Thursday 5 February 2009

Winter nostalgia: When the snow melts...

You can make a hobby watching the snow melt. Snowbell does this, sitting for hours on the table looking out to the garden still covered with ice. When darkness fell, I didn't have the heart to draw the curtains as the fascination, demonstrated by Snowbell was obvious. She cocked her cute little face to the left and to the right, twitching her ears, and wagging her tail once in awhile.

Everything was still outside, almost lifeless. During the night, there had been visitors to the garden; the footsteps they left behind were those of the usual suspects; hungry foxes and stray cats. Snowbell sat there as if it was her mission to look and stare.

The scenery from the front room window is not one you'd want to write home about. As the sun made a feeble effort to peek through yesterday, the once smooth, white icing like topping over rooftops and cars began to melt leaving patches of ice and slush. Awang Goneng the snowman became the first casualty, losing his head leaving the tie hanging forlornly from where the neck was. By the third day, the sarong came off unceremoniously in a puddle of slush.

I ventured out to work yesterday and saw the aftermath of what has been recorded as the heaviest snow in 18 years. I picked my way very carefully along the icy road to the station, mindful of the incident 18 years ago, when I fell flat on my back after sliding on some ice patch. A fall on my front would have been disastrous as I was then a few months pregnant.

I remember that day well as I had just returned from the personnel office, making an eleventh hour negotiation over redundancy payments, after the much-publicised closure of our department. It was a double fall, if you like, one that I thought I'd never recover. I thought the world had collapsed. Sudah jatuh ditimpa salji.

But as it turned out, I suffered nothing more than a sprained neck, the baby turned out fine and it took one closure, Alhamdulillah, to open more doors. That door that closed on me 18 years ago, opened up more than I could bargain for.

That was what was playing on my mind yesterday, as I walked, skipping icy patches and admiring hedges with ice tops looking like unfinished cupcakes. I shouldn't have despaired as I am wont to, for it is his HE who provides, regardless of who it is who takes away from you. But I did, as I am only human.

Turning around the corner, dodging children playing with whatever snow left on the pavement, I said a silent prayer for I had more than I had bargained for in this adopted country of mine. I had left the comforts of home, with an assured salary and an exciting and fulfilling job, to share my life with my husband in a foreign land. There was no promise of work although I knew I wanted to work. I knew that sooner or later, after the excitement of playing bride and wife had somewhat subsided, I'd want to work again. But what as, I didn't know. I wasn't ambitious; a clerical job would have been fine, but my typing skills, according to Brook Street, the job agency in Queensway, wasn't something to shout about, I typed using two fingers, like all journalists I know. So,with that two finger, I left the small job agency to look elsewhere.

But as luck would have it, I didn't have long to look. In that magnificient building straddling Kingsway and The Strand, there was a Malay section of the BBC, in need of a female voice. And there, I met the kindest man, ever, who trained me in the art of broadcasting to the world. From a small timid voice, I learned to sit up and announced, "Inilah BBC London" in a confident and strong voice that made my mother and grandmother, my most avid fans in those days, tears streaming in their eyes, listening to me delivering to them world developments of the day.

But that was not to realise so soon, as I was initially packed off to Queens House, sorting out letters from Indonesian listeners. There I learned that Indonesians are truly wonderful letter writers. To ask for a programme guide, they could spin a yarn and likened a listener without a programme guide to a boat without a navigator.

Anyway, once I had one foot in that majestic building, I never looked back. Thirteen years I was there working with Chamil Wariya, Ishak Nengah and many more, who came to join us much later.

But all good things had to end; and I found out that spring 18 years ago, I was to say "Selamat Tinggal" to my listeners for the last time, after which I took myself to the toilet and had a good cry. The world had indeed collapsed.

