The Place We Once Called Home – Ohkuchi-machi

 

The flight to Komatsu was a bumpy one. A real scary one! Other airlines would have postponed such a flight; but maybe it is a common thing here. A small commuter plane run by a local airline (IBEX) using a small jetliner CRJ700- Canadian Regional Jet. The plane must be a tough one to be able to go through such a strong turbulence. Anyway, my heart dropped several times during the 1-hour flight from Tokyo to Komatsu which is located on the west coast of japan. Amid fiery thunder storm, we arrived just a few minutes late. Down here the storm left a wet and quiet day going into the breezy night. The day in Komatsu was about to end and as always there is no night life in this part of Japan.

Tadaimak! I’m back! It was here that I left the town after a year sabbatical at JAIST. The road back to the place we were staying seems so familiar. I drove through this traffic countless times making every single stop and turn a nostalgic milestone. We stopped at one of our favorite shops- 2nd street- only to be greeted by a familiar face at the counter. I knew this guy and he is still running this place. I grabbed a pair of shoes and left. The night was still early but Okuchi-machi was dead already. We lived here for the most of my time in Japan. Just could not wait to meet the neighbors tomorrow. It was summer so Fajr was early at 3;30 am. By 5 am the sun was already high in the sky. The place was revealed by the late summer sunshine—it was refreshing as ever. Listening to Khai Bahar on youtube, I walked through the morning mist. Khai bahar was still on smule when I was here, and his voice always accompanied me on my way home in the evening. That day I listened to him once again to relive the beautiful moments of my time in Japan. It’s a short 10-min walk from JAIST (where I spent the night) to Okuchi-machi, and, that morning was the most nostalgic walk I’ve ever taken. I wish for the first time the distance was longer. As if I wanted to count every single flower along the road and greeted every single farmer tending the gardens. We went to Tanganuchi house and met Tanganuchi-san, nice old man living next door to the house we used to live. He was surprised of course but greeted us gladly nevertheless. The wife wasn’t there. She was the one who made us feel so welcome here despite the language that we hardly understand.

We made our way to another house. On the way, I saw this familiar face and once he recognized me he jumped up and down and ran to find the door. Like a little kid who has not seen his father for a long time. I was overwhelmed—this is the type of people that is truly pure and honest in a relationship. Despite so little English, and us with minimum Japanese, we managed to communicate and developed a special relationship. His name is Motosa-san (aged 64 years old) and heads the community in Okuchi-machi. We greeted each other without words to describe our excitement only smiles and continuous bows from him to show his gratefulness of our presence. He led us to his house and met his lovely wife. She was surprised of course; we exchanged  greetings and good wishes. The wife speaks English very well. That would complete my visit in Japan. Meeting these people and knowing they are still up and about would  end my holiday with a beautiful memory. Actually, reignited the past memories of our experience living in Japan. Hmmmm…let’s book a flight for next year…Hahahaha!

It has been over a year since I left JAIST …….DSC_1553

A road leading to Ohkuchi machi …

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The sign that I always violated huhuhu ……

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Friends (old and new) that I met after the Friday prayers….

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They have a new shuttle bus now …..

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where we found our lost keys…

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The shuttle that  run from Jaist to Tsurugi…now big and spacious

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Revisited my favorite spot in the library…DSC_1565

No one was around….as always.DSC_1566

 

Out and About in Tokyo

First day in Tokyo reminds me a lot of the time we used to spend during our last days in Japan—riding the trains. I think they are the best transportation in Japan. They run fast, arrive on time and can take you anywhere you want to go. Although an hour ride will put a pain on your back, it is nevertheless quite comfortable for the money you paid. We arrived late in the evening at Haneda Airport; by the time we were cleared at the immigration and customs the train service has retired for the day. We spent the night at the airport to catch the first train in the morning. My daughter bought us a 3-day pass for Metro lines. She gave us a map for Tokyo and the map for the subways and off we went. First, I was not sure about this but after a few rides, going around with the subways was quite easy. If I could do it you guys could do it as well. So, don’t worry if you need to catch the train for your next trip in Japan, you would get the hang of it in no time. Besides, the staff at the station would make sure you will not get on the wrong train. They are very helpful even if we don’t speak much of Japanese; just ask and be polite!

