Before heading home, word circulated of a pot luck Hari Raya dinner at Iskandar's house on the first night of Aidilfitri.
I had not seen Iskandar since I was in school, so it felt like a great time to meet up with the entire crew, some I'd lost contact with when I transferred away from school when I was 16.
We brought the last of Ain's nasi dagang. The nasi lemak (contributed by the house) was delicious. Irfan, as per his modus operandi, attacked the pizza.
So we spent the night consuming organic matter and catching up while Irfan corralled and looked after the little children as he is wont to do.
The next day, Gnana and his eldest son came to visit and then we all went to Nazri's home where Iskandar had just arrived.
Apart from having some Hari Raya spaghetti which Irfan loved a little too much and a little too late, we were there to visit Nazri's newborn child. We would spend next Aidilfitri in Pasir Mas, so we might not see them altogether in Sitiawan next year.
This year we returned to Sitiawan for Chinese New Year because Teik Sing and family are back home from abroad! The last time we met was over two years ago when they visited us at the Tenth Floor, when Ezra was still a baby!
We met at the biggest shopping mall in Sitiawan, which in itself still causes cognitive dissonance with me because Sitiawan had no malls when I lived here and we had to travel far and away for me to reach any mall.
In any case, full complement of our families including Ivy met up in the afternoon. We occupied two tables at Secret Recipe to talk and stuff! Teik Sing and Michelle gave us a really well-sculpted NCC-1701-D USS Enterprise as a gift. I also received a drawing of BB-8 by Ashley, who is turning out to be an excellent artist! We gave Lat's Kampung Boy and Town Boy - as well a Malay language version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (maybe Teik Sing and Michelle can read and explain the words to them some day) - to the kids.
They had some stories to tell of their Malaysian vacation what with their detour to Krabi and all!
We checked out the cineplex at the mall and planned to watch the new film Ola Bola together later that evening.
Before Ola Bola, Atok and Opah took us out to dinner at a restaurant we have never been to before, which was set up in their house's yard with lots of plants and flowers.
Ola Bola was excellent. It was a quadrilingual movie. They should make more quadrilingual movies. The film was a pastiche of the Malaysian football scene in the late 70s and early 80s, but it was more than just a sports movie. It was about people of different races surmounting their troubles to finally work together in unity, and ultimately rallying the peoples of the entire country together. Something the current sports scene lacks. Sufficed to say that for the first time in forever, I saw a film that was truly a Malaysian film.
I hope Irfan learned something from it.
It was quite a refreshing time catching up with the Tings. We spent another 45 minutes chatting at the 24-hour biriyani restaurant beside the mall until we were tired and we had to go home. I felt some sadness as I had no idea when we might meet again.
On Sunday, Ain and Irfan examined the orchids at Opah's arboretum. I mostly did a number of translation work that was pending which I found in the unit's email account. I was under no obligation to do them, but I thought, why not?
After dinner, we found ourselves staring and chuckling at the antics of over a dozen hamsters through the window of a closed pet shop.
It was Chinese New Year the next day. Another old school mate - Gnana - came to visit with his son. We talked of old things, but mostly we talked of new things. I was gratified that I managed to see a couple of old friends during the long celebratory weekend.
Early the next morning, an hour before daybreak, we bade goodbye to Atok and Opah left for Perlis.
I called up Nazri to find out if he was in town for Eid and discovered that a bunch of folks from school were. There was a plan to meet up later that night at Aeon, at a chicken wing restaurant that I never went to before. Before long, Shahmar, Nazri, Sam and I had assembled there to talk of old times and new. Because the meet up went into extra time, the wives and children (including Ain and Irfan) went for a showing of Hotel Transylvania 2. We had to vacate the premises and relocate to the nasi kandar restaurant outside the mall to continue, where we were later joined by Din.
All in all, it was an enjoyable time meeting childhood buddies.
Tsing, Michelle and their kids visited us for dinner last night. Having us as one of their regular stops during their vacation never fails to warm my heart. The last time they were back there were two children in two. This time there's three! Unfortunately I did not take a photo of baby Ezra because he was busy playing the keyboard, then sleeping.
by Khairul Hisham
Note: This essay is slightly edited from a 1000 word assignment for Professional Writing 1: Core Competency submitted last Sunday June 30. The story is a composite of several experiences I had as a teenager. Not sure if the right people as mentioned were present for the bulk of this story. If you're reading this and you were there but I didn't mention you, let me know. Not you, Ming Fang. You pipe down.
The cerulean sky had not the slightest taint of cloud above us as we dismounted our bicycles upon our arrival at Teluk Batik beach. I don't recall whose idea it was but it was the consensus among the four of us that we would walk the trail over the hills to Teluk Rubiah beach and then headed back to Teluk Batik by way of the shore. Ming Fang adjusted his glasses and excitedly said, “It would just be us walking over rocks between stretches of isolated beaches between here are there. It shouldn't take more than an hour.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” I said, and as usual I was always up for good ideas.
And so Tsing, Woon Seong, Yu Hoe, Khoots, Ming Fang and I began our journey, leaving the bustling weekend holiday activity of Teluk Batik and its visitors behind us.
We had hiked to Teluk Rubiah before. Shoulder to shoulder, we travelled to the southern inland corner of the beach where the gravel road turned into a red dirt path that led into and over the hills.
Nowadays when I return to Sitiawan for Chinese New Year, I rarely get to meet old ACS classmates. It's because either they're away at the in-laws, or their family has moved elsewhere, or I don't communicate to anyone my balik kampung. This year I had two meet ups!
The first was with Teck Chee and Cheong Lee at the new mall, Aeon Sri Manjung. They were a year younger than me at school. We had a great time talking about old friends and where they are now.
