Sunday, November 22, 2009

Exploring My Culture: Episode 1

People (except for those who have known me for ages) are often surprised when I pick up a call and start blabbing in my native Kelantanese. Even friends who knew that I'm from Kelantan would still find it weird and funny when I speak the lingo, especially for the first time, in front of them. But this next fact I guess would surprise them even further. I'm a huge fan of dikir barat, yes ma'am.

I guess it started when mom started buying dikir barat cassettes and later CDs from the night markets and would play them in the car. So I had to listen to the songs, which very quickly grew on me. The rhythms are often similar, with traditional music and sometimes clapping in the background, but it was the lyrics that got me. Often they are meant as advices, telling you the dangers of drugs or the perils of badmouthing people for example. Most times, it's done in a very humorous and catchy way that the song would be stuck on you.

But I've never seen a dikir barat performance yet. Sure I've seen the one students do up in schools, and the ones shown on RTM yonks ago (AIDS merbahaya, Aedes pula mengancam manusia, remember?). But then I saw a video of the National Dikir Barat Competition, and was enthralled! Maybe about 30 men sitting in lines, the rear line on a pedestal so you can see them. Their moves were complicated, synchronised perfectly to the music and changes tempo in tune with the song. It's like nothing I've seen before. I Youtubed more videos and saw that this is the norm for a real dikir barat performance. This is no child's play, this is a complex performance.

Since for competitions it is basically a debate, and the teams would make their case. This is where the importance of having a good tukang karut comes in to play, because he needs to improvise the lyrics as the 'debate' goes on. The awak-awak would be repeating his lines (and in a more informal setting, with much gusto and improvisation on their part too) while performing their moves which only makes us of the upper body and the knees. The tukang karut would often make lighthearted jabs at his opponent, riling him up a little, and when his turn ends we'll see the reply!

I read on a forum dedicated to dikir barat connoisseurs (, the tok jogho represents the King, thus he is always seated and his song is more serious. The tukang karut is his laksamana, where he would take the King's words (in the song) and use it to lead the attack on the opponent. The awak-awak are the foot soldiers, mirroring the laksamana's words in numbers and put it to action.

But of course, don't take my word for it. There's much more to this art form, and you'll do well to explore it yourself regardless if you're Kelantanese or not. I am very glad that back in Kelantan the dikir barat scene is still very much active, with some tukang karut achieving fame and perhaps even celebrity status. Take a walk to the nearest pasar malam whenever you're in Kelantan and you'll find a stall or two selling the latest albums. You can even ask them which is the top album of the moment, and you won't be disappointed. If you're looking for the live performance, try ask around. There's one going on someplace, sometime, I'm sure of it ;)

P/S: if you see rappers improvising their lines during 'battles' and think that is impressive, then you've seen nothing yet homies.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is It Cold Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Get your winter coats out boys and girls, it's gonna be snowing this Friday!

Oh haven't you heard? There's gonna be a freak winter storm in KL, we might be snowed in so stock up on food and stuff quick!

I'm gonna go look for a snowboard tomorrow (does anyone know where I can find one in KL?) so that I can spend the weekend snowboarding in Bukit Belacan. Ami Yummy already made plans to go ice skating should Sg Klang & Sg Gombak froze over. Brown ice to skate on, nice.

To the hip-hop homies who wore snowcaps and bubble jackets in the hot and humid Malaysian weather, now's the time to don them in style and minus the profuse sweating, bless!

"Dear all,

For those who miss last weekend newspaper on the flood situation in Kelantan and Trengganu, the weather forecasted for around this coming November 15th is cold Siberian wind (due to melting of the ice caps – global warming) will be heading towards the equator and will result is another round of heavier rain hitting the East coast states. In this connection, the freak winter storm predicted for coming November 20th (article below) may have some truth, just stay aware and note the freaky weather in KL from now.

Rumours are surfacing about a freak winter storm that is expected to hit the Kuala Lumpur city centre on Friday, 20 November 2009 at around 7pm. Being near the equator, KL has never experienced such a cold weather phenomenon and residents used to the hot and humid weather are warned to take serious precautions.

Reliable sources think that there are reasons to believe these rumours following some unusual weather-related events that many parts of the world have experienced in recent history. Those who have never experienced extreme cold weather are advised to stick close to one another for support. I suggest reading this article on How to Survive Being Stranded in Snow and other similar ones you can find easily on the internet.

As I personally know some of these sources, I will send out further notices as we get closer to the anticipated event. Remember, mark 20 November 2009 in your diaries. In such an occurrence, there is safety in numbers so stay close to one another, especially after office hours!

