Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good Bye

Last week ended with a touch of sadness. our good old colleague (who was initially, 5 years ago very reluctant to come to Kuching) finally leave for the west last saturday. he'll be united with his estranged family (after fighting, begging and biting to get transferred). may everything turned the best for him and his family.

in the wake of his leaving, i pondered upon relationships we formed with people around us. how do we carry ourselves in a community. how people perceived us. how people get affected/not with us being with them. (or, the bigger question is: are we merely wallpaper in someone's life? present but ignorable?)

personally, i rarely give heed to what people think of me and usually i speak my mind out. but, i'm beginning to doubt this method. what people think/ say about us give a general view of what we are (who we are is our own concern), and that ought to weigh something. and often, its wiser to just shut up when confronted by imbeciles, even though you're itching to spiff up your sharpest sarcasm. (oooo yeah, easier said than done). most relationships we're having in life are not worth the test of fire (or acidic tongue). they are not essential to our core happiness but are very important to ease daily lives.

thus, i wish for our departed colleague (En. Mohd Roslan Rahmat) who also celebrated his 28th birthday last week. may with maturity, come wisdom and with wisdom, a deeper appreciation for life. as we knew, its fairly easy to gain knowledge, but harder still to instill wisdom. Good bye, may God be with you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great way to chill out #364-5

Great way to chill out #365: Go Floating
Addendum pic 1 and 2: after a thoughtful comment from my pare (see comment), the boy in the picture was alright at the time the pictures were taken and he consented the picture taking (ya, i asked my driver to ask them)

Great way to chill out #364: Talk To a Talkative Kid

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Brother Gardeners

i was born in an agrarian community. farming is in our blood. i cant remember specifically what tree i first planted as a kid. i only remember the weariness of carrying the poly bags with fruit tree seedling to our tumoh (dumoh). we did that arduous job each planting season at different locations (talk about nomadic plantation). but at least, now i can proudly say, me and my siblings did quite a good job by the numbers of durians, rambutans, langsats, tarap etc we have in our orchard nowadays. and since we have an insanely tree lover dad, we also have some curios trees strewn together with the popular fruiting trees. he is responsible for the many varieties of durians in our orchard, an accomplishment, i am very sure gladden his heart.
the house at the back. the bambangan is ours (;)). dec 2010. a year later, the young oil palms seedlings are towering and crowding our yard.
the last time i went home (sometime in march), the house was surrounded by mature seedlings of oil palm. si popong cakap macam forest sudah. saya cakap, bah senanglah ini pigi menumbak, hilo noh natad*. sarcasm rarely works in my family.

when once, i asked my mom to plant flowering plants (pot plants). she merely said miloh toi'd ansakon ri?** . To this day, our home is free from non-essential flowering plants. we have to make do with passion fruit, four angled bean, roselle and some more edible plants around the house. and i understand my mom's practical gardening guidelines. why bother with the poisonous and non edible when you had 9 kids to feed? that's the basic rules of my community towards farming and gardening.

so, i envy the Englishmen in The Brother Gardeners. for having the luxury of gardening to feast their eyes.

i remember, when asked to write about one of the most influential botanist in my plant taxonomy class back in 2004, i chose John Bartram, an uneducated farmer but really knowledgeable of plants in America. he's technically not a botanist, but, he was for me, the driving force of introduction of new species of plants in England and Europe. Andrea Wulf made it very clear that, without the aid and expertise of Bartram, the garden in England might not be as lush as it is now. 

i now yearn to see those glorious English gardens.

*i said, easier to harvest the fruits, its only at our backyard.
** can it be cooked? (is it edible?) 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

O! honey

My elder brother Adam has been pestering about rearing honey bees for quite sometimes now and my more financial savvy siblings voted that out. i guess they're right, making money from beekeeping alone will not suffice, especially when done in a small scale. a hobby, yes. entrepreneurship, no. but, think about the novelty of having fresh honey all year long. that's another reason why i should pace up in opening up my retreat center eh? more reason to plant flowers and exotic trees.

Having read Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen, i urge you to do the same. read this book. its a fascinating read. click on the link and read the introduction.

Last year, i'd read Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees and didn't really grasp the idea of that sacredness of bees.

The southern part of our kampung house's wall used to be a home for bees. they lived within the cavities of outer and inner wall. our dad, concerned for our safety tried to chase them away by smoking them out. he got more than a puffy eyes for the act. the bees stayed for a few more years. during their tenure, the fruit trees around the house bore more fruits than the ones at our orchard. the sweet-sour pahu (bacang) were so heavy, our mom didn't mind people came by and plucked the young fruits. our late grandpa used to say that a house housing bees is a blessed house.

Walking out of the house with a swarming bees was a little terrifying at first (our gate was facing southwards) but, after a while, we get used to the bees buzzing at early morning and late afternoon. our mom set rules concerning bees: 1. never to purposely step on/kill them, 2. whenever one accidentally stepped on/kill a bee, apologize, 3. avoid walking to a swarming bees, 4. if unavoidable, keep calm walking through. i don't remember anyone in the family ever encountered trouble with those bees, except for the heroic part my dad was featured earlier. as for other people, stories of them got stung by 'our' bees were quite a number. 'our' bees guarded our house better than our dogs. 

i leave home in 1997 for my study and not aware when the bees leave us. maybe, its sometime during the built up of my dad's 'cave' and the clearing up of our numerous trees around the house. i have fond memories of bees. Pong, remember those fresh honey dad got for us, himself (bertong-tong), remember Asael's allergic to tanak potiukan? and us got stung by tompipiris?

Mr. Jacobsen of Vermont, honey, thank you for your book. i'd read some books but, few i hold very dear to my heart. yours one of those selected few.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I finished reading Ken Follett's Code to Zero last night. and found a very interesting word: Oomph. i thought it was a modern word and maybe not exist in 1958. Google it up and here: it was used since 1936!. the recent EURO madness change my sleeping clock and eating habit. sleep early and wake up at around 2 am. that's how i managed to finish the book in a night. and ya (grin*) eat like a pig at 2.30 am..

and the pigging out get worse because, i also have this new obsession of Ayam Goreng Berempah. getting myself acquainted with all those wicked spices. i was brought up in a community with little use of spices in food. our food are mostly bland, fresh and practical. spices are used on special occasion/ festival and most of the time, it'll be Curry, masak kurma or rendang only. As i discovered lately, spices really, really bring out the oomph in any simple dish. and i think i love my clear soup now with a hint of star anise/cinnamon taste. 

however, i'll never reach the level of oomphing my tea with those spices. no matter how enticing that sound.  just thinking of Jasmine tea turn my stomach over. apalagi kalau ada rempah ratus. so, there, i drew my line.

i'm perfecting my version of ayam berempah. so far, this is what i like the best: smaller chunk, marinated more then a day in the fridge, use non-stick pan, little oil just to grease and fry the wet marinade (garlic, shallot and ginger) over slow fire. just when the chicken browning and done, throw in the chilies and gently shake the pan. add 2 tbsp of brittle peanut butter. oomph!