Saturday, September 17, 2005

Times goes by

1. Not been posting for sometime. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. What stopped me? My daughter and my two grandsons, 14 years old and 11 years old boys, came back from London, to spend sometime with me.

2. They arrived in late August and went back to London about 3 weeks later. They really kept me occupied. The first week was more or less re-getting to know them. They have not been back to Malaysia since about 8 years ago. The last time they came back was when my daughter brought her sons back for the circumcision; she could not get them circumcised properly in the UK. And after that they did not come back again; I could not afford their fares and they also could not afford that. And my daughter was too busy trying top get a Degree, (she has now got it) and at the same time working to support herself and her two children. I could see how it was. And meanwhile I have retired from my job, so in all it was a case of each side not being able to accommodate each other in time and in finance. Well, anyway after all they have come back to see me.

3. The second week they went to Melaka to tour Melaka, where my daughter was born, and at the same time to attend a wedding of one the relatives of her Malay friends who resides in London. And I was also busy with my other occupation, I had to go outstation. And the third week was really the week when I could go out with them, they have got to know me better and I knew them better as well. And we all went to the seaside town of Kuantan, about 200 km east of Kuala Lumpur. Kuantan is the Capital Town of the State of Pahang, some call it the Haatyai (the girly town of South Thailand) of Malaysia. I have an apartment over there, and we did not (and I have not) involved in the Haatyai activities. And over there we really had a good time.

4. In fact my grandchildren did not want to leave. But they have to go to school in London, so they left taking the early flight to London by Air Lanka on the Friday morning 9 Sept. 2005. I am missing them now. I have to be realistic, they have to live their lives and I mine. Maybe over the years they will come back to visit me again, and I hope it will not be that long.

5. I realise one thing though, with the visit of my daughter and her two sons, the earnings power in London is high but the cost of living over there is also high. My grand children found that everything in Malaysia seems so cheap to them, where they have been paying for food, clothings and some other imported stuff in British Pound (BP) or Euro but in Malaysia in Malaysian Ringgit (RM). In fact it was a case of 1 to 1, in London at BP 1.00 and in Malaysia at RM 1.00 (BP 1.00 = RM 7.00 approximately) for almost identical stuff. So they found it that we live cheap over here though they earn more in London, when considered the ‘figures’. But when one think about 1 litre of petrol, in London it costs about BP 1.00 and in Malaysia at about RM 1.50, then one realises that it is cheaper to live in Malaysia. Now consider food such as rice, and roti canai, these are very much cheaper in Malaysia. KFC, MacD, Pizza etc are also cheaper in Malaysia when comparing the 1 to 1 cost. Its difficult really to compare, there is no way one can compare apple to apple when one starts to compare ways of life and costs of livings in different countries.

6. Over this couple of weeks events have been really been taking place. 31 Aug. was Malaysia National Day, we celebrated the event over 1 month - they call it Merdeka month, the British gave Malaya independent status on 31 August 1957. And on 16 September 1963 they gave independent to Sarawak and North Borneo (which was renamed Sabah) and they joined Malaya and called the new independent States as Malaysia. In fact Singapore also joined in but later they got out, not sure whether divorced or kicked out. History may say something about that.

7. And in the 2nd to 4th week of August it was haze season in Malaysia. They blamed it on the dry season, the wind direction and the burnings of jungles in Indonesia. I don’t know really, I suppose all factors made it such. And I also heard that there were a lot of jungle burning in Malaysia as well. So all in all it was everyone to be blamed. And of course we found ourselves having to wear dust masks when going around doing our business in town. In fact some schools around Kuala Lumpur were asked to be closed down over a few days at about the end of August, as some children suffered from breathlessness due to the smoke and the haze. Luckily by early September the haze went away, or if I may say, it was under control. All life then went back to normal, well almost.

8. And in late August, during the school holidays, there were a lot of Malay weddings taking place. In fact a neighbour of ours had his son married off and they blocked the whole street on one Sunday for the feast. Not that I mind, but I found that on that Sunday I had to find an alternative place to park my car. And if I go out during the feast time, I would not be able to come home or having to park my car quite a distance away from my house. And that morning I nearly got lost in my neighbourhood. I was not able to find the right street ways to go shopping, many streets were closed off by tents erected for the purposes of wedding feasts. Not only my neighbour was having that feast so I found out, there are others having the same idea. In the end I had to go round and round and round before I could go to the shops and round and round again before I could come home before all the wedding guests arrive to congest up my street and blocking me from coming home. But Malay wedding is good fun really but they seems to spend a lot of money. I do not how people can save so much money to marry off their sons and daughters.

9. The Merdeka month was a busy period for politicians and for normal citizens alike. There was this idea that all of us Malaysians were to fly the Malaysian flags in/on shop houses, on buildings and at home. And flags were sold everywhere for ease of the public to buy them. And many cars also flew flags on them, looking like everyone driving around like diplomats with flags flown on their cars, old and new cars alike. Lorries were made to fly the full size flags. And at Highways, there were the outsized flags being flown at entrances and exits. Truly amazing how patriotic we Malaysians are, or maybe we are just made to look like being patriotic. Nobody really knows, nobody dares to confess and I suppose nobody wants to know. But we Malaysians have gone quite a way now, 48 years of being independent (for Malaya at least). And we have progressed so much that anyone coming to Malaysia today will not see this country as a third world country anymore. We have progressed, and Kuala Lumpur is as modern as any city in Europe or America. But I must say that even though we are built like a first world country, our mentality is still of the 3rd world. We still have a long way to go to be at par with the first world. The Malaysian Government targets that by year 2020 we should be at par in all aspects. We’ll see, but I suppose by then I may not be here anymore.

10. This one month saw a few political changes, a few political parties have their leaders changed through internal elections. And a Minister in the Malaysian Cabinet had to undergo grilling over her handling of permits to import cars. And our national Car Co. (PROTON) is at the forefront on this grilling. But being an Iron Lady she still seems to survive.

11. And dry season is upon us now. Kuala Lumpur is experiencing a shortage of water in its reservoir and if this continues there is a threat that there will be water rationing. I hope it will not come to that.

12. Out RM 1.00 ‘gold’ coin will be of no value by mid-December 2005. It will be taken out of circulation. Too many counterfeits says the Malaysian Government. That is the official reason given anyway. Nobody really know the real reason though.

13. Overseas events, I have not been following them really. But I cannot help but read all about the American/British occupancy of Iraq and of Katrina in Florida. Both are tragedy to me, of different magnitude and of divergent causes. Iraq caused by men and Florida the wrath of God (but I suppose many people do not believe in God nowadays, and so they call it Natural Disaster). Katrina was really fearsome.

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