But did it? It could have, if I had allowed it. A book was commissioned soon after that. A few publications I edited in the name of a freelance, working with publishers known in children's publication. I have had a few documentaries to my name and had enjoyed nostalgic and historic moments such as watching Malik Mydin dive into the dark waters of the English Channel, the time when Tun Mahathir announced the end of buy British last, sharing wonderful moments with Malaysia's Siamese twins Ahmad and Muhammad before they went off for their operations, and many, many more. And along the way, I have met many, many people who have added colour to my life.

I was lost in this train of thought and found myself already reaching my destination; the place where I continued my studies and rejoice in my newfound love for Malay Hikayats and syairs. Hey, it has not been so bad. Next week, I am meeting my editor for another edition of that book. So, I must not complain.

To my blogreader who called to ask about job opportunities in this foreign land, do not despair. Insyaallah, the opportunity is there. Just persevere and you'll get it.
When the snow melts and the fog lifts, you will see things more clearly.


Mat Cendana said...

What a great ending!
"When the snow melts and the fog lifts, you will see things more clearly."

And I can relate with this one too:
"That door that closed on me 18 years ago, opened up more than I could bargain for."

Your observations are excellent... like the one on `journalists using two fingers'. The exceptions are quite rare - Badrul Hisham Mahzan of NST (now a high-ranking suit with the Finance Department, I think) is one. He's a touch-typist who uses ALL the fingers who doesn't need to look at the keyboard when typing.

Kak Teh said...

Mat, did you sleep late or wake up early? I wrote this befor going out for dinner with the family and coming back, I didnt expect any comments yet as most of malaysia must still be sleeping.
Yes, am still tying with two fingers. Its faster. Thanks for the early morning visit.

Kenny Mah said...

This is so uplifting, and I don't even have the weight of winter on me here in KL to depress me, just the mad switch of searing heat during the day and a mild rainstorm every evening as we depart from office to home.

You are braver and stronger than me, surely. I remember my time in Europe as being joy-filled in my personal life, but career-wise it wasn't always that smooth. And you triumphed and are setting a great example for your readers.

Here's to doors closing and opening to better things. :)

Unknown said...

Salam Kak Teh, coretan yg ini mengingatkan saya akan suara kak teh dan teman2 kak teh yg lain, seperti ishak nengah, wan ahmad hulaimi dan zainal abidin bador (kalau tak silap) yang turut mewarna udara corong radio di tanahair dan juga singapura pada sekitar tahun 80-an dan awal 90-an. Saya selalu mendengar kapsul tentang berita sains yg disiarkan oleh radio tempatan dan bingkisannya diperoleh daripada BBC dan suara yg menyampaikannya adalah suara anda dan teman2 anda yg saya sebutkan tadi. Ada lagi kisah menarik di BBC yg boleh dihimbau semula dan dikongsikan bersama-sama dgn peminat blog ini, ceritalah lagi ya...

Pi Bani said...

Maybe Snowbell kena tukar nama to Snowmelt? Hehehe...

maszuzu said...

I'm waiting for the fog to lift kak teh...heheheh..tak lift2 lagi...bilalah agaknya akan dpt opportunity itu...

SkyJuice said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Many thanks for sharing. If all goes well in the matters of the heart, I might return to England after the completion of my MSc, insya-Allah. Hope to meet you in person one day. :-)

Kak Teh said...

Kenny, How easily we despair and I tend to do that although everyday there are doors being opened and we cant see them. aaah i think, we tend to look for big doors - those small doors, we tend to overlook.
Am sure you enjoyed yr days in Europe. I think, Paris will be our first city this year - but Paris in early spring is still very, very cold.

Lanangkota, selamat datang, Ada juga ya orang dengar program2 tu. Ya, those were the days - enjoyed them but life had to go on. Thanks for visiting. Insyaallah, bila ada kesempatan lagi akan cerita lagi tentang hari2 zaman BBC dulu.

Kak Teh said...

