Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Its Raining and its pouring!!

Today my cousin has decided to pull out of the farming project leaving me out in the lurge what with no more money and having to vacate my rented place, I am up shit creek as they say! Rahim is generally not happy with the whole idea as there is too many uncertainties, but his main concern was that it is too much for his wife to take on the extra burden of work at the Chicken chop and Char Koay Teow stand. However I should try my best to stay with the project and make it happen as we have put alot of effort into it he insisted. But if I decide to give up I should let him know as he has ideas on how to get it going. I just listened to his excuses and nodded my head knowing fully well that his main problem was working with me someone he founf a little difficult to order around like his former Indonesian workers when he was a contractor or his wife and workers at the food stand. Perhaps out of respect he gave me all the other excuses except this fact and perhaps it it my age that stops me from pointing out his hidden agenda. Not that I can blame him as I am used to working in my own ways and at sixty it is kind of hard to keep up with the demands of a younger man.
Offcourse his insisting that I continue was a farce as he fully well knew that I could not even afford to get to the site what with the gas and the toll I will have to pay to get there, I did get there however perhaps just to see what the Cikgu has to say. As I got into Tasik Gelugor the Cikgu called to let me know that he was not going to be around at the farm as he had some business with the Jabatan Pertanian, so my trip was wasted anyway and it rained which did not help either. I thought of how idiotic to be out there trying to rake and burn half dried grass in a thtree acre piece of land, this is modern argriculture and one is doing something just to justify that one is doing something no matter how tedious or energy and time consumming. I stopped when it started to rain and decided that enough was enough.
I sat there in Cikgu's shack for awhile thinking things out and wondering where it will all end up at and where my life is headed for. I had intended to introduce Rahim to Cikgu with the hope that Rahim will find a project for himself other than selling Chicken Chops of which he was forever complaining as not what he had in mind to be for the rest of his life. The truth being it was not even for my own benifit in the long run but it seems like I am standing in the way as an added burden at leasr financially for him. At 50RM a day more or less to get a five acre field cultivated was too much. Had we stuck to the original plan of constructing a shack fo me to stay at the farm it would have cost even less, but ideas change and when changes are made not every factors are taken into account especially if it is not benificial to the new ideas which primaryly to get the planting in as soon as possible. I saw the wisdom in the idea but I also knew we were headed for trouble when previous plans were not adhered and compensations and adjustments made thus resulting in a whole lot of misunderstanding. So much for plannings.
I am in a quandry in this matter and whatever their intentions may be I know I will be out of the game friend or no friend. My gut feelings tells me I am again about to be taken for a ride simply because I am financially strapped. I tried to do my best to find a solution to my problems but it seems like there is no end to it as I am stuck between the devil and the deep. My son had warned me against this venture but I decided that to do something even if it fails is better than sitting on my hands and worry about how to earn my keeps. I called him, to talk to him whileI was sitting and pondering my future but he SMS and told me that he cannot call because he was in a test at work. Its past midnight now and he has not called or Faqs me, another let down? Perhaps he too is tired of my crap or simply has no more to offer. In a way it is good to know the truth about who or what you can or cannot depend on in life especially when the chips are down.
I can hear voices telling me, get a job! Dont pander your self esteem, dont depend on anything or anyone as the Buddha had warned. You are being tested someone told me and being in a poverty state is bringing you closer to Allah so be patient and perservere. Yessir! Being an artist is not work, farming is not work maybe I should try my hand at fishing.
Tonight upon entering the Gallery at Kapitan Kling I found that my friend Rashid has changed the lock to the computer room and a note of the door said that I should use the computer outside as the one in the office is for his personal use only. Again I am loosing another good friend. Although this Gallery belongs to the Malay Artists members in Penang it is more of a Rashid Art Gallery and studio where three quarters of the works hung belongs to him and his children and grandchildren runs the place in the day time, but I had never said anything about this as he well deserved the place I thought because he happens to be the chairman or the Malay Artists Group here. Many of my fellow artists had raised the issue but so far no meeting had ever been held as far as the Malay Artists are concern and so you cannot blame Rashid for running the place as his own.
Maybe I am suffering from self dellusions thinking that others should give a shit about my well being. But personally as Allah bears witness tonight as I write this, I know mysel that I will give my own shirt off my back to anyone in need if and whenever I could aford to. To some this has been accused of being my fault because I am too charitable sometimes beyond my means. I simply have to stop expecting or hoping for returns simply because I am a giver. It is all an experiment, life is one long experiment to find out the truth as it occurs. There is none to blame nor a right or wrong simply results for better of for worse. As one approaches death one looses everything close to one and some you just have to give up. As the reality of the economic downturn hits home friends can easily become strangers and even children will turn their faces from you. This is what the Buddha meant by suffering is also because of impermanence, for nothing last not love nor friendship. Everything is relatively conditional based in this day and age on how do you do.
I blame only myself in all these as I chose to live my life in constant research, evaluating and analyzing every thoughts and ideas humanly possible. I seek to expose the truth as to how I live my faults as well as my strength my ups and downs, I seek to unbear what it is to be human. I believe in the AlMighty the One true Creator who manifested all this and that I am merely His pawn in His greater schemes of life. Nothing I have experienced or done and nothing that had befallen me in my past or in my future is without His consent but it is my choices that has placed me in this predicaments. I have chosen to record my life in this manner so that it becomes a guide as well as a catharsis as I continue on till I am called to my final evalution or when the fat lady sings, knowing fully well that I cannot fall asleep even if I wanted to tonight. Hopefully tomorrow brings better news from somewhere as I sure have tried looking for the silver lining behind every dark cloud that had been hovering over me lately.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Farming Goes on...

