Friday, 1 June 2007

The Poloing Sunday

“Horses are not horses in polo games
. They are called ponies,” Helen said as her husband Michael expertly manouvered the car along the narrow lanes taking us right into the heartland of Surrey, the English stockbroker’s belt. Lis and I had just alighted from the 0930 from Waterloo to Woking and it was drizzling all the way, with not a promise of sunshine at all. But Surrey with its posh looking houses behind tall hedges and beautifully tended gardens in summer, is worth looking at in any weather. Busy, drab London was suddenly a million miles away.

“What a perfect introduction to polo”, I thought, shivering in my flimsy tunic which I foolishly matched with a pair of white cotton trousers. As one foot sank gently into the wet ground, I said a silent prayer, grateful that I had the presence of mind to wear sensible flats.( It was just as well, I later learnt that spectators at polo matches are expected to do their bit by trampling on the grounds in between games.) The weather continued to be unkind but the VIP marquee was warm and welcoming with lovely waitresses carrying trays of delicious canapes and drinks.

VIP guests were already muah-muahing each other on both cheeks, helleow-helleowing their friends and fast refilling their tall champagne glasses to keep themselves warm. I had to settle for something with strawberry and mint inside.

Helen persisted to educate me on things polo and mentioned something about chukkas, which apparently means the duration of time a game is played before the bell rings for a break. So, there could be 4, 6 or 8 chukkas in a game. I couldn’t imagine how the ponies could last 8 chukkas in this dreadful weather – but they did.

The Kuoni World Class Polo Cup offered a sprinkling of NAMES , this time we had Jodie Kidd the tall lanky model. Earlier it was also rumoured that Stephanie Powers of the Hart to Hart fame was also going play during the second game. But she must have thought better than to turn up in such horrible weather. There was an assortments of celebrities and society high-fliers with double barrel names. And if I had moaned about missing Eastenders this Sunday, I was more than compensated, for under the same marquee almost the whole cast of Eastenders, who had either been killed off or moved away or gone walking into the sunset, turned up. There was the rogue Johnny Allen, the lovable Alfie Moon, sexy Sam Mitchell and the delectable Dr Truman. Alfie didn’t disappoint me when I asked him to pose for me, for he consented in true East end fashion, “Oh, owite sweethark!”

I pulled my shawl around my shoulders and braved the cold wind and drizzle to walk out of the marquee. I suddenly realised this was thousands of years away from my world of old sailors and their adventures at sea, and a million trillion decades away from the world of syairs and hikayats and old Malay manuscripts that had consumed me the week before when I attended the seminar on Britain and the Malay World at the Royal Asiatic Society in London. Last week, I was in the company of scholars and experts expounding theories on Malay manuscripts, etymology and Winstedt and Wilkinson and a week later, I was surrounded by people watching players on horsebacks, oops, ponybacks (sorry Helen), chasing after a ball with something that looked like golf sticks.

As the rain poured relentlessly, I had visions of hot teh tarek and crispy banana fritters instead of bits of salmon and soft cheese on crackers. I began to yearn for some Pak Cik Sailors to tell me tales of their adventures on the high seas in between ports instead of some small talks with some jetsetters who had just made a dash around the world.

“Hey, I have been reading your blog!” I heard someone say in my direction. The words resonnated across the polo field and back and there and then, right in the heart of the English countryside that was Surrey, I suddenly realised that the person was talking about Kak Teh’s Choc-a-Blog. If it was any other person, I would have said, "Oh, get a life!” But this was Dato Mark Yeoh of YTL, who was instrumental in bringing me to the world of polo that miserable day in summer, to cheer his Pangkor Laut team.
There in the drizzling rain was Dato Mark Yeoh, flashing his boyish smile. He talked about how my entries on Pak Cik sailors brought back memories of his own Pak Cik Ibrahim who regaled him with stories of his sea faring days. This is the same person who read Hikayat Abdullah and insisted that his staff did the same. This is the man who had successfully married off old age tradition and modern day living. And suddenly, the two worlds of English polo and Pak cik Sailors, syairs and hikayats, didn’t seem to be too far apart.


Theta said...

Kak Teh,
Rubbing shoulders with the glitterati I see. How exciting and informative (ponies trivia included)!
Datuk Mark Yeoh sounds like a sensible guy. And for him to gush over hikayats shows the strength of his character.
Btw, did you get a closer look at the full-lipped Jodie Kidd? She has a pair of legs that go for miles and miles... :)

Ibu said...

