Awang Goneng Is In Town!


GUiT-manyToday, I met Uncle Awang Goneng at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Awang Goneng (a.k.a. Wan A. Hulaimi) grew up in Terengganu but later on moved to London, a place so far away from his homeland. His beautiful book ‘Growing Up In Trengganu’ (originated from his blog –http://kecek-kecek.blogspot.com) was written to share with everyone about the life in Terengganu in the 60’s.

I attended ‘The Writing Mind’ workshop where Uncle Awang Goneng taught us some tips on writing. One of them which sticks in my mind was to increase your vocabulary skills – or in other words, never be afraid of using a dictionary. It reminds me of Prof. Muhammad Al-Mahdi’s ‘favourite assignment’. He would tell my AG - workshopclassmates and I to make a list of 20 hard words and remember all 60 words, it’s spelling and definitions. To make sure we memorised each of them, we shall have to take a test at the end of the week.

Uncle Awang Goneng also taught us  to read aloud what we have written after finishing a piece of work. It helps us to correct unnoticeable small mistakes. This Jalan Kedai Payangwas also taught by Prof. Muhammad and since then, I made a huge improvement in my writing class.

But Uncle Awang Goneng was really sad to hear about the unacceptable act of the government to demolish a more than a century old shophouses row in our hometown, Kuala Terengganu. Such historic building should be kept and preserved such as those in

Aiman with AG

Penang and Malacca. But we were even shocked to know that Uncle Awang Goneng’s house in Terengganu was going to be demolished

too. I guess one day, Terengganu would be the only state in Malaysia to lose all of it’s history and heritage clue to the cruel act of the state government.

Before leaving, I took the opportunity to ask Awang Goneng to autograph in my diary. Thank you Uncle Awang Goneng (Uncle Wan).

Ketupat Nasi


These are some of the kelongsong ketupat nasi that mum and me weaved yesterday

These are some of the kelongsong ketupat nasi that mum and me weaved yesterday

In Malaysia, ‘ketupat nasi’ or traditional rice cakes are very popular during Eid celebrations. It is one of the most popular foods served in homes and hotels during the Eid celebrations. A greeting card with a picture of ‘ketupat nasi’ would be understood as an Eid greeting card even without any word written on the cover. By the way, I have never seen a birthday card with a picture of ‘ ketupat nasi’!

Neon lights in the shape of ‘ketupat nasi’ decorated houses, shops and buildings. Replicas of ‘ ketupat nasi’ in all sizes and colours are hanged in houses, shops, shopping complexes, offices, road side and other public places to mark the Eid season. Even shopping bags are decorated with pictures of ‘ketupat nasi’.

Even though in my hometown (Kuala Terengganu) ‘ketupat nasi’ is not as popular as ‘ketupat pulut’ as a special delicacy served during Eid, the significant of ‘ketupat nasi’ to Eid is still the same as in other parts of Malaysia. In fact, I’ve never seen of any decorative item in the shape of ‘ketupat pulut’ used in my hometown.

Since ‘ketupat nasi’ is not so popular in Terengganu, the Terengganu folks are not so familiar with the art of weaving the ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’ (ketupat nasi cover). Mum was lucky to master the art – learnt the skill from their Indonesian helper when mum was about my age. And yesterday my sister and I had the chance to learn the art of weaving ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’ from mum.

Learning to weave the ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’ was not as hard as i thought. But I really need to pay attention, concentrate and be patient. Mum weaved slowly so that we can follow and after 5 minutes, I managed to weave my first ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’! After a while I understand the ‘trick’ and be able to master the weaving process.

Since we were out of young coconut leaves, mum used ribbons instead of the leaves. Actually for cooking the rice cakes, we need to weave young coconut leaves into ‘kelongsong’ as moulds  to cook the rice cakes. The ‘kelongsong’ made from ribbons are used as Eid decorations.

Nowadays the city folks normally do not weave the ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’ for Eid anymore. They either buy the ready made ‘ketupat nasi’ or the ready made ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’ sold in farmer’s markets all around KL. In fact the easier and faster way of cooking ‘ketupat nasi’ is by using heat proof plastic covers as moulds instead of the traditional young coconut leaves ‘kelongsong’. There are even prepacked ‘ketupat nasi’ in plastic packets that only needed to be boiled in water.

No wonder nowadays the skill of weaving ‘kelongsong ketupat nasi’ is almost a forgotten art especially among city girls like me. What a pity when we prefer using plastics instead of leaves. Not only do the young coconut leaves give a nice aroma to the ‘ketupat nasi’; the leaves are also environmental friendly. And there is also the  question about which type of plastic that is safe to be used as the boiling process can take over an hour. So, using certain plastic to cook ‘ketupat’ could harm our health as well as our environment.