1

The Epitome of Love is Food

The Hundred-Foot Journey

My favourite scene from the movie, the most moving one for me.

Since the day The Hundred-Foot Journey trailer premiered, I’ve resoluted to watch it by hook or by crook and when it was shown at Odeon all over UK, I somehow missed the chance to catch it! Given that the cinema is only 4 minutes walk from my place is not an excuse either.

Since I got home early today, I pre-heat my dinner I made yesterday and watched it for two hours.

Deep in the recesses of my brain, I somehow knew there has to be a reason why I didn’t see this movie when I should’ve – I wouldn’t have been ready for a tsunami filled with nostalgia crashing over me. That much I knew.

I was flooded by memories of long forgotten person in my life and the moment I saw Om Puri playing as Hassan’s father, I’m immediately reminded of my late granpa. Of whom I only spent 6 years knowing.

The essence of Om Puri’s character struck a chord in me and the floodgate opened like there’s no tomorrow. I haven’t missed him in the last 10 years and suddenly today, I’m back to being heartbroken again. A decade ago, I wrote my first ever monologue dedicated to him and read it out loud in class. A monologue meant as a closure after his 13 years absence. And then, I pushed it so far back in my mind, I don’t have that attachment memories to him as much as I did.

I feel somewhat guilty after realising it now. The first person I was thankful for existing in my life (no matter how short it was) who embraced me for me. My granpa who didn’t have qualms getting his little grand daughter her very first train set, a string aeroplane and entertained me with car rides to meet his friends, inviting me to sit outside of the petrol station to keep him company selling newspapers while my late granma attended the cash counter in Penang. That was how I remembered my early childhood of me and my grandparents from different culture, ethnicity, countries and at one point, religion too.

Part of the reason why I have this constant battle being different is because in Malaysia, you’re in one of this boxes to tick – Malay, Chinese, Indian or Others. My fucking problem (pardon my French) is that, I’m all four, for god sake. I’m not just one or the other. On face value, many Malaysians will say to you that they are not racist by nature (sure..) but when it comes to cursing or making comments, you can find every derogatory words describing one or the other so offensive, it makes me wonder what does being racist truly meant to them?

There is a point to this post about The Hundred-Foot Journey.

The scene above is the most powerful in the movie for me. It captures what Asian values are about, especially when it comes to the food they present. It’s this family equation that makes their food so rich and captivating.

Sure, there’s a reason why Michelin awarded restaurants exist for a reason and they do make good food. The amount of insanity they put in to create a dish to look so delicate, refined and complex yet simple is commendable. It might justify the price we pay to dine in as well and I’m all for the theatrical elements in fine dining cuisine but watching this movie reminded me why food is part of my life. Part of me.

If you’ve known me long enough, you would know that I’ve got this sick obsession with (good) food and more often than not, Asian food ranks the highest for me. Malaysian food is ace for me because we have chinese, indian, malay, thai and every other cuisines mixed into the pot. The only problem with Malaysia, like most things – we don’t know how to market ourselves and own it. It pisses me off a lot of the times but oh well, that’s Malaysia.

There is a line in the movie when Hassan repeated what Marguerite said when they were picnicking,
“Food is memories”.

That’s spot on for me, like I was hit by a lightning. It got me thinking about my memories of people with food and for my granma, it would be her winter melon and ham choy soups. One time when I was sick for about a year, she flew all the way to take care of me and I would remember going to the pot every time to have a peek, to see if I could have another bowl. My mum on the other hand, while isn’t the best cook but there’s one particular dish I love from her and always look forward with a plate of hot rice – fried assam fish. I remember the briyani I tend to eat with my granpa back then but I don’t think I was old enough to remember the food he cooked (many people told me of his infamous dishes). I have more people I go to for a specific type of food they do very well and it’s what makes me feel connected to them.

