Monday, September 29, 2008

shopping at jln TAR

the balik kampung exodus is supposed to be happening now, but if you ask me, there are still many KLites around. yesterday i went to Jln TAR and Jln Masjid India to find some tudung and other knick knacks. the parking lot at Sogo at 9.40 am is what you can call almost sardine packed. well, i may be exaggerating, but usually on any other day, at 9.40 you can find lots of empty parking lots. but yesterday, i had to go down to Basement 2. and this was at 9.40 am. by 11 am the police already blocked the road to the Sogo parking area.

there were people everywhere that makciks selling tudung couldnt give that special attention to a particular customer. had to walk a lot to find a particular colour of anak tudung to match my tudung. then i spent some time buying Korean brooches and then bought raya shoes (pink, what else) at Sogo. while i was walking i saw a stall selling ketupat pulut and serunding daging. oh yum! but my energy waned fast as i felt discomfort in my throat and realised that the lethargy i felt was because of the sore throat. so after more than 3 hours at jln TAR, i went home, and slept for an hour.

Monday, September 22, 2008

countdown to raya

the heatwave of raya is finally felt. it is kind of difficult for me, being alone here without my family, but the thought that i will be with them soon makes the last few days bearable. plus, i 've started playing the raya songs, just to be in the mood. and while listening to the songs, i sew the beads on my plain pink woven silk baju kurung.

i've searched for a youtube for anuar and elina's raya song. please click on the title to listen to the song.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

aching feet for a delicious fare

my friend zana asked us the 5ilmu girls for the recipe for nasi kerabu. at first i wasnt thinking about it, until yesterday. an image of fried grated coconut spiced with ginger and pepper sprinkled on white rice with that fragrant and appetising turmeric leaf was just too much for me to bear.

so after school, i went to the local market to get some herbs (daun kesum, daun selasih and some other fragrant leaves which i dont know the name) and turmeric leaves. bought a salted egg, some otak-otak (god, i'm thinking of kuala kemaman's famous otak-otak now) and ayam percik. ah, the works!

got home and i immediately made the kerabu consisting of white grated coconut, ground mix of onion, fish, pepper and ginger. it took a long time to fry the coconut though. my feet are still aching from standing for too long. anyway, everything was perfect. fried the keropok keping, boiled the egg, finely sliced the herbs.

then i remembered. i have no budu*. the last time when i cleared the kitchen, i threw it away.

ah can't have everything.

by the way, one last word. to enjoy nasi kerabu, you MUST eat it with turmeric leaf, as it really whets one's appetite. trust me, as someone who really loves her food, i should know.

*in terengganu, nasi kerabu is usually white and eaten with budu. in kelantan, the rice is blue in colour, and they have a special sauce made from santan for it. just like terengganu's nasi dagang is white, while kelantan nasi dagang is made from red rice. however, now all nasi kerabu sold in terengganu is blue in colour. i prefer the white rice.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


making changes is all the rage now in malaysia. whether it's a prominent, big-scaled change or a small-scaled one, it's a change nonetheless, that will change our lives or our views.

once upon a time, i was ready to embrace that change. although i was trained to become an educator, my passion lies in writing, so much so that i was offered to become a journalist before my graduation. alas, my mother opposed to the idea as it meant that i had to work in KL, and she wanted me to serve the people (and serve the 7 year "itch" contract with the ministry) in my hometown. i remember there were tears of disappointment, watching the opportunity go by. i remember my friend dina who told me to hold on and not to sink into idleness and lose that spark.

four years later, i made a change as i decided to further studies. it's a big change as i had to tread into the unknown. i wanted the change, but it was scary. but it was good, in the sense that i was able to mingle with the academicians and my coursemates, who came from all walks of life. i was taught in a boarding school and later on in a tesl programme which only allowed bumiputeras in. when i did my masters, i had the opportunity to be friends with the other races and to learn about their cultures. it wasnt an odd thing at all to eat at a banana leaf restaurant or to have dinner at a vegetarian restaurant with my chinese and indian friends, discussing literary theories and novels. academically, i was enlightened. i marvelled at the genius works of the writers, and discussed and argued with coursemates over some theories that we were learning. i had taught myself to think critically.

the good academic life came to an end when my 2 year sabbatical was up, and i was reposted back to my hometown, to a new school. i must say that i love this school, as the students are generally well-behaved.

but good things must come to an end too. my darkest hour was when my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer. the family reeled from the news. my mother is a woman of strength, but to see her lose hope was heartbreaking. but she regained her willpower to live, and decided to stay among her other children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. and because of that i had to learn to finally live on my own, something i had wished for when i was 24. it was a novelty for me at first, but when there're 2 break ins, you began to feel fear. such circumstances force me to make another change, which is to ask for a transfer to where my family is.

although i yearn to be with my family, i do not want to leave my house, which had been my cocoon for the past 30 years (except for the few years when i was at school and the uni). and this saddens me greatly.

