Friday, 29 June 2012

Some feedback from Xlibris

Rey Barnes called at lunch time today to explain the nature of the books and purchases. I will just summarize what I heard from her and what I can make out of the phone call ( there were a lot of echoes so I couldn't hear her properly), and what I have understood so far.

  1. She will request Xlibris to expedite publication of one book (the small book) as I have requested the books to be published before or by October 2012; since Malaysian govt institutions (university libraries, etc) cannot make purchase orders after October as the accounts will be closed (October 2012-March 2013). The other book (big book) may need a little bit more time before it can be published, and Xlibris will try to get the second book out too by October 2012. I informed Rey Barnes about Ramadan and also the Hajj season and re our upcoming 13GE.... hectic time.
  2. The print copies can be purchased at Xlibris and; anyone can purchase any version. Business as usual.
  3. The ebook version is as explained by Rey Barnes in a preceding post. Nobody can download a second time after the initial download (must be prepaid and must download at certain times). The download link is immediately deactivated after one download. The ebook is not searchable before download as the book is not visible to search engines. I have only requested 4 pages of the ebook to be displayed online - cover and TOC. That's all the search engines can see. The search engines cannot search contents of the ebook as the contents won't be uploaded along with the displayed pages.
  4. Institutions can request free complimentary copies of the print copies, but not the ebook. The ebook is only for purchasing, not complimentary copy or FOC.
  5. Persons can request print copies but Xlibris will decide whether to give complimentary copies or not. If in doubt, Xlibris will contact me and I can decide.
  6. All other matters re purchase will be referred to me and I can release or refuse any sale to any person. Of course I don't like to be doing this job.
  7. Anyone can write to Xlibris and ask Rey Barnes re my books or if they have further queries.
  8. My 2 books (each book has 3 versions) will be available for as long as I live and for 50 years after my death. After that the books will be free for circulation (they will enter into public domain). If I still want the books to be copyrighted for another 50 years, then my children will need to file for copyright once more. If I  live another 50 years, I will be 104!!!! 
  9. The books will be printed on demand; Xlibris does not store printed books. When you order a print book, it will print one book just for you. That way, you always get a fresh book, not an old book. Xlibris is a green company which means it tries to cut down on paper and save the trees, keep the ozone layer intact and we get a cooler Earth. Xlibris encourages the ebook. In future, almost all books will be published as ebooks, no print books anymore.
  10. Book dealers, book resellers, orang jual buku, etc - can write to Xlibris for discounted price and then resell at whatever price they wish, and make a profit. This is ok with me.
  11. Xlibris is also looking at the Malaysian and Singapore buyers: doctors' associations, medical groups, dental groups, organisations, companies, ministries/kementerian, etc who will be interested in the books. Please write to Xlibris and for bulk orders, etc. I will make the ISBN #s for the second book handy when I have them.
  12. I will not be selling my own books, so everyone has to buy them online at Xlibris or 
  13. The people at Xlibris said the books are very good. One lady phoned to inform she liked the Preface so much that she couldn't resist to copy a para of it for her Facebook. Of course I allowed it cos I wanted her to be happy. The para was about children's literacy.
  14. Rey Barnes also told me to check my email (often)....sebab lambat jawab emel. Of course I cannot check my email when I'm out among the rubber trees!
I hope this post is helpful for everyone. Take care.

Prof Faridah


This is the answer from Xlibris to my queries re ebook.

from: Rey Barnes Rey.Barnes [a]
to: faridahar [a]
date: Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM
subject: Book ID 501452

Hello Faridah,

e-Book is the electronic copy of your book. The version that we will provide the buyers will depend on the type of e-book reader they are using. However, there is now a new innovation that one e-book version is already compatible to all readers (Macintosh, Nook, iPad, Adobe Digital, Kindle, etc). We will send them a download link that offers one-time download to make sure that only the person who bought a copy will get the product. After the download process, the link deactivates and they can no longer use it for downloading another copy. They also need to download the material within 5 business days or the link will also deactivate and become useless.

I have posted some links earlier re the present ebook version that operates on all mobile devices.

According to Rey Barnes, libraries today lack space and they would prefer to have the ebook version.

Here are examples of ebooks.
Other examples of ebooks
About ebooks from the Advanced Learning Centre

Puteri Wanang Seri

Who was Wanang Seri? She is sung by Roslan Madun in his song by the same name. Who was she? Who were her parents? Was she the legendary Hang Li Poh who married Sultan Melaka?

Roslan Madun: Puteri Wanang Seri

Roslan Madun: Tebang Tebu

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Water, Oil and Gas (WOG)

What is water? Where does water come from? Why do we need water? Can we live without water? We know from the Asian Tsunami 2004 that man can survive for 14 days without water. Is water essential? Where can we find water? Is there no water somewhere? Where? Where are our water resources? Who owns water? Who makes water? Who sells water? Who has no water? Why has water become a commodity? Why is water expensive? Why is water the #3 cause of war, after oil and gold? Why are we rushing for water ownership? Why are we fighting because of water? Why are we killing because of water? Why has water become a source of conflict in almost every nation that exists on Earth? Why? Why? Why? Remember, water, oil and gas all exist as a package in nature - conquering water resources means you automatically get the other 2, oil and gas. Let's look at the triad - water, oil and gas.

Here are some good reads and maps about water, oil and gas:

Thomas Malthus Theory:

Middle East Rainfall 1973:

Middle East Groundwater 1973:

Caspian Sea oil and gas 2001:

Maps of Israel:

Maps of Asia:

Map of Indo-China 1886: (shows proposed Burma-Siam-China railway)

Maps of Thailand:
- administrative map 2005: (also shows Satun, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat)
- 72 provinces in Thailand 1988: (Pattani is #34)
- shows names of towns: (also part of Burma, including a town called Pegu (Bago) which is much cited in Malay History. There is also the town of Moulmein).
- economy map 1974: (shows mining but there is no gold marked on the map. Where did Thailand obtain all her gold for her palaces and temples?)
- ethnic Thai groups 1974: (shows the Malays lives in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Satun)
- relief map: (also shows railway)

In the old days, if  a doctor needed to travel from Penang to Kota Bharu, Kelantan, he would have to take the train that went up to Thailand, then take another train that came back down to Kelantan. In Kelantan, the train previously stopped at Penambang, then the doctor had to take a ship across Sungai Kelantan, and make it to Kota Bharu. The journey from Penang to Kota Bharu, Kelantan may take many days. This journey appears in the biography of Dr Ali Othman Merican, and his sons, Dr Carleel Merican and Dr Ezanee Merican.

There was no bridge across Sg Kelantan till one was built by the British in 1939 - it was a bridge that collected toll. In 1967, the toll was $2 (RM2) per vehicle; motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians did not have to pay. Buses had to pay. 

Maps of Malaysia: (1998)

Map of Malacca 1854:

Malacca has a lot of water problems because geographically, it has a low water-table. This means, you need to dig a well deep enough to get to the water-table. However, it is rather weird that Malacca also suffers from floods! I don't understand the water and irrigation system in Malacca.

In the many reports of typhoid and cholera in the old newspapers, Malacca and Terengganu had major outbreaks in 1964 and 1967 (have to re-check the dates). Terengganu has many rivers.

