Friday, October 28, 2011

Three days without water, how does it feel?

How does it feel to be without water for three days? We never know for sure because we are blessed with rain almost every day. Imagine what  life would be in desert if left alone for days. But how can we imagine hunger and thirst without experiencing one. How can we imagine love if we never had one. We can go down the list: poverty, pain, anger, sadness, joy....... etc.

Tanah Merah was without running water for three days recently. Yeap, River Kelantan still flowing, rain do drop almost every other day but tap was completely dry. Since modern life is made so dependent on tap water, anything wrong with the distribution system will affect us. The other day, the big pump broke down, replacements had to be imported, so tap was dry for three days. They did send tankers to ease hardship, yes a basic emergency procedure. But modern life itself can't effectively cope even with good recovery efforts........ Since there was only two of us in the house, we went on low consumption measure and rationing usage. Our neighbour at the front with 8 children would suffer more.

I remembered how  Melaka in 1991 had to go through it's worst water  crisis when Durian Tunggal reservoir dried up after a prolonged drought. Millions of dollars had to be pumped in to handle water crisis; diverting water from other states, and sending planes up to do cloud seeding. Melaka Water Board finally had a new boss ...........Without trying to be too judgmental, we do accept that history of mankind was punctuated with crisis, fallen heroes, rising stars, and scape goats ......

Then another problem appeared right in front of us. Our own fertigation system! So I resorted to manual mode, rationing water to just once a day. Huh, how they cried, yellowing every leaves they had, ripening every chili they held, to survive on low water mode. It should take longer than three days to see us humans succumb to starvation ..... Like us, chili plants are fighters too. Trying to emerge as winners against all odds, is still within their DNA make-ups.  To survive against drought, to stay sane, to stay relevant is to see the light of tomorrow......
pic1 ~ chili leaves yellowing, chili ripening, thirsty.

pic 2 ~ chili so small, yet potent.

pic 3 ~ Kakdah picking ripe chili from 90 plants

pic 4 ~ chili plants looked so healthy 2 weeks ago

A lady from the far end, asked for 3 kilos. She runs a restaurant nearby. I didn't know how much Kakdah charged that day. With Thailand still suffering from flood which effectively reduced vegetable imports across the border, Kakdah should know how much to charge. A full time housewife, but there is no stopping for her to know the rule of supply and demand. She has  mental record of her chili sales...... I wouldn't ask.

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah Kelantan

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Markisa and Okra

I never thought such combination would work: markisa and okra together. Markisa is a climber, and will climb to the sky. Okra is destined to stay low with beautiful flowers and fruits. Of many vegetables I have grown, okra is most demanding. I have to see okra everyday, because the fruits grow by inches. We pick okra every morning, 3 for us, the rest for the neighbours.

I managed to put up simple triangular trellis for markisa to climb and for okra to grow at the bottom. The woods were taken from Hafi's place some months ago. It was only last week that I manage to put them up.  

Markisa/passionfruit: tendrils holding on

 I could have allowed markisa use fence to climb, but having trellis on my side is best. It would be easier for me to look after markisa and of course, do fruit picking when ripening season comes. Markisa grows well so far, earlier with simple yellowish leaves, one on each side of the main stem. Now markisa is showing it's true character, producing long tendrils and leaves branching out into three. They look very much like okra leaves.... How can I forget the single markisa given by Azura some months ago, a gift that manage to multiply. Razali has a few climbing crazily over his fence. So there we are, the connectivity made possible through markisa, a little gift from Azura.

Okra / Lady's fingers/Bendi

It's markisa I am looking for. Okra is temporary. By the time okra is about to die, markisa is almost ready to bear fruits..... In transformational leadership approach, it's like setting the road map to ultimately pick markisa fruits and while waiting,  okra/lady's fingers/bendi acts as one of the many quick wins to keep positive momentum going and  to maintain the right enthusiasm throughout the long wait.

Now I don't have much time to see the rest. By 1st November they start packing, and by 4th the latest, we will be in Johor Bahru already, a new place, a new page, a new garden.

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah, Kelantan.