Our destination was to get to the place where our daughter lives, on the north-eastern part of Tokyo. The green line will take us there and on the map, it is labelled A for Asakusa. The stop is called Higashi-Oojima and is about half an hour from central Tokyo. The word, “Tokyo”, seems to sound big and complicated but believe me it is the most friendliest place I have ever been. I don’t know how to describe it but you should come and experience it yourself. The only thing that you need to remember is to behave and respect the local culture. Our daughter has just started working here and we came to see how she’s doing. The apartment was big enough for her and a couple of roomates; situated in a new and modern apartment complex along the Edo river. The cycling tracks and jogging path along the river made my heart dropped. They were long and wide and run along the river for miles and miles. Every time when I looked down from the balcony, I would see people racing through the misty morning chasing the river flow. What an awesome sight! And in addition to that, they have thousands of cherry trees planted along the river bank. I could imagine the pretty cherry blossoms that would be here in the spring. I hope my daughter will be safe and happy here.

We had a good sleep to refresh ourselves from the jetlag. It was early in the afternoon and we were ready to be out and about to explore this great metropolis. We chose the Imperial Palace to spend for the rest of the afternoon. Sunset would be at around 6pm so we had about 4 hours to enjoy the beautiful summer sunshine in Tokyo.

The sight of the Imperial Palace was so magnificent from any angle you look at it. Too bad we could not get into the palace but looking from outside would be enough for me. I have been to many palaces and castles in Kanazawa and Kyoto so this one should be as great as those places. It was amazing to see that this place is in the city and has beautiful lawns and fields. People used it as running tracks along the road circling the Palace. I could see how running is a favorite sport in Japan; everyone runs. A short ride away we stopped at the Tokyo Skytree. At night, it was a beautiful and glittering tower reaching into the sky. It took my breath away. We took a few pictures and left. It was time to chase the trains again.

Oojima at night

 

We had an opportunity to visit The Camii Mosque of Tokyo

 

Dinner at a small Egyptian restaurant

On My Trip To Japan

This time my story starts with a quiet Eid ul Adha. Lately the Raya has been very quiet for us. Last Raya we went off to Jordan after a brief first-day of Raya. It seems that we have a difficult time to digest the spirit of Raya. But deep down I’d like one day to have a long and relaxing Raya celebration. It is the time to reconnect with family and long lost friends. But not today. At the moment I’m trying to kill time on a flight to Tokyo; a near 7-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to Narita. So far it has been a bumpy flight, hurricane tail-whip affect from the Philippines, the Captain said through the plane’s broadcast. But it’s okay as the delicious vegy  baryani has killed off the jittered stomach. I have a lot to tell but have no time to sit down and write. The time just flew away quietly. It has been already a year since I came back from Japan. A lot of things have happened to me and around me. One was tragic; a good friend and close neighbor shot and killed himself one afternoon. Just like that. He ended his life abruptly leaving behind family and friends wondered what went wrong.

After the long sabbatical leave in Japan, I went back to teaching. The classroom smelled the same and the students had the same smiles and cheeky faces. Just a few things that make you realize how much you miss teaching. Teaching is my job and after 27 odd years at it, your teaching skills have grown with you. A classroom is no longer the room with four walls but a stage where you pass the knowledge, perform your lesson and test your ability to make the lesson relevant to the students. No flashy slides or hard core English accent, by the end of my lesson I want to see their eyes glittered with awe and their faces reveal the opening new chapter of their life. I could feel it and they certainly could feel it—the lesson learnt. All the accessories in class teaching will make you grow tired and sometimes frustrated when things go wrong. However, preparation of the lesson would be the utmost important part of teaching. Never go into the classroom without it. Even when you know the subject matter like the back of your hand, be prepared and ready to execute the lesson plan.

Teaching is a beautiful thing. The relationships you made with the students are priceless. Every time anyone of the students responds to your hope and expectation, return the favour appropriately and sincerely…..with encouragement and motivation for a job well done. I don’t see any sane individual to take advantage on this situation and does something bad. A trust that must be honoured responsibly. When the classroom door closed behind me and the lesson started, I would have a special moment with my students. The moments of my life as one can put it. So these moments must be planned properly and strategise thoroughly. At the end of the class I would reflect on it and see if it was a good lecture or not. Sometime when the class went so good I would celebrate and reward myself with nasi lemak or nasi kerabu hahahaha! ( I usually don’t take them in the morning). But if the class went the other way I would go back to the office and nap—that’s the end of my day! I’ve never expected anything in return but good students will honour you someday down the line. And when they do you would reflect the beautiful moments you had with them. What a priceless reward!

