Wednesday, November 28, 2007

18th December 2008 - A Special Day

The 18th of December 2007 was an auspicious day.
What was so great about that day you might say. Well for starters it was a Tuesday. Tuesday means MRT at Kak Ton's place in Kelana Jaya.
Didn't I attend the previous MRT and blogged about it?
Yes I did. Everybody knows that I attended the previous MRT by being fetched by no less than Elviza Michele with Acciaccatura as the navigator and later sent home right to my daughters doorstep without having to ride the now well known RapidKL bus no 69 to Amanputra Puchong.
The MRT of 18th December was important as I had permission from Kak Ton to bring my wife Fatthiyah and the whole family of my son Azrin comprising his wife Yani, two and half year old son Irsyad, daughters Ayen who is one a half year and Syakirah 4 months. Even the Indonesian maid came. Hey we need extra hands to keep the two hyperactive Irsyad and his sister Ayen. I have requested an early arrival and so by 12 noon we were in the vicinity of PKNS hockey pitch in Kelana Jaya where Kak Ton's place was located.
When I rode in Elviza's car I wasn't paying much attention to the actual route. All I remember was Kak Ton's plece wasn't far from the field. Elviza took several turns as she wanted to buy some 'buah tangan' for Kak Ton at the convenience shop of 'Seven Eleven'. That detour screwed up my recollection abit. The fact that we were early and non of the expected many cars were there made me doubt that the place we were looking at were really Kak Ton's. A few calls to Elviza failed to get a responce. She must be facing the right honurable judges or something or suspecting me of asking for another ride to Kak Ton's place may have deterred her from answering my call. When in a fix, many silly reasons suddenly play up in my mind. If only I had asked Kak Ton for her phone number all this doubt could be avoided.
It was Yani who gave me the confidence that this was indeed Kak Ton's place as she had seen the photographs I had taken of the bloggers at Kak Ton's house. Smart girl this daughter inlaw of mine. Seeing photograph of the inside of a house can make her visualize the outside of the house. With that booster to my confidence I rang up the door bell. Somebody from insde the house came out and she confirmed my inquiry of whether that house really was the house I was looking for.
I beckoned to the rest of the family in the car to alight and join me in the house.
Profusely apologizing to Kak Ton for being too early and bringing along such a large entourage (others only bring themselves, their spouse or at the most their friends) we immediately trooped to the back of the house where most of Kak ton's grandchildren's toys were located. Kids being kids immediately made it as their home to play with the toys. At least the toys kept them occupied instead of going after the many ornamental things used to decorate the house.
One for the album with Kak Ton.
'Can we play with the toys?' Irsyad was pleading.

The grandchildren making themselves at home

The reason for me to bring my wife along is for her to meet some of my friends from the blogspere. She must know what kind of crowd I am keeping up with. How I wish I could take her to Ontario to meet my good friend U Lee. Since she didn't read blogs she wouldn't know what sort of history or background U Lee had.
Prior to this I had taken her to Ampang Jaya to visit Pak Idrus and his wonderful wife who served us with great nasi minyak. She met Akmal there too.
Being early we were served with the Mee rebus early and on the way back we talked about how great the mee was. Even the children had second helpings. I didn't go for second though since my family had taken a big chunk of the food to be served to the other bloggers who arrived soon after. First to come was Captain Yusoff Ahmad, followed by Bernard Khoo who came with Tony Yew. Soon after Stephen came. Kak Ton's sister Nuraina came next. By then I was already taking leave of Kak Ton and Abang Ruslani.
Kak Ton and Abang Ruslani, the ever gracious host.

Lending an ear to Tony Yew.

Stephen, don't we look like brothers?

