It was the last day of Alya, Vin and Sila's vacation in Malaysia. It was a sad day for everyone. It was sad.
Thankfully, the cousins did not feel a smidgen of sadness. They both rocked all day from the breakfast at the mamak restaurant, to the final minutes at KLIA.
You know, I think I'll just leave the photos here mostly without any commentary, funny or otherwise, because I honestly have no idea what to pad out the entry with.
It has been a while since we last saw Mak Lan - she is Vin's "foster mother" and our long-time neighbor and friend in Sitiawan. She and her late husband have been my parents friends longer than Hisham and I have been alive, and Mak Lan and Abah Lan played the part of the groom's family at my wedding, even preparing hantarans (traditional wedding gifts) and playing the part of Vin's family to menghantar (send) Vin to our place at our wedding. However these past few years, Mak Lan has been living in KL. So we arranged to have lunch at Mak Lan's place in KL on the last day we're in Malaysia.
It has been too too long, and so good to see Mak Lan again!
After years of not being together again, Zarin, Ida and I finally managed a meet up. Last time I saw Ida was at my wedding (that's over 5 years ago!). And look, Ida's about to have a baby! Apparently 3 different doctors independently of each other confirmed it will be a girl. The only person missing from this picture is Restu. The four of us Animalies have not been on the same continent together since, probably, 1998. Ah well! One day!
If you want to know what "animaly" means, well, you had to be there in 1993 *arf!*.
* Mouse over the pictures for more captions
As Alya and her parents frolicked further at the hotel, we had to return home Friday to get Irfan prepped for school as well as Jumaat prayers. However, after leaving Irfan at school and before picking him up I had an afternoon to spare. So, I painted a portrait of Alya.
Too bad I haven't done water coloured portrait work in a while. It could have been better with more practice.
Since Irfan had no school due to the UPSR exams, we took the opportunity to go for a mini-vacation and spent ultimately two nights at the Hilton KL Sentral. This is freaking best Hilton in the world! Seriously! We stayed here after our wedding five years ago when Irfan was not much older than Yaya is now, and we were hoping that it would be just as cool this time around. And we were not disappointed! Unfortunately, due to Abah's commitments in Sitiawan, our parents had returned to Sitiawan and did not come with us. That first night (Thursday September 23) it was Vin, Yaya, myself in one room and Yope, Yong and Irfan occupying another - we were on the 31st floor!
In case you haven't notice, it's Hisham writing this birthday entry for Alya instead of Sila, because Alya was at the Tenth Floor when she turned 2 years and 2 months, and Sila thought I should write a word or two about my awesome little niece.
From the first time we met her, she was a darling. She was warm, funny (sometimes hilariously) and loved interacting with everyone. I was ecstatic that she got a long with her cousin Irfan great. They played together, read books together, and she always had something to say about anything, albeit her language skills were still that of a two-year-old.
Sometimes, she'd get me to draw animals, like bears and cats and bearcats, like I just did in the photo below, where her hair was going every direction under the sun and Atok tried to fix it. The photo was taken in the morning of her birthday in Kuala Lumpur, but not in Middletown.
It was after 12 noon local time when Alya's birthday kicked in as per Eastern Standard Time. Achievement unlocked at this level allowed Alya to take a trip to Zoo Negara! Like her cousin Irfan, she loved animals and hopefully she'd be able to see beasts that she'd never seen before. Strangely enough, I think she did see a bearcat at the zoo.
Alya used eye protection against the glare of the tropical sun as we drove to the zoo.
Irfan's eighth birthday occured when Alya, Vin and Sila were visiting at the Tenth Floor. I was happy they were around for the birthday bash, seeing that they don't usually have a direct train or bus line from Ohio to come regularly. We ordered a cake that was in a shape of the number 8, because having a cake in the shape of the number 9 would make absolutely no sense.
Moments after this photo was taken, Alya joined Irfan and they both held the knife together (under supervision) to further cut the cake.
It wouldn't be a visit to our place without a dip in the building's swimming pool. Irfan practically learnt to swim by himself here.
Sila and Vin had been training Yaya the same way. She was totally unafraid of the water. Everything about splashing around in the pool just screamed "unabashed fun" to her. That of course meant we had to accompany her every step of the way because she was oblivious to the dangers of jumping off the deep end before learning to swim.
In any case, as the photo above illustrates, she had lots of fun.
