Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Do I have a soft spot for KTM Bhd?
Yes I do. More specifically to the Keretapi Tanah Melayu, as it was known in the 60s. If at all Tumpat is known for, it would be because the railway line ends here. So you would have the Sinaran Pagi, the train from Tumpat to Singapore and vice-versa. You would also have the Senandong Malam (?)from Tumpat to Kuala Lumpur. I guess this would be about the only occassion when these two great cities of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are linked to Tumpat.
The railway provided a life line for the economic activities. My late father was a frequent user. In modern times, you could say that my late father was a valued client of KTM. As a fish dealer, he transported crates of fish in packed ice to the markets in Kuala Lipis and sometimes to Singapore, on daily basis. Daily too, my late grandmother would take the train to Pasir Mas to also sell fish and return by the mail train in the afternoon, together with scores of other ladies. I recalled my father taking me on train trips to Kuala Lipis during school holidays. As a child, the feeling of going to KL (Kuala Lipis) was as exciting as going to the real KL.
During the padi season in Kedah, men and women from Tumpat would take the train to Kedah, via Golok and onwards via South Thailand to Alor Star. I loved listening to these adults with their stories of their several months stay in Kedah. These were happy stories as they came back with cash in their pockets, the reward of their labor toiling in the hot sun of the rice-bowl of Malaysia.
As a child, the railway station was also our playground. During times of mischief, you hide and seek your friends in the “ghrobok”, the coaches. There were many ghroboks at the Tumpat Railway station because the station is the parking lot for these ghroboks. It was supposed to be out of bounds, but there was little or no fencing to keep us rascals out. This was a simple joy in the life of a kampong boy.
As a child, I loved to see the workers going about rearranging the locomotives. Called "shunting", these rearrangements did occupy a lot of time, and at times would also block the crossing to my Kampong Dalam Rhu.
To change the track, the workers used some complicated multi-track changers
or the simple single-track changer
The Tumpat Railway station can probably boast of having the biggest “turntable”, and probably the only one today. In the days of the steam engine, the Kepala Keretapi that pulled the coaches had only 1 engine. So, when it reached Tumpat, this KK must be “turned around” to face the other direction, to pull the coaches back to KL or Singapore. As kids, we sometimes helped to turn around the KK, much to the pleasure of the workers. They relaxed; we worked for no pay and enjoyed doing it. Win-win!
And where else can you find a huge crane if not here.
Next to the station stood a godown. It served many functions before. Known as “Gude Aye”, it must have started as a godown to store chickens, hence called Gudang Ayam. It was in this godown too that my friends and I mastered our skills in badminton. We played almost daily. I became pretty good. I remembered on the first night of my arrival in RMC, dazed and confused, the first question a senior asked me was what game I played. Without hesitation, I told him. And it was the badminton season. They tried me out the next day and then they put me to play single against the Captain of the College team. The game went to rubber set and I almost beat him. Immediately, I became a College player! My seniors didn’t tell me that I was playing against the Captain. Looking back, they did me a favor.
During the Indonesian confrontation, the Gudang Ayam also served as a forward location for the military to guard the coast of Kelantan against invasion. The team of Wataniah was headed by a Sgt Mohd Zain, who became a close friend to us. The Indonesian military did not attack us and the soldiers ended up as our badminton sparring partners. We were good enough to play with the adults. They supplied us free shuttle-cocks and we give them good fights. Win-win!
So Gudang Ayam became a Dewan Badminton and also a military camp. Multi-purpose indeed. There was also this multipurpose field, called “Pade Beng” which I believed belonged to KTM. How it got such a name is a mistery. This was where the Tumpat football league was played yearly. Out of here, I recalled 2 or 3 footballers became state players. The rest remained as estate players!
The sports meet were other big events in the annual calendar. Both the Tumpat district and school sports meet were held in this Padang. It drew large crowds. It had an air of funfare and carnival. Compare that to the school sports of current years!
