Flying without wings…

The newspapers from West Malaysia e.g. The Star or The New Straits Times did not arrive as scheduled today as the MAS flight from KLIA to Sibu was diverted to Kuching, the reason being that the weather was bad and visibility was low. Good grief! That certainly was a lame excuse.

The weather was not too bad today, just some drizzle on and off and I had seen worse, like when Cooking4STP flew into town sometime ago. I could not see through the windscreen of my car and in an instant, the low-lying areas in the town were flooded and the roads were jammed. Now, that was what I would call bad turbulent weather and yet, the plane landed…more or less on time.

The same thing happened on Sunday, 11th January, 2009, when the weather was quite wet and some parts of Sibu were flooded. Alex aka Jienster was supposed to fly from Sibu to KLIA on transit to Melbourne but the flight was cancelled and he had to fly the following day instead. The excuse was the same – that the plane coming in from KLIA  to Sibu “could not land owing to bad weather and had to proceed to Kuching”.

My friend’s aunt who was supposed to fly home to Kuching that same morning waited the whole day until night. The last thing I heard was she was boarding the “rescue flight” to take the passengers to Kuching and it was already 7.00 p.m. by then.

The irony was on that day the Air Asia and the maswings aircrafts were flying in and out without a hitch. Perhaps the MAS people would like to explain why?

On my part, I have flown KLIA-Penang four times, I think and three times the flight was delayed. Once, they said there was engine trouble…and while I sat in the plane, I could see people climbing and walking up and down the wings of the Boeing 737, doing what I did not know.

But the best excuse was on another occasion when they announced that 19 people had checked in but did not appear on board so they would have to unload their luggage and that took ages. 19 people! If they had said 1 or 2, I would have believed it…but 19! One whole busload of them! Utterly ridiculous, I must say!

Sometime back, there was a report in the papers that the pilots were on strike so the second time it happened, I asked the cabin crew, “The pilots still on strike?” The steward just smiled and would not say anything that would incriminate him. No complaints about them though – on all occasions, they were very pleasant and generous in serving drinks and snacks to the fuming passengers on board.

So what exactly is the reason behind all these delays, diversions and flight cancellations? The MAS crew on strike again? During such difficult times economically, I think they should be thankful they are employed. As it is, many cannot find a job and some have had their services terminated and a lot of them wouldn’t mind taking over, I’m sure. Already the airline isn’t doing very well, so if it were to wind up and close shop, how many people would be jobless and wouldn’t it bring about a lot of inconvenience to the innocent travellers? There is the right time for everything and this is hardly the appropriate time to pull this sort of stunt.

My daughter left home on 2nd January, 2009 and experienced a problem with that KLIA-Penang flight. Upon arrival at KLIA, she called me and asked why there was the word “CANCELLED” beside her flight number on the information board. I told her that obviously, it had been cancelled and she would have to approach any MAS staff to get her on another flight to Bayan Lepas…which she did finally, arriving at 6 something instead of 4.30 p.m.

What I fail to understand is that she had checked in all the way – Sibu-KLIA-Penang and when she flew into KLIA, the MAS crew should know from their computer system that there were adjoining passengers coming in, supposed to go on that cancelled flight. They should have made arrangements to put her on the next available flight and got the boarding pass, meal voucher and what not ready to be handed to her as soon as she disembarked from the Sibu-KLIA aircraft. But no! They did nothing of the sort. That will be the day! Obviously, efficiency is not their middle name.

During festive seasons and school holidays, especially when there are extra flights added to the usual schedule, rest assured that there will be delays and cancellations and I can think of no reason other than the crew disgruntled that they are being made to work extra. I don’t know if KNB can still remember when the family flew in on New Year’s Eve for the reunion dinner with the granny and aunties here…but their flight was delayed from morning till late evening and even though he was just a little kid (brat) then, he  swore never to come back to Sibu for Chinese New Year ever again. It certainly looks like so far, he has kept his word.

