Saturday, 15 October 2011

That Little Gerai

That little gerai
My nephew started operating an eatery outlet serving Western dishes a couple of months ago.On record he's the first in my extended family to delve in business.Naturally we were all excited.Uncle's,Aunties,his sister,cousins,nephew,nieces and all.Some chipped with gifts of cutleries while others patronised the outlet to lend moral support.Of course during the visits,suggestions and comments flowed freely unsought.Additional items in the menu,furniture,settings,lighting,advertisement boards,ambience deluged in the conversation nonstop.Until the poor nephew all red faced trying to control his emotions blurted " This is only a little gerai you know.I was around and couldn't help joining the fray.In order to downplay the situation I lamented saying 'You mean like the little house on the praries'.A TV series in the sixties.Suddenly he jumped in excitement. Yes I will name this outlet" That Little Gerai".That's how the name came into being.

A little into the background of my nephew. He left for the United States at a tender age of 18 years to further his studies.Something must have happened along the way and for reasons only better known to him, he returned to his homeland at the age of 42.What baffles me is that you dont need 24 years to perfect your culinary skills.You only need to speak to him about the time lapse.(lest I may fall in his bad books).Upon his return,he worked at a couple of renown eatery outlets including 'SHOOKS' before going on his own.

Now lets get back to'That Little Gerai'. It operated for a few months and  had  to close because of a tiff with the owner of the rented lot. With the help of his parents who are dedicated (in malay read as 'daddykasi) to help him out. He moved to a proper shoplot nearby. This time things were better organised,with new furniture,fittings and complete sets of cutlery,oven and fridge.Even the tables were spread with  matching  tablecloth and decorated with flower vase,candle stands and printed menus.The patronage has increased,comensurate with its takings. The oft commenting  relatives this time around lay quite.As there is nothing much to suggest anyway.The poor nephew was given a free hand to run his business.The ever understanding uncles and cousins did their bit to help.They brought their families and friends to celebrate birthdays and chit-chat sessions.The men as always the victim, as they have to claim the damages.(settling of bills).If there are sceptics to the success of 'That Little Gerai' it's the daddykasi parents vis a vis the loan recovery.

Having a knack for sumptious western cuisine can be an expensive affair.A majority of the customers can be categorised  as Yuppies.They probably studied overseas and sure enough draw fat salaries.Their knowledge of western dishes  baffles me.They knew every detail from preparation to its sauce and meat.Even its brand,cost and country of import are well stored in their memory data.When comes the bill they pay like like a duke.No questions asked.

Judging from the frequency my nephew and nieces spend their time here,I believe they  are Yuppies too.Hopefully they extend an invitation to this old retiree sometime in the near future to join them in their dinner outings.Well,its not a sin to hope!

Lastly let me wish my nephew all the best and  the  bright sun of success greet him in his endeavour.

                                   " God Willing"

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Fodder for thought

This is my first in trying to pen a column in my only experience in writing were in official correspondence while I was in the Civil Service.Since I  have retired in 1996,this is the first time I held a pen.Fortunately you dont have the privilege to view my handwriting which is quite in ineligible and can only be diciphered by yours truly.At 65 my credentials to pen 'fodder for thought' I guess is only experience and a pinch of wisdom.
So as you may know,I purchased an I pad2 sometime about 3 months ago.As I struggle to muster the keyboard,buttons and icons thatis readily screened,my grandson Matt Roffo who is only 3+ is well ahead in its operations and usage.Only then it makes me realise that my faculties are slowly failing me.That little brat seems to beat me in everything. Even in 'Angry Bird' his scores are higher.

