Indian Wedding Part 5


Read these first:-

Another wedding, another story…

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(The garlands that me and my son went to pick up for the wedding – we had to walk a bit far to a small stall by the road side and the man behind the “counter” asked why we were late and we went like ‘huh?’. He pointed to a box next to the stall – it was all sealed up and it was cold. We walked back fast, hoping the ice cubes in the box have not melt away before the wedding starts)

This time, it was my sister-in-law’s wedding and by right I should not been around for the wedding. I suppose to be away on an overseas assignment and I suppose to be back only after the wedding had long ended. Since it was a “crucial” wedding (after all it was my wife’s younger sister wedding) and I won’t be around, I decided to offer to do something else – a drive to Taiping the next day for the bride & bridegroom (the wedding is in KL but they must be “back” to Taiping as the girl’s house is in Taiping and tradition dictates the newly weds to be in the bride’s house for at least 3 days after the wedding). But then at the very last minute, my trip got postponed and suddenly I was available for the wedding.

With that premise, let’s start the story.

The event started as usual, the night before the wedding where last minute ceremonies had to be done before it was all “green-light” for the wedding the next morning. I had to work, it was left to my wife to do the necessary last minute shopping and attend the said ceremony at another sister’s house. I came back home late after work and had a slow hot shower – a small break before the big day. My wife was not back from the ceremony early so I watched TV waiting for her to be back. The plan was for her to be back home from her sister’s house (not the one who is getting married) and we would make our way to another sister’s house (once again, not the one who is getting married) since it is nearer to the wedding hall. My understanding was that we would sleep the night over at the sister’s rather “empty” house and get ready early in the morning for the wedding. On the way, we would pick up one of our aunties along for the wedding.

When we arrived at the sister’s house, it was chaos all around – a bulk of our relatives had also decided to make the house as the starting point for the wedding next day. All the bedrooms was fully occupied with tired, sleepy relatives, the hall was loud with some of our uncles busy with the football match on the TV and to make things worse, hyperactive kids running around playing “catching” just when the clock on the wall turned midnight. I did not need the “spidey sense” to know that to continue to be around in the house just before a major event would be a disaster. After a quick check with my wife, I decided to drive back home for a quiet house for a proper sleep. My wife had to “work” on the preparation and my son seeing his uncles and his cousins, decided to stay back.

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(One of my brother-in-law who had to step in as the bridegroom’s best man, well he had no choice – he looked cool all the way but when it comes to the time when he had to get the ring from the bridegroom, his hand was shaking on a Richter scale of 8. The bridegroom had to hold down his fingers to put on the ring)

The wedding starts at about 9 am the next day but since I had to pick up my wife and my son (and I am very sure, a couple of my aunties and uncles would tag along too), my day actually started at 3.30 am. I woke up, had a quick shower and by 5 am I was already at the sister’s house where everyone was fast asleep. It took some shouting and pushing to get everyone up and get ready for the bathrooms and time was ticking away. Then a funny happened – almost everyone was up and ready to go to the wedding hall (although the queue outside the bathroom took some time to be sorted out) but no one wanted to make the actual move to leave the house. 2 cars (with its drivers – one included me) was all up and ready to go but the passengers were missing. They were still lingering around, asking who want to go first but not moving themselves.

After a moment of “finger-pointing” and the clock ticking away, a decision was made on who will go first – my car was the first to leave the house to the wedding hall – me, my son and all 3 of my aunties leaving my wife and the rest still in the house packing things up. Despite the short trip and it is being a well-known route, I missed the route and had to make a U-turn but we still arrived earlier than anyone else. After a quick unload of the aunties who soon got themselves busy with the items for the wedding, me and my son went off to get the wedding garlands. Once we had done that, we had nothing else to do except to wait for rest of the guests. The transportation of the bride from the house to the make-up studio and then to the wedding hall was taken care by another cousin of mine. My brother-in-law handled other things for the day including ensuring the caterers arrive on time.

Sitting at the front, I took out my DSLR and was toying with the settings when my son asked for my phone – he too wanted to take some photos (and play some games whilst he waited). I thought about it and decided to pass on my DSLR to my son instead. I stood next to him guiding him (initially) on what to take and when and more importantly to do without being in the way of the official professional photographer and videographer. My son had some limited experience with my DSLR before in another event, so he knew how to hold the camera (the first thing I taught him as my wife was worried that he may accidentally drop it), how to work the auto-focus (although he need a lot of practice get the angles right) and lens functions (setting it to auto was helpful too).

