Saturday, October 27, 2007

P. Ramlee, the musical

Last night, I took my family for the Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina's Enfinitti production of "P. Ramlee, the musical" at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur. I bought tickets for my parents too, but my father could not make it, so my sister stood in, last minute. This is my mother's first visit to the Istana Budaya and she was awed by the splendour of the theatre.

I was completely awed by the set. It utilised the high-technology and mechanical ability of the stage. Istana Budaya is one of the most technologically induced theatre in the world.

My mother enjoyed her first musical or theatre show in the Istana Budaya. She grew up having a stapple diet of P Ramlee's movies and song, totally related to the musical and the genre of that era.

Liza Hanim, who played Saloma, P Ramlee's third wife, brought life to the character when he was able to render Saloma's original numbers in the way Saloma sung. Unlike Dato' Siti Nurhaliza, she had to render a 21st century R & B number to suit her singing ability.

My mother and Girl-Girl later had the opportunity to get autographs from the performers, director Adlin A. Ramlie and even Tiara, the producer. It was a wonderful experience for her to see a live performance and meet the stars afterwards.

Girl-Girl thoroughly enjoyed the revetting performance put up by Melissa Saila, who played Norizan in the musical. Her acting strength brought the conflict needed to complement the musical.

I must admit "PGL the musical" was much better. It is because PGL was not 'confined' to a particular music genre, unlike P Ramlee. Hence, the musical director are able to explore new genre of music. The dances of PGL also were choreographed with a lot of historical and cultural characteristics. According to Adlin, PGL will be back in February. Stephen Rahman Hughes will be back as Hang Tuah and so will the rest of the cast. This time, I will make sure my mother will be here at Istana Budaya to watch the third season of this hit musical.

*Some of the photos featured here in this posting are courtesy of TV Smith.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I turned forty, today!

At exactly 2.40am today, forty years ago, I was born in Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya. My mother, Jamaliah Abdul Majid, delivered her first born @ me, through caesarian section, performed by Dr. Ronald S. McCoy (now Dato' Dr. R.S. McCoy, a well known anti-nuke activist).

My mother said, I was already suffocating in the chamber, so Dr. McCoy decided to cut her open, to let me out. Not until two days later, she discovered that I was alive all along (she thought I did not survive!).

Ever since, I started schooling, I was always deprived of a birthday party, unlike my two other siblings. Since mine is at the end of October, when I was growing up, this is the time where final exams are held. So even if my parents held any birthday party for me, most probably the attendees were poor, because of exams week.

So I grew up, without proper birthday celebrations. Like last year, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri fell on my birthday. So almost every Muslim in this region focused on 'Hari Lebaran'.

This year it was different. Today, we had 'Mi Rebus Tuesday' (MRT), the first since seven weeks ago (due to Ramadhan). The usual Mi Rebus was served. Maria had some nasi himpit and lontong made. There were some satay too.

During MRT @ Maria's, the bloggers surprised me! Ahirudin "Rocky" Attan bought a cheesecake from Secret Recipe and we had a mini celebration.

I never would have imagined that Rocky remembered my birthday (I think, most probably my father didn't!). It was nice for them to throw a surpise birthday bash for me. The usual suspects (Nuraina, Zorro, Tony Yew, Elviza, Queen B, Ancient Mariner, Norzu, Raden Galoh, Mat Salo etc) were there. There were new additions like Kerp and Jasni Abd. Jalil (Nurin Jazlin's uncle). We also had crime prevention consultant Kamal Affendi. Kamal rendered some very nice hotel-lounge-like numbers on the piano, while we ate lunch and made the ambiance so classy.

Thanks, guys!

*I would like to also wish Mohd. Atrash Azali of Kubu Gajah, Sg. Buloh, Shah Alam, Selangor, my friend during forms one and two, for sharing the same birthday as me. Also to HRH Sultan Ahmad Shah Mustain-billah Ibni Almahrum Sultan Abu Bakar, Sultan of Pahang who is also born today, 77 years ago.

The United Nations was formed in San Francisco today, in 1945 after the end of WW II.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I got married today

At exactly 1130am, twelve years ago, I wed Suzliaton Norhaslinda Mohamed Said at 12 Jalan Tengah, Kampung Stulang Baru, 81100 Majidee, Johor Bahru, Johor. Imam Labintah Mahmood from Masjid Sultan Abu Bakar, who is also the Jurunikah for Kampung Melayu Majidee area, solemnised the wedding.