Ayuh! Para Murabbi …

terima kasih…untuk selaung nasihat buat anak anak kami
… untuk sebaris formula yang dirumus sebati
… untuk senada doa yang segar di sanubari
… untuk sebaris ayat Ilahi lekat di hati
… untuk sekelumit kasih pembakar jatidiri
… terima kasih dari kami 

Ayuh! Para murabbi …
marilah kita bina anak bangsa ini
dengan ruh iman dan taqwa Ilahi
kita isi jiwa jiwa putih bersih
dengan ilmu jati diri
agar mampu mendongak tinggi
melaung seruan rabbani

Ayuh! Para murabbi …
anak anak sedang menanti
untuk mengenal dan meneliti
tentang duniawi dan ukhrawi
jadilah kita bak pohon berdiri
meneduh dan melindungi
dari keperitan hidup duniawi
dan kedahsyatan alam ukhrawi
usah dikira wang dan ringgit
atau keringat yang menitik
kerna syurga firdausi
adalah janji Robbul ‘Aalamin

Ayuh! Para murabbi …
buatlah pena menari-nari
mentafsir helah hari ini
melakar impian sejati
buat bekal alam abadi
esok munkin tiada lagi
insan kerdil berlari-lari
menegur dan melambai pergi
buat hati sayu sebegini

terima kasih sekali lagi
semoga doa yang diiringi
dimaqbul Ilahi Robbul ‘Aalamin

Pantai Jeram, Kuala Selangor

11 Ogos 2017

Travelog 2017 : Petra

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At the Khazanah in Petra

We entered Petra at around 8:30 am when the sun was about to warm up this hilly landscape. Breakfast was superb with delicious tomatoes and cucumber. I think they were  better than the ones we had in Japan: juicy and tasty. Petra is a huge archeological  complex that was discovered in the 1960s and later on in 2008 was recognised as UNESCO world Heritage site.

 

 

 

 

As we leave Petra, my whole body was aching and I could hardly move. But the feeling was wonderful to be able to witness the display of ancient history and verified the many tales and stories about the people once lived here. I glanced back through the car windows and saw from a distance a civilization from the past that would sit and wait for someone like me to come by and being swept away by the magnitude of the whole thing. It would be there as it has been for thousand of years. The car dwindled down the hill fast like a roller coaster ride but I could barely raise a voice to slow it down. Let it just rolled down the hill, I need the time to nurse my tired feet and painful back. I closed my eyes and smell the air conditioned that blew onto my face.we were heading to our next destination– Wadi Rum

Four hours later we reached there. It was a desert camping area. We would be spending the night here.we rode on 4by4 to catch a sunset.A desert is a huge sandy and rocky landscape that you would see an Arab drives a car like a crazy man just like you see them driving on a street road hahahaha. The rock formation was magnificent and unique. A movie called The Martian was shot here. and you are right the place is like a strange place from outer space on a strange planet somewhere. We made a few stops and tries to take in all the history and moments from the past that came with the scenery. It was incredible and amazing experience just to be there. The exact answer to the question — what did you really do at the desert? nothing! just looking around. and it was enough. Then we were swoozed around to the next pont to wait for the sunset. Again the sight was breath taking which lasted for a few minutes.

Travelog 2017 : Jordan

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In Jeddah, we arrived with Saudia Airline. Quite comfortable plane but shaking endlessly throughout the flight . This time we’re going  to Jordan and Egypt. I had no idea what to expect out of this journey, not much I guess. Travelling through the Arab world has a different flavor I supposed; instead of leisure it is more of an adventure. Anything could happen and usually it happened at the least time you expected. Not much of the hospitality as you received elsewhere in the world ;welcoming strangers with open arms and warm smiles. Over here is skeptical the first time and a nuisance the second time. As we do not speak Arabic we will get the nuisance look most of the time.

After eight hours of flight and a couple of old movies my body started to ache and every joint squeaked painfully. I find no leisure in a journey like this… long and tiring. Maybe the body is not fit anymore for a long haul travelling. Maybe as you grow old you need more reasons to do things out of ordinary. People say travelling is fun; I am still searching for fun in such activity. I will keep searching. It was 2 am and the smell of the transit lounge gave me a headache. The noise from a child tells that he was tired too. Why do we have to endure this pain? In search for a fun maybe or the urge to see other people and places. so we can brag about it on FB wall. I don’t really understand the world I am living. I guess that’s why I would create my own world and roam the impossibility in there endlessly. I have a secret garden that I go every now and then. A secret beach that I can lie down under a lulling sunshine. and a never never land that I can fly and be myself whoever I want to be. The childish fantasy in me is actually a saviour from the stressful world around me. The environment that aged me by the seconds.

