The cab driver and korupsi berjemaah

I think I am about to get sick.

I am not sure if it is from eating too much sambal and other spicyΒ  lip smacking Indo food.. OR from drinking too much teh botol Sostro… OR the air pollution here from the traffic.. OR from the lack of rest.. OR for the fact I braved myself to eat soto from a street vendor today, just for the experience.

We bought books. Yes, more books. Books are awfully cheap here. We bought books by Pramoedya and El-Shirazy, DEBU cd and oh, bumped into the lead singer of DEWA at the supermarket yesterday. And ate way too much, ( that would be me ) as the chili padi laden Indo food is just so perfect for me. PERFECT.

Saw homeless, barefooted kids along the street we are staying on. Saw ghetto areas and squatters area. The husband kept saying again and again that Jakarta reminds him so much of Mexico City where he worked. Where the filthy rich live side by side with the dirt poor in stark contrast.

Two things I will always remember about Jakarta.

1. A taxi driver, when driving along rows of government building nonchalantly told us, ‘ Ini semua gedung kerajaan pak.. bu.. Semua orang dalam gedung ini korup nih.. malah, korupsi dalam ini semua bukan sekadar tahap sembahyang pak.. Korupsi nya udah tahap berjemaah !’ … we cracked up real bad in the taxi with laughter. That was a real honest to goodness introduction to his country in a very ‘selambe’ manner.

2. Hospitality level is very high and adab wise, I couldn’t ask for more, seriously.

Street Urchins and Asian Beverly Hills

I would like to write more but I have less than half an hour left before this thing logs itself off.

Jakarta on the first day was spent in the the infamous macet ( traffic jam ), entertained by cab drivers’ tongue in cheek outlook to life in Indonesia, of a mad rush to find a kebaya for myself at the 11th hour, of delicious Soto Malang and Es Teller at Jln Thamrin, of catching up with good friends and marveled how their kids grew up beautifully.

Jakarta, the grime, the terrible traffic, the polluted air, the beautifully hospitable people, really awesome food and the nice apartment we got ourselves into. Of staying on the same street as where Obama went to school when he was a kid ( ahaks… the cab driver just had to stress that ;p ).

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Today was more eventful. Very tiring but in a good way. The wedding was beautiful. Iyok is a married man now…The food was A+++, the company was awesome. Met up with people I have been meaning to meet up with for the longest time. Heru, it’s been almost five years !!! You and Ira …you guys are just such wonderful people. Thanks mates ! Next trip? See you in Sulawesi insya Allah. πŸ™‚

Chapek nihhh … oh yes, Heru, if you are reading this, we had Nasi Uduk Gondangdia with bebek bakar and pecel lele. Took bajai there from Cikini. Enaknya mintak ampunnnn ;p

Antara Anyir dan Jakarta

…. kita jatuh cinta..

So sang Sheila Majid.

So percicilan will be on rest for a little while with more traveling news one can use. πŸ™‚

It’s off to the land of Sinetrons and Bakso and my favourite Teh Botol Sostro.

Jakarta and Surabaya, here we come … insya Allah :p

Immigration and Other Stuffs

I was at the Immigration Department today, to renew my visa for long term stay. The last time I was there was a year ago, where I was granted a 1 Year Visa, a sticker in my bright red passport which says I am allowed to stay in Malaysia for a year without any penalty, and that I am not a tourist, but any form of employment is strictly prohibited.

Now, the Immigration Department is a very interesting place to be at. I could write a novel by just sitting down, observing everyone. Each has a story. It could be the spouses of Malaysians trying to beg for their PRs, or foreign workers/students trying to extent their stays, children of Malaysians born abroad, ‘pendatang haram’ finally caught and having to face the immigration issues, over stayers etc. And the drama sometimes can be quite surreal. I know because I was once in one of them.

It was 2006 December. I was on my extended visa, in which out of sheer stupidity and being a stubborn mule, I told the husband, never mind lah no need to renew it because that year we were in and out of Malaysia very often. So the last place we were at before that incident was Brisbane, and barely a month plus of touching down in Malaysia, we were supposed to leave for Christmas in Frankfurt. The husband kept reminding me to renew my visa, but I told him, never -mindlah, this is Malaysia, Malaysia boleh what…! Thinking that I could get away with not renewing my long term Malaysian Visa, which by then was 2 weeks overdue.

