Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Over the next few days - five days in all, actually - I've got to ask my visitors to bear with me as I catch up on listening to a few records in my collection. It's been a long while since I cleaned my dirty old records because I've been busy listening a lot to those albums that I had cleaned previously, and also to the compact discs. You see, I've finally come to accept that it is not enough to have a good stereo hardware system. It is also important to be equipped with decent speaker cables or otherwise, the sound will still suck.

I took up my friend Eric's suggestion to buy a length of QED Micro High Technology speaker cables quite a while back but it wasn't until he loaned me the Belden Indoor/Outdoor Oxygen Free Low Cap Brilliance speaker cables that my system began to sing. Then another friend Long Kin lent me his Audioquest FLX/X-16/2 Long Grain copper speaker cables recently and the mist lifted from my eyes. I had been trying various permutations of the three speaker cables and can verify that I heard subtle differences with all four combinations.

So, after having enjoyed listening to my CD and cleaned-up record collections, it's back to cleaning those dirty old ones to put on the turntable. Bear with me for the next few days, okay?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

More from the Pangguni Uthiram festival in Bukit Mertajam

Maybe I should share a few more photos from the Pangguni Uthiram festival in Bukit Mertajam yesterday. These were taken in the late afternoon when I was returning from the island. As usual, I had forgotten about the traffic jam in the town and drove smack into it. However, the jam gave me an opportunity to see this Hindu festival from up close.

First, this was the scene at the junction of the Kulim Road and Jalan Maju. The chariot carrying the image of their Hindu deity had stopped there before turning back to its main temple, the 117-year-old Sri Mangalanayagi Amman Devasthanam Temple. While most of the devotees were Indians, there were also quite a number of Chinese devotees. In fact, there was also a float from a Chinese temple that had joined in the festivities.......

The chariot is on the left. On the right is a make-shift roadside Hindu temple. Can see several Chinese devotees mingling in the crowd.

These are the people who will be pulling the chariot back to the Sri Mangalanayagi Amman Devasthanam Temple. It's a welcome rest for them as they wait for all the devotees to finish. However, it was a long, long wait as it was almost an endless stream of devotees.

The offerings were fruits and flowers. Bananas and coconuts were prominent.

Two of the more colourful characters in the crowd. Of course, I know the significance of the cow in Hinduism. It's their sacred animal. So, for this man to dress up as a cow, complete with four udders, well, it's his way of celebrating the festival. I've no comment about the chap in blue, though...

I was just about to go off when I saw this procession from the direction of Kulim, led by this determined-looking woman with a baby in her arms. That's why I say the line of devotees seemed rather endless. Just as the priests in the chariot thought they had finished with the devotees around them, here comes another batch of them,

Anyway, I had to leave. But on the way home, I stopped by the Hindu temple outside my neighbourhood. They were also having their own celebration. In fact, they were preparing the kavadi carriers and other devotees who would be making their way down to the main temple later.

I was much surprised to see a lion dance troupe and quite a number of Chinese participants. For example, this man was pulling this cart from the hooks on his back. Of course, it wasn't all his own strength as others were helping by pushing the cart along.

Awesome, both the above picture and the one below. To have a clearer view, just click on the images.

Finally, I just want to give a close-up view of the cart that I had mentioned earlier. Not only is there an image of the Hindu deity, there's also a small statue of the Laughing Buddha. By my reckoning, the Pangguni Uthiram festival is tailor-made for both the Tamils and the Chinese to get together and worship.

I heard that there was a fire-walking ceremony at the main temple in the town later in the evening. However, that should a story for some other day as I gave that a miss. Nothing will get me into another traffic jam, especially with 20,000 people expected there!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Pangguni Uthiram in Bukit Mertajam

I was caught in a little traffic congestion while getting out from my neighbourhood this morning. Seemed that there is a Tamil religious festival today, the Pangguni Uthiram.

A search on the Internet revealed that Tamils observe the important Pangguni Uthiram festival in the Tamil month of Pangguni (March/April). Panggguni Uttaram celebrates the wedding of important deities in the Hindu religion. In 2010, Pangguni Uthiram falls today, on 29 March. The importance of this day is that the Uthiram Nakshatra (star) coincides with the full moon day of Poornima.

It is widely believed that Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvathi on this day. Another legend indicates that Lord Muruga married Devasena on Pangguni Uthiram day. It is also believed that Lord Rama married Sita on this day, and another important wedding that took place is the one between Andal and Sri Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu). So you see, these are some of the weddings of these important Hindu deities.