Wahhh Kak Teh! all-rounder lah you. writing, travelling, cooking, cats-ing, now pony-ing. This got me daydreaming for a while - of those surrey house with tall hedges & well tendered garden, in that kind of weather... watching pony-ing ... hmmm ... nyamannya!

but minus the teh tarik & goreng pisang?! alamak! terus tersedar!

TQ kak teh, for making my mind wandering for that short surreal moments of daydreaming. I'm building a new vision now... (hubby tak sanggup dengar about my vision. hahaha...)


p/s No 1 to comment!!!

Hi&Lo said...

Auntie Choc,

You are now recognisable publicly. I, too, will be able to see you from afar tho belum jumpa.

You straddle between the old and the new, the pedestrian and jetsetters, with such ease.

You are a queen whom I will take off my coat for you to walk on. :)

May I wish you Selamat Hari Keputeraan.

Kak Teh said...

Theta, i#d like to say that i rubbed shoulders with Jodie Kidd, but I would have needed steps to get to her shoulders! She is so tall and yes, i did get quite up close and personal when i took pictures of her with the YTL boss. I go any nearer and I'd look like a dwarf!

ibu, I dont know about being an all rounder, but sometimes, I just yearn for the comforts of my messy living room where I am able to hide under the duvet with only the cats nibbling on my toes. Last week had been hectic and i believe the next few months leading to merdeka will not be any easier. But i heard you've gone somewhere exciting, right?

hi@lo, I am touched that you shd allow me to walk on your coat! For that I'll put on my Jimmy Choo's .
I think I am a bit too old to be straddling these two worlds, these two cultures. but do i have a choice. Sometimes, it is not as easy as it looks, but one can only try.

ms.lambchop of christchurch said... life cultured one...:) Remember once upon a time a certain Datuk who befriended our "friend" came to London to play polo with the Pahang royalties and we gaped and gaped and gaped - not at the fact that they can afford to play polo in London but the certain character...ha ha ha.....

Kak Teh said...

oh yes, ms lambchop of christchurch. I remember that and that was the closest we got to being with the poshest lot!
and as for polo players - they used to haunt malaysia hall and nahar cafeteria .

J.T. said...

Wow Kak Teh... you brought me right into that posh world of pretentious kisses and characters. haha
I used to watch Eastenders off and on (from free satellite here) but my new location does not pick up BBC very well. Miss it. Now, I am not so familiar with the characters. Isn't it strange to see someone killed off on a TV show and then find them sitting there under the tents eating crumpets? I would have said "I thought you were dead." haha
I too heard there is a tradition where spectators have to trample on the grass to 'fix' it. I bet the grass gets damaged from all that whacking from the polo sticks. The various pony-moves also puts a toll on the terrain. Rain does not help either, huh? soggy.
Teh tarik and goreng pisang.... sounds good right about now as I write this. I can picture that makcik at her stall with an array of puluts too. Oh! I miss my ondeh ondeh. haha

Jane Sunshine said...


Tunku Halim said...

Wow, what next Kak Teh, rubbing shoulders with Prince Charles? :)
Datuk Mark does sound like an interesting guy, not all dollars!

Kak Teh said...

jt, hahaha, yes, i shld have thought of that line,"I thought you were dead!" The marquee was full of tv presenters and eastenders have beens.
It was a perfect setting for goreng pisang and teh tarik and kacang rebus...instead we have canapes!

jane, oh glamer sekejap saja then back to reality!

tunku, Prince charles...hahaha that will be the day. I will have to practice my curtsey from now.

Dr ve Thru said...

Kak Teh, wah....polo? I must admit, it's not the sort of game I would sit and watch (cricket anytime boleh) but if it means sitting have having chicken, strawberries and champagne, why not. Eh, Datuk Mark Yeoh sudah kahwin kah? :))

I did not manage to make it to London cos my son changed his plans (exams).
So sorry.

drbubbles said...

Polo pulak dah? hehe...

Kak Teh said...

wah two drs visited!

dr ve thru - datuk mark dah ada datin laaa. yes, i think i enjoyed myself inspite of the rain and inspite of the fact that i dont understand polo!
may be you make another visit to london, eh?

dr bubbles - nasib baik polo dan bukan polong!

bergen said...

Elegant game. Not to mention the lady in blue standing next to the big guy.

Kak Teh said...

aaah, mr bergen, welcome back! Horses, oops, ponies are elegant creatures. Moi? my only claim to elegance is that I was born in the year of horses. Thank you.

MakNenek said...

aren't u suppose to wear those big hats with feathers and all? :)

Kak Teh said...

maknenek, i'd look quite a sight and literally scare the horses if i have a big feather hat on top of my tudung! hehe! so, dah siap nak berangkat?

wonda said...

