Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Miss You, Ayah.

It is customary for the Muslims of Malaysia to visit the graves of their loved ones the first day of Hari Raya. I am no exception but I make it a point to visit once a few days before the Hari Raya for the sole purpose of clearing the graves of creepers which seem to thrive very well in such  habitat. Mum and I used to do this together but ever since her knees were no longer able to bend without causing her great pain,  the task fell on me. Mum protested, insisting that she could still help me weed out those unwanted creepers but I firmly put my foot down. I will make another trip on the eve of the Raya and this time I will dutifully bring Mum along to pay her respects to Dad and Mum's parents.

Dad was buried in the Akar Peluru Muslim Cemetery Alor Setar in 1990 alongside my grandparents (Mum's parents), my uncle and two cousins who died when they were babies. So, sometimes other relatives beat me to the noble deed of cleaning the graves of our loved ones.

Last Friday, equipped with the necessary tools, xnuripilot and I headed for Akar Peluru. I prayed the ground would not be wet and muddy. It would then be a very, very sticky and messy affair. Surprisingly the ground was dry despite some rain a few days ago. I discovered no relatives had been here before me this time around.

I  wasted no time in tackling all those creepers.

Almost done.

Despite the grim and sombre atmosphere surrounding the cemetery, xnuripilot insisted that I take this picture of him!

Ok, done.  Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas roh mereka. Amin.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good News And Bad News

Just before Ramadhan I had my blood sample taken for a routined  6-monthly check  as ordered by the doctor who treated me for Hepatitis C. So, the morning of  24.08.10 was the scheduled appointment with the doctor. It was with some trepidation that I set out for Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital Alor Setar with xnuripilot at the wheel of my car. I always have this feeling everytime the blood test results are ready for the doctor to review.

As always, I sat down timidly while the doctor studied the results. I was overjoyed when he read out the results. Blood sugar 4.0. Cholesterol 5.3, a marked decrease of 1.0 from the previous test results and ALT 14.0. ALT of the liver function test is an indicator of a  Hepatitis infection and thus of great importance to people like me who have had the disease before. But, I was ordered to do a chest X-Ray after xnuripilot took it unto him to announce to the doctor that I have been coughing rather badly for the past few months!!!

My next appointment is less than two months away on the 19.10.2010. So much for the good news.

We left the hospital  in good spirits heading for Tesco,with me excitedly telling xnuripilot what I did to bring down my cholesterol level. After about 10 minutes of driving we had to stop when the traffic lights turned red and then the engine just stopped, too. xnuripilot hastily turned on the engine and it responded for a few seconds before it died down again. He repeated the process several times but the engine just refused to come back to life. There we were stranded right in the middle of the road and the cars behind us blaring their horns relentlessly with all their might.

xnuripilot managed to manouvre my BEB to the side of the road. He then called the mechanic for assistance. The mechanic decided the car had to be towed to the workshop. We were left with no choice.

Feeling somewhat dejected, we decided to walk a few metres away from the car to seek refuge from the hot Ramadhan sun, under a huge tree.

xnuripilot trying hard to act cool, calm and collected.

The stench from the heavily polluted river behind our resting place was unbearably nauseating. No wonder Leptospirosis is on the rise.

Surprisingly, the tow truck arrived in less than an hour. The ramp was lowered ready to pull up my car.


She was all ready to be strapped and buckled for her trip to the workshop.One problem solved. Now, how do we get to the workshop? Cabs are scarce here in Alor Setar. In fact, there wasn't even one in sight while we waited for the tow truck. So,...........

...........both xnuripilot and I clambered hurriedly into the front seat of the truck after seeking the driver's permission, of course! It was quite a comfortable ride, my first and hopefully my last, in a tow truck.

We arrived safely at the workshop and BEB was gently lowered down. xnuripilot paid RM120 for the towing service.

