Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Keropok Seller

Tusk, a human-like creature, was stirring in his sleep, making noise which startled Tom and Alice who were sitting not far away.
"Tusk is having a bad dream," said Tom.  "I wonder what nightmares Tusk have?".
"Humans, probably" replied Alice.
 - Seventh Son

Every night since his return he has been occupying a portion of the walkaway near to the entrance of a building, as he has always done in the past. The spot he chose is rather strategic for the building houses a petrol kiosk and a bank, and is the main entrance to the ATM lobby. Even then, the man is humble enough not to let his piles of goods nor his very presence block anyone's path. His absence has gone unnoticed. His presence, some may find disturbing. He acknowledges that by never offering anything to anyone but making sure his goods are displayed well to be noticed.

Occasions have been few but I have had the luck to observed men stopping by, not to buy his keropok (crackers), but just to chat with him. Each time a man does, I notice a big smile on his face. It is as if he values a small conversation as much as he does a sale. Sitting there each night he must have seen or felt  the silent insult of a few of the throng that pass by. A simple wave, a nod, a smile, and especially a small chat, could perhaps mean that he is acknowledged as another human, amongst the sea of humans he see. A sale then, would perhaps bring him delight and deep gratitude - the pittance spared by a stranger, could mean a live-hood for his family back home. On rare occasions, a stranger would slip a large note into his pocket without taking anything in return. "For your meal (or coffee)" the stranger would most probably have said, leaving the man ceasing his small protest and mayhaps, with a tear in his eye.

He is not a beggar, the man. He is plying a small trade, the only one he knows, to make a decent living for himself and his family. But perhaps, the word 'decent' is already luxurious here. From the few trips I have had, many of the houses I have seen, a simple straw mat may serve as the wall of their houses. At best, it work as a flimsy defence against the elements of nature, and that is all they can afford.

That night, I joined the few that have kept him accompanied even for a short spell. I asked about his long absence and was greeted by an almost teary face.

While trying to help a neighbour with their power supply, he was mildly electrocuted. Even so, he has lost sensations of some of his body parts and the medical treatment from at the local government hospital has not improved his condition at all. He was in bed for slightly less than a month. Soon as he was up, he began plying large tins of sands scooped with his bare hands in a riverbank near his village and pedalled to a contractor in a town some 2lm away. Apart from being able to provide some, he was hoping to stimulate his nerves and muscles - both did not worked out as he had wanted. Finally, he contacted his agent again, which soon found him back at his familiar spot. The man, like perhaps the millions as reported in many dailies, is one of the illegal foreign workers(or PATI as they are known) here in Malaysia.

 They come from Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, The Phillippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and a few other countries including from Africa. We know them and we see them daily. Sadly, some chose not to.

My writing this is not because of anything but understanding their plight. Many of them due to poverty at home with a few caused by political oppression. It has to be admitted though, yet a few more are taking advantage of the whole situation. While the man above would be listed as a beggar by the authorities. I would prefer to think him as a PATI for he is selling his keropok that is made in Narathiwat. Above all, I would prefer to call him simply by his name.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Thousand Paces.

School Break's here again. Not that it concerns the owner of this blog but one does have to appreciate times like this as driving around is more pleasant with less traffic on the road. Sometime I wonder though, do those vehicles ferrying school children really add to the rush hour congestion? I mean, it's not like there more than several schools in one area compared to the hundreds of offices. Yet, the difference between the breaks and not, is something like pitter-patter and a stampede. Traffic-wise, that is.

Apart from the lesser traffic, another thing to look forward to during these breaks is the abundance of food. Yes, food! But no, it's not Raya time, though the whole atmosphere can lead one's mind in that direction. What, with many people wearing their best, especially those in Baju Melayu, how can one not think the season as such? And yes, school breaks are also known as Wedding Seasons...or was. With more and more people getting married these days, almost all the halls have been booked on weekends throughout the year. Sheesh! Don't these people know anything better to do? (Grin).

Now, before anyone think that grin is a prelude to something coming my way, I'd better put things right: No, I'm not getting married. What, with having to book a hall more than a year in advance, I don't see anyway I can be doing so. Well, not in the foreseeable future, that is. Hmm...don't sound good there as it may lead one to think that my foreseeable future is only about a year in advance. So, no. Not in the near future. I think.

Anyway, whether it is the season or not, there I was, together with hundred of invited guests at one of the many receptions. Like the many invited (except for a growing few) and not being family-related  almost everyone was wearing something presentable. Those few who did not, were youngsters who perhaps, do not know that by wearing a simple collarless t-shirt, they are doing a disservice to the wedded couple and the occasion. So let me put it straight: wearing something presentable is not for oneself as a guest, but to honour the occasion for the bride and groom. After all, as we Malays like to say it: the wedded couple are the "Raja Sehari' - royalties for the day. Celebrities in a celebration, if you wish. So please, do give them their due respect.

Back to the invite.

So there that cakapaje bloke was for the day amongst the sea of strangers, in a place that was confining. As per normal, whenever that bloke feels restrained, he would get up and walk about seeking friendly faces. On this occasion, however, he was compelled to do so not because he was feeling suffocated but because of some noise he thought he heard at the back of the stage. Thus there he went like a curious cat and glad he was he did.

Apparently, the noise he heard was of two young men, both dressed in all black attire, in a mock fight. A  meter or 2 away, sat an elderly gentleman whose attention seem to be entirely on the men. Not surprising then he did not notice cakapaje's approach even after several minutes of presence. Soon as the duo stopped, cakapaje took a step closer and gave greetings to the trio which was warmly received by the gentleman. The duo, however, only smiled back while standing erect like in military position. To break the ice further, cakapaje in his usual clownish manner said "Once you've finished performing, can you challenge the groom to a fight? If you can do that, I'll be able to run away with the bride".

