Monday 28 January 2008

On the GUiT Trail on Galeri Perdana (RTM 1 TONITE!!!)

Just a quick note before we leave for London.

Our last few days were spent, yet again on the GUiT trail as RTM had requested that we do a kind of Jejak Awang Goneng for Galeri Perdana (Starting tonight 28th Jan at 8.45'sh pm) .

We were back filming for two days – two hot but very rewarding and emotional two days, as AG went back to places, which he had not seen since he let Terengganu, met up with friends and teachers and most important and interesting of all we went on the Beluda trail, followed by the crew from Astro in search of the Beluda after the Terengganu roti was given a fresh airing in GUiT.

Jejak Awang Goneng will be in several short parts - So, do stay tuned.

We went to capture beautiful and enchanting Trengganu.....

was given a treat of Siti Payung by the son of an old Guru

Witnessed the making of the beluda......

What's the story with the genta?

A meeting with a member of the Pok Loh Yunang clan to hear the background of their migration to Trengganu.

A meeting with his first teacher from Sekolah Rendah Ladang.

and much, much more.....

Thanks to Sdr Karim who recorded the first two episodes. Actually The first episode was a little longer than what was required so, it was split up into two then I had left the big building on the hill.

Part 1

Part 2
part 3

part 4

(sigh!!!! How I wish I was there to edit them myself!)
The final part is here.

A disclaimer: Part three was not edited by me...The ending was taken from somewhere else in the script. There was supposed to be a bit on Trengganuspeak. Alas I couldnt be there to see that everything was in place.

Psssst! GUiT has climbed up to no. 1 best seller non -fiction at MPH again! And no. 1 best seller non fiction for Monsoon Books!

Monday 14 January 2008

A letter to my sayang mamas 2

Hello all,

Awang Goneng will be at MPH Midvalley on 20th January 3-4pm for a booksigning session.

Hope to see all of you there.


We are now in Penang where AG is giving a talk on his book at USM on 17th December (ooops- its January!!) at 9am (while yours truly will be talking about what she does for a living.)


My dearest ones,

It has been a while since I last wrote as we do not have internet access all the time. Daddy and I are now familiar faces at the internet café in front of the KLCC surau after we’ve had a spot of breakfast at Delifrance. We pay RM8.00 an hour, which is a bit steep, but it is worth it because the place is clean and most important of all, we do not get people standing right behind us reading our emails!

I am now back at Pak Ajie’s after sending Daddy off at the UKM station heading for Gombak. Everyone is fast asleep. Tok must be so tired as she had had a long day today. We all trooped off for breakfast at Taman Warisan and Tok enjoyed a a bowl of mee curry which was actually someone else’s. She forgot that she had ordered nasi lemak. That is Tok. But it is amazing that there are certain things that she doesn’t forget. She was telling Hilman on his first day at school, that I actually cried and kept running out of the classroom on my first day at school! And that must have been some ^%$#@ years ago!

Tonight I am sharing Hilman’s and Iman’s room and watching them sleep so peacefully, I thank Allah that they are safe and sound surrounded by their loved ones. I hope and pray that five year old Nini who went missing a few days ago, is also sleeping safe and sound and being cared by someone who will not harm her but will return her soon to her parents. Yes, not another one, I hear you say.

It is every parents’ nightmare and this happened not long after poor Nurin Jazlin was found in such a sorry state after being abducted for nearly a month. There are some very unsavoury characters around and it is sad that we have to bring up children to be suspicious of people.

When all of you were small, I used to be so paranoid – I believe I am still so. I’d hold your hands so tight that it hurt. I used to sew our phone number inside your clothes, just in case. Let us pray that Ninie will be returned to her anxious parents, soon. Real soon.

It has been more than a month since we said goodbye at Heathrow and I remember thinking “It is going to be a long two months away from all of you!”

If truth be told, I really don’t know where time went. The Singapore book launch seems like a year ago and we’ve been whizzing up and down the country – all GUiT related trips. So far, we’ve been back to Trengganu twice and I must admit I have fallen in love with the place AND the people.

