Wednesday, June 28, 2006

games we used to play

My children, especially Amir and Adlan, and Atin too, have been pestering me without success for years now to get them the PS 2. Or is it now PS 3? But even without it, they have been playing online. When they met their friends, the subject now was ‘Runescapes’ and the treasures, magic potions, weapons or extra lives they had. Apparently they have been playing and chatting on the free channel for sometimes now. And, they have their own ‘skype’ accounts too.

In our days, computer games were unheard of. Even the computer was unheard of. The closest to it, the calculator, I only get to own in the university in 1981. The idea of computer, my earliest memory of it was from a Disney movie, ‘Computer Wear Tennis Shoe’ they used to screen in Hargraeves Hall. The closest real computer I get to see was at my first job (Mas Othman Associates 1984) but the first I got to play with was the Siemen Nixdorf in ITM Computer Lab (1986). Then you even have to take off your shoes before entering the lab. Such a valuable piece of equipment. In UTM earlier (1981) computer lesson was about the punch card. Stacks of them – for just a simple calculation.

In the younger days, games means something that you must first make before you can play with. It also means having to go out to the bush or to the rubber plantation or the river or the beach to get the right materials. Some you gather from wastes before the term ‘recycling’ was even coined. All the games I knew must be played with others. None I can recall that you can enjoy alone. And playing with others could also means it ended with a fight, g’ocoh, g’omo and the likes.

Believe me, the games we played were rather technically difficult to make. Now, I’m not sure I can make them again. Only recently I tried making the ‘sunai daun nyor’ (coconut leave whistle) but couldn’t make a sound out of it. Now, I don’t think I can make a ‘bedil buluh cina’ that can explode, or ‘kipas buah getah’ that can spin or ‘senapang kayu’ that can shoot the ‘peluru pelepah nyor’. The kites, that’s impossibly difficult.
Maybe somebody who still has the skill can organize a workshop and I’d be happy to join.

To be continued.
[salam to chech-mak and ck for dropping the notes. just noticed them. thanks]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

gege, g’ego and g’ogeh

Now is the time of the world cup. It’s simply out of synch not to write anything about it. But that is the problem. When you talk you can’t write. The finger can’t type when you mouth’s gege.

Gege is to describe when one is making noise, usually loudly at something non-issue. ‘Ho nye gege bak Ronaldo dok leh sko go. Die tu reti bile maing bola?’ (What’s he so noisy about Ronaldo not scoring goals. When was he any good at football?)

To gege is to make the headlines? Close.

G’ego is Terengganu for ‘gegar’, meaning shake, shaken, vibrate, pulsate etc. Also literally describe commotion or turmoil. Something that kicks a fuss. ‘Bak pe nye lok Tun M wak kenyataang gitu. G’ego Pok Loh. Habih seme gege kene royak sokong sape.’ (Why let Tun M make that kind of statement. Pak Lah is shaken. Everyone has to loudly now show whose side they now support.) Oops. The statement may has something to do with the current scenario and years from now when my children ask me about that statement, I’ll say, ‘Go google the history.’ If you now google the headlines you will notice that when the world cup started, all the gege of the APs, Proton, Augusta and the scenically (or ‘cynically’ - depending on which side of the causeway you were) crooked bridge seems to quieten considerably. Guess it takes one gege to silence another.

Back to the world cup.

Surely you notice that when players walk in to the pitch, they touch the grass? Notice the goalkeeper running to the end field and shake the woodworks? Ritual or asking the goalpost to be on their side? Seen how many time the woodworks g’egor when hit by the ball? Even Kaka would swear the woodwork was on the Australian's side. See the agony on their face? My point exactly.
To shake is ‘ogeh’. Maybe the goalie just wants to be certain the post sturdy. Dok g’ogeh.

As far as Pak Lah, the papers today headlines MTs’ undivided loyalty. Then he has nothing to worry. He is already politically rock steady it seems. In Terengganu slang, ‘tolok dok d’egih’

Saturday, June 17, 2006

budu, caviar and sepat pekasam

I admit, I watch Akademi Fantasia too. I can’t be sure why. Maybe I just love seeing the misery of the students kicked-out. Never mind their off-key vocal, after all they are just students. I didn’t catch the recent one but was quite disappointed when Atin told me Karen, the ‘amoi’ from Kota Baru was dismissed. That ‘mek’ has quite a good voice (I watched the first concert rerun). They say the boyfriend giving her budu on stage sealed her fate. Was it the ‘boyfriend’ or the ‘budu’?

