Yummy food

Yesterday evening dad took home some “karipap” and “Seri Muka”. They were very, very delicious – it should be cos they were from Pak Cik Suhaimi (Uncle Suhaimi). Thank you, Pak Cik Suhaimi – we really miss your cooking.

Pak Cik Suhaimi is a very good cook. Among my favourites are his Laksa Johor, Roti Jala and of course his Sambal Tempoyak. Unfortunately Pak Cik Suhaimi only sells his Sambal Tempoyak during Ramadhan. He used various kind of herb (finely sliced) mixed with ‘tempoyak’ (fermented durian), cili padi, ikan bilis (Malaysian anchovies) and other secret ingredients!

Well, in Terengganu we have ‘Tok Aji Serbang’ which is quite similar to ‘Seri Muka’! Of course my family would prefer the ‘Tok Aji Serbang’ but Pak Cik Suhaimi’s ‘Seri Muka’ was good. Mum says that in Terengganu they use lots of eggs in their kuih (sweet cakes) – for example akok nganang (I’m not so sure what it is), jala mas, and much, much more.

Maybe the people of Terengganu loves using eggs in their kuih so much that my grandmother would crack an egg to mix with blede bodo (agar agar or a Malaysian jelly), pengat and sira pisang! And they taste very very good. My grandfather even love to have slices of hard boiled egg in his karipap’s filling.


A memory of Kuala Terengganu

Both of my parents are from Kuala Terengganu and studied in Sultan Sulaiman Primary and Secondary School (refer to The Sulaimanians). And I’m proud to say that my father was once the head boy of Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School.

Anyway, I was born and grew up in Kuala Lumpur; hence I am not that familiar with Terengganu or Trengganuspeak (refer to ‘Solo Bolo’, Trengganuspeak and ‘Trengganuspeak 2‘). Nevertheless I do love Terengganu very much. Among my favourite places in Kuala Terengganu is my grandparents’ house. I’ll always remember the big smile on Atuk’s(my grandfather) face the moment we reached there. I love them very much. There are so many things to do over there- huge area to play and run around plus the endless dishes and kuih (sweet cakes) that can’t be found in Kuala Lumpur. My sisters and I would sleep in their room and spent our time talking and sharing stories.

The next place in my list would be my grandmother’s bookshop- Alam Akademik or Keda Pok Loh Yunang (as Uncle Awang Goneng remembered it! – Growing Up in Trengganu page 73). My siblings and I love books and we would be spending long hours at the bookshop. The best part is nenek (grandma) would give us lots and lots of books to take home to Kuala Lumpur!

Great Grandpa with Uncle Awang Goneng during GUiT launch Dec 2007 at Alam Akademik

Another favourite place of mine is my great grandfather’s house [a son of Abdullah Al-Yunani]. I always called his house ‘library’ for he has a huge collections of Reader Digest’s books. He always remember the type of books that I like and would excitedly picked the ones that I have not read (especially the new tittles). Great grand dad even gave me some books from his collections (which I know he loves so much) – knowing that I really would love to have them.

Sunrise at Batu Buruk beach, Kuala Terengganu - Dec 2006

And of course I love going to the beach. Dad would wake us up very early in the morning to watch the sun rise at Pantai Batu Buruk (the nearest beach). We would build sand castles, gather lots and lots of seashells, fly our kites or play with frees be. In the afternoon we can buy khepok leko, ikang celuk ttepong and a lot more.

At Batu Buruk beach Dec 2006

Dad like to take us around Kuala Terengganu . We visited his schools, Pulau Duyong, places where they make kerepok leko etc. Once dad took us on a boat ride along the scenic Terengganu River and on our last trip we drove around places mentioned in GUiT including Uncle Awang Goneng’s house in Tanjung (close to Atuk’s kitab shop-Jendela Ilmu).