Pi Bani , good idea! Snowbell is now officially Snowmelt!

mas, insyaallah ada tu. mungkin ada pintu2 kecik yang terbuka kita tak nampak kut.

Kak Teh said...

skyjuice, yes, look forward to meeting you here. It will be a big move, but am sure it will be worth it. Hearing abt people continuing their studies makes me want to do the same. But i just dont have the energy, anymore.

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim kucing ray yg alim.

Itu Snowbell ke tu? kata Pak Malim sambil menggaru kutu. Saya suka tengok kot dia, nampak macam lembut, kata Pak Malim yg bongkok sabut. Kak Teh tentu sayang, kata Pak Malim yg gila bayang.

Mama Huptihup said...

kak teh,

i like your cat! but as u know i ni x mesra binatang...setakat tgk saja lah..

kay_leeda said...

Kak Teh,

This posting is very inspiring. HE closes one, but HE opens many more. It's all up to us, kan Kak Teh?

Alah...AG the snowman has melted, sampai kain terlucut?? Must have been a sight :)

Gelombang Rakyat said...

Kak Teh,

It is true...this winter nostalgia. Oh what a pia - Mami Mia And Papa Pia.

At this moment, some parts of Shah Alam is snowing too.

I am watching and witnessing it melts.


I wish Sankaran is next to me watching this now, a phenomenon, yeah!

Yes, watching 2gader-gader the snow here melts...

Kak Teh said...

Pak Malim Kucing Ray yang alim,

Ya, itulah snowbell, kata kak teh yang dulu kerja di kay elle, memang bulu dia lembut dan dulu lebih putih, cerita kak teh sambil makan bertih.

Dia sungguh manja, apakah Pak Malim suka, tanya kak teh sambil berseloka.
Kalau suka tak usahlah malu, pujuk kak teh sambil siap tongkat semambu.

Kak Teh said...

Lyana, kucing2 kak teh semuanya manja. Sapa suka ka tak suka ka, depa nanti naik duduk ataih riba.

Kay, Snowman Awang Goneng tu tak cukup foundation, cepat sungguh dia rebah dan runtuh!

Kak Teh said...

Zizi, Sankaran is with, that is something. NO wonder it is snowing in Shah Alam.

tireless mom said...

Dear Kak Teh

More snow and winter story. Quite a journey there ye. Hey wait a minute, that name is familiar. That is Abang Sahak's name being mentioned there, i.e. Kak Aishah's husband, Johan's father, and beloved hubby's cousin. I must mention this to Kak Aishah when I meet her next time. Read At Kampung With Opah and Enjoying Sawah in my blog and you will find abang Sahak Opah's photo in it.

Yes, the journalists circle, how can I miss that!

Kak Teh said...

TM, Ishak, Kudu, my husband and I go a long way. we knew each other semua sebelum kahwin and still in touch. Ya, we know Jo of Too Phat dari kecik lagi masa tu dia bolehnyanyi lagu "Siapa kata hadis melayu tak menawan" and now look where he is now...Adoi, rasa tua betul.

yes, will go and ransack your archives for that entry and photo.

Gelombang Rakyat said...

Kak Teh


He looks at me. I looked at him. And we look at each other and this...

Shah Alam is still snowing now.

The whole scene is in a glass sphere. To enjoy most, one of us has to shake it first.

Vigorously pun tak per.

Like agitating a can of film developer at Level 13 Photo Lab.

Then place it on a table.

While eating some chocolate cakes, and drinking ice lemon tea, we did place some ice on the glass sphere and see it melts.

Oh what a meltingnizationness it is.

Right, Mr Sankaran Sir?

(He is speechless),

So am I, and I wonder why.

Do you know, Kak Teh..?

Kak Teh said...

ZiZi, aiyo, is this the Sankaran that I know that you are talking about? The only time we cld sit together and be friends was when we were at the carom table. and that was a ploy to miss his class.

Tie said...

Seronoknya baca pengalaman indah kak teh ni...Tie rasa kecil sekali.

