Monday, January 29, 2007

Next Door Saviour

It is not often that I recommend a book here in my blog. Probably never before.

Here's a really good one. Next Door Saviour, by Max Lucado.

Have you ever gotten bored reading the Bible?

You've read those same passages, again and again, many times over. You've heard those popular verses recited and quoted times and again in Sunday Sermons and Christian gatherings. Yawn...

Each morning as you religiously open the Book, do you wonder if there still anything new in store; this same Book that you've read over and over in the past many years as a faithful believer? What runs through in your mind? Excitement? Expectation of new discoveries, new revelations?

Or is it, more like lugging your stiffened mind and treading along the well-traveled route, can't wait to get the the end of it and move on to something else. Just get over with the duty, the obligation, coz that's what good Christians are supposed to do, so you were taught. A chore. Those same verses, same passages, you could almost recite them. So, what's new?

I could spend an entire night sleepless devouring Dan Brown's Da Vinci's Code, yet doze off after ten minutes of the Bible. Bad Christian, I hear you yelling at me. I am just being honest, and honesty is a virtue, right?

Here's what's new: the Bible is richer than you think. If only you and I would look further, go deeper. This book by Max Lucado showed me how.

The same passages, the same scenes surrounding Jesus' brief stay on planet Earth, Max's writings bring them to life. You wonder where he gets such wisdom from. Ten verses in the Bible, Max expands into ten pages. He paints in the background, fills in the actors, he even invites you to explore the minds of each character. He gathers details from elsewhere in the Scriptures, and presents to you, a complete story. Ah oh, he writes with such flair, such beautiful play of words; a pinch of tease, a sprinkle of sarcasm, a touch of mystery. Almost poetic. Max's writings engages your mind, your feelings and emotions, absorbs your entire attention.

Here is a man who could see through common events in everyday life and relate it to the Scriptures, and see the hand of the Creator.

Have a read at it, and you will see those same passages from a new perspective. More than that, you will learn to see those boring and mundane routines in you life in a whole new light. Try it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Christmas Feast

The Keningau Chinese Inter-Church committee, consisting of representatives from the Anglican, Basel and Methodist churches, organized a grand Christmas Dinner on 17th December 2006. We planned for 50 tables initially, and it was a sold-out, so we upped it to 57 tables. Praise the Lord!

Usually we get a professional photographer to take good photos. However, he wasn't available. So, me and my little camera took the job. Not a good one la, my little Canon S2IS does not perform in low light. Anyway, if anybody is interested to see those photos, click HERE.

Fruitful season - Bambangan

Here's another exotic fruit from Sabah.
Nope they're not buah ciku on steroids.

This fruit called bambangan is actually a member of the mango family (believe it or not). It is a very popular dessert/pickle among the local people, especially the Dusuns.

Here's the final product. The flesh is exactly like the mangoes, just that it taste a bit more stinging. The white flakes are actually grated bambangan seed (which looks exactly like mango seed).

Wanna have a taste of it? Come to interior Sabah.

Fruitful season - Whatisthat

Well, I forgot the name of these fruits. They look like green rambutans minus the hair; and taste like rambutans, only many times sweeter.

If you happen to know the name to these spiky fellas, please let me know.

Fruitful season - Tarap

Is that a nangka? Is that a cempedak? NOOOOooo... it's a TARAP!
I guess those of you from West Malaysia would not have seen this fruit before, or even tasted it. Well here they're plentiful along the roadside when they're in season, which is NOW.

Taraps grow on really huge trees with big leaves. The best way to get the fruit is from up the tree. Can't wait for it to drop, unlike durians. Coz either the birds or squirrels or worms will get to it first, or the impact on landing would crush the fruit.

Here is my loupo's brother getting the fruits with the grandmother as director.

"A bit more to the right... atas lagi... noooo not that one, the one beside is bigger... OK, now be careful... come down slowly... yes take that branch... "

See, need some guts to get those fruits huh. Worse still if got semut api on the trees... No pain, no gain ma. But if got money, can buy from the tamu (morning market).

Usually it is better to get the tarap before it ripens. Once it is plucked, it will ripen within the next one to two days. And ripe taraps don't last long.

Ah, here's how it looks like inside. The flesh is a bit like cempedak, only softer, more whitish and fragrant. The skin of the fruit is really a work of art, looking like a spiky sponge, tentacles, whatever you wish to call it. Supposedly designed to sustain the impact of landing on the ground. But it doesn't always work.

If you are gentle enough peeling the skin, you can get all the flesh off the skin while still hanging to the stalk, like the ones my loupo was holding.

The tarap can be eaten as it is, or fried coated with flour. I heard that the locals cook raw taraps into a dish.

Fruitful season - Rambutan

Just brought a group of colleagues to my neighbour's nearby orchard yesterday. We had a whole tree of rambutans all to ourselves. The freshest rambutans we've ever eaten, right off the tree.