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(This shot was taken by my son – he had to make way for the professional photographer but this was an interesting angle nonetheless. A nice touch of colours especially purple – a shot that I probably would not have taken. It will be interesting to see what else my son will take from his point of sight as he get used to my DSLR and be the next family photographer in coming events)

When most of the guests made it to the wedding hall in time, the wedding ceremony well on-the-way without any hassle and my son at the stage busy snapping photos, I decided to head back to the main entrance in case we had any last minute guests coming in when another brother-in-law walked over looking rather concerned and asked me if I were busy. When I said no, he smiled and he just wanted to know because he thought two of us could take a break from the wedding and have teh-tarik at the nearby restaurant. After all those work in the morning (couple of months for my brother in law), it all came to a closure in the morning. We made it back in time for the bridegroom to tie the “sacred” string and my son starting to get tired and hungry. Lunch was really good despite it was all vegetarian and surprisingly we need not queue for the food (the crowd was not that mean too).

Wedding was officially over by 12 pm but it was not the end of the day – we still had plenty of things to do. We all went back to the house (it took another round of pushing people to leave the wedding hall) before the newly-weds arrive in the house. A bit more of ceremony to be done at the house before the newly-weds can be “safely parcelled off” for the day and all of us can take a break. The house was still in a “chaos” with relatives and well-wishers lingering around the house – some waiting for their transport back home, some busy with the cooking and some busy with the cleaning up. We waited for a while to help out but it was clear that all of us needed a proper break. When a bulk of things has been done, we said goodbye and head back home – it was already 4 pm by then. My son was already dozing off in the car and we had a hard time to wake him up. We pushed him to take a shower first and after a quick bite, had him to go straight to the bed (he slept throughout the night, not waking up for dinner and only waking up the next morning).

There was one last thing I had to do – to make good of my offer to drive the newly-weds to Taiping…

Real Mission to Mars


In case you have missed this important event last week…

(Photo note: An image taken by the Mars rover Opportunity, shown by NASA during a press conference Thursday, Oct 7, 2004, shows a bizarre, lumpy rock informally named Wopmay on the lower slopes of Endurance Crater. Scientists believe the lumps in Wopmay were formed by one of two processes. Either they were caused by the impact that created the football field-sized crater, or they arose when water soaking the rock dried up, said the scientists)

(Photo note: The Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), a camera on board the Curiosity designed to take photos during the descent to Mars, took this image of the heat shield plummeting to the Martian surface)

(Photo note: A close-up of one of the rover’s wheels. Curiosity is currently driving around the Gale Crater, a place NASA scientists believe could harbor signs of microbial life, from the past or present)

(All text and images sources and for more images, click here and here. Copyright NASA)

NASA successfully landed the latest of its Mars Rover called Curiosity in Mars last week. With this, they have 3 rovers (Spirit and Opportunity which landed back in 2004) on the planet exploring the surface and geology. The mission’s scientific objective was to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars.

The much-celebrated Mars rover Curiosity is headed for Mount Sharp, where it will help scientists explore the question of life on Mars as it climbs up and up. Meanwhile, however, NASA’s budget for planetary exploration is slated to go down, down, down.

Scientists are basking in the success of Curiosity’s stunning landing earlier this week, proving that a complicated system involving a parachute and a sky crane can safely deliver a 2,000-pound vehicle to Mars. The $2.6 billion Curiosity will spend years roaming the planet, snapping photos and gathering scientific data.

Given the budget constraints facing the space agency, however, there are limits on what the rover, and NASA, will be able to do on the surface of the Red Planet. Although astronauts brought back thousands of moon rocks during the Apollo Mission, there’s never been a sample of Martian material returned to Earth. Such a mission is considered a priority, so scientists can do more detailed chemical analyses.

(Source)

After the Moon, we have been eyeing Mars as the next frontier and a place where humans may be able to adapt as their next home. Who knows what lays thereafter – new mining colonies perhaps or as a “jumping stone” to explore other planets? And inspire future generation of space explorers and scientists to think beyond and ahead. And with 2 rovers on the planet, why we need another rover on the planet?

From Associated Press:-

NASA’s new robot rover named Curiosity landed safely early Monday in a huge crater near the equator of Mars and will soon begin its scientific studies. This marks NASA’s seventh landing on the red planet and is its 19th Mars mission, including those by orbiters and other spacecraft.

Why Mars Again?

The big unknown remains. Scientists want to know if any form of life ever existed there, and that means microscopic organisms. Curiosity is the most ambitious effort ever to burrow into that question, though it is not equipped to look for actual microbes. During its two-year exploration, it will try to answer whether the giant crater had the right conditions to support that type of life.

What will Curiosity do?

