Holy Trail

Taken from the wiki,

‘The ʿUmrah or (Arabic: عمرة ) is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic Umrah means “to visit a populated place”. As a technical term used in the Shari’ah, Umrah means to perform Tawaf of Kaabah and Sa’i between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, after assuming Ihram, either from a Miqat or a place in Hill. It is sometimes called the ‘minor pilgrimage’ or ‘lesser pilgrimage’, the Hajj being the ‘major’ pilgrimage and which is compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. According to some schools of Islamic thought, the Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.’

Later today, mum will leave to perform her umrah. I won’t be able to send her to the airport as usual because she’s there back in my hometown on a sunny island set in the sea down south while I am here, facing the mock exams organised by Gothe Institute.

She had announced this umrah trip to us on her last visit here, intently stating it is really not for her, but actually she is going for me. Me? Why me? She gave me that look and said, ‘ Yes you. I have so much things to pray for you !’

Mum does that each time she thinks there is a big problem she cannot possibly solve on her own- go Umrah. At the very least, she says that if the problem still persists, she still gets her own time out in a peaceful place. And it seems that the fact no babies popped out of our marriage is indeed a big problem she couldn’t possibly solve on her own, so she has decided this trip is imperative 🙂

I did my umrah in 1998. With her of course. It was my first time, it was her 2nd time. I was blur on what to do and where to go but she was there like an army on a mission. My relationship with her then was, to say the least, volatile. Amongst the things I remembered so well then was to pray please, please, please God, don’t let us bicker or argue in of all places, YOUR holy abode.

Through the years after that, she made more trips there, usually on her own and also I notice, whenever she felt helpless on how to help her children with certain matters pertaining to our studies, our personal lives, our careers… us, generally. It is her subtle way of teaching us that when you really do not know what to do, the answers are all in HIM. Furthermore, she reminded us that the prayers of a mother has no barrier i.e HE promised that HE will grant all prayers of mothers for their children. So the very least she could do is to pray for us, without any distractions, by performing the umrah.

I had hoped to go there myself for really, of all the traveling we have been doing, it is there I wish we have been as a couple. However, the husband is not ready for it at this moment and I have to respect that. The time will come, he said, insya Allah soon. Because he too, knows that for all the challenges we have gone through together, good times, bad times, nerve wrecking times, turbulence times…. we both badly need time out to spend in solitude with HIM.

I pray mum will have a safe trip and I really hope amongst the things she prays for me later when she is there is to ask HIM to invite us there….

…..and oh, some new abayas for me would be nice too, heh 😛

A blond moment

This morning, I made a declaration to the unsuspecting husband.

‘ I have a crush on Logan Huntzberger’

‘Logan WHO? ‘ he asked, not taking his eyes away from whatever he was reading.

‘Logan Hunzberger. He is 21, a blond hunk studying in Yale and his father owns the publishing empire in the US’… I rattled on.

‘ Ohh THAT Logan. Face it. He’s Rory’s boyfriend’— still reading.

‘Yeah so? He’s cute and he’s fictional and I was from an all girls school for high school and having crushes was imperative!’ I babbled, obviously enjoying tormenting him with bimbo-ish conversation starters during breakfast.

And for a good 15 minutes after that we were discussing the final episode of season 5 of Gilmore Girls which we watched over dinner last night. Not that he had a choice. I served dinner on the carpet right smack in front of the television and the dvd player was playing what else, but Gilmore Girls. I was gleeful. My Mr Scientific-Engineering-Mind-Everything-Must-Be-About-Calculations-And-Logic husband now watches Gilmore Girls. Ahaks… 😛

So the theory about marriages blending two people together seems to hold some truth for me. 😛

And oh.. Logan Huntzberger is this eye candy.

Taken from here.

Please excuse me. This is just my phase of my ultimate blond moment.

Opocot !

For the longest time, I have and am still looking for the English equivalent of the word ‘melatah ‘. It all began when I was in primary school and my mum was making pineapple jam tarts in the kitchen. Her back was facing the kitchen door and I entered the house after a school day, tired and thirsty. She didn’t hear me coming. Her back was towards me so when I called out ‘ Maaa.. dah balikkkk !’ she did her ‘opocot oh mak leha oh budak‘ which I found hilarious but strange.

That was not a one off thing. It continued and by the time I was in secondary school, I had wanted to write about it during English class. We were asked to write about a phenomena. The intended title of my essay had been ‘My Mother and Her Phenomena‘. Well, melatah is a phenomena ain’t it? For during those times in primary school, I used to watch the drama OPAH on RTM and that Opah melatah quite badly.

Then, in those days, during weddings, I saw older cousins purposely poke or startle an unsuspecting grandmother which led to a display of hilarious theatrical display of profanities. But alas, I gave up the idea of writing about My Mother and Her Phenomena because I couldn’t find any English word which describes this weird behaviour.