I couldn't stay much longer as I had intended to visit a close friend in Pandan Indah. This friend had the misfortune of having a second stroke attack. Now he couldn't even speak normally. This friend was one of the best specimen of a healthy man. Slim and finely built with no noticable tummy. He was a sportsman. Where did he go wrong to deserve such a fate. Maybe an immediate stop from hyperactivity to a slow and mundane one did the work on him. Or the high pressure of his job that did him in.
Halfway to Pandan Indah, we were caught in a heavy traffic snarl. My headache acquired from lack of quality sleep start to build up. Thinking that it will only get worse if I we were to proceed to Pandan Indah, I told Azrin to proceed directly to my other son's place in Shah Alam, much to the relief of Azrin who was driving. He had cautioned me about my plan to go to Pandan Indah at that hour but didn't dare to object being a filial obedient son. I will have to make a spcial visit another time and time my visit perfectly to avoid the high midday traffic level on the way to Pandan Indah.
Getting away from the maddening traffic of KL was one way of easing my headache. Thinking of getting a swim in the pool and have a sauna after that tricked my mind of the pain the headache was giving me. Immediately after arriving at Azuan's 13th floor apartment in Shah Alam, the grandchildren quickly changed to their swimwear. This pressure us adults into doing likewise imediately and so we trooped to the recreation area on the fifth floor where the swimming pool, gym, surau, library and the games room were located. The sauna is one floor below accessible by a short flight of steps. This is the benefit of apartment living though the homes were mere cubicles high up in the sky. Ample fascilities were built in into the package beside the good security. I believe security at Brunsfield Service Apartments was adequate. I wonder how things were at nana's Acapella a few minutes drive away. It being newer and more posh was definitely something to dream about. The tenant immediately in front of Azuan, a Datuk, had moved to Acapella immediately after it was completed. It must be something definitely better than the one at Brunsfiled otherwise why would he vacated his unit at Brunsfiled.
The swimming pool at Brunsfiled is what attracted the grandchildren to come here most. So today, the four of them (Syakirah is still too young to enjoy such facilities) had fun splashing in the childrens pool. I took to the pool before going for the sauna which like most other well maintained facilities on weekdays seemed to be under utilized. What a happy situation for retired people like me who can choose the times to use them whenever I am in Shah Alam. The sauna could really relieve the tension and hopefully the headache in me. How I wished I could have a sauna in Pasir Mas. I used to do my own repairs to my house and up between the ceiling and the roof, the situation is just as warm as any sauna. Maybe I should go up there more often to enjoy a free sauna.

Irsyad swimming in his birthday suit.

They love the play ground too.

When evening came, my eldest daughter Azura arrived bearing the birthday gift for the mother. The 18th of December being my wife's birthday is another reason for this date to be auspicious. After what the children did to me for my birthday in October in Pasir Mas, a similar affair though as small was definitely due. This was the first time in our life that we get to blow candles. Let this be our day even though it was just this once. Remember such events has never been a custom in our family. So let us too at this late age, enjoy it like the grandchildren does. Remember the Shakepeare's Seven Stages of Man? We were getting to the 7th stage hahahaha.
Azuan came home with a cheese cake from Secret Recipe. I heard cakes from Secret Recipes are nice and the children deemed it fit to buy one for the mother to blow her candles on. When the time came everyone including the grandchildren stood around the mother and sang the birthday song. Of course Shakirah didn't stand or sing as she is only 4 months old.
The cheesecake from Secret Recipe.

Irsyad being nearest to the cake blew away most of the lit candles except for one which was left for the grandmother to blow away. Young kids don't know whose birthday it was and must have thought all candles on a cake is meant to be blown off by anybody. Yummy, cheesecakes from Secret recipe is really delicious.
Singing Happy Birthday to mama.

Another one for the album
Next was the giving away of the gift. The eldest grand daughter Lis (Real name Nor Alia Jazleen, the one who called herself Budak Puchong) was given the honour to hand over the gift to her grandma. It was a Dior's perfume, the 100 ml Tender Poison in a gift box bound by a Dior ribbon. The gift definitely brought a happy smile to my wife. She was happy to be remembered on her birthday with a gift rather than the usual sms and phone calls from the children which was the norm for earlier birthdays.

Tok Ma proudly posing with the gift from the children.
Opening the gift.

The sarong is definitely comfortable at home. Why cant we wear it to the office?
With that done over we began to shovel in our dinner, so happy to be together with our children and grandchildren again. Azini, Lokman and daughter Nur Aqila Balqis were too faraway in Labuan to join us.

RM15 Million Spent On Smokes Everyday!

That was what appeared on the inner pages of The Star of 22nd November 2007. The report originated from China Press which quoted Health Ministry Parliamentary Datuk Lee Kah Choon as saying. He regarded it as a worrying trend and smokers should quit the habit and spend the money on something beneficial.
Lets do some arithmatics and see how much is burnt in a year of 365 days - a whopping RM5,475,000,000.00! More than enough to bail out the PKFZ fiasco. Captain Yusoff of The Ancient Mariner will be happy to know that the bailout came from smokers who would just burn their money anyway.
The Ministry's Disease Control Unit also reported an upward trend in the number of young smokers. That is indeed worrying to every parents as your children may develop that habit too if you don't watch out or continue smoking infront of them and setting an example for them to follow. That was what my wife said of me when my sons were found to be smoking while still in schools. The father set the example, a bad one. Hantu Laut had his daughter to contend with.
Another statistic released was that 1 of 33 smokers is a female. The female smokers numbered about 274,000 in the nation. I wonder if the study include the few millions of migrant workers working in Malaysia.
When you are in a packed footbal stadium, you can observe the smokers lighting up their ciggy across the field. Every seconds of the time you can see flashes of the lighter being used to light up the ciggarette. I guess smokers tend to smoke even more when they are excited.
On November 24, 2007 The Stars put up another small one column news on page 33 with the title "Smokers taking up half of annual health budget". According to a health economist, The Government has to spend RM3 bil to RM3.8 billion each year from 2004 to 2010 on smokers treated in public hospitals for ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive airway disease, said Prof Dr. Syed Mohamad Aljunid, senior research fellow at the Unite Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH). By the year 2010, the overall cost projected is RM480 billion said Prof Dr. Syed Mohamad, who is colloborating with five other academicians on a study of healthcare costs. "It costs taxpayers alot of money" he added.
His studies indicated that 25 percent of the population smoke.
We all know that smokers are paying a hefty tax for their pleasures but are they paying enough? If they are not enough then it means that the non smokers are also paying for their treatment beside having to bear the second hand smoke from the smokers which is reported to be even more dangerous. If that be the case than it is better for the government to increase the tax on tobacco so that the smokers themselves will pay for the treatment of the disease as a result of smoking.
Related article: Click here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Search For U Lee

