Thursday, September 4, 2008

31HB OGOS 2008

Tanggal tiga-puluh satuuuu
Bulan lapaaaan, lima puluh tujuuuuh
So sang the late Sudirman Hj Arshad

All eyes were on the grey sky. 5 helicopters flew past, carrying the Malaysian flags. Against the tallest flagpole in Malaysia, and the largest Malaysian flag, these helicopters looked like miniature crafts. The thousand eyes were Malaysians, joined by a splatter of foreigners. All were celebrating Malaysia's 51st independence. More accurately, it was Persekutuan Tanah Melayu's (Malaya) 51st independence day. I was amongst the thousands.
A reporter noticed this gentleman, the only one on a bicycle, amongst the sea of walkers. She approached with her camerawoman. She requested to take my pictures cycling in between the powerful motorcycles of the 999 Rescue Squad. Just like the helicopters above, my bicycle was a midget between these machines. I was happy to oblige.
"What is MERDEKA to you?". The question came unexpectedly. She was ready with her notebook. I was not ready with the answer. No one had ever asked me this question for the last 51 years!

"Freedom" I answered, almost automatically. She hesitated to write. Isn't that obvious? A kindergarten kid with a Malay-English dictionary can answer that. I heard 'myself telling myself' to continue.

"Well, it is kebebasan" I added. "Bebas to do whatever you want to do". Well, that's better but still inadequate. "Like me" I continued, "I'm retired and I am free to do what I like. I travelled on my bicycle, to explore, to visit places and to write about my travel. That's freedom to me" Ah, finally I am quite satisfied with my impromptu answer.

Recalling back, I should have added "Freedom of the mind. Kebebasan dari kongkongan minda yang negatif, yang merupakan satu gejala masyarakat kita." Wah, that's very academic sounding, and more like a prepared text.

So there I was, on the Sunday morning of 31st August as I have done in the past. I parked the car in the Lake Garden, with my trusty bike secured on the bike rack.

Cycling down towards Masjid Negara, I came across an army of greens. They were very eco-friendly but rather fierce looking. These were soldiers taking part in the celebration, camouflaged right to the teeth. In the jungle, they would easily blend with the green environment.

Moving on, I came to a friendlier crowd. In contrast with the military, some groups were in hot and loud colors. They were eager to be photographed. A happy lot indeed.

But when they marched, they became a serious lot

There was also the group from SKALI. And I took only one shot - skali

But what do you do when a SKALI wants to tumpang "skaki" with the Perodua group? Biarkan lah!

Cycling on, I came across the dog unit of PDRM. These dogs played vital roles in the safeguard of the nation. However, I do keep my distance taking the shot. I would not want to agitate them.

Later, I came across the veteran groups - both from the military and police. Retirement life must have been good.

In parades they used to stand rock still. In retirement, they are allowed to relax.

And medals were the honor they duly deserved and proudly wore on occassions like this.

And when we talked about bangsa majmuk, we have great examples here.

Our future generations were also given the opportunity to share in the excitement of the Independence day. They marched in the orders that only childrens would - carefree, holding hands, talking, laughing, waving, posing, etc. There are lessons in our childrens' behaviors that adults like us should emulate.

I had problem taking shots of these 2 children of the future because one adult lady kept coming into my viewfinder. Tired of posing and not getting their shots taken, this young "engineer" told the adult to move away. She moved away and I captured this shot.

These 2 young graduates were on board "Seri Bijaksana", piloted by a young "Captain". Pray that kapal Seri Bijaksana will not stray into Somalia waters.

On shore, we had this two lovely kids from the Sime Darby float.

And there's also batik galore. What would the parade be without the colors of batik. One team had a very strong brown/black theme.

while another had softer tones. But wearing gloves with baju kurung? A new fashion statement?

And I do have a soft spot for anything TM. These marchers included. I was panning for some familiar faces, but none came to view. Very futuristic. Must be very hot too inside.

In the excitement of the parade, I can't help noticing a gentleman having a feel of the saddle on my bike. He was scrutinizing it up and down and back to front. Aha, a Brooks fan I suspect. He is Encik Ghani from Sabak Bernam. He had an old Raleigh with an old broken Brooks. He "knew" mine was original and enquired where I bought it. He was a bit disappointed that it is not available locally, but showed a sign of relief when he knew what could be the damage. In his heart, he knew it would be wiser to use his damaged Brooks!

I also bumped into an old friend from my former employment. Sdr Latif and his family were amongst the thousands who came by. Syabas Latif! Bersiar-siar dengan keluarga tu satu amalan yang baik.

I won't do justice if I did not feature some of the shots that add additional color to the parade. This is where the telephoto lens came in handy.

Towards the end of the parade, I met 4 other cyclists. They were a group from the Keramat/Gombak/Pandan area. Orang KL la while I was orang PJ. Out of common love for cycling, we became instant friends. We decided to cycle to the famous Nasi Lemak Tanglin stall in the Lake Garden for a drink. I exchanged my contact number with one of them, Zul. His friends said Zul "lives" on his bicycle 24 hours a day. Great. We promised to hook up after Ramadzan and plan some cycling together. Why not. I always loved to be amongst the young ones. Make me feeel young too.

So young men. The drinks were on me.


CT said...

Salam. Hope you are in your good health. Thanks for droppng by to my blog. It is so pleasure to have you as one of the visitor. And again, thanks for the knowledge shared during EPP classes...Happy Ramadhan..:)

ARZ said...

I encourage you to keep writing. Keep a journal of your life and that of your family.

A life worth living is a life worth writing about.

Hope you will remain productive.

azrInah said...

Happy Ramadhan and Merdeka!