Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In the name of “Bureaucracy” – story from Jogjakarta

Everyday I try to keep on updating myself with the news from Jogjakarta by reading newspapers and internet news, by watching CNN/BCC, and by calling my parents.
Though I prefer to get the news directly from the affected people but it’s not easy to call directly to Jogjakarta from overseas. So, I can only call my parents who are getting news from my family members at the affected areas.

All the news I read and hear is just like a sharp knife piercing my heart deeply. Everything in Jogjakarta and other affected areas such as Klaten, Prambanan, and Bantul is so familiar to me. I just went there 2 months ago. Everything was very beautiful. The people were happy and friendly. I could always see their beautiful smiles on their faces. Never did we know that for some of them, it was the last smile I saw.

Today, it’s been 3 days since the disaster struck. It’s been 3 days these people have no proper place to stay, no proper food to eat and no proper cloths to wear. The only cloth they wear is the one they have been wearing since the doomsday. They stay under a piece of plastic just to cover their heads from the rain water that adds to all the pains they have been trying to cope. Some of them are a little bit luckier they get 2 boxes of instant noodles to be shared with their 19 family members for 3 days. They have to put so much water to make the noodle just like a bowl of thick porridge.

I thought the aids are pouring from all over the world. I thought the world has pledge to help by sending all the basic needs such as food, cloths, medications, tents, and some cash. But unfortunately, all of these have not been distributed yet in the name of bureaucracy. Can you imagine, my friends? These people already have enough suffering still they have to produce any kinds of proof that they belong to the affected area just to get the food. For god sake, these people are starving already. How the hell they have to remember to bring their identity cards when they have to evacuate so that they can get some food later? They don’t even know where to look for their identity cards. Their houses don’t exist anymore. It’s ridiculous!

Since these people are desperate for something to eat, they are forced to BUY some food on their own. They swarm 1 supermarket that has survived from the earthquake. Some people who survived are trying to make profit from the situation by increasing the price of basic needs. Oh well, I believe this story sounds familiar to you. If you remember Aceh – the Tsunami story, you will understand what kind of bureaucracy I am talking about. If you want to help the earthquake victims in Indonesia, I suggest you make sure your donations reach the people who need them the most A.S.A.P. But unfortunately, it is not going to be ‘that’ easy. I don’t even know how to help my own brother and his family who are in desperate need of some food and milk for his 2 sons. It’s hard for me to swallow the food every time I eat when I know my brother, his wife and his 2 children have nothing to eat. I hope God will help us to help these desperate people.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The news from Jogjakarta

Early morning around 10am I finally received a short message on my mobile from my brother in Jogjakarta informing me that he, his wife and his 2 kids are fine but they are still very nervous and shaken by the incident. They don't dare to sleep inside their house. They are afraid of more aftershocks coming and rocking their house.

The moment I knew the cell phone service in Jogjakarta is up and running, I quickly called my brother. His wife picked up the phone and told me everything.

Here is her story:
That day, yesterday, was her birthday and she just received a sms from my mum greeting her "Happy birthday" at around 5:45am. So, she was still half sleeping and holding the phone with her. She was about to fell asleep again when suddenly she felt the whole bed rocking and she saw the whole house shaking and there were loud noise and rumble like something collapse. She thought my uncle who lives next door was making something in his kitchen which shares the wall with my brother's master bedroom. So she tried to continue sleeping while her husband, who is my brother, suddenly realized what happened and jumped out of the bed and run out of the bedroom trying to get out of the house but he couldn't find the main door key. He was very panic and started to yell asking where the hell the key was. She quickly jumped out of the bed dragging her 2 years old son and trying her best to wake up her 7 years old son while screaming calling her husband to help her carry the younger one. But her husband was extremely panic because he just couldn't find the door key. He screamed and screamed banging the door and from outside, he heard my uncles and my unties who live close to them banging the door from outside asking them to get out from the house A.S.A.P.

Luckily, his husband finally found the key and opened the door while his whole body was shaking, he found it very hard to open the door. Once the door was opened, she quickly dragged her 2 children getting out of the house with her husband and my uncles and my unties run and hugged them so tightly. They were blown off by the view they saw outside the house. Their neighbor's houses have collapsed. They saw many people running around screaming and crying because they couldn't get their other family members out of the house in time before their houses collapsed.
The situation was a total mess and very chaotic. They were so numb and just didn't know what to do. They couldn't stand still as the ground kept on moving and they felt dizzy. They tried to avoid standing near tall coconut trees which shook violently and they also saw the wave on the river in front of their house. They were totally petrified. They could feel the ground moved. There were many aftershocks following the earthquake.