It was with a heavy heart that I deleted Moonlight and Roses from my blog roll. What is the point of keeping it there anymore since the blogsite is no more available after the blog owner deleted the blog for good. The reason for deleting it is only known to the blog owner who went by the nick U Lee or Uncle Lee to most bloggers. It must have been a painful decision for him to do it after painstakingly building it up from scratch. Furthermore, the blog has such a large follower.
Anyway, the blogowner had the courtesy to inform his readers via his last blog of the impending deletion bringing forth many comments for him to carry on blogging or at least keep the blog going. Everyone respected his decision and a few expressed their hope that U Lee will come back again sometimes later.
Being a newcomer to the blogging world and a recent visitor to Moonlight and Roses, I was only able to read the last few blogs namely the touching story about Donna and the hauntingly beautiful description of Canada during the recent falls. The beautiful pictures accompanying the story of Canada did justice to the detailed description. I was hoping to read the rest of the blog during the seven days it remained available. As with any form of procrastination, by the time you are ready to read it, it was already too late and no more there.
Rita Ho in her blog I'm Making Notes wrote a beautiful tribute to U Lee in one of her blog Uncle Lee - One Fine Gentleman. Rita Ho described him as a man who wrote from the heart. Rita’s post attracted many comments from avid readers of U Lee and non-readers as well. Of note were the comments from Ruby Ahmad, Puteri, Akmal, aidan's mama and papa, cat cat, jt and Daphne Ling(not in order of appearance). Ruby Ahmad commented that her gut feeling told her that U Lee’s departure from the blogsphere will just be a temporary one and he will comeback some day. What nice hope she was giving us.
Puteri of Puteri’s Musing enticed us with a peek into what we have missed on U Lee’s Moonlight and Roses by providing a link to some episodes of The Faded Letters, one of U Lee’s most moving story. Somebody told me that The Memories Of The Way We Were was another gem from U Lee but the best attempt at forensic internet search by Puteri failed to find it. What a Loss!
The only hope that we have now is to get U Lee to make a comeback to blogging. I hope that he had the hindsight to keep a mirror image copy of Moonlight and Roses before deleting it; otherwise, he will have to redo it from scratch again and come up with an even better version of his stories.
After reading those few episodes of The Faded Letters, I bet U Lee will be shedding loads of tears again if he were to redo the same story since it was a true story of his life that happened some 30 years ago.
U Lee, we would be most grateful if you could come back and share with us whatever the joy and sadness that you had experienced so that others may learn a lesson or two from it. From the bottom of my heart, I beg you to come back.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Best Cut Medicine Is Free

Since very small we were taught by our parents and grandparents on how to survive anywhere. Most lessons were hands on, given impromptu and done due to necessity. We were told on what we can find in the bushes that is edible, what is not, what is dangerous and what can be helpful to be used as medicines in times of need or emergency. Such lessons were possible because we will be asked to follow our elders into the bushes or even forests to help them with some chores. My own children wont even dare venture into the bushes for fear of the dreaded leeches.
On the way we will be pointed anything relevant as the elders think necessary for us to know. There were those red berries which are sweet and nice to eat. We call them 'mata ayam' which translates literally to 'chicken's eye' or 'mata itek' (duck's eye) in some places. These are not fillling but more for keeping the young ones occupied on long walks before reaching a destination. Remember we used to walk long distances to visit relatives in the olden days when only walking tracks and not roads were available. Only the very rich can own cars and what is the use of a car when there is not even a road leading to the place? Later in life my father taught me the young shoots of 'mata ayam' is one of the best ulam around.

The 'mata ayam'

To keep us awake during long walks in the bush my mum will show us the young shoots of 'pokok asam gelugor' the fruit of which is used to make 'asam keping' necessary ingredients in some malay dishes like the 'ikan singgang' or 'masak asam pedas'. The shoots of 'asam gelugor' is very sour but nontheless edible. We will pick some and chew while walking. They will definitely keep tired child awake during long walks.