  • SMS from a friend of Shah Alam days: The road diverged in a wood, and abangchik has chosen the one less traveled by, and it makes all the difference.
  • Email from a friend of Ipoh days. Wah! petani modenn la ni! elokla tu beras pun nak naik harga!
  • SMS from a friend of Seremban days: Malae2 gini.... Org dok kebung doh... Esok pulok laa.
  • SMS from a friend of Putrajaya days: ke JB?.... kali ini sy benar2 pasti
  • SMS from a friend of Tanjung Malim days: Deepavali = Depalari = Depa lari ke JB.

Friday, October 21, 2011

on the road again....

I do not know what Willie Nelson had in mind as he swung that number on the road again...., strumming, smiling to the masses. It's the same old song, taking the country crowd to the brink of ecstasy.

Willie Nelson - on the road again

I look at the garden again, it has not picked up well...., having gone through many weekends without both of us. It's only weekend that we can spend a little bit more time. Days getting shorter now, sun closing down just after 7pm...... By the time I get home, plants are ready to sleep.  I am tired too..... Something odd happened yesterday. The pump stopped working. Chili plants grieved........ and many came to cheer them up, Hj Hem, Effly, Rockzany, and Adziem. Hj Derani boys came too, crawled over ceiling to check for broken wire. In the end Azwar put a new pump. The plants smiled as their roots were bathed lovingly..... with water and fertiliser.

So Shab was right in J factor..... the mutuality of things, comradeship, about being honest and giving out only the best, and about how things must jive in like jigsaw puzzle.  Jalil was right too about Sun Tzu and the 13 chapters....., and another friend with blue ocean, Kotter's 8 steps putting life on different perspective. But I am still a gardener, having roselle, balsam and ulam raja as friends.

But days are getting lesser..... before I bid farewell to the place, the darling of all places. Tanah Merah.  Sungai Kelantan must have known about my short stay here, as it flows lazily from Pergau to the sea. I wonder what Tokgawa Ne would say, knowing the friendship could develop far deeper. Life is never long, so is my stay in Tanah Merah, Kelantan. Of course I will come back as a much older man.......

Gardening is like going through life on a fast mode, You see births upon births. You see generations in front of you, almost like a civilization of 1000 years in human term. A gardener orchestrates a civilization of plants, bees, butterflies.  But gardener is also a component of the whole thing, a subset of things rather than the overall encompassing master of musical drama. I hope Bob Geldof didn't include Tanah Merah, and the new place I am going to, in his haunting song, I don't like Mondays......

Bob Geldof Boomtown Rats - I dont like mondays
How could I convince Bob Dylan,  rolling stone should not be echoed in all its extreme negativity, as if world is about to end the next day. It's just how things should behave, as the stones roll, as rivers meander, as plants grow and die, to perpetuate what's known as life....... It's earthly. It's short, no permanence. Like a rolling stone should sound as sweet in a positive mood....

Bob Dylan - like a rolling stone

Freddie Mercury -we are the champions
So I will be on the road again. Only, I wont be singing with Willie Nelson happy country mood.  How can I forget the tune of Boomtown Rats, I dont like Mondays, and looking after number one.  Who can beat Freddie Mercury on being extremely dramatic and heroic..... as he kept pointing to the sky in we are the champions, a song sung by millions, and being melancholic as he hummed on Seaside Rendezvous putting chilling message as we stroll along Kelantan river.

I know, I will tell friends here to take the lead what's historically was entrusted on Serdang's UPM. It's alright to take responsibility to the limit in all sincerity, setting up the stage that has been left unattended for decades. Raden can't argue, how can he?

I sincerely hope Singapore in all its modern extravaganza, will accept me as it's neighbour. I have nothing to offer, except for rainbows on my left and green on my right. I will put rainbows in the sky and paint the earth greener. 

So I will be on the road again.......

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

orchid and wedding.

Kakdah loves her orchids so much. I can almost guarantee which side she will turn first as she opens the front door. It's invariably to the LEFT side, where her orchid house is. Her smile is widest when an orchid let out stalk with buds, and she will run to hold them...

It's second time for this orchid. Kakdah reacted the same as we arrived after long absence. I thought blogging about orchids once in a while should make Kakdah happy. In fact she keeps reminding me to write something about orchid, a subject I am not too familiar with.  But orchids serve many important occasion in life.

Wedding, one of them.