We wore pink for the ceremony in Johor Bahru. Of course for the akad nikah, I wore the traditional white. Through out the entire wedding, I wore my Baju Melayu 'dagang luor'.

My planned-best-man, Zaharuddin "Pak" Mohamed from MRSM Muo days (also my golfing buddy at that time), missed his flight from Kota Bahru to Johor Bahru, enroute at Subang (which we already argued and anticipated two weeks earlier, for obvious logistics reasons!) and finally arrived at 3pm, after the bersanding and lunch has been long concluded. Luckily, another Ex-MRSM Muo buddy, Zainuddin Mohamed stood in as best man at the akad-nikah and my former housemate from Newcastle, England, Mohd. Noorazam "BJ" Osman stood in as best man for the bersanding and makan damai.

The ceremony in Petaling Jaya was held in December, to facilitate for my brother and cousins, who were still studying in London at that time, to attend. We wore blue for the ceremony at home and peach for the dinner at Dewan Merak Kayangan, Felda HQ, Kuala Lumpur.

Notice all my costume are Baju Melayu (Kurung) Johor. My mom had sewn all the 'bunga tabur' on all three persandingan wear. This is a authentic and typical traditional wear for Johorean Malays. Authentic Johorean Malay men do not wear Baju Melayu Cekak Musang or Songket, Keris and Tanjak when they get married. That is the distinction of a Johorean groom, on top of the tolls that he or his best man usually got to pay, before they enter the bride's house for bersanding and banquet.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

ANSARAwan aka Angkasawan Negara landed!

Angkasawan Negara landed!

The Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft carrying the Angkasawan Negara and the crew of ISS Expedition 15 landed in a ballistic trajectory ten minutes after re-entry at a location 400km north east of the targetted landing spot at 6.43pm (Malaysian time).

More news will follow suit of well being of the crew and scientific specimens and experiments result conducted in space.

Like millions of Malaysians, Allahyarham Mustaffa Dapat would be very pleased for this space mission success, moreover it was concluded on his birthday.

In memory of Mustaffa Dapat

Allahyarham Mustaffa b. Dapat (b. 21 October 1964, d. 28 August 2004).

Mustaffa Dapat was born to a former British Army employee, Dapat b. Selamat. He was initially intended to be named as 'Ahmad Suhardi b. Dapat'. However, his aunt changed his name to 'Mustaffa' instead when the registration of birth was made. He grew up in Kampung Stulang Baru, Johor Bahru, Johor and attended Larkin School. His father by then became a Postman at Bukit Panjang Post Office, Bukit Panjang, Singapore while his mother run an eatery stall in Larkin.

Later he attended MARA Junior Science College, Kuantan, Pahang (1977-1981). He went to Oklahoma to study engineering but later transferred to Ohio University in Columbus, Ohio and earned a bachelor in aeronautical engineering in 1986.

He came back to Malaysia during the first economic recession. After his mother passed away in 1987 to stomach ulcer, Mustaffa enrolled in the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) KD Pelanduk as Cadet Officer. He graduated in 1989 as the best cadet officer and earned the golden sabre from HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong, beating more than a dozen ex RMC cadet officers in his intake.

He was initially destined to be trained as the engineer for the RMN’s Air Wing KD Rajawali. However, still as a Sub. Lt., he was sent to Royal Australian Navy submarine school near Sydney in 1992 instead. He earned his ‘dolphins’ in 1993, the first RMN officer to be certified as submariner, along with Lt. Abdul Rahman Ayob and Senior Petty Officer Suhaimi after the training in an RAN Oberon Class submarine.

His track record was so impressive that the RAN, through Australian MINDEF, requested their Foreign Office to ask MINDEF, through Wisma Putra for Lt. Mustaffa to come and serve for another tour of duty, in the RAN submarine squadron. During this time, he participated in a submarine exercise with the US Navy.

(Left photo) An article in an RAN Bulletin, with Group Captain Australian Submarine squadron, HMAS Platypus. Mustaffa Dapat is second on the left. Centre is Kept. Abdul Rahman Ayob.

(Right photo) From left, Lt. Cdr. Zulhelmi Isnin, Cdr. Abdullah Sani Ismail, Mustaffa Dapat and Kept. Abdul Rahman Ayob. This photo was shot in TLDM Lumut, 1997.