Since time immemorial, MAS has always been taken as the acronym for “Mana ada sistem” or “Mesti ada salah/susah” and obviously, things have not changed one bit! Perhaps there is some truth after all in the old adage that “a leopard can never change its spots”? Thank God for small mercies! At least we still have the cheap airline, warts and all, or else we really would have to learn to fly without wings…

Heart of gold…

Many parents expect a great deal from their children. Over the years as a teacher, I have seen many students cracking up under pressure, breaking down in tears right in front of me…and my heart went out to them in their predicament but all I could do was to try to console and comfort them, that was all. I could not confront the parents; they would probably just say, “He’s MY son. Who are you to tell me what to do?” or deny everything.

I have heard horror stories of parents beating up their sons just because their grades dropped a bit in the examination…and they are already in Form 5 or Form 6 when in fact, the poor souls were already  desperately doing all they could to live up to their parents’ hopes and expectations. Some may not inflict physical punishment but their scorchingly caustic remarks will pierce into the innocent children’s hearts, leaving them emotionally scarred for life.

I was watching this video excerpt from the one of my favourite movies, “The Joy Luck Club”.  The daughter felt that she was a disappointment as she was never what her mother expected, to which the mother replied, “…not expect anything…never expect…only hope in best for you…It’s not wrong to hope…”

Likewise, I can understand that my students’ parents have noble intentions but they do not seem to see that in pushing their children too hard – way beyond their limits, they are hurting them – body and soul. In the video, the daughter replied, “…Everytime you hoped for something I couldn’t deliver, it hurt…It hurt me, mummy…and no matter what you hope for, I’ll never be more than what I am and you never see that…who I really am…”

Everyone is an individual in his or her own way, and not everyone can be everything. The sister was one sophisticated lady and earlier, the mother remarked, “You can’t teach style…must be born with it.” Likewise, not all can be doctors, engineers, accountants – all those “prestigious” professions along those lines. Parents should see their own children for who they are and what they are worth – what they can do and what they cannot and work within those boundaries to ensure a bright future for their own flesh and blood.

In the movie, the mother responded, “…I see you…everyone else wants best quality…you…you thinking different…’cos you have best quality heart…” And yes, indeed, what is the use of a string of degrees if they do not have…this beauty of the heart?

It is sad that some parents do not see the beauty within their children, that despite the immense pressure they are putting them through, the poor kids have dutifully suffered in silence though some may be on the verge of cracking up. I only pray that God will grant them strength  to eudure  the trials and tribulations and bless them with the better life that they deserve in the days ahead…

P.S.
If you have not seen the movie, you can watch it on youtube – I think it is in 6 parts or perhaps more…or you can try and get hold of the DVD. It’s certainly worth buying. Or better still, go and get the book – “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan. In my opinion, it’s much nicer than the movie and if I’m not mistaken, it was used as a Literature text in Singapore.

Reunited…

Parents always take pride in their children and brag about which overseas university they have graduated from, what high-ranking position they hold, how much they earn a month like the old ladies in this video clip. They may never admit it but deep in their hearts, it saddens them that in their old age, their children are not around by their side or do not even come to visit them often.

Chinese New Year is a good time for family members to return home from near and far on this auspicious occasion to gather together as one big happy family for the traditional reunion dinner on the eve of the festival. This message is nicely presented in this video clip. It does not have to be a grand banquet – just a simple meal will do but what is most important is the togetherness that seems so lacking today now that the extended family has become a thing of the past.

In good times or in bad, it is good to try and keep the traditions alive even in some small way like the granny in this video clip. What I fail to understand is  there are people who can afford to go on extravagant vacations anywhere in the four corners of the globe but they are not bothered to make a trip home to be reunited with their families on this supposedly joyous time of the year but of course, if they do not have a home to go to – like the poor little boy in this video clip, then that’s a different story altogether.

There are some who may not be going home this Chinese New Year. Maybe the flights are fully booked or the air tickets are ridiculously expensive…or the flights may be cancelled at the last minute because of the incessant torrential rain that has been going on for so long that it seems it is never going to stop. On Friday night, I heard this news report on the radio that the Sibu-Bintulu road is impassable to vehicles because of a landslide and clearing works may not be completed hat soon because of the horrendous weather. Such unpredicatable sad state of affairs may foil even the best-laid plans.