Intrigued, I wandered around Kulim Road and came across this small Hindu temple beside the BM Recreation Club. Some ceremonies were in session, including devotees paying penance by having their bodies pierced by various religious objects.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The accidental world chess champion

Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was a fine baritone singer who once attended an audition with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1950. Unfortunately for him, he was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the appeal of music remained very strong in him and on many occasions he gave stirring recitals to appreciative private audiences in the old Soviet Union and perhaps outside the country too. Sometimes, he would be accompanied by concert pianist Mark Taimanov.

I first met this great man briefly in 1982. That was in Lucerne, Switzerland. The second and last time that I bumped into him was eight years later, in 1990, at the VIP Lounge of the Subang international airport. On both occasions, I found him to be a very polite gentleman who always had time for his admirers.

Vasily Smyslov, born on 24 Mar 1921, was 89 years old when he died of heart failure yesterday in a Moscow hospital. He could have had a professional career in music but he achieved great success elsewhere.

Did I mention that officially, he was the seventh world chess champion? Yes, he certainly was. He took part in the final of three world chess championship matches in 1954, 1957 and 1958 and on all three occasions, he played with Mikhail Botvinnik. The 1954 match was drawn at 12-all but in 1957, he beat Botvinnik 12½-9½ to claim the title. There was a rematch the following year which Smylov lost 10½-12½ and allowed Botinnik to reclaim it.

Since then, he had never ascended such great heights again. He still took part in the Candidates world championship cycles but never again did he qualify for the right to meet the reigning world champions of the day.

In 1983, at a ripe age of 62, he surprised the chess world by advancing to the final of the Candidates cycle in which he met a young, rising chess star by the name of Gary Kasparov. The dynamism and aggressiveness of the younger player put paid to any more of Smyslov's hopes and he went out of the cycle with a 4½-8½ defeat. As we all know, Kasparov went on to become great chess rivals with Anatoly Karpov for many, many years.

In his final years, Smyslov won the inaugural Senior World Chess Championship in 1991. His last tournament was at the Klompendans Veterans versus Ladies tournament in Amsterdam in 2001. He never played competitively again. His last published Fide rating was 2494.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Choong Khuat Hock's murder: Suspect picked up

Some latest developments on the Choong Khuat Hock tragedy. Early yesterday morning, Police located the missing black Mercedes Benz belonging to Choong Khuat Hock. It was recovered at a parking lot near a pub in Taman Desa near Jalan Klang Lama. The find was made after a tip-off by a member of the public.

After a quick inspection, the vehicle was towed to the Brickfields police headquarters for forensic examination. Definitely, fingerprints may be crucial to this case. According to the police, the car may have been left at Taman Desa for about at least four days. Its front tyres were flat.

A bit later, the Police was confident enough to name Adam Brahim Djaghlouli, an Algerian man, as the one they were seeking to "assist them to solve Choong's murder". This is usually a euphemism to mean that this chap is a suspect in the case.

The Police said that Adam had been a close confidante of Choong for about a year and could be the last man to see Choong alive. “Our investigations show that Adam entered the country with an Algerian passport last year but used a Jordanian passport when he entered in 2008."

Then at around midnight, this suspect was arrested at a rented apartment in Taman OUG, Jalan Klang Lama, in Kuala Lumpur. According to Bentong Police, the man called them after learning that he was being sought.

"Following the call, police from the Brickfields station and Bentong district headquarters went to the man's apartment in Taman OUG. He was cooperative and did not resist the arrest," the police said today. He is now believed to be still remanded at the Bentong district headquarters.

Note: What happened was that the decomposed remains of Choong, a noted financial analyst, was found in a ditch off the Karak highway in Pahang on 13 Mar. He had been reported missing for about four days already. Even at that time, the newspapers were saying that Choong was last seen with a "middle-eastern" man on 9 Mar evening. As this sort of information could only have come from the police themselves, they must have been sure of themselves already. It was only a matter of time before they picked up this "unidentified" man, unless he had already fled the country, and the police were pretty sure that he hadn't. The trail to this Algerian certainly wasn't cold.

On Wednesday, Choong was cremated at the Nirvana Memorial Park with about 100 of his relatives and friends present. "It is all over," lamented his father Freddie Choong Eng Eong. "Whoever his murderer is, whether the murderer would be arrested, only God knows. I have told everything I know to the police. Please stop speculating; just allow them to investigate the case so that justice is swiftly served," he said. I think we've got to respect that.