For my dear Fair Lady Choc,
Lots of chocolate for me to eat.
Lots of pony, lots of celebrity.
Warm face, warm hands, warm feet.
Oh, wouldn't it be lovely for me?

wmw said...

Eh...looks like that won't be the first thing I should say to you if I ever get the privilege to be in your presence. "I have been reading your blog"....LOL!

Kak Teh said...

alice, alice i do wonder,
if i was at all comfortable with those other,
no gloves, no hats, and shoes so flat,
i dont know why i shd even bother!
but the event i enjoyed, but to go again, perhaps never.

wmw, heheh - i say that too to some bloggers i meet! aiya..not very original like laa

Bunga Telur & Bally Shoes said...

Kak teh,
camne nak masukkan video supaya bila org buka blog video tu terus play. boleh tak klip video dimasukkan di dalam banner di atas.
please e-mail me at

Kak Teh said...

bunga telur & bally shoes, (sedapnya nama!) kak teh dah jawan dengan email - tapi kak teh memang tak pandai hal-hal ni - kekadang anak-anak yang tolong.

U.Lee said...

Hello Kak Teh, Cor blimey! Stone the crows, you trampled the rumput at a polo game. Jolly good show, what!
That's England for you, tea and crumpets, cricket, polo, wimbledon, and dressing accordingly. Ha ha and raba shoulders with the ada namas. You sure have interesting times.
Noticed the typical British weather in your well taken photos.
Kak Teh, can you still get fish 'n chips wrapped in Daily mail or Guardian or News of the world?
If there's one thing I miss about England its their fish n' chips.
Btw Kak Teh, take a peek at my reply re your comment in my something for you.
Best regards always, UL.

mark said...

Dear Zaharah/Kak Teh,
Thank you for your post on our conversation at the Polo Day.
I have just returned from London and seem to bring the wretched weather back as KL was flooded this afternoon!
Typed this reply to prove that I realy do read your blog!!
Await eagerly your book on the Sailor Pak Ciks.

Kak Teh said...

uncle lee, cor blimey indeed! the weather was as english as the food, thus my longing for teh tarik and fried bananas!

fish chips in newspapers? well it really depends - you want an upper class one these days you pay for it to be in the guardian. i wouldnt buy anything in the sun or news of the world in case they wrapped those unfortunate fish in the warm bosoms of the page three girls. well i supposed that's how they keep them warm in winter, innit?

yes, i visited you when alerted by hi&lo but that time my komputer manyiak kacau - cannot comment laa, cannot publish laaa. so i went and read but couldn't comment.

Thanks , i hope you dressed me up suitably for the occassion. Nothing revealing, i hope! Got tiara on top of my tudung or not?

Kak Teh said...

hahahaha! Mark, I nearly fell off my chair when i saw your comment! You must be so jetlagged to go surfing at this hour of the night in Malaysia.

Thank you for a wonderful day, in spite of the weather. Had a wonderful time and thanks to Helen, i learnt a thing or two about polo.

Now i know, when you're in between acquiring islands, you surf the net!

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Kak Teh.

Apa jadi dengan Dan the romeo tu Kak Teh?
Fu yoh.....punyalah lama siri tu.I think dah 30 tahun agaknya.
Well I do enjoy Faulty Towers dan Mind The Language or Two Ronnie too.
Brooksides ada lagi Kak Teh?

Rubbing dengan Sloane Ranger nampak?hmmm...biasa...

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Kak Teh
Now polo not for the royal families only but still for the rich and famous. Nak maintain kuda je berpuluhan ribu ringgit setahun.
Tapi seriously, Kak Teh, siapa yang pi tengok polo for the ponies or the match itself?
For the sake of the ruggedly handsome players, especially the Argentinians, many are willing to rave the ugly weather and get their designer heels in the mud!!! :)

p/s I'm home. Back to work this week.

anggerik merah said...

Kak Teh, you look so lovely with yr blue outfit next to Datuk Mark Yeoh.

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Kak Teh,
Watching Eastenders, like reading your blog, is not such a bad thing. It certainly paid dividends for me. I think it helped to secure me my first ever job with Shell. After two rounds of interview in London, I was asked to attend the final interview in KL with the personnel manager, a mat salleh, and the finance manager, the person responsible to groom me during my formative years. One of the questions the mat salleh asked was “What else did you do other than studying, Wan?”. Without hesitation, I answered “Ooh I like watching Eastenders”. Thereafter, he conversed with me in Cockney, and I just couldn't suppress a giggle.

I am not al all surprised that enlightened top management like Dato Mark Yeoh reads your blog. Your insightful observation is invaluable, and so too is the collective wisdom of all your commenter.