Budu is the special treat of the East Coast – both Kelantan and Terengganu and wherever their diaspora can be found. Those from the west coast that jokes about it are simply those that have not tasted it. Once you do, you could end up a ‘convert’. When teased, a lady at Pasar Siti Khadijah in Kota Baru had this to say, ‘Abe-abe jange gura bak budu ning, kene sekali ke, nikoh mek Kelate.’ (You guys don’t joke about this budu , once hooked you’ll be courting Kelantan girl to marry). But that, that hooks the guys - was it the budu or ‘mek Kelate’?

For us Terengganuan, budu is taken sparingly as a ‘cicah’ for ‘ikang panggang’ or ‘daging bakar’ – sometimes with a dash of tempoyak and ‘lada jarum’ (cili padi for you orang luar). The convert (my other half - Yati, included) use it as ‘kuah’ (gravy). A friend of mine, a chef-lecturer in UiTM had it in sandwich, mind you, while in England.

Budu is simply preserved anchovies in salt. My father use to make it for our own consumption. In the good ‘bilis’ season, he would buy a basketful of bilis, clean it thoroughly, mix it with salt, place in jar and store. After about a month, the anchovies meat break down to liquid and budu is made. The ‘hampas’ – heads, bones etc settles at bottom of jar. We Terengganuan don’t eat the hampas but the converts do, even as sandwich spread like my good friend. The secret to better budu is the modification; add some ‘menisang’, and ‘asam gelugor’. Can’t reveal too much though.

I believe with proper marketing, say like product placing in James Bond movies, the budu can rub shoulder with caviar one day. After all, you see the caviar factory in Bond’s 1999 The World Is Not Enough and still you yearn for its ‘class’ness. Alan wanted to try caviar so much (pengaruh wayang le tu) he belched at it the first time at the sushi bar.

My father makes ‘ikan jeruk’ too, in the good season preparing for the ‘musing hujang’ or the monsoon when nobody goes out to fish. In the seventies, the only lauk you can get during monsoon was ikan masin, ikan jeruk or the rare ikan sardin. Making it is much simpler , just plenty of salt and a ‘tempayan’ required. Place 3 inches thick salt at the bottom of the tempayan, place the fish, top up another 3 inches of salt. Repeat until the tempayan is full.

The better of the preserved fish must be the sepat pekasam. My mother in law, made them from sepat caught in the ‘bendang’ when it dries up. Unlike ikan jeruk that is preserved in salt, sepat pekasam is preserved in fermented rice. I don’t know the technicality but the sepat pekasam fried with sliced onion and bawang surely up your ‘selera’ several notches. ‘Mak T’tua lalu depang pun dok sedor weh…’

Of Kelantanese market girls - I’ll pen it next time.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

the last great blackout

‘Gelak-guguk’ a Terengganuan would say. Pitch black darkness. It tells not only of having no light whatsoever but of the state of mind, total darkness, clueless, bewildered and lost, not even a glint of hope. And so in that state we rejoice at the flicker of light. For light is freedom. In light we would be ‘terang-derang’ – basked in light. Gelak-guguk is felt when one's black-out, when one fainted due to stress or heat or extreme exhaustion, the same felt when news was censured and prevented from being even told. In the matter of the power black-out happening some 10 years ago, we were now told that we were not told everything or anything at all. There was the (news) blackout and we were for long kept in the dark, gelak guguk.

This is an interesting time for those of us that enjoy the freedom to say things we want to say. We blog in the cyberspace not wanting or even intending to hurt anyone. We did that (the hurting) much too much already in the real world. I say this is an interesting time because the battle of words is taking place among the greatest man of modern Malaysia, ex-PM Tun Mahathir against all that he was against, and it seems to bring to life all his once quiet nemesis. Within a space of mere days we had people like former TNB Chairman, Tan Sri Ani Arope talking about the 1996 IPP agreements, former high court judge Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah, talking about his 1996 ‘resignation’ and a couple more smaller voices, from the past - cabinet ministers included. The fact that they were now talking seems to suggest the undoing of a gag that had lasted a decade. And we quietly wish that it would also lift from us the shroud that has for long veiled us from the happenings in this beloved country. We hope that the revelation will bring the light that will end the blackout.