After serving ten years short commission service, Mustaffa left the RMN in 1997 due to economic reasons. He joined ATSC Sdn. Bhd. (then under Airod) and served as the Project Manager for the MiG 29N maintenance program, based in TUDM Kuantan, under former RMAF Brig. Gen. Richard Robless Sr. He later joined Rajawali Aerospace Sdn. Bhd. as a General Manager, also following Robless.

In 2001 when Perimekar Sdn. Bhd. put up the bid for the submarine project, Mustaffa was employed as a consultant to the project. He later joined Perimekar as a Project Manager and facilitated the project management during the lengthy technical negotiations between DCNi, Thales (now Armaris), Perimekar and the RMN. The contract was signed in June 2002 for the acquisition of two Scorpene Class SSK submarines. By then, LTAT through Boustead Bhd. was a 51% shareholder of Perimekar.

Mustaffa was sent to Cherbourg, France in December 2002, to facilitate for the Perkimekar’s contract to ensure the RMN Submarine Project Team’s work supervising and monitoring the construction, testing and commissioning of the two submarines are fully completed, according to the contract.

In late July, Mustaffa fell ill due to viral fever and was admitted to the Louis Pasteur Hospital, Cherbourg in early August. Five days later he was transferred to another hospital in Caen where he remained for the next two and half weeks. Within that time, it was diagnosed that Mustaffa suffered a rare penicillin allergy called ‘Steven Johnson syndrome’. He went into a coma and eventually just before six a.m. on Saturday, 28 August 2004, Mustaffa Dapat died never regained consciousness.

His body was bathe and kapan (wrapped with burial shroud) at the Caen mosque and taken to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport on the afternoon of Monday 30 August 2007 and was flown back to Kuala Lumpur onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH 021 at noon, the national day of 2004. His remains arrived in KLIA at 5.30 am 1 September 2004, accompanied by his widow Masniza Mansor, his 8 year old son Muhammad Faza Aiman, his three month old baby Misha Elyssa, Puan NorAishah Mohd. Nasri (wife of Deputy Leader, Submarine Project Team in Cherbourg; Capt. Rosland Omar), his best friend and fellow submariner (who also represented the RMN), Cdr. Abdul Rahman Ayob and Perimekar manager based in Cartagena, Spain, Anuar. Lt. Cdr. Zulhelmi Isnin, his wife (who is a TLDM officer as well) and Lt. Cdr. Baharuddin Md. Nor were at KLIA for the reception of Mustaffa's remains and the party that accompany it back home.

His remains was taken to Masjid Kampung Chempaka, Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya and later was interned at Kampung Tunku Cemetery that noon. Relatives, former colleagues from the RMN and the Defense Attache’ of the French Embassy of Kuala Lumpur were there to pay their respect. So was representative of DCNi and Armaris.

His last summer, his wife was expecting their second child. However, he insisted I came for a visit in June of 2004, the 60th celebration of D-Day landings. We arrived in Paris Charles De Gaulle on 3 June 2004, rented a Picasso Xsara from Europecar and drove directly to Cherbourg, Normandy. (After we came back home, he also insisted that his father, Pak Dapat to also come for visit. It was his last wish to see people close to him before he died three months later).

For the longest time since school, we promised ourselves that we should one day step foot in Utah and Omaha Beaches, St. Mere De Eglise and Point Du Hoc and witness for ourselves the largest military landing which changed world history. We also wanted to go to Bastogne, Belgium and Arnhem, Netherlands.

The last time I was Mustaffa was on 9 June 2004 at the Cite La Mer maritime museum in Cherbourg. We hugged and promised to meet again here, for
the 70th D-Day celebrations.

During my stay in Cherbourg, since summer was just starting, Mustaffa held a private barbeque party at his home. We were also invited for dinner at Kept. Rahman Ayob's (then, Cdr.) home, as a reciprocity.

I became closer to Kept. Rahman since then. When Mustaffa fell ill and hospitalised, I was communicating with Kept. Rahman almost every other day. The moment I learnt about Mustaffa's passing, we spent the next three days trying to arrange for his burial here in Klang Valley. Former Chief of Navy Laksmana (B) Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdul Jamal played an important part in the RMN's role for the funeral. He was on regular communications with then Deputy Chief of Navy Laksmana Madya Dato' Ilyas Md. Din.