The cutting and burning and ploughing of the land has taken almost two weeks now and alot of bronze and sweat put into it.

The land is beginning to take shape and the water system is now being set up.
There is still agreat amount of work that lay ahead but sometimes rain slows down the progress and psychological as well as financial pressures dampers the enthusiasm of every one involved. Farming, like fishing is definitely a man's true test of endurance and patience and when some unknown factors are involve as to who or what to believe in the endurance takes an even heavier burden to content with. We are 'Penumpang', or squatters on someone else's land and the whole truth as to the true situation of the project is still not fully known to us but we have to peresrvere and slog on as if it is all OK.

If the land is meant for us to earn our livlihood, 'our Rezeki' than we cannot dwell on the grey factors of the arrangement, we just have to make it happen where no one else as of nowe is doing so. What the future holds only Allah has the a The Will to make it happen a he deems fair. (Ikhtiar), or perservere and make all efforts to succeed in the meantime is our destiny.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Little Penang after all these time...

The little Penang Street market is where it is happening every last weekend of the month. It is more than just a Street Bazaarbut also where people come to meet people who they otherwise seldom meet outside of their work work scheduled lives. Here Craftsmen and artists, musicians and actvists, the movers and shakers of society gets to share their thoughts and feelings over matters that affect eachothetrs lives.
Little Penang gives those who value living standards and lifestyles as part of their common goals in a society a chance to express themselves while earning an income, get themselves established through contacts made while doing their business and most of all spen beautiful afternoon meeting foreigners from all over the world who frequent this Island of Penang.

This gentleman has been costructing paper aeroplanes for as long as i can remember and always a hit among the kids.
The information service helps many tourists and locals alike in getting their ways around Penang as well as what or who to talk to when in need of help.
These young upstarts get a chance to hone on abilities as public relations persons while earning an extra income. The young one on the right is my daughter and has been working at the Little Penang going on two years now. She has cured herself of being shy and afraid in public thanks to the opportunity given to her.

'There are all kinds of cultural entertainments and musuicians from all walks of life sit in the share their talents with the crowd no matter how big or small the audience be.
The organizers are made up of a few very energetic and vision oriented individuals whose social contribution towards the Georgetown community is mostly out of love and care.

It is not surprising to see a small crowd enjoying a real live music presented by a great musician such as Guitarist 'SAM' whose repertoire includes some of the best of the oldies and includes Jazz as well as Blues. This is because Penangites are yet to learn about the happening themselves. Most are too busy wrapped up in their socio political survival as well religious 'Jihad' and the Astro Channels on such beautiful Sundays. Sophistication is still reserved for the few who has the vision and the insight for the future of this Island.

Sometimes chance meetings of great minds happens under the canopy of the Little Penang Canvass Tent and diverse subjects and ideas are being exchanged by those from different parts of the world and performing their own acts of charity and activism elsewhere.

The regular faces at the Lil'Penang. These are the individuals who are a part and parcel of the scene.

The odd couple. The Beard and the Reluctant Messiah.

The Lady behind the project Mdm. Khoo, "The Super Lady," A mother a writer, a cultural historian, a mover and one who genuinely loves the island and its people.