changes do not happen overnight. the physical changes can happen overnight (or in the case of my tummy, in 2 weeks) but it's our pysche that is slower to accept changes and to adapt. it takes a strong person to make changes. but somehow we have to change, as it's only through change that we advance in life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the promise of a new day

my erudition in literature has led me to some satisfying and thought-provoking read, so much so that i make the effort of collecting seminal works by prominent writers and philosophers.

in the light of the interesting scenario in our country, i would like to share with you Jean-Jacques Rousseau's (rousseau is a French philosopher, and this book influenced the French Revolution) words. in his book "The Social Contract", Rousseau says

"Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they."

in other words, the notion of controlling or having power over someone leads back to the person itself, as it binds and enslaves him, leaving him with no other alternative to break free from his notion.

we sometimes forget that we're put here for a reason, although one might say that this was the result of one man's weakness over a woman's request once upon a time in Eden. anyway, sometimes we're caught in a mayhem, that we cant seem to stop ourselves. we enjoy the ride so much that we forget about the others, that we assume that this is our right, and we plan to keep it permanent. enjoying the ride leads Napoleon to say in The Animal Farm "all are equal, but some are more equal than the others".

this leads me to Homi Bhabha's theory in The Location of Culture, in which he opines that in setting the narrative of the nation, it is the people who decide and shape the narrative, despite the rulers' efforts to mould the people.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Month of Deeds

in previous Ramadhans, i had written about my recollection of nostalgic moments during Ramadhan in my childhood - of how certain foods and routines define the Ramadhan for me.

this year though, i wont be talking about nostalgia. it'll be kinda boring to repeat, dont you agree?

this year i'll be talking about Ramadhan with frankness.

i always believe that as we grow older, we should strive to better ourselves - spiritually, mentally and socially. most of us strive hard in the social and mental department. but how many strive for the betterment of the spiritual?

although towards the second half of the previous year i had suffered a lot of family problems, i realised that those obstacles had to happen so as to make me a better muslimah. the problems were too much for me to handle and i just lost control. and i hate losing control. finally, i made the best decision - to perform umrah. but before going to madinah, i faced another obstacle. so much so that i questioned whether i was ready for the spiritual journey.

however, that was the best experience i had so far. i've seen eiffel tower, i've been to stonehenge, saw the white cliffs at Dover Beach, i've seen the tiny fairy penguins at phillips island and been chased by a fat sheep just outside melbourne; but these are vacations, and are incomparable to the spiritual journey.

to see the magnificent minarets and the big gold doors of Nabawi Mosque was a feast to the eyes. just like to be able to see the intricate ceilings inside, and to be able to enter and pray in Raudhah, a piece of Eden on earth. when we arrived in mekah, we chanted the talbiyah, which made me weep. the best part was when we finally saw the most recognised building in the world, the Masjidil Haram, and Baitullah in the center. i think masjidil haram has the most beautiful and intricate carved ceilings which reminded me of a cake with icing. the lamps reminded me of Aladdin. but to actually pray in masjidil haram, to tawaf and saie there - was the greatest. i must admit that it was hot and dry over there, and one would have thought that since Kaaba is in the center of Masjidil Haram and isnt covered with a roof, it'll be hot. but surprisingly, when i tawafed there, there was gentle wind blowing (no, it's not from the air conditioning unit, nor did it come from the fans and nor was it the typical wind you have over there, because believe me, the wind there is dry), and it was cooling. i remember my friend As told me that as the pilgrims are tawafing Kaaba', the angels are also tawafing at a place in heaven directly above the Kaaba'. i felt at peace there, that i didnt even remember the troubles that i had before i went on the journey.

i remember our muttawif, ustaz masytoor, who reminded us to be better muslims when we returned to malaysia, and not to slacken or suffer a relapse. i didnt feel so much the first2-3 weeks, as i was busy with family weddings and later, school camps and debates. but after that, i started to read a book by Imam Ghazali who wrote about how to conduct the daily lives the islamic way. and it has helped me so much. deep conversations with some also helped me to become who i am today. because of fear of being alone, i turn to God for help, and believe in his protection, so much so that for the first time, i experienced total peace and contentment, i could feel God's love for me. this is what is called sakinah, or tranquility. it is the most beautiful feeling which didnt last long - when i started #$@%$# the madam upstairs.

god says if you stay with me, i'll help you, and he did. i dont feel suffocated or restless like i used to feel before i turned a new leaf. prayers are not seen as a burden, but more of a communication, a sign of gratitude, and humility. if before, i viewed certain deeds as taxing, now it's not taxing anymore, when you just give your spiritual self a chance.

i must admit that the ramadhan has more challenges this year in spiritual sense, but this does not deter me in the quest of becoming a good muslimah.

happy fasting to all muslims, and hope that you'll be blessed with sakinah like i did.