The 'gelugor' shoot

Certain less fertile areas gave rise to 'kamunting' bushes which produces edible berries all year round too. You must split the berry to eat the sweet blackish flesh inside. Again it wont be filling but at least you will forget the hunger that you might feel along a the long walk before any semblance of food can be had at your destinations. By the way people in Malaysia know more of Kamunting as the detention camp in Taiping where political opponents are detained without trial. ISA was established to detain people who are a threat to the country. Some threats.
It is the medicinal plants especially those that can be used to stop bleeding that I remember most. Being children we are always playful and grab anything that looks pretty. The triangular stemmed sedges with razor sharp stems can easily cut our fingers when they grazed our fingers the wrong way. Broken glasses can easily cut our barefoot. Split bamboo can cut our tender skin when we need to cross one thats blocking our path. Under such circumstances herbal medicines are used to stop the bleeding and close the gap and compress the cut till proper bandages are found.
'Keladi colek'

My late grandfather would immediately look for 'keladi colek' to press out the juice from the stem and apply it on the cut. Later the skin of the long stem will be made into thin strips and used as bandage. In this way bleeding is compressed and further infection is checked.

The ripe fruit is loved by birds.

Sometimes neighbours and friends can teach us a lesson or two on how to stop a cut from prolonged bleeding.
When we wre living in Kuala Krai, my son Azrin was only 6 years old. Boys of such an age are always playful. When we go to work, he and his younger brother Azuan and even younger sister Azini were left to their minder who lived next door to our rented home.One day we came home to see a patch of whitish greenish paste on his head and blood on his shirt but he wasn't crying from any pain. Our neighbours immediately came to tell us that Azrin fell while playing on a horizontal pole used by the neighbour to hang their clothes to dry. He fell head first and his head grazed the concrete edge of the floor causing a nasty gash. He told us that he had applied 'daun kapalterbang' mashed with 'kapur' (lime). I was relieved to know that the treatment worked. So now I can vouch for the efficacy of 'daun kapalterbang' as a cut medicine. 'Pokok kapalterbang' (sorry I havent found the botanical name of this shrub yet. Hopefully our budding biologist Akmal can help) grows in abundance in tropical Malaysia. A check around my house shows an abundance of it. So beside my trusted 'minyak gamat' (sea cucumber oil) from Langkawi, I can always fall for 'daun kapalterbang' as a cut medicine.

A young 'pokok kapalterbang'

Another incident that I can use to support the efficacy of this plant as a cut medicine was this trip to Gunung Stong in Dabong, Kuala Krai, Kelantan sometimes in 1996. (Gunung Stong is renowned as the highest cascading waterfall in South East Asia). I was taking a group of Italian tourists up to Camp Baha for an overnight trip. There were 10 tourists half of them were females some of whom were wearing shorts. Before the hike up I warned them of leeches and advised them to spray insecticide to prevent the leeches from picking their meal on them. I demostrated by lavishly spraying Baygon on the lower part of my body even on the exposed skin. The tourists were skeptic about using chemicals on any part of their body and prefer to go without it. It was their choice.
It was a rainy day and the leeches were really active in that weather. So from time to time we stopped to check for leeches. Everyone declared themselves clear of the pest. When we reached Baha Camp, we stopped and prepared for the night. Of course by then the leeches had had their fill and dropped off. It is that easy with leeches. Just let them have their fill and they will and drop off. They will leave a note of thank you on your body by the tell tale bleeding and itch. The anticoagulant that the leech injected into your body will ensure that your blood will not coagulate while the leech is a having its feed. The anticoagulant will ensure too that the bleeding will continue even after the sucker is long gone. Another reminder of the leeches' visit is the continuos itching that follows sometimes lasting for years especially for those with sensitive skins. A scar is sometimes discernible for life especially on fairl skinned people.

As for the Italians in the group with me, a male had a leech bite on his leg and he let me apply the readily available 'daun kapalterbang' on the bleeding spot and forgot about it till later. Another female had a bite at the crotch. Leeches seems to know where is the juicest place to find on a female. I guess it must be a male one. She of course wouldn't believe on my herbs and definitely won't let me have the pleasure of applying anything be it herbs or otherwise where the leech had the double pleasures.
We did carry a pack of first aid containing cut medicine with bandages, plasters and diarhoea tablets as essentials on such a trip. Her boy friend took the first aid and proceeded to one of the chalets where they would sleep for the night. There he applied the yellow flavine, the only cut medicine we had in the pack.
Everything was forgotten until the next when we descended the to the foot of the hill and reached Kuala Krai.. The lady with the leechbite was complaining of the nonstop bleeding where the leech had bitten her. The other male who had the herb applied on his leg then looked at his own spot of the leech bite and happily exclaimed that his bleeding had stopped a long time ago. Infact he even forgot about it. He sopke in Italian telling the other lady to have the same herbs applied. I told you the plant grows everywhere. Spotting it, I took some leaves and gave it to her. We found a public toilet and they went in to apply the herbs.

'Pokok kapalterbang' growing in abundance near my house in Pasir Mas.

