Saturday 25 March 2006

Kak Teh Radio - Cuba, Try , Testing tengok...

This is just a trial...whether it works or not, I don’t know and I will need your help with this. I have always loved radio and I have tried reviving my interest in this. Sometime ago, along with other friends we started and because it was just experimental and we didnt have any budget, it went to rest in that place in the seventh sky of cyberspace. But it was such fun doing it – we enlisted the help of members around the world – people we have never met – to bring online some tv programmes. I even had our Prime Minister, Pak Lah to say a few words.

It was hard work, but it was fun. It was time consuming, but it was well worth it. I learnt a lot. How times have changed – the method of putting together a piece for radio has changed so much since the first day I started doing radio, taking reports for the weather forecast.

I have put this interview online before. It was done with an old, precious friend of mine, Zainol whose love for the Malay asli song took him back to Malaysia after 25 years away. From that radio icon on the side bar - you can hear the interview.

I am putting this online again, as I am exploring ways to have my own radio online. I have many interviews, many short features – one of which is the interview with Malay sailors. I put this together and was aired by the BBC so many years ago. There are many others.

It’ll be wonderful to be able to, once in a while listen to something. What do you think?

How can I host this kind of programme on a blog?To those of you are IT literate and know more about this than I do, please help.

Thank you.

PS - I've been told by some friends that they can't hear a thing- hmmm when I use Internet Explorer, I have the same problems. But using Mozilla Firefox - it seems okay. Thanks for the feedback. But I need more suggestions, please.

Friday 24 March 2006

A few more golds for me today, pls!

UPDATE: YES! YES! YES! (in the manner of that fruity shampoo advert!) Both Chong Wei and Choong Hann made it to the finals!!! And what does that mean? Malaysia BOLEH! Malaysia BOLEH!

Almost every evening
after a decent grace between Quran class and a bit of homework, we’d gather in front of Mak Bashah’s house. The ones who got there early would put up the make shift net, tying one end to the coconut tree edging toward’s Ah Gek’s house and the other end to one of the stilts of Mak Bashah’s wooden house. Her compound, when it wasn’t a badminton court, was also where we played rounders and hopscotch. The problem was, if someone was to hit a high ball, we’d have to use the same stick that we used to get the jambu, to retrieve our shuttle cock.

That was my only experience with badminton. I had never excelled in it, nor takenthe trouble to properly understand the game. And with what little knowledge I had, I was soon to cover the All England Badminton in Birmingham for several years, watching badminton greats such as the Sidek brothers, Soon Kit, Ewe Hock and Wan Wah and many others from other countries. After the games, with fever pitch enthusiasm, the group of us covering the game, would return to London and book ourselves a badminton court every Sunday – but the sessions usually ended with a trip to Southall for a bit of lamb briani and tandoori.

Just now – just a few hours ago, I watched Wong Choong Hann and Lee Chong Wei sail through to the semi finals at the Commonwealth games. Choong Wah looked tired and gave us a few tense moments when his Singaporean opponent caught up with him but with Chong Wei, although Anup from India tried his very best, it was smooth sailing. It was nice to hear one of the commentators say, “When we talk about Chong Wei, we are talking about class!”

I just hope that they bring back the gold! At this very moment we have only three. It is occassions like this when we rally around to cheer for the home country, that we feel a sense of belonging. I remember the cheering crowd at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham cheering on our players, waving the Malaysian flags and singing every patriotic song they could remember. It was wonderful. I remember the time when Malaysia was already in the semi finals playing Indonesia. Half the stadium was filled with Malaysian supporters and what a noisy lot we were! Those were the pre-Malaysia Boleh days.

The last few days, watching the game on TV, shouts of Malaysia Boleh filled the air once again. One commentator said, what a noisy lot the Malaysians are! Hahaha! I certainly agree with that. The shouts of Malaysia Boleh that cheered Malik Mydin across the English Channel are still ringing in my ears and I believe they are still echoing around the white cliff of Dover.