Once the situation a little bit quiter, my untie took everyone home to have breakfast. After breakfast, at around 8am, many people run around again screaming there was tsunami coming to them. So again, everyone at my untie's house run up to the 3rd floor. They were so scared. My sis-in-law suddenly had view of Aceh which was hit by tsunami and earthquake in December 2004. She was extremely nervous trying her best with her husband to protect their 2 sons. But then there was no tsunami. Instead, some more aftershocks rocked the 3rd floor violently. She screamed asking for help and quickly run down and got out of my untie's house.

Her husband decided to get his motorbike and took her and the 2 kids for a ride to see the situation outside their village. When they were out on the street, they saw even more devastating situation. They went to a nearby telecom stall to rent a phone to call my parents. While calling, they could still feel the ground shook and they just couldn't bear the fear. They hung up and quickly rode the motorbike again trying to get some food to eat for lunch and dinner, but unfortunately, all the supermarkets they used to go to, have been flattened to the ground by the earthquake. Still they think they are really lucky God has saved them and their house. At least they still have a place to go home though they still don't know the condition of the building.

My brother and the whole family are still scared and blur and hungry because they still cannot find some food to eat. For my sis-in-law, that day was the worst birthday ever but at the same time God has given her the best birthday gift by protecting her and the whole family.
Gosh, I wish I could just fly there and take them with me. I have a lot of food to spare. But things are not as easy as snapping my fingers and say "Abracadabra". I think I just have to wait for any chances to help and at the moment I pray for them all.

There are alot more horrible stories that I would like to share but it's already closing to midnite and I need to sleep before my son wakes up. I will post more stories tomorrow.

A deadly earthquake hit Jogjakarta

I was in the middle of my cooking session at home when I received many short messages on my mobile phones from my friends and my mother about a powerful 6.2 magnitude earthquake (update: according to CNN, it's 6.3 magnitude) that has shook Jogjakarta at 5:54am on Saturday, 27 May 2006. The epicenter is about 25km south of Jogjakarta. The worst hit area is Bantul, a city near the Indian Ocean. The latest news from CNN mentioned that 2,275 people are dead.

As I wrote earlier on my previous post that I have many reasons to visit Jogjakarta, this time, I also have many reasons to be nervous about what is happening there. I was panic and quickly switched on my TV channel to CNN but at that time CNN still didn’t have the news coverage. I quickly switched on to BBC news, but there is no news coverage either. I switched on my internet and started to read the horrible news and I became tense. I tried to contact my brother who lives in Jogjakarta but his cell phone was out of reach. I frantically dialed my sister-in-law’s cell phone but I didn’t get any answer either. I extremely tensed up and kept on trying to contact any of my cousins, my aunties, or any other family members who live in Jogjakarta, but none answered. I nearly cried when finally one of cousin picked up his cell phone informing me that they were safe but they still could not get any news from my brother and his family. I became so frustrated and quickly called my parents who don’t live in Jogjakarta hoping to get further news from my brother and his family. It was very hard to contact them. I had to use my cell phone to call when I finally got to talk to my parents. They told me that they managed to talk to my brother early in the morning after the incident and before all cell phone lines got disconnected. My brother and family were safe. Their house is still standing. Only all the glass windows are broken. Many of their neighbor’s houses were flattened to the ground including a house just right behind my brother’s house. That’s all the news I got. My parents didn’t want to talk too long on the phone because they need the phone to be ready to receive any news from Jogjakarta.

I am still not relieved before I could talk to my brother personally but I really can’t contact him. The news I read on the internet informed me that the cell phone services in Jogjakarta are disrupted and the electricity is cut off. So, I really can’t do anything to contact my brother. I decided to continue cooking and put my mobile within my reach.