Now I have ten Italian believers in the goodness of 'daun kapalterbang' as the best cut medicine which is free.
Another special plant is the 'sireh' the betel leaves (Arecapiper) whose leaf is often chewed after applying a dash of lime and sliced betelnut (areca catechu). Gambir is also added. When chewed a dark colored saliva juice will be produced. Spitting it out regularly of course will dirty up a place.
My late grand father used to blow the concoction on my eyes when I hand conjunctivities (sakit mata) and I tell you thats all that I need to have it treated.
Another use of the arecapiper is to stop nasal bleeding. An incident to relate to this was when I had a group of young french boys on my trip way back in 1996, I brought them to the waterfall in Blok Ulu Kusial Tanah Merah, Kelantan. The picture of the small fall is used in my header for this blog. The boys were about 16 and 17 years old. They were accompanied by their own male nurse by the name of Benoit. While there, many climbed up to the top of the waterfall and dived into the cool clear water from a height of about 10 ft. One of them was of poor eyesight without glasses. Of course he cant wear glasses in doing such stunts. he slipped and his head must have hit the rock as he later was bleeding from one of his nostrils. The male nurse was adamant to treat him his way by washing up and applying whatever medicine he brought along as first aid. The bleeding didnt stop.
My crew and the locals wanted the boy brought down to the village quite a few kilometers away. We had to use harsh words to bring Benoit to senses. Since we had to trek down quite a difficult track including crossing of small rivers with boulders, a temporary stretcher was constructed. Four of the biggest guys were needed to carry him as he was quite a big boy.
Upon reaching the village, one of the village elders found some betel leaves, rolled it up and carefully push it into his bleeding nose while chanting a prayer. After a few short minutes, the leaves was pulled out. Viola, the bleeding stopped. Benoit's stance now changed to respect of the locals and our ways since his way didnt work. He asked for some leaves to take it home to France.

The 'Sireh' or betel leaves.

I am wondering why are we not harvesting and extracting this wonderful medicine from these plants such as the 'daun kapalterbang' and 'sireh' which is growing in abundance in Malaysia? Akmal of the blogsite Wiseup should wiseup to this, being a student of biology himself. He could be the next millionaire of Kelantan producing cut medicine for war torn countries of the world who need medicine badly and are daily exposed to bombs and missiles both from the unfriendly enemies and the friendly armies as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another reason To Quit Smoking

A friend posted a comment on my blog Kicking The Habit. The person is none other than Hantu Laut who by his own admission had been a smoker for 20 years since his school days. His story s so compelling that I feel it deserved to be posted as a blog itself.
For those who aspire to be a smoker, please learn this lesson from him. Ask yourself why start a habit that you will find it difficult to stop later when you finally come to your senses? Learn from those who had experienced it.
I present to you all what Hantu Laut wrote.

Ha!,smoking,glad you brought up the subject and glad to share my experience here.I took up smoking when I was still in school, if I remember well, I must have been in Form V then.A willing victim of peer pressure.As a student I didn't have much money and used my meagre pocket money to buy fag by the stick which cost 5 cents those days.You can buy them by the stick at any Hainanese coffeeshops.With 20 cents pocket money a day, I could ill-afford to smoke every day.I remember starting with mentholated cigarettes such as Matterhorn, Consulates and occassionlly the heavier stuff like Lucky Strikes, Camels and the slightly milder Abdullah 37, Players,Capstan,etc. Any brand I can get my hand on.I only smoke on weekends with the 'Unholy Boys' as we were called by the more disciplined boys of our schools.We were never caught by our teachers as we made it a point not to smoke in school.Looking on hindsight, I think we have behaved appallingly.Not a good example to show to the younger generation, but than we were young then.By the time I went to work in the civil service, I had become a full-blown smoker, burning a pack of 20s a day of my favourite brand, State Express 555.After three years in the civil service, I left and joined the family business.As my family business grew,I have to travel extensively overseas and, more often than not, to some god's forsaken place.By then, I have graduated to 3 packs of 20s a day of my favourite brand, Dunhill.My wife, a non-smoker once told me, I have a prolonged death wish, a situation she was not at all happy about, which she told was not only killing myself but killing her and the children too, the passive smokers.I really don't understand what the fuss she was making over such trivia, I was still living in a state of denial that smoking was bad for your health.Smoking to me was like having perpetual orgasm, I don't care whether non-smokers felt uncomfortable, I don't care the harm it could bring to me or my family and I really don't give a damn at all.Sometimes, faith or divine intervention, if I may call it that, can, without rhyme or reason,open up our minds to reasons in the strangest of way.I was in Algers, Algeria once on business.One day I took the lift from the ground floor up to my room on the 5th floor,on the way up, the lift stopped at the 1st floor and four Algerian Arabs entered and to my utter disbelieve, all four were smoking and continue smoking in the confined space of the lift.I have never felt so sick in my life from inhaling the second-hand smoke from the four smokers. I don't smoke in lifts or places where smoking is not allowed.It suddently struck me how my wife and my children had suffered all these years from my intolerance and unreasonableness.When I got to my room, I called room service for some food and when the waiter arrived with the food, I gave him the carton of Dunhill, still with 8 packs inside, and told him to keep it for himself.He couldn't believe his good fortune.I promise not ever to smoke again.Unfortunately,three months later I broke my promise and pick up the habit again when I was caught in a long flight delay at Narita Airport.Although, I always armed myself with books on most of my journey to take away boredom of long flights and waiting at airports, I must admit smoking does help to soothe the mind in time of unavoidable boredom.Nicotine can be as addictive as any other drugs.A year later, on my 25th wedding anniversary,I promised my wife, whatever it is, I will, for the last time give up smoking for the rest of my life.I took a cold turkey and suffered for many weeks and maybe months from withdrawal symptoms.It is almost 15 years now and I have lost the urge completely.I have lost my annoying smoker's cough, the air in my house is clean and no smell of stale tobacco.Although, I still have many smoker friends, they are more reasonable, they don't smoke in air-cond rooms, most of the time they go outside the house to smoke.The only regret I have is, one of my two daughters had picked up my bad habit. I have been trying to get her to give up but have not been successful.Being an adult I have to leave it to her to make that decision.Zawi,my apology, for I must have bored you with this rather long story.I have nothing against smokers, but being an ex-addict, my advice, is give up while you still can.
I still remember The Sate Express ciggarette box, the picture of a cool handsome man in the uniform of a pilot smiling sweetly with a ciggarette between his finger. How not to be enticed into smoking?
It is still not too late to stop smoking. Stop the habit before it is already too late. If you are not yet a smoker, dont ever try. It is really not worth it.
I have found some write up about the effects of smoking. Just read through how it may affect you if you were to smoke.
Click on this topic below


