Saturday, 23 January 2010

Waiting for Search

The songs coming from the sitting room were very familiar; songs of yesteryears by the late P Ramlee and R Azmi.  The children were singing these songs, entertaining our guest – a captive audience who was much amused that with so many new songs from new artistes, the children were belting out these oldies.

"Don’t you get to hear new hits from home?"  she asked.  This was in the early nineties, you see, when youtubes and downloads were unheard of.  We had old cassettes of Sharifah Aini, Uji Rashid and yes,
R Azmi.  The children listened to these as well at the childminder's.

So, it was there and then that she decided to send us some new cassettes – and one of them was an album by SEARCH.  The children were hooked on Isabella and I heard nothing else but "Diaaaaaaa Isabellaaaaaaa…..!"

That was my introduction to Search, the rock group which was making waves in Malaysia at that time.  And whether by fate or design, on 18th November 1991, I found myself seated in front of the ‘voice’ of Search, Amy.

It was just as well I had heard his songs, so I could ask the right questions and made the right noises.
He was pleasant and I couldnt
keep my eyes off his complexion. And such beautiful curls too.

In my diary on 18th Nov 1991, I had written, “Went to interview Amy Search and Ali Bakar. Not bad.” Not bad indeed.

That interview was for the BBC. I had earlier interviewed Ahmad Daud, Sheila Majid and Jins Shamsuddin.

Next month, I will meet the ‘voice’ again, Insyaallah for SEARCH will be performing in London.

Fantasia Bulan Madu is now playing in my mind.

Another popular band performing at the same time is Hujan.

For those interested, here are the details:

Organiser: OrangKita  - a wholly Malaysian-owned promotions and events company based in Dublin, Ireland.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Button Factory,
Curved Street, Temple Bar,
Dublin, Ireland


Date:                        Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Time:                         5 pm

Location:                  Delima Restaurant
                                 36, Southwick Street, Sussex Gardens.

Price of ticket : £40 (buffet & performance as well as ticket to concert at Scala London on 18th Feb)

Venue:                        Scala London
Thursday, February 18, 2010
275-277 Pentonville Rd,
London, United Kingdom


Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Cavern Club,
10 Mathew Street,
Liverpool, United Kingdom

Price: £25.00

To get tickets for shows in London, contact: Nik Imran - 07846240651

Or visit this link :

According to Orangkita: “There will also be a special Up Close & Personal dinner held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 of February at Delima Restaurant London. Tickets for the event are priced at £40 and will include a full buffet dinner as well as a ticket to the concert at Scala. Lucky fans will have the rare opportunity to meet band members from both Search and Hujan, as well as enjoy an intimate unplugged performance by Search on the evening. 

We are currently holding a lucky draw for all tickets purchased from now until the end of January. Twenty lucky fans will win a special pass to see the bands conduct their sound check before the concert in Scala London. Winners will also get to meet the bands in person backstage after the concert.  Additionally, 10 of these lucky winners will also receive an official tour t-shirt”

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The deep freeze and the sauna in my mind

What's left of the so called deep freeze in 30 years, was washed down the drain by heavy rain in the last few days. Even the headless and limbless snowman down the road succumbed to the ray of sunshine peeking behind grey clouds. But record the deep freeze in thirty years is something I must do. And just as well that I didn't quite escape it.

I arrived on 10th January after an uneventful flight, wedged between a bright young student and a tourist on his way back from Bali. Waiting for my daughter to pick me up at Terminal Four, I felt the sting of cold air on my face, while the rest of my body just sort of froze only to be thawed once in the warmth of the car.

London was still sleeping when I arrived and looking out of the window, as the snowflakes drifted by, I was transported back to the country I left less than 20 hours before, where I had enjoyed the warmth of family and friends and yes, that of the sauna and spa.

I was back in that small tent, feeling the rivers of sweat flowing down my back and I was back in that warm milk bath, enjoying the soak.

But now I am back in cold, wet and grey London and I took refuge under the duvet almost immediately. But work dictated that I left the comforts of the room soon after.

Leaving the house for the first time, I felt how inadequately prepared I was for the winter. I inched my way dodging icy patches in my newly acquired shoes bought at a small shop in Bangi the evening before I left. I had to buy them because the only pair I had at home was peed upon by Kissinger.
The new pair felt like a thin cardboard on my feet.

Snow came back with a vengeance while I was sleeping off my jetlag. I woke up to a blanket of snow and half hoping that the scheduled trip to Oxford would be cancelled. But it wasn't and just as well because I got to see the English countryside in winter wonderland.