One thing about travelling is that you have plenty of time ….waiting. You waited for the connecting flight, for the gate to open, for your document to be cleared or for someone to pick you up. So most of the time you would sit around and see people coming and going. It is the best time to contemplate on things that you have never had time to ponder. About life for the past few thousand hours that you spent living and surviving in this mad mad world.

I contemplated mainly on my growing up years when I had nothing at all. Without physical luxury or self esteem, I waded the fast moving current of my early life  with just the will to see and to know what was ahead of me. Living one day at a time and one step after another. I never had a big dream to change the world or that sort of thing. Because no one ever taught me how to dream or what to dream. I floated aimlessly for quite some time. But fate has it that I moved from one milestone to another building my own life; without realizing it. I survived, passed the exams, got a job and started a family. The time flies so fast. Before you know it, you are old and constantly in pain. I don’t want to get old and grumpy because I have a lot more things to do and to experience.

The transit lounge was busy even at the early hours of the morning. We sat and slept and waited some more. Fajr came at last and the boarding time should be anytime now. The flight to Amman was scheduled at 10.50 local time; it was on time. The flight was full and packed with big people. They made the plane looked so small. I squeezed myself into the seat and tried to relax and settled myself. Outside, the desert sun started to heat up the air, it’s going to be a hot day. I hope Amman would not be as hot. The flight was smooth and the food was good. For the first time I tasted a special diabetic meal (as ordered by my daughter who done the booking for us) and it was fantastic. At last the world understands what it means to be diabetic. We arrived on time at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. It was around noon. Ahlan wasahlan ! Welcome to Jordan—the Land of the Prophets.

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Arriving in Amman, Jordan

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At the QAI Airport

 

In Jordan, the sun was high and temperature was around 40 degrees. The barren landscape makes the air feels so dry and unforgiving. The trees are barely alive and giving a glimpse of the hard life that the people of this land have to put up in order to survive. The young man at the immigration counter gave us a cold sigh when we struggled to give him the information that he needed. Usually at any other entry points we would be yelled at or screamed at when we were not ready with the information. So this man scaled better than average immigration officer. Overall, the  first impression of Jordan was good, people were friendly and the environment was relax; no police roadblock along the 200 km highway that we passed through to go to Petra.

My Moksu

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The message beeped in late Friday night and it did not look good. I tried to read it a few times and it came up the same thing. My auntie lost her battle in ICU and passed away. She was fighting multiple diseases and at around midnight her body gave up. It was a great loss for me. Auntie Moksu Peah was a half-sister and a good friend to my late mom and great auntie to us all. Her warm smile will always be with us for eternity. Rest in peace Auntie! May Allah place you with the pious in Jannah. She was buried early the next morning in her hometown in Golok, Southern Thailand.
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I have never been to this border city despite it is only half an hour’s drive from my home in Pasir Mas,Kelantan. Many of us in Kelantan have relatives living across the border; it was once a place common to us. The King of Siam took away our land in a battle long time ago. Anyway, it was a bitter past that has redesigned our present life. Her burial was done swiftly and quickly right after Fajr prayers. I arrived a few hours later. I pushed myself to go and crossed the border in an effort to meet my auntie’s family. The thing that I should do a long time ago. I met them every now and then during Raya or wedding feasts so we don’t know each other very well. The faces are bits and pieces from the past. I tried to put them together to make a picture. A picture that meant a lot some time ago. We were speechless as if trying to figure out what was the last words we said to each other. It seems so close to our heart; yet, too broken to mean anything. We did not mean to break anything, circumstances had put  us apart; thus, we took our own path. But now we are here again so let us start again. The smiles and the friendships that we once ignored. It was very unfortunate to meet again in a very sad situation. We have lost someone close and all of the sudden the world seemed crumbling down. I saw frustration and hopelessness on every face that I tried to recognize. The eyes were still wet with tears whenever they tried to tell the last moments of Moksu’s life. I went to her grave; the soil was still fresh. Said prayers and contemplated on the warm relationships that we managed to cherish. I remember mostly of her smiles and relaxed conversation that we had every time we met. My late Mom always talked about her whenever I asked about our relatives; as if Moksu was the only one I should worry about. It was the last day of Ramadhan and her passing away will blow away the spirit of Syawal to the limit. For the first time her family will celebrate Hari Raya without her and her favourite dishes of the day. Things will be difficult for everybody.
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At the immigration complex in Rantau Panjang