Well, I hope you’ve all clicked the links and watched the videos, courtesy of Petronas and are feeling quite miserable by now. Don’t worry cos’ you’re not alone! My daughter is not coming home either this year…

I gotta get a message to you…

“Come on, let’s twist again like we did last summer.
Yeah, let’s twist again like we did last year…”

The grasshopper was having a ball of a time, singing his heart out and dancing away while the ant frowned in disgust and continued her work, saving for a rainy day. Having a good head on her shoulders and never one to rest on her laurels, she knew that time and tide would wait for no man and soon the much dreaded harsh and cold winter would be here. She, of course, had the foresight to make hay while the sun was still shining to prepare for the long freezing months.

“Hey,” said the grasshopper, “this twisting thing is really fun! Good ol’ Chubby Checker sure knows his stuff.” The ant turned a deaf ear and refused to say a word, knowing that it would be like casting pearls to swine. “Don’t be a wet blanket now, girl! Come and let your hair down! Haven’t you heard that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?”

The ant snapped at the insect, “When the ground is blanketed with snow and there is nothing for you to eat, it will be too late for you to cry over spilt milk!” However, the grasshopper ignored her and starting twisting away again like a maniac in a frenzy.
“…and round and round and up and down we go again…”

The grasshopper

True enough, in a blink of an eye, the days grew colder and soon the ground was shrouded with thick blankets of snow. The ant was safe in the confines of her warm and cosy home and was getting ready to hibernate and have her well-earned rest when she heard a knock on the door, so feeble and hardly audible against the howling of the icy-cold blizzard outside that for a while, she brushed it aside as a figment of her imagination.

The ant

In the end, she decided to go and check, opening the door just a little bit to peep outside. To her horror, she saw the grasshopper sprawling on her doorstep. “Help me,” he pleaded. “I’m not ready yet to join the Heavenly Choir! After all, as they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

The ant gave him a cold stare and reprimanded, “I told you to get ready for these difficult times but I was like a dog barking at the moon. So now, it’s time for you to face the music. As you sow, so shall you reap!” On that note, the ant slammed the door in the grasshopper’s face…

This is an abridged version of my adapted version (using idioms and proverbs) of the well-known Aesop’s fable for children that was featured in one or my SPM English Language 1119 workbooks…and I thought it has a fitting message for everyone in view of the current economic recession. Save all you can, do away with all those unnecessary spending e.g. on fireworks and firecrackers, and avoid being too extravagant in your preparation for the coming Chinese New Year. Moderation is the key.

Have a nice weekend!

My favourite things…

I’ve mentioned this takeaway food stall in my previous post but just in case some of you missed it, it is along Jalan Bandong at the car park in front/behind the shops and food centre. It opens around lunchtime only and a lot of people on their lunch breaks will stop there to buy on their way home.

Sibu's Bandong stall 1

They do sell the food economical fast-food style with rice but I did not ask how much they charge for that. There are some barbecued items as well – chicken wings, fish…but I don’t fancy those stuff that much, maybe just once in a while.

Sibu's Bandong stall 2

One thing that I like about this place is the fact that the food is tightly covered and they will only open up when somebody wants to buy something…

Sibu's Bandong stall 3

I must say those eating stalls across the road opposite the teacher-training institute in Sg Petani, Kedah should emulate this good practice, and I’m sure it will not take much effort nor incur a lot of extra expenses.