Well, all the best to our players and just for today, bring me back a few more golds, eh?

Sunday 19 March 2006

Here we go again...

Typical, isn’t it? Just two years and a bit into the marriage and he was already canoodling with another floozy! It all started off very well and was meant to be the greatest love story of the century. Just news of her beauty sent him off to seventh heaven, denying him of sleep and food. He survived on those lingering thoughts of her ravishing beauty and was intoxicated by the sweetness of her voice. Love does that to you, doesnt it? All the distance and the turbulent seas didn’t seem to matter and he was prepared to leave his own country to marry the woman that filled his dreams day and night. Such is the power of love! But love in this case was sadly defeated by the stronger power of black magic mumbo jumbos.

I knew she was bad news when she entered the scene, the minute she set eyes on him and planned her moves!. I was aware of the intrigues and goings on in this household but I felt helpless. I was a mere helpless bystander, from a totally different time zone, a totally different world, transported back to unravel the story and study it first hand from an eighteenth century manuscript.

This time last year, this story of a tragic love triangle consumed my very soul and filled every minute of my waking hours and even haunted my dreams as I struggled to finish my dissertation. And when I put the final full stop and made the mad rush to the faculty office, that was the last time I saw it....until yesterday.

The dissertation is based on an early 18th century syair – whose manuscript still neat and in pristine condition is kept in the British Library- unstudied and untouched. The only copy, I am glad to report. For this I must thank a wonderful friend who made this brilliant discovery and suggested that I should study it. And study it I did with my rusty knowledge of Jawi and soon enough my very own lingo started to sound syairish!! See this.

Since my forays into the realm of Traditional Malay Literature, I have been really intrigued by the richness of the language, our language, the different genres, theories and of course the romance – the old, romantic fool that I am. I became besotted with Indraputra and his flirtatious style, Bidasari and her beauty that won over the heart of the King, and many, many more. If only I have more than twenty four hours in a day, I will certainly spend more time in my sleeping bag, on the third floor of the library where most of the old hikayats and syairs are kept. Such beautiful writings but equally beautiful are the interpretations and analysis and studies by Traditional Malay Literature scholars such as Braginsky whose book, The Heritage of Traditional Malay Literature became a bible and a must for Tradional Malay literature students. Then there’s Kloster’s Roaming Through Seductive Gardens, and Sweeny’s Authors and Audiences in Traditional Malay Literature. It is just pure pleasure reading them.

Back to my reunion with my dissertation: I have dusted it and peeled open the pages again refamiliarising myself with the storyline and the characters once again came dancing in my memories,reenacting some of the most beautiful moments that will remain with me forever. One or two chapters derserved to be published, says my professor. And so they will be. Insyaallah.

These are some of the wonderful stanzas that play again and again in my head, a scene when the king is romancing his shy bride during their first meal together:

Menengarkan sembah demikian nyata
sambil tersenyum baginda berkata
“Marilah santap emas juita
biarlah kekanda menemani serta”

Menengarkan titah raja pisari
peracau tunduk berdiam diri
lakunya malu manis berseri
oleh baginda dibasuh jari.

Santap sambil gurau jenaka
berbagai jenis kata direka
segala mengadap terlalu suka
peracau santap sedikit juga.
Sudah santap raja bangsawan
santap sirih di dalam puan
serta mnemakai bau-bauan
sedap manis barang kelakuan.

Setelah jauh malamlah hari
tirai pelaminan dilabuhkan seri
Duduklah baginda raja pisari
terlalu suka membujuk isteri.
Dipeluk dicium seraya berkata:
"Tuanku nyawaku emas juita
Tuanku jadi cahaya mahkota
sudah termeterai di dalam cita”

All together now: Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Saturday 18 March 2006

Oh Blogger!

These last few days Blogspot has been driving me crazy. First I was getting messages that I cant even access my own blog, it is forbidden. Then, it was under maintainance, then when all other blogs affected are up and running, mine was still a big white screen.