Remember I told you that after the booksigning in Kuala Terengganu, we were invited back by the Chief Minister of Terengganu. He suggested a wonderful and interesting idea – which materialised into an event called Sembang-sembang Awang Goneng. And that happened on 7th January at 3 pm at the Kelab Warisan on Pulau Duyong.

For the event, your cousin Mi and his wife Na bought Daddy a silk batik shirt. I must say I have never seen Daddy in a batik shirt and there’s always a first. I was presented with a similar piece of material which I sent to Mak Su’s tailor who made a baju kurung for me, fit for the occasion. Daddy was expecting about 50 people to turn up – instead, when we entered the grand hall, there were about 300 people , mostly pensioners and people old enough to remember events, people mentioned in GuiT. There was a big picture of Daddy on the screen and that was enough to give him a heart attack! Daddy talked for quite a bit, remembering his growing up days in Kuala Trengganu but when he spoke about the need to keep the people, the soul of the city, in the city, to grow with the development, he got a bit emotional and couldn’t speak for a while. I have never seen him like that, but then again, he had never been invited by the state to speak about his hometown. After the talk, the MB invited people to sembang-sembang, and exchange stories on Trengganu, but quite a few people stood up to speak about their concerns. A few spoke about the need for local writers to be recognised. Yes, I do agree with that.

Before the food arrived at our table, Daddy was surrounded by people carrying GUiT, courtesy of the state government. I don’t know how he managed to stand and sign all copies – but that he did, while answering lots of questions and posing for photographs.

Read about it here.

Earlier in the morning, he gave a talk at Universiti Darul Iman and considering students had classes to attend, many turned up and the hall was ¾ full. Suffice to say, Daddy is really enjoying doing the university rounds, speaking about creative writing, blogging and journalism.

We met a lot of people this time, his ex-classmates organised a reunion and one former teacher, his English teacher, in fact, turned up. The next day, his maths teacher came all the way from Ipoh after reading his book. If my maths teacher were to turn up searching for me, I’d run miles in the opposite direction!

Anyway, the stay in Trengganu was great. We stayed an extra day at Primula because I fancied
a walk along the beach after subuh. Every night I’d look out of the balcony – the south china sea right at our doorsteps! We could hear the roar of the waves lapping the beach…its mesmerising, fascinating but scary. I was in awe of nature , this creation of God. So, one morning, we decided to take a walk along the beach, and test the water, so to speak.

But, let me tell you something. A thing of beauty can also be dangerous.

Some very interesting people came to meet Daddy and one of them was French lady who had made Pulau Duyong her home. I remember visiting her in the 70’s. I just couldn’t reconcile the fact that we have all decided to adopt a foreign land but when asked where is home?, we had the same answer: wherever we happen to be at that time. I remember pencilling in “Going home “ in my diary on 2nd December. And I am home now. And when we meet again, that is home too for that is where you all are.

Daddy is doing more booktalks at universities in Penang and two more in Selangor. He is really enjoying it. He seems to be in his elements talking about writing. Anyway, Pak Su, Mak Su and I took him to an Indian barber yesterday. I was worried that they’d do a real goneng on him, so we briefed the barber carefully. We looked through Bollywood magazines on the rack, no, not the shahruh khan look, nor the kapoor brothers. Pak Su helpfully said: Yul Bryner!

Well, this will be all for now and I don’t know when I can get my hands on a computer with internet connections again. Will call. Missing you all lots but take this time to be together, look after each other and be friends, not just brothers and sisters. And of course don’t forget Tabby, Gizmo, Kissinger, Moaner and Snowbell. They are your siblings and friends too. Here, Daddy keeps feeding stray cats.

Oh yes, there will be a booksigning at MPH Midvalley on 20th Jan. 3-4 pm. Come lah…..hehe!