In a book by Yeoh, she explained that when Singapore (and all of Malaya) used the bucket system, there were some problems with the collection of the buckets (tong tahi). The buckets had to be carried from the latrines, through the living-room to the front, so the Chinese man can collect the nightsoil. That cause diseases somehow (I have no idea how this can happen).

When I lived in Banda Hilir, Malacca, my family had a latrine far away from the house. It used the bucket system and a Chinese man would come and collect the nightsoil. The buckets were stinking and looked really ugly.

Malaysia was really lucky when Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin invented the Jitra Bowl in 1963, a cousin of the Siamese Bowl. In early 1970, my father installed the Jitra Bowl with a flush system for our Banda Hilir house. It was the first time someone did that for a kampung house. As kids, we didn't have to go to the dark latrine outside anymore. It was a great change in hygiene.

Maps of Singapore: (shows 3 airports 2005) (shows Keppel Harbour 1973) (built-up areas)

When the Japanese war reached Singapore (Battle of Singapore 8-14 February 1942), the first thing that Abdul Majid bin Ismail was assigned to do was to check the water resources in Singapore, for the Japanese army. He had to take water samples at about 8 places, some at the lowlands and others at the highlands. According to Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid (Coco Majid), the water samples at the lowlands were all salty and the ones at the highlands were freshwater. The names of the places are mentioned in his biography. There was a Japanese chemist whom Coco was working for.

There was some water problems experienced by the Japanese army. I don't know the exact nature of that water problem. I don't know if that same water problem is the same water problem that Singapore faces today (67 years post-war). What is the water level in the lowlands of Singapore? Aren't the reservoirs providing sufficient water? Singapore also buys and processes water for Malaysia and then sells it back at a higher price - why? When I went to see Singapore and crossed the Johor Causeway, I saw huge silver water pipes on my side of the train window. It was drizzling so my photos didn't come out good. Anyway. I didn't know it was the Causeway! I had thought it was a big river! I don't remember the Causeway from childhood.

Looking at the map of Singapore, I can see a lot of water bodies formed by lakes and rivers.  I'm just wondering what is the actual water problem - is it lack of freshwater or is it lack of water altogether? Penang is an island and it has no water problems. As I faintly recall, there is Guillemard Dam, one at Bukit Dumbar and another near where we lived in Penang, somewhere near Brown Garden side, facing Bukit Pemancar. Penang also has the best drinkable filtered tap water (no need to boil).

Maps of the Philippines: (shows Palawan, presumably home of the Sea Gypsies)

Internet Publishing

We now have a problem because everyone is split over the meaning of Internet privacy. I will select and list here the ones that have the correct interpretation. There are many interpretations. I have written to 5 people, including the publisher for the two books on The Early Malay Doctors. It will certainly delay publishing. I will write the full terms later, as I have a class session now.

Straits Settlements (SS)

The Straits Settlements (SS) refer to the 3 states which do not have Malay sultans - Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Actually the SS is a misnomer; the 3 states had Malay sultans. Penang was a part of Kedah (old spelling Quedah) and was thus under the Kedah Sultanate. Malacca was under the Malacca Sultanate which was over thrown by the Portuguese. Singapore had Sultan Hussain Muazzam Shah. What happened to them and the 3 sultanates? We have continued with the British system and legacy and even after Merdeka, we have not restored the 3 sultans for the 3 Malay states. I think we should since the lands are still Malay lands, and Malay lands have sultans. India had Indians sultans but lost them. Britain still maintains its white kings and queens. China had Chinese emperors and empresses but lost them. So, we too need to maintain our Malay sultans and sultanahs. 

Back to the SS, what did we have? I went to Penang Museum to see what they had under SS. This is what they have - pinggan-mangkuk kaca warna putih. Fine bone China with SS marked on the back. Have you seen them? What are they for?  They are very pretty.

The British had a lovely time here in Malaya. They dined and lived as if it was paradise, like in the movie Bali High. That is the picture I get when I read about the British people in Malaya. Even the hotels at the time were merely for them, including the swimming pools. Our lives and theirs were totally different and nothing we see today comes close to how the white masters lived here at that time. Our forefathers must have felt so bad.

SS dinnerware, Penang Museum

History of the Camera and Life

I want to bring up the camera as I think this is about the most important invention that records history in pictures.

If you go to museum, etc, you will see old models of cameras. Here are some old camera models: 

We can safely say the camera was invented by the Chinese, picked up by the Europeans, adapted and modified to whatever was usable though impractical. 

If we check old photographs of the 1830s, these were likely photos from the early camera models that worked, and the cameras were big and on a tripod-like structure. The flash used was blinding.

When I had my pictures taken in the early 1960s, the big bulky accordian-like box cameras were still in use by photo studios. I still remember in some cases they used a flash that was like a fan-flower piece and the flash itself was so strong that it could send a child rolling backwards. Many people did not like being photographed because of the blinding flash that was used for indoor photography. But the photographs from these early cameras are sharp and good, they last till today.

Some of the doctors had some of the early cameras. Later on there the SLRs, then the automatic disposable, followed by autofocus, then finally the digital still and now zoom and video cam. Soem doctors preferred to develop their own photographs.  

Most of the early B/W photos are very good are lasting. Nowadays we prefer coloured photos and I am worried they will not last. I looked through my photo collection and the coloured ones and slides may have to go soon. The B/W ones are still clear as if they were taken yesterday (they were taken when I completed my first degrees in 1976).

I have submitted 421 unique photos for the big book. The portraits are the usual ones but there is one portrait that stands out, and that is of Dr Megat Khas when he played the role of Bottom the Weaver in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream for a school play. He wore a dunce cap and looked really sad. The other stunning photos are of the Malay families and Malay ladies. I have never seen a Malay family gathered nicely for a photo and there is a nice one posed by Dr Megat Khas' family in a wooden home. There is one photo where 4 Megat brothers posed  for a photo, dressed in 3-piece and with pointed shoes. You may think such photos exist in European films but this is one with 4 Malay men. You cannot tell that they are Malay men. I particularly like the tea parties that the doctors attended. It seems that life was quite relaxed then and doctors had time to attend tea parties and enjoy the evening. In one photo, the men were dressed in baju Melayu and they looked really handsome. In another photo, the doctors & dentists gathered for dinner and they looked really happy. There is one photo with Dr Latifah Ghows seated very near to the camera and that is about the best photo of her so far. Next to her was a boy/man dressed in baju Melayu and songkok but I have no idea who it was. He looked Malay to me but I cannot make out who it is - could be any of the 12 doctors who are still not written about. There are quite a number of photos where most of the individual are still unidentified since the ones who knew them have all passed away. The faces are in full view but there is no clue to tell who they are. Most of the photos where the people are unidentified are from the 1960s. I don't know them too as I was 7 years old in 1965. I have passed on some of the photos to VI webmaster and to the Nursing Association in KL for assistance with identification. It is very sad that I don't know who are in the photos.

