Friday, November 30, 2007

From Shah Alam to Kuala Terengganu

Part 1: Introduction
We have been quite occupied the past few weeks - as we have been ever since arriving back to Malaysia. As some of you know, we have been residing in Shah Alam most of the time we are in Malaysia - but what I doubt any of you know is that, slowly, everyone in the family seems to be drifting towards Shah Alam too. My brother Adan has only recently finished his degree in UITM, and will next week start working with a survey company. My sister Nurul had only 2 weeks ago started studying Food Science at another university in Shah Alam too. Soon - early December - my third brother, Afar, will be moving from Penang to a company in Ampang (okay, not Shah Alam, but still much nearer than Penang). My brother Azim will finish his current dentistry rotation and I wouldn't be surprised if we find him somewhere near here once they'd figured out where he'll continue his rotations.

Picture: Adan, introducing his significant other to the family

Now that most of us are here, I had begun to notice my parents are making more and more visits to KL, at times even weekly visits that I would only be half surprised if they would decide to reside in Shah Alam once they retire, instead of Kuala Terengganu. Who knows?

Predictions of the future aside, I am definitely happy that my brothers and sister are all within a short drive away.

Part 2: KLCC

Picture: Deepavali at KLCC

Now that my brothers and sister are nearby, we have been trying to meet up whenever everyone is free. One such time was our trip to KLCC on Deepavali. It was my first time after around 7 years visiting KLCC and I was extremely surprised how different KLCC is compared to 7 years ago; especially how there are more buildings around the twin towers now, and discovering that they had made a playground & a water park nearby.

Inside the shopping mall, I gravitated towards Kinokuniya - a Japanese bookstore, and was shocked to see the volume (and gamut) of the books they had in store. I was torn between buying several books - Neil Gaiman's American Gods (recommended by OK), Howl's moving castle, Howl's flying castle and the whole five volumes of The Dark is Rising. It would have costed me RM 200 to buy them, but instead I settled for only American Gods by telling myself even if I buy all the books it's not like I could read them all at once.

Despite being quite disturbing and weird, I enjoyed reading American Gods - and Neil Gaiman could now be listed as one of my favourite authors. My next book will definitely be Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, but only after I finish my current subsistence of John Grisham's books.

Part 3: Gus' Visit

I have known Gus for quite a long time since my first year at the University of Wales medical school. Gus was a Computer Science student but we shared a University flat - a placed called Senghennydd Court. During summer of that year Gus traveled back to Malaysia with me, and together we toured Malaysia from Kelantan, Terengganu, Perak, Johor, KL & Selangor and even the whole of Singapore. Then, the KL twin towers were not even completed yet. We had kept in touch over 11 years - Gus was there the first time ever I had met Mama Sarah, became the host when I visited Cornwall, met my parents when they visited us in London, and even helped us move from Wales to Coventry. He's planning to meet up with my parents in Australia mid December next month.

A few weeks ago, 11 years after his first visit, Gus had returned for another visit with his girlfriend from Klang. We could meet for only a few hours over coffee, as his plans were so packed but it was great seeing Gus, and I just have a feeling he'll return - even if it may be in another 10 years!

Picture: Enjoying ABC, banana fritters and coffee

Part 5: Returning to Terengganu

Picture: Where is the Monsoon Cup??? Taken at Seberang Takir

Mama Sarah and I had been busy the past few weeks - especially with job applications, and job interviews. I've (probably almost) finished applying for jobs, and currently await my Malaysian Medical Certificate before I could start working. Last I heard my MMC certificate would be discussed on the 14th of December (this year I hope). I am almost itching to start - I miss my old job so much - but at the same time I am quite anxious thinking what the job over here will throw at me. Whatever, I hope I will be more than up for the challenge.

Picture: Bargaining for Oranges at Pasar Payang

After all the malarkey with the applications and interviews, we had always planned for a brief stay in Terengganu. My father is off to Japan soon alone, then to Australia with my mother. While he's in Japan, I had planned to keep my mom company - otherwise it would only be her, by herself.

Mama Sarah and I were ruminating on ways to get to Terengganu. Although we could spare the money to travel by air - money is money, and traveling by air is expensive. The other alternative was to travel by bus, also not appealing due to the number of bus related accidents and incidents we have been hearing lately. Factor in the fact that we have two little children, and thoughts of two children crying ALL night waking up all the other passengers come to mind. Despite the imminent nightmare, and for the sake of conserving our savings we decided to travel by bus and we shared this with Mama Sarah's parents.