Then we were in KLIA. Checked in. Our luggages all set. The husband was all excited to see his family. In Wiesbaden his aunt was already waiting for our call in case we needed to be picked up. Luggages all on board Emirates. Then, I was stopped at the counter where they stamped my passport. ‘Puan…’ The man behind the counter grimly looked at me. ‘ Passport puan visa dia dah overdue. Puan dah melanggar undang-undang… overstaying ni !’

Damn. I overlooked one factor. People from my country are only allowed 30 days maximum in Malaysia. I have stayed about 40 days without renewing my visa.

We were in a fix. The husband tried to appeal saying that we really needed to board that flight and he tried to negotiate saying he really need to see his family and all, but the officer grimly said ‘You can go sir, but your wife has to stay and settle her immigration issues OR else, we get the airport police to put her in lokap tonight and send her to immigration tomorrow.’

The last thing I wanted to do is to have a record that I have been locked up in a Malaysian cell. Oh so tidak!!! I am adventurous yes, but NOT to THAT extend.

I thank God very much that moment for having such a patient and doting husband that he calmly requested for our luggages to be brought down from the planes, made arrangements for another Emirates flight the day after next so we can spend the next day sorting my Visa out. I felt guilty as hell. My stupidity and stubborn-ness caused him 2 days less of spending time with his family. And it showed on his face.

So the next day came and the first thing in the morning, we went to the Immigration. I had to beg for my case to be a genuine case of forgetfulness ( although I was more of being stubborn ) that I didn’t check my VISA. I had to be questioned ( interrogated ? ) and I literally had to plead with the officer to let me off because it was not my attention to over stay without permit.

He let me off with a stern warning and having to pay the minimum fine of Rm 100 as required by the law.

So Malaysia is not so boleh after all. ( in a good way too ! )

Anyway, we got back to the airport less than 48 hours later with a very repented me, having said sorry to the husband for a gazillion times and cursing myself for being a mule.

And everyday, at the Immigration Department, there are more of such stories, but some with more colours to it.

Today, the lady officer offered me a 5 year visa to stay in Malaysia. I was overjoyed !!! I love it here, seriously. I had some terrible first few months adjusting to the not so efficient side of things but looking past that and looking for it’s beauty and richness, I found heaps. But alas, it was not my rezeki. Her boss didn’t approve of it and he just approved for me to be here another year. So next year, on this date, I would have to appear at the Immigration Department again, with a muka kesian applying for yet another year to be on this Tanah Melayu.

Just like him

Went to buy my outfit for Aikido class later. Our first class this evening. Given that the scales for me have tipped greatly to the other side of late, I have to admit, I look strangely but expectedly like him…

Image taken from here.

I know I find Kung Fu Panda cute. But to look like him and all the ‘babats’ in the package, it’s so not cool. Actually, now that I looked into the mirror, I look more like Kung Fu Hippo.

Time after time

Was shopping at the supermarket last night when a song was played. There was this non-local couple who suddenly dropped their basket and started to slow dance in the aisle. I stood there watching them for a moment, grinning. The song must have meant something to them. I thought that was sweet and cute. When the song ended ( and I have since chosen my baking stuffs ), they stopped dancing and resumed their shopping, smiling from ear to ear. I smiled at them.

I like people who can stop and smell the roses and capture the moment.

Moving on and learning

More or less, other than having to deal with a sick and clingy Milo post his brother’s death, I think I have come to terms ( a bit ) with Seuss‘ departure from us. Nevertheless, I still hold my breath each time I see Milo walking towards the gate. Like a deja-vu that I have to learn to stop from coming into my mind. I thought the accident was going to affect my exams today but thankfully, it didn’t.

The exams being over, I can go back to my reading. I hope to finish this book

Image taken from Wikipedia

Which has been given to me quite some time ago but I got distracted with other books and didn’t continue from where I stopped with this one.

I am also very excited with the coming trip, which is coming soon and sooner by the day and in fact, it will be next week πŸ™‚ insya Allah… More than anything else, the trip will mean I get to see some friends I have been meaning to catch up with for the longest time.

