A Travellerspoint blog

Arunachala Hill – A Full Moon Girivalam


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I have been writing in the blog to boast about how I have been preparing myself to walk circumnavigate the base of Arunachala hill on barefoot. I had a barefoot walk to the town centre and return home. I do not expect myself to encounter obstacle to complete the 14 km journey on barefoot. Mathematically saying, if I run a 10 km quarter marathon for 60 minutes, I will need only one hour and 24 minutes to complete the 14 km. If I walk the entire journey, say 4 km for one hour, I’ll need only three-and-a-half hours to complete the 14 km. If I add on another half an hour for temple visit and offering oblation along the way, I don’t foresee myself to walk for any longer than 4 hours.

A four-hour journey was exactly what Uncle Raman described to me and he had expected me to fulfill his prophecy. Uncle Raman, a neighbour of Ala Melu who lives two houses away from hers, was sitting at the corridor of the tea house having his sip of chai when I walked past. I was about to make my way into the main street of Ramana ashram. Time was 2.30 pm, I felt my ductless glands secreting lots of adrenalin hormone as I was about to begin the walk, taking Ramana ashram as a starting point. I noticed him wanted to say something. But before he managed to utter his first words, I spoke ahead of him, “The street looks empty, no crowd at all? Isn’t today a girivalam day?”. Obviously there was no human crowd on the street yet but only seeing peddlers selling mangoes and watermelons by the roadside and some cows finding some greens to graze by the drain channel.

“2.30 pm is not an appropriate time to begin, it’s too hot. Devotees are avoiding the heat during afternoon. You should come out to join the crowd by evening and if you stay late, human crowds are built up by midnight, it would be the busiest time on the street”, Uncle Raman was clarifying. At 39 reaching 40 degree Celsius under the scorching heat, who on earth will not hide away from the burning sun until it sets down? I have only thought to begin the journey earliest possible, and hoping for early return before it reached late night. I was a Cinderella in the making but a male version.

If you have not gained much insight about Arunachala hill, or completely not heard about it until recently, it is perfectly acceptable. Geocentrically, possible you are a simpleton when you learn geography. No worries, I am not much better. One night, when I was attending a pooja at the Shridi Sai Baba centre in my hometown of Teluk Intan, while listening to Praveen’s singing oblation to Lord Shiva, I was blown away and had an exalted mood after listening to his singing. Of the words I will not forget, Arunachala Shiva was one of them. Soon times later, I was able to hum the lyrics the way he sang. That was how I began to get to know Arunachala, a scared hill that holds reverence unto Lord Shiva.

When I began to walk by the crowd, only I realized I have to study more than I had already known.

According to Uncle Raman, particularly during the months of November and December, during the full moon day according to Hindu calendar, the Hindus will celebrate Karthikai Deepam festival throughout India but this festivity is particularly significant in Tiruvannamalai. Legend has it that Lord Shiva appeared as a column of fire on Arunachala hill, creating the original symbol of the lingam. According to him again, one will come to aware an expressively meaningful lingam stones, all eight of them along the journey. One of the eight lingam stones, Agni lingam of fire, it’s the nearest in town. It is situated adjacent to Ramana ashram. Literally if you see lingam as a stone, it is then a stone. If you see lingam as a composite of universe energy underlying within the erected lingam, then you’ll see it on a completely varying sphere. During this festive time up to half a million people throng to Tiruvannamalai. Many scale the hill and others circumnavigate the base of this hill that has a circumference of 14km. I only have a mediocre knowledge about Shiva Lingam, I have no eligibility to tell you more about it. There is an in depth knowledge immersed within the understanding of lingam, if you explore on it you may find a plenty to gain.

On the left and right to the horizon ahead, it was dotted with endless koils, big and small and many little shrines. Each of them holds devotion to their respective deity. Seeing groups of monkeys swinging on the trees above a little shrine, I wasn’t wrong to find out it was a shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the lord of monkey. There was a little Shridi Sai Baba centre built by the 8th kilometer of the journey, and I paid unto him an oblation of anjali mudra with a humble bow. Seeing Baba is seeing a guru and I felt at home, the Baba centre of Teluk Intan.

I have an incident that night, you may find it amusing but I am still pondering whether to tell you.

When I was reaching less than half of the complete journey, by the undergrowth trees and bushes of a gravel stone yard near a little shrine, I noticed several men stood by some pots above the stove, with their hands handling ladles and dippers ready to scoop some rice and rasam out of the pots for distribution. All I took note was the undergrowth trees and shrubs by the bush, I had not taken notice for the free meal. So, I went in. When I came out of the bush, two men whom I believed were the volunteers of the shrine caught me by my left arm, held it tight and clenched to it so firmly without having wanted to release.

“What have you done? What did you do in the bush?”, they were throwing interrogation on me, and repetitively queried me with the same questions. They couldn’t figure out what a person, an outsider had done in the darkness of the undergrowth bush of their territory.

What did they expect me to say? Should I say, I had an ease of my bladder? No, that was too academic. Should I say I had a clear of urination? That was too subtle a manner to speak. I was thinking of a proper word to tell them, and I knew they were a group of peasants who do not speak words of English. Then I thought of a common word to express.

“I had a pee!”, I divulged to them and I thought they understood me. And their reaction? “Pee? Pee?”, they held me puzzled when they look at each other, then they faced me with an exclamation, “pee?”. I found I was hopeless to explain as more of them, including children began to besiege around me. What do you expect me to say then?

In a reluctant way, I raised my index finger and pointed it to my crotch. With both my hands lifted up then, I put them down by each side of the crotch and I made some sound of whistle blowing off my lips. What happened next? What else, burst of laughter. The children burst into laughter seeing my way of acting making me like a silly fool.

I have never been able to urinate the way anywhere as many people pleased to do. There were pilgrims everywhere along the main road, having chosen the undergrowth bush deep in the dark was my belief an intelligent choice. However, that incident was an ice breaking with the villagers and afterwards I had a treat of rice dinner cooked by the shrine volunteers.

At the 8th kilometre, I was held up for a stop from an exacerbating painful shrill over my feet. Abruptly I felt I needed to pull over as both my soles began to show sign of burning. I knew it was the sensation of my soles having a friction against the ground for long hours. When I turned my right foot over, there were signs of blisters developed in patches. Pockets of blisters with fluid plasma collected in between the big and index toes and within the sural edge. When I turned over another foot, I had a more intense burning sensation and I found more blisters developed on it. I was determined I would be able to make the girivalam to the end. I held up my breath. With my teeth gritted and holding my fists tight, I rose from the brick pavement that I sat and continued to stride off the journey.

I had not been able to perceive the meaning of frantic pain until I surrendered to a deadly cry for a stop some moments later. I had another four kilometres to go before reaching the end point. The blisters on the epidermis layer over the soles of the feet began to shear off from the lower layer. As I continued to walk, the skin began to shear off deeper. It was not anymore a common wound of blisters. For every step I landed my foot on the ground, I had a thousand needles poked on the blisters and having a red hot pepper smeared over the reddish opened wound.

Rising from the staircase of the shrine where I sat while holding tight to my self-disgruntled emotion, with an appalled face I decided I must continue the journey. There was no way I will give up. So, I began with – left, one step and right another step. One two, one two, and I did it very slowly, pace after pace for the rest of the four kilometres.

It is not my motive to write in such a solemn pitiful manner to impress you that how much I had suffered for I am a devout aspirant in offering an oblation to Lord Shiva during the full moon girivalam. No, if you understood in such a way, then you have got my message upside down. That is completely not the idea of what I wanted to convey to you.

What I wanted to tell is, be alert for the level playing field. I deceived myself at a playing field that is completely contrary to the way I live. All I thought I will well survive but not. We live in a pampered, a very material over-indulged society. When I was taken away a pair of footwear, only a pair of slippers not anything else, I almost had a frantic cry for developing severe wounds over the soles. The Indian little boys and even young girls were care free for whether they have a pair of cushion beneath their feet or not. No anything big deal to them but a great deal for me.

Because we are too indulged in every worldly possession and living over pampered, if we lose to hold one of them, we feel life is handicapped. Don’t you think we are highly vulnerable to our list to-have and seem to be softly fragile? It is worth a ponder. Oh a reminder, we can boast but never be boastful too early.

Do you know that in humans for example, the skin on the soles of the feet and on the palms is 4 mm thick and it’s the thickest skin in the body. The soles of the feet are extremely sensitive to touch due to a high concentration of nerve endings. The skin located under the eyes and around the eyelids is the thinnest skin in the body at 0.5 mm thick, and is one of the first areas to show signs of aging such as crow feet wrinkles. Do you know about it?



Posted by Quah Khian Hu 06:18 Archived in India Comments (0)

Three Meals, Three Pranamasana

Believe In The Reprogramming Of Subconscious Mind

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I absolutely will not agree with your habitual way of dietary if you are the person who is prone to skip meal the way you like. If you are the person who eats only when you feel the growl in your stomach, that is also certainly not a proper way to keep your stomach healthy. Having a recent experience of ulcers developed over the duodenum and undergone a grief series of acid reflux rising from the stomach, I had no way but to adhere to the gastroenterologist’s advice. The rule of the game is, perfectly simple, have at least a 3-proper-meal a day, regularly settled them on a meal table and no over-eating either.

While recovering from the stomach irregularities, I couldn’t afford to neglect the daily meals like in the past when I travel abroad. In Tiruvannamalai, given a choice, I would prefer to settle my three meals in the ashram instead of eat out by the street.

Counting the days jotted in my diary, I have been going to Siva Sannidhi for dinner for the past 2 weeks since I arrived in Tiruvannamalai. Siva Sannidhi, a religious charitable body, serves three meals a day, all vegetarian food prepared in the Vedic way. The kitchen survives through donation from the spiritual aspirants and pilgrim residents. If you intend to try out the meals in Siva Sannidhi, you receive no bill for the food you consumed. Donation is at your free will.