They didn't serve you ice cream with goreng pisang or eclair? Oh what a shame.

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, i told you that you're famous! wherever you go now, there will be someone giving the remark "hey, i read your blog!" :)

david santos said...

Good game the polo!
Thanks for you work and have a good week

Kak Teh said...

Pak Tuo, Dan or Dirty Dan as he was called is now resting under some concrete slabs. It was the height of drama at that time not unlike 'who shot JR Ewing' episode. So, he is now gone, but lots of rogues came and went but no one measured up to his standards. (You can tell that I am hooked and have no life)
I love Fawlty Towers and Rising Damp and Only Fools and Horses...all the classics.

Brookside tak ada lagi dah and The Two Ronnies repeats banyaklah.

Fauziah, my knowledge of polo is as much as my knowledge of football and badminton. So, you can guess what I went to watch.

AM, thanks - its the same one that I wore to the Kenangan Sudirman concert in Shah Alam in March...beli di Ampang! heheh!

Kak Teh said...

aMiR, if you mention some names of the Mat Sallehs in Shell, I might know the, and I have a feeling that we might have bumped into each other somewhere. This is getting warmer.
And yes, Eastenders is a good icebreaker - who did what to whom where. I think its the best showcase of English life.
Unfortunately no ice cream with goreng pisang, if not that will be the real bridge across the two worlds.

mama rock..aiyaaaa so malu one.

david santos, thanks for the visit. you must be from the land of polo players, eh?

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Kak Teh,
That mat salleh has an unforgettable and romantic-sounding nama ala-ala Laila Majnun. When I googled his name just now, I found out that he was appointed as VP, Human Resources, Shell US in 2006, and he has been with Shell for nearly 40 years. Gosh. We had cross path in Shell HQ, Waterloo?
Previously I wrote
One of the questions the mat salleh asked was “What else did you do other than studying, Wan?”. Without hesitation, I answered “Ooh I like watching Eastenders”. Thereafter, he conversed with me in Cockney, and I just couldn't suppress a giggle.
Forgot to also tell you that after I answered him, he looked a little bit lost and not without a trace of guilt, he probed further:
"Err, what is that?"

You couldn't blame him. He has been an expat for so long and we didn't have BBCWorld then to watch vintage BBC programmes from around the globe. Furthermore Eastenders baru setahun jagung. If I remember correctly, the cliffhanger then was who fathered the SYT's child - Michelle? Dirty Dan of course.

Apandi said...

Really beautiful rendition of your glamorous outing. Really enjoyed it. There you are missing the teh tarik and goreng pisang, here I am missing the cold wet walk in the parks...

Kak Teh said...

aMiR, there's a possibility that we could have met - i have been to teh Shell office, yes.
Dirty Den has fathered so many - and one of them is that dishy guy who ended up with his own adopted daughter - what's her name? they all get up to a lot of mischiefs. Not much entertainment in the square - either you are at the pub or at Dot Cotton's laundrette to watch the drier spin!

apandi, no, in reality, you do not want to walk in the cold wet park, with leaves sticking on to yr shoes . This summer has been really funny - sometimes you have all the seasons in one day.

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Kak Teh,
There is also a possibility that we might have a common friend in London. I know a guy from Melaka, a London-trained chartered accountant, who has been living in London for more than 20 years. Unlike me who knows not more than 10 words in Arabic, KI can read and write in Arabic. He has an impressive collection of all the songs by Ahmad Jais, S.Aini, R. Buang, S. Huri and other older songs which are totally unfamiliar to me.

Kak Teh said...

aMiR, bullseye!! I know KI as well - a very good friend of ours and not one to miss a karaoke session! he does a very good SM salim with menjeling-menjeling thingy!! hehe..told you it was getting warmer. Have not spoken to him for sometime, and now we have lots to talk abt!

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Kak Teh,
Looks like my comment after 6.51 pm was not successfully delivered. Here, once more:

Oh Boy what a small world and the marvels of blog. KI is a connoisseur of fine music. Every time he visited us in Coventry, he would bring CDs containing koleksi lagu-lagu melayu which he personally copied. There is one song by Aishah about Johor, my birth place, which got me hook line and sinker the first time I heard it. And my wife would always cook special dishes for him cos he puji her cooking like mad, so unlike me who takes things for granted. When I first met him in 1982, he’s already a diary keeper - I’m not surprised if we were to find no blank pages in those diaries. Does he read your blog? Does he blog?

OK, must not get too carried away and must really get back to horsey stuff and pak cik sailors. Are you readying for Ascot next? I really really hope the pak cik sailors project is progressing beyond expectation.

