Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cerita Anak

Fateh is having his mid-year exam at Sekolah Kebangsaan Batu 14, Puchong since last week. And yesterday he came home telling us that he's fairly confident in getting 'A' for his Jawi paper.

He said, "mula2 tak faham tapi lepas pakai otak, Teh boleh buat semua. Tapi satu je tak boleh buat ... satu muka surat!" Haaa, he he he ... anak ... anak. Apa nak buat, mak bapak dia dua-dua kerja, balik malam dah letih nak tengok kerja sekolah dia. Nasib baik baru darjah 2, hopefully later on we will be more involved in your academic son.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Da Bomb!

So, it was officially announced last Thursday that our whole department will be moved from KL to Kulim effective 1st June, 2007. We have heard about it a few months ago so it wasn't such a surprise. I could rant and bitch about it but in the end, we are still employees. Plus, organization-wise, the plan has its merits.

So, in times like this, meditation on things like below will be good for the soul ...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jakarta 2007 - 1st Day

I was picked up from Jakarta airport by Octavius Sutar, or Ote for short. But what a name, Octavius. Despite Malaysian kids nowdays having a name like Danial or stuff, you would not find here a Roman name like that. I read a bit and apprently, Octavii is a family of high standing in those Roman times. And may Ote also started the same this side of the Roman empire. Ote, quickly e-mail me your photo so I could put it here!

This is how I know him. While on a bus from Penang to KL, two guys behind me were talking in a diffrent accent and so I turn around and started talking. Apparently, they are two Indonesians who just finished playing a hockey tournament in USM (with their own money! they are hockey fanatics) and now, on therr way back to KL. So, we got to talking and they are going to their Malaysian friend's house but that friend won't be be home until like 8 or 9 p.m. We got to KL around 4 p.m. and I invited them to my house. What was I thinking, inviting total strangers to my house. And feed them mamak food some more! They could be 'pencopek' for god's sake! He he he.

But that's the thing with us nowdays. We run after dunia (or dunya as Shaykh Nazim says) so much that our heart becomes hardened. Oftentimes, when I pass by people walking to my housing area, it's difficult for me to stop and offer them a ride. If our heart is not soft & beutiful, I don't think it's easy for us to do charity. Amazing isn't it.

So, Ote picked us up and drove us to our guesthouse in Jalan Jaksa, Jakarta Pusat. Jaksa is like Bangkok's Khao San road on a smaller scale. Before that, we had a Sundanese lunch at a place called BenHill. That's one thing good if you know the locals, they take to good makan places. Sunda food is a bit sweet and has lots of ulam.

After checking in, we had a short rest and again, picked up by another friend, Dinna, to visit Debu.

Dinna is a founding member for yahoo group's fansya_debu, and from there, we got to e-mail each other a bit. It was really nice of her and her husband, Dhani, to drive us and give us tips about places to eat & shop in Jakarta. I think from Jakarta Pusat to Debu's house in Cilandak, Jakarta Selatan is about 40 km. But with traffic jam, took us about 1 1/2 hours to get there. Patient people they are. May the Lord reward them handsomely.

A bit about Debu. I think it was around early 2003 that I first heard Debu on Ikim's radio. They probably appeared on Astro first but since we don't have Astro I wouldn't know. They are mostly American Muslims whom moved to Indonesia some years ago and started to play music during their spare time in between giving English classes. They have spiritual guide in Shaykh Fataah (Mustafa's father) who has permission or 'ijazah' from several Sufi masters. And this is my guess: the 60's hippies movement is not a total waste. Apart from those music festivals, we have people whom travel to the East in search for spiritual wisdom. And some of them found answers from masters like Pir Vilayat Khan, Shaykh Ahmad Al Alawi, Shaykh Nazim, and from many more others.

I had been up that day since 5 a.m. and when we got to Debu, I was really tired and wasn't talking much. But I brought a Mawlid Day'bai book as a gift to them.

That's me after the giving the book to Mustafa. Mannn, I'm fat. Even Ibrahim, to my immediate left, who's from Texas is slim (Mustafa is next to Ibrahim).
We also had dinner at Debu's. What is nice is that while we all were having dinner, Mustafa and one other person were plying some instruments; sort of background music for us. Well, they do this everytime, not because we were there :)

And that's Dhani, son Ahmad Rayyan, and Dinna enjoying their dinner.

Fateh, Dinna, and other kids were playing before dinner. It's weird to hear those blonde kids speaking in perfect Indonesian accent. They need to learn Enlish! :)

All in all, it was a 'capet' and good day.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jakarta 2007 - The Planning

Taking advantage of the long Labor Day holiday recently, and with a bit of foresight and generous credit from Hong Leong visa card, we were off to Jakarta last April 28, 2007 and came back 5 days later.