In the 1960s, there was the first Cabinet. That ministers whom I recall are Temenggung Jugah, Tan Sri Sardon Jubir, Aishah Ghani, Ghazali Jawi, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussien Onn, Ghafar Baba, etc. I remember Tun Dr Mahathir from 1974 when he was education minister. I remember most of the Agongs, mostly from the stamps I collected (still at it). I remember Sultanah Bahiyah because she was the prettiest queen on TV. 

I think we were more patriotic as kids in the early 1960s. We celebrated everything that the school taught us, even Poppy Day was a big thing at school and at home. The school uniforms made us feel like responsible kids. Parents also had a different attitude then. It was a different life altogether.

We had P Ramlee movies, B/W only, for a long time but that didn't bother us as nobody had coloured TV then. There was only one channel - RTM. Much later, we had a second channel, RTM2. Then in 1982, after I returned from California, we had TV3, which was in English. Because I had returned from California after being overseas for 6 years, I could not understand the English that TV3 had used at that time. I had a lot of trouble getting used to Malaysian English; when I left Malaysia at 17, I could't even say a sentence of conversational English. It took me many years to become Malaysian again, but now I have become Kelantanese. If I venture outside Kelantan, eg go to KL for Aidilfitri, then it is hard for me to speak standard Bahasa Melayu as I have lost that skill after living in Kelantan since 1983. I can still speak some English but not as much as when I first returned in 1982. I am now learning some basic Arabic. Soon I will lose another language and pick up a new language. I'm also picking up Tagalog, hoping to travel and see Philippines for the first time. I hope to learn Indonesian so I can visit Indonesia for the first time. I have been to Thailand but the life there is very different that I got very scared of the rural life. I particularly like the shops that were selling fabric in Hadyai (if I remember the place). They sell a lot of fried chicken on the way and our bus stopped so we could by some fried chicken. I still don't know the Thai language even though I live about an hour from the Thai border. I have not captured a lot of rural life and clinics as I only had the new digital cameras this year. I was using an entry model digital still camera but I got angry with my CPU one day as a lot of viruses attacked it that I just reformatted and lost all my photos.

For the digital still, I only need a minimum 300dpi for book reproduction but dsc nowadays come at 14 Mpixels and each photo is approx. 5MB, when they were just 100Kb before. So when more photos mean more storage space, I am lost because I have a lot of photos but I cannot keep accumulating photos. At some point, some photos need to go so I have some space. For books on The Early Malay Doctors alone, I use a 13GB external HD plus  lots of cute little pendrives when I work on different computers. I buy a lot of pendrives when I go shopping, some for my kids and the rest for my work. I don't keep any empty pendrive; when I need space, I just delete an entire photo album. Then when I need the photos again, I go out to photoshoot a whole new set of photos. I still believe, the best way to work today is to have a very good camera and a very fast laptop with as much RAM as possible, and the fastest Internet. I don't scan but refer the job to my daughter - she does all the necessary scanning for me. My other daughter takes care of all my phone calls except the ones where the caller speaks English and she doesn't understand a word. She speaks American English but fails to understand the normal English on the phone. My husband takes care of all the calls which I don't hear, fail to answer, fail to understand or when I'm asleep. I don't like handphones at all. I still prefer the old dial-a-number phone. I miss the old days when things were a lot easier to manage. Technological advances are good but I still think we must keep the old things too. The new inventions today break down so often that sometimes I think it is not worth buying a new thing. I still prefer news coming from a person rather than watch TV. I still prefer story-telling rather than watch TV. A lot of things in the old days have personal touch and were so meaningful to life itself. Nowadays, there is lack of soul in life; people don't stop to ponder at all.

Batu Ferringhi beach (beach of Portuguese stones), Penang

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Radiology FAQ and the bear story

This is an interesting website that educates patients. If you have queries about x-ray and things related to radiology, you can ask at the website. The answers are real good for educational purposes. 

Radiology FAQ at Radiology Malaysia website:

I covered some medical developments as part of my professorial talk, and the camera pill was one which I talked about. I was really excited about the camera pill. The thought of swallowing a camera pill gives a wormy feeling. I also talked about the camera pill in class and the students were amazed that such a device exists, but not in Malaysia.

If you are the type that stands or lay down frequently for radiodiagnostic imaging and the whole stuff that they have and do in radiology today, I think the camera pill will be a hit and patients may even want to pay for it rather than have to strip into the open-back gowns for all the radiology procedures. 

I have been to radiology dept as early as age 11-12 years, in and out, in and out, in and out, ... countless times. I didn't mind the discomfort but I particularly enjoyed the old Indian radiographer who interpreted all my x-ray films. Mind you I was just a child, and he took a lot of pain and courage to tell me what I had. I still remember him back in 1969, except that I don't have his name. He was old when I met him in the x-ray dept - they were all men there, no women. He was a kind man, and I can still remember him holding up the x-ray film for me and pointing to the structures, and telling what was what and what was wrong. He said it was wrong (against the rule) if he told me what I had but I insisted that he tell me and so he did. He was very patient and answered everything despite my not knowing which was bone or what was on the x-ray films. Then he broke down and cried. I asked him why. Imagine as child begging a sad old man not to cry. He said: awak tak tau awak apa sakit, kalau saya sakit macam awak, lama saya sudah minta mati!' I was taken aback. Why did this old man feel so bad when it was me whose x-ray films he was looking at. He really cried and had to leave the room. He left. I then turned to ask the other younger 'cheeky' Malay men. I think the old Indian man must have understood the extent of what I had and its impact on my life and future. But I was just a child and I could never understand his concerns and worries for me. I never saw him after that. Maybe he refused to see me anymore because I asked him too many questions. I never saw him again but I certainly miss his kindness in explaining things to me.

I remember being at GH Penang in 1976 for my ME for a scholarship I was applying for to go overseas. That time if I am correct, there wasn't an x-ray facility at GH Penang. I had to go to a private x-ray facility somewhere quite far. I can't recall where but the Indian boy performing the x-ray was very good. He didn't say much and did a good job. I didn't have to do any repeat x-ray. I then took my x-ray film to GH Penang. I remember the waiting area at GH Penang was filled with patients - many Indian ladies in sari, one in particular was moaning in great pain. it was very heart-breaking watching her moaning or was it crying in pain? I can't tell which is which but she was definitely in great pain. I was with my mother - I would never go to any hospital without her. It was like she was my shield and go-between me and the doctor. She spoke and answered doctors' questions on my behalf. I had a mouth that would not open when a doctor asked me anything. I usually appeared mute to doctors. Back to the Indian lady, I asked my mother why she was moaning so badly with her mouth agape and saliva drooling. My mother said the Indian lady probably had oral cancer - she had lots of white blisters even on her lips. I asked her oral cancer from what? She said makan sireh. I rebut and said nenek lain pun makan.... and they don't get to this very advanced condition and excruciating pain. I couldn't ask anymore nor finish my question .... I could see a tiny drop of tear at the edge of my mother's eye nearest to me. I stopped asking. Enough was enough. But the part that I didn't get to ask and get a complete explanation, became a research question for almost my entire adult life. Why did the poor lady kunyah sireh? Didn't she know it will give her oral cancer? Why didn't anyone tell the poor lady... I had so many questions in my head ... a good thing I never became a doctor and have to treat a poor lady like that - I would end up crying like her! She must have passed on, if she had survived she probably would be 120 I guess. She certainly died. Poor thing!