Yesterday morning before the clock struck eight, at the reception hall of Siva Sannidhi when I was reading the New Indian Express while waiting for the breakfast counter to do its serving, one of the clerical officers, a young gentleman at the service desk came towards me, so near that I could feel his moustache approximately touching my face, and astoundingly he threw out his tactless thoughts, pointing to me, “I have seen you here several months before, and I’m seeing you again now. I do not rule out that there are outside pilgrims who come here for meals like you, but I know they are here for several days, not any days longer than that, and they have sought our permission”. Then instantaneously he pointed at me again, “Where is your permission? No permission? Show me your written permission!”.

That was a very degrading finger pointing accusation of him. It was a crude accusation that made me felt like I was an apathetic untrustworthy person to him, a person who took public benefit for granted and completely behaved like a dishonest man. The young clerical officer really spoke his mind while his eyes were looking at the other near-elderly man officer sitting at the other desk. I had expected this near-elderly man officer to rebut and make clear of the bill I had with him but he did not. I was relentlessly disappointed but remained silent.

Along my submissive sincerity, I have never had any intention of a greed desire to take the convenient benefit of free-food provided by the kitchen as an account to gain some saving and never arose in my thought I will take it for granted without having to make any contributions by the end of my journey.

Having felt lousy for the unwarranted accusation is secondary, so let’s put it aside first. As long as I did not clear the air, every time I came face to face with the young clerical officer, my subconscious mind will literally do its job and will not fail to remind me that I was an apathetic untrustworthy person who conveniently took public benefit for granted and instilled in me a sense of avoidance from seeing the young clerical officer. That neuron waves of the subconscious mind would vibrate immensely so strong that it will control the way I should have soundly reacted upon seeing the young clerical officer. Instead in contrary, it made me feel lousy and untrustworthy. I decided I couldn’t afford to avoid him all the time. That should not be the way to set right the neurosis of the subconscious mind.

Psychologically speaking, our subconscious mind is a composite of everything we see, hear and any information the mind collects that it cannot otherwise be consciously processed to make meaningful sense, that includes a wrongly claimed message and regardless it does make sense or not.That is what the subconscious mind is capable of doing. The horrific moment then begins. The subconscious mind will endlessly display the horrific event to us without having going through our conscious mind. Until and unless we totally set right the wrongly claimed message sustained in our subconscious mind by retelling it the true version, we are still projected with a deceiving picture by this foolish yet an intelligent subconscious mind.

I did not forget a guru’s teaching – “When we sustain upon someone a guilt of misunderstanding inside us, we ourselves endure a self-condemnation that regrettably bring us into a state of shame when we see that person. How long could we avoid that person? How long could we avoid the matter? It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong. Release the guilt, and undoubtedly we will liberalize our feelings. When the boulder of guilt is removed, we feel harmonized and most importantly at peace when we see that person again”.

Exactly that was the word, release the guilt of misunderstanding. I decided to release the guilt of misunderstanding with the young clerical officer and later I really had. I had no more lousy feeling upon seeing him then. How did I release the guilt of misunderstanding?

I sought upon the young clerical officer a reconciliation for a fresh permission the way he wanted, and I found to set right the subconscious mind by telling it many times during the quiet moment when I was sitting on the floor with my legs crossed, “dear mind, get a correction of facts, I am not an untrustworthy person, not a dishonest person, not a person who takes public benefit for granted and most importantly no feeling guilty upon seeing the young clerical officer, it was a deceiving misunderstanding”. The statement was repeated for many times like reading a mantra.

After the incident, do I still go to the ashram for food?

Like I said earlier, given a choice, I still prefer to settle my meals in the ashram. We may find the same vegetarian food over the restaurants, but the strict dining discipline and the way the ashram holds reverence for the food that made it a distinguished meal. Hindus always say, pooja first before we eat. Restaurants don’t. Only ashrams do. Undoubtedly ashram food is watchful for its hygiene. Many street restaurants have their own set of hygiene standard you wouldn’t wish to know.

When I was in Ahmedabad of Gujerat in 2004, I was admitted to a local hospital for the common reason many people experienced when they travel in India. That was food poisoning. While having an excessive evacuation of fluid faeces down in the bowel and a violent eject of content from the stomach through the mouth, I was still able to find my way walking to the hospital. I was admitted and immediately put on an intravenous therapy with an infusion of antibiotics. The following day, I seemed healed and was discharged. Ever since then, I am not boastful but at least I eat at the street of India and I don’t remember I had food poisoning yet. I believe my subconscious mind is reset by telling it I am already freshly built with a wall of immunity. I think it works well.

I spend half a day in Yogi Ram ashram. After having a noon aarati, I had my lunch there. For my breakfast and dinner, I return to Siva Sannidhi. Before I begin to munch the food, I offer a pranamasana to Lord Shiva as a gratitude for the food I am given. With a deep reverence from my heart I say a simple prayer “Om Nama Shiva Ya”.

After a long hot day and after getting myself a refreshing shower and get a spurt of cologne on my body, having dinner in the ashram remains a happiest moment for the day for me to rejoice.

I have yet to finish my saying. Ok, I’ll cut it short. What I am trying to convey to you are, listen to the guru’s teaching. If you have any guilt of misunderstanding, release the guilt. You’ll be exalted and feel blown away as you experience yourself liberalized. If you have a horrific nightmare with the foolish yet intelligent subconscious mind, try out any way you find ease to reprogram that part of your brain. Lastly, believe in my boast that the subconscious mind inclines to receive well the reprogramming descriptions we work on it, such as my example of how my body counteracts to combat food poisoning. You have to believe in that boast. Really.

And a little update - Full Moon Girivalam. Walking to the town in barefoot, it was not difficult for me to find a stall selling footwear. I bought a new pair of slippers for 1/3 of the price in Kuala Lumpur. With the new pair of slippers on the feet, I met Raman. He suggested that I should begin the circumnavigation of Arunachala hill in the evening after dark. And he reiterated to me, for a young man like me, I should complete the journey in 4 hours and not any longer. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow.


Posted by Quah Khian Hu 05:57 Archived in India Comments (0)

One Permission, One Pranamasana

When Your Brain Vibrates At Theta Frequency

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At the entrance ground before making his first leap up to the steep 272-step climb stairs that lead to the way of Lord Muruga’s temple tucked in the limestone of Batu Caves, the little boy was told by his mother to courteously seek an entry permission from Lord Muruga. “Boy, you need to ask for permission from Lord Muruga before you scale up the stairs into His abode. Do it this way, follow mummy”, a very courteous way a mother was instructing her little son to abide, with his father standing to guide him by the side.

Descending down to the ground from the top of the limestone cave, wearing my almost worn-out pair of snickers used for physical workout, I was about to scale up to the cave again. I came into aware of this family of three. The little boy’s mother was showing to him, three of her fingers, the index, middle and ring fingers of the right hand touched the ground of the stairways, then returning the gesture of touch onto her chest, symbolizing her of placing of temple sand on her soul, as a sign of reverence. Then, she had a slight bow, pressed upon both her hands together, palms touched and fingers pointing up, placing them in front of the chest offering a Pranamasana as a way of salutation to Lord Muruga. The little boy followed.

It is customary for a Hindu, before going into the temple they’ll make a courteous touching of the ground to seek for permission and follow by offering a Pranamasana. They bow unto the deity for reverence and salutation before stepping into the abode.

In religious teachings, we are also taught to be compassion-hearted to observe the co-existence of God’s beings found in other paranormal realms, having to recognize and respect for their existence and mutually exclusively living together in the same domain but respectively subsists on separate realms with absolutely no encroachment into each other’s territory plane.

Joyce, remember her? She’s a Thai, lives in Kuala Lumpur who possesses the gift to foretell events. Her spirit guide once told us, we must not forget God’s beings, many of them living in other paranormal realms. We may not have a naked eye-sighting over them, but that would have many times we encroached into their realms which are unwarranted by them. Our intrusion may have caused a perturbation to their community, likewise when someone has intruded into our yard without having first asked for our permission. Out of nowhere, someone gets into your compound and they begin to do some groundwork in your yard while you are still lulled deeply in a sweet dream.

“Similarly the unwarranted intrusion happens upon beings living in other paranormal realms caused by the encroachment of human beings. Many people may not be aware of their deeds that have caused an agitation to the beings exist in other realms. When their energy field goes topsy-turvy, they come to seek after me for my advice. Some people may even have been possessed by spirit and seek my help for exorcism. That’s the thing. Human beings tend to be ignorant, but some people do it with an intention, a wicked and morally depraving ill deeds. These people, upfront have an ill tendency to intrude over the territory planes of beings from other dimension. There is no reason why people should get involve into such a depraving deed, they assume no innocence at all but to gain ill-blessing wealth and advantages from those dimension planes”, told Joyce adding to what her guide had explained earlier on.

That autumn of 2009 in Shaanxi, a province in northern China, the night was cold. In the midst of sleep, while arising from deep sleep to a lighter one, from the vibration of a deep Delta brainwave it drifted back to a Theta, a red eye during that moment appeared after me. The red eye was glaring sharply at me without a blink of its eyelids. I was in a waking dream state but the Theta waves were vibrating immensely so strong that it controlled the realm of my subconscious mind, making my body not a wakeful body, like a dead one. Lucidly seeing the red eye, it would have been pouncing on me for already some time, its body remained sitting on an armchair by the foot of the bed positioned towards the edge of my legs.