Lots of love,


Tuesday 1 January 2008

A Letter to my Sayang Mamas

To my dearest sayang mamas,

A very happy 2008 to all of you minding the fort while we are away. And let’s hope for a fruitful year, blessed with happiness and success. Insya' Allah.

It looks like I have to update you on last year’s events and this, hopefully will be more than the usual rushed phone calls and brief sms’es of things GUiT.

The latest on GUiT is that Daddy was invited to read sections of his book at Seksan’s organised by Sharon Bakar. It was held on a fine Saturday afternoon in Bangsar, quite near where we got married 28 years ago. Daddy’s hair, I must report, was getting a bit long and how I wished Taufiq was around with his electric gizmo. Daddy thought it was okay, but I persuaded him to let me have a go trimming a bit here and there with Cik Su’s scissors.

A lot of people turned up and according to Sharon, it was a record number – well, I counted at least five of Daddy’s cousins, some old friends who came with their own copy of GUiT and some people who had perhaps read about GUiT in the media. You know that gentleman with the white beard and long hair, whose talented son, As, came and strummed his guitar for the cats? Well, as you know he is a well known national laureate who married an old classmate of mine. Both of them came to give Daddy some moral support.

There were other readers, like Dina Zaman, who actually interviewed Daddy two weeks ago. Then there was Patrick Teoh, a veteran broadcaster, whose dulcet tones and perfect diction and pronunciation earned him the title “The Voice of Malaysia”. It was great listening to him ‘live’! We don’t have anyone like him anymore.

I was a little nervous for Daddy as he had misplaced his reading glasses. The first reading was okay but I thought he struggled a bit with the piece on Besut. But all in all, everything went well and copies of GUiT brought along by the Pizzaman went like hot cakes, with one lady buying about ten!

That night we went back to Bangi as Pak Ajie had a small feast before your cousin Ummar makes his way to his secondary school up north.

But I bet you’re dying to hear about the Kuala Terenganu GUiT launch and booksigning. It was, needless to say, something way beyond our expectations. It was great and Daddy was visibly touched by the response and the reception.

He had insisted that we took the bus to KT and later I understood why. He wanted to take in all the sceneries along the route. He had not been back for a while.

I know how much all of you wanted to be here and there was not one moment when I didn’t wish that you were all here witnessing Daddy’s important moment. He had repeatedly said in press interviews that the book is dedicated to his children. And he said that not without a lump in his throat.

We stayed at Daddy’s cousin’s house – and the morning before the launch at Alam Akademik bookshop, Daddy ironed and wore the blue shirt that Hafiz bought for him just for this occasion. He told several people this. Ngah and cousin Mi managed to persuade him to change his shoes but I couldn’t make him part with his old rucksack which now looks a little tattered. So, off we went, tattered rucksack and all and at 10.30 people were already milling outside the shop. So, the signing began half an hour earlier and stopped only briefly for a press conference. The signing continued until after four.

I must say, I was in the limelight too as a few bloggers and blogreaders turned up and requested my signature as well and had my pictures taken with them. What a day! My feet were aching and I ended up wearing Japanese slippers.

Daddy shook hands with so many people that day, and at one point the queue was so long that it went right outside the shop, spilling into the street. There was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with bright yellow banners and posters of Awang Goneng being displayed everywhere, even on vans and neighbouring shops. While he signed, they played ‘Baliklah Wok’ or “Come home, My Beloved Child” – a very touching and sad poetry in Trengganuspeak. I couldn’t understand most of the words but I felt tears stinging my cheeks and I knew Daddy was also trying very hard not to let the dam burst.

We didn’t have much publicity before this but people came clutching their GUiT. Daddy’s English teacher, Mr Wee and his history teacher, his schoolmates and classmates came after hearing of his return. I was so truly amazed. People who knew him when he used to come to Pok Loh Yunan’s shop to get a copy of Utusang Melayu for Tok Wan, still recognised him. “We want him to come home,” said one Chinese friend who dragged another one still in his Pagoda singlet.