After some nerve wrecking, finger biting moments, it came back, hooray! BUT, my layout has gone a bit crazy! WHAT IS HAPPENING???

I think, this calls for a few stanzas of syair! But am so not in the moodlah, blogspot!

Tuesday 14 March 2006

My Indonesian Experience

My children are somewhat bemused that I am speaking with a different kind of Malay over the last few weeks, if not months. They hear me on the phone speaking to someone and give each other looks, that say: Why on earth is she speaking like that?

And Nicholas Saputra has nothing to do with this!

About three months ago, I acquired two Indonesian friends and although it was through work that I found them, I believe they will remain my friends for a long time. And it was with great sadness that I said goodbye to one of them last week. But before she went Ewok and I put on our tourist guide caps and showed her London and took pictures to show to families back home.

Anyway, knowing them has increased my Indonesian vocabulary tremendously and I realised how easily we slipped in and out of the Malay way of speaking to that of Indonesian and then back again. In fact we do that quite naturally when we are speaking to a Chinese tauke sayur or mamak mee goreng. I prefer to look at it this way – that we adapt ourselves quite easily, don’t you think?

During my childhood days in Yan, I got to know a lot of Indonesians whose small settlement in Kampung Aceh I used to visit quite often, especially during the durian season. In my mind’s eyes, I see an enclave so green and cool, under the protective shelter of the Jerai. And I befriended the community whose language I became quite intrigue with as a child. My Acehnese classmate, once in her own territory, would speak a totally different lingo, one that I found very hard to understand. A trip to Kampung Aceh was to me then, like a trip to another foreign land. Much, much later, I came to understand better the reasons they were there. Even from as far back as the Acehnese Sultanate, there were already movements of people from across the straits but that gained momentum in the late 1800’s when conflict with the Dutch drove the Acehnese to migrate and settle in Kedah and other northern states of Malaya. When Aceh was incorporated into the nation state of Indonesia, more left .

I remember quite, quite well how these mild mannered people took to the streets of Yan during the Konfrantasi days. The sleepy town of Yan would echo with the cries of ganyang Sukarno, and fiery and powerful speeches would culminate with the burning of effigies of the leader. Indonesians, I must say, are natural born orators.

One corner of Yan, just by the smelly river leading up to an even smellier market, was the venue for some of the most vocal and influential Indonesian orators – medicine men- selling all kinds of ointments which promised to do wonders to parts of the body that we didn’t even know exist. There used to be large crowds surrounding the medicine man, crowds of men who would leave clutching the miracle in the bottle and hope in their minds.

Anyway, it was not surprising that some of these medicine men were also some of the fiercest orators leading the protest marches along the sleepy town of Yan, under the watchful eyes of Jerai.

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These scenes came back to haunt me recently in the story of Gie, brilliantly acted by Nicholas Saputra. Gie, a student activist, an idealist and a romantist, grew up during these turbulent times, witnessing and later participating in street demonstrations against Sukarno. He wrote stirring articles and gave rousing speeches, the likes of which I heard giving fiery speeches at the square by the smelly river.
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The Konfrantasi came to an end soon enough and like any sibling rivalries, Indonesia and Malaysia made up and we fell in love with Sofan Sufian, Ratno Timoer and Broery Marantika as their songs and movies flooded our market. The dulcet tones of Broery never failed to stir our deepest emotions – for he was a Batak, wasn’t he? If I am not mistaken, the Bataks do have mesmerising voice.