When I talk about the sports meet, I must mention Mr Danapal Naidu, our teacher. He was Mr Tumpat, tall and physically well endowed. In sports, he was not an estate material, not just even a state material. He was Malaysia’s Discuss thrower. He too excelled in the other “throwing” events – Javelin and shot putt. When he threw the javelin, the padang was too small. The javelin landed over the fence into the police compound. Sadly, the padang is now the grazing ground for cows.
As I moved around to photograph the history of the railway, I recalled this light-house. Those days, it was the GPS for the fishermen of Tumpat. It had served well and now stood silently, forgotten. I was glad though that it was still maintained to a certain degree.
There were two other show-pieces. The “belalai gajah” was a reminder of the steam-engine era. The locomotive wheels were indeed great symbols of the railway. Located besides the light-house as a show-piece, they complement the railways’ supporting role in the economy of Tumpat. One served as a guiding light to the fishermen to return, while the other two symbolised the transport for the catch of these fishermen.
One day, I should perhaps relive those 4 years between 1967 - 1970 when the train was my mode of transport returning me home for holidays from RMC.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We went to the first floor. Quite a good crowd were crowding the two stalls selling Nasi Berlauk. To “tapau” would mean waiting for our turn.
We moved on to buy keropoks and sambal daging. These are the two must-buy items whenever we balek kampong. At times, I spoiled myself with dried fish. And with such added extras, eating at home became a challenge, i.e. a challenge to stop eating!
I also stopped at the river. There was a jetty and a passenger boat just arrived. The boatman told me the boat ferried passengers to and from Pulau Toke @ RM3.50 one way.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
In the midst of the adults, we had the nephews and nieces and also grand-nephews and grand nieces. Adnin, on the left and Afikah on the right are my two nieces (Mahmood's daughters) while Nana in the middle is my grand-niece. So while some will address me as Ayah Cik, some will address me as Tok Chik. But they ALL address my wife as Aunty Muna. Jealous...jealous....
But for some of my siblings who delved too much on tulang, MOHAMMAD FAUZIE was a happy man indeed!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Zoob had always lived life to the fullest. His zest for adventure and challenges became his trademark. In almost all the Kutu activities, he would take the lead, whether it was just a simple Teh Tarek session, a cycling trip, participating in the dualthons or leading the Kutu climb of Mount Kinabalu.
What other better way to remember this great man than immortalising this email he sent out to fellow kutus on occassion of my ROAD TO 55 challenge.
Very soon ARZ will get on his saddle in Perlis and take up what is to be his biggest challenge in his lifetime. Speaking as a truly converted cyclist, it is great fun to ride weekends. However, to ride for 20 days, 100km per day and eating up 2000 odd km is another ball game altogether. The body will ache after the first day of cycling. The skin will burn after three days. The body carbo will be depleted after 5 days. Mentally, you will be sick of the bike after 7 days.
However, our comrade Kutu ARZ have fixed his mind for this ordeal. He had put in a lot of training. Fellow kutus like Pujangga have given him encouragement in form of a brand new Proton mountain bike. He has a deep personal reason to take this challenge and its ok by us if he has yet to reveal it. I got the hint that it is along some spiritual lane.
The other reason which is of no lesser importance and already disclosed is what we must admire. He will end his journey in a home he grew up that have now been converted to an Orphanage. (Allah bless this man). This is where we can join in as fellow Kutus. Lets chip in towards the Orphanage and make this 'ARZ's Road to 55" more memorable. More meaningful not to just ARZ but also to us.
The idea of giving to an Orphanage is noble in the eyes of any religious belief. Its a Universal cause. So lets rally amongst ourselves to make a donation. Please write your cheques to : YAYASAN ANAK-ANAK YATIM KELANTAN. Donations are Tax Exemptable. Receipts will be made available after the ride.