At around 5pm, my cousin sent me a sms informing me that he finally can contact my brother. My brother and his family are still at home safe and sound. Oh thank you God!
That’s all came out from my mouth. There are many other people I know who live in Jogjakarta and I really want to know their condition but I can’t contact them at the moment so there is nothing else I could do. I just sat down and prayed for them all while my TV channel was tuned to CNN or BBC for more news about Jogjakarta.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Confession of a mother on mother's day

Kiss from mommy
Good morning my beloved son,

Every morning I wake up and see you still sleeping on my arm, I feel so grateful being who I am. I feel so grateful that you are my son. I feel so grateful that you have given me a chance to experience such a wonderful feeling to be a mother. I have no regret what so ever to have you as my son.

You are God's most precious gift to me for being so patient and persistent in believing that I would have you eventually and naturally though it took 5 years to finally have you in my arms, though I had given a 'death sentence' by many gynecologysts that it would be very difficult for me to conceive and because of this I had been mocked as useless person and have been ex-communicated by the people close to me. But you have saved me. Your presence at the right time have saved me from all the mocking I've got, have helped me to gain my dignity back and have helped me to prove that God always listens to my prayers.

My dear son, since the first time I found out that you were living inside me, I got so excited. Actually, I didn't quite believe you were there in the first place until your godmothers forced me to have a pregnancy test. Even then, I still refused to believe in the test. I wanted to hear personally from my doctor whom I trust. At that time I took the test, it was Sunday and my doctor wasn't available so I have to wait until Monday to get the confirmation about your presence in my tummy. Monday came and my doctor confirmed that you were there and she suggested me to have someone like a midwife or a doctor to monitor your growth and our health throughout the pregnancy.

Since that day, I really have mixed feeling about you. I was extremely happy, excited, scared, nervous, and blur at the same time.
I was very happy because finally my prayer has been answered.
I was excited because finally I would be a mother and I would have to experience a new life as a mother.
I was scared because I was afraid I couldn't become a good mother for you and I was afraid because I had to go through this pregnancy alone because at that time, I was in the exile working full time and trying to realize my other dream of having a degree and it was my final year and since I didn't know I was pregnant, I had taken extra papers and they were quite difficult ones.
I was nervous and blur because this was my first time to experience the pregnancy and I was not young anymore and I didn't know whom I could ask for help as your dad couldn't be with me throughout the pregnancy because of his work commitment.

But I really didn't need to worry at all because when God decided He wanted to give me the present, He made sure that I was ready.
He made sure that he has provided me with all the support I would need.
Age wise, I was really ready. My body sure is ready. I was quite healthy at that time.
But mental wise, God helped me to be ready by giving me the best midwife who really really did take good care of me and you throughout the pregnancy and the best of all, God has given me all my beloved friends and beloved lecturers to be around me 24/7 to support me and help me though they didn't live with me. They were there for me anytime I needed someone to be with me; to do my grocery shopping; to help me to look for a new place to stay that was very near to the place I studied and also was near to the hospital where you were born; to help me moving to that place; to help me with any difficulties in any assignments I had; to cook for me; to consult me when I was down; to be my temporary partner when I had to attend the pre-natal class without your daddy.
These people have supported me not only during the pregnancy, but they also have supported me during and after the delivery. What a wonderful people!

It was a very very smooth ride for me. I never felt alone at all. Everything I needed was there for me even just for a piece of bread when I was run out of bread, and really craved for the bread and I couldn't go to buy it, God suddenly sent his angels to deliver the bread to me.
I didn't know them but they said they were my neighbors and they were having bread party and everyone in the same building has the right to choose and eat which bread she/he wanted.
God has planned everything for us by sending me to live in that country you were born, the wonderful country that is full of friendly and helpful people, the country that has 1 of the best healthcare systems in the world, the country that is really a child-friendly country, the country that prioritize the pregnant women and children above all others.
Every where I went, people would talk to me and asked me about my big tummy. From a little girl till old ladies, they all were very happy to greet me.
You see, my son? How God is so great! He really made sure that you were comfortable inside my womb, though I had to take you to the labs many times and went home late at nite to do my assignments and to study for the exams, though the weather outside my womb was very cold because at that time was winter time. I did whatever I could to make you feel comfortable.

