Friday 27 March 2009

The Old Diary

It is actually a tired old diary trying to masquerade as a Filofax. It is leather bound and in quite a sorry state as it had spent a good many years in a box with some old tapes; both rich archives of old stories and events of years gone by.

It is my 1997 diary – six years after I started life as a freelance – six years after I regained confidence to get a proper diary, or personal organiser as some preferred to call it. I said regained confidence because after more than ten years waking up to routine work, life as a freelance is less predictable and at first I wasn’t sure whether there’d be any work, any projects coming my way. What if I had blank pages staring back at me with doodles adorning them; no important appointments and assignments?

By 1997, I realised that that was the least of my worries. It was a good year, alas like this year, it ended with a financial crash in SEA that had a domino effect everywhere.

Organise my life it didn’t, but it sure looked impressive carrying a bulging Filofax. In those days, anyone young and fancied themselves upwardly mobile, must be seen carrying one of these. I wasn’t young, but I still fancied myself upwardly mobile.

Anyway, mine was a freebie that MAS used to give to their first class passengers, and I got mine from one of those privileged ones.

I scanned through the pages, littered with phone numbers and names jotted hurriedly in places they shouldn’t be. There were calculations in pencils, email addresses in lipliners and cryptic messages that defy logic and common sense, especially written in columns that say finance. But that shows how organised I was/am.

But that’s not the point of this entry. This is the year that started with an entry that says:

Another year! Wonder what’s in store!

It was a cold start to the new year, but from the entries right through the pages, it seems that I had had a good year, travelling a lot in and out of the country. I realised now that it was at this time that I met the maths genius and her family, travelled to Cardiff and Liverpool to meet the Malay community there and then off to Holland for the same purpose. Looking back, I had truly enjoyed these visits and meeting such interesting people with interesting stories to tell. They were old Malay Sailors in Liverpool and Cardiff who shared with me their stories of adventures at sea.

I see that I also went back to Malaysia for what was to be the first hari raya back home in 17 years!! The children truly enjoyed themselves and experienced real hari raya for the first time; playing crackers and fireworks and most of all helping with the preparation. I jotted down in the entry on 9th February 1997 “They really look good in their baju Melayu!”

Aaaah, at the National Archives open house, I met the incredible Ahmad Daud! By then, he had forgotten that I had interviewed him way back in 1992, but I remember his conversation, as he was walking to the car, to be most interesting. But I didn’t have my video recorder with me.

It was a wonderful holiday with the entire family as I noted at the end of our trip. Since then, we have not had a family holiday together, what with commitments and what nots.

I came back to London with an urgent assignment waiting for me. “ A very uplifting experience” – I wrote in the entry on 8th March. Took the train from Paddington to Theale where I was taken on board a helicopter to do a voice over job. I had done lots of voice overs in studios of varying nature, but never in a helicopter, a few hundred feet above the green fields of Berkshire.

This was also the year I covered the All England Badminton in Birmingham. Rashid Sidek lost to a Chinese player and suffice to say, nothing much after that to report back.

Friday 28th March was an eventful day. We drove aimlessly and found ourselves in Brighton. All along the way, we could see a strange something in the sky – it turned out to be the Haley Bopp!! It will make another appearance approximately in the year 4377. So put that in your diary!

Oh, on April 11th, after a consultation with a Dr Li, I was told I had low platelets in my blood So, that explains all the bruises at the slightest nudge. Does that also explain the severe headaches that I complained on almost every page?

We made a convoy to Great Yarmouth on May 3th. Started off at about 11pm because the other half was still working. It was fun because we got to celebrate his birthday – another surprise one at Kak Long’s house and then we went off to the great Bally outlet in Norwich. This place used to be crawling with Malaysians buying – what else, Bally shoes, Bally handbags, Bally belts at a fraction of the price at the stores.

As I got to June 1997, things became more exciting. I got to visit Book Villages in Europe – the one in Redu, Belgium and Hay on Wye in Wales. I remember train rides, flights, car rides deep into the Belgium and Welsh countryside and having lots of fun while working. I must have had such a lot of energy then. Where has it gone now?