I grow sireh emas in my backyard, on a tree trunk that is a leftover of my pokok belimbing besi - it wouldn't grow on any other batang pokok except this particular one. It's grown wildly that I can't even walk past it to get to the wall that separates my compound from my neighbour's. I can't even see my neighbour when she washes clothes outside her house - the sireh emas vine blocks my view. Usually I can just stand at my kitchen door and talk (loudly) to my neighbour and we can talk for 1 hour! And we stop when it is masak nasi time before the hungry Y-species come home for lunch.

When I started teaching at USM in Penang in June 1982, some places were recycling their x-ray films for smthg I don't remember. In the 1980s, a lot of things were recycled. Nowadays we are very unmotivated to recycle. I am refraining from using the dirty word 'lazy'. We are not lazy but just not motivated enough to do any amount of recycling. What happened to boleh spirit in all of us? Did laziness come to replace or displace boleh buat one? We musn't be l**y.

In 2009, I underwent a lot of radiology procedures, and also the following year. You might be wondering why. Didn't I tell you that my brother's brown teddy bear lost both its black button-eyes? Where do you think the eyes went? We were just kids - I was probably 3/4/5 and my brother +2 years older than me. One day he received a big brown teddy bear for being a good boy. He showed his teddy bear but I had none. I was intrigued that this teddy bear had eyes .... so .... (you can guess what happened). One day after the 'eyes meal' my brother discovered that his teddy was missing eyes!!! LOL. Who could be having 2 extra little black eyes? Me! Hahaha.... telan everything! That's the funny part. The serious part is I still buy teddy bears, big and small and in-between. I must be the oldest lady with the largest collection of teddy bears to date, but they all still have eyes! LOL. Next time you do window shopping and see teddy bears, remember this story - it will make you smile.

Please visit the Radiology website and read the FAQs.

This is about the loveliest of my many teddy bears and one of my favourites. This one sits in my office and I sit on it. I put it away when students come to see me in my office. I bought 3 of these, one for my husband who wanted it for his clinic where he sees pediatric patients. Each teddy bear costs RM39 at KLIA (18 Oct 2010). This photo was taken 3 days after my birthday, after I got back to office. That is how far I travel to get this beautiful bear. I think for people who are lifelong patients, a bear is all that they must have. With each passing year, the number of bears increase but life draws to almost an end. I used to collect donkeys but I switched to bears because people were teasing me. Never mind.



Saturday, 23 June 2012

A Lesson on the Plague

I was looking for the meaning of 'Messrs' and I landed at a website for Online Readers under Project Gutenberg. There are so many old online books for reading (for English classes), for school holidays and stage plays. I like this particular critic on Robinson Crusoe of 1719, and the biography of the secret life of its author, Defoe. I have included the critic on The History of the Plague in London which should be a useful read.


Of the two hundred and fifty odd books and pamphlets written by Defoe, it may fairly be said that only two--"Robinson Crusoe" and the "History of the Plague in London"--are read by any but the special students of eighteenth-century literature. The latter will be discussed in another part of this Introduction. Of the former it may be asserted, that it arose naturally out of the circumstances of Defoe's trade as a journalist. So long as the papers would take his articles, nobody of distinction could die without Defoe's rushing out with a biography of him. 
In these biographies, when facts were scanty, Defoe supplied them from his imagination, attributing to his hero such sentiments as he thought the average Londoner could understand, and describing his appearance with that minute fidelity of which only an eyewitness is supposed to be capable. Long practice in this kind of composition made Defoe an adept in the art of "lying like truth." When, therefore, the actual and extraordinary adventures of Alexander Selkirk came under his notice, nothing was more natural and more profitable for Defoe than to seize upon this material, and work it up, just as he worked up the lives of Jack Sheppard the highwayman, and of Avery the king of the pirates. 
It is interesting to notice also that the date of publication of "Robinson Crusoe" (1719) corresponds with a time at which Defoe was playing the desperate and dangerous game of a political spy. A single false move might bring him a stab in the dark, or might land him in the hulks for transportation to some tropical island, where he might have abundant need for the exercise of those mental resources that interest us so much in Crusoe. The secret of Defoe's life at this time was known only to himself and to the minister that paid him. He was almost as much alone in London as was Crusoe on his desert island. 
The success which Defoe scored in "Robinson Crusoe" he never repeated. His entire lack of artistic conscience is shown by his adding a dull second part to "Robinson Crusoe," and a duller series of serious reflections such as might have passed through Crusoe's mind during his island captivity. Of even the best of Defoe's other novels,--"Moll Flanders," "Roxana," "Captain Singleton,"--the writer must confess that his judgment coincides with that of Mr. Leslie Stephen, who finds two thirds of them "deadly dull," and the treatment such as "cannot raise [the story] above a very moderate level."
The closing scenes of Defoe's life were not cheerful. He appears to have lost most of the fortune he acquired from his numerous writings and scarcely less numerous speculations. For the two years immediately preceding his death, he lived in concealment away from his home, though why he fled, and from what danger, is not definitely known. He died in a lodging in Ropemaker's Alley, Moorfields, on April 26, 1731. The only description we have of Defoe's personal appearance is an advertisement published in 1703, when he was in hiding to avoid arrest for his "Shortest Way with the Dissenters:"
"He is a middle-aged, spare man, about forty years old, of a brown complexion, and dark-brown colored hair, but wears a wig; a hooked nose, a sharp chin, gray eyes, and a large mole near his mouth."


In the years 1720-21 the plague, which had not visited Western Europe for fifty-five years, broke out with great violence in Marseilles. About fifty thousand people died of the disease in that city, and great alarm was felt in London lest the infection should reach England. Here was a journalistic chance that so experienced a newspaper man as Defoe could not let slip. Accordingly, on the 17th of March, 1722, appeared his "Journal of the Plague Year: Being Observations or Memorials of the most Remarkable Occurrences, as well Publick as Private, which happened in London during the Last Great Visitation in 1665.
Written by a Citizen who continued all the while in London. Never made public before." The story is told with such an air of veracity, the little circumstantial details are introduced with such apparent artlessness, the grotesque incidents are described with such animation, (and relish!) the horror borne in upon the mind of the narrator is so apparently genuine, that we can easily understand how almost everybody not in the secret of the authorship believed he had here an authentic "Journal," written by one who had actually beheld the scenes he describes. 
Indeed, we know that twenty-three years after the "Journal" was published, this impression still prevailed; for Defoe is gravely quoted as an authority in "A Discourse on the Plague; by Richard Mead, Fellow of the College of Physicians and of the Royal Society, and Physician to his Majesty. 9th Edition. London, 1744." 
Though Defoe, like his admiring critic Mr. Saintsbury, had but small sense of humor, even he must have felt tickled in his grave at this ponderous scientific tribute to his skill in the art of realistic description. If we inquire further into the secret of Defoe's success in the "History of the Plague," we shall find that it consists largely in his vision, or power of seeing clearly and accurately what he describes, before he attempts to put this description on paper. As Defoe was but four years old at the time of the Great Plague, his personal recollection of its effects must have been of the dimmest; but during the years of childhood (the most imaginative of life) he must often have conversed with persons who had been through the plague, possibly with those who had recovered from it themselves. He must often have visited localities ravaged by the plague, and spared by the Great Fire of 1666; he must often have gazed in childish horror at those awful mounds beneath which hundreds of human bodies lay huddled together,--rich and poor, high and low, scoundrel and saint,--sharing one common bed at last. His retentive memory must have stored away at least the outline of those hideous images, so effectively recombined many years later by means of his powerful though limited imagination. 
 * * * * * 
Defoe had the ability to become a good scholar, and to acquire the elements of a good English style; but it is certain he never did. He never had time, or rather he never took time, preferring invariably quantity to quality. What work of his has survived till to-day is read, not for its style, but in spite of its style. His syntax is loose and unscholarly; his vocabulary is copious, but often inaccurate; many of his sentences ramble on interminably, lacking unity, precision, and balance. Figures of speech he seldom abuses because he seldom uses; his imagination, as noticed before, being extremely limited in range. That Defoe, in spite of these defects, should succeed in interesting us in his "Plague," is a remarkable tribute to his peculiar ability as described in the preceding paragraph.