The red eye, obviously has both eyes red, as red as the fire of burning charcoal. It has a body of imperfect understanding. Its body was wide and appeared larger than any ordinary man but it has a twilight outlook. It may appear to have a body like a huge ape but it also has a well formed silhouette of an ordinary man. Its head has a configuration of a man and by looking into its face, it has no varied image than a feature of a near-elderly man, but only it has a pair of sensational burning red eyes. Judging by his feature, the red eye was a male.

There was no physical contact between myself and the red eye. We have not had any conversation and I certainly was not able to speak. I was also not able to move but to look at him. Did the red eye want something from me? Did the red eye wish to convey a message? Or was the red eye’s presence merely a visit to our realm? I felt enormously restless and had some nervousness dropping out. If you had been totally blown off seeing a creature of what you have not been seeing in your realm, that feeling of heart-popping nervousness is the outburst you may feel, the way I felt for it. However, if we could initiate a talk, I have a deeper feeling that its appearance to me through the wakeful dream did not reveal any of his intention to do harm, on me or even to the people of surrounding.

Moments later, the red eye slowly diminished itself through the peripheral vision of my eyes and waned itself into its dimension plane. Soon afterwards I drifted back into sleep. I was back fallen to the Delta wave, very deeply but the sleep held me for only a short moment before the cock began to crow.

Joyce was attentively listening to me as she was also hearing through her mind’s eye to her spirit guide. She pointed out to me, she wanted to tell something I may also be aware of, saying patiently in a reminding way, “Have you asked for permission before you decided to take the room? I know you may have felt tired and exhausted, but did you ask for permission?” Again, this is a matter of permission seeking. I had not. How would I know when I would have to? At where I would have to? Joyce looked at me, she knew I have some answers to my own questions.

Before I went to bed that night, I had neglected to remove the armchair away from the foot of my bed. When normally I were to take a full room myself, I will remove the chair or anything that is capable fit to improvise like a seat, to be pushed a distance away from my bed. If I do not remove away the seat, at least I’ll place on it some stuff or a daypack, so the seat at least is occupied and by night hoping the seat would not be any more occupied by any beings. Or if I do not place any stuff on the seat, at least I’ll turn it the other way round with the back of the seat facing me. If I were to share a room with a roommate, I would have less bothered about the chair at all. Let it be placed at any position be it anywhere in the room. Reason being there is at least someone to share the night fright and take a piece of the scare away from me when the same incident were to occur. This is completely a crap selfish thought of mine, never do the way I think of it.

If we silent down ourselves appropriately such as doing a deep meditation, we are capable of magnifying our five primary senses and also heightening our inner consciousness. When we heightened up the inner consciousness and also the five primary senses of our body, the sensitivity level of our body faculty becomes very susceptible to polarization of mental waves and energy frequencies. When there is a sudden fluctuation of energy detected at the local spot or assuming coming from another plane, we are able to sense the polarization of energy very instantly if we are capable to converge our inner consciousness into each of the seven energy axis aligned along with the spine with a deep concentration to the ajna point. Whether you feel compatibly harmony with a new place, be it an office lot, or house or even a room, it is a matter of magnifying our senses to feel the frequency of energy underlying with those places. That was what Joyce trying to remind me about.

Of my wild conjecture, possible there are beings of other dimensions coming into our plane as mere travellers holding no any motives, the same way some human beings travel out-of-body into their planes for reason they themselves only know. There exists such a possibility. I’m not making such a statement to excite you for laughter.

It is also essential to understand how our brain contributes to the state of our mind. In neuroscience, our brain produces waves that vibrate at different frequencies and each frequency is measured in cycles per second (Hz). Of the five frequency waves, each has its own set of characteristics representing a specific level of brain activity and a unique state of consciousness.

1) Beta (14-40Hz) – The waking consciousness and reasoning wave
2) Alpha (7.5-14Hz) – The deep relaxation wave
3) Theta (4-7.5Hz) – The light meditation and sleeping wave
4) Delta (0.5-4Hz) – The deep sleep wave
5) Gamma (above 40Hz) – The insight wave

At Theta frequency, our body is in a light sleep mode however, we are conscious of our surroundings. We are in the realm of our subconscious mind as we drift off to sleep from Alpha to Theta or during the moment we wake from deep sleep returning from Delta back to Theta. At either one of these stages, we normally encounter experiences of visions or lucid dream or even sometimes sleep paralysis. This state is also known as the twilight state.

Coming out from Yogi Ram ashram after having my lunch after noon, I wasn’t able to locate the pair of footwear I left them this morning under the shade by a tree at the main gate. Having missing footwear is not an uncommon finding here. While I thought of buying a new pair of footwear in the town, perhaps I should also make an effort to visit Ala Melu when I walked passing her room. I invited her to circumnavigate the Arunachala hill with me during the full moon this Saturday. But she couldn’t make it an event, telling me that due to the distance, she was not capable to complete the walk as she pointed to her atrophied left leg due to poliomyelitis since she was a girl. I regretted that I could have been more courteous to speak. It is only two more days away from the full moon girivalam, I decided to try to walk the 14 km way on barefoot like many Hindu aspirants do. I begin a barefoot walk today, from Yogi Ram ashram by the village, to the mercantile shop in the town to find a new pair of footwear.


Posted by Quah Khian Hu 06:17 Archived in India Comments (1)

Women Are From Venus


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Mrs. Sekar is sometimes bemusing yet remained a submissive woman, a traditional one. Before I could begin to sweep the floor in my room, there she came. When I was moving the first few strokes of the broom, she clenched to the rib of the broom I was holding, with a solemn and serious face, spoke in Tamil with a mix of limited words of English, and said, “No, no. Me, no broom”. That was an ambiguous statement to figure out. What did she mean? Whether she has no other broom, she needed the broom now, or I should not be using her broom at all? Or did she mean something else? Then, I found out, it was her way of telling me that sweeping the room in her house is absolutely not a job of any other people other than herself and unconditionally it is her job. Mrs. Sekar speaks only a meagre English. She has in mind of limited words of English, not anything more than that.

Came yesterday evening, a house in the nearby neighbourhood opened its door for a house warming. Music came loud from the speakers of the new house. The villagers knew about the open house and the open invitation. Several hours earlier, Tomato told me he wanted to go to cheer the host of the new house and invited me to join him. Hours of waiting later, Mrs. Sekar came to me with her gesture I understood, she was to convey a message from her husband, and she told, “You, Husband, Go, Go”, then instantaneously she added, “You, Sleep, Good Night”. I almost had a burst but held back. What did she mean? On one hand she told me that we get to go, on the other, she was telling me to go to sleep? She really threw in a bewildered puzzle on me. Whether Tomato and I are going to the house warming? Whether only her husband is going but me? Or whether is she asking me to go to bed? What a bemusing confusion.

When my room gathers dust and had a strewn of scattered sand, I had wanted to do the cleaning chores myself. Never had I wanted to demand any cleaning to be exhausted by Mrs. Sekar. Whenever each time I get close to the broom which she has her wits about it, from no where she would instantly appear to me in the blink of an eye, pressing for the broom and stand by it, like a magical fairy holding her powerful fairy stick appeared before a burst of fireworks. You would have normally watched it on the prologue of Walt Disney movies. That was how Mrs. Sekar appeared to me the way Walt Disney does.

One fine afternoon, while she was having an afternoon nap on the floor of the living hall over their household unit at the ground floor, I had a notion of idea that it should be the moment I could hijack her broom while she was soundly napping. Holding the broom and on a very light tip toe stepping up the stairs as if cheeky Jerry mouse finding way to escape from Tom the black cat, I witted a chuckle, “This is the hijack. I am not caught by this watchful woman householder”.

But, the moment I Iaid a hand on the broom before my room, a voice sounded like a victim of betrayal, broke up abruptly from the staircase, and she threw out “Thambi, me broom”. I had an acute jump of shock upon hearing her calling. That was Mrs. Sekar. How could Tom sense Jerry when Tom was having a sound nap? How could Tom sense his piece of lovely cheese is stolen when Jerry makes no sound of it? I raised a piece of white flag showing my surrender to her but still feeling thoughtfully relentless. This is a women syndrome why most men couldn’t understand. This shows how watchful women are for every little matter, particularly involving their household substance if men were to create a single fuss over it. We men come from Mars tend not able to comprehend such a created commotion, no matter how hard we scratch our heads but still fail to comprehend the instinct sensibility of women who believed to have already controlled the Venus.

So, sweeping is one part of her chores. I relentlessly waiting by the door of my room. She brushed the broom against the floor of the veranda but not my room, and then laid another several brushes, with the gathered dust and sand all swept into the dustpan by her. Before stepping down through the staircase, her gesticulation was telling me vividly again – Jerry should do no fooling with her, Tom is always watchful and alert. Sweeping work is absolutely not a job of any other people other than herself and unconditionally it is her job, and I have to submit to it. But then, I had a little problem. I intend to lay bed tonight over the floor in my room, not at the veranda by the staircase. That was the sensibility dilemma I couldn’t understand. We had not only been doing chicken and duck talk, and now comes the matter of understanding. Of two different worlds, certainly I am from Mars and she is from Venus, dare you to deny.

Mrs. Sekar washes her brass pots of many sizes, big and small and her copper kitchen utensils at the pipe host standing by the front yard beside the main door. At times in the morning, I see lots of pots lying upside down on the ground with their black-buttocks all facing the hot sun for basking when I walked pass.

Seeing Mrs. Sekar’s pots, I did not forget the blacked-buttock pots and kettles that were always lying on the yard in the same manner when I was living in another house some time around four months ago. Over that house in the morning, before I could leap over those pots, I would have seen the door of a room in the downstairs opening up but always half covered by the clothesline of lingerie, and noticing Ala Melu sitting with her legs crossed on the floor in the room with her hand crushing the dosa before putting it into her mouth. She always made a very exclusive invitation for her dosa breakfast by saying, “You like dosa? Take it, take it”. I was able to greet her a good morning while reaching the four-foot zinc sheet gate before making my way to Yogi Ram ashram. Thinking back, I had not been going to the house to visit her since I came back here.

