Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kenduri Kesyukuran

Mak Midah, The Head Chef.


I described Friday, July 22, 2011, as hectic. The truth was, every single day throughout that particular week was hectic. Suddenly, Monday came. I embraced it with a rest from the camera and the computer. Tuesday arrived. I exported photos of last weekend's event from the camera to the computer, merely for Khalish, as he has always loved to view photos in slideshows. The next thing I knew, Wednesday replaced Monday and Tuesday. More tasks. The highlight being the final stage of the plumbers' works around the house. Once the works were completed, I cleaned the house, and packed for the whole family. At 10:30 p.m., we departed to Kelantan. Now, it is weekend again, and the blog is eventually updated.

About last weekend. My parents hosted a family gathering to welcome a new daughter-in-law. The kenduri kesyukuran was also for their youngest child, who is back at home after long, long months of work across oceans, and not to forget, their grandson's birthday, which fell in July. Kamal and I thought that it was inappropriate for Khalish to steal the limelight from his uncles, so, the birthday celebration was held at evening tea time.

The food and beverage for the gathering were prepared by my family members and close friends, with Makcik Midah's guidance. Rewang, yes. Makcik Midah is a Masterchef when it comes to Negeri Sembilan specialties. She insisted that Lemang be served with Rendang Daging and Rendang Ayam. Seeing such scene, my mind immediately travelled to Aidilfitri during my childhood. How my maternal grandmother and her sisters prepared not only Lemang and Rendang, but also Ketupat, Kuah Kacang, and traditional cookies, all from scratch.

Rewang I

I am fortunate to have brothers who are skillful in the kitchen. Then, there were relatives and friends who came to Rembau earlier with the noble intention to help with the food and beverage preparation. Some from the Klang Valley, some from the Southern states, and some from the East Coast. Kamal and I offered our help here and there, all the while admiring others' more deft hands.

Rewang II.

My favourite dish for the day was Gulai Kawah Kambing. I did take part in the dish preparation, albeit the role being minor. I sat between Mak Su and Mek, reached for a knife, and sliced garlics, onions, and gingers. All that I knew. Later, with the ingredients poured into the big wok, I searched around for another task only to realise that all the tasks in the house had been taken. Except for photography.  

Gulai Kawah Kambing.

I reached the outdoor kitchen in time for the final process of Gulai Lawah preparation. To my surprise, as the dish boiled, the cooks added the heads of the slaughtered goats. They have been meticulously cleaned and delicately cut to absorb the flavours of various spices. My father further explained that those were the most special parts in the dish. I have tasted internal organs of cows, including their tongues and brains, but, I never saw the heads of goats as the main delicacies. Interesting. 


In the end, every thing was ready by lunch hour. We looked forward to the gathering that evening, which turned out well. Alhamdulillah. Thank you to all the guests for the presence. What a meaningful day it has been.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hello, Goodbye

Have a Break!

A break, from a hectic Friday. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to Basic at 30

Khalish's Wish.

I turned 30 at 9:39 p.m., July 19, 2011. The eternally young alter ego within me lusted after a celebration with loved ones, but, the 30-year-old self chose to be alone. So, I dedicated a dinner to the latter. Bliss!

When I reached home, Kamal and Khalish greeted me with a wish and a card. The card was 99 percent made by Khalish. The duo also presented a video that featured Khalish's rendition of birthday song. I never failed to smile from ear to ear each time I saw the card and watched the video. Each time. Oh, I broadly smiled even when I only thought about them. The best birthday gifts. Especially because they were unpredictable. 

Kamal added that his birthday gift for me will be here in September. I told him that it is already his birthday month then, not mine. Therefore, I asked him to also dazzle me in July. Heh.

The next day, Kamal was home before Khalish and I returned from the boy's favourite restaurant. As I opened the main door, I saw a big, blue package. "I assume this is for me" I smiled at Kamal. "Yes" he smiled back. Inside the package was a handsome book. Kamal then revealed that it was from Rose. I cannot thank you enough, Rose; I love the book, I love the surprise.

One thing was expected though: the birthday gifts for myself, from myself. I truly, truly, truly wanted to keep in touch with my creative side, hence a sketch book, a note book, a set of pencils, a set of pens, and a set of colour pencils. Heavenly.

A Gift from Myself, for Myself.

Happy birthday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Durian Season!

Durian Buffet, Cara Kampung.