I couldn’t solve the mystery during my days as a struggling psychology student either. I tried many times to explain to my professors, all Australians, on this thing we call melatah but I guess I didn’t manage to get it across coherently to them, only confusing them I did. Hence I dismissed it as never mind.. it’s a Malay thing….. It is a Malay thing isn’t it? I’ve never seen a meksalleh/matsalleh/chinese/indian/others (?) melatah, have you? I tried many, many times to prove myself wrong by trying to make my mother-in-law melatah when we were staying with her. Probably she would do the hail hitler if she did, but tried as I might, it never happened.

But alas…

In Growing Up in Terengganu, according to Awang Goneng, it is not only a Malay thing. Eskimos melatah too ! He translated or rather introduced the word ‘melatah’ as

has been described as Eskimo hysteria, a sudden involuntary movement ( dancing, doing the silat, or uncontrolled speech by old ladies at the slightest instigation..’

Well, thank you Mr Awang Goneng, but that is a whole string of words to describe melatah. I am still looking for ‘the‘ word melatah in English. And it also kept me wondering, if the Eskimos melatah, do they say opocot too? And also, I have always wanted to ask my mum, who the heck is Mak Leha? Because each time she melatah, she would say ‘ Opocot Oh Mak Leha !!!’

Give me more Gilmore

Got them at Rm 4 per disc at Penang’s Batu Ferringhi’s Pasar Malam. I am talking about the full Season 5 of Gilmore Girls. I can’t help but love the series for its witty dialogue and of course, Lorelai’s relationship with her mother Emily Gilmore is more or less like me and my own mum. The bickers, the disagreements, the whole shebang of i-know-what-is-best-for-you-because-i-am-your-mother her versus the this-is-my-life-so-let-it-be me.

Sometimes I wonder had she been not so anal about everything and anything else during my growing years, would I have been as rebellious as I had been then ? Would our relationship been better?

Well, it is indeed better now. Like the cliche goes, absence makes the heart grows fonder. I guess our relationship improved by leaps and bounds when we stayed away from each other. Like Lorelai and Emily Gilmore, I guess.

Unbelievably, I managed to get the husband hooked on the series as well. Now that‘s my achievement for this week. heh 😛

Line clear! Line clear!

I have never been a fan of anything curry. I can eat them but I just don’t fancy them. Hence I think before last Sunday, the last time I had Nasi Kandar was almost 20 years ago when I followed mum back to Penang to see her family.

But I have heard of this really old and famous Nasi Kandar Line Clear. And somehow before we made the drive back down, I just HAD to give it a try after everyone who knows Penang that I know talks about this place.

We got lost looking for it. Went round and round for more than an hour until we gave up and the husband got out and asked a really old man by the street where this Nasi Kandar Line Clear is. He said it is near Panggung Odeon on Penang Road. We must have been on that road gazillion times before but couldn’t find it. This time round, we really looked and there it was…

When we arrived, the husband looked at me and asked, ‘ Would you eat at this place? ‘ I just shrugged and judging at the long queue we saw, I thought cleanliness can take a back seat for this time. Just this time…

And I had my Nasi Kandar, eaten with hand soaked in curry. Everyone was right. It was darn good !

This little corner on its own is very amusing. The mamaks communicate with one another with just shouting LINE CLEAR ! If one of them wanted to say he has taken order, he would shout to another LINE CLEAR ! If drinks were ready and needed to be collected from the counter, another mamak would shout LINE CLEAR ! And when we have paid and this mamak wanted to call for the next customer, he would shout LINE CLEAR ! Everything is LINE CLEAR !

And one mamak goes around calculating customer’s bills with a chalkboard. After he did his calculations, he would shout to the one at the counter with, guess what? LINE CLEAR !

Authenticity tested

We arrived on Pulau Pinang at almost 6 pm on Saturday and straight away went to the USM guest house which we booked on Friday. Checked in and rested for a while. All the other hotels were fully booked to the brim due to the school holidays and I didn’t feel like staying with any of the relatives. Luckily the husband remembered USM has guest houses for rent and we got ours at RM 100, which was nicely furnished too.

At night we went out for dinner at where else but my favourite hawker on Gurney Drive, for Bukit Gelugor Satay, laksa penang complete with a spoonful of petis and a plate of char kuay teow. We had just wanted to use the toilet at the Gurney Mall but got distracted with the really good sale of Popular Bookstore and came out with a loot of 3 books each. And then off to Batu Ferringghi to get my fix of dvds sold at RM 4 each. I bought Gilmore Girls and Greys Anatomy for the series that I missed.

