Saturday, June 28, 2008

A wedding

A wedding, its one of the most common topic so many people blog on. And in Malaysia, wedding is really a ceremony and many of us Malaysian tend to write on that eventful day, other than of course many people like to write on politics in the country.

In this blog I will write, what everyone have been writing or have written, nothing more and nothing less, what I observed and I feel and how I view such ceremonies. I have touched on this subject many times, though very indirectly.

Today, Saturday 27th of June 2008 I attended one such wedding. It was in the open ground close to the sports complex of the Islamic International University, Kuala Lumpur. It was just a normal wedding celebration, where in this case the groom’s side is holding the party, and only last week the bride side held a party, where the groom had to sign all the legal papers for these two to be legally married.

As you enter the location, you are ushered by the hosts, usually the parents or the relative of the groom or even the brothers and sisters. As a token they give you an egg or similar gifts, probably in token of appreciation for the wedding gift which you may have brought along with you. Even if you do not have such gift they will still give you the egg. The egg probably represent or symbolic of the couple being productive.

Actually nothing is said about this, but I am just assuming. Sometime such token is not given when you enter, they may give it to you while you are eating the food served or even when you leave. But in most cases, when you leave you give your host token ‘payment’ for the hospitality. Not much, but a fair sum, maybe just RM 50.00 or even more if you are well off. I have known people giving up to RM 1000.00, but these are on very exceptional circumstances. But don’t be surprise if the hosts gets so much more when the guest may be trying to curry favour.

Of course the VIP tables are all set,

food ready to be served.

And some may even be served. You may eat when you arrive, at the specified time of arrival and you may leave after such eating.

And the kitchen is ever ready to provide more food.

Actually the host had already estimated how much food may be required, he already knows his number of guests expected. Unexpected guest may not exist at all, people are shy to go to such feast if not invited.

And the stage is set, where the bride and the groom will sit, they are the ‘king for the day’. These are specially decorated seats.

And of course the bride and the groom

and the flower girls. Probably having the flower girls is influenced by the western ways.

And of course the music.

A proper set up, some even may have DJs to entertain the guests. A more expensive wedding may even hire a live band. Of course a more expensive wedding may even be held in hotel ballrooms.

Once seated then they greeted, in this case by ‘pancak silat’. ‘Silat’ is actually the Malay way of self defence, but traditionally it alsao have a sort of introductory dance, so the Malays use that as a mean of greeting. But of course they must also show their prowse in the self defence.

And the ‘merenjis’ ceremony, which is really a Hindu influence which somehow are carried over by the Malays to this day, mind you Malays are Muslims. A conflict? I wouldn’t really know but I do not believe in the ‘merenjis’ any more, so I do partake in such a ceremony. The ceremony? I cannot really describe it now, it has been transformed over a period. What do they do? Just watch it on the video.

And then the usual thing of ‘eating at the couple’s table' (now being prepared) with the close relatives and to be witnessed by the guests present

and ‘cutting the wedding cake’ which is really a western influence.

A wedding may cost a lot of money, so the family or the couple will spend according to what they can afford. The wedding described above was just a normal wedding which did not require a lot of money to be done with. There may be more grand weddings or some simple wedding, depending on circumstances.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Kompang is actually small rebana used commonly in Malaysia in Malay weddings. What is the significant? I have no idea really, but I suppose to create that happy atmosphere. Sometime they accompany the ‘drum beat’ with words, to make it more complete. Personally I don’t like it that way, I prefer just to listen to the ‘drum beat’.

The above site page describes what a ‘kompang’ is. It’s a sort of drum, a sort of musical instrument. You may need to click on An example of how the kompang sounds to listen to the sample sound. But that sample sound is too short for anyone to appreciate how they really sound.

And that site page it gives you the kompang rhythm.

The page tells you where kompang are performed.

I have included here a very normal Malay wedding video, showing how the kompang is used in the ceremony. Just listen to the ‘drum beat’ in the background of this video.

(To enjoy the full sound, play the video once, when it gets cut ‘off’ and ‘on’. Then click on the Replay button once the first session is done).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wasp (Red wasp, Malay = Tebuan)

When I was a young boy living in the rural Malay village, I did not realise how dangerous these insects are. We knew somehow not to go too near them, they sting, and they sting really bad. It did not matter if only one attacked you but when they come in swarm then you are in big trouble. My father was once bitten by a swarm of them, and after that his hair turned white where he got stung on the head. Actually then it was not difficult to get bitten by these insects; in the tropical jungle they may make their nests anywhere at medium height on tress or even in the undergrowth attached to a grove of rattan or a clump of bamboo.

In the urban area it may be a different setting but they are as dangerous.