Other ebooks:

Common health problems

Ada apa sakit? Sakit mana? Sini kah? Sini kah? Sini kah? Mana sakit? Bila sakit? Sini ada sakit? Yes, got sakit hati!!! Blinking idiot doctors!! They keep asking you the same routine questions, over and over, as if you are a stupid patient. I will bring my handphone next time and playback readied answers if I go to the doctor. Any better ways for doctors to ask patients? Ask the doctor. That is how I look at doctors. I think they are parrots. Nothing wrong with that. Just that I think doctors are a weird species, and so are professors like me. If you think professors are weirdos, doctors are even weirder than professors. You know, weirdos exist!! We need weirdos - doctors and professors.

I wanted to upload a photo of me at the wax museum in Los Angeles (LA) watching Jerry Lewis working in the lab, but my eldest daughter and my husband say: 'cannot lah, nanti aurat terdedah'. How many of you remember Jerry Lewis, the weird professor? I do. I still like his movies but ASTRO doesn't have this. I haven't checked YouTube. It was from Jerry Lewis movies that I double-majored and one of them was Chemistry. That is how powerful Jerry Lewis movies impact had on me. You can laugh but I became a professor partly because I learned from a weirdo (Jerry Lewis) that experiments are a great way to any discovery. Very true, I think.

I want to bring your attention to a group in Facebook that looks at medicinal plants, everything that grows in the ground and in pots. This group is good because there are experts who help out others with identification of medicinal and beneficial plants. You can even upload your pics and they will help you to identify what you have in your backyard.

This is the link to the medicinal plant interest group:


This is one post that attracted me:
Nik Idris Nik Yusoff Salam Tn Hj student PhD saya dulu ada buat kajian genus tumbuhan ini. Genus Thottea atau Apama family Aristolochiaceae iaitu Thottea corymbosa renik berbanding species T. grandiflora dan T. tomentosa.hati2 dalam mengguna sebab mungkin mengandungi Aristolochic acids yg boleh menyebabkan renal failure yg pernah heboh dulu melibatkan actress Singapore tunang pelakon Phua Chu Kang? Allahu'alam.

I was combing the supermarket shelves for all types of tea and coffee. I tried all. What did I find? I found that a lot of the claims are nonsense. I also found that a lot of the imported teas gave me pain in the kidneys if taken at night. What is my conclusion? The foreign teas are deleterious to my kidney function. In one case, it was extremely painful that it also affected my breathing. I guess this had to do with the bicarbonate and other renal mechanisms in the tubular processes. Because it was so painful, I took dry dates and took a bottle-full of air zamzam. I also took a lot of cooled boiled water for 2 consecutive days and that helped. Because the pain in the kidney also affected my sleep, I also had to rub Tiger Balm on the the skin area near my kidneys, so I could go to sleep. I did that for 2 days. Now the pain is gone from both kidneys. Phew! I almost killed my own kidneys. 

What have I learned about tea? Foreign teas must be thoroughly checked and trialled by our MoH and whoever is in-charge of food safety in Malaysia. The local teas are safe, night and day. Boh tea, Teh Cameron, Sabah tea - these are safe local teas. A wise advise is don't take tea at night as they contain a lot of acidic stuff that do affect kidney function somewhat. Drink lots of water if you do experience kidney pain, whether daytime or night time or can't sleep because of kidney pain.

Another advice is not to take fruit juices, fruit acids and fruitty ice-blends at NIGHT. Apple juice is the worst to take at night before bedtime. The acids are so strong that they practically suffocate your kidneys - boleh mati punyalah sakit. So don't take fruit juices at night, take fruit juices in the morning and in the afternoon, but not at night. Many people suffer from kidney problems, especially diabetic patients. Don't give them orange juice at night.


In the Facebook group too, they are discussing about a cure for sinusitis and headaches arising from sinus problems.
Pak Din Ini orang Melayu panggil Lemuni pantai (Vitex trifolia). Banyak khasiatnya untuk lelaki dan perempuan. 
Pak Din Two interesting things about this plant. 1. Good for those suffering from sinusitis and sinus headache. 2. Good for those who find it difficult to sleep. And very good indeed in putting you to sleep without having any interests in doing anything else. 
Pak Din Pak Engku: the leaves are aromatic. It is the aroma of the leaves that has the value of clearing off the sinuses. We harvest the leaves in the morning dan dry them under the shades preserving most of the essential oils. You can then sniff on the leaves. My crafty wife had made it into tiny pillows for people to carry in the pockets or hand bags. 
Pak Din In the mediterranean region there is another similar plant called the Chaste tree (Vites angus-christi). According to folklore, during the roman times, when the husbands go out to war, the wives would lay the leaves of this plant on their beds and sleep on them. This is suppose to prevent them from being promiscuous. The Roman Catholic monks who are celibates grow this tree in the grounds of their monastaries and consume the fruit (Monk's pepper), which is supposed to suppress their libido. Pak Engku, the leaves of Lemuni pantai has very similar effects. A cautionary note for those who intend to use this. However, this side effect is reversible.
Photos of the plant(s) are in Facebook.

I have a lot of sinus problems when I get up, perform solat and prepare breakfast. I have a stuffy nose and that lasts till about 10 a.m., then I can breathe nicely. I guess the cause can be plenty - dusty bedroom, linen, books lying about, the tissue box next to my pillow, my blanket, my towel that hangs nearby, my sejadah, my telekong, the books nearby my sejadah, my table-fan, my ceiling fan, etc. I also find that I am sensitive to perfumes. You read that right - perfumes. My husband is a perfume addict. He wears all the perfumes in the shops, the perfumes people gave him, and the ones he bought. I am a secondary perfume sniffer. I don't wear any perfume at all. If you came close to me and smelled the perfume on me, that's actually my husband's perfume. I succumb to all the volatiles from all his perfumes - for 30 years, come 25 June 2012. I become practically totally asthmatic that I think the next best thing is to have a separate perfume-free bedroom. Of course that can spell trouble. I can smell his perfume draft through the living-room now as I write this post - it's very strong. It's 10 a.m. now, so I can smell it as my nose is clear.