Hidup Tie cuma dikelilingi anak2. Tiada apa pun yang menarik..

Kak Teh said...

Tie, hidup macam mana pun boleh jadi menarik kalau kita buatkannya menarik dan kak teh rasa hidup dikelilingi anak-anak pun menarik. Kak Teh cuma nak beritahu supaya kita jangan rasa hampa - mula-mula kak teh rasa hampa takut tak dapat kerja, kemudian bila dapat kerja dan kerja tu pula disukai, tapi pejabat ditutup - masa tu ingat seolah-olah langit dah runtuh, Tapi, Tuhan yang menentukan dan membuka pintu rezki. Jadi kita mestu berserah.
Tapi Kak Teh rasa Tie dalam senyap-senyap ni banyak yang Tie capai - seperti Tie kata dalam komen pertama dulu, orang belum kenal Tie, kan?

Gelombang Rakyat said...

Kak Teh.


I do not know another, and there is no two. The one and only Sankaran Ramanathan.

I know Sankaran, as much as I know my dad.

We have been friends ever since Level 13. Carrom and all.

I have read, the information at Salleh Kasssim's Blog.

Yeah, I know what you all did last Sankaran.

You may have won at the carrom game.

Yet, I know he won in the game of the academia.

Win-win and all pontengnizationnesses just for the fun of it.

Yet, my joy is seeing him now, repeating once more time again, yes shaking the glass sphere for the fifth time, and we see snow fall in Shah Alam again and again.

What melts is ice we put on top of it. Yet, what really metls, especially, what is in my heart.

We might consider the earlier proposal - the Coffee Boy bit for Mama Mia Papa Mia - The Musical.

He deserves more. Some position nearing his ability to share vigorously this glass sphere. Perhaps an ardent Critic. Plus more.

What is your suggestion dear?

Kak Teh said...

zizi, I have yet to see his acting skills though his skills on the carom board leaves much to be desired. We let him win because we wanted to miss his class that is all.

Gelombang Rakyat said...

Kak Teh,

I see your point now.

I cannot agree, Hero = Sankaran, Heroin = Kak Teh.

Yes, given our friendship, and his lost most of the time on the carrom board of yesteryears.

Audition, shall we..?

Kak Teh said...

ZiZi, hahaha - sankaran hero? I think that's a totally different movie altogether.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Mama Mia!! Finally the fog has lifted and I can see ALL of Kak Teh's postings! Dah back to normal dah your blogsite, Kak Teh..

I saw you mentioned Ishak Nengah. He and I joined the NST Group on the same day, sama-sama assigned to Malay Mail under Philip Matthews. When I was living in Subang Jaya, his son Jo of Too Phat's fame was my daughter Nawwar's classmate and they used to hang out together.

All these reminiscing makes me feel so old..

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,

Finally… my first thought when I can’t seem to find the Comment section of your entries was that, mesti Kak Teh dah block org yg dah lama sangat tak tinggal trails on your blog for commenting. Phew, kesilapan technique lah rupenya ye..:D

Anyway, Awang Goneng the Snowman looked sad but cute in his kain pelikat and songkok. Maybe next year Kak Teh can make him smile a bit ke..hehe.. And, snowball looks so relaxed without her winter jacket and all..haha. Her chubby cheeked face and fluffy furs are certainly helpful…

As always, love your entries. I sometimes wonder how some of us Malays in UK/Ireland manage to stay put for so long. My hubby’s nephews who somewhat migrated to UK/Ireland had just returned home for good only after being there for 2 + years, citing bad economic situations.

Anyway, have a good weekend Kak Teh.

Tunku Halim said...

Kak Teh - The inclement weather makes us humans fade into insignificance. Our petty worries and desires just disappear. We have floods in the north of Australia and bush fires in the south (35+ dead, 100s of houses destroyed).

