Change the Ship

1. Every now and then the ship makes a twist and turn. Sailors navigate the vessel have to make an adjustment; including regulate new efforts and/or seal different identity. Fed-up for the changing port, sailors find the new ship.

2. The most fundamental puzzle about change is the problem of identity. Change on its own gives rise to a great deal of philosophical perplexity or on the other hand, synergistic coolness and excitement.

3. Positive minder says, don’t change job, change the workplace. Excited? Yes.

4. Big wins happen when someone has to go beyond better sameness, jumping curves & defying/ignoring the norms. Therefore, I insist, let’s innovate and celebrate.

5. To think big, as I was told is to change my minds before I change others or better still, change the world.

New Vessel

Dare To Make Mistakes

1. I trust mistakes are good to make except during final exam time. Because learning occurs when mistakes are made. At the same time, learning from mistakes will help to prevent making the same mistakes in the future.

2. The first step in learning is to acknowledge and not stay in denial.

3. A mistake that knocks one down is only another opportunity to get back up and proceed more diligently! I didn’t read the bestseller book ‘Dare to Fail’ but I suppose the story is about how someone rebound back after went through some catastrophic failures.

4. So, Dare To Make’s OK but more important: learn from the mistakes.

Sex and the City

1. My wife told me one day about TV3 series Bersamamu which screened a handicapped person, a husband with telepes aquinovarus and his 7 children. I have not been so curious about Sex and the City. If I could I would have bought pirate CDs of Samantha Jones and delve deeper into the reason why Samantha couldn’t come, no matter how hard she tries.

2. There is a myth talking about sex. But one wonders how and why kampung people have so many children. When I did my O+G, I was scared of needle prick injury and the risk of contracting HIV. It is a common knowledge that people in the coastal and border area are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. It is due to their exposure to cross-border human trafficking and sexual promiscuity.

3. I remember, long long time ago, a friend of mine who stayed near Kedah-Perlis border, had humorously told me on how he accidentally met his dad in a pub, at Padang Besar, Thailand when he was in secondary school. Actually, he was the first to be there when his dad stepped his foot in. It was so funny when he tried to simulate his dad when the latter shouted at him in front of the other customers: balik..balik (go home). His dad seemed to dutifully perform his duty but yet he himself had the intention which was less spoken and mysteriously hidden. It was like the Malay metaphor umpama ketam menyuruh anaknya berjalan betul (like the crabs ask their children to walk properly).

4. It was on the other occasion when a friend of mine who owns a specialize addiction clinic in Lorong Hj Taib had invited me to join him. I went there at dusk without realizing what I would expect to see. I got down at Chow Kit LRT station and walked down Jalan Hj Taib, near pasar malam which is similar to London East End which is famous for poverty, overcrowding, disease, and criminality.

5. From a dusty, noisy pasar malam, I turned left to a dim lighted nondescript street of Lorong Hj Taib. At the back of shop houses, few frail looking twenty-something blokes were seen wandering and they looked suspicious at me. Those mat gian must be watching me as I walked away hastily, without glancing back at them and started giving my friend a call.

6. I was advised to look for Balai Polis Chow Kit and his premise was just located opposite to the police station. Once I was in, I was introduced as one of his patients coming to get methadone. The patients were dumbfounded to see me as one of their gang who was so ‘healthy’ and ‘segar bugar’..hehe..There I witnessed addicts came either by walking or by bikes to drink methadone.

7. Contrary to my experience earlier on, the ambion was so safe in the clinic compounded by the scene of the police station on the opposite side of the road. Some of the workers in the clinic were ex-addicts themselves.

8. My friend and I walked passing along the corridor of BB Inn Hotel. Sex workers and drug addicts are scarce nowadays; I was told by another friend who is currently doing a study in Chow Kit area which I am one of the co-researcher. A research assistant was hired to interview children and their mothers who work as sex workers. We had just finished the write-up and submitted a report.