One evening when I arrived home before taken the trouble to latch the lowly made zinc sheet gate, I heard Ala Melu calling out to me, “You like dosa?”. I turned to her, looking at her with my eyes moved to the centre of her plate filled with dosa which was placed on the floor of her room. She had an intent look at me and said, “Take it, take it, take these dosa if you like them”. I was taken aback and rather shy to take a share of the dosa that may just be filling good for herself. Never mind this time but she insisted to make some dosa for me for the dinner the following night.

The following evening, when the dosa was ready on her flat-pan, I filled my plate with two pieces of it. She asked how much I like the homemade dosa cooked on her flat-pan. Being a polite guest, I couldn’t decline to make some truthful commends. Hearing my commends, she added another three pieces of dosa on my plate making up a stack of five and faced me with another, “Take it, take it, if you like it”. When I told her how tasteful the gravy was, she was happily saying again, “Take it, take it, if you like it”, adding another huge ladle of gravy on my plate. I was taken aback.

On ordinary day, when she was drying some grains on a gunny sack over our compound, I shared an understanding with her of how healthy was to diet on mix grains. She looked at my face and with a pleasing consent, said, “If you like the grains, take it, take it”. I was definitely taken aback again, absolutely a bashful one. First, I can’t take into pocket someone’s grain when I do not work for it. Secondly, goodness, what do I do with the raw grains?

On other days, when there were brass pots laid under the sun with the heads down and all blacken buttocks up, I wouldn’t take the courage to commend a thing of the pots. You wouldn’t have seen a backpacker loading his haversack up into the bus when you also at the same time see some black-buttock pots clinging onto it. Take it, take it – oh no.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 05:28 Archived in India Comments (3)

Killing Me Softly

I Need A Strong Household Insecticide

sunny 38 °C
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They are killing me softly with their scores of attack. One word to describe – frustration.

It gives me a scare browbeat. An attempt after another, a non-stop attack. At the battle frontline, I take turn to defeat them one by one. Sometimes, they cheated, they ambushed me and I caught off guard. I remained solo to counter attack them.

For me, the most crucial aspect of energy charge for our body when we travel backpack is not eating order. It is a good sleep. To keep our body alert, fresh and energized, we need a proper sleep at night. A quality sleep is inevitable. A quality sleep may not need to be long hours, but at least we are able to release our tensed brows down and let go of tiredness by going into a deep sleep. How do I sleep deeply when these parasitic arthropod creatures are hopping around merrily and jollying a wild party in the bed?

When the light is off, I feel some crawling sensations moving over my body when these nocturnal parasites jolted out jovially from the husk fibre. They outwardly showed us they are a ruthless blood suckers but at least they still have some compassion to anaesthetize us before they poked us with their tube. All they await for is a feast – a guzzle eat-all-you-can.

Of all constraints when I travel abroad, I feel dreadfully irritated when there is a bed bug attack. Whether there are bed bugs nestled in the room, you may need to ask yourself how willing of you to spend the stash of cash you keep in your wallet. If you pay more for a bed, you are having a lesser chance to get an attack. When you pay lesser, you may have a 50% chance to escape a miserable attack. Worse if you dig a peanut from your wallet, you may still get a bed, but likely a heavily infested one.

Living in this village of Tiruvannamalai leaves me with a limited choice for accommodation. Paying only a meagre USD4 per day for a room, I have no dare to condemn the house owner for the quality of room I was given by them. It’s about the level of toleration after all. But, if you are a bigger spender, a higher end tower, the Ramana Tower is available in this little town readily to cater to you a reasonable comfort for your pilgrimage tour.

Tell you an experience.

The last time I had a hideous attack by bed bugs was when I was backpacking in Cairo. Room appeared to be clean. Bed looked ordinary, at least seeing from my naked eyes. But, you can’t pre judge a hygienically maintained bed with an infested one unless you test sleep on it. If you have red itchy bumps swelling over your neck and arms the next morning, certainly the bed you slept on is infested. And likely other beds in the dormitory are also infested with the colony of ticks. There is no need to switch bed within the same dormitory hoping to escape from the nocturnal parasites. That was an experience.

That lodge, situated in the city centre of Cairo, which I had stayed for some time, was heavily infested by bed bugs. One night, came two middle-aged Japanese men to the lodge. They requested for a dormitory and soon they settled down their haversacks in the dorm. They shared a same dorm with me and so with the rest of others. It was a huge dormitory of 8 beds.

Through the midnight, I woke up as I was disturbed by an irritating bed shrilling noise and screeching sound made by the Japanese man. He sat right up on the bed with his head down very much appalled and doing his scratching over his necks and arms and over his whole body. Then, he lighted several mosquito coils, he thought there was too much a nightmare of mosquitoes’ attack. Soon, the entire room was chocked up by the thick smoke caused by the burning of the mosquito coils.

Came next morning, we knew this Japanese man had had a completely sleepless night. That was obviously a show on his face. All he thought was he had a mosquito attack like anyone in the dorm had. On the second night, the same thing repeated. Afterwards, when he realized that the infestation wasn’t a cause by the mosquitoes, instead a wild bed bug jolly party, he threw a disbelieving outburst to the Egyptian manager of the lodge. I could understand why he had such an excessive burst of repulsion. In Japan or any developed countries of a more affluent community, bed bug infested room is an out-of-order commodity. There is no such an item in the menu list.

The Egyptian manager perceived the Japanese man’s condemnation was a fuss created over little matter. Bed bug problem was not anything uncommon to the lodge.

What did the Japanese man do next?

Hearing the reproach discredits made by the Egyptian manager, the Japanese man held no ponder for his emotion anymore but turned it beyond repair. The Japanese man in an exasperate stride went into the dormitory, pulled away the bed sheet and with force, drew the bed off the bedstead. Then he dragged the bed out of the dormitory and threw it to the service counter. I only heard, “No, you can’t keep this bed anymore in the room! Throw them away!”, a disgusted remark made by the Japanese man. The Japanese man hadn’t been realized that the entire room, including a great chances that all other rooms were also in fact wearily infested by bed bugs. The reason I was around, watching him throwing his dismay was that I too, a victim of the eat-all-you-can feast. Not that I had to tell him.

Do you think that the service counter would cast away the bed which was already dragged out from the dormitory by the Japanese man?

Later in the day, I saw an old chambermaid vacated everyone from the dormitory. It was believed that she was doing her routine work – to fumigate insecticide in order to disinfect the beds. A suffocating one, almost needed a CPR. Soon, all the beds were disinfected with insecticides. No one was willing to get into the beds afterwards if you agree with me that too much pudding had choked a dog.

Is that the way to repel bed bugs from the infested rooms once and for all? The answer is no. Otherwise, fumigating hazardous insecticide to disinfect the beds would not have become a routine work to the old chambermaid. Does the toxin substances of the hazardous insecticide when fumigated will cause a harm to our nervous system had we slept on those beds? I think the answer is yes, but that doesn’t kill you if you have no choice but to sleep on it.

A lesson learned:

1) Not every insect that buzzes around your ears and then bites you is a mosquito. Some bed bugs do fly. Dependent on the type or colony.

2) Watch out for the pattern of the red itchy bumps caused by the bites. Bed bug bites are developed in clusters of sequential itchy red bumps, mosquito bites do not.

3) Be watchful for the migrating syndrome. If you have been using your own sleeping bag and you realized that the bed is infested, you may need to make sure your sleeping bag had a proper wash and dried up under the sun. I bet you do not want to invite a colony of bed bugs into your room to sleep with you in your arms at home.

Let’s find out more about these bed bugs:

1) bed bug is a tiny nocturnal insect that lives by feeding on the blood of human and other warm blooded hosts.

2) adult bed bugs are reddish brown, flattened and oval. A total common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eyes. Adult bugs grown to 4-5 mm length and do not move quickly enough to escape the notice of an attention observer.

3) bed bugs are active just before dawn, with a peak feeding period an hour before sunrise. The bugs are attracted by warm presence of Carbon Dioxide exhale by the host.

4) the bug pierces the skin of its host with 2 hollow tubes, 1 tube injects saliva which contains anaesthetics, the other withdraws the blood of the host.

5) the bites cannot be usually felt until some minutes or hours later and the red bumps and welts are often accompanied by intense itching.

6) the bumps and welts of the bites have tendency of sequential arrangement and often aligned in a cluster of 3, giving rise to colloquium of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

7) when the bugs are disturbed while eating, it will relocate half inch or so farther along the skin before resuming feeding or continue to search for blood vain.

8) the bites seem to possess all of the pre requisites for passing diseases from one host to another but there had been no reported cases this far.

I met several students coming from Malaysia who are now still studying in Cairo. They had been living in elsewhere Cairo for 5 years. They hinted out to me, to be more watchful next time and being a little more selective in picking beds when I am in Cairo. “Bed bugs infestation is an inherent outbreak here,” saying them with a wide chuckle, I know they know something that I do not know. They declined to let me know what they know. That was the reason they cheekily chuckled away.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 02:16 Archived in India Comments (3)

A Four Dollar Room

My Room In Tomato’s House

sunny 38 °C
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With a four dollar, I am given a private room in Tomato’s house. I am not expecting an attached toilet but there is one in the room. I am not expecting a fan but there is a three bladed ceiling fan spinning madly for me over day and night like a topsy-turvy bumble-bee. There is a TV but it’s not in my room, it entertains only people living in the downstairs. There is a radio but it belongs to Mrs. Sekar who plays only Tamil songs. There is no air conditioning but I yearned for one. I have tried my best to almost forget about this great modern invention. There is a coir bed made of coconut husk fibre, I sleep not on it but on the floor. There are world full of parasitic arthropods living in it, but I could do nothing about it.