Kicking The Habit

Do you have any bad habit? Do you want to kick some of them off? Smoking to some who are not yet a nicotine dependent, can stll be considered as a habit, a bad and wasting habit. You may have reasons to support the habit with proof to say that it is not the ultimate killer by exposing your lung to not only nicotine but also to a small degree of poisonous carbon monoxide. You can tell the world that your girlfriend/boyfriend or even your spouse don't mind the ashtray like smell emitting from your mouth when you speak. What more when you open your gap to yawn.
Ask a non smoking person beside you, he will try not to breathe when you are doing that. That is how foul the breath of a smoker especially one who inhaled all the smoke as I did during my over twenty years of smoking since 1971.
I never smoke cigarettes though both of my parents did. They were tobacco farmers and produce the tembakau kampong (local tobacco) for sale in the village. I was involved in the production of the tobacco by helping my parents to strip the central veins of the leaf using a string loop placed between the toes of my feet. That was what I used to do on most nights till I went to sleep. My mum and dad would roll the leaves minus the central vein to form a large long roll of about 3 inches diameter and using a wooden gadget with a hole to poke the rolled tobacco through in a horizontal position, a sharp long knife with a 3 inches blade would be used to slice across the rolled leaves to form strips of tobacco. These strips off sliced tobacco would be made into a small loosely arranged tobacco spread and sun dried until the moisture content was suitable for storage. The dried tobacco was then ready for use with dried nipah leaves.
Tembakau kampung and nipah leaves.

When I grow up I hate smoking. I always chided my friends who smoke and told them that it was a waste of money and a risk to health. That was until I was sent to a Felda land scheme in Ulu Terengganu for a three months practical training in an oil palm scheme. That three month turned me into a smoker. My colleague Tengku Ahmad Salleh introduced me to the world of smoking. He was smoking the milder Peter Stuyvesant brand. He had no wheels to move around and since I had wheels in the form of a small Yamaha 80 motorbike, he bribed me by offering me cigarettes to secure a ride. That was how I started smoking, much to the surprise of fellow friends whom I used to chide before.

That was 36 years ago and in between I did manage to stop smoking for a couple of month and once for more than 3 years only to continue the habit again until 1997. It was that easy to pick up the habit once you were a smoker.

My friend Ah Kong enjoying a smoke using rokok daun

The earlier stop from smoking was due to ill health. Maybe my lung had suffered enough from the regular exposure to the warm and noxious tobacco smoke. So it protested by making it tough for me to breath and produces all sort of sound to show that it was not well. The taste of cigarette then was very bitter and any light up of the cigarette made me hate the taste. That condition continued for a month until a friend came with a pack of the imported cigar the size of a normal cigarette. I remember the brand as Henry Wintermann. I think it was made in Holland. Hey man that ciggy was smooth. I could smoke again. So the habit continued with a change to this kind of cigarette. A pack of six sticks cost about RM3.00 then. That was about RM0.50 per stick. Quite expensive then it being 1981. The whole pack could last me the whole day as being expensive cigarette, I had to smoke less. I started facing problem when somebody else saw my new brand and they wanted to have a try. Oh dear my supply for the day was depleted before midday approach. How to survive the next 10 hours or so before I get to sleep? Will I get to sleep unless I get a smoke? The solution..back to normal cigarettes (Dunhill then).