Food to me is not just food. It’s the hard labour of love consisted of blood, sweat and tears when cooking up a storm for a family. It’s that essential ingredient that makes what you eat heaven in your mouth. That’s where I put my money mostly. The smallest, corner shop making home-cooked meals. Yep.

There’s just something about food and me that’s inseparable. Sometimes sickening but more often than not, I find joy when I discover a new eatery worth my tummy singing.

Btw, this is my second post for today, a first since a decade ago (when my first blog was set up, I used to blog daily, sometimes twice or thrice a day) 🙂 I guess, I just need to get it out about missing my granpa.

Advertisements
Image
1

A Stubborn Malaysian Wanted

I did this for an entirely different reason and part of me still wants to keep it hidden, unknown and well as private as the online world allows me to be. But alas, as with many things I do, this is one I wouldn’t mind being laughed at or made fun of.

Took me six hours to do a 40 seconds video for my application to Hyper Island which I honestly have no idea what the outcome would look like (all I did was arranging photos and videos I wanted and the rest just naturally took shape on it’s own).

I think in a lot of ways, it’s a nice recap of my entire 28 years into one. Of what I tried so hard to understand, adapt, run and submit but in that process of self discovery and what not, I went into all kinds of emotions – anger, disappointment, joy, sad. You can name any of it and it’s most certainly part of the journey somewhere.

Then there’s that feeling where I’ve made peace with the universe, myself and Him.

When all of these elements are aligned together, you get this sense of belonging without having the need to belong to anywhere. You just are. And so this is me.

I’ve adopted a new philosophy a few months back, one I’m only certain that I’m ready to commit when the time calls for it. If I have to go anywhere, anytime to help a country, a place, a nation or a community, I would pick Malaysia. I know it’s fcked up. That’s all the more reason why I choose Malaysia.

Weird? I think so too.

There’s this epidemic going on here, more so now than before – it’s called brain drain. It’s when all the good brains choose to move out and away from Malaysia and do superb things elsewhere. I understand why they do it, not so much because that’s what they want to do. It’s more about what they need to do and that’s to feed their soul to be better. So of course, it’s no brainer to not accept an offer other people are giving everywhere but Malaysia. Because really, why not?

But then, what will become of Malaysia when all the good people move away?

“So what? Tried and nothing happened”. “It’s not like I didn’t do my part, Malaysia is just not ready.”

True. Although, it’s not Malaysia that’s not ready or does not want to embrace it’s awesomeness, it’s the parasites that’s been occupying her heart. Disabling her to be the potential everyone has been talking about for ions. If anything, she’s pretty much screaming her lung out – my take on landslides, floods and haze.

It is kinda scary to think about it if you have to leave this country to incapable hands. When that happens (or has been happening), it becomes a responsibility for each and everyone to help this country to get rid of the nonsense that has been infesting for donkey years. It is sad to know that so many choose to ignore or be blasé about the future. Seriously, it’s as much as your future as it is mine yet all you think about is only the here and now. Not tomorrow or next month. Just right now.

I know, it takes too much effort. Too much emotions and time to do it. But if you’re not gonna right the wrong for yourself, no one else should be doing it for you.

Understandably, I wouldn’t want to live here anymore, don’t want to waste any more of my brain cells to help yet in the past 3 years, I’ve got to know so many people who make a difference and are constantly finding ways to do so because it’s what they love to do. It’s inbred in them. They feed upon the idea of being able to do something good. That alone shows the kind of spirit you’ll need to have when you live in Malaysia.

You need to have thick skin when facing rejections, cold heart when so many atrocities are thrown at you and be as stubborn as a mule to get your vision across. From what I’ve experienced and seen, people will bring you down until you break and if you have a strong will, you will rise far better than anyone will ever expect you to be.

So that’s Malaysia in a nutshell for those who wants to make a difference. It’s not a joke, those who champion campaigns for the betterment of Malaysia are heroes in their own rights. Even if they did shatter, they’ll comeback even more motivated and determined.

No one likes drastic changes, but it’s only drastic when you leave it to desperate hour.