There are things I set myself to accomplish before I leave Malaysia, if we ever do leave at all …( I am getting a tad too comfortable here and loving it ).

1. Learn how to sew Baju Kurung, Baju Melayu and Kebaya.

2. Learn to cook at least 3 dishes from each state. So far I am doing good with more than 3 dishes of Pahang and my Gulai Lemak Ikan Patin was a huge success with our guests some time ago. ehem-ehem πŸ˜›

3. Read all of A Samad Said books.

4. Learn a Malay art/culture/craft. I contemplated learning about Malay dance or batik painting. But I don’t know where to go for those.

So far while I have been here, I have been going for business marketing classes at KDMC, German classes at Goethe Institute Kuala Lumpur, baking classes at Kota Damansara, belly dancing classes by ElWardah Dance Academy and online courses on http://www.sunnipath.com .

Next week both the husband and I will insya Allah start on our Aikido class. On why we decided to learn that Japanese martial arts instead of others is another story altogether. And really, really really, it has nothing to do with me enjoying the latest hit cartoon, Kung Fu Panda. Heee πŸ˜‰

At the risk of sounding like a geek, ( which I don’t mind being one, if I am not one already ) learning is fun, as I always tell my students. It is definitely more exciting than whining, complaining and blogging about negative things government/world/life/society do to us or how bad the world is. Those things just sink one down down down the mud pit even further, I feel.

Blue skies ahead !

The Eulogy… In memory of Seuss

Dear Seuss,

We hope that you are resting in peace now in our garden. It seems only yesterday that we were cuddling you and having lots of fun with you, watching you and Milo wrestle. But today, you are gone.

I can never forget the sight of watching you get knocked down by the car right before my eyes. We were leaving for dinner and for some strange reason, you wanted to follow us and you dashed out of the gate in full view of both of us and Milo. We were talking and planning who should cat sit you and Milo while we were gone for our trip. And there and then, you dashed across, too late for the oncoming car to stop. Then we heard and saw you knocked down barely a metre away from us. And you scampered round and round before falling down.

We rushed you to the pet hospital. Throughout the journey, you were in my arms with my tears raining on your cheeks. You were so still it frightened me. I kept begging you to hang on and hang on. I zikr anything I could remember. We sped through the traffic like crazy. But alas, when we reached the hospital, the vet pronounced you gone. And I became like a mad woman.

Seuss, we brought you back cold. And when we were approaching the house, my heart broke because it was always you who would come running to welcome us back with your fat legs–without fail. Rain or shine, you would always be there waiting for us to come home. But this time, only Milo was there. You were in my arms, cold and lifeless.

Seuss, do you know that Milo saw us bury you in our garden ? He didn’t understand what was going on but he helped us bury you by pushing the earth down.

He didn’t come into the room to sleep with us last night, do you know that ? He went round and round the house looking for you mewing out. Because it was always you who came into the room first and then licked him to sleep. I found him outside at 3 am, still not asleep and probably waiting for you.

Seuss, do you know that as I am typing this, Milo is walking all over the house calling out loudly for you? Both of you were the closest twin brothers I’ve ever known, doing everything and anything together. Going everywhere together And now Milo is looking for you. In fact, he even went to your grave this morning and tried to dig you out. And Milo too saw you knocked down. It was terrifying for all of us.

We miss you so much Seuss. We called you Theodore from Alvin the Chipmunk because you were so manja. We even called you Mr Bimbo because you used to do all those silly things Milo would never do. Everyone who comes into this house loves you, especially the kids who come for homeschooling and tuition. But now, you remain only a piece of memory which will bring a smile to our faces each time we think of you.

Oh by the way, we told your real mummy’s owner. He was very, very sad because he took care of you while you were still being breast fed by your mummy. But he had good news to tell though. Your mummy just gave birth to a new litter of kittens, by the same father as you and Milo ! So see, you and Milo now have 3 younger siblings. Here are your pictures for our memory. We promise we will take care of Milo well, insya Allah.

Goodbye now,

All of us and Milo.

p.s I love you

p.p.s If you see Gimok in the next life, send our love to her please.

You must sleep snuggled in an armpit. During the day when ‘daddy’ was not home, you found your sleep in the teddy bear’s armpit…

Your acute sense of hearing is amazing. You can recognise our keys or the car’s engine a mile off and wake up promptly.

