Friday, November 28, 2008

Pak Hitam Fuad and My Abah

My cousin Hawa wrote a piece about his late father who was my uncle that we called Pak Hitam. Reading it I could feel how very much she missed him at the same time transporting me back down memory lane that I sometimes do not wish to revisit. But I know I must somehow if I want to be at peace with myself. Yes, I could not lie to myself, I miss my Abah very much as well.

Pak Hitam and Abah shared a similar trait that I inherited. Both of them did not like sad occasion and most of the time would want everyone to be happy. Both sort of happy go lucky and loved to be a friend to almost everyone they met. No matter where we were in Malaysia Abah never seemed to be far away from his friends. That was amazing feat that still amazes me considering the kind of technology at our disposal now. Due to our near nomadic life I did not have the opportunity to get very close to Pak Hitam. Only once is a while during school holidays when we were back at Gali that I got to meet him. Then he was a young teacher living together with his young friends next to Aki’s house. When at Aki’s house I could hear their voices and the antics that they were in. In the evening they would be playing their guitars and singing on the veranda sometimes to the chagrin of my late grandpa. At night I could hear them starting their Vespa, no doubt, going to Raub town. Being a kid I just loved them and hanged around. Pak Hitam would tease us when he saw us. Once in awhile we got a treat of ice cream.

Abah being the eldest was the one all my uncles and aunties looked up to and his word is the rule especially after Aki passed away. But I knew despite him just being a policeman his sisters and brothers respected him, especially Pak Hitam. I still could remember the night that Abah passed away Pak Hitam was the one who called me. Pak Hitam was Abah’s designated driver whenever we were back in Gali. Abah would just borrow a car from somewhere and asked Pak Hitam to drive us somewhere. Once we went to PJ for a holiday and we took along Pak Hitam’s only daughter, my cousin Hawa. One of the places we stopped was the old Mimaland, the then 'Sunway Lagoon', in Gombak. (Hawa do you remember that?)

As I grew older I saw less of him and only heard stories of him from the conversations that I heard. Had not for Hawa’s piece I would not have known, for instance, that Pak Hitam used to teach and stay at Fraser’s Hill. The hill resort that now being one of the places we normally go just to relax. I guess that was when in one occasion Lan, Long and myself got a ride home in his car for Mak Cu’s wedding. I was in college then and Pak Hitam to me was the same Pak Hitam. I never knew he loved to travel as I do as well. I guess it is all in the family. Abah was one who could never want to stay around at one place too long and naturally we do as well. So Hawa keep on writing as it is our family biography.

The time I received the news of his passing I felt like time stood still as I felt just only recently I lost my Abah. Both of them being almost similar in look and mannerism made it even harder for me. During the funeral I mentioned to my cousins, in a crude way, that the time for our uncles and aunties to go one after another was here and we had to prepare ourselves for the worst do not neglect to visit one another more often. Pak Cu followed Pak Hitam a year or two later, then Pak Anjang and Pak Ngah. Pak Ngah passed away when I was oversea on assignment. I do not know how old Abah should be now but for what ever it is he lived his own life and he was his own man.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On The Train, Nov. 25, 2008

BNM announced a new OPR 3.25 to boost the economy further and of course it is the business news of the day. A lot of people wanted the OPR to go up as well for whatever reasons. It is so obvious I am no economist but the again you do not have to be one to see the obvious. The world financial crisis will affect everybody and only the prepared, smart and sometimes lucky ones would be spared the worst. The next six months are crucial to us.

As I was early the train was a bit congested.

At Kajang Kakak texted me to ask whether I was still in the office or not. I replied I was already at Kajang. As usual I called my wife to say I was already at Kajang. She asked about Kakak and I said I was not sure where she was exactly. Just after UKM I texted Kakak and she told me she had just passed UKM. Instantly I knew we were on the same train. Better still when we disembarked at Bangi we found out we were in the same coach.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On The Train, Nov 24, 2008

Anyone could have start with ‘It is end of November already’ or ‘Well! It is end of November already’ or ‘Gosh! It’s end of November already!.’ Whatever it is, it is just making statement with no conviction what so ever. Making the statement with no real statement of intent but just making what seems to be an interesting expression. So I would not insult anybody’s intelligence by doing that. Yes. it is already end of November so what? It is whether you have done with the year’s target or not? All I can say for me Alhamdulillah.

Most of the world economy are already or going into recession now. Malaysia is doing ok due to our good foresight, management and past experience. There will be slowdown obviously but we are going to have a small growth still. So not too bad. Conveniently the west is putting the blame on Asia for their predicament.

As it is already a school holidays we had a different crowd on the train. More of the holiday makers and family rather than the blue and white collar workers.