9.  That night my friend brought me to a famous sushi corner in Maju Junction unfortunately without an aphrodisiac drink, Tongkat Ali Long Jack Orang Kampung…

South-North Journey

1. We started our journey at 7.30 pm from KLIA when the plane departed from the airport. The sky was clear. For a long time, I haven’t been traveling the South-North Expressway. I was lucky that the driving was fantastically smooth. Two night before I was driving along the East Coast old trunk road from my house down to K Lumpur. The experience driving from the East to KL and up the North was very much similar to exploring the East and West coasts which essentially pursued distinct lives separated by the main range, Titiwangsa.

2. It was in the midnight that we reached Hentian Tapah to take some rest. I was lucky to skip the experience of having to face a low sun throwing a rich golden light along the expressway, unfairly blazing into the eyes of me, the driver.

3. My wife was just talking in order to keep me awake. I’ve had forgotten the torture of driving home along this highway since we have not been doing this for quite some time. It was like pelanduk yang selalu lupakan jerat (a mousedeer which often forgotten the trap). I thought I disliked the metaphor since I knew it was my choice to drive home at this hour.

4. The route that I disliked much driving at the midnight was Ipoh Utara-Changkat Jering-Taiping. I can’t stand the hill and the slope before and after the Terowong Menora. I didn’t mind being in Dabong or Gual Periuk as long as the land contour was flat. Although the car ride wasn’t an affront to me and my family, the timing was indeed not so perfect.

5. By the time we reached Kepala Batas, it was past midnight. I couldn’t stand anymore. I needed sleep. We stopped at the quiet area and I practically leaped off to pee and slept in full exhaustion all the way there.

6. It was 1.30 am that my wife woke me up and we continued our journey again. A narrow lane led me off the highway. Later, there was a signpost, white lettering on a green background: Alor Star Selatan. I was relieved, at last, we reached home. It was 2.30 am. In 30 minutes I will reach home, I said to myself.

Pulut Lemak and Mempelam Harum Manis

1. Beseri is just a small town, located between Kangar and Padang Besar. It is famous for the fish market and sugar cane plantation near Chuping.

2. It was here that I spent sometimes when I was a medical and health officer.

3. The house that I lived in was surrounded by mempelam (mango) trees of special variation, harum manis. In Perlis, people used to eat pulut lemak with mempelam harum manis.  Pulut lemak is basically a glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk. Eating pulut lemak with mempelam is as delicious as eating pulut lemak with durian.

….they are sweet and tasty

4. I remember when the season comes, we would do gotong-royong to pick fruits and divide them equally among us.


5. This is how pulut lemak and mempelam harum manis look like:

(Pic courtesy:

6. This food is, in fact, derives from a Thai dessert known as Khao Niaow Ma Muang. Here, pulut is prepared separately from thick santan cream. They are mixed and taken together with either with durian or mempelam.

…the glutinous rice is bathed with coconut milk

The Most Productive Year of My Life

1. I had memorable days working as Medical Officer in Kangar. Kangar is the principal town, the capital of Perlis. It was the placement that I was looking forward. Since my kampung is near to Kangar, it was an opportunity to go back home every week.

2. The Kangar town itself was only lively during the daytime. The market area where I used to walk with Yusry when we were in Year 3 Medic school, used to be busy. Motorcycles screamed. Van and lorry drivers honked every now and then, looking for space to park and unload their goods. Cars yelped and hooted; pedestrians leaped for their safety.

3. I remember that I had to walk from the bus station to Yusry’s house which distance was about 1-1.5 km, across the small bridge and passing in front of Dr. Hamid Pawanteh’s clinic before reaching his parents’ home. Those days, street used to be placid and docile.

4. When my dad was admitted to Kangar General Hospital in the 60s, Kangar was a quiet place of greensward and old shophouses. Kangar used to be chilled by a constant breeze of cool air from the Andaman Sea but unfortunately, lately, Kangar is flooded by water released from Timah Tasoh dam, fairly regularly.

5. When I was in Kangar, Timah Tasoh Dam was under construction. I had to use the old trunk road to Padang Besar. I still remember giving a talk to patients in Felda Mata Air, on the way to Padang Besar on special request from the Health Centre. I hope my memory serves me right on this matter after 30 over years it had taken place.

6. Perlis itself has many limestone hills. They look like elephant and indigo against the earth surface. From Kangar to Kuala Perlis, the horizon was marked by the viridian turned golden fields of padi which later ready to be harvested.