Earth Hour disappointment

I'm quite disappointed with this year's response to Earth Hour in my neighbourhood. When my family left for dinner earlier today, we had made it a point to switch off the lights so that if we had to return later than 8.30pm, we could return to a house in darkness.

Yes, our dinner function lasted longer than expected and we arrived back at Taman Jernih in Bukit Mertajam at about 9pm. The first inkling that Earth Hour was being ignored was that one of the bigger houses in my neighbourhood was completely switched on, including the garden lights.

I was further dismayed when I drove around the neighbourhood and observed an almost blatant disregard or ignorance for this global environmental event. Along the road where I live, only one other house was in darkness. The rest were lit by various degrees.

What could have gone wrong after last year's very encouraging response? Lack of awareness? Maybe, because I only saw a half-hearted involvement by both the federal government and the Penang state government, as well as the private sector. Overall, I believe there wasn't enough promotion or publicity of this event. And no political will to make it succeed in line with global efforts. So I would consider Earth Hour 2010 a failure, generally in Malaysia and specifically in my immediate neighbourhood.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Two early albums by John Scofield

I've read that John Scofield is arguably one of the "big three" of current jazz guitarists along with Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. He has been around for a very long time, since the mid-1970s but his influence ascended the heights in the 1090s when everyone wanted him to be a collaborator on their albums.

Take note of some of these big names that Scofield had worked with: Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Charles Mingus, Joey Defrancesco, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Billy Cobham, George Duke, Jaco Pastorius, John Mayer.

His music is generally jazz fusion, funk, blues, soul and other forms of modern American music. Here are two of his early records in my possession. Who's Who was released in 1979 so this is very early John Scofield stuff. Flat Out came out nine years later. Of course in between these years, Scofield had remained very prolific.

Side One: Looks Like Meringue, Cassidae, The Beatles
Side Two: Spoons, Who's Who, How The West Was Won

Side One: Cissy Strut, Secret Love, All The Things You Are, In The Cracks
Side Two: The Boss's Car, Science And Religion, Softy, Evansville, Rockin' Pneumonia

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Football distractions

This is real tight at the top of the English Premier League table. For the top three contenders, only two points separate the leaders from the third-placed. And with only seven games remaining for the 2009/2010 season, who among them have a better run-in to the title?

This Saturday, Manchester United will be playing Bolton, Chelsea will meet Aston Villa, while Arsenal will be up against Birmingham.

But after that, Manchester United's next game will be against Chelsea on 3 Apr. Now, that's a big one which should be the most crucial test between the two teams. If Manchester United win, the pressure will be slightly off them. Then they play Blackburn, Manchester City (another interesting game which is too close to call), Tottenham, Sunderland and finally, Stoke. Mustn't forget that there's also the Champions League games to distract them.

After Chelsea's match with Manchester United, they will still have to face Bolton, Tottenham, Stoke, Liverpool (which is a very important game for both teams for their own reasons) and Wigan. Chelsea are still in the chase for the FA Cup and for my own selfish reason, I hope they will be bothered by it.

And in the meanwhile, Arsenal will face Wolverhampton, Tottenham, Wigan, Manchester City, Blackburn and Fulham. Oh yes, Arsenal are still in the Champions League so let this keep their minds off the Premier League too. Let it distract, distract, distract!

But broadly, it looks like Arsenal may have the easiest run-in among the trio, Nevertheless, anything can happen in football. In fact, there are banana skins everywhere. My team is Manchester United and I hope - I really, really hope - that they'll managed to avoid any slip-up from now until the end of the season.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Australian travellogue: Sunset dinner date

6 Nov 2009. Of course, this being our final night in Western Australia, we needed to have a really good meal to remember the vacation. It must be something rather special to surpass all that we have tried the previous few nights.

On our arrival in Perth seven nights earlier, we had the most delicious pork ribs at the Comfort Inn; then it was an incredible plate of fettucini in an Italian restaurant in Albany on the second evening, black pepper steak at the Comfort Inn in Walpole on the third evening, trout in Pemberton on the fourth evening, and a Chinese dinner in Busselton on the sixth evening. Don't ask about the fifth evening: we choose to have a hurried meal in a take-away.

Therefore, what could surpass all the fine food that we have had so far? On the seventh evening in Fremantle, we headed to the Kaili's seafood restaurant at the harbour. Have heard a great deal about this place and they had all been good. Intrigued, I decided to taste for myself and see whether all the reviews were well-founded.