Yes, you read it right. Durian season. In Rembau. Now!

Not as many durians as there were last year, but, Alhamdulillah, enough to share with our relatives. Thanks to our grandparents and parents for their initiative to plant durian trees at the backyard orchard. Thanks to Pak Long, too, for the various types of seed he gave to Ayah and Mak. Kamal and I wonder who among my siblings has the older generation's talent to keep the little orchard fruitful. We should expose Khalish to basic agriculture, with his grandparents' guidance, of course. 

Perfect, Even for Little Fingers.

Khalish, he loves local fruits. Durian included. Yesterday, during morning tea time, the boy patiently sat beside my youngest brother as the man pried open one durian after another. Like all of us, he seemed to favour durian kampung for its small, yet, succulent bittersweet flesh. Perfect for even the littlest fingers and the most dainty taste buds.


The boy ate and ate, oblivious to my camera, which he usually loved to mock with a stare and slightly pouted lips. He exclaimed "sedapnya" over and over again and only stopped when he noticed a ball perched on a tall cabinet. After such feast, I loved it that he kept himself active. Heh. 

Durian Kampung.

Prior to the play session, he was seen emptying those shells. I announced to Kamal that there are actually eight days in a week. The eighth day is called Cheatday. We have just started to be more strict with our diet again, since two weeks ago, yet, we allowed a cheat day once in a blue moon, particularly when there was a free flow of durians around. Back to Herbalife shake for breakfast and dinner, and least oil, least salt savoury food for lunch today. Exercises, too. What with a birthday dinner scheduled tomorrow.  

Finger Licking Good!

Khalish showed us how to enjoy the now though :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rembau Ria

Ringo Starr Wannabe.
Khalish Starr, a long lost relative of Ringo Starr, in action.
Music class soon.
Little Drummer, Littlest Drums.
Aside from the miniature musical instruments, Khalish was also interested in every single thing in his uncles' room.
One of the reasons he loves being in Rembau.

Hey, Mamarazzi!
Tired of the drums, Khalish turned to the outdoor swing.
When I directed my lens towards him, he mocked me with a serious look. Oh, he did so a number of times.
Just Relaxing.
The littlest and the adults.
By the way, if Kamal and I let Khalish grow his hair longer, it will be exactly like Cilan's hairdo, we are sure, heh.
Cousins in Pajamas.
Khalish and Haikal, cousins in pajamas. The little boy got to meet other relatives, too.
At Wan Ngah's house, he was introduced to Bahulu, and he devoured six pieces. He loves Bahulu, just like I used to. 

Rembau Riang Ria!
Hurrah! Rembau again next weekend!
(Which means you can meet Michelin again, Khalish.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our Little Excursion

Khalish Ahead.

I declare this week as Khalish's Week. 

After the fun at The Curve, Kamal, Khalish, and I proceeded to IKEA. For more amusements. The last time we were there, the boy sat still at the children's chair, occupied with the bead roller coaster on the table. The parents had a similar vision of him this time around. 

An extremely ambitious vision, heh. 

Ikea Olympic.

Khalish's energy was charged by the sight of vibrant display around the vast place. Naturally, that phenomenon induced hype. He spinned himself on a swivel chair innumerable times, then, he zigzagged between shelves and desks to finally dive into sofas. I only started to photograph him when he was too tired to repeat the aforementioned pattern. 

Sleep This Way.

He chose to rest only on arrows on the floor though, which the photographer alter ego within me loved for the unique view. Heh. If there were lesser people around, I would absolutely join him on the floor, beside the arrows, with different uninhibited poses for the camera.

Pretend Dinner.

He soon retired to pretend play, particularly at the dinner table. Way slower pace, but, it was riskier because of the fragile tableware. Kamal distracted him with the slide, and I distracted him with the beds.


He chose the slide. In fact, he played there until the parents had to divert his attention to other subjects, again. The beds were never chosen. Yet, I really, really, really wanted to have photos of him under the colourful duvets. Kamal, let us schedule another visit to IKEA with Khalish on a weekday.

Not a Gangster.

Sigh, I am such a mamarazzo, I admit. Just look at Khalish's countenance. "Why can't I have a normal day without mommy following me with her camera?" 

Vain I.