We made our way back to USM and reach there at around 11.30. It was raining. And to our horror, the gates nearest to the guest houses were padlocked! So we decided to try another entrance near the mosque. That too was locked. And then we tried the entrance near the Mac Donald’s Sungai Dua and it was locked too! So we drove back to the entrance nearest to the guest house thinking it might be the guard’s change of shift. In the rain, which was luckily not that heavy, the husband shouted and banged on the gates hoping any Pak Guard could hear us, as the lights in the guardhouse was on. I honk continuously. No one came. So we drove back to the main road entrance. The husband and I did the same thing–calling out, honking and shouting to be let in. There was somebody in the guard house !!! But no one came out as he must have thought we were drunken students playing pranks.

We did two more rounds of it around the campus. By now, we both needed to go to the toilet urgently, it was past midnight, raining and we both were feeling cold, especially the husband who was standing outside the gates in the rain shouting for a pak guard.. ANY pak guard to please let us into the compound.

As the nature calls became too hard to withstand, we drove to the Mac Donalds at Sungai Dua. For the first time, when we needed it the most, the Mac Donald’s has NO TOILETS. The one they have is only for staff. Ok fine. KFC was across the road. The toilet is upstairs BUT, they have already locked the upstairs. Arrrgh !

All our belongings were inside the guest house which we were locked out from and by then I urgently needed my sanitary pads. Both needed to use the toilet, no toilets were available for us. We were locked out of the campus, nerves were stretched like a very, very tight rope. On top of that, we just had a 5 plus hours of drive up from KL. The word to use at that moment is simply BUNTU.

So we drove back to the gate nearest to the guest house and by now it was already 12.30 am. We just parked the car and sat there, not knowing what to do. ‘This is a test..’ said the husband. ‘ Maybe I did something wrong or said something I wasn’t supposed to..’ he continued. With that, I suddenly remembered the blog entry I wrote just before we left for our journey where I said, ‘My point is, if you say you believe in God, then believe that HE is your all in one problem solver.’ I guess, HE was testing me how much I meant what I said in that entry. So I said to the husband, ‘ I can’t pray… can you just do solat hajat please? We need help’

So with whatever water left in our water bottle, he took his ablution, got out onto the pavement and in the not so heavy rain ( more of a heavy drizzle ), he did two sets of solat hajat. After he was done, he got back into the car and asked whether I could call my aunt. Oh how could I forget?! Being a deputy dean of USM, she might help us. But it was almost 1 am and I didn’t feel good disturbing her with a phonecall so I sms instead. We waited 10 minutes. No answer. We had 2 choices… Sleep in the car OR look for another motel. We chose the latter. But as we were driving off, the husband suddenly remembered that there was indeed another entrance stated on the map that we had not tried yet. The entrance opposite the new students’ hostel. All the way there my mouth was ‘terkumat-kamit’ selawat, selawat, selawat to please please please let there be a pak guard there.

There was!!!…. Alhamdulillah.

By the time we both got to use the toilet in the comfort of our own guest house, it was 1.40 am. We were told by the pak guard who let us in that only that one entrance is opened at night. Like duh.. we were not briefed by the reception about it at all but it was ok. We got in, in time before we got into another mess where nature calls were concerned.

And the learning point that night for me was that for every claim I make towards my belief for HIM, I know I would be tested on how much I really meant it. And I was glad we had HIM in mind to seek help from.


There are things here which I still find very hard to understand.

For example,

Why do the Malays, while sticking strictly to 5 times daily prayers, fasting, zakat and other requirements of Islam– to show that they believe that there is no God but Allah, BUT when things do go wrong, they go to see Mr Bomoh?

So when they pray and all that, where hence did their faith lie in? In Allah? Or is Allah the last resort, so go to bomoh first and THEN finally to Allah? Isn’t bomoh just a man like any of us? And the only thing he does is to play with jinns for the whole of their supernatural shebang? And the jinns…aren’t they supposed to be lower than us human beings who are given Aql’ i.e the thinking and the power of rationale and reflections ?

What I really don’t understand is, people who call themselves educated ( belajar kat England, you..! ), successful ( syarikat-syarikat tu semua I yang punya ), religious ( eh dah naik haji 3 kali.. semua guna Tabung Haji exclusive package ! ), knowledgeable ( eh I pergi kelas fardhu ain Ustazah nih tau..semua orang yang I kenal gi dengan I sekali ), globalised ( holiday ni I pi Paris tau.. last year dah ajak anak-anak gi US punya Disneyland )….. alas, when the going gets tough…. masuk kampung jugak cari bomoh.

Are they joking or are they a joke themselves? If no one understands whatever I am trying to point out, no worries, I have been baffled with this phenomena since I moved here, which I am still trying to figure out myself.

My point is, if you say you believe in God, then believe that HE is your all in one problem solver. Not Mr Bomoh… that is syirik, get it?