Later that night I met my former classmate Sathya. I met him right at this white wall where I had some sort of coffee and Star Wars talk ensued, as they are wont to be when Sathya is around. Gnana was also present but also via Sathya's iPhone. And initial plans were made for a class reunion in the near future. Who wants in?
Then we said goodbye to the white wall.
Back in secondary school, for some reason that I can't recall anymore we suddenly had this bat as our mascot so to speak. Its name, Wotsit the Confused Bat, also popped up unbidden. It was easy to doodle and we doodled it here and there and everywhere. There was an earlier design where the bat had no moth and bigger shoes, but we finally decided on this design, created by my best friend.
Here it is once again, in a digitally painted form, for old time's sake.
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!
* Mouse over the pictures for captions
It's now 2010, and it's exactly 30 years since I first met Teik Sing in Standard 1. We were a year younger than Irfan is now.
They're back on vacation from Sydney and we went out to meet them at their old place in Puchong, where we first meet Ashley's new sister Emma Grace. Both had the sniffles so Ashley opted to stay at home with his Aunt Ivy as we all went out to grab a bite. But Emma appeared to take a bit of a shine to Irfan during the ride to the restaurant.
Ashley was waving the inked illustration I made of her as a present as Ain took a photo. Obviously she waved it too quickly.
Emma grabbed on to Irfan's hand at the restaurant, then fell asleep most probably exhausted by the runny nose.
Hope we get to meet them again before they leave for Sydney again.
And old school, we were.
The school being ACS Sitiawan. The location being the pool level of Mei Lin's apartment building.
Mouseover the pics for captions.
Let's all welcome young Emma-Grace Ting ChangXin who was born on 26th October, at 3.555 kg and 51.5 cm. News has it her big sister Ashley-Joan has already requested to carry and help feed her.
Congrats to Michelle and Teik Sing!
Teik Sing, Michelle and adorable little Ashley took some time to come over for dinner with us on Friday. They fly back home next Saturday. Clear skies, guys.
Check out the photos:
Comrades, some since Standard 1 in ACS Sitiawan way back when the town had one main road running into it and there were swathes of rubber trees between small clusters of houses and stores and buildings. 20 years after I officially left the school, it's time for another gathering in Sitiawan, this one precipitated by none other than Chinese New Year. Apart from Gnana, Sathya and Alvin, I haven't seen this bunch for at least 18 years or so.
Last year, we had a gathering up here at the Tenth Floor.
This year we found some time to coordinate another, but this time it was after Aidilfitri. So it doubled as an Aidilfitri open house, although theoretically it was not. Starting from 1900 hours the roster started to fill, starting with Kok Soon, then Yu Hoe, Samsul, Laksh, Anson and finally Mei Lin. Last minute cancellations included Kanesh, Sathya and Ah Bau.
Ain (aided by Cik Emma and Ciksu F) made rendang for lemang, kuah kacang for nasi himpit and a whole pot full of bihun goreng with tomyam paste. Our support troops, Kok Soon brought a bucket full of chicken and Mei brought dessert. Our just desserts.
Images follow below. Mouseover the photos for their descriptions.
Being in the 1st Troop Manjung of the Scouts was great. Some memorable experiences while there. A bunch of us sometimes went down to the district Scout House on Fridays to see if one of the other schools had a camping excursion there. Then we'd sign up to be the camp ground guardians, keeping watch on the campsite all weekend as the kids as they and their respective Scoutmasters went about their work.
Last week I went for a quick drive into Kampung Sitiawan where the old Scout House stood, and was saddened by the fact that it stood no more. The camp warden's house was totally gone. Even the "haunted" trees with the unknown talismans tied to them surrounding the camp ground behind the scout house had been long uprooted.
I wonder where the district Scout Troops are based now. Below are photos of the Scout House from behind (coming up the road incline), and then the frontof it (with no warden's house beside it).
I guess next year there will be nothing left of the building.
The Nineties kind of rushed by me, as if I can't wait to be somewhere but it looks more, as time goes by, like I will not be reaching there anytime soon. So a lot of the details of the time here were quite blurry. Take the following photos of the ACS gang balik kampung and gathering for Chinese New Year. What year did this occur? I can't rightly remember.
All I remember is that I picked up the gentlebeings in the first photo below, had some refreshment at Woon Seong's house before we all went to Teik Sing's house where the big daytime gathering was planned.
Young Aisyah has a new brother! Abdul Qayyum bin Mohd Zawawi was born to Hanim and Awie at 0715 hours on the 22nd of April. We went a-visiting the newborn and his family and took a photo. Irfan tried to wink at the camera and he's almost got the wink down pat.
I have a Role-playing Games category right over there at the left sidebar on the front page of the site. I'm sure there's a lot of visitors to this site that will probably shrug and say, "I dunno", or half-heartedly answer, "Something like Dungeons and Dragons?"
Well, Dungeons and Dragons is a role-playing game (RPG is the popular acronym attributed to it), true. But it's more than just D&D and we'll get to that later.
On his birthday I got a call from Teik Sing. He's back in town for the Chinese New Year, accompanied by Michelle and a nearly 1 year old Ashley Joan. We met up for lunch at a nasi daun pisang restaurant in Petaling Jaya and here are the photos of the occasion.
They only had 2 weeks to visit Sitiawan, Melaka and KL, which is no time at all. Next year, Teik Sing hopes for a month's vacation for CNY.
Maybe there'll be more time to plan activities and such. It was great to have them around for an hour or so, and Ashley is one awesome little lady. I can't believe it's been almost a year!
It's now our third day in Perth, and it is one day before EJ and Indra's wedding. We start off the day when EJ came to pick us up in a rental van. We then drive down to Cottesloe where Hsu and David are staying.