The truth was, I rarely bothered him. I let him be. Except for those moments that involved delicate items. So, Khalish walked and walked and only stopped when he saw his reflections on mirrors to his left and right. Oh, he has always loved mirrors. He mimicked his own expressions and actions. He even checked his shirt, pants, and shoes. All oblivious to the presence of my camera. It was one amusing outing, yes.

Lepak Lagi.

Khalish seemed very hungry towards the end of the tour, Kamal realised. The pretend play returned, and, it revolved more and more around the dinner tables. At IKEA Cafe, the usually neat eater did not care about his meatball-sauce smeared shirt. A change of top afterward, only for the t-shirt to be stained by shoe prints a moment later. 

Vain II.

This was shot right before the three of us rested at the cafe. He stopped by the last mirror at the mirror section and ensured that his lips were well moisturised. Vain, eh. However, when he lay on the floor yet one more time, suddenly unconcerned about the dirt, Kamal and I laughed as we recalled his sense of self-love minutes ago. 

All in all, the little excursion has introduced Kamal and I to the the three-year-old's new traits. He might have flashed a "why can't I have a normal day without mommy following me with her camera?" look, which still tickles Kamal and I, but he also smiled oh so sweetly to the camera eventually because he knew the value of good memories to our family. And, because the boy now loves to tease the parents, among other new traits. 


Pins used for the 'IKEA Olympic' board are by fuzzimo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Evening with Khalish


July 12, 2011, Khalish's third birthday.

The parents' first gift for him was our presence throughout the day. A surprise for Khalish who thought that he would attend school as usual. Initially, it was only the mommy who planned to spend the whole day with the son, but, the daddy had a personal matter to manage that he decided to apply for an emergency leave. Kamal was free from the commitment by late afternoon, and, that resulted in a spontaneous trip to The Curve.

Early dinner at Paddington House of Pancakes:

Different Angles.

The boy loved the aisle that connected the mall to the restaurants, and, the parents loved being there during office hours. Ample space for him to run around, loudly. Which was good, because, in the end, he was tired, and that meant a long break in the high chair. 

Chocolate Dream!

No cake for Khalish that day as he will have a slice or two, or more, during a little birthday tea party with his maternal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins in Rembau next week. He truly looks forward to the tea party because there will be candles to blow and song sung especially for him. Meanwhile, he was contented enough to have Chocolate Dream, a name he gave to all chocolate smoothies in the universe.

Birthday (Pan)cake.

He also had a banana and cheese pancake. Savoury pancakes for Kamal and I. The food triggered an urge to cook again within me. Nothing fancy. Just fun menu. 

Kamal and Khalish.

While I entertained the kitchen goddess fantasy, Kamal kept Khalish occupied with games on iPhone and the latter's insistence to do every single thing on his own. When Khalish shifted his look from the pancake, Kamal quickly helped to cut it to small pieces. 


We were happy about his declaration of independence, of course. More time for us to enjoy our food. There was even time for me, the so-called family photographer, to smile at the camera. Thank you for the photo, Kamal. 

No Gender Bias.

The rest of the evening was dedicated to Khalish. He happily ran into each shop that featured toys at the display window. At Mothercare, he stayed at the pretend kitchen for almost half an hour. He did run to the big boxes of toy garages with cars and trucks, but, Kamal and I had our eyes on another item as a birthday present. No, not that pink and beige scooter. We love it though. Yes, we have no issue with boys who love pink or doll. 

His Obsessions: Car and Escalator.

Eventually, what mattered most to Khalish were his obsessions. Car and escalator. Heh.

Happy birthday, again, son. We pray that you live a blessed, meaningful life. Always.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Khalish is Three

Khalish is 3 III

Khalish is 3 II

Khalish is 3

A series by yours truly. Inspired by Kamal. Especially for Khalish.

Again, Happy birthday, Khalish.

Tapes and tags, by Pugly Pixel.
Polka dot background, by Pixel Scrapper.
Fonts, by Font Squirrel.
Thank you for the creative sources.

The Reason I Do Not Bake Cake

Fun Cake.

A month before his third birthday, Khalish played Play-Doh with yours truly. He requested a strawberry birthday cake, with a number three candle, no less. You should see my focus and my dedication while I was at work.

Khalish showed off the end result to Kamal, "daddy, look; mommy made me a" followed by a sudden silence. He suddenly stopped to take a better look at the sculpted dough, and, a second later, he confidently continued, "a carrot birthday cake!"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

His Interpretations

Khalish asked for the white board and the markers yesterday. He drew cars, of course. Kamal and I playfully requested for our portrait instead of more cars.