Am I ready for that kind of thing? I’ll go with the flow.

In the meantime, I hope more people will fight to do the good stuff in Malaysia because God knows, we freaking need it!

And I am truly grateful to be surrounded by incredible spirits to help me be a fraction of who they become.

Switzerland

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

6

#TSBreakAway Featurette: The History Dream

This year has been a big revelation for me. Where Australia’s trip last winter made me realised that I’ve come full circle with myself, two weeks ago, my trip to Kuala Kubu Bharu cemented my reason for being here. In Malaysia.

While for many, it’s either about not having a choice or tied down to family and such.. for me it’s none of that. I could at anytime leave this country and had planned that way since I was a kid. I desperately wanted to get out since young because I’ve never felt like I belonged here yet here I am. Where my friends thought I’d be the first to leave and never return, it hasn’t been the case.

Till today, I remember the one thing my mum said when I was in Leeds, chilling at Nix’s house a year ago.

“So decided to move there?” she asked or something to that effect.

In that moment, part of me wanted to say yes but I didn’t and I knew if I did, she’d support my decision. That was the plan, has always been the plan.

And like the saying my English teacher once told me, man proposes, God disposes. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

That is until this trip.

It was a spur of a moment, one day sometime three weeks ago I suggested to Anis to head up to KKB to meet the uncle she had wrote about in her blog for #TSBreakAway and see what he thought about it. Then I mentioned it to Nigel who wanted to tag along. The week later, she told me they will be going on Friday. I was with Ashraf who was the resident mentor and videographer for this project we’re involved and casually asked if he wanted to go up too, see if there’s anything we could add into the #TSBreakAway footages.

KKB Group Profile

So at 6AM all of us (three #TSBreakAway Zombies and one Xplorer) were up and made our way to KL Sentral train station. This would be my first time going to KKB by train and apparently it was a first for the guys too. From here, we had to switch train in Rawang after an hour and then head to KKB in 30 minutes.

The train ride was very scenic and by the time we were in Rawang, the train we took was empty. So hey, we were like kids taking over the carriage like our own, talking about the 80’s and 90’s like it was yesterday while snapping photos and recording the view in between.

If I had to take a trip to anywhere, this fun bunch would rank at the top of my list.

Serendah

KKB Train

We had no plans when we got to KKB, just another random day exploring an old historical town and meet this charming uncle Anis interviewed. We didn’t expect that our trip would be something mind blowing, to a point that it was literally breaking us away from the norm. So as we were tracking down the route Anis took for #TSBreakAway solo assignment back to the tailor shop, she told us she was intrigued by this old barber shop (roughly about 40 years old) on the same street from where the uncle was working but didn’t check it out then because it was busy with people.

So I had this “brilliant” idea to get the guys to give us a reason to drop by and help Anis get her story. What I didn’t expect was for them to go along with the plan. I kinda sorta challenged Ashraf to cut his hair and get a shave since it looked like he needed a fresh look. Nigel too but only Ashraf agreed to do it. I did however got Nigel to do the old school shaving tho!

KKB Barber Shop Ashraf

KKB Barber Shop Nigel

KKB Barber Shop Nigel 2

Once the guys were done with their “spa” session, we continued on our next journey like kids going from one candy shop to another. I like how in this town, no one looked at you like you don’t belong here. They just continue doing their thing (at a slower but peaceful pace) and treat us like we’re part of them. Despite the uncle didn’t remember Anis initially, he entertained us with his stories of yore. Made ourselves comfortable in his 50 over years old shop, watching as he cut the wool for his customer and even managed to teach Nigel a bit of Pinyin. Who knew they both shared the same surname? Of course, he wasn’t spared from being lectured too for not able to read Mandarin. Haha! It’s like watching father scolding his son for a mishap. Ah KKB.. you sure know how to charm us.

