before last year’s raya the whole family went balik kampung to kampung lalang, padang rengas, perak – the home of mr. khairul’s grandma on his dad’s side. though she is no longer with us, every raya mr. khairul’s dad and family, and siblings would still converge here for a raya reunion. noone lives here now so to celebrate raya there’s understandably a LOT of work to be done! the cleaning and scrubbing and washing and mopping – and that’s just on the inside.
the outside lawn needs a lot of work too. wild shrubs overgrowing. rotting trees need cutting. piles of leaves needed throwing away. and alhamdulillah there was an abundance of rambutan fruit up in the tree that needed picking!
the grown ups had their hands full, but who had the most fun? the kids! my boy khaleef, kahfi and kazim, along with their cousin sis wafa and lil bro khairy tagged along.
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lesson #1 : the value of hard labor
if you want something done, sometimes there is no easy way about it – cut it out, and just cut it! so many people out there do not have the luxury of an office job – plush cushion seat, air-conditioned cubicle and scrumptious meals during lunch time. the construction worker, the garbage collector, the gardener, the rubber-tapper, the farmer (tapi pakcik goreng kueyteow ngan apek sayur pakai singlet kat gunung rapat tu lagi mewah kot. rumah je rumah papan tapi keta mercedes hihi rezeki orang rajin). these people know all too well what hard work means – and my boys learned that first hand.
khaleef and kahfi followed bapak around looking for trees to cut down. then they labored on, carrying the dead barks of trees to a corner. any dead twigs around must be collected and put away too.
looking around at a clean, clear space would be the testimony of their little manly sweat and tears, and a wonderful bonding session with bapak!
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lesson #2 : learn about malaysian fruits!
in dubai, believe it or not, rambutan and mangosteen are luxury items! they are expensive! and to think that back in kampung lalang we only need to shake the trees and some will just drop down on your head, ready to be eaten. alhamdulillah!
the sight of the wonderful rambutan tree, lush green leaves with little dots of heavenly red – you can almost taste the sweet juicy rambutan flesh in your mouth. delicious!
my youngest bro-in-law asrar up in the rambutan tree. oh the red rambutan! what a sight!
that’s mr. khairul’s tok abah & pahyang’s house in the background. hari raya is totally incomplete without a visit down to her house – an all classic melayu papan house. a fantastic backdrop to our hari raya shots too!
another classic wooden house. all surrounding mr khairul’s kampung house with no picket fences. all living harmoniously.
this is just a smidgen of rambutans from the hundreds of thousands that we collected! ok tak la sampai ratus ribu haha tapi memang banyak berbungkus-bungkus! we collected SO MUCH that i can still take a lot more to bring to ipoh my abah’s house AND still be able to divide the lot to my sisters! THAT MANY! Ya Allah Kau murahkan rezeki keluarga pemilik pokok rambutan ni, dapat menjamu berapa ramai orang ni tak terkira!
here is khaleef climbing up the mangosteen tree. lama gile tak makan manggis (dan juga lama gileeeee tak panjat pokok huhu. the last time i climbed trees was probably the mango tree in front of my old house in rapat setia. it was so long ago that even the tree has since been chopped off).
khaleef said he felt so awesome to able to climb trees as high as he went, and to be able to help his opah collect the manggis. priceless, man. you can’t get this experience in dubai.
this was quite frightening for a mother to see – he might fall, get scratches, bump his knee? but i know deep down, that scars, bumps and bruises are the order of a day in kampung. you're not living it if you don’t have those. scars, bumps and bruises are badges of honor! haha. seeing khaleef climb up a tree was nerve-wrecking but i reminded myself that when i was younger, i had this advantage. i had fun climbing trees. my mom never stopped me and never make a huge fuss, so why should khaleef be denied this? and then he went HIGH up until i can only see his hand waving somewhere up the manggis tree – and that’s when i hyperventilate. hahaha.
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lesson #3 : we are not alone
yes, we are not alone. this phrase usually refers to the fact that there might be extraterrestrial beings out there somewhere in space trying to contact us human being. but here, i mean we are not alone – we share this planet with so many other creatures of God’s creation! in the metropolitan dubai, you hardly see any creatures – seriously, semut pun susah nak nampak and i’m not exaggerating! (well, got a bad cockroach infestation a while back at our dubai home, but they are long gone and never before seen again after the pest control.)
so here in kampung, you got all sorts of animals to be seen in their own natural habitat – from goats, chicken to tiny little catterpillar on a leaf.
here’s kazim spotting little ms caterpillars on her lunch. literally.
for 3 young boys living in the metropolitan city of dubai with skyscrappers as far as the eyes can see and (neck can crane), a tree-filled kampung is heaven-sent. it beats ferrari world. so many flowers to smell and fruits to taste, animals to chase and insects to inspect.
yeap. chasing chickens is the norm here. sorry, chickens. run and hide when you see the dubai boys coming! (no chicken was harm during the clean-up!) they’re not bullies mind you, and far away from being abusive to the animals! they’re just a bunch of typical curious kids, who enjoy exploring an unfamiliar territory. let them be!
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lesson #4 : lead by example!
when atuk did hard work, the grandkids followed. atuk made it fun, atuk made it less of a chore and more of a game and sing-songs. atuk made them laugh, but atuk also made them work! smart atuk. hihi.
atuk’s little minions helping him pick up this huge branch to be collected at the side of the house. i can almost hear “heigh ho heigh ho from home to work we go-“ the grandkids helped their granddad.
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siapa masih guna penyapu lidi? i hardly see one in dubai, and i doubt any shop is selling them. and this is when you see all sorts of ‘çleaning devices’ including the classic penyapu lidi, made from coconut leaves.
and here is mr. khairul’s little nephew working his way with a penyapu lidi. funny lil fella!
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my boys in front of istana kenangan
balik kampung padang rengas means jalan-jalan to the royal town of kuala kangsar just minutes away. a pit stop at the istana kenangan (remembrance palace) is a must. built in 1926 for sultan iskandar shah’s official residence. now it’s the royal museum of perak. the most significant aspect of this palace is that it’s made entirely out of wood and bamboo – without the use of a single nail. nada. nope. no nail. mind-blown architectural feat! also, when seen from above, the palace is designed to look like a sword in its casing. magnificent!
..but, of course a drive-around in kuala kangsar town is incomplete without stopping by the malay college kuala kangsar (mckk); the iconic school that has brought up many prominent malay figures such as tengku razaleigh hamzah (ku li), datuk seri anwar ibrahim, tan sri zam of telecom, tan sri halim saad and tan sri azman mokhtar; among others. oh and not forgetting awesome alums such as my super abah sharifuddin and my mr. khairul. my eldest boy khaleef next?