This last photo with Mustaffa was shot at during dinner at Kept. Rahman's home, West Cherbourg.

Mustaffa Dapat would have been forty three today if he was still with us. His passing was missed by the entire submariner community in this country, especially the RMN. I remembered specifically in LIMA '01, during breakfast at Awana Porto Malai, former Chief of Navy Laksamana Tan Sri Ilyas Md. Din (then Fleet Operation Commander Laksda Dato' Ilyas Md. Din) said to me "Mustaffa's departure from the Navy was a great loss to us but later proven to be a great service to the nation. He would one day made Chief of Navy had he stayed on and served". So did former RMN Inspector General Laksmana Pertama Danyal Balagopal confirm the same point "Mustaffa is definitely 'CN' material", separately.

That was how much respect his superiors had for my best friend. Adieu, mon kapitan......................

Friday, October 19, 2007

My significant half's birthday

My wife of 12 years, Suzliaton Norhaslinda Mohamed Said was born today at Kandang Kerbau, Singapore, 40 years ago.

I meet her at her University in Keele, West England two weeks before Christmas of 1989. I was introduced to her in the dark corridor of Barnes Hall laundrette by my good friend, Sharizan Shafiee, who is her junior reading International Relations. She send her salam to Noorazam "BJ" Osman and Azlan "Jelan" Hamdan, both who happened to be my roommates in Newcastle. I cannot recall her face because it was dark and kept thinking about her throughout the long Christmas holidays, despite going for a trip to Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, then with Mohaffri "Kaduk" Muhammat, his girlfriend Nor Fazlin "Mimi" Zakaria and Fizwan "Juan" Abdul Wahid dicovering the whole of Scotland, went down to Bradford and then off to London, for Christmas and an eventful New Year.

The moment holidays is over and I reached our home in Middleton Ave., I told BJ and Jelan about her and my intentions to go out with her sometime. BJ's instantaneous reaction was "Alamak......she's my 'aunty!' ". Oh no! I want to date my best friend's aunty!

(The Middleton Ave gang: (from left) Ija, my darling dear wifey, yours truly, Maria Kimin, Allahyarham Jelan, BJ. (Squatting down) Aton @ "Gumby Bear" and Yusri "Black" Misran. Picture taken at Gateshead Summer Festival, June 1990.)

And I eventually did, despite she 'playing-hard-to-get' and non-chalantness to my moves. It started when I made an effort to attend Keele University's Malaysian Night (Feb 1990), even though I don't actually want to (Keele's sparse Malaysian population, what could one expect from their 'Malaysian Night' do?). I even made Masaliza to 'invite' me to lunch at her flat. From that, I had the opportunity to write to her. She ONLY responded after three letters and a 'complaint' to her juniors (my 'agents' in Keele), namely Sharizan Shafiee and Masaliza Maskan for her 'non-chalantness'!

I can't remember much about her previous birthdays but once, when I got back from England, I took her for a birthday lunch at Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur. While eating, a string quartet came over to our table and rendered a special "Happy Bithday" song for her. Later, she bantered me for embarassing her with the string quartet surprise short gig (she's always shy for these sort of things). I very well know she loved the attention but too embarrassed to deal with it, when it comes. This is something till today, I simply failed to comprehend.

She works for Malaysia Airlines. Although she started as Human Resources organisational developer and dealt with their Total Quality Management programs, she also served Human Resources (benefits) and Flight Operations (corporate communications) before assuming her current role as a trainer in Malaysia Airlines Academy. She was offered to represent Malaysia Airlines at Rolls Royce's Annual Future CEO's convention in 2002, held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur. She graduated top of her class and was honoured to address the farewell dinner, equivalent as a 'valedictorian' and the Birtish High Commissioner Bruce Cleghorn, who was the guest of honour at the dinner with his wife, remembered her for that. The Rolls Royce people was very impressed with her (considering that the other Malaysians who attended this internal Rolls Royce succession leadership programs are all men). That honour was extended when she was officially and specifically invited to visit Rolls Royce Training Institute in Derby even though we were in London for a private visit.

We shall be married for exactly twelve years in three days time.