Many people develop asthma at weird times. I become asthmatic when I take nuts (almonds, hazelnut, pecans, peanuts) mainly. So kuah sate and peanut-butter give me breathing problems. I do take sate & peanut-butter chocolates but in limited amounts.

I have a female colleague who cannot consume cantaloupe or honeydew. I find this strange and I have never known people to be sensitive to such fruits.

I have a male colleague who cannot consume buah nangka. He said he has a lot of problems consuming fruits, such that his menu does not contain fruits. Poor man!

I can consume almost all local fruits but during daytime only. I cannot take them at night or I get terribly asthmatic. I eat a  lot of pineapples, some watermelon, a lot of nangka and durian, some pisang (any pisang, any version), some nona (which I grow), and rarely soursop (if I see a good one). I have not eaten chiku for years now. Nobody sells chiku in Kelantan. I hardly take imported fruits except for the occasional avodaco, passion fruit, pomegranate, persimmon, grapes, oranges, and apples. I take quite a lot of foreign dried fruits - all types of raisins, figs and dates.

I had a male colleague long time ago. He had a large fruit farm which he inherited from his father. One day he took leave and returned to Johor where his fruit farm was. He plucked so much mata kucing and consumed them, I guess throughout the day and into the late night, with story-telling with his kampung folks (long time no see etc). He died one night after consuming a lot of his own mata kucing which he grew on the farm he inherited from his own father. He was 52 when he died. His father too may have died from asthma arising from mata kucing. Now every time I buy mata kucing, this haunt of death from mata kucing scares me, so I buy very little mata kucing for my children and I tell them not to consume any mata kucing at night. I warn them of the danger of asthma which can get out of hand and become fatal.

Getah is rubber


Getah is rubber or rubberband. Pokok getah is rubber tree. Susu getah is latex. Bergetah is cheeky or sexy (a description for girls, ladies and young mothers). Getahkan is to stick together or to apply a rubber compound to an object, usually fine sticks, skewers or lidi which ware used to catch flies and birds. Tayar getah is rubber tyre, not necessarily pneumatic tyres. Ladang getah is a rubber farm or eatate or smallholding. Golek getah is rolling rubber sheets in a roller, to squeeze out water. Tikar getah is a plastic mat but not necessarily made of rubber.

Two early Malay doctors who mentioned 'getah' in their biographies are Dr Ariffin bin Ngah Marzuki and Dr Pandak Ahmad bin Alang Sidin. Both doctors are from Perak. Dr Pandak Ahmad bought a 16-acre rubber land upon his retirement from govt service. This land is to house his descendants today. His house (built in 1933) still stands, strong and sturdy, despite the annual floods. What is special about these 2 doctors? They are related by marriage of their grandchildren. Dr Pandak Ahmad gave his stethoscope to Dr Ariffin, which was Dr Ariffin's first.

How many of you have touched a rubber tree? How many know the dimensions and characteristics of the rubber tree? How many of you know how to tap a rubber tree? What else do you know about the rubber tree.

Below are photos of a small rubber holding near Machang in Kelantan. This small holding is off the main road as you turn from the Machang-Tanah Merah-Kuala Krai-KB junction. This rubber small holding is on a hillock and facing Kota Bharu. The trees are tapped on one side, which side, north/south/east/west? The trees are tapped on the sunny side, not the side with the lichens or mosses. Look at the shadows and the flora on the tree trunks. The pics were taken at about 1 pm when I went to makan gulai at Machang.

rubber tree and coconut shell receptacle
half a coconut shell, as big as my palm
why is the coconut shell receptacle tilted? Is it heavy? No, it is light
the coconut shell is not horizontal to the ground, it is tilted. The camera was adjusted to capture as much tapped surface and the receptacle. Don't know how else to capture both. The orange flora can be seen on the tree bark.
Coconut shell as a receptacle for collecting latex. Why is it black? What is that green liquid inside the black coconut shell? Why is the fluid green - from the moss or reflection?
just rainwater - breeding ground for mosquitoes, anyone? I didn't see anything wiggle in there
Close-up of a porcelain cup (which is expensive, and naughty boys steal these cups)
latex almost dripping from a metal piece into a porcelain cup filled with rainwater from previous night, but the ground was paper dry. Rain fills all the cups?
porcelain cup and all the other rubber trees in full view, all well-spaced from each other. Which tree to tap first, and how to proceed?
a loose porcelain cup that came off the hook and fell down to earth below. I don't know how to fit the cup back, no idea how to re-install it. Maybe place it on the lower metal piece first and then push it as far in against the tree trunk?
rubber latex (white strand in middle of pic) flowing down a tapped groove. The tree is tapped on the sunny side which has less growth on the bark. Right side show the rubber tree wood.
looking up at a rubber tree. I really had to lie almost flat on the ground to get this shot. Here the receptacle is on the sunny side of the tree trunk which has less orange moss.
fresh rubber pod with 3 compartments
fresh rubber pod with 4 compartments
fresh green rubber pods
dried and fresh rubber pods
empty rubber pods on the ground
empty rubber pods
Mature rubber trees with fresh and dried pods at left. It takes at least 5 days to go from green to the dried pods. The green colour disappears within 2 days and the dried skin splits open as you can see in the pic. It looks dark as you go towards the rear of the trees but it is actually clear and quite bright, not dark as in the pic. It did feel like a dangerous place because thin crooks can play hide-and-seek and suddenly jump in front of you. Tigers are also known to roam rubber plantations.
Undergrowth (vegetation) of a rubber smallholding. It looks like a difficult place to walk but it is not. It is quite easy to walk from tree to tree. 
Fresh rubber leaves. These are useful for additional income. They are collected and soaked for 1-2 months with regular changes of water and the flesh green bits are rubbed off and just the veins left intact. They are washed and left to dry. Then they are soaked in different colours and left to dry. The dried colourful rubber leaves are used for art & craft, mostly for flower display, for weddings, etc. The do fetch a high price. I also make my own vein-leaves in my backyard. Then I laminate the small ones. Anymore ideas?

Rubber wood is white, just like pinewood. How do you tell rubberwood from pinewood? Go to the furniture store and ask them. Rubberwood is used for making doors for clothes cupboards, for making side tables, chests, cabinets, etc. They are lightweight and can be painted or varnished.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Pulau Pinang

I didn't have electricity for 2 hours (9.30 a.m. - 11.30 a.m.) this morning, so I went out into my garden to re-pot my collection of cacti which my son obtained for me from his friends' mothers' collections. Now I'm a part-time cactus collector but almost all my cacti have shrivelled and 'died'. My son is away at work in KL. I will need to inform him when he returns that the cacti don't like me and therefore they all died. 

As I was re-potting the cacti, my water pump worked - which signified my electricity supply is functioning alright. I left all the cacti outside, ran inside, locked the kitchen door, called out to everyone to tell them that electricity is back but nobody responded - everyone went back to sleep. I ate half an Indian manggo and drank half a tumbler of kopi mahkota, and got down to writing this post.