Before we could unpack the bags from the trip to Wales, we were off to Hungary, by train!!! That was a busy year too for the then PM, so we had no rest at all, traipsing around England and Europe in the name of work. But getting to Budapest by train was quite an experience and it is certainly a very beautiful city.

And of course, this was the year Princess Diana met with her tragic death. I even remember the dress that I wore on that day – a bright red kebaya, as I was assigned to cover the Merdeka celebration. I was somewhere on the A40 when I heard the news on the radio.

How time flies.


D said...

Kak Teh, 1997 was the year I began to toddle through life as a wife, teacher and mom - the new year greeted me with all the crazy nauseating and morning sickness of carrying my first borns: the twins! After 6 years abroad, I'd say 1997 anchored us to our roots!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh.. that great Bally outlet in Norwich. 'Nuff said.

Kenny Mah said...

Kak Teh, you make me really glad to have kept journals during the late 90's and the early noughties... Even now, pouring back through those increasingly yellowed pages, I am humbled by the person I used to be and amused too.

Today, as part of our anniversary week, I gave my better half a scrapbook... many pages but only the first few filled with our early love letters. The rest? We'll fill them together... for the rest of our lives, hopefully.

May you and I have many, many more tomes to come. :)

SkyJuice said...

Oh wow, 1997 sounded like such an eventful year for you.

I remember 1997 quite well. I was having breakfast with some unimates at the then Malaysia Hall Canteen, Bryanston Square when I saw the news of the tragic death on TV. Time does fly indeed, Kak Teh.

Unknown said...

Kak Teh,

ohhhhhh 1997 carries many a great memories for me too. That was the time I spent my summer in Cheltenham, playing "housewife". And I was at s boot sale when I heard on the radio that Lady Di has died. The week after I was in bed watch her funeral procession; years flowing freely.

I also love the Bally place in Norwich ehhehehe me and my friends were some of he swarms of M'sians who loved it. Too bad its no more.

And last but not least, a diary... I have one for every year. Like u my notes were written with whatever I had on hand. And just a couple of days ago I realised that I've lost my 2009 one. How can i start the year all over again?

Doesn't flipping through it brings back fond memories? I can never live without one.

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim kucing ray yg alim.

Ya, saya masih ingat Lady Diana, kata Pak Malim yg merana. Rambut dia cantik, kata Pak Malim dengan mata yg lentik. Kucing2 kat pet salon pun, nak set rambut, macam Lady Diana, kata Pak Malim yg masih merana. (Takde duit nak set rambut, kata Pak Malim sambil duduk dlm bot).

tireless mom said...

Hi Kak Teh

Wow, what a year it was and with you traveling far far away. I remember the day when Princess Di met her tragic death too. Other than the Merdeka celebration, it was my neighbor's son's nikah ceremony. Everyone was tergamam.

I am sure you have started thinking of writing a book on your wonderful experience as a journalist.

Oldstock said...

Salam Kak Teh,

My 1997 was quite eventful too. It was the start of one of the toughest times of my life.

But we pick ourselves up after we fall. Tough times make us tougher, I guess.

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Nek Teh,

You travel very-very far,Nek!heheh...when I grow up I want to do like you do.
Have you go to Alexendria Library in Egypt Nek?
When I grow up I want to go there on my motorcycle.



ZABS said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Diary tahun2 lain takde dalam simpanan lagi ke?
Masih ingat2 lupa tahun 1997 ni. Separuh tahunnya saya berada di Bangor, N.Wales, kemudian berada di London beberapa hari, sebelum balik ke Malaysia.

Madam Tai Tai Again said...

Aaahh..another trip down memory lane to year 1997. The only thing I can remember clearly on that year was our holiday in PD over the long Merdeka weekend, where we woke up to the news of the death of my favourite princess.

Btw, what happened to the filofax craze now, eh? I don't see many yuppies and upwardly mobile people using it as arm candies anymore.

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Salam Kak Teh,

I used to keep a diary, when I was about 14, then as I was about to write another entry, I discovered my mom had read it..siap kasi betul grammar I decided to dish the idea..