And when you accidentally disturb them then they come after you maybe one at a time initially but as you panic and try to run then whole nest occupant may come after you, and in a nest there are maybe hundreds of them. How fast you run they can still go after you, and in a jungle or even in the tropical undergrowth, how fast can you run before you trip?, either on roots of trees or even small trees in your path or even big logs that fallen along a clear jungle path. In an open ground you might just outrun them but they will chase you to almost ‘the end of the flat earth’. They say that if you are near a body of water, or a river, you may take something that can float, say a coconut or even your hat, you jump into the water and let the thing that float floats and you dine into the water holding your breath underwater. The insects will attack the floating object. But in reality how long can you hold your breath underwater (if you can swim that is) or if you do not panic can you just swim under water away from them. If luck is on you side you might just be safe while the insects go after the floating object.

These insects normally are out and about mostly singly during flowering seasons. But during fruit seasons, especially when ‘langsat’ ripens (and some ‘langsat’ fruits may fall to the ground breaking the skin and exposing the sweet juicy flesh) this is the time when these insects are out and about in numbers eating that sweet flesh. And don’t you dare disturb them.

Children being children, and living in the rural Malay village there was nothing more fun than carrying catapults around and shooting at anything from small birds to wasp nests. We used to do that and we never got stung whenever we shot at wasp nests. But others walking by unknowingly have been heard to have got stung after our escaped.

Technically this is how the insect is described:
Head, thorax and gaster with erected stiff hairs from each punctures. Head as wide as thorax, dark brown or brownish red; compound eyes kidney-liked with three ocelli; antennae dark brown and last segment pale brown; clypeus black or brownish red with black margin posteriorly, many punctures on the clypeus actually coarse and strong, posterior side of clypeus with blunt triangular lobes; mandibles dark brown to black. Pronotum, mesonotum and propodeum dark brown to black, propodeum usually smooth and impunctate, the median groove short and deep at base, barely continued to the apex of the propodeum. Legs dark brown or black, reddish brown towards the tarsi. Wings dark fuscous and pale brown along their apical margins; tegulae dark brown. Gaster usually dark brown to black; the second segment bright yellow or yellow orange.
This species is a subterranean wasp. Adults are medium to large sized, dark brown to black and yellowish orange marked on the gaster. This species is very similar to Vespa affinis, but easily distinguished from the latter by bright yellow or yellow orange at the second gastral segment.

The photo on the left shows the insect in an hopeless situation when its sting has been somehow detached from its tail.

And some sites of reference:

Monday, June 16, 2008

My late father

On Father’s Day, Sunday June 15, I have to write in appreciation of my late father who left us about 40 years ago. A person who was born in a Malay most rural settings, unwell, never went to school, almost fully illiterate except that he might just be able to read and recite the Koraan verses. And who got married very young on an arranged marriage to a cousion in the village, had a still born child by that first marriage, and got divorced almost immediately. He re-married a young women, after that, who became my mother, with whom they another son, my younger brother. And that marriage did not last, and my mother was asked to be divorced from him by his family, for some reason which I still do not know the details. How he managed to look after us after that I did not know and still don’t. And he re-married after we were already at school, and I was then in a residential school far away. That marriage gave him a daughter and another son. He was then already very sickly and he died in the Kuala Lumpur GH, a place which he never visited before in his life; the furthest that he had been to town then was Temerloh (Pahang, Malaysia) by boat and Mentakab (about 5 km from Temerloh in a NE direction) by train, both places were only about 20 km from where he lived.

But my father was the only one who produced children among his two brothers and a sister. That to me was and is an achievement.

In appreciation and rememberance of my late father.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

In good faith.

It is in good faith that anyone being a Muslim (or claiming to be a Muslim) has to say and believe strongly in the shuhadah (there is only one Allah to pray to and Muhammad is His Prophet), pray (the Muslim ways) 5 times a day at specified times, fast for 30 days (the Muslim ways) during the month of Ramadan (a Muslim lunar month), pay tithes when due, and go for pilgrimage to Mekah when one can afford it.

In addition a Muslim has to have a strong faith (aqidah) (belief) in Allah SWT, all of Allah Angels, all of Allah Prophets, at least in 4 of Allah’s Good Books, the Days of Reckoning (the end of the world as we know it), and Qadak & Qadar (all happenings are thro’ Allah SWT’s will).

My above understanding of Islam in brief.

One very useful activity in Islam is to remind all Muslims about the religion, and its obligations and this is often done through ‘tazkirah’ ( a reminding session) between the prayers of Maghrib (early evening prayer) and Isha (Isya) (the late night prayer), which is about a period of 1 hour. In Malaysia this is usually done in the mosque (big or small house of prayers) where Muslims have already done their Maghrib prayers together (jemaah) properly. And those giving these ‘reminders’ are usually learned and schooled Muslims or those with very wide knowledge of Islam, and who may speak the language of the congregation. And the person must be acceptable to the congregation. If a person does not speak the language, there will be no communication and no ‘reminder’. And probably the congregation may not even be interested to listen.