She's been there for me, thick or thin, tall or short, heavy or light. She did an excellent job raising Aishah. Often I pondered how life would be without her in my life and I simply dare not thread into that imaginary dimension any further. I don't actually know how to repay her service to me all these years. Maybe, I should should explicitly express that I love her more..................and not just mere "Macam kita sayang dia!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Playing host for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri visitations

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri for us the Malays, is a time where social visits are made, annually. Even when most of us city dwellers are too busy with our everyday lives, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri is where we make it a point to visit our relations, especially the elder ones.

That is why most of us go back to our kampungs for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. In my family, my father is the only surviving uncle left to his nephews and nieces. So Hari Raya Aidil Fitri is where all these cousins would come over and visit my old man.

Since many are still on Hari Raya Aidil Fitri holiday and mood, some of my cousins took the opportunity to come and visit. So last night, we hosted a few families who came over for dinner.

I took a lot of pot shots to my only unmarried cousin, Nazree, who had turned thirty one last August. Its sweeter to tease him infront of his girlfriend, Nadene.

We always take this sort of opportunity to catch up on updates and gossip between cousins. Of course, there will be some teasing, just to add a little fun to it.

To add a little pressure, we told Nazree that some of our elder cousins even have grandchildren of their own already!

I and Nazree have gone a long way back together. When our families took a holiday to Los Angeles in December 1984, he was only eight years old then. So his mother (my father's youngest sister), put me in charge of him. Every time we go a theme park somewhere, there will be rides which he can't go on, simply because he was not tall enough.

So, in consolation, I would take him on all the 'kiddie rides' (and naturally boring ones!), such as the Alice-in-the-Wonderland caterpillar, Its-a-small-world, Autopia, Dumbo rides in Disneyland Park and dungy-smelling stage coach ride at Knotts Berry Farm, since he can't be allowed on the more interesting rides such as the Space-Mountain or Cork-Screw.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The typical ride in 'The Enterprise'

This recent journey to and from Johor Bahru-Singapore, was on 'The Enterprise', just had been for us, since 11 years ago. It has been a very reliable machine, right from day one. Never before it failed on me during these past 11 years.

We are the sort of family which bring everything, everywhere.

We brought almost everything we need at all times during our 4-5 days overnight, whenever we away from home somewhere in the country.

We'd have the portable fridge in the car (keeps the drinks cold and fruits taken as snack during the journey fresh), our 'Super-Soaker' guns, clothes for a week (even though we plan just to stay for 4 days - a redundancy system I have), toaster (so that we have fresh toast after a swim or some light snack in the middle of the night), personal items which include a portable nebulizer and food like milo, creamer, cookies, UHT milk and a loaf of bread. Of course medications and the notebook, with peripherals are packed as well. Even my regular pillow is a must, everywhere I go.

We'd usually have 'stow-aways' on board too. Girl-Girl had never left home without her 'trusted companions' and reading materials, tucked in a pink Minnie Mouse wheeled bag (can be seen at the lower left hand corner of 'The Enterpise'). She took these toys almost everywhere, even going Hari Raya visiting. In December 2000, we were at Seri Perdana for second day Hari Raya, PM Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had a conversation with her (then four), about her IKEA Kangaroo. Dr. Mahathir later placed a 'duit raya' packet in the pouch of the kangaroo.

My closests friends say I suffer from the 'Formula One syndrome'. Its more like US Forces in Iraq, where they almost brought every single thing they require and can think of for their operations.

Then we drove from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, which was very pleasant. There was not much traffic, despite in was still Hari Raya holidays to many. However, the weather was not encouraging. I was so happy passing through the North-South Highway at Seremban with reasonably very light traffic, at 110-120km/h; something never been achieved before at 4th or 5th day Hari Raya in the twelve years I have done these sort of trips.

It seemed the upgrade of the third lane on the North-South Highway from Nilai to Air Keroh has been 98% completed and managed to ease of a lot of traffic pressure, especially during festivities.

'The Enterprise' managed to do Senai to Sungai Besi (toll house-toll house) in 2 hours 50 minutes, despite very bad weather and heavy down pour between Simpang Renggam and Pagoh (some part where visibility was down to almost zero), in a very acceptable fuel economy.

This typically how we as a family have been traveling, regardless for Hari Raya, wedding invitations or simply holiday, to far away places like Alor Star.

Three generation of maternal lineage

This is a three generation maternal lineage that affects my life, directly. This photo was captured for this Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, wearing the same clothes.

These photos were taken at 12 Jalan Tengah, Kampung Stulang Baru, Majidee, Johor Bahru, Johor on 4 Syawal 1428H.