Kakdah's Orchid flowering

A friend Amir had been very busy for weeks, getting everything ready for his daughter's wedding. Huh.., wedding is a memorable window to unknownland.... where understanding and love seem to rule. A journey, where love may unknowingly meander around the main pathway , and fluctuate in a sinusoidal mode. It must be decades since I last used that term sinusoidal describing a sine wave with repetitive oscillations.

Mind is acting funny as we get older, where one minute we can recall clearly what's taught 35 years ago like sinusoidal pattern, the next minute we can't figure out where the car key is . They said as we grow older the short term memory is not doing well. But I would rather compare mental capacity to a water tank.......When it's full, additional water will overflow, not retained. Our children may argue, saying we only use a fraction of memory/brain cells....., the bigger fraction left idle.

The wedding was held at Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur Ballroom.......... on the 9th of October. I think the young couple loves that date 9.10.11 so much. Call it magic number or angka keramat, call it feng shui, the number definitely is a sign of life getting better progressively.

the view from 9th floor of Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur, using hp camera.

Khair was there with his wife. Yusof was there too..... Two old friends, from previous era, where bachelorhood is a transitional interface, before one decides to shift to a different phase called marriage. Both era completes LIFE. Then we laughed at each other, checking who got more gray hair. Mat and Hajar were as cheerful as ever, Asmara and Sulong turned up in identical dress or sedondon in Malay Language, and somehow Shab and wife could easily be tagged as the youngest couple of our era... judging by the hair.

There we were, enjoying the night, celebrating Liyana and Suhaimi's marriage..., escorting Amir and Cindy (the parents) to real adulthood. To make the festive air more memorable, Dato Sabree played excellent lead  guitar work, creating such nostalgic atmosphere with new and old numbers to the end.......

Life is as beautiful as an orchid 
may God bless Liyana + Suhaimi and their future..

bangchik and kakdah

Friday, October 7, 2011


We missed gardening for a month or so. Now we are back. I look around, and immediately sense sadness. A glimpse of neglect. Emotional abandonment.

walkway, a little bit sad.
Balsam resting on the walkway

Ulam raja peeping out over the fence.

potted plants fending themselves

But papaya is happy.....

bangchik and kakdah

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tight Schedule and Greening Cities.

Tight Schedule

I have not been updating the blog for almost a month now. I am on a tight schedule these few weeks, up and down,  in and out.The laptop was having tantrums and had to be reformatted. Meanwhile the broadband is sluggish again and again. These add to the problem.

Luckily the automatic watering system is doing fine...., bottle feeding plants 5 times a day. There are 90 chili plants in white polibags around the house right now. Kakdah seems to enjoy picking the ripe ones everyday.  All are giveaways for now.

Recently, we took 3 kilogram of chili centil to Kota Kinabalu Sabah, packed in 100g packets. We still have friends over there in Sabah, so most got their share........ We spent 3 days breathing the air of Sabah, in conjunction  with the 58th birthday of Yang DiPertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.  I was there as a recipient of State's Award.

Greening Cities

After going through some promotional blitz with rooftop gardening adventure...., through media on third week of July,  International Greentech and Eco-Product Exhibition Malaysia 7 - 10 September 2011, and the recent Farmer's Day Kelantan held over a week, ending yesterday....., the team is ready to take on a new adventure.... that is greening cities.

There had been requests from many quarters, seeking technical support to do rooftop gardening all over the country. One is as far as Miri Sarawak, another in Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan etc.  We will help each of them.

Today "Four Polluted Towns; Shah Alam, Putrajaya, Nilai and Tanjung Malim" is at the front page of local newspaper Utusan Malaysia. Pollutions due to car's exhaust changed used-to-be-safe-for living towns into polluted towns. Research done by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia also indicated worrying conditions in Seberang Perai and Johor Bahru.

We thought, rooftop gardening is an adventure worth implementing with multi-pronged purposes to deal with rising pollution in towns and cities. Rooftop gardening is a pure commercial adventure with cleaner air as by products!... How sweet. And the team is negotiating with TV1 and TV3 for a short exposure in November.

Tomorrow I will head towards Kuala Lumpur, a long journey for a short half an hour important meeting. In the meantime I will squeeze in updates to keep "my little vegetable garden" alive, whenever I can.

bangchik and kakdah
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