The mechanic turned on the ignition and she purred and hummed in total obedience much to the consternation of her owner. She was back to normal as if nothing had happened but we told the mechanic to investigate why she decided to behave that way without giving us any prior warning like she used to. She turns 8 this November 25. She is one of the very few luxuries that I just could not resist the moment I set my eyes on her. I acquired her fresh from the factory. She is not one of those revamped version. I just don't understand why she decided to play her childish pranks on us during Ramadhan, of all time. Having said all the above, she has never given me any trouble before except for the usual wear and tear stuff.

The mechanic replaced all her old spark plugs and she's back with us after having spent a night at the workshop. Last year xnuripilot had to tow his car in the same manner. Read his story here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love Thy Neighbour.......I Tried

Dengue is on the rise, with 95 deaths throughout the nation as at yesterday as compared to 63 for the same duration last year. There were two reported cases in my taman, Darulaman Heights a few weeks ago. Whom do we blame for this obviously blase attitude towards the disease. I think the culprits are the residents themselves. The pictures below are testaments to my theory.

This monsoon drain has ceased doing what drains are supposed to do. This picture was taken in front of my neighbour's house. It's the responsibility of  Majlis Daerah Kubang Pasu (MDKP) to clean up this drain but both they and the owner of the house are quite content with drains like these. After every heavy downpour, xnuripilot (my other half) has to lower himself down to clear up the debris that will be washed down. The thick undergrowth prevents them from flowing any further and if not removed will create a mini dam excellent for mosquitoes to breed. xnuripilot has written a letter to MDKP.

A cart load of the debris that was washed down after a recent heavy downpour.

I try to keep the monsoon drain in front of my house free from undergrowth. Maintaining this drain is the responsibility of xnuripilot, with  lots of  coaxing and nagging and monitoring by yours truly. 

This is the common drain at the back of my house shared by my Dato neighbour to the left of the drain and me. This is my territory because it is not as deep as the one in front. Every morning without fail, I will jump in and out to collect the leaves that have fallen inside. It is quite difficult to maintain your gait walking the whole narrow length of 110 feet so I jump in where the leaves are and out again to the next spot until all the spots are clear. It's almost like step-Reebok, except that each step here is thrice the height of step-Reebok. People say the work you do around the house does not have any cardio benefits. I suggest they try this. My house is on the right side of the picture so the grassy patch is also mine to maintain. The Dato and Datin never once stepped in this area. The fact that they  have walled up their lot does not necessarily mean that the responsibility is mine alone.

This is a common side drain shared by another neighbour of mine, on the left, and me.Throughout my 8 year stay here, they have never shown any interest in sharing out the responsibilities in keeping it Aedes-free so I am left with no choice. I have to continue my jumping acts along this stretch of 80 feet, too, every morning. How do you think I maintain my svelte figure of 48kg. I sweat it all out. Thanks to some inconsiderate souls. This neighbour has a passion for gardening. Besides the banana trees as seen in this picture, he also has...........

Yes, he also has 4 salak palms squeezed into that narrow patch of land. These have very long and sharp thorns. I got pierced many times while doing my jumping acts. And, his passion does not end here as depicted in the next picture below......

Oh my God!!! He has just planted  4  tapioca plants. Going by his track record, these will be tended to with tender loving care until his interest starts to wane, which does not take long in coming. They will provide a nice and cosy hiding place for  the mosquitoes, let alone the leaves that will  accumulate in the drain. God, have mercy on me. Obviously, he was hard at work, clearing up this patch for his tapioca and guess where he dumped all that he had cleared.......

HERE, which is at the front end of the narrow strip of land. Incidentally, these are land encircling our lots. Our lots do not share the same perimeter so there is excess land and we stake our claim to this land with the drains acting as boundaries. Get the picture? These narrow strips of land are a hive of activities, mostly gardening in nature. I, too, planted a rambutan tree and 2 nona trees on this no-man's land BUT I keep mine under control as shown below.

My rambutan tree grown on the excess land. My house is on the left of the grass strip.

And my nona trees.