Hmm..1997 was a year of turbulance for me. I wish not to go back to 1997, so glad I did not document my whereabouts in 1997!

Pi Bani said...

Am not so much the tulis diary type. Kalau ada pun just to jot down important appointments...

1997? Oh yes, I remember Princess Diana's tragic death too. I was in KL then, tengah-tengah bersiap-siap nak gi umrah with 9 other family members...

Kak Teh said...

D, aaaaah, how i hate morning sickness! I couldnt understand my body, all the demands and the frustrations of not being able to explain these to the people around me. All those hormones going riot!!

Andrea...aaah, so you have been there, huh! I went just a few times when i was on assignment out there . Too far, thank God.

Kak Teh said...

Kenny, you have an anniversary week? How romantic. and how nice to be filling the pages together. Neve rheard of this one before - but what a wonderful idea.a kind of yours and mine page.

SkyJuice, you were in Brianston square? we were not too far away then because I was on the A40 - and then made my way to Templewoods Gardens and later to Buckingham palace to film the crowd getting bigger and bigger and flowers - oh my god - sea of flowers.

SkyJuice said...

Oh yes, I remember the flowers, Kak Teh. I also remember watching the live telecast of the funeral on 6 September. My uncle, being a fan of the late princess, asked me to feed him with something 'spectacular' from the UK press (especially the tabloids) at the time. He was in KL then. So, I sent as many newspaper articles I could get hold of, a magazine published as a tribute to her, and Elton John's single of 'Candle in the Wind'. He was very happy.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh

What a wonderful year you had! That is why these old diaries are treasures: they remind us of where we are coming from so that we can at least try to make some sense of where we are going.

The highlight of 1997 for me is lost in history: I should have kept a diary.

Kak Teh said...

Aida, Cheltenham, what a place to be playing housewife. I rememer driving through Cheltenham and saw the famous girls' school. Were you from there?

On the day Diana was buried, I was at home - after cooking for the family and leaving them strict instructions not to disturb me while i watched the ceremony. and i was in tears . I have lots of tapes and recordings.

Kak Teh said...

Pak Malim, style rambut Princess Di memang diminati, teringat kak teh yang duduk atas peti. Ramai yang suka Puteri itu sebab kebaikannya dan rupa parasnya, kata kak teh sambil sapu bedak nyonya.

TM, reading back all the old diaries sure set me off on a journey all over again and it does fire that enthusiasm to write and compile my writings, Insyaallah.

Kak Teh said...

Oldstock, the end of 1997 was quite back, as you can recall the financial crisis - the gawat of that year. I wasnt getting much work from home. But , yes, we do pick up the pieces and move on.

adam, no, i have never been to Egypt. One day, perhaps. Insyaallah.

Kak Teh said...

Zabs, yang lain semuanya ada,Yang 1997 yang lama menghilang dan baru jumpa balik. ALhamdulillah. Banyaklah kenangan lama datang kembali.

So, that was the year you left laa.

MTT, Filofax has given way to electronic personal organiser . I still prefer a book that I can carry around with me. The children bought me one - didnt suit me. So, I still keep buying diaries.

Kak Teh said...

Ida, your mother read and corrected your grammar? that's hilarious! Dia bagi markah tak? hehe! But that shouldnt have stopped you from keeping a diary. Keep it under lock and key.

Pi Bani, oh tahun tu you pergi umrah. I ingat memang it was a busy year - a lot of travelling and it was interesting.

Kak Teh said...

Skyjuice, I have tapes, recordings, magazines. And recenty i was in Paris, I visited the memorial site several times.

Bangkai, with diaries, we do a lot of stocktaking as well. That is why is it so important to keep diaries. And I am sure you keep yours too.

Theta said...

Kak Teh,
1997 will always have a special place in my heart and memory. I graduated in late Spring (May) and later travelled to UK for my twin's graduation and together with my younger sister, we travelled by car to Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-avon, some castles and many other places.

Later when my parents arrived, we travelled to Scotland and the countryside along the way was simply breathtaking. I remember vividly the drastic change in temperature once we reached North.