Sunday Riders, Nov 23, 2008

We almost did not make it. After a half day of Futsal on Saturday every inch of my muscles were aching. Had Acong hinted any kind of excuse I would have said yes. But neither of us would want to commit the first move I guess. Also, maybe, it was going to be our first ride together after a long time.

As I was early, I warmed up by cycling around the housing estate. It took me awhile but I was ready when Acong came out at 0659. We immediately cruised down towards Bangi Lama and took the same route I took last week to Putrajaya. This time I was a little bit ready and we reached Taman Warisan at 0845. I thought everyone was still on their way but they were actually already cycling the boulevard. They were Abedib, Alif, Kol and Shahrin and on Kol’s direction Acong and I cycled to meet them halfway. That was it for both of us in Putrajaya. We backtracked and had a light breakfast at Taman Warisan’s eateries. During breakfast Kol and Alif shared with us the gory details of their ride the day before at the Horse trail. Hearing their description and stories I could see Acong’s face was eager to try it. I felt the same and we looked at each other agreeing silently. We had tackled the back to back three phases climb at UKM and this one is another one we want to conquer.

Around 1000 we said goodbye to one another and head for home. For both of us home me another 30km ride and we decided to take the same route I took last week as well. Meaning another assault of the mean climb at Sg Merab MKT before screaming down to Sek Teknik Sepang. This time I was prepared for it and with Acong around pushed me up a little bit.

We were home safely around 1100 and the end of another satisfying ride for me.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Wetland, Putrajaya, Nov 9, 2008

After just a third outing since my long layoff I was really pushing it a bit too early too far over the weekend. I cycled from home to the Putra Jaya Wetland to join my Sunday Riders buddies to cycle around the Wetland and after that to cycle back home. Getting there I rode about 20 km, 12.5KM around the Wetland and 20KM ride home. More or less it was a 50-60KM ride for me. I did this mostly alone and I nearly paid for it. At the end of the ride home my leg started to tense and I knew instantly cramp was developing on my right leg. I eased up, relaxed and drank a lot of water as I inched closer home. I was more glad than my wife when finally I reached home. She remarked ‘Sampai juga my husband home’. Of course she was skeptical that I did. Glad as I was it was still no consolation for missing Mar’s recital. She was already mopping upstairs when I asked about her. But I was saved as I was not the main reason but because she did not win anything. I straight away went up to be a father and finally the promise of High School Musical 3 consoled her.

I took off from home a bit early than before. However since the days are breaking early these days it was already bright. I was supposed to be at the Wetland around 0800 and it was 0700 when I set off. A good one hour but I was not like I was so speeding top speed to Putra Jaya was out of the question. Further more the route was a long winding and hilly one. No matter which one I pick I could not avoid these two characteristics. I picked a decent speed as I came out onto the main road via Bangi Lama towards BB Bangi. My chosen route was Bangi, Teras Jernang, Jalan Abu Bakar Baginda, Jalan Haji Yusof (Sg Merab), Jalan Aman, Jalan Ayer Hitam (Kg Bakar Baginda) and enter Putra Jaya through Gate 1. Taking Jalan P14, Lebuh Perdana Timur, Bulatan Persiaran Sultan Sallahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah and Persiaran Persekutuan. Getting to Teras Jernang was not a problem as I was used to it already but getting out of the hilly Sg Merab was a worry to me as I was not that fit to make the continuous hill run. When I got there I just gritted my teeth and screamed down first before tackling my first long climb. It was still a bit early and not many cars on the road enabled me to push harder and faster up. I was a bit relieved when I got to the top. The second downhill was really a screamer downhill. I let lose and let the momentum to carry me up the next climb. At the top at the MPI junction was the halfway point for me so I stopped to take some liquid and check on my time. It was 0726 and it was a decent time. I had half an hour to go to get to the Wetland so I continued immediately down Sg Merab road towards Kg Bakar Baginda. The climb there was equally long but the gradient was not as steep as before. I do not know about other riders but I really hate this kind of climb as its get to my nerve sometimes. One way to prevent that is for me to look down and paddle hard. Knowing time was not on my side I concentrated my sight to the line on the tarmac and just pushed hard.