In case you’re looking for this particular uncle to do your pants or suits, just ask anyone in KKB for “The Shirtless Uncle” and they all know who you are referring to 🙂

KKB Tailor

You know how when you got the ball rolling with one story, you went and dig deeper? Yeah, this was exactly the case. We moved from one shop to another just looking for something, anything. Then Nigel read about this other uncle who has an old watch shop which coincidentally was just around the corner from where we were. I mean, c’mon, while you’re here you might as well do what’s in your bucket list. But when we arrived, we didn’t expect that it would set the course of our adventure after this.

KKB Watchmaker

You know how when you go to a shop in a city, they’d be breathing your neck or for some reason, it makes you feel like you either have to buy something or get out of the shop quick? This was neither the case. We hung out at his place, admiring the many beautiful black and white photos of him and his shop which was taken by other photographers in the past. We talked about his background and what he love to do. Then, I heard a dog barking at the back and his wife was so sweet to show me her pet. Feisty looking little poodle. Cute tho. But feisty, bouncing away while barking at me and I was told this little one bites. So yeah, I just leaned my back on the wall adjacent to the dog. Later, she told me about two other cats who are friendly with the dog and brought them out for me to play with. Yeah, we pretty much made ourselves very comfortable.

A spirit I have not known existed in KL or Selangor. That ease I love and strive for is in this old town after all.

Anyway, after all that shop talk we’ve made, the owner of the watch shop decided to bring us to check out his daughter’s cafe, a few doors away from his. Too bad we already had our lunch (one where I was scampering around looking for a clean toilet and an aunty from a kopitiam across the street was accommodating and got me to use hers without any expectation. She even wave and greeted me when I passed by her shop again later that day). Seriously, no one here forces anyone or expects anybody to get anything from them.

When we were at the cafe looking around at the 80’s local music posters and antique memorabilia scattered all over, his daughter went up to Anis and took out her phone to show a photo she took of a namecard she thought would be useful to us.

“I think all of you should check out the small photography gallery. You’ll like it! But I don’t know if it’s open today but you can call this guy.”

KKB Cafe

This must be the gallery Anis mentioned earlier in the day which I’ve never heard of despite visiting KKB a few times in the past. There’s only one place that sounds like this which also housed many other art related items but given how everything are, it’s no surprise that the gallery is not open. Well it is, you just have to call a few days in advance. I guess we’ll have to make another trip back and get inside the gallery. Seriously, it’s almost unheard of to know that art takes place in towns like these here. If there are, no one’s spreading the word. Which is sad.

This whole place calls out for a revival. THE perfect town to have art residency. Which got my head buzzing and throbbing, I wish I could manifest those emotions into papers. Slowly eventually I will. Some kind of community project all four of us made a pact to work on. I hope.

KKB Kedai Runcit

That burning sensation was only secured even more when we met Aunty Sim Ling Ling who threw us off with her generosity. Initially, we didn’t know what we stumbled upon since the owner of the shop went to KL for acupuncture. Then we roamed inside the shop looking at the things hung from the ceiling. You’ll find anything and everything here, it’s amazing. So she slowly emerged behind the counter making conversations with us and we being the cheeky kids, asked her all the old school items we could think of when we were kids. Excitedly, she said yes to all of it and even ran inside to grab it.

Where could you find “Buku Tiga Lima” that still costs 20 cents or pencil with rubber tip would still be 10 cents?

All of a sudden, we all had an idea to buy something from her as a souvenir to commemorate this surprising adventure of ours. Aunty Ling Ling was so jovial entertaining us with the things in the shop and also her tuxedo cat named Baby.

From one thing led to another, I don’t know what got me agreeing when she said “Let’s have coffee?” and walked really fast to the kopitiam next to her shop. In my head, I thought she said, maybe when we come again, we’ll have coffee with her. I didn’t expect to have coffee there and then.

We all ordered our drinks and the moment she found out that I’ve been looking for this particular Kaya Puff KKB is notorious for, she immediately got up and went to the shop.

