Nia and the Return Home

22 October 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

We had the opportunity to meet and play with Nia Nia again as Ayah Cik Farid and Cik Ma had a 24 hour or so overlap with our stay at Pasir Mas. The day before we had to depart, they arrived.

Drawing

She showed us how to draw. Also, she asked us to read Irfan's old Hippo book.

The laptop watchers

She especially liked dancing to the Mitchiri Neko toon on Youtube and picking out the odd cat out among the clusters of cute cat musicians on parade there.

Wheee

Irfan as usual was great with toddler-class cousins.

No cats here

Nia of course loved playing hide and seek at Tok Ma's drapes in the living room.

 

A Sojourn To Jerteh

19 October 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

And so it came to pass that Irfan, Ain and I took a vacation back to Pasir Mas, Kelantan. And during our vacation in Pasir Mas we took a sub-vacation south to Terengganu.

Our primary objective was Kuala Besut, Jerteh.

Testicles

Kuala Besut was famous for its keropok lekor and other such seafood.

Tok Bah and I

For some reason, traffic was heavy. We randomly took roads that eventually led us to this keropok restaurant.

Ain and Irfan

Ain and I miss eating the Terengganu keropok lekor, which we once had quite frequently as I once worked in Terengganu.

It's a factory too

As we ate keropok and satar at the restaurant, the proprietors there were also processing raw keropok right there behind the sales counter.

 

17th Anniversary Dinner

15 October 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food
 

It is now our seventeenth year together, Ain and I. So many hardships along the way and against hostile odds here we are still together, still in love; and with Irfan still in tow although he is not as little as he used to be.

He's a trooper

We thought we would try out the BIG Tas'TEA restaurant by the roadside at Arau.

Mulling over menu

We have always wanted to stop by, but we had to have extra change in our pockets before we could splurge on the more expensive Western food and smoothies and such.

We made sure in advance that we had the cash to visit BIG tas'TEA on our anniversary.

This is mighty big tasty

Sure the cholesterol level might be through the roof, but the chicken in this meal tasted fantastic.

 

Nia Takes Leave

25 September 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Nia spent several days with us. Her sense of fun and humour kept us amused for the whole time.

Peekaboo

She played with Ain.

Watching Trolls

She watched movies (well, just the one, mostly) with Irfan.

Group photo

Soon it was time for the Seri Kembangan crew to leave.

The crew of the departing vessel

Ayah Cik Farid, Cik Ma, Cik Su and Nia Nia packed up and prepared to leave.

The town crier

Nia wept sadly. Not because she had to leave us, mind you, but because Cik Su pretended she was not going back to Seri Kembangan with her. See you later, guys.

 

Nia and the Beach Cats

22 September 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

We went for an early dinner at Kuala Perlis with Ayah Cik, Cik Ma, Cik Su and young Nia Nia. The restaurant was by the promenade, right by the sea.

Abang Irfan

Irfan knew exactly what would float Nia's boat: Cats.

Meow Cat!

So he introduced her to a stray cat by the beach.

Rollers!

At first Nia more fascinated by the giant stone balls scattered all over the promenade. 

Ooh cat!

Then it struck her: Perhaps this can will not merely be a bystander or a passer-by. Perhaps she could make friends with this cat.

 

15th Birthday Plus One Nia

21 September 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

In a blink of an eye, Irfan is now 15 years of age. He is more or less an adult, as I myself do not remember 15 being any different than 25 besides more experience by dint of being the latter.

They both are adorbs
 

Even when he was much younger, I tried listening and talking to him as though he was an older teen. These days we are able to converse with each other in a multitude of subjects maturely - even if Irfan, Ain and I are prone to sudden infantile jokes and giggling like babies.

Nia looks like my sister

It so happened that on the day of Irfan's birthday, Nia, Cikma and Ayah Cik Farid came a-visiting and it was a far better day with their presence.  Nia even wore a cap!

Imprisoned!

The last time Nia was here she saw a cat. She awaited for the appearance of Abang the Cat from next door at the front grille.

Caked in frosting

We ordered a small-ish chocolate birthday cake for Irfan.

Happy birthday Irfan

Also, Ain made bihun goreng for everyone! 

Thanks for coming Nia Nia

It was only the first day of Nia's visit. More adventures were yet to come.

Happy birthday Irfan!

 

Irfan's Jaunt into Robotics

10 September 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Some time last month I received an email notification of an Introduction to micro:bit Workshop for schoolchildren to be held at the Mechatronic school at the university, and so we enrolled Irfan.