I have been a part of this scene for the past two years now and am also pretty much a regular face in the crowd. Everyonce in a while a new face turns up and i would enjoy making the acquaitance of such an intelligent being even id he or it is from another dimension.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Kancil Is not a farm bred car.

Yesterday my car upon arriving at the farm decided to loose one of its tyres, just gave up and stopped in the middle of the raod and upon inspection we discovered that the drive shaft was worn to the bone and thetyre was waiting to drop off. I am not mechanically inclined an so when Cikgu Ali one of those farming down the road appeared it was heaven sent as he undertook the whole process of fixing the problem on the spot. Cikgu Ali is another character who has the tenacity of a get up and go kind of individual rare among Malays especially those who are so comfortable as salary earners or government employees. It is a pleasure to make the acquaintance of such dynamic personalities who seemed to have inexhaustable energy and creative mind when it comes to generating a source of income. Ali enjoys talking and has a great sense of humor and he also has great knowledge when it comes to farming as he was a student of the Malaysian Agricultural University. At present on top of his regular teaching job, attending to his field of corn and raising his 16 heads of cattle he also gives part time lectures at UUM?
I have yet to really get to know those who manage the allocated farms of the one hundred acres here but having met three already I am happy to say that these are no ordinary men for each has the drive towards success in their own ways and capable of becoming my teachers in the farming business. As my cousin Rahim put it, lets just play dumb and watch and listen and learn all that we can for we are the new kids on the block. We can listen and learn but we do not have to believe all that is said and follow all that is suggested like is everything else in the business of making a living there will always be those who like to see you win and those who wish that you fail. Sometimes your success reflects upon their genuine 'Ikhlas' desire to help while you failure can mean their success in getting what has been allocated for you by the AlMighty your' Rezeki'.
But all in all amking a living is not worthwhile in any field if it meants depriving others of their alloted rights or loosing potentially good friendship over misunderstandings due to human weaknesses such as greed, hate and dellusions. But giving up easy is also not an option that needs to be encouraged if one is to survive these hard economic times, the mind and body has to be put to the grind to weather the storm of economic competitiveness. Thinking out of the box and meeting challenges with mindfulness and careful awareness is the call of the day, work smart and avoid overheads and headaches as the Sifu said.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Tasik Gelugor Saga Begins...

The 'Sifu' Cikgu Shikor aka Kod, a man who has been places and done things more than just your ordinary farmer. Kod is his own man and at sixty five there not a trick that he has not already tried and not hoax that he cannot pick out having been a school teacher and headmaster for a greater part of his life. Being a farmer is what he most enjoy most and is the man'oustand in his fireld'.

The wanna be farmers who has what it takes but the knowledge and knowhows, Rahim my cousin and his Indonesian helper getting the first taste of clearing the land for the planting of Rossele and whatever else that comes later.

