleys, I reckon they belong to the dinosaur period, from the era before Thatcher. You have to be agile on your feet to maneuver these tyrannosaurus-trolleys. And you need eyes at the back of your head in case these trolley-creatures go amok and snap at your legs from the rear.

As I now carry a Malaysian passport I had to sort out my SWS (Settled With Spouse) visa to return to my second home, my spouse's home. At the KL British High Commission we were informed that Heathrow Immigration will stamp my Visa when I get there. So I showed the Officer the Visa on the old Passport- there was no trouble at all. And when I asked if he could stamp that visa on my new Passport he said he could do that a few years ago but not now unless-thanks to Gordon Brown (his words)- I'm willing to part with £300. He (the Immigration Officer, not GB) was a nice friendly bloke and said this fee, like hot air (my words) will keep on going up and advised me I should just travel with 2 passports in tow.

We then proceeded to pick up our luggage and on to the Central Bus Station to catch the National Express for Leicester. Well, the payment machine was not in working order, the Lounge was like a wind tunnel and when we moved to the bus bay it was like standing in an open field in winter with the cold wind blowing on your neck and somehow managing to find its way up your trousers as well. I could kill myself for not wearing longjohns. At least I had fat on me to ward off some of the cold but it was terrible for my skinny kacang panjang spouse. And oh yes, the clock registered 12.30 on one side and the correct time (7.30) on the opposite side. PUDURAYA - you a have a rival here!

We got into the coach which was as warm as toast and settled down to a snooze for the next 3-hour journey. It was raining hard and it was obvious the driver did not like this kind of driving. We found out later that he had been on the road since 11pm the night before. It was morning peak hour on the the M25 which was often described as the biggest parking lot in Britain because of the constant traffic jam. We got to the M1 and half an hour later the driver had to make an unscheduled stop at Toddington Services because of a technical problem with the coach. That episode deserves a different posting.

So goodnight to all back home in Malaysia and Singapore.