My other fond memories of Terengganu is of course the food. Buah Khadeh (so far I still can’t pronounce it right), khepok leko, akok, rojok betik and a lot more that I don’t even know what their names are. Unfortunately mum says that rare fruits like buoh ppisang (not pisang or banana) are not easily found. I really wish that I can taste those fruits one day. Thank you Uncle Awang Goneng for telling the stories of rare fruits and old kuih of old Trengganu, the history and my roots, and thank you for teaching me Trengganuspeak. But so far I still cant speak ‘in Trengganuspeak’ and having a hard time trying to understand them!

Precious vs Junk

I love to keep things of sentimental value and things that I can reuse in the future [after all we should recycle!]. But the problem is… that means I just want to keep everything!

Rare and beautiful candy wrappers, pretty seashells , nice boxes, colourful pamphlets [especially from Cold Storage!], interesting articles, cereal boxes [the cardboard can be reused], to old exercise books and broken toys! Mum said that I’ll end up with a house full of junks. Junks? Well… maybe I should go through my ‘collection’!

I have lots of old articles [and even stories] that I kept for future reading but yet to be read, also cute little pencils [an inch long of used ordinary pencils!], broken pens, little pieces of used erasers, pieces of papers that means a lot to me, little mementos and the list would just go on and on. That causes mum a real headache. Can’t blame my mum ‘coz I just piled up my things everywhere I can around the house. In fact my personal ‘compartments’ are overloaded by all these that I ran out of space for more important things!

Whenever I [have to] spring-clean and be parted from some of my ‘collections’, it really breaks my heart. But sometimes it made me laugh and wonder why on Earth did I kept some of those things?

I guess I’m not the only person who have this [kind of] problem of choosing between precious and junk. But the real problem is – sometimes I was too busy keeping junks that I misplaced or worse threw away things that are really important; the ones which actually should be kept safely!

Maybe it is time for me to learn to be more organised. As they say – mum always knows what is best for us!

Trengganuspeak (2)

Last weekend I learnt a few new (Trengganuspeak) words- ma’nga, pongoh and ‘ngamok. Ma’nga like solo bolo is also about being careless only that ma’nga is a habit of forgetting to do something while solo bolo is being extremely careless in doing things like running over something or knocking down things. But children who are forever running around, disturbing others and knocking down things are not solo bolo but nano (not the name of the candy – Nanonano.)

Pongoh is hot-tempered and when a pongoh person could not control their anger, they end up ‘ngamok’ (losing temper/ throwing tantrums/ uncontrolled violent rage). When mum was about my age, their helper brought a dish prepared by her mum named ‘Tok Kaya ‘Ngamok’ (a rich man ran amok). Upon tasting the dish Atuk (my grandpa) laughed and said that now he knew why they named it Tok Kaya ‘Ngamok – it tasted sour and extremely hot. No wonder that rich man lost control of his emotion and ran amok.

The version that mum tried was cubes of fresh (very sour) unriped pineapple soaked in a gravy of very, very hot chillies, shrimp paste, tamarind paste, a dash of salt and sugar that was grind to a paste and mixed with water. Well, I have not tasted it and do not really fancy to try it for fear I too would ‘ngamok like the poor old rich man.

Note: I’m sorry to say that my knowledge of Trengganuspeak (as Uncle Awang Goneng quote in GUIT) is very limited and I just can’t pronounce them right.

Niagara Falls

As I was reading (a poem) “Kemanusiaan” by Usman Awang (from ‘Sasterawan Negara: Usman Awang Edisi Kedua’ by Zurinah Hassan, DBP), I came across a word ‘Air Terjun Niagara’ or The Niagara Falls. All at once, I was transported back to the most magnificent place I’ve ever been to!

The Niagara Falls (consists of The Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls) are massive waterfalls on the Niagara River, shared by the USA and Canada. Famed as one of the world’s most famous spectacles, the Niagara Falls are unmatched for their sheer vastness and volume of water; not even by the Victoria Falls!

We drove from Chicago (Illinois) to the Niagara Falls (New York). Along the way we stopped at beautiful parks, lakes and scenic small towns. We spent a night in Holland, Michigan.

We reached the Niagara Falls just in time to watch the Falls Fireworks and Illumination Show. It was an awe-inspiring sight to see the massive falls illuminated in coloured lights over the darkness of night added by the thundering sound of water pounding down the falls.