And the unexpected yet welcome trip back to London again during the fall of 1997 - I remember seeing the Thai's Baht being flashed all over the telly - when my father had to undergo surgery.

Of course, the year was another rite of passage as I crossed another threshold of responsible adulthood when I joined the workforce in one of the local banks. :)

IBU said...

Kak Teh,

I am not one that can continually keep a journal. Mostly awal tahun semangat berkobar. Pastu the diaries berkubur.... Sighhh...

Now dah blogging era pun, not much difference. Except that I won't misplace 'it' anymore.

p/s I missed your birthday!!! How could I... yeah, guilty as charged, hibernating too long.

Many happy returns. Semoga Allah pelihara Kak Teh & family, dimurahkan rezeki & sihat2 selalu.

Memorable trails... said...

Salam K teh, Have not been able to leave any trace for quite sometime due to internet connection problem.So I missed your birthday.Happy belated birthday and many2 happy returns of the day.
I love to read old diaries or journals.It gives a beautiful feeling although the content is a sad one...

Kak Teh said...

Theta, it was also that year that I visited Stratford upon avon with my sister who was visiting. I remember buying a Portmarion bowl at half the price. I'd never buy anything that expensive, but i couldnt resist the bargain.

My dairy was incomplete as the rest of the year was kept somewhere else - removable as its a filofax, kan? Must look at the remaining months and see what was in store for me then.

Kak Teh said...

Ibu, thanks for the belated wishes. Tak apa - i pun lama tak visit yoru blog because you memang tenggelam timbul. But now I know you all had a wonderful mak cik gettogether. Cant wait to go back and attend one of your dos.

ya, I know what you mean abt diaries, awal tahun memang penuh and then it loses its momentum and interest. I have huge gaps as well. and I am kicking myself thinking what if i missed some interesting events/ocassions. well, nak buat macam mana, kan?

Kak Teh said...

Madam Gold, my internet connection buat perangai last week and i wasnt able to blog or surf much. ALhamdulillah it is okay now.

yes, i love diaries and keeping diaries. No matter sad an ocassion, it still merits an entry for we can look back and reflect on what happened and perhaps learn from it.

It can be quite humbling too.

Mat Cendana said...

[Sorry if this is a duplicate. Having trouble sending this - 3rd attempt]
still can't figure out how you and Puteri Kamaliah especially can come up with this kind of post regularly. Not with the topic and content but in actually sitting and writing them (I can do the sitting easily enough but it's clicking here and there reading what others had written).

Anyway, among the things that I appreciate the most are the insights into how you had went through freelancing - it's also a bit scary when you mentioned six years into it and still not feeling secure. It was heartening to see that 1997 went by very well for you.

Those months you mentioned also brought back some memories for me - it was quite a disaster, a lot of it. But thinking about it is actually positive: by comparison, it makes right now quite heavenly, the `current other stuffs' notwithstanding:-)

You mentioned email addresses - they were still more of a novelty in Malaysia then (I only had one the following year). BTW it would be interesting to see how many are still valid now.

ummisara said...

Salam Kak Teh, 1997 was a memorable year for me as well...i was on holiday in Malaysia when i heard the news of Lady Di's death. a week after that i flew back to UK. We [with my other half ler...]went to Kengsington Palace tengok tributes by well wishers[flowers, pressies, cards etc...sempat bergambaq lagi tuh...

As for the Haley Bopp, 1997 jugak kan?????If not mistaken, we saw it too. Tengok sampai tak nampaklah...

Kak Teh said...

Cendana, there were times when it is excrucatingly difficult to get even one word out - like right now when I am supposed to be finishing an article but have not been able to proceed further than one line. At other times, you just let it all out.

yes, those email addresses were few and quite new then. I remember ours was a joint account with compuserve. and it was much later that the children helped me to set up mine. Th eyoungest, only about 12 asked me for my credit card number to get us all connected to the internet and then everything else is history.

I remember not too long ago when we had to lug along heavy equipments to do simple things and now - everything is with a click of a button.

Time plays tricks on memories and even with jottings in the diaries, we tend to reflect on them differently now.