I wish for a writing table and there is one but not reachable to a plug point. There are many tales to tell you, only I can write to you if my laptop is reachable to that plug point higher up. Finally, I choose to write to you with my legs crossed sitting on the broken marble floor with the laptop on the bed.

There is a four dollar payment, surely it worth a value.

Tomato and his family live at the ground floor. I live at the first floor. I chose one room and the other two rooms are still vacant. Other than the dull morning and night greetings, I have too little vocabulary in Tamil to exchange with Mrs. Sekar. When we begin to talk, of nowhere we changed form like domestic fowls. I had always been a duck and she had never been away from becoming a chicken. We had a duck quack and chicken cluck. A chicken and duck talk. Nobody understands one another better than ourselves. There is no way I was able to tell her my grudges.

Today is a warfare day. I uphold my breath and a gritted my teeth and wished to bust the parasites out completely in one breath. When I drew the layer of coconut husk fibre off from the bed, I have a gruesome eye-pop alarm seeing endless tiny creatures, a world of them boring and revolving around the hollow nests in the husk fibre of the bed. With a loathing disgust, adding on with a nauseating goosebumps developed over my neck and arms, I see colonies of tiny flying insects and also wingless ticks creeping around the bed I once slept on it. No wonder I have fresh clusters of sequential itchy red bumps growing around my body every morning.

I had another disgust to tell. The ants have out ruled me. I am gasping for breath to counter combat the attack of the miserable household ants over my stuff kept in the room. I am not a sweet tooth and I bet these ants now aren’t too. They must have genetically undergone mutation and changed the way they diet. They are no longer the orthodox household ants who are keen to make neat lines and obediently follow the rows with a hug and kiss with each other to reach the sweets. Does it make sense if I were to tell you they walloped every stuff including my laptop?

To counter attack the wearily miserable household ants, I brought in to the room a huge laundry bucket and filled it with several inches of tape water. I found a tiny water dipper, filled it with some water to gain some weight, to make sure it doesn’t wobble in the laundry bucket’s water and sinks down stably when I placed it down into the centre of the laundry bucket. Then I get a snake-ladder game board, I opened it up and laid it on the water dipper. Now I have built a model moat with a defensive ditch filled with water round the game board.

Unless the army ants learn to swim, I now ruled them over finally. My food stuff, fresh fruits and sweet drinks are all stacked on the game board like a pyramid. That stacking includes my laptop too.

Mrs. Sekar must be hunting for her laundry bucket now and scratching her head wondering how on earth the huge blue laundry bucket went missing. As for the snake-ladder game board, I heard no one searching yet.

Later afterwards, I remember I had once watched on TV documentary of troops of ants marched their way to the water bed and later plunged their way into the water before swimming across it. Ants don't swim, do they? Oh no, not again.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 06:24 Archived in India Comments (3)

Scorching Hot Days

Hope For The Monsoon To Arrive Soon

sunny 39 °C
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If you watch out for the weather forecast of Malaysia, it does not give you any instinct of how dramatic the weather changes are going to be. If you live long enough in Malaysia, you are easily a soothsayer capable of predicting the weather forecast earlier than the newscaster is to report on television. For a tropical country like Malaysia situated right on the line of Equator, climatic condition is humid and hot throughout the year, it’s insipid and bland, no drama.

Last week in Kuala Lumpur, I was engaged in a mood to find out the present climatic condition of India on TV before heading there. A clip was aired on TV news showing groups of Indian peasants raising their hands high and widely embracing to the sky feeling grateful over the soaring draught that has finally reached an end. It means the rainstorms brought along by the monsoon have begun to sweep in to the inner region of India. It begins to show signs of rainfall after enduring through the soaring hot season for the months before coming into present wet season of June.

So, does it mean that by now Tiruvannamalai will begin to receive rainfalls bring forth by the monsoon? The answer is a No – not yet.

India is so vast that the climatic condition of the southern tip of Tamil Nadu has little relation to the region of the far north. While the central and northern region of India now are receiving monsoon rain comes from the south west, Chennai including Tiruvannamalai of Tamil Nadu in the south east are not affected by the present monsoon where most of the farmers and peasants in India are now jubilating for. Cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta begin to receive heavy rainfalls during these months of June, July and August. For Chennai of Tamil Nadu, its turn will arrive only in October. That could have translated as – Tiruvannamalai remains as hot as before for you to unlock your Nehru collar.

I am getting acclimatized to the weather In Tiruvannamalai after settled down for a week here. Not that Kuala Lumpur is cooler, but Kuala Lumpur has a higher humidity. That may cool down the heat a little. In Tomato’s home, the heat would start to build up in the room by noon like a clay oven tandoor. Stray dogs get topsy-turvy before watching them running into the shades. It is a no joke when it really gets heated up. Temperature in the room could rise up to a burning 35 degree Celsius.

The weathered old window screeched and shuddered as I forced it open. Opening the doors of the room hoping for a greater flow of ventilation doesn’t work its way out. Splashing my body with tap water doesn’t help to cool my body down either. When a room is trapped with heat, it is not completely a bad wrench after all. Doing laundry has become an easier task. The moment I twisted the laundry from the washing bucket for drying and suspended them over the arm chair in the room, an hour or two later you may harvest the laundry.

When I was in Kashgar of Xinjiang many years ago, I remember a roommate of mine who shared the same lodge did a frantic pursuit which according to him was effective to cool down our heating hot room. So, he carried a bucket of water and splashed it over the floor of the room. I had an instantaneous squeak. I was overwhelmed by his frantic idea but remained calm. Over in Malaysia or even in India, we do not normally acted in such a pursuit hoping to cool down the temperature of the room. Perhaps, it’s a norm if you do it in the outdoor. That was a culture shock.

“No worries, it’ll dry up in an instant while”, the roommate was confident and at the same time showing his pride in wanting me to trust him. True enough, a full bucket of water that was splashed on the floor in the room dried up soon. Furniture and cupboards were kept dried still. Living in Kashgar for outsiders, our skin may dried up easily as the sweat emitting through the sweat glands is evaporated before it moistens our skin, that causes us nettle-rash. That was an indication of how dry the weather in Xinjiang is. If you clumsily follow such a pursuit in Malaysia, not that you only get a free bash up for blowing up the room, but you would also be kicked out of the house. The water will hardly dry up. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Never try out such a pursuit in Tiruvannamalai.

It’s been a rare day today and yesterday - an outcast windy day. The sun is hidden shyly by the cloud over the horizon. When there is no sun, there is less heat. When there is less heat, there is less sweating. Sitting with our legs crossed, our mind tends to establish a subtle calmness when we feel the gentle blow of the breeze. Our mind is retracted so not to be shaken by wild thoughts and our major plexuses are aligned to the energy axis of muladhara to sahasrara. A chanting of the name of Guru Yogi Ram with a melody that vibrated to the ears was audible when I was at the pathway walking home. I could hear the faithful people chanted - Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Jaya Guru Raya” in a low but overpowering voice without stop. Every day, faithful people after another take turn to do the chant that lasted from morning till dusk. That was a belief and of faith, a strong one that the faithful people have unto the Bhagavan Guru.

At the nearby neighbourhood when I was walking home, Pramu had a sudden pounce from the shade under a tree very forcefully against me. He took some fault against me as an outsider who does not belong to his neighbourhood. Like an old Chinese saying, he has been picking bones from eggs and being hypercritical to find fault over nothing. Having met Pramu is a ganglion wound in the making. Pramu, being a dominant male of the neighbourhood, behaves neurotically irrational. Pramu immerses a great tendency to find fault at newcomer at his wish. One fine morning, Pramu took no counsel but to find fault at me again, but there had been no attack yet.


Posted by Quah Khian Hu 01:48 Archived in India Comments (3)

Defeated Nights

Defeated For Some Foolish Reasons

rain 32 °C
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(What you see in the photo is what I  see in the darkness)

(What you see in the photo is what I see in the darkness)


After a long wait for a trip, the first days arriving in a foreign land would always blow us away with a sense of euphoric feeling but often in contrary, it is not the case. Many times we feel defeated for some foolish reasons.

Living the first days in the village of Tiruvannamalai was an example of how I was defeated. Why not? Try out these reasons yourself and find whether would you be defeated the same foolish way I was.

Say, you have been driving an automatic car at home but now car is an out-of-order luxury commodity for you, instead you only have manual limbs to barge on dirt paths day and night. Say, perhaps you have been an auditor like me, you couldn’t comprehend but must single out every reason, you scratched your head hard thinking why ticks are not labelled as a quick becoming extinct bugs than seeing them hovering in your bed jollying for an eat-all-you-can feast. Say, you have been doing well to hold back your nervous from dropping out but suddenly you spotted more suspicious dark shadows harrowing in the darkness of the bushes. And say, you have been almost successful trying a greatest degree to deafen your ears but then, the creepy howling blow of stray dogs scares you off more than before, for you believe ghosts are roaming by the howl of those beasts.

I am not pretending to appear macho. Neither am I acting macho. If I were to deny completely that I have not had any nervous breakdown during the scare moments, it is my pure ego to have claimed bravery as such. To have such a claim, I may not be revealing the truth from my heart. To kill much of my ego, I learn to lower down myself and admit that I do sometimes had nervous breakdown and at times I am too a fool.

Do you have the tendency of being defeated for the same reasons? If yes, you too are a fool.

Now, leave foolish scares away for a moment.