When we arrived there at about six-plus, there were already quite a number of people there. Originally, we wanted to sit outside but the air was starting to get a bit nippy. So, we decided to move inside for a much cosier environment. Here's a photo of the restaurant. See how that kid was straining his neck to see what the people on the other table was ordering? Quite cute...

Saw See ordered a plate of scallops and she was thrilled by the plate that came out from the kitchen.

As for me, I went for nothing less than a lobster. One whole lobster for about AUD50, or about RM150, which, I'm sure, is still cheaper than the prices in Malaysia.

So we tucked into the food and have to admit that it was a most satiating evening. I think everybody on their travels through Perth and Fremantle must make it a point not to miss the absolutely fresh seafood. Kaili's is not the only seafood restaurant in town. Anyone adventurous enough is bound to come across other great seafood joints all over the city, except that for Kaili's (and some others), a view overlooking the harbour and the setting sun was an added bonus.

Next: Kings Park
Previous: Fremantle Markets

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The tragedy of Choong Khuat Hock

As a follow-up to my earlier blog post, it's been confirmed through a DNA test that it was indeed Choong Khuat Hock's decomposed remains that was found abandoned in a remote area off the Karak Highland in Pahang on 13 Mar 2010. Earlier, Choong had been identified visually by his father and maid through his clothing, but a confirmation by a DNA test was required for death under such circumstances. I can imagine how difficult it must have been for an aged man to see his son in this condition.

Police had said a post mortem showed Choong died of a blow to his chest caused by a blunt object at least four days earlier, which meant he was killed just hours after he was last seen at about 6pm on 9 Mar. It has been reported that closed-circuit television had shown Choong at an unknown location with an unidentified "middle-eastern" man. Police ruled out business rivalry and kidnapping as the motive behind the murder and said they believed the killing was over personal matters. Unfortunately, Police seemed to have failed to track down this suspect - not yet anyway - and with each passing day, the trail gets colder.

Choong's obituary announcement has already appeared in the newspapers. The remains will be cremated tomorrow and a memorial service held the day after. The tragedy has stretched on for almost two weeks and is already very hard on the family. So, I can well suspect that both ceremonies will be very private affairs for family members and close friends only. I don't expect much news to filter out.

Choong was a prominent financial analyst with his asset management company, Kumpulan Sentiasa Cemerlang. He belonged to an illustrious family in Penang and his uncles - Eddy and David - were not only prominent businessmen and Old Frees but also national badminton heroes. Both Eddy and David were inducted into the Badminton World Federation's Hall Of Fame in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Will you go "Ahhh!" too?

The "Girl From Ipanema" album. Few albums can match this one for pure listening pleasure on a warm, lazy Sunday afternoon. Go on, try it. Just put on the music and relax....

Stan Getz (tenor saxophone) and Joao Gilberto (guitar, vocals), featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim (piano) with Tommy Williams (bass), Milton Banana (drums) and Astrud Gilberto (vocals). Recorded 18-19 Mar 1963 at A&R Studios, New York City.

An historic photo: Joao Gilberto (guitar) on the left, Antonio Carlos Jobim (piano) in the centre and Stan Getz (tenor sax) on the right
Tracks: The Girl From Ipanema, Doralice, Para Machuchar Meu Coracao, Desafinado (Off Key), Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars), So Danco Samba, O Grande Amor, Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer). Bonus tracks: The Girl From Ipanema (45rpm issue), Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) (45rpm issue)

Australian travellogue: Fremantle Markets

6 Nov 2009. I've a little admission. In my haste to go visit the Fremantle Markets, I had almost failed to recognise the fabled Cappucino strip when I walked through it.

You see, we had parked the car at Packenham Street which was quite a distance away from the Markets and we walked through Bannister Street before going on South Terrace. I could see the Fremantle Markets in the distance and I kept telling Saw See to hurry up because that would be our next destination.

But I do remember coming across quite a number of restaurants and eateries along the road, such as Dome, Mexican Kitchen and the Mad Monk Brew. Their tables and chairs lined the whole road. So what could all these mean?

Unfortunately, nothing at that time. Nothing registered at all. Nothing. Nothing at all. I was only focussed on getting to the Markets. Nevertheless, I was still using the camera as a reflex action to take photos of my surroundings. Much later, I discovered that these photos were indeed of the Cappucino strip without realising it at the time! Talk about luck...

Pretty soon, we arrived at the Fremantle Markets. Like most of the buildings we had seen in this part of town, this was an old heritage building that was built in 1897, making it 112 years old.