MakNenek said...

salam amir, (malaysian in riyadh),
do u mind emailing me at so that i can write to you. id like to ask you about riyadh (im relocating soon) if u dont mind ..(sorry ye kak teh, tumpang laluuuu sat)

Kak Teh said...

aMiR, it is indeed a small world. KI is quite close to us and we've known each other for a long time. He is a gifted linguist. We meet up at the uni library most of the time.
and yes, i did attempt a karaoke with him...hehehe! what a fool i was!

I do not think he has a blog - he is too serious for that! but i think he did come and read soemthing in my blog when i told him abt one entry.

I have had some serious enquiries on the pak glad it is gaining attention. Insyaallah, I will make this my mission.

and aMiR - can you do me a favour> My friend maknenek - in Germany will be relocating to Riyadh - please help her out. she is a dear friend.

a malaysian in riyadh said...

I'll email you right after this.

Raden Galoh said...

You were at a polo game, Kak Teh...Wow...bestnyer... and meeting Datuk Mark Yeoh too... Ohhh... I bet this is another moment in your life that is full of oohhss... ahhhss...

So how was the trampling on the ground go?

Kak Teh said...

radin, never has trampling on the ground been fun and done with a purpose. I suppose the weight on one's body helps as well. Am glad to help. hehe!

aMiR, thanks.

Bunga Telur & Bally Shoes said...

timakasih for your reply. soalan tu semua dah terjawap. kalau nak letak nama blog dalam sentraal camne ye? pastu bila komen kat sini diorang letak ada gambar kecik kat sebelah, camne nak buat tu?

mutalib saifuddin said...

dear (mak) teh, [don't know how to call you exactly, as i'm far away younger than you..haha] or auntie choc might do better..

hmm..sounds like your poloing thing was good. Didn't you feel the shaking thing while poloing? Usually Prince Charles would be at such event, but it seems that one of the Yeoh's family 'represent' him (Charles) to the polo..

sounds nice you drank teh tarik in the UK. What is it called in English? "A Pulled Tea" perhaps? Is it expensive? Heard that home-made foods are even cheaper than bought ones..

read your article on "Pak Cik Sailors" in NS(unday)T.. Impressed.. and also about TAS in TELL..

take care..!!

bergen said...

Kak Teh: A Micheal Chick left an interesting comments bout the Malays in my blog. I don't have the brain for that kind of thing so I believe you and Sir Awang Goneng are the most qualified people to read it. I mean since you've just attended the seminar on the Britain and Tanah Melayuand all.

AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...

Salam Kak Teh...:-)

You look great standing beside greatman of YTL!

ADIEJIN said...

suka betul kakteh ngan kuda ek ? hehehe. suka naik kuda ker ? hehehe.

ampunnn.. dah baik demam rumput kering belum ?

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Kak Teh,
I agree KI is a gifted linguist. Those Letters from England that I received from him over the period 1986-1996 are indeed a treasure. Gee, can’t wait to dust off my Warkah Dari Eropah and re-read those Letters from England in a few days time. I may then be able to relate to some of the personalities KI mentioned in those fascinating letters. I hope you have a wicked time with him soon, sharing stories about me (p----c hair, I am Hungary, weird moment in the Vatican City, and other unprintable stories) and laughing at my expense. Oh yes the word “gifted” reminds me of an incident where I was suitably/subtly chided by KI.
Silly Me: Question 2 is a gifted question. I’m sure many students can solve it correctly.
KI: Ya, it is a dead give away question. Easy peasy.

UglyButAdorable said...

salam kak teh,

dengar tak sihat..i hope you're feeling better..

d'arkampo said...

Kak Tehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

Its been a while since my last comment in this blog.

This time, I really should ask this from u.

I'm waiting your article/entry..whatever on Alleycats pursuant to the passing of the late Loga.

Sebab I know..u are a die-hard fan oleh Alleycats..trima kasseeyyy.

Anonymous said...

pray that u r feeling better!


p/s was expecting a tribute to loga of alleycats

Tunku Halim said...

Dropped by to see how you are, Kak Teh. Hope all's well with you.

missie said...

Kak Teh,
When the radio mentioned the passing on of Loga's Alleycats, my thought turned to you instantly. I remember reading you're a huge fan of Alleycats.

Yang-May said...

Dahling, how frightfully posh of you to be watching the sport of kings! Your description of it was so lively, I could really feel the cold, sense the mud and smell the sweat and horses. Polo always makes me think of the film The Man Who Would Be King which ends with Sean Connery's head being used as the ball/ puck in a polo match in the Himalayan mountains...