7. The new expressway from Changloon to Kuala Perlis has taken over the function of old trunk road that I’d used to drive from Arau-Kodiang-Padang Sera-Pauh to Changloon. Kodiang is famous for its pasembur which kedai is located near the bus station while Padang Sera is famous for the wat Siam called Wat Boonyaram. Those days, Pauh was so ulu (remote) with only one private clinic owned by my ex-colleague in Hospital Kangar, Dr. Maniam.

8. It was here in Kangar that I master my O+G skills. Life as a Medical Officer was less enjoyable compared to Houseman. This was due to the fact that I had to bear heavy responsibilities dealing with patients’ safety. I remember very well dealing with an emergency case of uterine inversion following manual removal of placenta. It was the most senior MO that guided me through during the difficult time.

9. The best part of the posting was performing LSCS. I am pretty sure, if I were to keep a log book, there were hundreds of them performed during the posting. We never go home before six every day. It was the most productive year of my life.

Lower Section Caesarian Section (LSCS) is an operation to deliver a baby

My Houseman Days in Taiping

1. I did my housemanship training in Taiping, a small town which means ‘peace’ in Chinese. It has a small idle mining pond which my friend Mokhtar, my senior Pak Wan and I used to fish. It was before Sahak came and join us. If I remember correctly, the mining pond was located somewhere behind Taman Makmur. Mind you, Taman Makmur is famous for its pasar malam which we used to visit, queuing up to buy apam balik and well-marinated satay. It is just around Assam Kumbang (if my long-term memory is pretty much intact) next to the main road which brings you to Jalan Simpang next to petrol station.

2. Taiping has hardly changed since independence. It has colonial trademark; very similar to Muar.  The examples of such trademark are colonial schools such as St George & King Edward, a large municipal field next to the Municipal building and the most noticeable one is Taiping Lake garden which is situated just in the valley of Maxwell Hill. The lake garden is the place where Sahak and I practiced kayak; at least once in my lifetime.

3. How did Taiping withstand the test of time? I think, first and foremost, Taiping is bypassed by the old North-South trunk road. Therefore, the express buses have to stop at Simpang and seldom encroach right to the middle of the town. Now the new North-South (NS) Expressway has bypassed the town again, leaving behind car drivers who are craving for durian, to shop at the nearest Hentian Bukit Gantang stalls, thus bypassing the town and its legends.

4. It was during houseman time that my Surgeon, a big Punjabi man, used to have regular rounds with us around the hospital. It worked to our benefit as the round used to end up with a big feast. Menus were tosai, capati, naan and some typical Indian foodies like vadai and samoza. The foods were served by a big fat Indian sister. It was the time when I really enjoyed free Indian cuisine as never before. Those days, there were only a few housemen in each department. We worked, did some mistakes, laughed about them and the learning was done through apprenticeship.

5. We were competing with each other to make a breakthrough in our semi-professional operating skills. Those who were good would be allowed to do the operation. I did my first appendicectomy with assistance from a senior nurse, SN Puziah. OT staffs were so helpful, all those years. We were like adik beradik, brother, and sister.

6. As a young doctor, I remember attending to a young petite girl who had just skid off her motorbike and suffered from bruises and injury all over her body. As I was cleaning and did toilet and suturing, I noticed a different kind of bruises around the neck area. A senior nurse asked me whether I had noticing them. Yes, I did. What are they? I asked the nurse. Later that I learned, they were love bites. I had to be excused because I was young, single and innocent at the time. The point is mat and minah rempit exist even some 20-30 years ago. It is not a new phenomenon as many used to think.

7. The cultural shock that we housemen found in the OT those days was people were dirty minded. They uttered dirty words freely. We, the very young ones are always been victims of some kind of sexual harassment. We learned to adapt and adopt, and at the end of the day, we became tolerant of the culture of free and easy. Now when I think about it, I can just simply think of stress management as an excuse.