Ashraf, Anis and I looked at Nigel, who was on the phone at that time.

“Psst..Nigel, we have a situation. Need to intervene..Psst…”

KKB Kaya Puff

By the time Nigel got off the phone, she came back with a box of Kaya Puff all ready for your mouth to salivate. *slap head*

And that she’s got this smile you just cannot not smile back at her. Cannot not accept her gifts. Cannot not accept her friendship. Just can’t.

Of course, I’m saying that in a good way. She even told us about the aunty who makes the kaya for the pastry shop..who happens to be doing it right that moment in that very kopitiam we were in.

KKB Kaya

BEHOLD! She was so efficient, she pre-ordered a tub of homemade kaya and delivered to our table each. Like what is this? Am I really in Malaysia?! By this time, we were all shaking our heads, didn’t know how to repay her kindness with and that she refused our money when we wanted to pay for it made us feel even more unsure. Appreciative of her kindness but also didn’t want her to think we’re taking advantage.

“No, no. I’m not petty over these things. I just want to share.” She told us.

At this moment, only then I know the real meaning of Malaysian Hospitality (MH). If we wanted to dig any story from KKB, this is the deepest KKB allows us. The heart, the bulb, the inspiration. You cannot go any deeper than this. No way.

So, as usual, you know we had to check out how this kaya was made and it takes 7 hours to make a big pot by one old lady and sells it around the town. When I asked if she wanted to sell it out of KKB, she said no. Dang it! Looks like I’ll have to come back here and replenish my stock.

KKB Kaya 2

Looking back, it’s true, KKB is mainly populated by the elderly folks who prefer the quiet and slow paced life. Which reminded me a lot of my late grandma who till she was bedridden, insisted she needs to work, to get the mind working. And that’s exactly what each of them are doing here..that and also because none of their kids wanted to take over their business because the bigger cities offer so much more. Hard working people makes me want to work harder.

Part of me was sad by this fact but another part of me can kinda sorta relate to their kids because it’s been years since my dad been pestering to take over his business but I refused because really, what he’s doing and what I need to do is on totally opposite spectrum. But I still feel sad for them because when they are no more around, what will become of KKB? This town can’t possibly die out of natural death! Over my dead body.

So enter that buzzing brain of mine which Ashraf, Nigel and Anis added more fuel. We just need a plan to execute this thing. I’m sure combining our nutty brains together, we’ll be able to do something but yeah, as of right now, I’m letting the pot simmer for a bit. I still have other paperworks to complete. Gah!

Oh yeah, so how did we end our session with Aunty Ling Ling?

Sneakily, she already paid for our drinks beforehand. Oh Aunty Ling Ling, you really blew us away with your sweet charm. Sigh.

KKB Group Photo

To end this unforgettable trip we did, I found this draft poem I wrote while I was in the train in Sydney a few months back. One I think describes KKB profoundly to me.

A return trip is in order!

Ticket to the Unknown

It ain’t so bad,
This train to no where,
Worst case would be to arrive
To a place you’ll write your story
For the rest to read and navigate.

There’s a moment in our lives,
When the ticket you bought
May not be the place you thought;
You’ll arrive in peace and harmony
But then, peace is anywhere no?

Such is the life this dwarf leads
For those hunters may not see
The beauty therein lies
in front of thee.
Oh what a waste when it flee.

So where will you go,
What will you see?
Just take a trip
Wherever it may be
and just hold on tight for this journey.

Sidenote: Nigel took some superb black and white photos from this outing. I think this is by far he best work, you gotta check it out here!

4

Hey Cherating, Love is a Balancing Act.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

Royal Botanical Gardens

When I was in Melbourne last June, Nuds and I were walking at the Royal Botanical Gardens. It was the perfect place I wanted to end this trip of mine, one I followed his suggestion without any question. As we were walking aimlessly, there was a question he asked me which still rings in my ear today.

“Do you think you’ll migrate out of Malaysia?”