Roselle bunga yang enak dimakan
Hibiscus rosasinensis ialah bunga raya yang menjadi kebanggaan rakyat Malaysia sebagai bunga kebangsaan negara. Tahukah anda ada satu lagi spesies bunga raya yang boleh kita ketengahkan kerana kegunaannya sebagai makanan. Spesies bunga raya yang dimaksudkan ialah Hibiscus sabdariffa L. atau lebih dikenali dengan nama roselle. Tumbuhan roselle dikatakan berasal dari India tetapi ada juga yang mengatakan ia berasal dari Afrika Barat. Tumbuhan ini mula diperkenalkan di Malaysia sejak lebih tiga kurun yang lampau. Beberapa jenis roselle yang tumbuh secara liar di beberapa negeri dikenali dengan berbagai-bagai nama seperti asam paya, asam kumbang dan asam susur. Di West Indies ia dinamakan Jamaican Sorrel. Pokok roselle boleh tumbuh daripada biji benih atau keratan dan ketinggiannya boleh mencapai sehingga 3–5 m serta mengeluarkan bunga hampir sepanjang tahun.
Bunga roselle berwarna cerah, salut bunga atau kaliksnya berwarna merah gelap dan lebih tebal jika dibandingkan dengan bunga raya biasa. Bahagian bunga roselle yang boleh diproses menjadi makanan ialah salut bunganya (kaliks) yang mempunyai rasa yang amat masam. Salut bunga ini boleh diproses menjadi pelbagai jenis hasilan makanan seperti minuman, halwa, jeli, sos, jeruk dan serbuk atau helaian minuman roselle. Tahukah anda daun dan batang muda roselle boleh dimakan sebagai ulam atau salad dan boleh juga digunakan sebagai perisa di dalam kuah kari? Sementara itu di Afrika, biji roselle dimakan kerana dikatakan mengandungi minyak tertentu. Di Sudan, roselle diproses menjadi minuman tradisional yang dinamakan Karkadeh dan merupakan minuman kebangsaan orang Sudan.
Salut bunga ini boleh diproses menjadi pelbagai jenis hasilan seperti minuman, halwa, jeli, sos, jeruk dan serbuk atau helaian minuman roselle
Potensi Roselle
Kajian awal MARDI pada tahun tujuh puluhan lebih menekankan pada penghasilan pewarna asli daripada roselle. Potensi roselle dalam menghasilkan pewarna merah begitu terserlah kerana dengan hanya memegang bunga ini, warna merah akan melekat di tangan. Kemudian pada tahun lapan puluhan penyelidikan berkembang kepada kajian penggunaan roselle dalam pengeluaran sirap minuman. Berdasarkan minat serta perhatian yang diberikan kepada industri makanan sejak awal tahun sembilan puluhan, roselle dijangka mempunyai potensi untuk dimajukan dalam mempelbagaikan penghasilan makanan di negara ini.
Tahukah anda daun dan batang muda roselle boleh dimakan sebagai ulam atau salad dan boleh juga digunakan sebagai perisa di dalam kuah kari?
Ekstrak roselle dan khasiatnya
Ekstrak roselle diperoleh dengan melakukan proses pengekstrakan terhadap salut bunga segar atau salut bunga kering yang direndam di dalam air panas pada suhu >60°C selama 30 minit hingga semalaman. Seterusnya ekstrak bewarna merah gelap yang amat masam diperoleh melalui proses penurasan. Daripada ekstrak ini berbagai-bagai hasilan roselle dapat dikeluarkan. Ekstrak roselle juga boleh dijadikan serbuk melalui proses pengeringan sembur. Ekstrak roselle didapati kaya dengan pigmen anthosianin, asid askorbik dan asid buah yang lain. Hasil analisis mendapati kandungan pewarna anthosianin sebanyak 1.48 g/100 g salut bunga kering. Sementara itu sirap roselle mempunyai kandungan vitamin yang agak tinggi iaitu 200 mg/100 ml.
Minuman roselle
Minuman jus atau kordial roselle boleh disediakan dengan mencampurkan ekstrak roselle dengan gula dan bahan tambah yang lain seperti bahan awet. Campuran ini dibancuh menggunakan mesin pembancuh.
Halwa roselle
Selama ini yang kita tahu hanyalah halwa kundur, halwa betik dan pelbagai jenis halwa daripada buah-buahan tempatan. Siapa sangka bunga roselle boleh diproses menjadi halwa. Salut bunga roselle hasil penurasan ekstraknya, dimasak dalam larutan gula sehingga mencapai kepekatan yang dikehendaki. Seterusnya salut bunga dikeringkan, maka terhasillah halwa roselle.
Serbuk roselle
Serbuk roselle atau teh berperisa roselle boleh dihasilkan daripada salut bunga segar yang dikeringkan pada suhu 65–80°C selama 6–8 jam atau sehingga kandungan lembapan 2%. Seterusnya salut bunga yang telah kering dikisar, ditambah bahan anti ketul dan dibungkus. Untuk teh berperisa roselle, salut bunga kering yang telah dikisar dan ditambah bahan anti ketul dicampur bersama daun teh sebelum dibungkus.
Jem dan jeli roselle
Salut bunga segar atau salut bunga terpakai selepas proses pengekstrakan, dikisar dan hasilnya disebut pulpa (pulp). Untuk membuat jem roselle, pulpa ini dimasak bersama gula, pektin dan air sehingga mencapai kepekatan 65 °Brix. Jeli roselle juga diproses dengan kaedah yang sama tetapi menggunakan ekstraknya.
Industri roselle di Malaysia
Sehingga kini terdapat beberapa kilang memproses roselle di Malaysia. Antara syarikat yang mendapat khidmat nasihat dan perundingan MARDI ialah Gulf and Pacific Industries Sdn. Bhd. di Kuching, Sarawak. Syarikat ini mengeluarkan hasilan kordial, minuman berkarbonat, jem, halwa dan pati roselle. Bagi memastikan bekalan bahan mentah yang mencukupi untuk industri yang kian berkembang ini, penanaman roselle telah diusahakan oleh Gulf and Pacific Estates Sdn. Bhd. di tanah seluas hampir 2 499 ekar.