I was fortunate to work with some very good Indonesian broadcasters during my broadcasting days. Some of them were Bataks with wonderful deep baritone voice. It never ceased to impress me how they could handle even a minute talk without any prepared scripts. It took me years to be able to “talk to the clock” confidently when I ran out of news bulletins to read. But then again , that’s my failure.
Anyway, it was during my stint with the BBC that I met Broery who was then accompanying his wife, Anita Sarawak when she perfomed at the South Bank in the late eighties. I could have sworn that my knees turned into jellies when he opened his mouth to just say hello during the interview. It was also then that I was given the honour to interview the founder and editor of Pujangga Baru and one of Indonesia’s most respected literary figures – Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, author of books like Layar Terkembang , Kalah dan Menang, to name a few. It was indeed a humbling experience to be able to talk to someone whose influence on literature and language still continues long after his death.
I did my bit of Indonesian broadcast, but my gentle Malay lenggang lengguk (sway) was such a contrast to the more stoccato sounds of the Indonesian diction.
So, the screening of several Indonesian films in the past week did a lot to bring back things Indonesian to me and thus this entry. I did a five day whirlwind duty tour of Indonesia in the late 80’s and I think I am ready for another visit.

Wednesday 8 March 2006

Come lah - its free...An Update

ADA APA DENGAN NICHOLAS? - He was there!! and to those of you in Glasgow and Nottingham, Nicholas and co will be heading your way after London.

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Yesterday, after renewing my ID at the university, I walked along the corridors packed with students going about their activities and I felt a tinge of envy. At the
steps leading to the reception, I was stopped by a student campaigning for his elections. Bless him, for he asked: Are you a student? and although I was pleased that he thought I was, I had to be brave and said, No, I am staff, so I cant vote.

It has been a while since I went back to the main campus but yesterday, I walked the corridors again, swiped my card to enter the library and saw familiar faces behind the counters. The small lift with its familiar smell of students, took me up to my usual hideaway – level C - a treasure trove for enthusiasts of Malay and Indonesian literature and more. How I missed this place, how I missed the joy of being alone with the books of my choice.

Anyway, so I was back there yesterday and spent some precious time running my fingers across the stacks and stacks of books which used to be my companion when I was struggling with my dissertation.

Those were the days when nothing else around me mattered – I stopped going to radio workshops, didn’t attend any talks or seminars that were not relevant to my topic and didn’t even socialise. But today, I saw the place buzzing with activities, spring events, summer seminars, festivals etc. etc.and I just wanted to join in.

I attended a talk by an American lady Dr Kristina Nelson, a daughter of presbyterian priest who was so fascinated by the melody of the Quran recital that she studied it and wrote a book called,” The Art of Recital of The Glorious Quran” The talk was later accompanied by Quran recital by 4 Qaris – it was a wonderful experience.

Anyway, this week, another busy week too for there’s the First London Indonesian Film Screening, with screening, talks and discussions with the directors of these Indonesian hits.

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Here’s the detail for those interested:
School of Oriental & African Studies
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC 1H OXG
United Kingdom
Venue : Khalili Lecture Theatre
Venue : L67 Theatre

Thursday, March 9, 2006 (Kahlili Lecture Theatre)
GIEPosted by Picasa

5.00pm – 5.15pm Registration for Invitation and Audience start
5.15pm – 5.30pm Opening Ceremony
Keynote address: DR. RM Marty Natalegawa B.Sc., M.Phil, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia
5.30pm – 7.57pm GIE (147 minutes)
8.00pm – 9.00pm Q&A with the director and actor:
Gie, an Oak Tree standing against the wind

Friday, March 10, 2006 (Khalili Lecture Theatre)

5.00pm – 5.15pm Registration for Invitation and Audience start
5.15pm – 6.38pm Janji Joni (83 minutes)
7.00pm – 8.45pm Eliana Eliana (105 minutes)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

10.30am – 11.00am Registration for Invitation and Audience start
Khalili Lecture Theatre L67 Theatre
11.00am – 13.00pm Kuldesak (110 minutes) Daun di atas Bantal (83 minutes)
14.00pm - 16.15pm Arisan ( 129 minutes) Ada Apa Dengan Cinta (112 minutes)
16.15pm – 17.15pm Discussion:
Gender and Sexuality through the cinema in southeast Asia Discussion:
Contemporary Indonesian Film

So, come lah - its free!