Silat Pulut. A small variation of an art of self defence. Once cakapaje thought was extinct is actually alive and well. In fact, according to the gentleman, it is making a come-back as more people are now returning to old tradition of honouring the bride and groom, even at some high-end wedding receptions. It is, as the gentleman puts it, the artistic side of Gayung Pattani and named so as in the older days, the performers would be be paid with Pulut (Glutinous Rice. Once considered a dish for the royalties), while Silat is derived from the Arabic word Solat, which means prayers. Even the stance of a Silat exponent is similar to Solat, with both arms folded at waist height. For someone who knows only one form of self defence, this was certainly an interesting meet.

Two tings I need to clarify before I babble on. One: that cakapaje bloke is actually the owner of this blog here and that owner is also the writer. Have to put it clear for any new visitors here. The other thing is that, no, I am not a master or an expert in the art of self defense. I am, however, an exponent of one of the oldest art of self defence. Still in learning stage, in fact. At the risk of sounding vain, I do have to admit I'm getting good at it.

Oh, there's another thing I need to clarify before I impart my little secret. Before one even think of stepping into the ring, one must understand that the whole idea of the art of self defence is none other but self preservation. I mean, there's no point in getting whacked during training only to have a marker in your name after a real fight. Remember Karate Kid, the movie? Be it Pat Morrita or Jackie Chan, they're living proof of the art; any of the many in town. The first thing they teach their respective student is to take it easy. Be composed. Likewise with my learning.

I first came to be aware of this art when I was a kid. Then, a ferocious looking dog came running out a fence towards me. Instinctively I wanted to hightail but with no trees high enough for me to climb out of the dog's reach, I turned back and charged towards it, throwing my slippers to scare him away. It did. He ran back inside the fence where his master picked him up and cuddle him. For an eight-year old though, even a Pekingese do look vicious..

So I met this guy who took me under his wings. He narrated a lot of philosophical things which opened my eyes real wide. I mentioned narrated, as I couldn't make heads or tails about them and my eyes were bulging in disbelief. Yes, something like that Luke Skywalker guy. Then one day we had an encounter with 5 burly guys, each with a weapon of some sort their hands. Bad dudes, they were and they meant to rob us. But before they could make their move, the guy shouted 'run!'.

I stood looking the five dudes. I turned and looked at the guy running, then I looked back at the dudes. I ran.

Later on even as we were catching our breath, the guy said: "Good! You may well master the art of A Thousand Paces".

A Thousand Paces, by the way, means "Seribu Langkah' in Malay, which in English would simply mean 'running helter skelter'.

I'm still learning.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Cuckoo Time!

The man stood facing the wall with his upper right hand raised waist level.
"Good!" said the lady. "Now, slowly race two fingers up the wall to your height. Keep repeating till I get back", and she scoots off.
After several times of repeats, the man starts to feel uncomfortable.
"Am I in a Primary School class all over again..." his mind begins to wonder, "or is this a looney ward?".
Not wanting anyone he know walking in and thinking him as the latter, the man picks up his jacket and walk out the room quietly.
"Hey! Where's my patient? the physiotherapist ask her colleague.

Some very many entries ago, I related a joke told to me about the 2nd Penang Bridge. Initially, some took it seriously but a few who caught the catch-word had a good laugh. The whole story is rather long but it sums up to this:
A father and son team won a bid to build the bridge. Their winning pitch was "I'll begin building from the island while my son will do the same from the mainland. Hopefully, we'll meet in the middle of the straits". /-

Don't ask me about engineering as I know nuts (and bolts) about them. And those nuts and bolts is all about precision. Thus when the father in the above story said 'hopefully'...

Time passed and the joke faded away until I saw the photo below in ViralNova via a link at
Free Malaysia Today. Mama mia!

Slightly on a serious side but looney all the same, a write-up I thought I read in TheAntDaily bur am not able to find it now. The writer is not the looney here but the person she wrote about most certainly is.

Seems, the person in question had asked all or any Malaysians who do not like the government to leave the country. Wow!

The writer thought that it is an outrage for the person to say this seeing the opposition won 52% of the votes in the past General Election. Allow me to expand on that last part.

The current population is estimated at 30million. I don't have the figures at hand but let's just say of that number only a third were eligible voters, that would make 5.2m of the voters who tried to vote out the government and only4.8m who voted for. Logistically speaking then, it would make more sense even if it is a tad easier, for the 4.8m to leave rather than the larger number. Thus, the person who uttered this must surely rank none other but a cuckoo.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Inglis, Little Little. Politiks, Nahe, Nahe!

Foremost, do accept my apology for the title. I just want to make it clear that this is not a blog about politics. Never was. What little I may have written about it is either a first-hand experience when I was with webtv8, or when I released the pent-up anger within me. I never was, never am, and don't think I'll ever be a politician. I may, though, from time to time, give my humble opinion on matters which I disagree upon and believe me, there's plenty of those going on currently here.

For those cyber-cops lurking in the shadows and waiting to nab anyone with the Sedition Act, here's something for you:  "Senor, senora. I no skool high. One year my klas down floor. Year finis, I go study rooftop. Finis again, I go down floor again. Senor, senora. My skool one floor only, no high. So I no politiks".
You can now close my books, if ever there was one.