Curiosity carries a toolbox of 10 instruments, including a rock-zapping laser and a mobile organic chemistry lab. It also has a long robotic arm that can jackhammer into rocks and soil. It will hunt for the basic ingredients of life, including carbon-based compounds, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and oxygen, as well as minerals that might provide clues about possible energy sources.

And talking about the mission to Mars, if you recalled in 2010, President Obama talked about a manned mission to Mars by year 2030 whilst at the same time, cancelled the project to return to the Moon citing that the project was too costly, “behind schedule, and lacking in innovation”. With the latest successful landing of the Curiosity Rover, it will be interest how this mission to take man to the Red Planet going to take place in the next few years. It is also going to be very interesting how we are going to push the current innovation to make space exploration cheaper, safer and longer lasting.

(Our very own Planetarium Space Theater – it is a good platform to generate keen deep interest on space exploration and science. The other is the Langkawi National Observatory which has good stellar and solar telescopes. Image source: National Planetarium)

Looking back at Malaysia, no doubt we started with the wrong foot with teaching of Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia instead of the more “universal” language of English (we still have a chance to correct this mistake) but it is good that we have also started to expose Malaysians (especially the young ones) on the science of astronomy, mechanical, robotics, computing and others that is crucial for future space explorations. The sight on a greater exploration of the space should be there for all and we should start with the right language of science and mathematics.

P.s. Have a nice weekend and happy holidays to all. Hope that you will miss the madness at the highway and arrive safely at your destination.

A Valentine Post


Happy belated Valentine’s Day.

Frankly speaking, I don’t send roses on Valentine for 2 main reasons and it has nothing to do with PAS Youth’s call to boycott Valentine’s Day. 2 reasons – 1. Expression of love should not confined to one particular day of the year and 2. Price of roses on Valentine’s Day is insanely expensive (unless you have your own rose garden).

My wife does not really complain about it although I am sure she would love to get a large pack of roses on the 14th of February. Personally instead of roses, I rather take her for a good dinner and so it has been so for many years now. This year however was different – me and my wife got a surprise last night.

The “big boss” was waiting for me at the car porch as I came back home from work. Even before I took out my socks, he was already pestering me to go to the bedroom but I held him off for a second to put my things down. He usually do the same when he had done some artwork and want our “endorsement”. Either that or he usually wants to get my phone to play games.

We then walked up towards the room when he asked us to stop and close our eyes – he had “something” to show us. He led us inside and asked us to open our eyes – we saw in front of us – a rose with a short note for each of us (the misspelled Valentine was immaterial). Admittedly, it almost brought tears to my eyes especially I had read the notes but I withheld it and tried to act normal – I need to be confident in front of the “big boss” (I was not sure if it was the same for my wife).

My son then hugged the two of us and walked back down to watch cartoon – it was business as usual to him. We were impressed but at the same time, wondered where he got the roses (he had one red rose for each of us and then a pink one for himself). We knew that roses on a Valentine’s Day was not cheap but here he had 3 of them. We called him and asked him how he managed to buy the roses. Apparently he had some help from his aunts who had organized a stall selling roses for Valentine’s Day. He asked about Valentine’s Day, put his “request for roses” up early to ensure he gets it on time and he got them for a very cheap price on credit (I think so). We were indeed impressed with his networking skills, creativity and at the same innocence at this stage.

Seeing his Valentine’s notes and talking about expressions of love, it kind of reminded me of a photo shot that I took of my young niece and her dad over the weekend.

We had just came back from a trip up north and as we had decided to go in one car, we went over to my brother in law’s house to drop him, his wife and his baby daughter, But before we go to his house, my brother-in-law suggested that we head over for a cup of coffee. After all, it has been a tiring journey and a strong cup of hot coffee would do wonders to a weary body.

We headed to Coffee Bean and ordered our drinks – my brother-in-law was staring at his baby daughter and playing with her. She was looking back at her Daddy and seemed to be wanting to say something. But then again, she need not say anything – her eyes said it all and I was lucky to catch that moment. I am sure both of them will cherish this moment for the rest of the lives and it was not even Valentine’s Day.

This surely will be one of the Valentine’s Day to be remembered.

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Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 5


(Countdown – 322 days to “doomsday”)

Weekends are rest days and it is the best time to catch up on sleep and when that’s done, for the rest of the day, it is time to go around town.

One of the best ways to travel around the city is to use the ever excellent and efficient Metro service and we were just lucky to have a Metro station close to our hotel. Navigating around the station was not that difficult – plenty of large signs in English and color-coded arrows but for those who cannot communicate in Mandarin, you may have some trouble communicating with the Metro staff but then again, you will not have problem communicating with fellow passengers for assistance.

