Thursday, August 25, 2011

Neo-Experience of Ramadhan

My semester break begins today and hari raya is just about a week away.  But I’m still here at my apartment, swarmed with books on Nehru and India’s nonalignment foreign policy with the hope that by the end of the week I’ll be able to translate my thoughts on the subject into written thesis material worth submitting to my Supervisor.  Hopefully when it’s all done (one chapter of many that is), I’ll be just in time to celebrate hari raya and the birthday of my “cekodok penyek” (term I used for my girls......and that is a definition I must elaborate one day I guess).

The latest re-printed copy of the book on Nehru's thoughts.  I am reading selected parts of the book but my copy is much earlier, a 1964 re-printed version of the original one

 My Cekodok Penyek will be seven this weekend

Ramadhan has also been moving fairly quickly for me this year and as I write this, we are already into its last quarter.  Fasting this year has been another new experience for me.  Being away from family during the week in Ramadhan has given me time to be much more disciplined with my diet.  My breaking fast menu normally is either pasta or bubur lambuk (special rice porridge found abundant during Ramadhan).  Bubur lambuk has only been the one made by mother in law (better than any other bumbur lambuk that I’ve tried including the famous Kg Baru’s), and sauce for my pasta was made by my lovely wife, both frozen to perfection to last me for the entire month.  Just add sambal ikan bilis or sambal kerang (spicy fried anchovies or cockles) and voila, I have just the meal I need for my breaking fast.   As a result of my ‘modesty’ in the food I consume, I’ve been able to shed almost 3 kg so far, bringing my weight further down to the weight when I was a bachelor.  And the total for this year weight loss record......6kg!!!!  No worry, I’m still human.  My breaking fast menu with the family during weekends constitutes much wider spread, complete with noodles and kuih as appetiser, and a full course of rice and the lauk.  And I’m sure I’ll gain some weight back during hari raya.  Honestly, based on my experience so far, the ‘modest’ meal I consume has been more than enough and my sahur (early morning meal) has been a mug of quarker oat with 3 spoonful of Anlene milk.  I also consume plenty of plain water throughout the night to rehydrate my body.  As a result of this whole moderate approach, I’ve been healthy throughout Ramadhan Alhamdulillah, and I’ve been able to perform Tarawih without feeling sleepy (nap in the afternoon contributes as well) and still have a little bit of drive left to do my assignments till late at night.

The Tarawih prayers at the mosque I go to has been ideal in my opinion.  A short tazkirah (not more than 10 minutes) preceding the prayers and Tarawih of only 8 rakaat.  An ideal combination as far as I’m concerned and kudos to the mosque for coming up with such ingenuity.  The pace is good, no rushing, and done in the comfort of air-conditioned hall.  The best!!!!  I have gained some invaluable knowledge as well during the tazkirah, the fact that it is short and sharp makes it easier for me to capture and remember the salient points.  I wonder if such a short tazkirah has better impact on the jamaah compared to certain long-winded ones that get you neither here nor there.

Shah Alam mosque -  one of the mosques I go to for Tarawih prayers

Ramadhan this year is also coloured with a little family challenge.  My wife was admitted for four days at the hospital after suffering cycles of fever for a week.  It turned out that she had dengue fever.  She was just discharged on Monday, and after going through 7 bottles of IV fluids, I’m glad to see that the worst is over.  She is still recuperating at home and hopefully she’ll be alright by the time hari raya comes.  Me....shuttling between KL and Shah Alam, looking after my twins and our little sanctuary we called home, while juggling my fast approaching assignment deadlines have been a good reminder how challenges can just crop up when you least expected.  However, if you redha (accept your fate), you’ll be in a much better state of mind to deal with the situation and the fact that all these occurred during the holy month of Ramadhan has made it easier for me to deal with them.  Alhamdulillah.

As with the previous few years, I’m still sticking to my pledge of not going to Ramadhan bazaar.  I went once actually when I visited my best friend in Lumut for breaking fast.  I bought kuih talam from the usual trader we frequented, murtabak and the famous Pyan Popiah (this dubbed the best popiah in Sitiawan area can be found behind Billion shopping complex in Manjung) as buah tangan for our host.  And after reading that there were more than 500 people suffering from food poisoning during the first half of Ramadhan and a study revealed that 30-40% of food at certain bazaars were contaminated, I think we must be careful with the food we buy.  I suggest just buy from your known stalls and if you must try something new, the safe bet is to get something that is cooked on the spot like murtabak.  Even certain cook-on-the-spot food like ayam percik or otak-otak could be recycled (hypothetically, not accusing anybody) so just take the necessary precaution.  And we must recognise that majority of the operators are not 'seasoned' players in food business and only ply their trades once a year, so we must understand the potential shortcomings in the first place.  I’m not against buying food from Ramadhan bazaar as I know there is definitely a need for it especially for those who work.  And for me actually, the main reason for my pledged absentee is to refrain from over-indulgence, and the statistics I read in the paper just strengthen my belief in the issue.

 The famous Pyan Popiah

Piping hot murtabak

 Iftar menu at my best friend's house - Gulai rebung, lala, ikan bakar, daging masak kicap etc.

So as we try to heighten our tempo of amalan during this “dijauhkan dari api neraka” third phase of Ramadhan, and as we get nearer to hari raya, and as my marathon thesis writing begins to move at full force.......let me just take this opportunity to say Salam Aidil Fitri and Maaf Zahir Batin, and may the end of Ramadhan be blessed with rahmat as we continue our efforts to be closer to God, InsyaAllah. 

And please, please, please.....take extra precaution on the road as we make our way back to our kampung.  Be mindful that during raya period many drivers who are not experienced in highway driving or driving in heavy traffic will be out there behind the wheels (including many who have not fully comprehended the handling of their newly purchased vehicles specifically acquired to show off to their orang kampung:)).  Please drive defensively and anticipate these additional challenges on the road.  Let’s be extra cautious out there and if you don’t drive, please remind those who do (including your buddy, spouse, relative or even your bus drivers!!).

Have a great hari raya every one!