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, yes, you and Ishak and Kudu joined before Fati, Ena and I. Ishak then had his afro hairstyle, and yes, it was fated that when we came here, he was at the BBC, then Kudu joined him and worked with my other half. So, yes, we had a wonderful time - haunting Covent Gdns etc.

Oh did you know that Safiah Kajai, Rahman Adnan - who were also here for the same stint - is here lookingafter her daughter who is pregnant. We met up twice and had sessions and sessions of walking down memory lane. I think Rahman came to take over from Hulaimi, then hulaimi came to take over from him - again in 1979. before that was Kek soo Beng, if i am not mistaken.

Kak Teh said...

NJ, takkan lah kak teh nak block. There's something wrong with the layout too. It has been going on for sometime and I just dont know how to remedy it, am so technologically challenged!

How do we managed to stay for so long? Oh well, I stopped complaining after a few months when I got a job and that job was my life. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt I was earning my own money and felt independent. When the children came, I had a wonderful lady looking after them - so I was lucky. If I have had problems with childcare and work, perhaps I would have had a change of mind and plans.

Kak Teh said...

Tunku, thanks for dropping by and I know you must be so busy before that great day! Am excited for you and really hoping to get hold of the book. I will have to find someone who is willing to bring it to London for me.

All the best and yes, I will keep those documents coming too. But am taking abreak for a while as I am seeing my own editor.

Yes, the weather has been strange, but am sure there's some human interference in all this.

Unknown said...

Another lovely post written fromthe heart with so much emotion and love to share...Thank you so much, Kak Teh.

I see you have fed Snowbell very well. Just to let you know I read this post a few times and cannot remember if I commented before :). To me, your post is more important than my comment...

Take care and thanks again for sharing...


Kak Teh said...

paula, snowbell is indeed wellfed. she is manipulative and would ask each of us to feed her and unwittingly we do without knowing she has been fed. thanks for the comment.

[danial][ma] said...

hej! kak last i can post my comment...:-) something wrong with the i guess...well, right now is a sunny morning over here...but heard that the snow will be back next week...your posting is very nostalgic and lots of wisdom and inspiration...;-)

NanaDJ said...

Kak Teh,
Ishak with afro hair do? You should see him now - with Kojak hairdo!!!
Been trying to comment, finally its possible.
Journalists are not the only ones using two fingers, yours truly too despite being laughed at by the children and my former secretary (oh how I miss her, my right hand for 20 years).
You both are brave to make a life away from Malaysia, we wanted to but can't, too many strings and responsibilities.
Its always nice when the fog lifts...there's still hope as always.

Kak Teh said...

danial, yes, once in a while blogspot throws a bit of tantrum. In london it is sunny and nice as well. So we all went out for makan and had a great time. In Queensway, just as we were going home, we heard the familiar sound of the lion dance - lasat week, they were performing in snow flurries and this evening in the rain.

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, yes, i have seen Ishak with his new hairdo. Met up with him and wife just before they left for Mekah last year.

Oh this I must tell you. This week, we were visited by my husband's second cousin - that makes his son our ehem...cucu. He is so cute - and guess what he called me? NanaLondon!!
I thought i must tell you - it is so funny how it just came out of his mouth - NanaLondon.
So, NanaDJ, salam from NanaLondon. Inssyaallah one day the two Nanas will meet and we can show the world that Nanas can still rock.

DonCorleone said...

Salam Kak Teh, saya dah tinggalkan Singapura dah. Tak suka di sana. Kelmarin jumpa Kuci di KL. KL is better I think - but kalau Kak Teh jemput ke London - ANYTIME!

mamasita said...

What a lovely lovely entry..I enjoyed reading your article so much KT.
Thanks for sharing.

Snowbell pun macam Hiro..terkebil2 tengok kat luar..kalaulah dekat I dah pinangkan untuk Hiro! hehehe

Kak Teh said...