Mostly the tarmac in Putra Jaya is new and proper but Section 14 and the surrounding area were still under going development. Although I could gain some speed I was weary of pot holes as the last thing I wanted was to double up on the road. I maintained a decent speed to cross the Lebuh Perdana Timur. Though I was a bit tired I felt sort of liberated when the wind broke on my faces. The sunlight getting through sort of magnify Alamanda on my left. This feeling stuck with me until I reached the Bulatan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah when I hope a smooth ride to the Wetland Boating centre. Unless you are cycling you would know that the big bulatan clockwise is actually an incline. It was not obvious that is why only cyclist, rather a tired cyclist, would notice it. I immediately felt it and lowered down the gear one notch. Knowing I was in time I relax to enjoy the environment to the maximum. Although my leg demanded a relieve the mind is so powerful to divert my attention to Botany Garden on my left. In general due to the open spaces, hard surfaces as well as limited greeneries Putra Jaya is still a hot place. The lakes and the wetland were supposed to bring equilibrium for the area but I guess the bare open spaces are still far too big.

Most of the Sunday riders were already at the Boating Centre with their bikes ready when I got there. 70% of the riders were new faces to me and I introduced myself. Abedib introduced me to Shahrin whom by the look of it a regular and experience cyclist. Nik was the last to arrive and as soon as he was settled at about 0825 we rolled off with Ahmad Taufik Jamil as lead rider. I stayed at the back, not because I was the sweeper, but I wanted to have a relax ride and to take photos at the same time. One of the main reasons why I cycled from home was that so I could enjoy the Wetland a bit more without worrying about pushing myself for a good workout. So I stayed back through most of the ride. We started on a gravel road at a slow pace, I guess, so that everyone is conditioned to the ride. We passed under our first bridge soon enough and immediately after I saw a flock of stocks in the water closed to the bank. I immediately stopped to take few shots. It turned out not too bad. I quickly joined the others after that. The group eventually broke into three groups. The leaders, second group comprises of the majority not too far behind and then followed by Alif and I at the back. The group in the middle comprises mostly by newcomers and they were pacing themselves to make sure they could catch up and maintain a decent distance with the leaders. I was riding with my eyes darting everywhere trying to find something to photograph. Because of that I lost my sense of place and found it difficult to place us within the big scheme of thing within the wetland.

I saw the rest were waiting ahead of us with a lose rock crossing on our left. Since I could see the path straight ahead I thought they were resting and stopping for a photography session. But we were ready to move on Taufik said we were crossing and we had to carry our bike across. I heard somebody said, ‘Are you serious?’ I was still busy snapping at the surrounding as I was fascinated by the manmade wetland. My friend Atak is responsible for that. When everyone crossed we were off again and at this point I heard somebody for the first time asked, ‘Jauh ke lagi?’ Obviously and indication that some of them were tired already. Consciously now I stayed at the back waiting on the last person to catch up. At that point the path was really inviting for speed. Conscious that I would be cycling another 20 KM home through a hilly terrain I resisted the temptation. I slowed down further thinking someone was still at the back and I didn’t realize that Doc Azmi was already in front. So I was left too far behind and that prompted me to kick the pedal hard. So I was speeding anyway and joined Abedib, Alif and Nik. By then we were on a smooth path already and looking across the lake I could see the Boating Centre indicating we were almost home. So I decided to go ahead and sped until we reached a barricade when the portion of the wetland being ‘renovated’. We had top get down and walk our bike across the barricade. I took tome to take a photo of the ‘kapal korek’ and a lone crane in the middle of the wetland. The barricade also meant the end of our ride around the wetland. The rest of the group was already waiting on the main road to take the shortcut back to the boating centre.

I knew I was already late for Mar’s commencement but I thought I could still at least make it to her performance so when on the road I decided to speed on the motorcycle track instead of the walkway. However at the end of the track I had to rejoin the others on the path and that instance I decided to jump over. The decision to do that was right but I made mistake in the execution because I misjudged my condition. I was a bit tired already and I pulled the handle a bit low when I jumped and the front tyre stuck on the pavement. With that the momentum threw me over the bike and I somersaulted on the ground. In one movement the momentum also carried me to stand straight away. I knew I was not hurt and my camera was ok. So I checked the bike first. Laughing at myself I picked the bike up and rode down to where we started off.

After a bit of rest and saying goodbye everyone I took the road home. While riding around the wetland I was already thinking about the easiest and fastest route home. I was actually kidding myself as there was no easy route home. But I thought, although I had to do a few climbing, the Sekolah Teknik, Jenderam route was the fastest. The first challenge was to tackle the long incline. I put the gear on low and paddled patiently up. The bonus at the top was a long downhill until almost the turn towards. Sg Merab MKT. But I felt the long downhill came to soon when I had to tackle the three continuous steep climb. I managed the first one find but the second climb was draining me until almost at the top I knew my limit that day. I got down a rest for awhile next to the futsal court near by before I walked the bike to the top. I was lucky as I was pushed up by the momentum to the top of the third climb and the rest was almost all downhill to the Sekolah Teknik Sepang. After that it was almost a flat ride for home but I was still far away from home.