It seems now that the blackout on 29th September 1992, was an event that leads to many things; another blackout in June 1995, and the blackout we now must impose on ourselves now the TNB tariff had gone up. Many things had been up recently, petrol, interest rates, construction materials, car prices (the luxury ones) and my own blood and cholesterol levels, but that because I am older.

Of course we can all listen to our DPM and change our lifestyle. I’ll settle for the 5 series, not the 7. The new Harrier looks good too. Ha….ha.

This is not a political blog and it would never be. It is only a record of what happened then in my ‘parallel universe’.

In all the great blackouts, I was by chance spared the agony of being trapped in jam or in the unconditioned office.

I remember 29th September 1992 well because it was the day I had to move house and had to handle everything myself, depending only on my car and no help from any of my office mates who had promised to help. I was staying at 31 Jalan Bangau Shah Alam and moving to a bungalow at No 6 Jalan Petalawati, both in Section 6. It was a bewildering moments because phones can’t be used, and nobody knew what was happening. There was none to ask either because it was a working day. It was only later at night when electricity was reconnected we learnt of the great blackout. And what a blackout it was. That kind of helplessness of not knowing what was happening was not unlike the days of ‘Chow Kit’s Adam’ and I was wildly wondering if there was another tragedy. Well, 1992 wasn’t that far from the year of uncertainty.

The next blackout in June 1995, I was already in Terengganu. And Terengganu was spared the blackout because of Kenyir Power Station.

So we all hope that there’ll be more news, good news I mean. Let there be light. So from the ‘gelak-guguk’ we would be in ‘terang-derang’. And the last great blackout would be the last.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

train ride

Only 'orang Teranung' have the honour of coming from the only state in Malaysia without train service. It wasn’t really true because once upon a time there used to be one train plying between Bukit Besi and Sura in Dungun. More about it later.

Now when I’m in KL, I hardly drive. Eleven years of jam-free driving in Kuala Terengganu kind of make me paranoia of the long un-moving queues. Of course I don’t mind being driven around even in a jam. It’s a glee (geli?) watching them in the cars around you putting on make-ups, eating sandwich, reading newspaper, talking, smiling, arguing to themselves (oh… on the cellphone maybe) or snoring away. I mean the drivers.

So when in KL, I parked my car, walked across to Setiawangsa LRT station and took a ride everywhere the line can possibly take me. With LRT, I made Sentral’s Strudel as my favourite meeting place. It seems that most clients and consultants don’t mind the train ride there. And meeting with a good sandwich and coffee as company surely beat the cramped meeting rooms and the hours wasted looking for parking bays. And there’s always a choice of mamak fare or the yuppy-ish Hilton/Meridian upstairs.

Train ride changes the way I attend to business. I now would rather don short sleeve shirt, jeans and sneakers. Rucksack replaced the briefcase. I guess at this late age, you don’t care about making a good (or should I say goody-goody) first impression anymore. After all we architects have the ‘artistic license’ to dress differently. And with higher electricity bills, it's time to wardrobe the suits away.

Train rides now include the ERL to KLIA. Its 28 minutes travel time permits me to push my meeting to end just in time. No more have I to make the excuse of leaving the meeting at four to catch the flight at seven-thirty. Okay, I still do that to get away when the meeting was boring and dragging. You know, those young project managers talk too much and spent too much time in meeting room rather than be on site in the mud or climbing the scaffoldings like we do. In Terengganu, we call these meeting room managers, ‘teng kosong’ (empty cans). Put a stone in a tin can, shake it and the noise is loud. Fill it to the brim, shake it, it make no noise at all.

And in KL, there’s also the monorail and the KTM Komuter.

For ‘budak koleq’, those train rides on the Ekspres Sinaran Pagi would hold a thousand memories.

Keretapi Bukit Besi was a far cry from the clean, sleek electronic trains of today. I’m not sure if it was run on diesel or charcoal, but we had fun chasing it to board as it moves out from Sura Gate. And your white shirt ended black when you get to Bukit Besi.

someone noticed this blog. really?

This is a good moment. It’s 1.43am June 3, 2006. I’m home alone. Yati and the kids gone for their Kedah holiday. I can’t sleep so I switched on my laptop and surf the blog. On Mcoba website, under ‘koleq’s blog’ was a link to this weblog. At the end of it was a figure 83 hits. I wasn’t sure if the hits were through mcoba site or on my blog which could mean the accesses I made to update the blogs which mean nobody else reading it.

But at least I can now tell Alia, ‘See. Someone’s now reading my blog too you know…..’