Here are some scenes as how these ‘reminders’ are conveyed.

Here a person giving the ‘reminder’ speaking in front of the crowd (congregation), all ears and waiting for the Isha prayers.

But in more up to date mosques they even use DVD, like as shown.

Whatever method is used, how attentive the congregations are (like in the photoes below, of the congregation sitting on the back rows listening attentively to the 'reminder'), its the end results that count.

Need the Muslim congregation be reminded time and again over their obligations and responsibilities to the religion of Islam and to Allah?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I have always wondered how they make such beautiful, right sized, all look alike doughnuts. I have often visited the local branch of Dunkin' Donut shops, and have tasted some of their doughnuts. Pretty tasty they are too. But they are too sugary or their toppings are too sweet, and I do not take sweet stuff.

Today I happened to be at a new shopping complex in town where in one of the shops they sell doughnuts.

And those making them are placed in a transparent glass compartment, and one can see all the process of making doughnuts of all sorts, just the basic because they put the toppings after the basic doughnuts have been shaped, made and cooked in an oven.

Now I know how they make them always of the right and similar sizes. They use flattened dough (I do not know the composition of the dough, neither the temperature of the oven nor the actual process of how the toppings are put), cutting them to the right size by a rounded face hand held cutter.

Then the rest of the process follows, until you have these beautiful tasty fluffy doughnuts.

A pity though, I did not buy any doughnut today.

South Asian restaurants

In Malaysia, restaurants run by people of the South Asian origin (mostly of Indian origin) are many, and in towns in Malaysia they flourish. They sell from rice (and curry ) of all sorts (some disguised as 'nasi kandar'), and foods originated from locally Malaysia, and now they even sell (and serve) food originated from Thailand. And they employ authentic South Asia cooks (so I am told) and the waiters/waitresses from local, imported Indonesian girls and some time even those from Thailand and Myanmar (legal and illegal comers). In all towns in Malaysia they seem to grow like mushrooms after a heavy rain, overtaking all other types of restaurants. They say they serve 'halal' food, and I believe that most of them do, the owners claiming that they are Muslims, but are often questionable, though there are owners who do not claim such but they claim that they serve 'halal' food. Those who claim to be Muslims sometime wear skull caps like the Muslims, some even have Koraan ayats (extracts from the words of the Koraan) all over the restaurants, and some may even go further to have Koraan recital from CD contineously playing.

What do they sell? Mostly rice and curry (of all sorts except beef in most cases), locally concocted breads like 'chapati', 'roti tempayan' (cooked in big earthern ware pots with fire inside) and 'roti canai' (a sort of thin layered pancake made from flour, eggs and condensed milk) and 'tosai' (a thin crusted pancake of rice flower, so I am told).

In most of these restaurants their service is excellent.

Any visitor to Malaysia will easily find these restaurants all over the places and they serve cheaper food than if you go to hotels or fancy restaurants.

The only kind of restaurants they cannot compete with are the Chinese restaurants which normally have pork in their menu/dishes. Many (I am told) Chinese like pork and Muslims do not eat pork (not allowed by the Koraan).

In the town of Kuantan (Malaysia), where I spend a lot of my time, this is one of such restaurants that serve very tasty South Indian/Malaysian dishes. And its very popular with the tourists (local and from overseas). But the owner is a non-Muslim but (he tells me) the food are all 'halal'.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I have some free time today, so I just keep on writing on this blog.

Snails, yes those hard shell slimy creatures. Are these the snails for the famous escargot? I have tasted escargot before but they do not look like these snails. Probably they have already been cooked, added butter (and mint and stuff like that) to the cooked stuff and then installed in porcelain shells before they serve them to you. I do not know really.... to us in Malaysia we do not eat snails, escargot or not. Many have not even seen snails, they hide in tall grass, and when they come out, people tend to step on them and break the shells and in doing so killing them. And when you plant vegetables in the garde3n, they become pests. They tend to eat the outerskin (bark) of the young plant, thus killing the plant. So the farmers (or even gardeners) spread pellet poisons on the ground to kill these snails. But looking at them now, they are just harmless creatures.

If you can bear the horizontal position.

Just an artist.

The other day while roaming about the Kuantan Town (Malaysia) I happened to come across this retiree artist in the compound of the Shell (not the oil company) Fountain, in the middle of the Town.

A lonely figure he was, and it was past the peak hours of people doing business in that area, the time was about 2.00 in the hot and humid tropical afternoon. He had a grandchild with him, I assumed that it was his grandchild as the boy child was very young.

Was the artist name Mohd Nor? I cannot really recollect.

His work looked very plain, mostly water colour and mostly of local scenes. What attracted me was the variety, the number of paintings and how cheap they were. He sold an A4 size water color painting at an average price of RM10 (USD1=RM3.30) and that is cheap.