My first reaction: was that the interior just like the E-Shed's. Perhaps busier, perhaps more variety, but basically much the same stuff to lure tourists to part with their Aussie dollars. But we didn't mind. The hustle and bustle of the place excited us. It suited us fine.

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay there for long and we had to retrace our steps back to the car. There was one final big destination for us in Freo and we had to arrive there before the day got dark.

Later: Succumbing to temptation
Previous: The E-Shed

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Choong Khuat Hock: I never knew him

I never knew Choong Khuat Hock even though he was a fellow freelance columnist with The Star newspaper.

But I knew that he came from a very illustrious family in Penang. His father's brothers, Eddy Choong and David Choong, were famous badminton players.

I knew one of his uncles, his father's cousin, actually. I worked together with Dr Choong Sim Poey for many years in the Penang Chess Association. I also knew one of his many cousins, Ben Choong, who is the secretary of the Old Frees' Association. For some years in the 1990s, we worked together in the OFA.

So all I knew about Choong Khuat Hock is from the newspapers which have been giving his untimely death rather widespread coverage since earlier this week.

From the newspapers today, I knew a little bit more about him. Here is a moving eulogy by one of my friends and previous employer, Mark Chang, the founder and chief executive officer of From this eulogy, more details of his life have emerged. Yes, he lived a rich life of spontaneity, adventure and curiosity, and, above all, he was utterly professional in his career as a financial analyst, which is more than most of us can claim to be.

My follow-up blog post on Choong Khuat Hock is here.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Conserve or be rationed

There were warnings from the Penang Water Supply Corpo­ration (PBA) yesterday that water rationing may be imposed in the state if the current dry spell does not break by the end of April. There are fears that our "exceptionally good" weather may continue well into May.

According to a PBA spokesman, the current water levels at the Ayer Itam, Teluk Bahang and Mengkuang dams were at 75 percent, 82 percent and 94 percent capacity respectively. “The water at the three dams can last between 75 days and 240 days. But if there is no rain by the end of April, precautionary measures will have to be introduced."

I happened to be around Ayer Itam today and took a brief drive up to the Ayer Itam dam to access the situation myself. Although I was relieved that the level was still adequately high - the 75 percent mentioned above - I believe there is real cause for concern.

Yes, we should not take water for granted. It's our responsibility to play our part during dry spells such as this. After all, we will be the ones affected if there really is water rationing.

So how do we conserve water and protect our environment. Perhaps these 32 useful tips from the PBA website can be our starting guidelines.
  1. Avoid using a hose as far as possible.
  2. Wash your car or motorcycle less often. Wipe dirt off with a damp cloth instead.
  3. When you need to wash your car or motorcycle with water, try using a bucket and a piece of cloth or sponge.
  4. When you cannot avoid using a hose, install a turn-off nozzle on the end of the hose to adjust the water flow and turn the water off and on.
  5. Replace all hoses which are leaking immediately.
  6. Water your plants with a watering can.
  7. Water from your fish tank and water which is used to clean food can be re-cycled to water plants.
  8. Water your plants at the roots, not the leaves or flowers.
  9. Water your plants in the morning or evening, when there is less evaporation.
  10. Clean your porch and driveway with a broom and dust pan. 
  11. When cleaning your home, mop the floor instead of splashing water.
  12. Never leave the tap running.
  13. Turn the tap off when soaping, brushing your teeth or shaving. Only turn it on when rinsing your hands or face.
  14. When bathing, turn off the tap when soaping your body or applying shampoo. Better still, take shorter showers.
  15. When bathing your children or pets, only fill the tub with as much water as needed.
  16. Make sure all taps are shut properly after use. 
  17. Teach your children to shut taps properly.
  18. Fill your sink to wash and rinse food.
  19. Fill your sink to wash your dishes and cutleries.
  20. Use a microwave oven to defrost frozen food instead of running water. You can also de-frost food “naturally” by leaving it outside the refrigerator for awhile.
  21. Do not leave the water running when washing clothes by hand. Fill buckets for washing and rinsing.
  22. If you can afford it, a new energy-efficient washing machine can save water, and cut down on your water and electricity bills.
  23. When using a washing machine, try to wash only when there is a full load.
  24. If you have to use your washing machine with a smaller load, set a lower water level as required.
  25. Pre-soak dirty clothes with stubborn stains before washing to avoid repeated washings.
  26. If your clothes are not so dirty, set a shorter washing cycle.
  27. The latest “dual flush” toilet systems can save up to 10 litres per flush compared to older systems. Usually a half flush (3-4 litres) will do the job.
  28. Don’t use the toilet to flush tissues or rubbish. Put it in the rubbish bin.
  29. Check your toilet system for leaks. Pour some food dye into the tank and leave it for 15 minutes. If the water in the bowl is coloured, repair or replace the flush system.
  30. Install aerators on all your faucets to reduce water flow. 
  31. Check all your taps and pipes for leaks regularly.
  32. Repair all leaks immediately. If a tap is leaking at one drop per second, it will leak 10,218 litres per year.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Australian travellogue: E-Shed almost like home