So guys. ARZ is going to burn his legs (and arse) for twenty days. Our role is much easier. Just to pen a few words on the cheque. To the unfortunate orphans, every cent means future to them but I am sure Kutus are capable of Ringgits. Big Ringgits?? The day will come when we will all meet our creator. We appear in front of him with pride that we have been a good worshipper. Have done what He told us to do. Have avoided what He prohibits. But when He asks what we have done to help those that He had made less fortunate than us.....it can get embarassing, right?? So...please chip in and 'make the difference'. Salaam.
Semoga roh mu sentiasa dicucuri rahmat, kawanku Zoob. Amin
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have three other outstanding blogs in draft. This now takes precedent, just to report a find. The title of this blog is itself a giveaway.
It's the usual 30 odd km Sunday morning ride with the Rubbermen group, riding into the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) from Bukit Jelutong. Why its called the Rubbermen Group would be a story for the future. 8 of us braved the threatening morning drizzle. Mission was clear, and certainly not impossible. Two groups splitted at the Paya Jaras Exit. The hungrier ones, me included, chose to head straight to Kuang.
We passed this place before, but always gave it a miss. The signage was bold and bright but somehow, none of us chose to stop, i.e. until 2 weeks ago. Now it's "the" destination. It's MOK SU NASI DAGANG in Kuang. Other menus included Nasi Lemak, a must have in Selangor and Nasi Kerabu and Nasi Berlauk. To top it, there was Pulut Nise for dessert. Note that I spelt it as "Nasi Dagang" and not "Nasi Dage" as Mok Su sells the Trengganu variety, with Ikang Aye. Guess I need to call the dessert as Pulut Nisang! So, calory count flew out the window. I recalled my son telling me that I ride to eat! I have no qualms about that. If one burns the calories, one can therefore enjoys food!
There was no time to let up. Destination arrived and now to complete the Mission Possible.
In the above pic is Jaja (iron lady), my name sake Liburg slightly hidden, Uncle, I mean Abang Shahruddin and Pedro (Rubberman). Shah didn't ride today, but in his younger days in early 60's, he was Malaysia's top cyclist.
He's 69 and that means he's 11 years my senior. Today, he's happy to meet us for the first time. He talked about cycling with passion. While I lived and eat Nasi Dagang, he lived and talk nothing but cycling. Guess if I want to ride through 69 years old, I got to eat and live bicycle too! Shah was also an Olympian, qualifying for the olympics. He now operates a bicycle shop in Shah Alam. So Abang Shah, see you in your shop soon.
Several photo shoots later, we were off for the ride home, fully satisfied. I decided to peloton with Kadri (Cokeman), Fazil (Chief Kutu) and Jaja (Ironlady). We were drafting at quite a reasonable pace, each taking turn to lead the peloton.
The rest decided to ride easy, rightfully so, on full stomach. Nearing the Elmina R&R, tragedy struck. Jaja was leading the peloton. Chief Kutu Fadzil was next. Chief Kutu's right wheel clipped Jaja's rear (I mean rear wheel) and he took a nasty tumble. Cokeman Kadri was only inches behind and Cokeman ran over Chief Kutu. Yours truly had no time to avoid and my Giant ran over Cokeman's bike and I too took a nasty tumble.
My left leg immediately cramped up. By now, the rest of the cyclists caught up and was helping us. The helmet prevented any head injury. My glove padding saved me from injuring my palm. Chief Kutu had skin abbrasions but with gentle hands to help clean the wound, the wound would be healing very fast!
Cokeman had quite a fall but his worst pain was to see the sole of his cycling shoe stuck to the pedal! Well Cokeman, a good reason to get a new one.
Cokeman still managed to take a picture with the man he cycled over, Chief Kutu. CK is on the right.
CK's rear derailleur was slightly bent and misaligned. We struggled to bend it back but could just barely made it, but enough for him to slowly cycled back to Bukit Jelutong.
Cokeman, anyway was happy to see a fellow cyclist, a doctor who carried Coke as an emergency drink. Goodbye Gatorade or 100 Plus.
....and Happy Birthday Jaja!