There were lecturers and professors and some important looking people whose appearance caused excitement among the local media. We didn’t know who they were and they queued up quite patiently like the rest. The event was open to everyone. But the next day, pictures of Daddy appeared in the papers with them and that was how we knew who they were. I wish the media had latched on to another interesting angle, i.e. the presence of the oldest surviving member of the Pok Loh Yunan clan.

When Daddy went for his prayers, I was approached by a lady who addressed me as Kak Teh and told me that the Chief Minister was inviting us for tea. Oh dear, how does one behave in such company? But if you must know, the CM was a very simple person who does not stand on ceremony. As soon as his iron gates swung open, he appeared in his kain pelikat and we sat and enjoyed tea with his lovely wife. I was tempted to have second helpings of murtabak Kelantan which was so delicious but really, I must behave myself. There were some funny moments that afternoon that we had tea with the CM. Sitting outside the porch with the breeze from the South China Sea gently blowing in, Daddy and the CM sang the Trengganu anthem!

Anyway, it was a long day, but a wonderful one.

The next day was Boxing day, but it was also the anniversary of your grandma’s passing away. We walked to the cemetery and I sat down saying my prayers to the mother-in-law that I am only beginning to know through GUiT. Later that morning, we went to the house in Tanjung. Ngah and Cik Su had already washed the floor and swept the dust and we sat down and did the tahlil for her. The house still holds many books, but sadly, many are now hollow. The silverfish had devoured the contents but I believe Daddy beat them to it. I stood at the window looking out to the new buildings outside but I imagined the qasidah and prayers that Daddy used to hear being recited from the nearby surau.

Even at the house in Tanjung, people were coming over to have their books signed. Many came to confirm and share stories about events and characters that Daddy had written about in the book.

I wonder if you have read the chapter about the unfortunate incident experienced by cousin Dah? Well, we visited cousin Dah, who from a distance beamed and giggled, recalling the day she was knocked down by a tok peraih on a bicycle carrying fish to the market. Ngah even took pictures of the junction where the fishy incident took place. There were many, many memories being rekindled and many were amazed at Daddy’s memory. I was dumbstruck too as I recalled the countless times he came back from shopping without most things that I had written on my shopping list. But that’s by the by.

Daddy’s cousins and uncles and aunts all wanted to feed him – so we were constantly being fed with kerepok lekor, laksa Terenganu, roti paung and many more which I can’t pronounced but are mentioned in GUiT.

This trip back to Trengganu is indeed an educational one. Daddy took me to Makam Tok Pelam and the caretaker was kind enough to allow us in. And once the door to the Makam was opened, lo and behold, there were the two bird’s eggs that Daddy mentioned in GUiT in the chapter on Eggs in a Net. Even some of the locals didn’t know of the existence of the eggs.

In some of the chapters where Daddy spoke about his father, he also mentioned a colleague of Tok Wan, someone called Pok Mat. Well, we got news that Pok Mat had had a stroke and we went to visit him. The poor man was in great pain. He couldn’t recognise Daddy anymore and Daddy was moved to tears to see his father’s dear friend in such a state. It was really very sad.

This is becoming a little too long. But let me tell you how Daddy is coping with this instant fame. He is stil not used to being in the news. He is more comfortable writing the news, doing the interviews. But now he finds that people recognised him as Mr Awang who wrote GUiT. We were having breakfast at KLCC when a Uruguayan lady approached him for a signed copy of GUiT. He was all flustered and embarrassed. Oh well.

There’s a lot more to tell, but this will suffice for now and I do need my beauty sleep and lots of energy as I am now managing Daddy the Awang Goneng. He is no doubt enjoying his rest in Gombak and I am sleepless in Bangi.

Take care my sayang mamas, take care of each other and love you lots.

PS, GUiT was knocked down to number three best seller two weeks ago but has gone up to number two again this week. We will be on the move again.

Have a good and prosperous 2008!

Oh, PPS...On the way back, Daddy pointed out to me the haunted house he mentioned in Whispering Wanderers!!!