Ain and Irfan

It was a full day's programme. Ain and I decided to save our transport fuel by hanging around at the expansive computer lab. Because of that I got to play around with micro:bit as well.

With his new desk partner

To my surprise all the desktop computers in the lab were installed with Linux Mint.

Drag and drop then enter the variables!

The micro:bit is a small but multi-functional system with a processor, sensors, output jacks, LEDs and USB port. It can be used in conjunction with other hardware to create amazing tools. It can be programmed using a Javascript Blocks Editor online. The online editor has a handy virtual micro:bit for you to test out your program live. You can experiment with the micro:bit code yourself here. And then your program can be saved into and run by the meatspace micro:bit.

 

A Sad Raya Haji in Sitiawan

04 September 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha from the whole lot of us in Sitiawan...

...or something.

Daphnis at the ring

It was Eid and it was Sitiawan's turn this year.

Cold Enceladus

The trip to Sitiawan was not stressful for traffic was more than manageable. After nearly three years, I am still getting used to raya traffic being bad in the opposite direction.

Swimming in the Titanian Methane lakes

Irfan and I performed solat Aidiladha at the temporary masjid in town as a new one was under construction at the site of the old.

When I grow up I want to be Iapetus

Before long it was time to head home.

A sad footnote:The day we before we travelled to Sitiawan I had heard that an old family friend - my parents' good friend and my former classmates' dad - had been hospitalised. We visited him the next day and were met by his entire family, people I have known since I could remember and rarely meet these days. Sadly the next day - the day beforEid, he passed away. Innalillahiwainnailahiraajiun, Uncle Kamaruddin.

 

Suddenly, The Emergency Room

12 August 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

... but upon my return home from my three-day hospital stay, I discovered that Opah Irfan had a high fever and could not sit up. She was extremely weak from illness. So, we took her to the Klinik Kesihatan downtown before it closed, leaving Irfan alone at home to do his homework.

When we arrived, Ain and Atok Irfan got a wheelchair for Opah.

No sign of Eriq La Salle

After a blood test, the medical personnel there discovered that Opah's blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature were sky high. The nurses there had to inject some insulin into her system.

Insulin time

Then, they called an ambulance to transport her to the Emergency Room of the hospital next door - escorted by Ain - while Atok & I returned home to get her medical records. What followed was a six-hour wait at the ER for the lab to return a new blood test to see if Opah needed hospitalisation. We took turns having dinner at nearby restaurants and staying by her side.

Fortunately, a hospital stay was unnecessary. Her blood was clean of any infection although her urine was.

We returned home just after three in the morning.

Back to the first pic

When Atok and Opah headed home to Sitiawan, Opah was feeling much better.

 

Finally, A Surgery

09 August 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

Atok and Opah Irfan came to visit last Saturday for a medical reason.

FIVE DAYS EARLIER

The photo of them above along with Irfan was taken the day they left for Sitiawan on the 12th. Several days earlier, on Monday the 7th, I was hospitalised and surgery was scheduled for the next day.

Not my stats

There I was, once more unto the breach. This was my fourth attempt at surgery. A FESS to remove what was left of a couple of polyps and a septoplasty to fix my right air hole which was apparently too small. The first attempt back in early 2016 was postponed because of high blood pressure. The second was postponed on account of getting sick while under observation in the hospital ward, and I missed a work excursion to Terengganu in vain because of it. I was unable to go for surgery the third time earlier this year because of a priority cancer patient who took my slot.

Still the two of us after 17 years

Ain sat with me at the ward while Atok and Opah ensured Irfan was okay at home with school and dinner and such. I prayed that this time there would be no problems.

Hey a faucet on my hand!

They stuck a cannula in my left hand at the ENT clinic before I went to the ward.

Soon, it was Tuesday morning and they wheeled me to surgery. I was first on their schedule that morning. Thankfully my blood pressure was within acceptable tolerances, so they carted me off to the freezing operating theatre, transferred me from the gurney to the table, put some thing that warmed my body up -- I was unable to see what they were as they were putting the mask over my nose and mouth.

I thought I heard them say something about unable to get medication through the cannula.

Then I remembered no more.

I'm still alive?

When I was under, the doctors did stuff to my nose. Four hours or so later, Ain took the photo above after I was wheeled out of recovery and back at my bed at the ward. There was blood on my teeth. I hoped it was not because of me biting any doctors when I was unconscious.

I brushed my teeth as soon as I could.

I think this is the kids' version

For some reason a new cannula was on my right hand. (The one on my left had disappeared.) Also, there were teddy bears. Teddy bears. It must have been some sort of bonus achievement.