Just in time for the fireworks at Niagara

Early the next morning we headed to the Prospect Point to see the American Falls. We saw the Rainbow Bridge over the Niagara River and also Canada across the river.

Then we drove across a bridge over the rapids to the scenic Goat Island. The whole area is under Niagara State Park. The park is so clean and beautiful, flowers blooming in flower beds and in the trees, leaves had started to change colour since autumn is just a few weeks ahead.

From the car park, we were greeted by the sound of the falls. Walking towards the Terrapin Point, I was speechless for I’ve never seen such a spectacular sight in my whole life. My little brother, Ahmad Ali was so excited to see a few full rainbows all at once in the morning mist below us over the Horseshoe Falls.

One of the many rainbows forming over the Horseshoe Falls

We walked to Luna Island across a beautiful bridge to have a close look at the Bridal Veil Falls. Along the way, we saw the Cave of the Winds; but it was too dangerous for us to go down to the cave for Ali was just 3 years old at the time. And for the same reason we couldn’t go aboard the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour of the American and Horseshoe Falls.

Crossing the bridge to Luna Island to have a close view of the Bridal Veils Falls

Connected by bridge to Goat Island are three small islands named Three Sisters Island. Next to the third Sister Island is an even smaller island named Brother Island. Three sisters and a little brother – just like me and my siblings! What a coincidence.

The Three Sisters Island

Subhanallah. Allah is the Greatest as only Him can create such a great creation. No rides on theme parks could ever match the feelings of standing by the Niagara Falls. And no words can ever justify the awe-inspiring sight and sound of the Niagara’s water, plunging into the their turbulent rapids! [It can fill up one million bathtubs in one second!!!]

I pray to Allah that I can visit Grandpa Jan in Toronto and have a chance to visit the Niagara Falls from the other side of the river – Ontario, Canada.


I wonder what control ones emotion? Sometimes I experienced emotional swing- a moment I was happy and suddenly the next moment I was sad. Odd isn’t it?

I hate to say that I can lose my temper easily! And I can easily cry too. And sometimes overwhelmed with joy that I just wanted to sing silly songs, dance and even shivering from excitement.

Mum always talks to me about controlling my emotions. But it is really hard not to cry when I’m sad or not to lose my temper when I’m angry. Emotional? I’m not proud of being emotional. Infact I do not want to be emotional, for as a Muslim I should learn to control my emotion. I hate to be rude to my parents or worse, shouting at them. We tends to say things that we don’t even mean to when we are angry. And one may even throw things around if they do not learn to control themselves. Ugly isn’t it?

Balancing my feelings is hard – how can I cool down when I’m too excited? But mum is right; I have to learn to control my emotions. And honestly I’m trying hard to do so; but more often than I should I forget about it when overwhelmed by emotion. Just like minding my manners; it is really, really hard!

A Trip To Taiping

On the way to Penang, we made a stop in Taiping to visit Opah & Atuk Idris. They are the proud parents of Uncle Najmi (or Khairul Najmi, the Akademi Fantasia* 5’s English Teacher). Uncle Najmi is an old pal of my dad and during his university days, dad used to visit them in Taiping. I enjoyed spending time with them as I enjoyed the company of Uncle Najmi.

We saw old photographs of Uncle Najmi. Opah told us an amazing story of how Uncle Najmi [at the age of 8] picked up Opah’s handbag and kept it safe when the family’s car collided with a lorry after an outing. Uncle Najmi was the only person who escaped unhurt and he even gave the statement to the police!

My little brother, Ahmad Ali was really amazed to see so many houses in red (either painted red or using red tiles with red roof). Even Atuk Idris’s house has red pillars! We drove past the Taiping Railway Station which must had been built a very long time ago.

Note*: We do not watch Akademi Fantasia, Gang Stars, American Idol and those likes. Dad taught us to be smart in choosing what to watch on TV; infact at home we do not even suscribe Astro. Even though I enjoyed Astro once in a while especially the Discovery Channel, I do not miss them at all. I find reading more satisfying.