Your soft black paws always hugging my toes at night…

Your whiskers which grew in our very own house…

You were always contemplating in the garden…

We love you Seuss. May you rest in peace. You ain’t just a cat. You were our baby, our companion, our house guardian, our joy and laughter and our solace. You are sorely missed….

10 People on my A-List

Rozas blogged about the ten people who inspired her and called for fellow bloggers to share who are the people who inspire us, one way or the other in our lives. So here is mine.

1. My Bapak

For his struggles, his personality, his selflessness, his sense of forgiveness, his firmness, his honesty, his relentlessness display of love and most of all, his patience.

2. My Mum

This is one woman who never know the meaning of being tired. She would do anything and everything to provide for other people and make their lives as comfortable as possible, to the extend it becomes her weakness ( macam lilin membakar diri sendiri for the goodness of others ). We fight loud and vicious, but I know she knows that at the end of the day, I hold her on pedestal. AND for cooking my favourite Javanese dishes better than any Javanese I know, although she is Penang mai…

3. Sumayyah Binti Khabbab

The first martyr of Islam who died refusing to denounce the truth. She is my symbol of bravery.

4. Aunty Meena

Our Hindu domestic helper from the previous house. She works day and night cleaning people’s houses, leading a hard life but never once I heard her complain about how hard her life is, although we all see how hard her life is, indeed.

5. Arwah Yayi

My late grandfather from Weleri, Semarang Central Java, who raised his 13 children well, all intact in values and spiritual connections to the ONE above. Who taught and showed everyone that one can be physically poor but as long as you are spiritually and mentally rich, you will be really, really alright in this world.

6. Shan Liang

My student from eons ago. Taught him when he was in primary school. He should be in his late teens now. He couldn’t read, couldn’t write as he is suffering from learning difficulties BUT, he had big dreams which he wanted to achieve. He wanted to be a Durian King. Can’t read, can’t write but will not settle for anything less. Not just durian seller mind you, Durian KING !

7. Ingrid Mattson

I just love her, her lectures and the way she carries herself !

8. Dato’ Aidit Ghazali

Mentor, teacher, friend and formerly my Chief Editor. Learnt from him from a long way back and I am thankful for all the lessons he taught, especially to be an Insan Rabbani.

9. Dr Uthman El Muhammadi

I used to go to his lectures when he was a visiting scholar back in my hometown. What do we know, by the twist of fate ( and rezeki ), he is currently the husband’s teacher for his post-grad work. May Allah bless his soul. Word has it he used to cycle from Kota Bharu to KL to get books for his knowledge seeking purpose. Now if that is not inspiring, what else is ?

10. The husband

Yo husband, you know, I know why ! πŸ˜›

I am not sure if this is a tag, but there Rozas, I shared already πŸ™‚

The Pensil Story

We had 13 relatives from my hometown as guests at our place yesterday. I had only 4 hours of sleep the previous night, ( cooking a hurricane ) feeding them a spread which they love, and that made me happy. And of course I was happy with their visit. I miss the ‘kecoh-kecoh’ of big family gatherings.

We saw them off at the bus station where they took the 7 pm coach back, after which the husband suggested a movie to wind down after the hyper hours of entertaining. We wanted to catch Incredible Hulk for me who missed it and a 2nd time for the husband who loved it. But alas, the timing available was at 7.30 and at that moment at 7.15, I was slurping steaming hot bakso with chilli padi downing it with teh botol sostro.

Then I remembered I wanted to watch an INDIE film made in Malaysia, supported by FINAS, which I’ve heard and read alot of raving reviews about. It has big names from the theater scene too so I reckoned, why not.

Image taken from here.

Lo and behold, we were the only two people in the entire cinema when the film started at 8.10. I doubt we would get into trouble even if make out in there. But of course we didn’t ! πŸ˜›

It was good! No, it was awesome. As many other INDIE films, it’s a bit slow and sometimes overly dramatic, but the line up of actors and actresses who are mostly from theater sort of explains it. The simple plot stemmed from just a pencil and which later grew to discuss many issues of society and humanity, and of the people who are physically ‘different’. We both cried buckets ( actually maybe just cups ). Very drama lah.. I tell you !