Smoking a ciggarette

Another attempt at stopping to smoke was after I develop another bout of bronchitis. An X ray showed that I was having lung effusion. My doctor friend told me that the condition was dangerous and I must seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Hey when it was life threatening who would dare to continue smoking? That stoppage lasted me more than 3 years. A close friend move house to a house next to mine. He smoke the mentholated Salem. Every night he will come over for chit chat at my house and offered me a stick a night. Just for old time sake. That once a night stick led me to a very long smoking period until the total stop in 1994.

Why did I stop this time? This time the reason was not life threatening. It was a dare. My son Azuan was schooling in one of the premier Mara Science Junior College in Jasin Malacca. He was caught smoking in school. He was in form 4 then. The college authority did the right thing by sending him back to us. Initially they wanted to escort hm back to Pasir Mas Kelantan to ensure that he wont stray away from home. I gave assurance to the college authority that it would be OK to send him home on his own and I spoke to my son to come back on his own. He said he would come back.

We talked like a father and a son. Man to man. He didn't answer back at all to what I said and he admitted to the smoking. My final offer was that we both stop smoking. Me the father who had been smoking for more than 20 years will stop smoking and he being a smoker of just a few years must also stop smoking. We agreed and we shook hands on that and h asked for our forgiveness and we forgave him.

I was so happy that till now I have managed to stop smoking. I just took the cold turkey treatment and suffered the few agonizing weeks of withdrawal that followed. That step to quit smoking saved me quite a sum of money as the price of cigarette spiralled like the price of oil on the world market.

We didn't know that Azuan reneged on his gentleman agreement until that fateful day when he had that nasty accident that nearly killed his life. Among the items they found in his pocket was a lighter and a packet of cigarette. Read more of his near fatal accident here


Thursday, November 1, 2007

When Will I See You Again?

Nur Aqilah Balqiss

When we opened the house door, we could hear the eery silence inside the house. It felt so empty now she is no more with us. Not that she was making much noise when she was here. She broke into the occassional childish cry only when she was hungry. Otherwise she would be as quiet as any other baby. Whatmore if she was sleeping. My wife and me peered into the room that she was usually sleeping in. We saw the empty bed that her mum used to let her lie down when we were not holding her in our arms. She is not there anymore.

Barely an hour ago that Nur Aqilah Balqiss flew off into the blue sky heading for Kula Lumpur and later to Labuan and we are missing her already. We had been anticipating this feeling and thought even before she was born. We know we were going to have her around for just a few months at the most. We were prepared for this moment and yet we couldn't take it.

Our youngest daughter was 7 months pregnant when she came back from Labuan to deliver her first child. She had to come back early since her pregnancy will prevent her to fly when the due date was too near. Since this was her first delivery, she wanted to do it back home where we could be close to her when the time comes. The husband would come back later when the time was due for her to deliver.

At 2 days old

Nur Aqilah stayed in Perdana Specialist hospital for another 2 days after her delivery. Since the mother was still weak from the delivery, and my wife teaches on most days, I have to do the bathing of the baby every morning. My experience with newborns like my first nephew and later my own child has made me a sort of expert in handling babies of such a tender age. Later when the baby was older and the mother was stronger, this job was taken over by the mother with coaching from her mother and me.

Giving her a bath

Since I am retired, I dont really have much things to do around the house. The baby was like a gift to keep me occupied everyday. Feeding him with the bottle is one of my job since the mother didn't lactate immediately after her birth. When the mother produces sufficient milk, bottled milk was alternated between breastfeedings. I made sure that the baby received the colostrum, that is the first milk which contains a very rich concentration of antibodies essential to the health of the baby later in life. Many people are ignorant about the importance of feeding their babies with the first milk. My own daughter didn't know too until I have explained the details. Without this antibodies the child would be susceptible to disease later in life.
The doting parents was bent on giving their child the best formula milk. The best may not be always the best for a newborn baby. Compatability is important. As such the baby developed constipation which needed to be resolved with the use of laxative introduced via the anus. The mother then agreed to a change of ordinary milk powder that she herself was fed on when she was young. The change to 'Lactogen' not only cost her much less but solved the problem of constipation with her baby.

Later the baby was infected with nasal infection which resulted in nasal congestion. She had problem sleeping.We were often disturbed from our sleep with her incessant crying due to the nasal congestion. Both me and my wife will wake up and alternately cradle the baby to get her to sleep. The change in position helped her with her breathing problem. We tried to change her sleeping position so that she will sleep on her stomach with her face facing sideway. Azini wasn't confident as she feared that the baby maybe suffocate if she were to fall asleep herself and if Balqiss were to change her head position downward against the pillow.