8. I’d still remember organizing mass circumcision in Kamunting Army Camp. During our time, young housemen were already equipped with competent surgical skills to do the mass circumcision. How do we make ourselves competent? We learned from a senior medical assistant, who in the beginning was reluctant to pass on the knowledge but with perseverance, he was convinced to share his knowledge for the benefit of the ummah. Those days, the surgeon didn’t teach us circumcision. We got to find our own guru.

9. A lady physician was a single, middle-aged, forty-something, strict, implosive grande dame. She cursed for any mistakes we made. To her, we were either useless or had no brain. We knew her weaknesses and we played the public relation well. To minimize her amuk, we tried as far as possible to impress her from the first day of our posting. That seemed to work well, at least for me, except on an occasion when I missed reviewing total white counts on an adolescent with leukemia.

Bang Man

1. Bang Man was a great companion when I was in primary school as he was few years my senior. After completing his secondary education he worked with my dad. Outside working hours, he helped to accompany my elderly grandmother who was living alone.

2. When we met last Raya, he has related a story, he shared with my grandmother during Ramadhan month.  Those years, in the 60s, we lived without electricity. It was a routine, my grandmother woke up at early hours to cook for their ‘sahur’ (early morning breakfast). One day, my grandma assumed it was 4.00 something in the morning. So, they were enjoying their ‘sahur’, suddenly to realized later that the roaster started crowing and the day brightened as Bang Man opened the window and found that it was already post-dawn. Unlike today when azan can be heard aloud, those days there was no loudspeaker. What’s the use of loudspeaker without electricity?

3. Bang Man was such a sweet, sweet man, jovial, funny and full of great stories. He has two wives. Bang Man himself appears bemused that he has gained the status of an operation manager for a shoe company, Clark.

4. He related a story when he had to solve many of his customers’ problem. They were mostly professionals like engineers, lawyers, and doctors.  But when it came to shoe, he insisted, he was a professional too.

5. His carefree attitude makes me wonder how he manages two families. His son with the first wife is a pious religious Ustaz and the second daughter is a teacher.

6. In the younger days, he told me that, he used to cycle to school more than 10 km. His favorite past times then was watching movies in the only, dilapidated cinema in town. In the 60s, the cinema was in bad shape. Not uncommon, Hindustani movies like, Sangam and Bobby were very popular and he was among those who repeatedly watching four times in a row to the extent that he can memorize the plot and storyline very well.

7. Not infrequent, after he came back he would recount the story to me and as a young boy, I was amazed by his storytelling skill.

8. It was during the last Raya, that we met again rekindling our fond memories of the good old days and patching up relations as friend and buddy.

The Unseen Villa

1. I am staying in this place at least once or twice a year. This villa is located down the hillside surrounded by durian and rambutan trees in the flood-free zone. When I am here, the life becomes cliche as everything is so predictable. The morning starts late as the sun needs to climb over the hill before the rays could penetrate the surroundings. The water is amazingly cold.

2. This villa sees how amazing humans work together to move it from one part of the kampung to the current location. A big feast was held and all kampung fellas came out to lift and move bit by bit in gradual compromising forces and accelerations. I was in my pre-school years and never in my life I had that experience again watching people moved the house in toto demonstrating the real experience of gotong-royong and solidarity among kampung folks.



3. Years later, the main hall (rumah ibu) was constructed by a single carpenter (tukang). The late, Arwah Wa Sin used to tease me when I returned from school calling me fattie but I know he was kind and gentle. The wage for building this villa in the 60s was RM6K only. No proper plan from pseudo-architect and proto-surveyor was needed but lunch and evening tea was on the host side. Like it or not, I was the one who used to bring foodies to Wa Sin.

4. It was in this place that we hung our graduation pictures and diplomas. The decor was unpretentious with the picture of Kaabah from sejadah was hung on the wall mirror. The ambiance was typically kampung where hidden desire was suppressed and visitors were welcome without an appointment. Arwah Pak Hussin used to make a surprise visit every time he found my car parked in the porch and started shouting:..  “Men, bila balik?” Then his wife would come for a free consultation on ways of coping with the life of extreme asceticism for two octogenarians.

5. Finally, we decided this unseen villa has to undergo some modification leaving behind nostalgic moments of esprit de corps in the 60s, the charismatic aura of Wa Sin and the memory of surprise visit by Pak Hussin.