Every rambutan tree seems to be fruiting at the same time now. As a result, these fruits are selling dirt cheap, down to RM 1-2 per kg here. My generous neighbour brought a big sack of it to distribute to my staffs.

Criterias for good rambutans: thick, firm and sweet flesh, detach easily from the seed, nice looking with the right shade of red, the right length of hair...

I am being picky here. With so many good ones to chose from, why bother with the inferior ones.

Fruitful season - Durian

Here comes the King... of fruits!

Durian is in season now in this part of Sabah. I've been eating so much of it, sampai jelak already. Too much of it can make the body feel hot and feverish, and that is when you need things like the Queen of fruits, Chinese buang-panas herbal tea...

Durians here don't go by coded names like D24, D70s, D80, 350D (oops)... as their counterparts in West Malaysia. Here they all fall under the generic name durian kampung, though some have their sub-variety local names, if the seller bothers to tell you.

The going price here is around RM 4-5 per kg. Heard that in KK the price can go up to RM 8-10 per kg. I've got friends with durian orchards... faham-faham la...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Back to Seremban

I went back to Seremban last weekend. Got called to attend a Masters Program interview in Hospital UKM. I applied to do specialisation in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Why HUKM? Hmmm I will tell you when we meet la.

Now that everyone can fly with AirAsia, I joined the crowd too to save some money.

Have you been to the new airport in Kota Kinabalu? The AirAsia Airport we call it. Ah ha, now you know there are two airports in KK. The airport was opened on New Year's day. Pretty impressive and spacious. Here are some photos.

Many flights delayed (a nicer word is "rescheduled"). Cheap fares, what do you expect la. Our pilot blamed it on the weather.

My main complaint is the lack of seats in the airport. As a result, many people had to park their
butts on the metal rod on the ground. Ouch!

Here's me practising the art of sitting on the fence.

On interview day, I was surprised that the short-listed list was really short, almost equalling the intake numbers. Applicants for UM, UKM and USM all came to HUKM for centralised assessment. For O&G, we had to sit for a 30-questions multiple-choice-question test, followed by an short interview with lecturers from each univ. They asked about my experience, why I applied for the course, and the golden question "... as a future O&G specialist in Sabah, what are your plans for the state?" (can I say want to make more $$$ ah?)
"... you UM grad right? Why didn't you apply for UM? UM not good ar?!" (UKM overtook UM liao u dunno meh?)
"... why did you take MRCOG Part One?" (I got nothing better to do ma)
"... why should we take you?" (I got Part One ma)

"... cannot guarantee you will remain in Sabah u know, may have to send to other states if no vacancy... you willing ah?" (I can say don't want or not?)

Met with some old university friends in PJ, then spent two more days in Seremban before flying back to Sabah. Dad sent me to the airport.

Managed to get some books from Popular Bookstore and MPH in Seremban. Can't find them in KK la, hardly any respectable bookstore. Bought a few books written by Thomas Friedman and Robert Kiyosaki (google them la if you are curious).

Somewhere over the rainbow

When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and all living beings on earth. That is the sign of the promise which I am making to all living beings."
Gen 9:16-17
*Photo taken in Apin-Apin, Keningau.

Grandmother story

This is Irene's grandmother.

She introduces herself to people with the usual opening line... "Hello, my name is Lafut. I am 80 years old. I have 10 children, 39 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren... (and still increasing)"

This amazing lady lives on her own in a wooden house in Kampung Baru Jumpa, Tenom. Each day she rises to tend to her cocoa plants and paddy fields. You might wonder, why isn't someone of her age sitting back at home and relaxing. What I heard from my loupo was, she prefers to be independant while she still can, and does not want to burden her children who have their own families to tend to. Anyway, her eldest daughter lives not far away, just in case. Her husband, an ex-village headman, passed away 10 years ago.

This energetic granny has a strong penchant for adventures and travelling. She has just gone for a New Year trip to Melinau in Indonesia (where the Lundayeh people originates from) to visit relatives there. Not a simple feat, mind you. You gotta go on road from Tenom to KK (4 hours), KK to Tawau (flight), Tawau to Tarakan in Indonesia (ship), and Tarakan to Melinau (boat). She is known to travel quite often to Sandakan (10 hours journey) to visit her children there. During her younger days, she was a Christian missionary going around from village to village on feet.

What I admire most about her, besides her independance and her energy, is her positive attitude in life.

At an age when most people would be grumpy and demanding, here's a very different kind of granny.

She is not the kind who bad-mouths or gossips about other people, blaming her children for not living up to her expectations, finding fault with everybody and everything...

Here is an old lady who speaks positively about her past experiences whether good or bad; tells people about her adventures and her family, and giving words of encouragement to her listeners. She gives wise advice based on the Bible and her faith in the God she knew. Therefore she is very much sought after to give opening speeches at family gatherings or events. "Stage-fright" is definitely not in her vocabulary, hehehe...

If only I grew up among more of such people, I would have been a better person.

Teaser 2