I never thought it was going that difficult to pen a few words.If it was that easy, you only need to look into my wastepaper basket to see balls of crumpled mistaken script being dumped. Ideas seem to flow but its all within the head.How could it be put to words. Well I have to try.There's always a first time.After all journey of a thousand miles begin with a step.Even Tun Dr Mahathir once quipped that the Americans never built its fighter jets and missiles had they not first built mono winged and biwinged planes.I remember seeing on TV  where crazy individuals run atop hills and dive from cliffs clinging to haphazard winglike  structures.Some even loosing their lives in the process.Well, thats how they got started.
The only topic that I want to share is the recent loss of my mother.She passed away peacefully about a month ago at a very ripe age of 91 years.Being 65 wheh I lost her,I guess I was luckier than most others.Some may have lost either one of their parents at a much younger age.(If thats a consolation).I had the pleasure to be in her company for quite a length of time.What do we say when someone looses a dear one. We normally would pat that someone onthe back and say' be strong,be patient  and accept it as God's will. We could sympatise and emphatise at someone's loss.But could it be the same if the loss is yours? They say you never really loose anything until the loss is yours! How true it is.I should know. My mother was blessed with good health until her last days.Being at that age she is quite frail but otherwise in fine fettle  apart from suffering a lapse of memory. She had seven children all alive and kicking above the half century mark.I am the third in the family.Amongst all the children,I believe I was the one whom she chose to confide and share her woes and experiences.Since  I retired 15 years ago, I would visit her 2 to 3 times a week and we'll chat for hours. Off and on we laughed and cried pouring our life's experiences and seeking each other's comfort. Mistakes we made in life,things that should be said and done and things we did which were utterly different.I guess that's part & parcel of life.Until we reach our deathbed,incorrect decisions and  wrong paths will be taken.As muslims we could only pray that the almighty forgives.

She is a mother like most mothers. Always  taking the side of her children be they right or wrong.Not all her children were successful.Some were,others we less or not fortunate.The ,seven children she had  were of different characters,behaviours,mindset and demeanour.She understood every one of them like the back or her palms.She would question the negative traits and virtues inherent in her children.How could I ever answer when confronted with such a question.Except to say that humans can only plan and its God that decides.She furthur question as to why the more fortunate of her siblings do not  contribute to the less fortunate.Wow! What a tough nut to crack.All I can say is that the world is not created to be that way.I have never heard or seen in a family where things happen the  way she wanted.If ever there is,it  is very few and far in between.Thats her stand on fairness.

During our conversations,discussions or intellectual discourses as you may call it,voices were raised to strengthen or prove a point. Emotions would flare.Harsh words and mild expletives can be heard even by the neighbours.Each trying to dominate the other as to who is morally,holistically and virtously correct.Now as I ponder and reminisce, I thought to myself why didn't I just let her win.What a fool I was! Were there lucrative prizes to be won.No,except the ego  that got the better of me.The religious teachings I have learnt and understood got lost in the woods so to speak.Now as I think back,do I realise that even the retort of "Ah" to a mother is a sin in the eyes of Allah.Leave alone raising one's voice.What  more if direct expletives were said directly in her face.God forbids.Sometimes we underestimate the powers of satan at work.

The thing that haunts me most,is the thought of where was I when she needed me most? All these years,was I there say when she has a headache and needed someones to rub or massage her forehead. Was I there when she caught a cold or flu. Did I take her to see a doctor.When she has a toothache did I sent her to a dentist.Did I take her places she wanted to visit.Did I buy her clothes and jewellery so she could feel beautiful and proud.Did I buy her food that she loved and cherished.Was I there when she needed a shoulder to cry on.Was I there to assist her in the household chores and to run errands? Many a question goes unanswered.I may  have done a couple of the abovesaid. Thr real question is "Did I do enough! The saying that a mother can take care of 10 children but its not certain that 10 children can take care of mother holds weight.

Having said all I ask myself ,Am I a prodigal son? Prodigal maybe not! A son I sure Am.
To my children,nephews,nieces and grownup grandchildren,let me remind you that everyone will face this situation at one time or another.Till then,

If there is any good that you can do,
Do it now,or you will never pass this way again.

             May Allah forgive me and bless my mother's soul.
                                               Insyallah !!!