This sleeping position gave her some respite when having nasal congestion.

The next day we took Balqiss to Perdana Specialist Hospital to have her checked and there they tried to suck out the phlegm blocking her nasal passage. Even that didnt help her much. I presume one of the nasal passges was blocked by inflamation. Luckily she responded to medication after a few days and was able to breathe normally which helped her with her sleep and also the mother's own need for sleep.

At two month old, she had already exceeded by a kilogram over the normal baby's weight of a two month old baby. Most of the clothes bought for her which was supposed to fit babies of below six months became too tight for her. So were the nappies.

Look what the doting grandma gave her.

All these while Lokman the father, had to be away since Balqiss was about a week old. The plant where he was working in Labuan was having a major shutdown for maintainence and his presence on site was much needed. Later an explosion occurred at the plant. I was shocked to read about it in the papers since Lokman didn't mention about it at all in his many phone calls and sms to his wife. He didn't want his wife to worry about it. That accident costs a worker's life, the welder. Something that never happened before in the history of the plant.

After the maintainence work at the plant was completed Lokman was granted 3 weeks leave to comeback to see his baby. From that day we started the countdown for the day when Balqiss will be taken back to Labuan which will be on 23rd October 2007. As a trial we allowed Lokman to take Balqiss to away to his parents home which is just less tan 10 km from our own home.

When Idilfitri came on 13th October 2007, we had full house when all the children and their children came home not only for the Eid but also for Azuan's wedding. After all these years we were all united again. We made do with all the discomfort of a full house. Since not all rooms were not fitted with air conditioners, some families had to suffer the discomfort of a slightly warm rooms with fan only accompanied by pesky mosquitoes which managed to escape from my electric mosquito swatters. Without fail I would religiously swat those mosquitoes to smitheren with the assistance of my older grandchildren who love to hear the sound of mosquitoes being zapped. At every zap, they will shout 'yea dapat'. Even the two and a half year old Razin Irsyad joined in the fray much to the consternation of Fatthiyah who was scared that her many precious glass and crystal decorations adorning the house would also be destroyed in the process.
If you are wondering what a mosquitor swatter looks like, wonder no more. It's made in China with a built in rechargeable battery. The handle can be seperated to become a torchlight. It is priced at RM15.80. There are other versions of course which come with different price.

After the wedding reception on the 16th of October, the exodus began. Azrin and family had to leave that very night as he had to work on his coming exam before he could renew his pilot licence. He left that night after all the presents for the brides were opened. Razin Irsyad was most involved with the opening of the presents.

Next to go was Azura with hubby Joe and their two girls Nuralya Jazleen and Nurfarhana Jazreen. They went by the Cameron Highlands route with a nightstop at the highland resort. The next one to go was The Brides Azuan and wife Wan Hanizah. They flew home by AirAsia on the evening of 19th October. Azuan's in laws were there too at the airport to to see the couple off.

The final one to leave was Nur Aqilah Balqiss and her parents on the 23rd of October 2007. It was their being going to Labuan that made it so difficult for us to let them go. If only Labuan is located at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia, it won't feel so heavy on us. At least I can drive to Johor and hop across to Labuan by ferry if it is so located. But alas Labuan is at the tip of Borneo which is across the China Sea. Of course I have to fly there. Upon checking on the internet, it would cost at least RM600 per pax to cover both the KBR-KUL and KUL-LBU sectors for a return flight. Still too expensive even on a no frill airline for a retiree living on a government pension like me. Anyway it is still too soon for us to visit them in Labuan. We will wait abit longer. At least by then Balqiss will produce a giggle when coaxed and not just the silent smile that she managed to give us thus far. That will be reward enough for us to travel that distance to see her.

The Smiling Balqiss

We missed the other grandchildren too. Come November 25th, I will be with the 'Budak Puchong' in Taman Amanputra, Puchong to stand in for their nanny who will take a month leave to visit her parents in Sumatra. After 4 years away from them while working for my daughter Azura, she definitely deserved the break. 'Budak Puchong' was the term Nuralya Jazleen used to proudly call herself when talking to her friends in the Taman Amanputra neighbourhood. While there I will be able to visit the three 'Budak Labu' in an enclave at Enstek, in Labu, Negeri Sembilan next to KLIA. I wont also forget to visit the newly wed at Brunsfield Riverview Apartments in Shah Alam to see whether Wan Hnizah has been affected by the feeling of throwing ups as often happen to mums to be.

Azini with daugther Balqiss

Tokma Fatthiyah on the last day with grand daughter.

Balqiss latest picture sent via MMS on 31st October 2007

All the grandchildren with Razin Irsyad, the only grandson not wanting to be photographed after a scolding by his dad for being naughty.

The other grandpa during the 'Bercukur Ceremony'