These were supposed to be bonsais which the same neighbour painstakingly transported from the jungles of Perlis using huge trailers. Cranes were utilised to plant them all round his house. Contractors spent months erecting those huge concrete base for the giant bonsais. (I thought bonsais are supposed to be miniature plants). Wires were wound round and round the branches to get the signature bonsai shape but sadly he was not able to keep up pace with the fast growing leaves resulting in these hideous-looking  giant bonsais which have since transformed into a haven for a myriad of creatures both harmless and lethal.

More bonsai-craze-turned-sour pix.

The more the merrier. You don't need a GPS to get to his place OR mine. Just look out for these bonsais and you're on the right track. Why am I being so nasty to him, you may wonder. The reason is............

SNAKES!!! It's only the skin but they must be lurking around close by. I found this near the drain.

And this, a few feet away. May be this is a fragment of the same skin but whatever it is, it scares the hell out of me. A few days ago while feeding the stray cats I noticed one of them peering into ..........

.......this hole. This hole drains water from underneath the house. I observed the cat peering in and then backing off several times. I knew it had to be something it was scared of. Standing some 2 metres away from the hole, I bent down to investigate and what I saw confirmed my worst fears. I could see the silhoutte of a black head with  a white snout and it wriggled at the sight of me. xnuripilot was summoned to solve the problem. He was not able to persuade the creature to come out of hiding so using a long pole, he plugged the hole tightly with newspapers. I think the creature has suffocated to death because I thought I detected a faint smell of rotting carcass when I went to get this picture. Poor thing. I hate any form of cruelty to animals but cobras are potentially dangerous creatures.I cringed in fear when I read this.

I know this is the month of  Ramadhan. Please God, forgive me. I am on the verge of exploding so I need to spew some off  to ease the pressure that's building up inside of me. The moral of the story is, the world would be a healthier, a safer and a better place if everyone of us do our bit in keeping our surroundings clean. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Teachers And Politics

Teachers in grades DG41 to DG48 can engage in politics. Read more here.

I don't really like to air my thoughts on politics because my knowledge is much too shallow to render a fairly decent comment. But, this particular one about teachers being given the option to participate in active politics is far too close to home for me to remain silent and let it just slip away. They say, once a teacher always a teacher. I think I need to break my silence on this one even at the risk of being made a laughing stock or an object of ridicule.

Ever since the announcement, I have not stopped questioning the rationale behind the drastic move. I thought all government servants, teachers included, have to pledge their undivided loyalty to the government of the day. By having this clause amended, are they allowed the freedom to support any political party? If this is the case, then, wouldn't it be contradictory to serve the ruling party and yet support the opposition, for those who choose to do this. Unless, of course a provision is stated which forbids them to support the rival party, which I think is nowhere to be found in the clause.

It appears to me that the government is confident the results of this action would swing in their favour.  I, on the other hand, is of the opinion that they are treading on  highly explosive ground. One wrong step would have the whole thing blown up to pieces. The fact that the opposition has given their blessing is indicative that they, too, think the move would benefit them. I think they have been waiting for something like this to come their way. It's like pucuk dicita ulam mendatang for them.

Politics is extremely infectious. The merest hint of a provocation could turn the most timid of teachers into roaring tigers ready to pounce and prey. I have seen it happen many times before. Is the present government ready to face the consequences should there be an outbreak of an epidemic, or pandemic even? May be it would be too late at that time to revert to the original unamended clause. (Is this possible?)

One final question before I close shop. Is the government certain that the vast majority of teachers all over Malaysia is on their side? If so, then there's nothing to fear but if it goes the other way round, you are in deep trouble. When you are just an ordinary teacher, like who I once was, you mix around with ordinary teachers. You see and hear a lot of things which I think have failed to reach the ruling party, otherwise they wouldn't have been so rash in their decision. It is important to carry out a thorough investigation prior to taking such a big  step. It would be foolish to just rely on what you see on the surface. The underlying waters may tell a different story altogether.

One thing is for sure, I'm completely lost when it comes to politics, but being the busybody that I am, it's difficult for me not to poke my nose in this one. Whatever, the outcome, we'll just have to wait and see. And in the mean time ,Good  Luck  Barisan Nasional.