DC, so you are back? I heard that Art Fazil is doing very well back in singapore sampai dah tak mau balik london lagi dah. So, you met up with Kuci? Just yesterday we were talking about him and wondering whether he is in Brighton, Singapore or Brunei. If you see him again, tell him his kakak misses him laa. Lots of happy memories with him.

Mamasita, nak pertemukan Snowbell dengan Hiru? BOleh. Dia ni terlebih manja. Nanti we arrange for them to meet online! :)

NanaDJ said...

See, we have something in common after all. What a coincidence - you being called Nana London and here I am being called Nana too!
Insyaallah, the two Nanas will meet and we will rock London, for sure.

atenah said...

KT: a book of yrs coming out? If so, congrats.

rendrazaleigh. said...

kak long, lama x visit sini.
how're u?

Naz in Norway said...

Kak Teh,
Your *Inilah BBC London* tugged a string in my heart as I imagine your dear Mom sitting there listening to the voice of her much loved daughter from the other side of the world.

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Kak Teh dan Abang,

Your BBC years remind me of the years when I was involved with London prirate radio station.In matter of fact I operate one from the flat in those days with Jamal Oxford.
Way before the Interneting Radio.Short wave and straching LP.It was my hobby then.
Its...rock rag Radio.

Luck no Meropolitan Police o my door steps.

Nice to see summer tant the winter draf.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Teh,

Your post reminds me of the time when I was job-hunting after University. The job market was bad then. I had rejection letters day in, day out. Finally, I got a call for an interview. My first job interview. It was a job with a University as a Maths tutor. Alas, there were more than 20 candidates vying for the job. And being fresh out of school, I didn't make the cut to the second round.

Needless to say, I was disappointed and depressed. After a week of allowing me to wallow in self-pity, my gran insisted that I accompany him for his walk in the park. There, he went on and on about lessons in life.. blah! blah!.. can't remember a single thing, if you ask me. I wasn't listening. *grins*

But anyway, at end of his long long ramble to nowhere, he put his hand into his long coat and fished out the most beautiful notebook I'd ever seen. It was a moleskine. An old moleskine with lots of quotations which my gran had written - in longhand - over the years.

And the one that stood out; and which I still could recall from memory at the click of my fingers is this one by Alexander Graham Bell:

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

Subsequently, I got a job as a Quant in The City. The rest they say, is history. And just in case you are wondering, I still have that old moleskine of gran's. And I still fill it with quotations - in longhand - whenever I chance upon one that strikes a chord in me.

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, that's a date - NanaLondon.

Atenah dear, its not the book that you have in mind, but its a book. Thanks for visiting.

Azizul, kak long pun kak long lah!, I am fine and how about you?

Kak Teh said...

naz, they were my loyal listeners and God forbid if I were to go onleave without telling them. They'd think I was ill!

Pak Tuo, that was so innovative of you. I wish we had met then and we could make music together..hehe!

Kak Teh said...

Andrea, How wonderful to have that precious manuscript from your grandfather. Guard it with your life and written on Moleskine too!! Wow!

You should edit it and have it published, even if it is only for your family. I wish I have something like that, but I have certainly seen many handwritten manuscripts that have what no history books have.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

pugly said...

Kak Teh, I think it's high time you publish a book under your own name ( ke dah ada, I je yang tak tau?). If you tulis, confirm I order at least 20 copies! I think I'm not alone when I say that you write beautifully, without being OTT or sounding pretentious in the process. I'm always in awe of your writing style.

Kak Teh said...

Pugs, you are too kind. I'd be lying if i say i am not considering that option. everyone has a book in mind. will let you know. insyaallah.

JulesVerne said...

When the snow melts and the fog lifts, you will see things more clearly.

I love that line. Came across your blog, must say you write very well and very inspirational. Looking forward to reading more of your 'nukilan'.

Kak Teh said...

JulesVerne, Thank you for the visit and kind words. Yes, do visit again.