Oh dear! They’re running out of chicken kurma, it seems…

Sibu's Bandong stall 4

…but never mind ‘cos there are still a lot of other things to choose from – around 20, I reckon. Now, should I buy this Siti Nurhaliza’s “secret recipe to success” – ayam masak merah…

Sibu's Bandong stall 5

…or my all-time favourite – this tempting-looking rendang hati (liver rendang) ? I think I’ll just go with the latter…

Sibu's Bandong stall 6a

…and this is RM5 worth of it…

Sibu's Bandong stall 6b

…and perhaps I should buy some fish as well; the black pomfret curry (kari ikan bawal hitam) does look pretty nice too…

Sibu's Bandong stall 7a

Kari ikan lima ringgit, encik!” (RM5 of fish curry, mister!)…

Sibu's Bandong stall 7b

…plus RM3 worth of fried midin (jungle fern)…

Sibu's Bandong stall 8

Gee! RM13.00 altogether and that certainly is a lot of food for two for one meal (…but of course, I had a bit on my own for lunch – couldn’t resist “sampling”! LOL!!!). I think I’ll just save the fish for the next day…

So what’s for lunch today? Going to Bandong, anybody?

No more (1)…

At one time, imported canned food from China used to be very cheap, and relatively cheaper than that from other countries overseas and at times, even cheaper than our own locally-manufactured stuff, but not anymore!!! Despite all the horror tales that I heard and knowing about the high salt content and extensive use of artificial preservatives, I still went on buying and consuming regardless, but not anymore!!! No more!!!

I used to love the Ma Ling luncheon meat and the Great Wall corned beef but the quality had dropped so much that they had become quite inedible. I was forced to turn to other alternatives like Linkz or Celebrity corned beef that cost around RM5-6.00 a can and I thought that was so expensive until the other day when I bought this can of Gulong stewed pork chops…

China's stewed pork chops

Good grief! That cost RM8.50 a tin!!! Daylight robbery!!! Well, that is it! No more! I am NOT going to buy canned food from China anymore after this! Gee! RM8.50!

The other day, I went to this foodstall here and bought RM5 worth of daging masak hitam and got a substantial amount, probably more than what we can find in that can of meat! And the best part was – it was very very nice! I also bought RM5 worth of ikan parek (stingray) curry and got one pot full. My missus and I had it for dinner, together with the masak hitam, and we had this much left over – enough for another meal…

Stingray curry

Now where is this foodstall, some of you may want to know? It’s at Bandong. They set up the stall around lunchtime and a lot of people going back on their lunchbreak will stop by and tapao home. I went again today and bought this yummy vegetable soup dish of cangkuk manis and ketola for only RM3.00…

Cangkuk manis and ketola

I didn’t exactly know what that was but one thing’s for sure, it wasn’t masak lemak as there was no trace of santan (coconut milk) and all the better too! Too much of santan isn’t healthy owing to its high cholesterol content. The ladies’ fingers masak sambal was absolutely delicious though! Two thumbs up! I really love it!

Ladies fingers masak sambal

That was RM3.00 worth. I added the hardboiled eggs myself for extra protein and just in case, the stingray curry was not enough for the two of us. So without including the price of the eggs, today, I only spent RM6.00 for dinner for two persons, and RM10.00 the other day. Cheap, eh?

In the face of the economic recession, we should be thinking along these lines – how to scrimp and save and not spend like there’s no tomorrow. Bank interest rates have dropped by 0.2% and I hope it will not slide further as I have to depend on the interest to supplement my measly pension! I shouldn’t have believed the crap I read in somebody’s blog on the EPF and withdrew every sen – at least, they give some 5% or so per year. Sigh! I wonder if they will let me put the money back in or not…

Happy together…

Last night, I went to a birthday gathering and the food was from the Sweet Family Restaurant at the Sibu Bus Station commercial area (Jaya Li Hua). I have featured this food outlet twice before – here and here.

It being a birthday, we had fried mee sua (thread/string noodles)…

Sweet Family's fried mee sua

…but from my personal point of view, I think Ruby Restaurant does it better, and we also had butter fish fillet which was not bad…

Sweeyt Family's butter sweet fillet

…and the house specialty – Philippine pork leg which I had the last time I ate there…

Sweet Family's Philippine pork leg

…and here, you can see my friend, Jimmy, from Bintulu, carving the trotter into manageable pieces…

Jimmy and the trotter

Oops! You forgot to breathe in, Jimmy! LOL!!

We also had some fried baby kai lan, sea cucumber soup and fruits for dessert. I could not stay too long as I had to rush home just in case the flood waters rose again…and thankfully, nothing of the sort happened!