Pi Uthara

Seuss is in front of me, playing with the Big Apple Donut’s receipt. He is obsessed with receipts. If he finds any, he can play with it for hours until it is receipt no more but shredded pieces of paper laden with his saliva.

The week has passed really quickly. Weekend is coming yet again. My personal week has been quite well-managed and many things got done.

Our weekend will be up north, insya Allah. Mum asked us to represent her and Bapak to her cousin’s son’s wedding in Bayan Lepas, Penang. Meaning, my 2nd cousin, whom I didn’t even know existed. Up north in Penang, I know some relatives, I don’t know most. The ones I do know, speak to me in standard Malay because they know if they speak Bahasa Uthara to me, they would lose me in 30 seconds. But I love going back to Penang. My Tok Teh was the exco of Wanita UMNO Pulau Pinang. When I was younger, I used to watch RTM news back home and sometimes when there were snippets of Persidangan UMNO or any of their events and I would be able to see her, with her tudung ala Sharizat with the jambul peeking out conspicously, with matching shoes and handbag. And I would scream to mum to come to the tv with TOK TEH ! TOK TEH !

Oh well… let’s see what she has to say about this week’s big news causing the Tsunami in UMNO.


If we have heard of rumours about neo Nazis making a comeback in Germany and in FACEBOOK neo ‘daily philosophers’ are aplenty, I think I might have just found a neo HAMKA in the making.

So far I’m only familiar with 3 literary personalities of Indonesia. I’ve only read one book of Almarhum Pramoedya Ananta Toer, a few books of Almarhum HAMKA — mostly his commentaries of the Quran and that was also for some research work and classwork. And as for Almarhum Amir Hamza, one or two of his poetry. Other than these three, I am as unfamiliar to Indonesian literature as an Eskimo is to rendang ( before ‘modern day’ globalisation—I dun want to digress but that term I would want to explain in a different entry altogether ).

I was initially a bit skeptical with the current craze over the book/movie Ayat-Ayat Cinta. At first I thought it was another of those crappy Malay love novels because of these reasons:

  1. The title. God knows how many volumes of those lovey-dovey-asmara-dana Malay novels out there which call themselves literature but really, are actually just a load of trash.
  2. I have very little patience for sappy romantic novels.
  3. I heard it was made into a movie and hence I equate it to one of those Awie-Erra-Sembilu thingies.


Someone pointed out to me that the writer who goes by the name of Habiburahman El Shirazi, hailed from Semarang, Jawa Tengah where my paternal grandparents came from. And that led me to a little research about himself and the book. My literary hero, Pak A Samad Said gave raving reviews about the book, several academicians unanimously said that the book is not a sappy love story but an academic work manifested in a novel and some other respected ulama’ in Indonesia gave it thumbs up. A couple of reviews called him the Neo Hamka.

Ok so, my curiosity was definitely whetted.

I didn’t to want to just jump into Ayat-Ayat Cinta because I wanted to see his style of writing first. So I read his first book, Pudarnya Pesona Cleopatra, a book consisting of two short stories. Not bad. Raw but really, not bad at all.

And then I dived into Ayat-Ayat Cinta. I was swooned. From the first book to this one, the writing style has matured by leaps and bounds, he has begun to develop the characters in greater details and the plot jived in with the characters and academic facts moving on in a very sleek manner. I say, give him another ten years? And the Indonesian literary scene should be able to rejoice and say another HAMKA is here.

The only grievances I have about this copy that I am having is that I bought the Malay translation of the book ( from Bahasa Indonesia ) and the editing and translation were really haphazardly done. The proofreading was bad and the translations were not consistent, which I found quite irritating but that gave me the reason to look for the Indonesian original version next month, insya Allah.

I would want to buy his books from now on. Being attracted by his writing is one, but knowing that proceeds of the royalties will go to the Pesantren in Semarang is another emotional attachment altogether. Probably, my late yayi would want me to do that and who knows, I might just be related to this ‘Kang Abik’ who goes by Habiburahman El Shirazi and who swooned the Nusantara readers with his ayat-ayat cinta.

Yet again?

After this, I thought we more or less settled we have a boy and a girl for kittens. But since last week, we yet again found out we were wrong. Milo is indeed a boy ! So instead of two twin sisters-kittens like what we were initially told, we then thought we had a boy and a girl and now, finally hoping to confirm that Milo is an alpha male in the making.

Hai….tsk tsk tsk

Today I forced myself not to go back to sleep after subuh and I realised that once I do that, things DO get done, all in one day. 5 loads of laundry ? check! Clean toilets? check ! Vacuum cleaned house? check! Teaching? check! A clean kitchen? check! Fresh home-cooked dinner? check! Readings? check! and finally… errr blogging? check ! check ! check !

It’s weird but Dr Mahathir leaving UMNO somehow gave me an adrenalin rush.