Yesterday my little brother, Ahmad Ali asked dad if it will still rhymes if he change the wording in the ‘Pussy Cat’ poem to…

Pussy cat, pussy cat,
Where have you been,
I’ve been to London,
To see Awang Goneng.

Dad laughed and said yes it’ll rhymes perfectly but only if we read it in Trengganuspeak…

Pussy cat, pussy cat,
Where have you beeng,
I’ve beeng to Londeng,
To see Awang Goneng.

I wonder what Uncle Awang Goneng will say if he hears this ‘new’ nursery rhyme. We all had a very good laugh except for my poor little brother who can’t understand Trengganuspeak.

Trengganuspeak reminds me of Budu Spell (page 247-GUIT by Uncle AG). Mum said that it was so funny that she couldn’t stop laughing. I read it but I didn’t find it that funny until mum read it for me in the original Trengganuspeak. Only then I started laughing comparing budu (a type of sauce) to anak bbudu (tadpoles)!

Mum then asked me a question that I was not able to answer (and honestly I’m still confused about it- had to check with mama). What is the different between…

  1. Awang makang kambing; and
  2. Awang makang kkambing.

In Bahasa Malaysia both sentences spelt makan wrongly and looks the same; only in the second > the kambing (goat) was spelt wrongly; but in Trengganuspeak it means:-

  1. Awang eats (a) goat (mutton)
  2. Awang was eaten by (a) goat!

Wow!!! And I still can’t pronounce the word ‘buah khadeh’ right till this moment!

A Letter To Atuk (My Grandfather)

Assalamu Alaikum, Dearest Atuk,

We are really sad to see Atuk so weak and not as cheerful as Atuk used to be. It was only 3 months ago when Atuk was still very healthy and active.

Atuk, do you still remember the games we played when Aiman was a little girl? Atuk would be reading the newspapers while playing all sorts of games with me and suddenly he would declared ‘ Atuk menang!’ (atuk wins!), and I would scream ‘mana achi! (Unfair!) and would ran away sulking, but after a while came back asking Atuk to play another game. Atuk would never say no whenever Aiman asked Atuk to play; it doesn’t matter if Atuk doesn’t knows the rules of the game… in fact Atuk never bothers about the rules! We played congkak, chess, checkers and a lot more…

Whenever Atuk came for a visit, Atuk buys roti canai and lontong from a restaurant nearby for breakfast. On the last day, before atuk would be going home to Kuala Terengganu, Atuk would buy extra roti canai and mama would heat them up for our breakfast with cold sardine straight from the fridge. When we finished the roti canai, we would be asking Atuk to come back to KL for more roti canai!

Today, Atuk hardly speaks to Aiman. To make it worst, Aiman do not know how and what to say to Atuk. Aiman wish to make Atuk happy and hear the laughter when Atuk tease us. Atuk, please get better. We miss Atuk’s jokes and funny ‘magic’ tricks. We love you very much, Atuk!

Love, Aiman and adik-adik.

Atuk after the operation

Note: My Grandfather is a wonderful man. He studied in Egypt and England; and worked (as the then Prime Minister’s personal representative to UNHCR) in Europe mainly in London, Geneva and Vienna. Apart from Bahasa Malaysia (Malay Language) and English, he speaks Arabic and German and a little Japanese. I’m so proud of him and I hope to be able to write about him one day.

Happy Father’s Day

28/04/2008 - At PPUKM visiting my grandfather.

Happy Father’s Day! My Father is one of the greatest people in my life. He is hardworking, very strict; but most of the time he is fun to be with. He took us on trips. We even went to the USA twice! We went there for more than two weeks on the first trip and for the second time for almost a month. He took us to all kinds of interesting places. He also took us to Indonesia and Singapore. He also took us to restaurants, parks, bike rides and all kinds of interesting activities.

He is also funny. He would tickle us and play with us. He also taught us computer… all kinds of computer software like the Microsoft office. He would always make sure that we perform our prayers, read the Qur’an and also remind us to be good Khalifahs of Allah. But unfortunately he is not a good cook. He can only cook maggi. 🙂