Given our history, growing up together, this question has been in everyone’s mind for years, in fact decades. Five years ago or even before that, I would have answered yes in a heart beat. Without thinking at all, I knew that would be my answer. No freaking doubt.

But as decades go by, I took a minute to digest. I know whatever answer I give, he’s one to never judge me. Who knows me inside and out.

“Maybe when I’ve got nothing else to give to Malaysia, I will.”

He gave me that boyish smile of his, like he knew what my answer was.

Melbourne Park

Then, last Wednesday when I got the chance to go on a firefly tour in Cherating, Pahang.. what I’ve prepped myself up for two decades turned it’s table with one humble man.

While sitting in a small room listening to this exuberant person, I was convinced he’s heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Or at the very least, must have studied with a Japanese. Everything about him, the way he speak, his body language and intonation, everything just reminded me of how a (passionate) Japanese would act. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s been learning with a firefly expert from Japan, Prof Ohba Nobuyoshi the past four years.

I’ve not been in a room with someone as animated of a character like him, this firefly whisperer by the name of Mohd Hafiz. He sure puts a smile on my face that night, just seeing him explaining about his love for non-syncronised fireflies just lifts my spirit that much higher.

Here’s a video I managed to capture, and at the right time too. Do ignore the last few seconds. Sorry about that.

I’ve always relate back the experience being around fireflies as a magical experience, the closest feeling to what Disney tends to gravitate to. This time around, with Hafiz around, that experience just got elevated 35364 times more!

It’s in the way he waves his wand red torch light that he’s able to speak with fireflies, requesting for them to go where he wants them to go. Who would’ve thought that there’s such study about firefly communication. Each flicker, wave means something. Ah, it just felt like I was in a different world – one we Malaysians are blessed by this fragile spirits yet we never knew much about.

Apparently, this particular firefly “language” he speaks is only meant for the non-synchronised fireflies – fireflies that are able to live in any mangrove trees (which are deem as the tougher breed) and they don’t flicker in the same rhythm. The ones we’re used to in Kuala Selangor are syncronised fireflies (Photinus Carolinus)- they huddle together in one group and in one specific tree. For obvious reason, they all flash at the same time, same beat. How did he know this? He experimented it and came to this very conclusion.

Pretty neat research isn’t it?

On top of that, he’s recognised by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) which is an important status I might add.

So, what’s so awesome about this experience that you’ll need to go to Cherating, to be more specific – Hafiz’s? The thing is, only Hafiz gets to command for the fireflies to come to him, and they’ll flicker all around you. He’s capable of getting these little ones fly to where you are and be surrounded by them. Other similar tours just point to the firefly at the tree. That’s the special part.

Because the mangrove area is only seven kilometers, we took a boat which could fit in about eight people. That’s probably the only thing that I wish we could do better. Although, one boat can cost up to RM30,000; too big of an amount to spend right now. Honestly, despite Hafiz mentioning that Cherating’s mangrove area is a small one .. just being out there in the dark in the boat for seven kilometers per way is one I felt so happy about. In Kuala Selangor, you’ll prolly get a kilometer north and south but that’s about it. This one, it really felt like we were on a mission. One helluva adventure I might add.

Unfortunately, my trusty TG820 is incapable of taking any photos of the fireflies. I accepted that fact and captured those moments in my mind instead. You’ll just have to go there to know what I’m talking about.

Hafiz Cherating Firefly

You know how animals have wicked instinct about Mother Nature and what’s to come? Hafiz told a story about how he was in a boat with a passenger who wanted to check out these fireflies and his magic powers. When they were in the mangrove area, he tried calling out the fireflies but they refused to come to him. I wish I could demonstrate to you the way Hafiz narrates his story. It’s so fascinating. Anyway, so they (the fireflies) told him it’s going to rain heavily in a few minutes (when fireflies are hiding under the leaves and didn’t want to come out, it means they are shielding themselves from rain) but his passenger didn’t believe him, said the sky is clear, there’s no rain. Hafiz was adamant, if they were going to be out there in the dark any longer, it will be a big problem. So he turned around. Lo and behold, rain poured heavily the next minute just as they were nearing the jetty.