P/S: Please don't tell me you believe this crap? One of the most ridiculous e-mail forwarded to me ever, mindblowingly ludicrous! But then I wouldn't complain if it actually snowed here, would be a nice change right? =P

Sunday, November 8, 2009

View From The Stands

The stage was set. A sea of red greeted my arrival in Bukit Jalil yesterday. 3/4 of the stadium was jam packed with fans bedecked in red and white. The noise level was wild, drums and trumpets helped to trump up the atmosphere and synchronise chants. Banners was unfurled around the stadium and flags of various kinds were on display (one joker even brought a PAS flag with a silhouette of the Malaysia Cup on the white 'moon'). Everyone was in a party mood - anticipating an excellent game as just reward for making a lot of effort to attend the game and show their support. It's game time!

But we were to be disappointed by an abject display by the team. The defenders were disorganised at best, missing tackles and making miskicks. The midfield went missing for major parts of the game. The strikers seemed nervy and kept holding on to the ball for too long. Main culprits would be Nizad Ayub (7), Norhisham Hasan (9) and Zamri Ramli (27). Looking at their game, they should be playing in Liga Belia Jajahan Bachok instead of at the highest level like this. Us in the stands were getting very frustrated with the inept gameplay on show.

After Shahurain scored the excellent first goal (again due to bad defending on our part), word on the stands was that we will not come back from that since the team is known to play badly after getting behind. True to word, they did. We still had hope going into half time though. But when Hairuddin scored another (yes you guessed it, atrocious defending again!) from the get go of the second half, there seemed to be no way back now. Even with Nizad and Norhisham taken out replaced by Che Hisamuddin (11) and Khalid Jamlus (25), the performance did not improve by much. By then it became apparent who is the worst player on the pitch. From where I'm sitting, major calls for Zamri to be taken out (and probably buang daerah to Rompin) was getting louder. I guess Negri players have also identified him as the weak spot as most of their attacks started coming through their left flank. It was like Negri having an extra player with his bad passes, positioning and tackles. It's practically a game of 10 against 12.

When Zamri brought down a Negri player for the penalty, the Red Warriors fell silent. Zaquan Adha converted coolly, and at 0-3 down I decided to leave this debacle for my long train ride home. Apparently quite a lot of other people felt the same way. I think I caught the first train out of Bukit Jalil but it was packed full to the brim with Kelantan supporters. There's still a crowd on the platform, mind you. I'll tell you later about the train ride itself ;)

Some supporters threw firecrackers and bottles and even burnt stuff last night, but somehow I understood. You have to be there in the stands to understand the frustration. It didn't make it right, and I should know better since I had a firecracker explode at my calf leaving an angry red patch of irritated and slightly singed skin, but understandable. Many of these folks came all the way from Kelantan by all means possible. Some took leave to ensure they had time to queue up to get the tickets while some paid crazy money to buy tickets from touts when all else fails. When more than 60,000 supporters made all kinds of effort off the pitch, shouldn't we be expecting the team to be making the effort on the pitch too?

Yes we lost to the better team. Negri absolutely deserved the win, and we deserved the thumping we got. I reserve my praise only for Indra Putra (23) Daudsu Jamaluddin (15) and Halim Napi (1) who played well enough to preserve whatever pride we have left. Well boys, let's start looking forward to next year. Bukit Jalil sekali lagi boh tahung depé? Bereh!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Kalau support MU la Arsenal la bagai nak rak, local team masuk final tak pergi tengok serupa tak payah.

Guano gu, jupo di Bukit Jalil malé nih?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Don't you just hate it when people misunderstood what you're saying and the result made you look bad?

Case in point, I dropped by a branch of a bank earlier today to make my car and house loan repayments. Filled up the forms, queued for like 5 minutes, went to the counter, gave the teller the forms and fished out the cash from my wallet.

I gave him a lump sum for both repayments, and there's a balance of RM35.36. But because of the rounding up the balance due was RM35.35.

So the teller did his stuff and then started taking out money for my balance. He gave me RM35 in notes and started counting the cents from a box of change. I noticed there's still 1 sen coins in the box, so I casually asked him:

"Ada lagi 1 sen?"

Perhaps it was my tone, or he was caught unaware, he replied:

"Memang kurang 1 sen sebab rounding up".

Arghhhh, and with that he effectively reduced me to a cheap ignorant idiot who even asked about the 1 sen deficit! I started to correct him, but then the damage's done. Note to self, go to a different branch next time.