Di Terengganu perbincangan dan perundingan dari aspek pembangunan hasilan roselle telah diadakan dengan Malaysia Roselle Industries Sdn. Bhd., Kuala Terengganu. Sementara itu memorandum persefahaman telah ditandatangani oleh MARDI dengan Aquasis (M) Sdn. Bhd. Kuantan, Pahang dalam usaha penubuhan kilang serta pembangunan hasilan roselle.
Potensi di masa hadapan
Hasilan roselle masih baru di kalangan rakyat Malaysia apatah lagi bagi negara lain. Penerimaannya setakat ini masih di peringkat percubaan dan pengguna membelinya dengan tujuan ingin mencuba hasilan yang baru. Sama ada mereka akan terus membeli dan menjadikannya sebagai satu makanan atau minuman sehari-hari bergantung pada banyak perkara. Pertama, adakah rupa, rasa dan bau hasilan tersebut memenuhi citarasa pengguna? Kedua, apakah keunikan atau kelebihan hasilan ini jika dibandingkan dengan hasilan yang sedia ada? Pengguna hari ini terdedah kepada pelbagai maklumat dan mereka amat peka pada sesuatu bahan makanan atau minuman yang dapat meningkatkan atau menjejaskan kesihatan mereka. Mereka juga mahukan nilai terhadap setiap sen yang dibelanjakan. Oleh itu, pengusaha harus bijak dalam memenuhi kehendak pengguna dengan menonjolkan kelebihan sesuatu hasilan baru dan pada masa yang sama dapat menjamin kualiti hasilan dan keselamatan terhadap pengguna. Faktor ketiga ialah bagaimana promosi hasilan itu dibuat. Promosi secara aktif dan berterusan perlu dibuat bagi memperkenalkan roselle kepada orang ramai kerana setelah beberapa lama pengguna mungkin lupa tentang kewujudan sesuatu hasilan baru apabila iklan hasilan berkenaan tidak lagi kelihatan di media massa.
Tumbuhan roselle mudah tumbuh di negara kita yang beriklim tropika. Seperti pokok bunga raya lain, sehingga kini didapati pokok roselle sukar dijangkiti penyakit dan penjagaannya di ladang tidak sukar. Teknologi memproses pelbagai hasilan roselle juga telah disediakan oleh MARDI untuk dipindahkan kepada usahawan yang berminat. Dalam usaha kerajaan untuk meningkatkan pengeluaran hasil pertanian, maka adalah tepat pada masanya para pengusaha mengambil peluang ini.
Roselle -Roselle 1 - Pengenalan0 -Roselle 2 - Potensi Roselle0 -Roselle 3 - Hasilan Rossele0 -Roselle 4 - Industri Roselle di Malaysia0 -Roselle 5 - Potensi di masa hadapan0
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What's the defination of a farmer? A friend of mine once asked me in Green Bay, Wisconsin, his father had a few hundred acres of prime Wisconsin Dairy land. I donno, was my reply. He is the man 'outstanding' in his field! Alright Dino!, you got me there you goddamn Pollack!
Fore the past week I have been out there in the field, five acres or so of it with my cousin Rahim the 'Chicken Chop' man from Astaka Taman Saadon working out hearts out in getting the field ready hopefully for five acres worth of Rossele and poassibly some Marquisas and exotic Papayas when all said and done.
We have been commuting to and from Penang almost daily except when I stayed over squatting at our 'Sifu's' residence shack where there is an astro and other minor conveniences available. It is a challenge for both of us seeking to start a new life or career in life, an artist and an ex contractor now chicken chop and Char Koaw teow vendor. We had discussed this change for a very long time but never got the guts to persue it untill lask week when we decided to take a drive to Tasik Gelugor and visit my friend Cikgu Shukor who was introduced to me a few years ago by my late friend Cikgu Yusof. So here we are with five acres of rpime land to work on with the hope that in four months time we will be harvesting Rosselle flowers for the market.
Clearing the land is getting to be a tougher job than anticipated and the heat has kept us fron putting in as many hours as would would have loved to.
I have given up my lodging after paying my last rent of 300RM a month through barterring my daughter's newly bought bed and mattress for the rent. I feel small, I feel that life is really taking kick at my teeth at times and no end in sight. Now I am on a new venture with the hope that thropugh sheer guts and physical endurance alone i can change my fate and that of my children and their future. Dreaming as usual dreaming that I can make things happen like I had in the past but my mind and body is telling me otherwise, at twenty i worked the Derick drilling for oil off the coast of Terengganu in the South China Sea, at thirty I could bone 110 shanks a day and not break a sweat at the packing house in Green Bay, Wisconsin. At forty I could crush a 12 thousand gallons fibreglass underground fuel tank for dispossal at the H&H Environmental Services in San Francisco's Water Front. At fifty I had six solo Art ehibitions in the city of Sendai in Japan while baby sitting two rug rats at home. Now at sixty I am beginning to wonder if i still have got what it takes to till the land and make a living as a farmer, a man outstanding in his field.