After a decade away, I finally made it back to Pangkor. And this time, I got to share the experience with Vin, Allie and Jenn, Vin's cousin who is teaching English in Jakarta. Jenn hopped over to visit us for a few days in Sitiawan, arriving after Hisham and his family returned to Kuala Lumpur and the Tenth Floor. Abah helped me book two chalets at the Puteri Bayu Resort on Pangkor. Unfortunately, Abah and Mak had other commitments and could not come with us.
On the fifth day of Aidilfitri (September 14th), my old friend Yati stopped by for a quick Hari Raya visit:
The journey began on the morning of the 12th of September. The planned route would have taken us from Sitiawan, up north toward Taiping to two houses, Opah Teh and Tok Teh's at Matang and Pak Unggai and Mak Unggai's in Taiping. Then, we'd drive south-east using the North-South Highway toward state capital of Ipoh, to Wan Cu's new abode.
Just three houses to visit for the day. By normal reckoning, it would take us an hour to get to Taiping, then another hour to get to Ipoh, and finally another hour to get back to Sitiawan. If we spent 30 minutes per house visit, we would be back before it was late afternoon.
Little did we know...
Before we began our journey, we stopped for supplies at the local Giant hypermarket. It's still weird to think of having a Giant hypermarket in little Sitiwan. Of course, Sitiawan is no longer "little", but I digress.
Here is the crew of the Alfa, sans Opah who went shopping. But who's that little girl in the back peering over the chair?
It's none other than Alya Jean, hanging on to Purrsley the Cat! (Well, the next minute she threw him down onto the floor...)
On the second day of Aidilfitri (September 11th), the Meis and their family came for a visit. By family we mean Mei Lin, Mei Chin, their husbands, their daughters, their parents, and their little brother Colin-boy. Hoo did you expect?
Hisham and I had to decide which of us would actually write this entry (since Mei Lin was his classmate and Mei Chin was mine). But here's my take on the day!
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Strangely enough, thanks to jet lag and other stuff we only got a family photo taken on the fifth night after Eid. We had to leave for Kuala Lumpur the following day.
We were all pretty much exhausted when this picture was taken:
The most awesome thing which was agreed upon by everyone was that Irfan and Alya were friends almost from the get go. Even when Alya was grumpy, badly affected by jet lag, she will more often than not smile or even laugh whenever Irfan came around to cheer her up.
Once she even climbed onto Irfan's bed to wake him up in the morning:
Later that day, they both did something which was not planned at all. Irfan started reading for his little cousin as they sat together on their grandparents' couch. At first, they both flipped through a Reader's Digest magazine and a book Ayah Cik was reading at the time:
Alya and Irfan send their Eid greetings from Sitiawan!
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir Batin, from the whole family!
Cinema 6 is a new D6-based role-playing game produced by Wicked North Games, which uses the OpenD6 initiative released by West End Games. The D6 system, of course, is a long standing tabletop RPG engine which had its origins in the Ghostbusters RPG and developed further with the Star Wars RPG.
The first setting book for Cinema 6 to be released will be the sourcebook for the fantasy setting named Azamar. Here's an excerpt from the chapter "Understanding Azamar".
The co-founders of Wicked North Games have given me the task of coming up with some black-and-white illustrations for Azamar. The first artwork I was assigned with was the exterior view of the Immyr city of Guradiin Ithural.
Here's a brief description of the city:
Who needs a proper bed when you can create one from your power ring?
Guy is currently assigned to the planet Oa in Space Sector 0. He also runs a bar and restaurant there where all the ringslingers hang out or go for a meal. He's also from Baltimore, so I wonder if he liked watching The Wire on TV.
For a larger image, click here.
Here's Hal's partner John. He's an architect and a former U.S. Marine. Now he spends time ringslinging and patrolling Space Sector 2814 looking for and putting down perps.
For a larger image, click here.
Hal here is a test pilot for Ferris Aircraft. Somehow he has plenty of spare time from his day job to moonlight as an officer of the Green Lantern Corps, assigned to Space Sector 2814 with his partner John.
Here he is wearing his green power ring in flight looking not at all like Ryan Reynolds.
Click here to view or download a larger version of the image.
This individual, Sarg, from the Gamorr system was a private request from "Penangallan" of the Holonet forums. As a distinguished mob enforcer, he hopes someday to be a much more refined gentlebeing, if only he could stop himself from drooling all the time.