After the first dinner, the night was shattered by a sudden cloudburst. Each drop of rainfall splashed the dirt on the ground. As the rain falling down, I watched the ground turned damp, then became muddy and slushy. The rain never stopped but turned vehemently raging. Going home, it was still a long walk. I sat waiting by the staircase at the entrance of Siva Sannidhi while watching the powerful splashes of rainfall dropping like troops of army combating the frontline.

The night in Tiruvannamalai begins very early. By 8pm, the village is already idled down and most of the streets lamps are erratically functioning at its wish. Later on the way home, in the darkness, I saw no one other than hearing only the footsteps of my own. My heart was beating fast.

I learnt a lesson that night. I felt I was left in a lurch finding way home in the darkness. When a person sees in the darkness, we’ll see it with a varying view finding through the viewfinder of our eyes. What you have seen in the bright time may have been different to what you may have seen in the darkness now.

One old saying is truer than true. While you walk ahead, halt for a while and look backward. What you see while you look backward has a varying degree of view finding to what you may have seen while you walk ahead just now.

When the sun rises the next morning, the feeling of defeat is faded away along with the first ray of the sun. People begin to hail to the streets again. This is the village life in Tiruvannamalai. The village gets busy again and begins to see many pilgrims, local Indians and outsiders alike walking around to the temples and ashrams like yesterdays.

My day begins at 7 am. After getting myself a cold shower and a cleaning up, I put on the slippers and make a stride out of the house to Yogi Ram Ashram. It will be a daily routine at least for a month before I have to leave India by beginning of July in abiding to India’s new immigration law.

The full moon festival this month falls on the 22nd, a Saturday. I have a desire to walk circumnavigate the Arunachala hill. To walk circumnavigate the hill for 14 km at night may have avoided the heat from the sun. But, considering the night security, I may need to option out the night walk as I have to walk alone an extra distance in order to get home to the village. I would have to exercise a preventive caution against the night bandits more than fearing the night harrowing ghosts. Which one you fear more? Tell me. Kill your ego and be honest to yourself.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 04:40 Archived in India Comments (0)

Arriving At Tiruvannamalai Again

Tomato Sekar’s Home

sunny 38 °C
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Arunachala hill of Tiruvannamalai, a village sits at the base of the hill

Arunachala hill of Tiruvannamalai, a village sits at the base of the hill


Tucked away behind the ashram of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, there is a small village connected by a dirt road, long enough that it is creeped with bushes and bushy undergrowth plants. This dirt road is the only way that links to the main road of Tiruvannamalai. Tomato Sekar’s house is just situated at the edge of this village. A slow walk for around 20 minutes through this dirt road may lead you from his house to the main road, which is adjacent to the well renowned Ramana Maharshi ashram.

“Peeeple in this village called me Tomatooe”, that was how Mr. Tomato Sekar introduced himself to me, shaking his head from side to side while speaking his very strong Tamil accent. I nodded but found a little awkward for me to address him as Tomato. Asians especially are taught to address people with a proper title according to their age. He is around 60, and for me to address him as Tomato, I found I am a little dishonouring his wisdom age. I reiterated, to make sure I must not denigrate him, “You mean tomato ketchup?”. His lips stretched amused, “No ketchup but tomato. You must know why, I was given this nick name because I sell lots of tomatoes in the wet market”. Mrs. Sekar was standing by his side at the iron grill of the entrance looking at the gate of the house. She is around Tomato’s age, holding a tiny dustpan in one hand with a rib broom made of coconut palm on another.

Two hours earlier, before discovering Tomato and his home, I was still rocking sleep on the opened-window bus that had departed from Chennai CMBT since morning but now I’m already on the feeder bus. Getting off the feeder bus by the Ramana ashram, I headed for the house I had once stayed some time three months ago. I had wished that the room to be vacant after I come back from Malaysia. Unfortunately a new occupant has already rented the room. It was for a year contract. In Tiruvannamalai if you find a room with good deal, they are always booked up, even for as long as a year or two. Tiruvannamalai is an important Shaivite town, where Shiva is revered as Arunachaleswar, an aspect of fire. There are many pilgrim tourists coming from elsewhere outside India to pay homage and pilgrimage here. Knowing no room was available for me, I knocked off from the upper level of the house and headed to the exit, then stood by its four-foot zinc-sheet gate figuring out what to do next while trying to hold up my little frustration.

When there is a will, there appears a way. A salvation army arrived with his honk calling me, then he pressed several times again till I looked over to him. This autorickshaw driver known his way of locating room-for-rent within homes in the village like drinking his cup of tea. He appeared precipitating in doing his persuasive talking and heavily selling the room on behalf of the house owner. That left me with limited choice to choose. “Gooood room, you like it Sir? Yeees? Money no problem. Pay only little money”, saying the autorickshaw driver with his gesticulation as if running a business of his own. He was coaxing persuasively yet very manipulative. Words from his mouth almost melted my heart when I finally committed to a room, and he claimed ”You can pay me anything, even one Rupee is enough”. One Rupee is enough? What? You mean one Rupee? No way he would accept one Rupee unless he is completely not sane. What a tactic of a mischievous driver to gain extra sympathy in exchange for a big fat commission. What a bluffing coax.

When they asked us to pay as little as one Rupee, that itself carried a diametrically contrary meaning – “Make Sure You Pay Me A Fatty Sum!”. The haunting part of dealing with autorickshaw drivers usually exploded when we failed to seal the price upfront before going for a ride. Otherwise, you’ll be haunted and haggled by them for the rest of your day, unless you pay something exorbitant.

Being having dealing with many mischievous autorickshaw drivers many times, the rule of game is not unknown. I was relented and willing, upfront knowing that I had to pay a little fatty sum. A friend told me, when you travel, you can’t be letting no autorickshaw drivers earning your money, you are capable of helping them to earn a better living for their family. That was a true saying. Most of the time, I prefer to walk than riding on wheelers when I intend to move from one place to another. That saves money and makes the limbs to do some workout. Thinking back, I had not been riding on autorickshaw for a very long while, why not this time.

The day of arrival at this village of Tiruvannamalai has put me in a demand of physical and mental energy – stress. Before the horizon turns dark, I should not be deprived of the direction, precisely myself to be vivid of the way getting in and out between Tomato's home and to the main road taking Ramana Ashram as the landmark.

At Tomato’s home, I requested Tomato to write for me his mailing address in the event I may not be able to find my way home. The day was getting late, soon the horizon was going to fall dark. It was in the darkness that I will be going to Siva Sannidhi for dinner. I could find the address plate nailed to the pole of the gate. Instead, Tomato asked me to help him to copy the address myself. How nice he was making me to write Tamil on his behalf. You know, writing Tamil is never ever easy. I must admit I am not a good copycat.

In Tomato’s home, I have not seen any tomatoes at his home, not even one yet.

As I climbed up to the open space rooftop at the third storey of the house, apart from seeing the strings of clotheslines, my eyesight was enlarged with the complete view of Arunachala hill. Tiruvannamalai sits at the base of this Arunachala hill.

Night begins very early in this village. The town area is some distance away from this village. By 8pm, this village is already completely quiet down. The villagers calling it a day as soon as the day gets dark.

Tomato Sekar's house - second house in the middle of three

Tomato Sekar's house - second house in the middle of three

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 03:45 Archived in India Comments (4)

Up On Cloud Nine With Air Asia


sunny 27 °C


The slide films are turning rustic and film cups are gathering cob web. Some slides begin to show signs of developing fungus like green algae growing on moist surface. Watching them through the naked eyes, I recollected my memory of stepping in India for the first time. That was 2004. Ever since that year, I had not been missing out the land of mother India in my mind and continued later with several trips, with annual leaves taken from work. Contrary to the past trips, the recent away to India in March 2013 had translated my collective desirous as I decided to leave job. And I left the job. Not that this is the first time I resigned from job for travel. When I recounted the immigration stamps impressed by the government of India on the pages of expired passports including this alive passport in hand, I made five fingers just enough, no more or less.

Two nights before I left Malaysia for India, Gaik Choo, a friend of mine who is also a close regard to Joyce, had a cynic but a sincere emotion telling me what Joyce had foretold her, with another wide cynic smile on her lips deliberate to excite annoyance on me, saying, “See, this is what Joyce foretells. I asked her how does she come to foretell that you will return home to Malaysia that soon, and she took some pride to say – If I don’t see through what he is facing in his trip to India, I am not Joyce then”. That was a haughty remark of Joyce but we have never failed to believe in her. That is Joyce.

Joyce is also a known friend of mine, she is a medium who does reading for anyone who comes to seek after her. With her spirit guide’s help, often than not she receives the gift of being able to foretell events before events turned to happen. Early this year in March, I had begun the trip to India and it had never planned to be any shorter trip though I may have said so. Joyce like a soothsayer was telling Gaik Choo I would have returned very soon. That was a remark exchanged between them without involving me.

True, and I hit her bingo. On the 6th of April, I flew home from Sri Lanka. Upon arriving in Malaysia, hurriedly I drove home to hometown in Teluk Intan when dawn was hitting the horizon. I received some messages from my elder sister that my eldest aunt, Aunt Lian’s health condition was not approving and pleasing when I was still living in the land of Ceylon.

I have made up my mind to leave home again now, with a shattered heart and grieve of emotions. I have decided to fly on 7th June.

The reactions of my family? Upon hearing my intend of going off again from Malaysia for this time of the umpteenth times before? To begin with my father, he is 70. He may raise his voice at his wish at time I do not know when, with a dismay tone he’ll order, “I can’t understand you, a 40 year-old man who still doesn’t keen to settle down for a family! If you are being a married man, you would have borne several children now”. Firstly, mathematically calculate, I am 39 not 40 at his say. Secondly, I wouldn’t want to deny what my father exclaimed, they are living facts. On the other hand, my father shows his liberal support always and wanted people, especially young men to gain knowledge if they prefer to go travel abroad. I am caught in between his principles, settled down and be married and, or go travel at his liberal support. He is infusing a contradicting principles, am I right? Anyway, I am turning 40 soon next year, it is a fact I wouldn’t have wanted to deny.