The Thaipusam Came and Went

This year I did my annual Thaipusam walk from Lorong Kulit to the waterfalls following the Kavadis bearers while clicking away with Lee Khai's camera. The day was scorching hot I was also penniless to even afford a drink. So along the way I beelined my way towards every free drink stalls and consumed whatever was offered to keep myself from being dehydrated. It seemed like this year there was more hype than real spiriutal endeavor where the Kavadi procession was concern and there was alot less bearers and more onlookers and drunk or stoned dancers wiggling their skinny butts tothe tune of the latest Hindi Hip Hop music infront of the roadside stops. These 'pit stops' are today sponsored by the various electronic companies as part of their community contribution and was decorated with elaborate images of the Deities such as Krishna, the Cool 'PlayBoy hindu Lord and Lord Ganesha the Elephant headed son of Shiva. The music has not changed in volume from the past, it was full blast as usual loud enough to heard in Mumbai, India.
When I offerd to donate my blood at a Blood Donation booth I learned from the Chinese lady taking my blood pressure that my blood pressure was very high, do I suffer from hypertension, she asked. upon learning this I sat for a very long time to digest this new information about my health. I guese I had suspected and expected this sooner than later but this was the first time anyone had told me so. When I reached the end of the road at the waterfalls temple where the Kavadi bearers walks up to the hill temple to pay their devotion to Lord Murugan, (To Kong Misai, The 'samseng' Deity who weilds a 'parang' in his hand just to make the point), I realized that this will be my last Thaipusam walk. There were quite a few Chinese brothers involved in the procession and they were not going to let the Hindus out do in mortifying themselves. It was Pain in every form as usual, self mortification on a grand scale in the name of the Deities and Demigods to whom promises were made and vows were fulfilled. The Thaipusam has always been one of my fascination eversince I could remember growing up in Penang and my Hindu relatives, those who were children to my Granduncle, a Singhalese from Sri lanka married to a Hindu, were part of the reason for this. I have an uncle whose name is Ranjan, and I have an aunt name Susila and another named Kamala and my grand auntie who is still alive, we simply called her Minachi. Although I rarely see them except on Deepavali and hari Raya Puasa I love them no different than loving my Malay or Muslim relatives. I take pride in the fact that I have such a diverse family tree made up of so many branches of race and ethnic heritage. Hence Thaipusam has a deeper meaning to me than just another tourist attraction or an opportunity to take pictures of beautiful saris and gory pictures. Other than the fact that on kavadi day there was always intense energy in the air, energy manifested in the form of intense sight smell and taste and of human emotions and devotions.

Friday, February 06, 2009


" Why is one born if only to die?,
Why does one live if only to suffer?
Why does one love if only to be seperate?
Why does one think if only to err?
Why does one act if only to make mistakes?"
The Mother

"Life is Suffering,
Suffering is due to Desires,
Understanding desires, overcome suffering'
How? Righ Understanding, The eightfold Path."

"It is My Karma,
It is your Son's Karma,
It is Your Karma,
So stop complaining and Live!"
My Father (Spoken on the phone from Kuala Trengganu
to Green Bay, Wisconsin sometime in 1979)

