Monday, December 29, 2008

Days of Passings and New Beginnings

These few days have seen a mix of passings and beginnings.

Saturday, December 27, 2008, saw the passing of the 10th Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, HRH Tuanku Jaafar Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman. A well-liked ruler, Almarhum passed away at the Seremban General Hospital named after him.

The next day, Sunday the 28th, Muslims welcomed the Hijri New Year's Eve. It is common practice among the Muslims to recite the "doa akhir tahun" after the Asar Prayers and the "doa awal tahun", after Maghrib.

On Monday, the 1st of Muharram 1430 Hijri, Almarhum Tuanku Jaafar was laid to rest at the Royal Mausoleum in Sri Menanti, Negeri Sembilan, but not before the new Yamtuan was proclaimed. After much deliberation, the 4 Undangs elected the Tunku Besar Sri Menanti, HRH Tunku Muhriz Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir as the 11th Yamtuan. Tuanku Muhriz is the son of the 9th Yamtuan and nephew of the 10th Yamtuan, Almarhum Tuanku Jaafar.

I first came to know about Tuanku Muhriz in the 70s, when I was in primary school. No, it was not from the history lessons. HRH was the guest-of-honour at a function then. I remembered staring at this particular guest because he had this regal demeanour ('aura' is not my favourite word. So mawiesque!). Later, that evening, I asked my mom about him and was told who he was. 15 years on, friendship with a certain Kuala Pilah native ensured more anecdotes on the NS royal family. It seemed that Tuanku Muhriz, despite being low-profiled, was never quite forgotten by the older generation. Therefore, his election as the 11th Yamtuan did not come as a surprise to most NSians (who know the adat that is).
It is hoped that the installation of Tuanku Muhriz as the 11th Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan on the prosperous Maal Hijrah will signal a new era in my home state.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Friendship Month

This year's December might as well be my unofficial "friendship" month. Although I wasn't able to attend two reunions (school and uni), I did get to meet friends whom I have not met for a long time.

Mek Ti who came for the SUPKOM (go figure :D) was our table tennis champ (our loss is their gain! Hu! Hu!) and my favourite tupperware dealer! He! He!

Nazeera, my UPM junior and later, UM course-mate. One of the nicest and humblest (me coining a new word yet again!) person I know despite having a popular soul-mate.

Nae, my dorm and school-mate. What can I say? Nae is Nae - youthful, cheerful, and fun to be with, (kembanglah tu... He! He!). With her is my dear colleague, Saras, a very experienced English language lecturer who is practically married to the profession :D.

K. Rose - who taught me the tricks of the trade at "Jersey City" (siapa tau, tau lah) and is a Jill-of-all-trades herself. Picture taken at her daughter's wedding reception.

There were misses: Sheha, who couldn't make it to Shah Alam, at the very last minute; and Din, the Pak Andam, who couldn't make it on time to K. Rose's house because he was, well, ... andaming at another wedding reception.

... and gains: new friends at Facebook who have been very helpful (you know who you are). I am truly indebted. God bless you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Greeting

To all my Christian friends, "Merry Christmas"!
To the rest, "Happy New Year 2009"!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Garden of Scent

I wasn't exactly born with green fingers. Never recalled being successful in planting, save for those taugehs that I cultivated for science class! He! He! Somehow, after the birth of my third child, things changed. Suddenly everything that I planted sprouted like bean sprouts. There's no turning back, since. When I was doing my PG, I made time to work on my sekangkang kera front lawn. The result: my garden of scent.

Truthfully, my garden is no Hanging Garden of Babylon. Neither does it have a theme - English, Bali, tropical, etc. It's just a quirky collection of flowers chosen for their scent and colour. Although my MIL owns a plant nursery, I actually acquired knowledge about the plants from Garden Asia, Better Homes & Garden and to some extent, Laman. Then, with my partner-in-crime (who else, My Amoy le...), we would shop for the plants at the nurseries near the Sungai Buloh Hospital (THE place to go).

Below are the gems in my laman.

Kesidang @ kerak nasi @ Vallaris Glabra
Fell in love with it, the first time I saw it at my MIL's nursery. Has the scent of pandan. Needs support - therefore, a pergola would be perfect. I'd trim it once in a forthnight. Flowers about 8 times a year. Very hardy. Cultivated by stem cuttings.

Kemboja @ Frangipani @ Plumeria
Has this strong smell which permeats the night, giving my former Indon maid, the creeps. She couldn't comprehend, for the life of her, why I would want to plant a "bunga kuburan" in my laman. The plant needs little attention but I do fertilized it now and then. The flowers, left floating in a bowl of water, makes a quick and chic table centre-piece.

Mawar @ Rose
Pink roses are definitely my favourite. This variety smells of tea-rose. The rosebuds will keep popping every week provided you deadhead the wilting blooms. Had a hard time to keep the plant growing until I was introduced to this special rose potting-mix by a "nyonya" who has a rose nursery along the Subang-Sg. Buloh trunk road.

This yellow rose has a stronger smell than its pink counterpart. It's also a climbing variety, currently reaching the roof of my porch! It's flowers are bigger than my pink roses but do not bloom as often. Grasshoppers like to feed on its leaves, though.

Bunga Cina @ Gardenia
My prized possession (not easy to find!) After looking high and low for it, found it in a nursery near the Sungai Buloh Hospital. Has a strong smell like the Frangipani.

Akar Dani @ Rangoon Creeper @ Quisqualis Indica

A climber which must be constantly trimmed. It's pink and white (and eventually red) showers would fall nicely from the pergola. The flowers will start to emit its scent from dusk right up to dawn.

Melur @ Jasmine @ Jasminum Sambac

My favourite scent. Flowers bloom all year round. Very difficult to care because it has many predators. Makes natural car air-freshener. Has to be trimmed now and then.

Kenanga @ Ylang-ylang @ Cananga Odorata

Another classic flower with a unique scent - a cross between sireh (beetle leaf) and banana. Blooms all year round.

Honeysuckle @ Lonicera Japonica
A plant which has a sweet-smelling scent - rasa macam nak makan pulak sebab bau macam gula2 Hudson's. Scales fences in no time.

Flower from the Kalamansi plant
Has a sweet scent. When the flowers fall, the buds will grow to become Kalamansi oranges (limau kasturi)

My scented garden is a favourite place for my children and I to hang-out after dinner. While we sat on the rusty swing, we would savour the heady scent of the flowers. Other nights, I'd just draw back the sliding door and let the exhilirating scent creep into the living area. The flowers make great potpourri, too. Best of all, I can just pluck the flowers from my garden should I wish to indulge myself in an invigorating "mandi bunga". Now isn't that cool?