Imagine my shock when, the very next day, Mama Sarah's parents offered to drive us back to Terengganu. In fact, their bags were already packed and the van was already filled with fuel. Mama Sarah's mom added that anyway, she has some matters to attend to back in Terengganu.

And that was how Mama Sarah, the two kids and I made it back to Terengganu. My conclusion? No matter how old the child, parents will still want the very BEST for their children and grand-children. How obvious was that as a testament of love? And my lesson is that, as a son-in-law my responsibility is to do the same.

Picture: Sarah, getting Nanny's pampering

Pictures: Four generations - Sarah, her mother, grand mother and great-grandmother.

And oh boy, am I enjoying our stay in Terengganu. For one, I have full use of broadband internet again hence these updates and the TLC towards my blog, Facebook, Gmail and Fotopages. I have been satisfying my thirst for American TV - including Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, House, Desperate Housewives and Journeyman. I have also been taking pictures of the Monsoon Cup.

But that's for another blog update.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Upgraded to Version Three Point Oh (3.0)

It was my birthday a few days ago - quite a significant one at that (the hint is in the title).

I wasn't expecting much for my birthday. We were in Shah Alam at the time. My idea of how I wanted to celebrate my birthday was just the four of us - Mama Sarah, myself and the two little ones - enjoying an afternoon over coffee, cakes and desserts at a cafe somewhere; quiet and peaceful. Furthermore, I didn't think my in-laws were the birthday-celebrating type.

It was silly of me not noticing Mama Sarah was busy preparing for my birthday. She went to Tescos for some groceries and started preparing food before I even woke up that morning. "Along (my sister in-law) is coming tonight, so I'm cooking for her", was Mama Sarah's answer when she saw my puzzled expression seeing her cooking dinner at 10 am.

It was Sarah who let the cat out of the bag. "We are celebrating Babah's birthday tonight..." I guess Mama Sarah forgot to heed Along's advice to keep the children in the dark, as they would be the ones to break the secret!

Even so, Mama Sarah was still successful hiding the cake, presents and even the guests(!) until the very last moment. For the cake she said she didn't have time to buy one, and just made a trifle to compensate and for the guests she asked me to invite people she had already invited but asked not to inform me.


So, even though Sarah spoiled the surprise of my birthday being celebrated one day early, I was still surprised to see the guests, the presents and especially the cake. Mama Sarah is that good (and I am that gullible).

I was quite touched for everyone's effort - eventhough a quieter birthday would have been fine for me. I was even more touched when, while I was cutting the birthday cake with Sarah, she looked up at me and asked, "Babah happy tak?" as if she's asking "Babah, with the dinner that Mama Sarah had prepared from early hours of the morning, complete with desserts and the birthday cake that she'd bought and all the guests and the birthday card and all the presents - are you happy??"

I was too overwhelmed to answer her.

The food - everyone had chipped in. My inlaws went to all the trouble to find scallops, shellfish & Satay.

Enjoying the dinner Mama Sarah prepared from 10am.

The surprise birthday cake.

Cutting the birthday cake, with Sarah.

Amar grabbing his piece.

The presents.

Sarah was enthusiastic opening all the presents.

In terms of presents, everyone seemed to be psychic and new exactly what I wanted - a few polo shirts, socks, a watch, a clock (someone is hinting I should wake up earlier everyday, LOL)

Mama Sarah was probably hinting I should see a dentist.

A watch from Mama Sarah (I'd been moaning that my old one is damaged) - I didn't think Mama Sarah would actually buy me a new one.

My fourth and last brother, Adan, and Amar

There comes a point when we reach a certain age that each birthday makes you think of your date of expiry. I was instantly cured by what Adan said, that his girlfriend between Adan and I, Adan looks older - heh heh heh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tanjung Piai, Johor

Following are pictures of us at Tanjung Piai and Kampung Perpat taken during our not-so-recent trip around Johor visiting Mama Sarah's family. For those of us not so geographically inclined (that's me included!) Tanjung Piai is the southmost point of our Asian continent -- apparently. If some of you ask "what about India??" - that was also my question.

Anyhow, the signs around Tanjung Perpat kept reminding us it was the southern most point and who am I to argue?

[whoops, that's Puan Mama Sarah calling me for dinner -- this post should continue at a later date - if I get internet that is. sorry it's cut short!]

The ex-Johore Education minister was still concerning himself on our youths.