But no matter how comfortable my womb was, you chose to come out early. You decided to see the sinful world 2 weeks early from the due date. I was just reading my Harry Potter book at home alone when suddenly I had the urge to go to toilet and when I saw some blood coming out, I was quite numb.
I was afraid I had lost you. I called my midwife and was told that I would deliver you either that nite or the next morning.
I stood still frozen as I didn't expect you to come out early because your dad wouldn't be around when I had to deliver you and I wouldn't have anyone to hold my hands when I had to deal with the pain.
I suddenly felt so cold and panic. I didn't know what to do. I kept calling the midwife and she asked me to relax, take a deep breath, and start packing for staying at the hospital.

I couldn't concentrate, my son. I was very scared. I suddenly realized I was alone. When I was so confused and blur, again, God helped me. He sent my 2 beloved friends to be with me throughout the delivery. They were the true angels without wings for us, my son. I know we were so blessed. God knew that I would rather be with these 2 angels than with any other persons in the world to go through the pain to bring you out to this world. They were so patient and so funny. They kept me company and kept on playing jokes at me which really helped me to conquer the tremendous pain.
They let me hold their hands for comfort and strength to push you out to see the world for the first time. They were so wonderful. Though they didn't attend the pre-natal course with me, they knew what to do.

The help didn't stop there. God kept on sending His angels to help us till the day we had to leave them all. I cried so much when I had to say "goodbye" to all my angels because I don't know when I would be with them again. Perhaps someday we will be with them again.

In the mean time, mommy will focus on raising you together with your daddy. I know I'm not perfect and I still continue learning to be a good mother for you. One thing you should know, I love you unconditionally and I always pray for you. I know you still can't verbally say "I love you mommy" but I know you love me. I feel lifted up when you kiss me, when I hear your laughter, when you show me your new skill that you have just picked up, even when you show mommy your anger. You are God's magic performed in me. You are mommy's best present on every celebration I have including this coming mother's day. This is the second time I celebrate mother's day because of you. I love you, my son. Be a good person and always think positive! You are never alone because you know God is always with us.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

One moment in 100 years

What moment is that? It is 01:02:03 04/05/06 or 1 hour passed midnite at 2 minutes and 3 seconds on the fourth of May 2006.
The Star newspaper has highlighted this moment and is organizing an sms contest for the readers to tell what they are going to do during that 1 moment in 100 years. The contestants have to send sms at that exact moment. I wonder how many people will be successful to send their sms to a number dedicated for this contest. The network will be very busy.

Anyway, how many of you think that 01:02:03 04/05/06 or just plain 010203040506 is a special combination number? For those who are addicted to gambling may find it to be lucky numbers. But since I don't gamble, to me is a very ordinary combination. I can't use it for password because people will find out very easily.

After the Star newspaper mentioned that exact combination number will only happen once in 100 years of our lifetime, I begun to take that combination seriously not because I want to join the sms contest, but I think it's a good idea to use that combination to start something different in my life. Perhaps something meaningful to do so that it is easy for me to remember when I do that thing.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea what important thing I want to do at that exact moment. I can't propose or be proposed cause I've already married. I don't want to pop up a champagne either cause I am sober since 5 years ago. Hmm..what should I do? That moment will be just an hour passed midnite. I'll probably just continue sleeping.

Oh wait the minute...as a religious person, I think I will just wake up and pray. I pray to say thank you to God for everything I have, for all good friends I have, for my perfect body, for the brain that still working properly, for all the people that I love and that love me, for the best son I have, for husband that loves me, for being able to create this blog and my other blogs, for the readers like you. And of course, I will pray for...the world peace...just like those miss world contestants.

You are welcome to share your story or comment on this post and tell me what you think about this special moment.

Ipoh's hidden treasures

The Kek Look Tong entrance

Nope..Nope..I'm not referring to some gold or diamond or even silver hidden in Ipoh though Ipoh is in the state called 'silver' or Perak in Malay Language.
What I mean by Ipoh's hidden treasures are all the caves (Tong in Chinese language). Ipoh has so many Tongs and they are all magnificent. In fact, there is one 100 years old-cave has just been recovered and rebuild. Apparently the flood and the jungle have 'swallowed' it. That cave isn't far from Sam Poh Tong. These caves are maintained for people to pray, mostly are the Buddhists, these caves are also open for public to see the grandeur of God's artwork combined with human touch. Some of the famous ones I know are Sam Poh Tong, Ling Sen Tong, Perak Tong, Kek Look Tong, and Gua (cave) Tempurung (coconut shell).