About my younger aunt, Aunt Tee, in her early seventies now, the topic hasn’t been far sailing away from marriage. It’s a topic of marriage my aunt had wanted me to settle down for a family, if I found a suitable heart-soothing lady. She tends to be liberal and not infusing verbal strength like my father. I adore one of her amusing heart-comfy statements, before I departed from hometown, she whispered to me through the ear, “It’s fabulous if you find a sweet romance in India, then you may settle down in India. We may not have seen you that often afterwards but no harm, we’ll fly there to visit you and your Indian wife”. How heart soothing hearing such saying of my aunt. Is that the intention I go travel? Am I getting married with an Indian lady during the travel? Joyce would have the answer.

Regarding my brother and sisters, we are all liberal as long as I take a good care of myself and plan well for my future, and that does not necessarily include wealth counting. Each time of returning home, I see my nieces and nephews grown more than several inches taller. And for me, I grow some extra crow feet wrinkles on the face. An aging process is catching up, I don’t deny.

On the night of 6th June, I requested my sister and her family to drop me at the LRT station instead of sending me to the airport. I had a long wait, a heavy supper, a three-hour surfing, some light reading and an hour of head-rocking sleep at the hard steel, stiff seat at the food court. Only then arrived 4.30 am before I began to queue for the baggage check-in.

Flying in Air Asia is so affordable that everyone can fly now, I agree with the marketing slogan of this red and white titanium bird. With only RM6 extra, I picked a seat at the 29th row. The second last hind seat was near to the lavatory and I didn’t mind at all. The rows of seats toward end lavatory tend not to be picked by passengers unless they do not have any choice. It was a dawn flight and I was enjoying a spacious full row of three seats all by myself.

After several times of dozing off and waking up, I couldn’t resist reaching my hands out of the little window box to grope the buds of cumulonimbus clouds. I saw amass of cumulonimbus clouds floating right below the air plane forming a very thick cloud bed. Each bud of cloud was knitting nicely with another, and formed a pattern of cotton like cauliflower clouds. All white and clear and I didn’t see any stain darkened the cauliflower clouds. They almost covered the entire sky in my vision through the window box. Such a rare phenomenon I hardly encountered while flying on an air plane. With an euphoria exaltation flying up over cloud nine, I fumbled the unstained, cotton like cauliflower clouds gently with my imagination. I released my feelings in imagining myself gliding through one mild and tender cloud to another. The airplane was also on cloud nine, as it continued to fly above 30,000 to 40,000 feet above the sea level, very high indeed. I enjoyed watching the cumulonimbus clouds appearing like buds of unstained cauliflowers.

First day of travelling was tiring. I left home in Puchong at 10 pm for LCCT airport. From the Chennai airport then, I hurried to CMBT bus terminal and only arriving in Tiruvannamalai at 5pm Malaysian time the following day.

I dearly love my Aunt Lian – she passed away and crossed to another world on the 17th of May, within less than 2 months of my returned from travel. My heart is still shattered and grieved with emotions.

I have a deep revered love for Krishna, my love for his divine compassion, Hare Hare.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 05:49 Archived in India Comments (4)

White Eggs And Brown Eggs

Why Eggs In Malaysia Are Brown?

sunny 34 °C


I remember when I was in Cairo, I hardly found brown eggs selling in the day market. Most of the eggs in the grocery shops in Cairo are white. Even in India, white eggs are a common grocery item but not brown eggs. However, over here in Malaysia, we do not find any white eggs at all in our market. Only brown eggs are available.

Why are there no white eggs in Malaysia? Why are some eggs white others brown? What is the cause to the colour of the eggs? Is there any difference between the nutritional value of white eggs and brown eggs?

I checked the reasons out and found some facts of white eggs and brown eggs. Here they are:

Egg colour is determined by the breed of hen. Sometimes different breeds of hen lay eggs of different colour. They are either brown or white. The earlobes of a hen determine the colour of the egg shell. A hen with white earlobes lays white eggs, while a hen with red earlobes lays brown eggs.

Many people believe that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs, in reality the colour of the eggs has nothing to do with the quality or its nutritional value. It is merely the colour appearance of the egg shell only.

The weather of a country determines the breeds of hen suitable to keep breed in its farms. For example, the red earlobe breed is the preferred choice for breeding in the tropical country like Malaysia and throughout the South East Asia countries. Whilst, the white earlobe breed is the suitable choice to countries like Egypt, India and even the USA.

The consumer preference drives the demand for egg colour too.

What is more important than egg colour is freshness. Eggs will keep fresh for up to five weeks, but their quality declines with time. To savour the best eggs at home, eggs that are less than a week old are best suitable for frying, poaching or baking. Eggs that are more than a week old are best for hard-boil as the shell of older eggs are easier to off peel.

A white earlobe hen

A white earlobe hen

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 09:35 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Hunt For The King Of Fruits – Durian

No Eating Durian When You Plan To Fly

rain 34 °C


I would like to begin by telling an episode about my hunt for durian that took place recently when I was in Bangkok.

You know, during this time of July month, it is still a durian season, as durian fruits are dropping like cats and dogs from the trees in the orchards. The moment these durians are loaded into the baskets from the ground of the orchard, the next moment they are lifted into the lorries to be hurried away into the city to serve the revered durian cravers before the bottom of the thorny fruits begin to cleave apart from its ripen buttock. By the time these durians arrived at the stall of the street, the distinctive aroma, strong and penetrating pungent smell emitted by these thorny fruits would have already overpowering the neighbourhood. Unless you hated durians, which is very unlikely for a Malaysian, it is an overwhelmingly foul odor for you.

When I was in Bangkok, Kitty drove me to a day market which was not far away from the Chatuchak market. It was a huge day market compared to the ones we usually frequented in Klang Valley. Strolling forward and backward along the stalls, irresistibly I was lured by the yellow durian flesh and could not resist the temptation to pick some durians that were displayed on the stall. The durian fruits were already stripped off from its husks and the flesh like creamy yellow custard was packed into a styrofoam plate, displayed on the merchandise table.

Written on the package, one styrofoam plate cost Bath200 (RM20). I pointed a few fruits to the stall seller. The seller nodded and quickly packed the durian fruits I selected. Then, she claimed from me hastily, “400 Bath”. I was uncertain about the price the seller claimed, I thought I heard wrongly. “400 Bath!”, she demanded again. Louder this time. What? She demanded 400 Bath (RM40) for only 3 seeds of durian? Obviously it was a cheat. Though I did not frown in showing my displeasure, but I was disgruntled in disgust as I knew that I had been cheated and price-slaughtered. It was as if my neck was put on the chopping board getting ready for the seller to slaughter at her wish.

Obviously the unscrupulous seller was trying to cheat when she demanded for the exorbitant price. Kitty was watching from beside. When Kitty asked the unscrupulous seller about the exorbitant price, the seller explained with some unacceptable crap reasons. Since Kitty was watching, I had to save my face from entering into a price scuffle with the unscrupulous seller. So, unwillingly I accepted the pack of durian and paid relentlessly. Had I gone on usual backpack, when encountering such a throat-cutting case, I would immediately turn away and refuse to accept the deal.

The durian episode did not end here.

That afternoon itself, Kitty sent me to the airport. After having eating the durian, my stomach began to feel like a growling gas chamber. The gas from the digestion of durian which had turned into an ester compound, has been emitting from the stomach through my mouth. I had endless belch. Belching is a process which I could not do anything to contain it. The emission of gas from my mouth and even through the nose, I must say, smelled very strongly like a leakage of propane gas from the tank. It was a foul smell, I must admit.

Sitting on the seat of a row of three passengers in the airplane, I heard a middle age passenger turned to his wife and asked in disgust, “Did you smell durian gas, it stinks!”. However he spoke quite softly in the beginning. As I later began to belch endlessly, this time the middle age man turned very vehemently and I supposed he had lost his tolerance towards the foul stench. He exclaimed very loudly now, “Who ate durian just now! It stinks terribly foul!”. He could have identified me as the culprit emitting the foul and strong propane durian gas. I was sitting beside him. There was no way he could not sense the emission of propane-like gas from a passenger sitting beside him. But, he did not turn to me. I was relieved.

As the ventilation in the plane is quite confined, very quickly the odor gas has overpowered to the surrounding seats. The odor gas was trapped within the surrounding, at least for a while. I noticed a woman passenger sitting in front, drew a magazine from the pocket of the seat and began to fan away the foul gas. That was ever an awkward experience causing terrible embarrassment to me.

We often read, “no durian is allowed in the airport”. Perhaps we may need to extend a little further, including “no eating durian when you plan to fly”. I had learned a lesson from a great embarrassment – durian itself is a horrifying betrayer, it tells everyone even if you intend to remain silent.


Posted by Quah Khian Hu 02:50 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

Reunion In Thailand

A Courage To Change

rain 30 °C


This time during my working trip in Thailand, I decided I must take some time to meet several friends in Bangkok. Oath with his wife Jackie, Woon and his girlfriend Touk, Kitty and I gathered together for a dinner in one of the suburban neighbourhoods of Bangkok. Perhaps I would call this a reunion. We had a reviving memory where we had traversed together into the mountainous range of Ladakh in India three years ago, in July 2008.

Oath has just returned to Bangkok from Ladakh several days before we met up. I am not sure how many times he has travelled across the dirt roads by the steep slope from side to side of this thrilling but poetic picturesque mountainous range. But I know he would make a trip to Ladakh at least one time a year during summer. He led a group of 15 travellers with him in the recent trip.