Final selfie before leaving

I have some padding up my nose where they dug in. They also cut away some septum to enlarge the right nostril, which could explain why I get out of breath quickly back in school when I was running. (I never run these days. Not enough dogs up here to chase me.)

A string was taped to my nose. The doctors will pull on it to remove the padding next Thursday. I am not looking forward to that sensation.

Finally, I was released from hospital Wednesday afternoon.

To be continued...

Edit: A Nasal Epilogue

 

New Sandwich Place

03 August 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food
 

I have been wanting to visit this new sandwich place in town. We finally got extra cash for the week so we went for some sandwiches. However to save money, we only bought two - takeaway - and no drinks.

Ngopi is the name of the place

The restaurant was cozy and had a nice ambience, found on one corner of Capitol Square.

Irfan and bread rolls

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted from the door. Also, there was freshly-pressed coffee. We might be back for a proper dining experience here later.

The chalkboard menu

We ordered the cheesy beef salami and the garlic chicken sandwiches.

These are pretty nice sammiches

When we got home we divided them into three parts each, so Irfan, Ain and I were able to sample equal measure of each sandwich. I believe there were more cheese in the garlic chicken than the cheesy beef salami, and I have no complaints about that.

Maybe I will try the Thai mayo chicken next.

 

Nia Nia's Hari Raya in Kedah

28 June 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

En route back to Perlis, we stopped in Kedah where Nia Nia and family were celebrating Aidilfitri this year.

The youngling squad

Also present were Nia's cousins Nawal and Adenin.

Nia

Nia of course was a busy little girl with a lot of self-appointed assignments and jobs to complete.

(Usually with toys.)

 

Aidilfitri 2017 at Pasir Mas

25 June 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Eid Mubarak from Pondok Lubuk Tapah!

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitir. Maaf Zahir & Batin!

Eid Morning

Our family were clad in blue this morning, as Irfan demostrated in the picture above.

Eid Morning

I'm wearing my old baju raya from several years ago, by the way.

Eid Morning

Irfan with Ciksu, Ayah G, Tok Ma and Tok Bah.

Eid Morning

Us in blue with Ayah Long, Aiman, Mak Long and Zara decked out in brown.

The following photos were taken by Ciksu:

Eid Morning

Ciksu could not believe Irfan's height.

Eid Morning

A trio of sisters.

Eid Morning

The entire roster of people at Tok Bah & Tok Ma's house during Hari Raya in a single photo!

 

Driving Towards Kelantan

23 June 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Two days before Eid, we drove to Pasir Mas. We had planned on departing at 2 a.m. but we all overslept. So, we left and headed east after Subuh prayers.

A notable feature of this journey is that Ain drove for more than 80% of the way. She took the wheel from Changlun.

Wheel artist

She drove from Changlun along the North-South Expressway, got out at the Gurun exit, drove past Jeniang, Kuala Ketil, Baling, Gerik and went up the East-West Highway over the mountains.

Titiwangsa rest stop

She became sleepy near the Titiwangsa rest stop, so we parked the car for a while.

Picit picit

Irfan massaged his mother's back, which was knotted up no doubt caused by the extra long driving. Then I took the wheel while Ain slept in the back.

Masjid Beijing

The only place where a traffic jam occurred was near Bukit Bunga in Jeli, caused by Friday prayers traffic. I drove on towards the next town Nibong to stop for prayers. Then Ain retook the wheel and drove on. We stopped at Masjid Beijing at Rantau Panjang for Ain's Zohor prayers. Click on the photo above for a larger view.

Cousins together again

Ain drove all the way to Pondok Lubuk Tapah. Aiman, Zara and family arrived shortly after. The cousins were soon reunited for an extended mirthful playtime.

 

Final Iftar Outdoors

22 June 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food
 

Ramadhan will end in a couple of days and soon we will head to Pasir Mas for Aidilfitri.  A new outdoor eatery popped up nearby, across the main road from our residential area.

Nothing extraordinary to report except that this would be our last breaking of fast before Eid.

Also, some great lighting in the photos below.

an Irfan

Irfan had the nasi goreng cendawan.

the onions!

Ain had the nasi daging merah.

sunset

I took photos.

looking at TV

Also, Irfan had a lightsaber light up behind him.

 

Early Ramadhan in Perak

02 June 2017 | Hisham | | Artwork, Family Pics
 
Balik kampung

I drew the artwork above while in Sitiawan.

It was the start of the second week of Ramadhan when we all drove to Perak for a long weekend to buka puasa with Irfan's grandparents. Also, there was some business to be had in Ipoh with Wan Cu and family facilitating said business.