Last two Wednesdays my cousin and I have been to Tasek Gelugor about 45minutes drive from here to visit my friend Chegu Shukor, a retired school teacher turned farmer. My cousin Rahim who presently sells Char Koay Teow and Chicken Chop at Taman Saadon has decided that he wants to change his career and try his hand at farming. Chances are i might just do the same as i cannot see myself unemployed and not making it financially at being a full time artist. It is also in consistant with my rolling stone nature that I have spent over two years now living an artist life and anything i do for more than two years in mylife is too long and a waste of precious time. So this might be yet another opportunity for change and who says i cannot do art while working as a farmer? At my age it might even be a blessing to get a little physical and work close to the earth and nature. I enjoyed my time at Green Gulch Farm working on an organic farm, it helped to build my character then in the eighties while lving in San francisco.
Cikgu Shukor or Kod as close friends call him is a very unique person as Malays goes, one of a kind who traveled to Israel and lived in the Kidbutz where he learned farming. Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel so upon his return Kod got into hot soup with the Malaysian Government but instead of punishing him they gave one hundred acres of land to work with. I met Kod through my late friend Cikgu Yusof Ali who used todrive me to Kod's house late at night and where we sat and shoot the breeze over black coffee and Gudang Garam cigarettes. He had tried to talk me into joining him back in 2004 but i declined because of my children and their schooling but now with my cousin Rahim being intrested in this venture I might easily be persuaded to join in the growing of Rossele and Marquisas for the making of drinks which is at present a lucrative business.
So will see how this takes its course and where it will lead me. The land is located in an oil palm estate away from any houses and so is isolated, which might be just what I need in my practice and even my art which at present is on hold due to lack of inspiration or too much thinking and distractions. For whatever reason I have not been able to come up with any worthwhile ideas or create any new pieces worth calling an art piece. Furthermore at every show i had attended it seems like just about every Tom, Dick and Harry is a Maestro. I need something out of the ordinary I need to create from my heart ike I always have and right now my heart is not into creating art. What I need is still to find the right state of being which allows for something new to emerge from my soul and manifest itself, something that is totally out of the ordinary in every sense. I know this is a tall order to ask of myself but untill this happens I do not feel like touching anymore paint or canvasses. It is good that I do not have anyone to be resposible for as far as producing art pieces is concern, any contract or collector that I have to produce for so I will take a sabathical from art.
My two children will have to ride the wave with me on this again as they have done on many other times in the past and it is with the hope that in facing such hardships their character will also be toughen in facing their future trials and tribulations. Karim, my son has found his job in Shah Alam working as a waiter for his friend and singing for his cousin's rock band!! My son the shy and introverted is now let loose so watchout world here comes another Bahari! My daughter is with her auntie and cousins where it is better for her as shee could use some young ones to keep her in line and a woman to be a role model while she is in her teens, I cannot fulfill these criterias. I can only owrk on preparing for her future college fees and so forth as she is bent and determined on education. She still works part time at "Little Penang" Street Market every end of the month which is to her credit as she has gotten good at facing people of all walks of life especially tourist.
Man plans and God disposes, such is my life and itseems a never ending gamble with stakes rising with every new round of the game , as the saying goes no risk no gain and what is life if there is no sense of excitiement and urgencies thrown into it every once in a while. I will vacate my present RM300 a month rented rooms in Sungai Pinang and move to Sungai Dua across to the mainland where i would be closer to my jobsite and further from the illusions that I have been living as an artist in Penang. Change is inevitable and changes can be both frightening as well as exillarating but when the need for change knocks on the door it is time for the 'Hijrah', the move for the sake of changes and 'Tawakal' that with the move comes the gift of success as is promised Allah is with those who are willing to change for the sake of making a better life and livlihood.

The Temporary Tatoo Salesman

"Whatever the quality of the music generated at Bill Graham's Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, its great fibreglass canopy is the biggest and most beautiful tent in the World."

Alen Temko'

Architecture Critic to San Francisco Chronicle,

Aug.4th 1986.

Sometime in the summer of 1993 I was employed to sell 'TemporaryTattoos' at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View which is locatedoff Highway 101 Southwest of San Francisco. The business belonged to my friend Joshua who sells these tattoos along with trinkets bought from Thailand. It was not an everyday job and happens only when there was a concert on at the theatre. Josh and his girlfriend used to live on the corner of Haight and Ashbury and i was living on Second Avenue not too far from the Golden Gate Park. Josh and i met at Green Gulch Farm where he used to visit almost every weekend to do some sitting meditation with the Zen community there somketime in the eighties. I was a resident of the Farm at the time and we got to like eachother's company. When I was thrown out of the Zen center (for being a disruptor), I had nowhere to go or stay in San Francisco and Josh took me into his kitchen practically, cause that was the only space available for me to sleep. I slept under his dining table most of the time I was there during those transition I almost became a bonafide homeless living on the streets of San Francisco but for Joshua's hospitality.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Kung Hi Fa Chai!!