My wife has this habit of taking pictures of airport/general scenery as we land and so, here's one of Jakarta's airport. Or 'bandara' they call it, which is short form of 'bandar udara'. You will find they use lots of acronyms overthere. As opposed to my Padang trip in 2006, I did not do much planning/reading for this trip (read: I'm a good boy at the office and don't utilize company resources for personal use. And Borat will loudly say, "NOTTTTT").

I usually use to get to know the places I'll be visiting and so far, they are quite alright. Plus, the tips there are written by real travelers or local residents so they are not like those tourism brochures (there are however, some people who copied tips from tour sites/brochures but they are negligible).

And since the hotels in Jakarta are more expensive and we being more of 'backpacker' tourist than a Hilton/Hyatt type, I use for lodging info. Google Earth also helps in giving the bearings of places in Jakarta.

So, before going there, I made a list of places to visit:
Day 1 - Saturday, 28/4/07
Shopping - Sarinah, Blok M Shopping
Shopping - Jl Surabaya, Senen

Day 2 - Sunday, 29/4/07
Istiqlal Mosque, Museum Gajah, Monas
Shopping - Tanah Abang
Go to Debu's house

Day 3 - Monday, 30/4/07 (move to Bandung for one night)
Kawah Putih Ciwidey
Shopping - Bandung

Day 4 - Tuesday, 1/5/07
Kota / Sunda Kelapa
Shopping - Mangga Dua

Day 5 - Wednesday, 2/5/07
Return KL

Many people suggested to include Anchol Dreamland (like Genting or Sunway in Malaysia but much bigger) and Taman Mini but due to limited time & budget, I did not include these two.

But alas, 'Mat Jenin' can dream but Jakarta is sooo biigggg that all my plan goes haywire. Look at the photos below and imagine about 12 million people live there.

Unlike KL, where most people lives in the surrounding areas and not in the city itself, Jakarta with length from North to South of about 70 km (estimate by a friend), people do work and live there. So the place is really congested. And I don't know any roads in KL that is 5 lanes on each side!

So, my plan all goes to haywire and only managed to do this:

Day 1 - Saturday, 28/4/07
No shopping at Sarinah, Blok M, Jalan Surabaya for antiques, or Senen for used books. But had good Sundanese lunch at BenHil (like our Star Hill, actual name is Bendungan Hilir) after airport pick up by Pak Ote. Ote, by the way, I met recently in a Nice bus from Penang to KL while coming back from Krabi trip in December 2006. Who knew short conversations in a bus could turn into friendship.

After checking into hotel, had a short rest and was picked up by Dinna, another friend whom I got to know from Yahoo group fansnya_Debu and off we went to Debu's house/zawiya in South Jakarta. It was fun to finally met some Debu members face to face and had dinner there. And it was priceless to have two Debu members playing 'gambus' (I think) as background music while having dinner (more on this later).

Day 2 - Sunday, 29/4/07
No visit to Istiqlal Mosque, Museum Gajah, or shopping at Tanah Abang as planned but we managed to go to Monument National or Monas for short. This is funny. A day before leaving for Jakarta, I sms a good and hopefully lifelong buddy Riza telling him that I'm going to Jakarta and asking if he wants anything from there. And he replied he's actually going there that afternoon itself. Wow, without previous plan, now I've got buddies to hang around with in Jakarta. So, this good Sunday morning, since Riza and his entourage was already at Monas, we went there first to join them. Waduuuhhh, besar banget tempatnya. Taxi driver drop us at a bad entrance and I had to walk about 2 kilometers to go to the actual Monas monument. And about a kilometer of those walking scented by human urine. No kidding. After that, capet sekali and terus pulang ke kamar and rehat2 aja.

Day 3 - Monday, 30/4/07
Woke up still feeling tired and drag ourselves to Stasiun Gambir (which is like only 10 minutes from Jakarta Pusat where we stayed) for train to Bandung. Highly recommended the Executive train to Bandung instead of using taxi or minivan coz with train, the scenery is truly beautiful.

Day 4 - Tuesday, 1/5/07
Went to Kawah Putih in Bandung and return to Jakarta via minivan.

Day 5 - Wednesday, 2/5/07
Again, nothing happen as planned to visit Kota / Sunda Kelapa area. But team up with Riza and visit some naqshbandi members in Jakarta. Though I'm not that good of a Muslim, it's nice to meet some people who is.

Day 6 - Thursday, 3/5/07
Yes Dorothy, there's no place like home.