My laptop had very little battery left and I waited a while for it to re-charge a bit. Now I can write before the TNB repair men get back to work after solat Jumaat. I have 2 hours of online work - I'm also doing my official USM work online after hours because I have a problem with the programming for MOODLE which we use for the e-learning module, mostly problems arising from incompatibility when we upgrade to the more recent release of MOODLE. I have to work on it because USM has an offshore medic program in Belgaum, India and the students and lecturers there use the same resources which I host online for everyone. I have others who help me but I have to do the major bit of troubleshooting myself. So I practically work 24/7 and 52/52. MOODLE is in PHP and runs on Apache. This is where the major brunt of my IT work is: I teach medical biochemistry and clinical biochemistry (chemical pathology) for classroom teaching (face-to-face) and small group teaching (for patient cases). Teaching nowadays is unlike what it was long ago. Now we use a lot of IT for teaching. All our lecture notes go up online as PDF files and also PPT. I have yet to create other forms which can be uploaded and retrieved by students. MQA also requires e-learning as part of course offerings before they will approve. Because all world-class universities are IT-driven, USM is also a world-class university and uses a lot of IT. I started the IT work for USM, first for its hospital as far back as 1983, then I worked on IT for its medical school since 1997. I am only responsible for USM medical school for another 6 years, then it is compulsory retirement. Then it is back to the cacti I suppose.

My sister SMS a while ago about an article which is important to the Malay people.

I missed this important article which came out in Berita Harian on 18 June 2012:

My late dad told me that he was the 9th generation of Nakhoda Nan Intan  - the man mentioned in the Berita Harian article above. I don't feel thrilled because I think the issue of land ownership has long been ignored by all the relevant authorities. The cries of the original landowners and their descendants have all fallen on deaf ears since the colonials came to plunder - all of them in fact. I have only spoken to Murad cos he called me. Many of the descendants are in Facebook, add Datuk Jenaton. Datuk Jenaton was the younger brother-in-law of Nakhoda Nan Intan. I have written briefly about Nakhoda Nan Intan at my family blog (262 Banda Hilir). I'm just not thrilled when it comes to land ownership. I'm only thrilled when it comes to to get to know people, nothing more than that. You can be the richest guy on earth and it won't move me. I will still lick my ice-cream from Pasar Segar. It's only RM1 a stick (it is called ais potong).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Kling People

I wrote 2 posts yesterday and this blog had 222 hits after that. Those were the two 'geram' articles I wrote. Sometimes I get this geram (angered, angry) mood and I write fast and strong, and I breathe like a bull or a bison when I'm just a swan. Sometimes I have no story to write about as my hands won't write even though the story unfolds in my grey matter. Today, I will write for you about the Indians. Everybody calls them 'Kling', a supposedly derogatory word, pointing to a lesser status of the dark skin people. Let me begin this story of the Kling people in my own words and in my own experience, unbiased by what other people have viewed and written about the Kling people.


Kling is not killing, keeling or kneeling. Kling is Kling, Keling or Kalinga, but not Klang or Kelang. The word Kling or Keling has many meanings, depending on what the context is. Here are some of the contextual meanings as I understand the word.

Type 1 context:
When someone shouts angrily at you and says 'Awak Keling kah?', then that means 'are you stupid?' or 'are you a fool?'. It implies that one must not act silly and, it is also an indirect order to ask you 'to do something better next time and not act foolishly'.

Type 2 context:
When boys are naughty and they play noisily around the elderly and irritate them, then the elderly will shout to them 'Hei, budak Keling!' which translates to 'hey, you naughty boys!' It does not mean the boys are Indians at all or that all Indian boys are naughty and noisy. It is just an expression.

Type 3 context:
When someone meets you and asks you 'Awak orang Kling kah?' or 'Awak orang India kah?' or 'Awak India mari?', then there are many shades of meanings. (i) Awak orang Kling kah? can be asking whether you are Indian from a Kling settlement (ie, a locality) or the Kalinga group of Indian people (ie, ethnicity). (ii) Awak orang India kah? can be asking whether you are Indian, and therefore assumes you speak and can comprehend the Indian language. (iii) Awak India mari? is directly asking whether you hail from India. It does not ask whether your ancestors were Indians or were from India. It only asks your status.

Type 4 context:
The racial group Kling or Keling refers to the many groups of Indians in Malaya, Malaysia and Singapore. Kling or Keling is an ethnic label for all Indians. Because the unlettered lay Malays do not understand Indian migrations and the geography of the vast Indian sub-continent, they group all the Indians as Kling or Keling. This is the weakness on the part of the Malays. So the educated Indians (Kling or Keling) must enlighten the Malays on this aspect.

If you look back into Malacca history, there is a place in Malacca called Tanjung Keling, supposedly where the Indians came ashore in Malacca during the Portuguese era, and also during the Dutch era. Whether the Indians came as traders or forced labour, I don't know, presumably both. Maybe they came as forced labour (convicts and coolies) first and then as indentured labourers later, and eventually as seekers of fortune. But the phenomenon of the Indians arriving and building an Indian settlement at Tanjung Keling is real, and that has lasted till today. But I don't find many Indians there. There is however, Shah's Village in Tanjung Keling in Malacca. Shah's Village was owned by H.M. Shah, an Indian relative of my father (my father was descended from a clergy Arab-princely Minangkabau lineage). My father recalled his uncle H.M. Shah's wife as 'rich with bangles'. So the Indians (and thus Kling or Keling) of Tanjung Keling, were actually rich and successful traders. If you study the H.M. Shah empire, you will be surprised to find that they own a lot of the assets and some of the prime lands in and around KL, Selangor and Malacca. A lot of hotels and resorts are theirs. So that is how powerfully rich the Kling or Keling can be and are today. So, don't belittle their status if you are not a millionnaire or billionnaire, or earning RM30K per day. The Kling or Keling are richer than all the Malays today, despite their humble origins as Indian migrants from 1511 onward (Portuguese era), 1641 onward (Dutch era), or 1824 onward (British era)) - as convicts, coolies, indentured labourers, fortune seekers, traders, etc. They have successfully found a new home here. The Malays cannot match the hardworking Kling/Keling who are able to persevere everything and make their way out of their misfortunes within 5 generations (if I take 1824 as the index). The Kling/Keling have every right to demand respect for their present status as the rich and powerful among the 28 million Malaysians we have today. So the Malays must use the word Kling or Keling rightfully, and respect the Indians who have made it successfully.