Around the corner from where I am the line formed to buy the Nasi Kandar 'Beratok' (line-up) is loaded with the late night or early morning customers with fancy cars lining the street mostly from outstation. The now quite famous outlet annexed to the Main Gate of the Kapitan Kling mosque is where it is happening for those who enjoy Penang's specialty, the nasi 'Kandak' Mamak. This morning there were a mixture of late night party goers and early morning workers headed for whatever business that lay ahead for them and down the road on Chulia Street towards the Weld Quay, El Kapitan and Kassim Mustafa are aslo doing brisk business at this wee hour in the morning. Towards Armenian street the Chinese are busy setting up what looked like the entrance into 'China Town' getting ready for the show of another ethnic Chinese celebration, a part of the New Year activity but more so than ever. It often makes one wonder if all these is to please the Gods or to attract tourism or is there much difference anymore in the intentions.

I woke up in the middle of the night after a good few hours of being wiped out by two Actafest Panadols which helped me to be oblivious to the mosquito invasion of my body. It is an invasion and and already the talk of the village if not the city, this infestation by the most infuriating of insects, the mosquito. Like, Hey!, suck my blood, but why the obnoxious whine around my ears to announce this keeping me awake all night and not to mention the intch you leave behind! If mosquitoes can carry deseases, this city is up for a rude awakenning and so far the health department is playing the usual denial and how come we dont know about it attitude. Someone will write in th papers soon enough to complain but usually action will be taken only if the Chief Minister deem it necessary, usually when his wife gets the itch or his children comes down with malaria or better yet Dengue or whatever new illness that is going around related to mosquitos. The reactions towards this infestation would be 'the fogging' and the spraying of chemicals which is hoped would scare away these tiny tyrants from one area into another and carried out by the MPPP after receiving orders to do so from higher ups which is usually is slow in coming because they usually are not affected by the phenomena. These are the people who sleep in airconditioned bedrooms!
Where I live is the Sungai Pinang and River Road enclave, the situation isgetting from bad to worse especially with the drainage system or the lack of it. The drain running along River Road is the breeding ground for all walks of insect and rodent life, not to mention the fermentation of filth and decay. It is an insult to human intelligence and public health violation of a magnitude worthy to be considered a disgrace to the City and its Management. The small tributary of the Sungai Pinang River that runs its course close by the Tamil school and the low cost housing better known as 'Flat 100 ' and later crosses Petani Road is a n environmental insult to man and other sentient beings that walks or swim by it. Its is eternally black with brackish water and often at high tide is loaded with garbage and flotsam that one could almost walk across on it. This pehnomenon is not recent, it has been this way for God knows how long and who cares!Why??!!

We salute the city for its World Heritage status and all the efforts to create a better place for tourists using this image but, hey! When are we going to address the real issue that has been swept under the rug by just about every administeration that comes to spend every dime and penny out of the city's coffer to better their life and their image? The rivers on this island are in dire need of a major clean up! Wake up!, before the rude awakenning. When shit hits the fence in the form of deseases and loss of lives due to uncotrollable epidemic no amount of politicking or religious fervor and fatwas can justify our negligence. Tourists will steer clear of this island and the World Heritage Foundation will be made to look like fools who failed to see the coruption and rape of the environment for the existing old colonial structures that has incurred millions in the form of renovations and they sit useless still for lack of what to do with them now that they are brought back to life. These buildings are now even being argued over by the different groups of city managers who has their own ideas or lack of what to do with them other than turn them into hotels and museums.
I know I sound like a dark crusader banging his head against some mad bugger's wall over issues that is being addressed unknown to me, (hopefuly). But this is part of my blog it is a note to me and what i see happening in my city during my tenure as a citizen on this planet in this city. It is my right to yell and scream so long as it helps to vent my personal frustration for God knows it does no good to yell at City Hall, it has more infestation and corruption than it can handle already despite all its upgrading and facial uplift. It the meanwhile, I will just have to keep a good supply of Fumakilla and Shelltox in my home and make some Japanese rich as a king from the products.
Islam says that cleanliness is next to Godliness and I believe just about every other faiths and religions believe so too, but when I look into the small river everytime I walk along it to Farok's restaurant or to get my hair cut at the Flats I feel revolted to my stomach, I feel angry and disgusted at the hypocrasy that is infesting the government and its bureaucracy and I fell helpless for it seems like ther is no end to our tendency to degrade nature through our negligence and sense of priority. We would rather build sand castles in the air and claim ourselves a great city while beneath us the waters are coruppted like a cancerous blood waiting to bust into the surface and diagnosed as terminal, and then we react! The addage "prevention is better than cure" has long been deleted from our vocabulary to be replaced by development is a sign of prosperity!
Kung Hi Fa Chai!!