Oath has inspired me to a certain extent. As I see him turning his travelling hobby into a self-made career, I feel an effusive gush of momentum moving in me too. Owing to him, I wanted to make an expedient shift from the conventional nine-to-five white-collar executive into doing what I like to do more. Seeing the development of his business from a zero ground in 2008, now he has established a business of his own. He leads tour groups to several destinations. Apart from being a tour leader, he runs a blog to commercialise many products related to the outdoor trek and of course backpack clothing and gadgets too. Selling these products on the web is what he is busy with, as he is able to command a great number of followers into his blogs. His e-commerce is doing well by the support of a large base of fan group.

Oath took a very bold shift in the development of his career upon return from the trip to Ladakh in 2008. He quitted his steady job with a bank in Bangkok (Krung Thai Bank if I recalled correctly), all because he wanted to do what he likes more than being an executive of a bank. So, he folded up his sleeves and slipped off the necktie and began to reach out to his dreams. He began to bring tours and started his e-commerce business. It was a drastic shift of his career and definitely he was very bold to make such a decision.

I have a plan too, it’s my dream. I would hold steadfast to it with an unwavering belief that the present job is a makeshift before I would stride a pursuit to travel again. This time, it holds a definite objective - travel with a considerable dream.

Thanks to Oath.

Until next year, a shift will be made, insyaallah.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 00:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (5)

A Ferocious Street Tussle

A Disorderly Scuffle with a Ferocious Man

sunny 27 °C


I am always being warned that when we drive on the street, we have to contemplate to be mindful, always care for the feeling of the drivers who are driving just several wheels away from our motorcar. I am always being reminded to take a precaution measure not to irritate the feeling of the driver as he drives his vehicle, no doubt his vehicle may have blocked our way throughout. Even if he blocks our way in the middle of the highway, we must keep gentle and remain hesitate to press the horn. Why are we contemplating such a degree of caution when driving? The reason behind is – keep cautious, not to trigger into any scuffle with road bullies. You may not know who the road bully is. You have to remain alert to avoid being head logging with any driver on the street. Among the drove of drivers sitting in their cars next to you, there are some in just a second may potentially change and turn out to be a ferocious road bully. You will never know.

That evening was a straining home return trip, a hassle I must go through daily making myself become repetitively taut everyday. I had been waiting by the security gate at the entrance of the housing estate to my home. There was a car stopped by the checkpoint. The driver was seemed being held up for identification verification by the security guard. In a couple of minutes, vehicles began to snarl up in a long queue. Behind me, there were around 7 cars lining in the queue awaiting to go through the same security gate. It was busy hour as residents were returning home from work. After waited for some 5 minutes, I began to loose patience. Not that I’m impatient but if you have to go through the same struggle everyday, a couple of times daily, under the prolonged wait by the security gate, you would too easily loose patience.

I pressed the horn. It was one sound of “beep”, a very light one. My intention was no other than wanting the driver who had stuck by the security gate to hasten up himself with whatever registration process needed him to remit to the guard. As the car still did not show any sign of movement, I pressed another horn. It was a series of long “beeps”, albeit long but soft. Many cars began to follow suit to trigger horn impatiently. When I thought my signal had not reached that driver as there was still no sign of movement, I triggered the horn for a third time. This time it was louder.

Finally after some while, that car began to move. As it moved, it trailed for the direction I was heading. He drove very slowly ahead of my vehicle. After taking a turn he halted his vehicle, blocking right in the middle of the road. I could not move further but have to rest my car behind him. The door of the car was opened and I saw a man, looked very surly stepped down from the car. A peril was approaching.


Walking towards my car, he knocked on my window and pulled open my door very ferociously. You would have expected what happened next. In the middle of the road by the housing estate, he began to hurl abuse at me alleging that I had strained him when I triggered the horn of my car. He vehemently threw a very maltreating, offensive and insulting abuse in storm against me. When finding hurling abuses did not release his disorder emotion, he pointed at me, shouted loudly and yelled angrily in loosing emotions as if he was no longer sober. What was my response then? Out of sudden being attacked by such a barbaric moron, I was dumbfounded and in gape. Though I was grossly outrageous and acutely felt offensive by his pointing verbal abuse, I uttered no words. I was astounded and obviously not able to retaliate even a word.

As he hurled abuses, he turned more blasphemous. With a mouth full of profanity words, every word was a vulgar insult, with severe swearing-words depicting himself an irreverence person. Needless any reasoning, I did not see myself gauging any ability to dip into a quarrel. Neither was I fit to cross sword with him. Let alone to start a bodily fight. Quarrel requires skill though. If you do not have that level of ability, you loose out while you criss-cross your sword. I obviously do not have that skill to quarrel with anyone.


A colleague of mine was quite critical with me after I told her about the entire incident. “You should have retaliated, not dumbfounded!”, and “If he were to challenge me, he for sure gets tit for tat”.

I am now living in a terrace house built within a sizeable housing area which consists of four housing estates. Obviously, gating these housing estates by confining all the houses within a gate is not practical. Leaving only two entrances for exit and entry for all the residents of 400 units of houses to pass by have posed a severe obstruction to the traffic flow. How could I be patient with such a traffic snarl that begins from home? Horrendous isn’t it?


Posted by Quah Khian Hu 00:04 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Clean The Beach

The Ever Dirtiest Island – Pulau Lalang

sunny 37 °C

I was on the train sat next to her on the way getting out of Poland, the British girl told me that the beaches and many islands in Phillipines are overwhelming defiled. Though these beaches are immensely commercialised with tourists but the purity of the sand beaches are somehow destroyed by the garbage. Bottles, cans, plastic bags and including bigger pieces of garbage can be seen sweeping to the shore by the waves. “There are just too much of rubbish everywhere, mounding to the shore”, and she further remarked without any hesitation, “I was not able to accept the attribute that I was able to bask under the sun on the supposedly pristine beach, unless it is acceptable to you that you spread and lie rest on the garbage by your back”.

I did not agree with her. When I see Mindoro island for myself, although the beaches may not have been rated tip-top clean, but these beaches are relatively well taken care of. Of course, there were some odds and ends of litters discarded on the shore. It was not that dirty anyway.

Have you seen the dirtiest ever beach?

Some of our islands in Malaysia are found dirtiest. I am very reluctant to address as such. Regardless which angle you inspect, contemplate in any way, you would be appalled with disgust by the amount of garbage mounding along the shore of this island. Which island? Go see yourself - Pulau Lalang, the archipelago chain of nine islands situated not far away from Bagan Datoh in Perak. Though our Pulau Lalang is an uninhabited island, it does not maintain its elegance of unspoilt pristine beach.


We were appalled! We were intensely appalled by the amount of garbage thrown over the shore. From the tip of the beach to the bay of another end, there were heaps of water bottles, liquor bottles and rubbish left over on the beach. Of course, there were fresh banana skins too, to ignite your imagination.

I asked Zul while he was resting on the floor mat by the tent, “What do you think?”, I did not convey fully what I meant. “Think of what? About the heaps of rubbish?”, he responded. He was sort of understood my gesticulation. “Yes, you are right!”, I was invigorated as he made a remark, “Are you asking me to clean the beach with you?”. I nodded, and he turned quiet for a while, then he asked, “When?”. I replied, “No delay, now”.

So, the two of us began the cleaning exercise by picking the water bottles, filling into the garbage bags one by one. There were just too much bottles strewn on the beach (see the photos, and you would be appalled too). Looking at the accumulated amount of litters, the island appeared to have not been cleaned for very long. It may not have been cleaned at all ever, we suspect. After some tens of full bags, we only wondered an appropriate way to dispose the waste. We were in an isolated, uninhabited island. There is no garbage truck to remove the garbage, no dumping ground to bury the rubbish and we could not lit a flame to incinerate the accumulated bags of garbage either. The best way we thought was, lifting all of them to the boat, a fishing boat that will later carry us back to the mainland. And presumably these garbage bags could be disposed of appropriately in the mainland.

Then came one fellow friend, as we told her our intended idea. “No, please do not load the garbage to the boat and expect them to be disposed in mainland”, she interjected quite furiously, “No, no, it’s a bad idea!”. We were astounded by her rouse of furious response. We wondered what went wrong with our idea.

Then, we came to know that they had once had the common idea and acted alike. The garbage bags were loaded to the boat by them. Half way puffing through the deep ocean, a fisherman, the crew of the fishing boat alighted to the chambered deck that spanned to the hull, pulled the heap of garbage bags that were piled up, lifted up one by one and drop them into the sea. Good bye, garbage all drown down into the sea. Of course, this fellow friend and her group were obviously shocked with dismay. You can’t drop heaps of garbage especially in staggered bags into the sea. Whatever flows out to the sea will flow back to the shore. We also came to realise that the acts of the fishermen from the surround mainland were one of the factors that contributed to the litter on the beach.

When one has a low civic conscience, the moral sense tends not able to function well. It fails to tell what is right and wrong for being acted in such a way. In keeping the island clean, it is all about a duty of care. Responsibility underlies with the public. The local municipality council also shares a great part of it, but it seems the local council is acquitting condemn for not performing their duty.

That afternoon, Zul had a backpain, as a cause of several hours bend on the back to pick garbage. I told him, “You had exchanged your pain with a more clean shore, worth it”.

In Malaysia, we may still face a problem of hard to understand and deal with – litterbug syndrome. Many people still can’t deter themselves from conveniently litter on the beach as they take stride on the pristine shore. Comparably, if you think that the all the beaches in Europe are clean with a grant of blue flag, then, you are wrong. There are litters, but it is a waste of another form – used condoms. A shocking evidence, you will find in disgust plenty of used condoms thrown into the intervening cleft of the rocks by the bay, if you really inspect their beach.

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 20:14 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

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