The first time I felt my right muscle tightened when I was already halfway on the Jenderam Bangi road. Since it was my first experience I thought nothing of it especially when the pain was gone when I just continued to paddle. Losing a lot body fluid I decided to stop at Sg Buah’s rest area to rest for awhile. After a bottle of 100 plus and few minutes I was ready to ride all the way home. The decision to stop was correct as I was a bit fresh after that but I was still tired. I pushed home slowly admitting at that point in time I was not going to make it for Mar’s commencement. Although she was ok when I said to her that I may not be able to see her perform I still would like to be there for her.

I finally forced my way up the last climb home. Halfway I felt my tight muscle tightening and cramp materialized. I was not sure when the last time I had a cramp was but that day I just got down from the bike and walked the bike up the climb and when I was ok at the top cycle slowly home.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On The Train (An Oven for a Coach), Nov 13, 2008

It was dreadful as you were riding an oven. That’s how I felt on way home today. The supposedly new refurbished train had its air-condition malfunction. I was positive at first but when more commuters started to board at KL Sentral, MidValley and Salak Selatan I was sweating inside. At that point I was already blogging and I did not get the flow that I used to have. I almost gave up until I thought I would be worse by just sitting doing nothing. Thus I forced myself to continue writing. Thing only got better when a lot of commuters disembarked taking along their body heat at Kajang.

Friday, November 7, 2008

One Sunday Morning, Nov 2, 2008

I did not have my camera with me so this is the result from my handphone

It was no fun cycling alone last Sunday. Not just last Sunday but it is never fun cycling alone. Also, for safety reason it is not advisable to ride alone especially on the road. But having started the last weekend I did not wish to have gap in my momentum for our, at least mine, target this year.

I was out cycling around the housing estate to warm up around 0700 and at that point still undecided as to my route. Also, I was not sure of my stamina and endurance I did not want to be too ambitious. After few rounds and cycled out of Putra Terrace down towards the main road. As I reached the main junction to Bukit Mahkota and BSP I decided to test myself against the Bukit Mahkota climb and proceeded ahead at decent speed. I observed that I could still maintain a constant speed and inched closer to the climb. At the same time I was trying to enjoy my morning ride and look around me to see a couple of people jogging and having a brisk walk on the road. When I approached the steep climb I dropped my gear and cranked up for speed. I lasted a quarter up when I slowed down to control my heavy breathing. I felt of as the heavy breathing w

as due to my lack of fitness and that was when I was confident to go the distance. I reached at the top of the climb using a higher gear from what I used before. As usual I flew down enjoying the cool breeze breaking on my face. At that instance I made my mind to turn back make another climb, speed towards Bangi lama and climb the Bangi lama new road that I have never done before. Come to think of it none of us had gone that route. However not wanting to outdo myself before going to Bangi lama I turn left into Bukit Mahkota lake area. I discovered that their clubhouse, with decent swimming pool, is almost complete. I cycled around and met two joggers and casual cyclist and a family flying motorized airplane. When interest me was that the man with the airplane was not the first and only one I met in the area. At least I have seen three of them flying their planes in

the open ground around BM and BSP. Another fact is that several families now began to come out exercising on weekends. All these are indicators that we have a good community now. Both BM and BSP are growing in population now. From what I have seen so far we have a good mix. Crimes, petty or serious, are getting easier to combat with the thriving community. It brought a nice feeling in my cycling that day and at the same time gave me a bit more confident to ride further that morning.

The long climb before I got to the bridge

The sad and lonely station

I knew it would be a long consistent climb up Bangi Lama bypass so I psych myself before the climb. I was worried about the traffic but that morning, maybe because it was still early, not many cars on the road so it helps my climb. Since I was alone nobody was around to push and pull me up. I just greet my teeth, ignored the pain and pushed hard up. The triumph of getting to the top was indescribable to me. I was glad for myself being able to do so and another part of me began to feel cocky and thought it was easy. Luckily I came to my senses as I was screaming down towards Bangi Lama town. Then halfway down I saw and realized I would be passing the railway bridge and I decided to stop there. Everyday I would be at the station waiting for my train at dawn and disembark at dusk. The feature of my life for the last five years. It gave me a different perspective looking at the station from the bridge. Strange, but I saw a lonely and sad station. I could just stay there for hours watching the train passes by underneath and I would not be bored.

I decided to move on when I felt the sun was creeping behind my back. Any cyclist would tell you that downhill is when you should catch up on your breathe but since my muscle was about to go to sleep I cranked hard. I took the normal route home. Although I would rather cycle with my friends the solitude of cycling alone was therapeutic in a way.