The most famous one is Sam Poh Tong in Gunung Rapat area. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos during my visit there but you can always google it. I like Sam Poh Tong. I visited this cave not to pray but to feed the tortoises with the leaves I bought from old ladies who sell them in front of the gate at RM3 a bunch. There are so many tortoises in the pond at the back area of Sam Poh Tong. You have to go up, pass the big Buddha statue into the back opening of the cave. When you are there, I'm sure your jaw will drop to see how wonderful the 'hidden' view is. It's so majestic. I lost my words to describe how wonderful the view is. I suggest you go there yourself and discover this awesome view by yourself.
Ok, back to the tortoise business, my husband told me, according to the Chinese belief feeding the tortoises brings longevity and good luck because tortoises have long life and the fact that those tortoises are not inverted for ages reflect how lucky these tortoises are. It's not that simple to feed the tortoises because you have to throw the leaves as far as possible so that the tortoises that don't want come close to you can eat as well. This is the fun. My husband and I will race to see who can throw the leaves the furthest...:D

Another cave I have visited is Kek Look Tong and this time I took some photos for you to see.
This cave is not as famous as Sam Poh Tong or Perak Tong because it's quite hidden. You have to follow the road sign, drive pass Gunung Rapat neighbourhood, pass a Muslim cemetery, then only you will reach this Tong. The moment you arrive at this Tong, I'm sure you will say "Awesome!" and your jaw drop longer this time... :D
The view is definitely awesome. This limestone cave is bigger and cleaner compared to Sam Poh Tong. Go inside the cave, walk pass the huge Buddha statue until you find the back opening of the cave. Again, here you are going to love the view of Ipoh limestone hills.
I visit this cave, again, not for praying but to feed the fishes and to do feet reflexology... :D Sure you'll be wondering why the hell I go to a cave to get my feet massaged. By who? Well, there is no masseuses or masseurs in the cave, but there is a pathway made from uneven rocks for you to do the feet reflexology. This is the fun part for me and my husband because normally we will race walking on the pathway full of uneven rocks. In reflexology, who ever is able to walk on this uneven rocks without any pain on the feet, that means this person is very healthy. Those uneven rocks give pressure on different spots on your feet to help you to cope with some sickness inside your body.
The first time I tried walking on the rock, I screamed in pain and my husband laughed so loud. He found it funny. But then when it was his turn to walk on the pathway, he sreamed even louder. Whua..ha..ha..then it was my turn to laugh.. :D
Slowly I could cope with the pain and I try to keep on walking on the pathway. I can feel the pressure hit my nerve.
Usually, after I come back from doing free-reflexology in Kek Look Tong, I will be able to sleep well at night. The next day when I wake up, I'll feel fresh and have more energy for my daily activities.
As for feeding the fishes, you have to bring your own fish food. No old ladies sell the fish food outside Kek Look Tong. According to the chinese belief, feeding the fish is another way of bringing good luck for you and your family. Oh, there are some tortoises also in this Tong but is not as many as the ones in Sam Poh Tong. There are more fishes here and fishes are huge.

I have not had a chance to visit other caves such as Perak Tong and Gua Tempurung. The latter one is the biggest limestone cave and is quite wet. It's located at Gopeng area on the way to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh. I have passed by Perak Tong at Jalan Kuala Kangsar area but I didn't get a chance to stop by.

My husband likes to take the whole family or just me for a stroll at the cave area. Visiting the cave is a good way for my husband to spend quality time with his small family or just spend time with his beloved wife, me... :) It's free entertainment for the whole family because there is no entrance fee to visit the caves, at least the ones I have been. But you are welcome to donate some money for the cave maintenance.

If you visit Malaysia, do not forget to come to Ipoh which is about 2.5 hour-drive from Kuala Lumpur. In Ipoh, you can visit the hidden treasures I talked about and you can also visit other tourist attractions such as Museum Darul Ridzuan, Kellie's Castle, the Hindu temples, and of course, the famous Pomelo stalls not far from Sam Poh Tong.
Ipoh pomelos are very famous because the pomelos are very sweet and very juicy. You just can't find them anywhere in the world.
Ipoh is also famous for the delicious food especially the tauge ayam (chicken with bean sprout or Ngah choy kai in local language). Ipoh bean sprout is also special. It's big, fat, and juicy.
Living cost in Ipoh is alot cheaper compared to Kuala Lumpur and Penang.