Kak Teh said...

Edelweiss, you know we could have met then - I was always hovering around kensington garden and Buckingham palace gates - taking pictures and just wanting to be there. My husband sampai worried and said to me, dont do anything foolish like lighting up a candle or something. I didnt feel much about her when she was alive, but I think she touched many people when she died.

Al-Manar said...

1997 seems like yesterday. Your memory, that I have noticed so far,needs no diary, not for that year. But to Abang Ngah things can fade very quickly. Treasure that 1997 record for another 40 years, Zaharah. It will then be like my 1957 today. It is invaluable. From time to time I glance through the ones around 1957 and more often than not I am sure to stumble on something that I would not like to share with anyone - feeling sorry, ashamed ? I suppose those are the spices, the 'fertilisers' in one's life.
Robert Frost says, " .....I shall be telling this with a sigh - Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
With love from us.

DrSam said...

Diaries - somehow I am not an ardent fan of them, not because I don't find them very useful but I figured out I am not that good in 'writing' or 'scribbling' anything on papers. Oddly enough, my ideas flow seamlessly when I let my fingers dancing on the keyboard, thus the reason also why my blog still breathing until this day!

1997 was my second year in Durham. Load of fond memories. The year that taught me a lot - sacrifices, determination and perseverance among others.

1997 - You have a very great and busy year for sure Kak Teh. I remember that year, my lab mates went by a van load to give their final respect to the late lady Di. Coincidentally, my friend and family went on our camping trip to the East Anglia that year as well. In another interesting occasion, We accompanied Dato' Sri Lim Keing Yeik to visit the Lotus company - and half of the entourage sidetracked to Bailey after that (without him of course)!

Have a nice day Kak Teh.

Mama Rock said...

oh yeah, 1997..that's when we were thinking to move or not to move. hubby was relocated to dubai amd i loved my job here. finally we made a decision to be together as a family. i quit my job, packed my bags and moved the kids to a foreign land.

KG said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Ahhh your life is so rich, I envy you! Thanks for sharing!

Filofax, mmm had to get one when I did my Bar...nampak terror, also got a Waterman pen together with the Filo from Selfridges.....perasan je, lepas tu now the Filo and the pen buried under the stuff that I brought back from one of the boxes somewhere in my house..

Nowadays, I carry a note book, enough to fit my handbag,. about A5 size that I jot whatever...thoughts, notes from the books I read, reminders, bills to pay, yada yada yada....apparently Richard Branson does the same, too! Yani perasan lagi!!

mekyam said...

kt, this is OT. just discovered that you're a "twit". so am i. ;D

am one of your followers, in case you haven't realized it already.

Unknown said...

What a lovely post! I was in Lake District when I heard the news about Princess Diana's death and I remember watching the news while having a meal in the B & B called Heather something...

I used to keep a diary from 1977 to 1978 and am glad I did cos I documented in great detai!l the development of my relationship with hubby LOL!!!

Take care and cheers

Royalshoppingarcade said...

salam KT,
1997 was the year i first landed on UK soil. I remembered how sejuk it was..bRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....
It was also the year I went to norwich. or was it blackburn ada kasut bally jugak.or, i went to all the places, every weekend ada je trips I went to.kemaruk.kekekke..but of course on a student budget.Eh..portmarion is also my favourite, maklumlah, kilang potteries tu is in staffordshire, very near Keele. selalu jumpa mak datin kat situ cari pinggan mangkuk.kekeke...thanks for reminding me of the year 1997 where all I could remember of mostly is how cold UK is.brrrrrrrrrrrr....kalau takde electric blanket, sure I beku!

azienmat said...

Tahniah Perdana Menteri Malaysia ke-6;
Najib Razak

(03 April '09)

journeytowardspace said...

salam kak teh,

do you happen to have the address of the great bally store in norwich, i will pop down to london during CNY would like to go there


Kak Teh said...

salam, i did a google search and here's the address:
Hall Road
Norwich, NR4, United Kingdom
01603 773350

journeytowardspace said...

thanks a lot kak teh, btw u still reside in UK?.which area?.