During our time, there were incidents of Metro trains stalling and derailing causing some injuries to some peak-hours passengers. So when some one proposed that we take Metro to go for shopping, we were a bit apprehensive about of safety. But then, we decided to take some chance – we did not think it was that bad. The journey itself was uneventful but it did gave us a good opportunity to see the Shanghai’s young generation in action. They dress well and almost all is playing games on their smartphones or listening to music. The adults on the other hand looks more stressed up. Everyone is rather quiet and minding their own business.

One of the places we decided to go using Metro this time is an old temple in Shanghai. We were hoping to do some shopping along the way as well.

The first place we went was the Jin’an Temple – it was an impressive structure in the middle of the city and next to shopping malls. It is said that it is the oldest temple in the city – built in 247 AD and was the site for China’s first Buddhist organization in 1912, then during the Cultural Revolution, it was converted into a plastics factory. We arrived at the temple early but somehow we decided not to enter inside the temple – the entrance fees or the modern outlook of the temple or maybe the time we arrived may have been the cause – I am not sure. We took some photos outside of the temple and contemplated on what would be the next move.

We then decided to go to another temple – the famed Jade Buddhist Temple that was built in 1882 to place the 2 jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma. The temple was crowded with tourists (they were arriving by the busloads which included a couple of Malaysians) and devotees (mostly old people) by the time we arrived. We went there in 2 taxis – it was easy to get a taxi to the temple but it is a different story when you want to leave – there is hardly a taxi on sight and there is a long queue at the taxi stand. We had to pay to enter this temple as well but if I was not wrong, the charges seemed cheaper.

Despite the actual age and compared to the Jin’an Temple, this temple looked older and a bit run-down. Whilst others decided to do some prayers – some of us decided to walk to the souvenir shops for some cheap Buddhist relics and other souvenirs for home (they were selling jade here as well). We knew some of the items on sale were priced higher than usual but we decided that the extra money that we paid for the items will probably go in the end, towards the temple and the administration cost which we did not mind.

The temple complex was quite extensive with several smaller buildings and it took a couple of hours to walk around the place. If you really look hard enough, there is plenty of things to see here – including decorative footpaths and a rather ancient looking pictures. We feel really warm in this temple complex – all buildings that we went did not had any air-conditioner and there is very little place you can sit under a shade. This caused us to feel very thirsty – so make sure you have plenty of water with you (we did not see any stall selling water here but I am sure there is one but is likely to be overpriced). I packed about 3 bottles of drinking water in my bag but still it was not enough. It was quite late in the afternoon when we were simply too tired (and hungry & thirsty) to go further. We walked out (not before being bugged by the beggars outside the temple – I became an easy target for them) for the nearest Metro station (it was quite a long walk from the temple to the station) and looked for a place to have lunch.

To be continued…

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Brisbane Flood


Click here for more stunning, interesting photos

(An aerial view of the submerged runway at Rockhampton airport on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia – Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images)

The last time I saw something similar is when I was flying over from Dubai and we had to stop at Dhaka on transit. Bangladesh had seen one of the worst monsoon season just couple of days earlier and as we neared the capital, all we could see is brown, murky water.

There were patches of land, occasionally on the sea of water and there was people, cattle and everything that the people managed to save in time on this small patches of land. In fact, there was way too much water all around us, I thought we just going to pass over the airport. At the end, we did land but I realized that the airport is only part of the land that was not flooded.

We were even surprised to see a long line of passengers waiting for the plane – some even boarded with wet clothes and bags and a sad face that explains it all – leaving the loved ones with an uncertain future whilst they fly away from the flooded city. Due to the worsening flood, we did not wait for long and soon we were back on air, leaving the flooded country with a sense of relief.

Brisbane fared slightly worse with the runaway sticking up like a sore thumb but things are still bad over there with 200,000 people affected. Back at home, we have not been doing too good either.

Creepy Moonlight


This was creepy when I opened the window for a cool breeze and the full moon light up the clouds up ahead.

I don’t know what happened but I found myself staring at the moon and the way the clouds was moving slowly across the sky. I felt humbled and peaceful – and I could have easily looked at the moon for hours.

Higher resolution and another shot in my photo blog here

On Time! Maradona


In case you missed this during the Argentina – Nigeria match…

(Maradona after his team one up – note his hands. Image source: (AP Photo/Luca Bruno). More photos here)

Maradona with watches on both hands!

By the way, the Nigeria goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama was a class on his own against the agile, fast and skilful Argentines. We should have been at least 5 up against the Nigerians – damn!