To our delight, he portrayed us beautifully:

Daddy and Mommy.

Khalish may not be an art prodigy, but, Kamal and I truly appreciate his expressions through the sketches. I especially love the stories behind them. In the sketch above, "daddy and mommy dance" he narrated. Both of us thought that we also sang. Opera, or Peter Pan musical, with me as Captain Hook.

Afterward, he drew himself on a bicycle:

Khalish Rides a Bike.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Taman Tasik Cempaka

Taman Tasik Cempaka.

One of my childhood memories is family time in Taman Tasik Permaisuri, Cheras, where my brothers and I ran with our parents along the tiered flower terraces, or played badminton at the vast field. At times, we would pack sandwiches and tea from home for a little picnic. There were many gazebos to choose from to relax as well.

Because of the pleasant memory, I was eager to visit the public park in Bandar Baru Bangi within the first week Kamal and I stayed here. It was 2007. My first impression is still vivid in my mind. How disappointed I was at the dismal sight. My mistake then: I compared.

Over the years, I learned not to compare places. Each place is unique. Public parks included.

Last Friday, I decided to brisk-walk at Taman Tasik Cempaka, that park I used to dread. Surprisingly, it was beautiful. Perhaps, the management of the park has put more efforts to beautify it. Perhaps, it appeared so because I changed my perception about places.

Yes, it was beautiful, in a simple way. My only wish was for some people to be more aware about cleanliness. There were unsightly litters even near waste bins. Fortunately for other visitors, the municipal council cleans the park every day. The litters aside, I truly enjoyed my walk at the park that I returned there again with a camera last Tuesday. 


Among the first things I noticed were the swaying palm leaves against the swirls of cloud in the blue, blue sky. Not as romantic as the view on tropical islands, but, Chech, with her friend, Camera, were easy to fascinate. Only after a few steps, I stopped again to admire the nature, like the green moss amassed beneath the shallow water under the bridge. What an art. Sigh, I know I can never be a photographer for National Geographic excursions. With my tendency to take a long stop just to glorify the simplest form of beauty, it will take a year to publish one article that is supposed to take less than a month. 

Malayan Water Monitor Lizard.

Nor could I work for Discovery Channel. I thought I saw a little crocodile because of the animal's hard, scaly skin and huge size. So huge, I did not need zoom lens to capture it with my camera although it was far from me. Later, I learned that it was actually a Malayan water monitor lizard, that has been mistaken as little crocodile, particularly when it moved in the water, innumerable times. I am now in the statistic, and, I am not proud of the fact. I do need to learn a lot about the nature.  


For a start, I will ask my parents the names of these flowers. Apart from my wish to learn more about the nature, I also would love to know the names because I could not answer Khalish's questions when he viewed the photos. For now, simply cherish the scenery, son.

Childhood Memories.

If Khalish were with me then and he started to ask "what flower is this" multiple times without me knowing the answers, I joked to myself that I would just divert his focus to the big, colourful playgrounds around the park. An interesting event followed that thought. A moment after I photographed one of the playgrounds, I cast my eyes downward, to the camera screen, to quickly assess the photo. That very moment, I spotted a little flower at the edge of my shoes, which reminded me of my early childhood years in Sri Serdang. I have always loved the flower, and, naturally, I wanted to know its name, yet, ironically, I never received an answer. If only I could simply insert the photo of this flower in the search bar and press 'I'm Feeling Lucky'.


I continued to brisk-walk. Seeing the variety of people there, I was tempted to photograph each one of them. The cheerful grandparents entertaining the curious granddaughter, the muscular man running his fifth round, the young couple strolling hand in hand, the boisterous teenagers experimenting with their funky skateboards and bikes, the lean lady perfecting her friend's push ups, the energetic children with percussion instruments that beat to their capoiera moves, and the beautiful family of four enjoying the dance of their kites. I felt that I would invade their privacy if I did so though, so, I continued to brisk-walk, and, I resorted to more plants as my photography subjects. They were as charming, as inspiring as the people, too.


At the bridge, more subjects awaited. The birds fascinated me with their poise; in the air, across the water, or on the lamp post. I stood there for a while, just absorbing the view with my mind. Then, as I crossed the bridge to go home, the birds flew in flocks towards their nests as well. 

Pre Dusk.