It has been a while since we drove to their house in Ipoh from Sitiawan. I nearly got lost because the phone could not acquire the GPS signal long enough to tell us which direction we should take. But because of the ordeal we underwent, I think I will be able to remember it from now on.

The Ipoh Excursion

We left for home from Ipoh, heading north and parting ways with Atok and Opan at Wan Cu's place.

 

Comes A Nia Nia

25 April 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Rania and family came back to visit us from Kuala Lumpur during the long weekend.

Hello Nia

We picked up Ayah Cik Farid and Cikma from the airport and had dinner with them at Kepala Batas. Nia Nia was asleep when she arrived, but woke up just in time for a meal.

Before the meow

Nia Nia was still groggy from her sleep, but soon got her head back in the game upon spotting a cat and toddling excitedly after it.

This only works in three dimensions

At home, Irfan began teaching her to operate his Rubik's cube. Then suddenly there was a power outage! Thankfully Nia Nia did not give a crap.

Before the nasi goreng

The next day, we went for a dinner at Kuala Perlis.

What's that huge body of water over there?

We hung out at a restaurant across the road from the beach. Ayah Cik Farid showed Nia Nia the incoming tide, and she was impressed (and quite vocal about it too) with the rising tide and the many colours of clouds above Langkawi Island across the bay.

 

A Vacation of Some Sort

15 January 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Friends
 

And So It Begins

Some sort of visitor from KL

The vacation began when Ivan came a-visiting from Petaling Jaya via the ERL. I picked him up at the Arau station and he gave me an early birthday present: the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide, which will eventually be its own blog post.

Lok chin

Because of work, I had to spend the first day of vacation grading papers. But we did take Ivan out by the sea where we had some grilled lok chin and laksa.

Gua Kelam

In the Mouth of Madness

With me on call for the grading work, we managed to take a trip to Gua Kelam. It was a work day so there were not many people at the park. Here are Ain and Irfan at the mouth into the dark tunnel of the shadowy realm.

Ayah Cik and Cikma's spot

Once we got to the park grounds on the far side of the cave, Ain identified the spot where Irfan, Ayah Cik, Cikma and Ciksu once had a cranial massage thanks to the fast-flowing stream.

Entada phaseoloides

Ain also sat and swung on the thick, ropy stalk of a beluru tree (also known as a sintok tree). Mouseover the photo above for its scientific name.

 

A Hometown of Sorts

13 December 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

...Sitiawan! We drove from Pasir Mas to where I grew up and where nothing now looks familiar, except for the old house.

Because I was not able to go to Kuala Lumpur for vacation earlier, I figured we should visit Atok and Opah in Sitiawan during Maulud Nabi. Of course Irfan was glued to his grandparents desktop computer for hours, even late into the night.

Zzzz

So he was pretty tired in the mornings.

Still zzzz

It was a chore to wake him up in my old bedroom.

Dinner

We mostly chilled out and relaxed in Sitiawan. We wanted to visit my cousin, but they were not in town. Irfan's Atok and Opah also took us to dinner, before I went to GM a Star Wars RPG session. Wait what?

At the rojak and pasembor restaurant

The pasembor and rojak place under the rubber trees had quite the tasty food, even if there was quite a swarm of flies in the area. I wished Vin, Sila, Yaya and Rafiq were there with us.

Heading home

Soon it was time to go. We bade my parents and Sitiawan farewell as we headed back to where class revisions and final exams of my students awaited me.

 

A Send Off to Mekah

12 December 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

For the first time ever, Tok Bah and Tok Ma in Pasir Mas got the opportunity to go on an Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca. We drove to Kelantan to see them off. En route, we got to see a herd of elephants, pale and monolithic, at about three a.m. along the Grik-Jeli highway over the mountains. They must have just crossed the road as their butts were to us. No, we did not stop the car to take photos.

The entire party

Tok Bah and Tok Ma would join a group of pilgrims from Terengganu and be escorted by Ain's cousin and her husband in their journey. Many came from Pondok Lubuk Tapah and other places to see them off at the Kota Bharu airport.

Ain, Tok Bah and Tok Ma

Yes, Ain shed tears at the airport.

Cousins of two generation

Irfan should get to know his cousins a bit more. Though I think his extraordinary height (and his somewhat introverted demeanour around unfamiliar people) might make them nervous around him.

Group photo

All of us before they left.

Group photo plus Irfan

All of us plus Irfan before they left.

After they departed, we headed back to Pondok Lubuk Tapah to get our gear and then begin our drive to...