There's something magical about snow and snowflakes. It brings out the child in you and the group of Malaysian journalists standing by the roadside were soon throwing snowballs at each other.

I remember a trip to Wolverhampton searching for what's left of Brinsford Lodge, the teacher's training college in the fifties. Somewhere along a very narrow road, we stopped an English man on his bike and asked him about Brinsford Lodge and he said:

“Oh, I do remember Brinsford Lodge and the Malay boys who went there. They'd be the only ones to play football in the snow!”

Other winter and home coming stories:

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Journey of a Friendship

I SEE her now, the bespectacled girl who was in my year when I started primary school.

I remember thinking what thick lenses she had. She must be clever, I thought, and I wasn’t wrong. She was one of those studious and serious type. And quiet too, too quiet for the rest of us in the group, who could safely be termed rowdy.

I remember thinking what thick lenses she had. She must be clever, I thought, and I wasn’t wrong. She was one of those studious and serious type. And quiet too, too quiet for the rest of us in the group, who could safely be termed rowdy.

I never knew Muni in Primary One but that was because I was in Sultanah Asma Primary school in Alor Star for only a few months before my father was transferred to Yen.

However, friendship tends to take its own journey. Muni and I met up again when I went back to Alor Star.

But this time I had chosen St Nicholas Convent, a decision which put us firmly in rival territories.

We at St Nicks had special names for our SAS friends; names I’d rather not mention here. And I am pretty sure they had names for us too.
St Nicks girls and SAS girls met regularly — the Merdeka Stadium where we regularly went for the Independence Day practice and celebration.

We had common interests too — the boys from Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC). and that was where the seeds of friendship between Muni, Jijah, Lia and I began.

We went to the same parties, enjoyed mee rebus Abu and ais kacang Busu and mugged for our exams together.

When other friends took different paths after school, Muni and I continued our education in what used to be Institut Teknologi Mara, although we took different courses. We seldom met but the seeds of friendship were still there.

I never knew that she got married and had left for London — until I myself married and left for London. They rented a flat somewhere in West London.

When they returned to Malaysia after their studies, my husband and I stayed on. The distance rekindled the friendship and strengthened the bond between Muni and I. We even had a website where we’d keep in touch.

Reunions always marked my visits home where girls of SAS and St Nicks mingled with classmates from SAHC.

Jijah, Muni, Lia and I would relive our childhood days while driving along the highways belting out songs from The Carpenters, continuing conversations in the carpark of shopping complexes and even in fitting rooms. We’d stop for prayers and continue enjoying our time together like schoolgirls out on a day trip.

I remember one occasion when we parked in the underground car park of the Bangsar Shopping Centre and listened to songs from a Korean drama series.

Muni was then really into Korean dramas and even bought the whole series for me.

We’d drive around in search of good food and places to meet and the husbands would join us later for dinner and we’d talk and eat again right into the nights and early hours of the mornings.

I remember also the time when I was embarking on my journey to do the umrah.

Muni, Jijah and Lia took me shopping and bought me a pair of slippers which I promised I would use in the Holy city. We created quite a sight as we held hands and did the walk together. When we were together, we always did these silly things.

And then it had to happen. One day three years ago, I received an SMS from Jijah. Muni was diagnosed with the big C.

The last three years had been challenging. I’d get news of her chemos, of the spread and of the ups and downs.

During one of my visits back, we met at the Dome. Muni was just about coping with the drastic treatment that she had to go through.

Last year in July, we went to see her again. I could barely recognise my bespectacled friend. She could hardly walk unaided. But she remembered our times together, our friendship. And she wanted to go out again with us.

We were apprehensive about taking her out as she was very fragile and would get violent bouts of headaches.

But she insisted and so, after maghrib prayers together, we went.

Jijah and I took her hands and slowly we walked together to a café nearby. It was to be our last time eating out together.

Last week, Jijah, Lia and I went out for lunch. Seated at a table for four, we stared at the empty chair meant for Muni. She would usually be there, all prim and proper and admonishing us for our misbehaviour.

But she wasn’t there because she had been rushed to the hospital. We visited her and she was surprised to see me. She could hardly talk. Her condition worsened overnight and we were there by her bedside. We knew she was leaving us.

Last Monday, the girls of SAS, St Nicks and the boys of SAHC gathered silently as Muni was laid in her final resting place.

Goodbye, my dearest friend. But as the saying goes, death ends a life, but not a relationship; certainly not a friendship like ours.

ps. My tribute to Muni and and our friendship was first published here.

Other journeys with Muni:
This autumn of our lives
Yesterday Once More