6 Nov 2009. Shopping at Fremantle's E-Shed is about as close as you would get to shopping at, say, the Penang Bazaar ("Jual Murah") in Penang Road, George Town.

The E-Shed is filled with small business owners catering, I greatly suspect, more to tourists than the locals. When we arrived, we saw a family getting ready to leave the place. Ahh...Malaysian Malays. Can't be from anywhere else.

Several of the businesses at the E-Shed are run by Asians who have already made Australia their new homes. Nevertheless, their habits remain relatively unchanged. They made us feel almost at home in that kind of chaotic environment that only Asians could understand: goods stacked up on shelves and the floor space, hanging on the walls or from the ceilings - just about everywhere possible and without any apparent order - and shoppers allowed to touch and handle them freely. Not satisfied? No worries, just put them back anywhere!

The business owner's mannerisms and the way they speak .... these often betray their home countries. And of course, Asian tourists are delighted with them. They remind us too much of our own homes, a sort of affinity and camaraderie that translate into sales. Yes, I think many of the Asian business owners at the E-Shed are making good business because of the close cultural ties with their customers.

Overall, it was a good experience. We ended up buying too many souvenir items. But there was also an awkward situation when we tried to buy some macadamia nuts from a stall run by a Hongkong girl. We had seen prices that were cheaper at another part of the E-Shed and informed this girl that her prices were way too expensive.

"You're from overseas, right? You look like Singaporeans. How often do you come to Australia? Surely, you've come so far from your home that you wouldn't quibble with our prices?" the girl said.

I looked at her. I didn't want to correct her by telling us we are Malaysians, not Singaporeans. No, it wouldn't make any difference where we come from. But I had to tell her off. This is not the way to talk to your customers. So I asked her: "Are you trying to tell me that just because I'm a tourist, I shouldn't mind getting ripped off by paying exorbitant prices, that I should accept happily spend my money away without getting a good deal in return?"

She just stopped breathing. We coolly walked away from her. No way were we going to buy anything from her. Idiot. What a faux pas.

Later: Cappucino, anyone?
Previous: Pushing towards Freo

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

When the Angsana flowers bloom

When the Angsana tree is flowering like this, leaving a thick carpet of fine yellow flowers on the ground, I know that it is near to Cheng Beng.

Cheng Beng falls on 5 Apr 2010 but people can visit their ancestors' graves any time within 10 days prior to the actual Cheng Beng date. As usual, my family will be going early to the graves of my two pairs of grandparents on 27 Mar and as usual too, we'll be setting off from home at 6.30am, so it will still be very dark when we arrive at Batu Lanchang. A bonus is that my daughter will be back from Kuala Lumpur. It's a coincidence, really.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Berapit's badminton boy

My wife said that I should no longer refer to him as the "kampung boy" now that he is the new All-England badminton champion.

Okay, maybe I should now call him Berapit Boy. Berapit, in Bukit Mertajam. That's where he hails from. My congratulations to Lee Chong Wei.

He made it this time and I hope it will fire him on to walk out from Lin Dan's shadow and be an enduring champion!


Decided to drop by the National Age Group chess championship at the Dewan Sri Pinang in George Town yesterday. Earlier, I had been put off by word that there would be road closures around the Dewan because of an on-going Go Kart competition winding its way around the Esplanade. I had also heard that there would be a variety show at night too, so the roads would be packed with people. Nevertheless, I decided to take a chance and went out to the island.

Sure enough, there were a lot of slow-moving traffic towards the Dewan but it wasn't all too bad. I was lucky to find a parking space in King Street. A short walk and a quick hop across Light Street was all it took for me to reach the tournament venue.

249 players in 10 age group categories. Not too bad but not too good too, if participation at previous events are compared with. At last year's edition in Kuala Lumpur, I hear there were more than 400 players. So where did the rest of the players go to? Or a more pointed question: why are they not in Penang?