Uncle Nisar


Uncle Nisar with Ahmad Ali (on his stroller) at Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf.

Last Wednesday, we had a special guest for lunch—Uncle Nisar Shaikh with his sister and mother. Uncle Nisar is a very good friend of my dad who lives in Palo Alto, California. He was a professor teaching in University of Nebraska – Lincoln before working in an IT company in Palo Alto.

 

Aeshah (left) and I plucking persimmons at Uncle Nisar's front yard.

All of us love Uncle Nisar! He is really fun to be with. The last time we met Uncle Nisar was in September 2006 also in Palo Alto. I love Uncle Nisar’s former house which was surrounded by a huge garden. Upon reaching it, you could see two big persimmon trees. The trees were bearing lots of juicy fruits when we were there in September 2005. My mother was very fond of them and would always mention the trees whenever we talked about the house. The fruits were not really ripe yet at that time, so we took some back to Malaysia. And how sweet they were!

Ali and me sitting on the hammock with my sisters Aeshah and Anisah standing beside us.

What I love about the house was the huge backyard with a hammock and a big vegetable garden. It was where my siblings and I played during our time there. My little brother Ahmad Ali who was 2 years old at the time would be running to the cherry tomato plants every now and then to pluck and eat the tomatoes. There were lots of fruit trees and vegetable plants around the house and we squealed excitedly when we found two pumpkins in the garden.

 

Anisah stood as Aeshah was showing the pumpkin we 'found'.

Uncle Nisar is a great cook too. He loved to cook apple sauce and spicy tofu dishes. They were really delicious. His neighbor grew lots of organic apples and they are very, very sweet and crunchy. There was also a fig tree somewhere near the house that had lots of ripe fruits at the time.

 

Ahmad Ali reached out as he tried to pluck one of the organic apples.

Uncle Nisar and his families were very kind and nice. They invited us to their houses and his sister and brother in law lent us a red van so that we can drive around Palo Alto.

 

All four of us posing beside the red van.

Uncle Nisar flew to India from Singapore last Thursday but we’ll be meeting him again as he would be coming to Malaysia again next month!

Longest Total Solar Eclipse in the 21st Century


The longest total solar eclipse in the 21st century happened today (22nd July, 2009/ July 22nd, 2009)! The path of the Moon’s umbral shadow begins in India and crosses through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China and left the Asia mainland before passing through Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean where the maximum duration of totality reaches 6 min 39 s. And the broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow covers most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean (including Malaysia!).

An animation of the eclipse

An animation of the eclipse

I attended the Solar Eclipse viewing program in Kuala Ibai, Terengganu at Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (Masjid terapung) organised by the Jabatan Mufti Terengganu, Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Terengganu and Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia. The details were as written below:

In Kuala Terengganu,
First Contact – 8:24 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:08 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 13%)
Last Contact – 9:56 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

While in Kuala Lumpur, the details differ slightly:

First Contact – 8:29 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:07 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 8%)
Last Contact – 9:48 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

An animation of the solar eclipse.

Another animation of the solar eclipse.

We arrived at the program around 8:40 am but were unable to get a view of the eclipse as the sky was too cloudy. Luckily, at about 9:40 am, the clouds cleared away giving us a view of the eclipse before the clouds covered the sun again. There were six telescopes set for the program and 1500 people attended the program too.

The reason for this long eclipse is simply because now is July; a time when the Sun is farthest away from Earth (aphelion), thus is smallest in size. And the Moon also just passes it nearest point to Earth (perigee), thus it looks big in our sky. When a small Sun is blocked by a big Moon, the Moon will have more time to block the Sun.

The next total solar eclipse shall occur in 2132! That’s 123 more years to come (what a beautiful number!). That’s why I feel so lucky to be able to experience this eclipse. It shall be an unforgettable memory which I shall treasure in my heart forever and ever…