Type 5 context:
The historical word Kling or Keling is just a geo-ethnic label which western authors used for writing about the early Indians who arrived in the British settlements and outposts. We have to deeply think about why the British thought of the Indians as a lowly group of Indians and therefore discriminated them based on skin colour, etc. If we are humans, then we know that it is every human's right to live and be treated as human, as equally as other humans. We cannot treat others as lowly animals or treat them inhumanely. So that brings us to the question of 'why did the British discriminate the Indians?' I don't know. We all know the Indians tend to have dark skin shades while the British have fair skin tones. If you read the Quran, it tells us that the skin and ethnicity do not make us better humans. What makes us better humans is the faith we hold within. So why did the British discriminate and ill-treat the Indians? I guess, the Indians are gentle people and they take anger within, they don't show anger. They practise Yoga and are able to deal with a lot of insults, especially those arising from skin tones. The dark skin tones may make them feel inferior but the Great Creator has given the Indians something that no other ethnic group has. What can that be? The Indians are bestowed with the best brains for mathematics. Their brains are specialised for this very high mental capability. And because there are Indians in this world, we are blessed with things related to numbers. What are things related to numbers? What if I told you these facts: Silicon Valley is dominated by highly educated Indians; NASA is highly dependent on Indian scientists who all have PhDs; France and India have the best mathematicians; and there are many more evidences of the geniuses of the Indians. So, don't belittle the Indians just because they have a darker skin tone compared to you. Remember, you have a lesser brain than any Indian and you cannot see that. This is what I call Rahmatullah (rahmat Allah). So, be thankful that we have Indians in this world and especially a lot of them in Malaysia and Singapore. What would the world be without the Indians? Without the Indians, we won't be counting money, we won't be able to fly to the moon, we won't have holidays, and we won't be enjoying holidays overseas as nobody knows how to even schedule flights. All things dealing with numbers are from the Indians, including the money changer. There was even a big double-storey Indian Mercantile Bank in Kota Bharu before the Japanese invaded Malaya; Kota Bharu only had a small defunct Bank Pitis. So be very thankful that we have the Indians with us today.

The Indian money changer's box. Photo from Penang Museum.

Pre-war Indian Mercantile Bank in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. This is now the WWII Museum (Muzium Perang Dunia Ke-2). I used to follow my mother to this bank - I was 11 years old. The bank officers spoke English.

Go to Little India in Penang and Singapore, and you know what I mean. Even the flower shops near the temples (kuil India) are a delight to visit on weekends. I even bought flowers for my wedding from the flower shops by the Indian kuil in Dato Keramat Road in Penang. 

Indian flower stalls in Penang

And remember the oh-so-good roti canai, capati, murtabak, nasi briyani, kurma, and everything else Indian, the Indians have made this world a more colourful place and added so much variety to Malay cuisine.

Nasi briyani served in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. This plate costs RM8.50.

If you admire Indian materials (kain sari) then you have every reason to thank the Indians for the beautiful sari materials, both the feather-weight and heavy sari materials. They go well with Indian gold accessories. Oh! So wonderful life is with all these sari and gold and perfumes.

A beautiful purple Indian sari material from Bangalore, India, made into a Malay baju kurung for Aidilfitri. This is my daughter's baju kurung. She bought the material in Bangalore for RM80. and had it sewn in Kubang Kerian for RM30. This type of sari baju kurung sells for approx. RM300-RM500 in KL boutiques.

Masjid Kapitan Keling in Penang is a beautiful mosque. When I prayed there I had tears because the mosque is so lovely. It is an Indian mosque and is the cleanest of the many mosques I have been to. The grounds make you feel like you are in the palace when actually you are in the mosque. So please visit Masjid Kapitan Keling next time you visit Penang. Reasonably priced nasi kandar is served outside by the front gates. You can order the rice and that goes down well with air limau ais or teh limau ais. You can eat under the payung and watch the afternoon traffic pass by. Bon appetite!

Masjid Kapitan Keling, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang. This is a beautiful mosque within the World Heritage Cities (of two cities - Penang and Malacca).

I think that settles the long introduction to the Indians whom we call Kling or Keling. Be happy!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Most Difficult Malay Word - Sukachita

When one lives overseas, and before the time of the Internet, there would be 2 ways of looking up a Malay word - ask or look in the dictionary.

I was a MARA scholarship holder for my undergraduate degrees. One day, I received a light blue feather-weight aerogram (air-mail letter) from my future sponsor and employer - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). The letter was written entirely in Malay except for my address. I read and read, and read, and read, over and over, over and over... there was one word which I did not know - the word 'Sukachita'.

I knew other words  - suka, chita, chinta, but not this superword - sukachita. I went round to ask the other Malay students for the meaning of the word, 'sukachita'. Nobody knew what that word meant. I called up people to ask what the word 'sukachita' meant but nobody knew. So I was left with a letter with a long Malay word which I did not know what it meant, and nobody knew it either. The haunt went on for the rest of my life overseas - about 10-11 years. 

So, what does 'sukachita' mean to you? It is now spelled as 'sukacita'. What is sukachita or sukacita?

Here are the answers...
  1. There is Jalan Sukachita in Singapore. 
  2. There is an old Malay book involving Hikayat Abdullah that uses the word:
  3. It is a word used in the old Malay language, especially in Malay silat involving Hang Tuah:
  4. It is used in a missionary bulletin entitled Messenger/Pesuruh which was written in English and Malay, and used for spreading the Christian mission:
  5. Same as above: [The word 'dukachita' appears in the case of death or obituary.] A lot of Malays subscribed to its lessons called 'Suloh Hidup', without knowing that is was in fact a Christian mission written in old Malay. 
  6. It is a word cited in Sabri Zain's comments on the genesis of the Malay Annals, which covers the times of Hikayat Munshi Abdullah and also Sultan Mahmud of Malacca:
  7. It is a word that even Sir F. A. Swettenham tried to translate or interpret, along with other common words such as these - pregnant = bun-chit, pot-bellied = bun-tut, the buttocks = bun-toh, and many more Malay words at this link on A Manual of the Malay Language (boleh pecah perut gelak): . Scroll and read all the words there, right till the bottom. 
  8. It is a word in Shellabear's book of English-Malay translation of 1916:
  9. It is a word in Project Gutenberg 2008 which is free for recycle:

So, what does 'sukachita' or 'sukacita' mean? It means happy! It is used in the context to convey a happy message, and in doing so, should also make the recipient happy. 

So, why did so many people choose to ignore the most difficult Malay word? The answer is because nobody cares about what Malay words actually mean, especially rare species or words that pop up in unexpected places at unexpected times - eg, overseas and without an English-Malay dictionary, and without Internet or hp, etc (before Internet and mobile technologies). So now you see, technologies we have today, make learning easy, so easy that you can blame your 5 pancaindera if you cannot succeed or fail to learn the meaning of that most difficult Malay word - sukachita or sukacita.

And that was how I learned Malay, by searching how and when people used the words (contextual meanings) and by asking and trying them out myself. Only my Malay teachers knew the Malay words I did not know and you wouldn't believe that I passed MCE Bahasa Malaysia with a Grade 1, just by learning old Malay words my own way, - by searching way back into history. So my level of Malay and practice of Malayness, is very ancient compared to most of you who know modern Malay and practice modern Malayness etiquette. I still prefer the ancient Malay vocabulary as it conveys a better and more flowery message for something as simple as kanchana (gold). There are many levels of the Malay language and it is worth learning them if you have time. When I attended functions at the Istana Balai Besar, a ceremonial palace, a different level of spoken Malay was used for the 2 days. Malay is not difficult but because we choose to ignore it too often, it becomes difficult for us today. But I can pick up the different types of Malay used at palatial functions and Malay conferences. Even Malay weddings have a totally different set of Malay language. Makes Malay language very interesting to learn and re-learn.

I'm keeping all the Malay letters and messages I received. Hopefully, I will be able to compile a second Malay book for myself. I had published a Malay book for teenagers at my cooking blog. It was difficult to write that book in Malay but I managed somehow.