That’s probably when his passenger knew how special Hafiz is. He should, I hope.

I know what you’re thinking (or maybe not), where’s that heartbreaking part I’ve been talking about?

When we got off the jetty after an hour of awesomeness, I was determined to have a chat with the firefly whisperer. I don’t know what aura he has but it’s very alluring. It’s even more exciting to know that he also does other activities if you’re a nature person. The mangrove cruise we got to experience the morning after is another must do. I’m not a fan of reptiles or amphibians but just being here with them made me feel at peace for a short while. That I was doing my best pushing the thoughts about not taking action in taking care of our environment, ’tis too shall pass.

Sigh.

I can’t tell you how amazing I felt being out there with nature. It just felt so right, so wonderful..I swear my heart could’ve exploded with glee.

But..everything just went downhill from here on, the moment I hear his stories. Albeit they are not bad just for someone like him, I wish I could do something, help making something better for him.

Hafiz Cherating Firefly

So this magician, this whisperer we got to know for mere hours is actually from Myanmar. He ran to Kuantan in the 1980s when Myanmar had a major political conflict. At first he and his friend went to Thailand but found it difficult to learn Thai to survive so they decided to extend their journey to Kuantan where they worked in a local restaurant for 20 odd years. It’s from there that he learned Bahasa Malaysia.

Don’t be fooled easily, Hafiz is as bright as they come – B.A. in History from Rangoon University and a degree in Civil Engineering from Singapore. And after 25 years of settling here in Kuantan, it’s unfortunate that he couldn’t get a Malaysian Citizenship despite all his effort in keeping our eco system balanced. To know that he couldn’t go to a firefly symposium in America next year because of his refugee status just shattered my heart. It’s not that he hasn’t tried to appeal, it sounded like he has may times but things just falls apart along the way.

The thing is, he discovered his love for fireflies purely by accident. It was when he decided to take the boat out for a run along the river that he realised his hidden talent. That’s when he made a point to study about fireflies and make his place as part of a research center (well somewhat). He even held a dialogue with other firefly experts from around the world at his little corner of the world, discussing about everything and anything revolving around fireflies. Right now they are researching on a particular chemical from the fireflies.

Can you imagine the kind of mind-blowing, earth changing things that could happen if he is being supported by the right channel? The fact that he’s not even Malaysian to begin with and fights for our eco system is something I just cannot swallow. Purely because, here is someone who’s never seen fireflies, chose to be in Malaysia because of the incident back home yet we who inherit all the wealth and peace take our environment for granted.

The things is, it’s not just fireflies he’s fighting for. This man here even went to the sea and saved a lost Tapir. A friend of his called him up one day, telling him about this Tapir in the sea. Hafiz knew Tapir cannot survive in water and so, he took his boat to the sea, threw the rope like a cowboy and brought the Tapir back to the land. Blessed his pure soul, it’s people like him that makes me want to fight the good fight in Malaysia. There are still so many souls out there doing what he does, fighting for our future but are neglected just the same.

Hafiz Cherating Firefly 2

From what I gather, people all over recognised him for what he does and loves but we don’t recognised him as one of us. Yet you get stories like Bangladeshis who come to Malaysia with an identity card (IC) in hand. It just doesn’t make sense, not by a mile. Makes me so angry that I want to help but don’t know how. Politic world is not one you want to get your hands dirty but if no one cleans it up, what we have today is history tomorrow.

On top of that, he only charge RM25 per head for the tour. For something this amazing with someone with heart of a champion, I wouldn’t mind paying RM40 because at least I know that extra money will go into his research. It’s times like this I wonder to God, why would he put these brilliant spirits in this situations. I dunno. I’ll pray better things will come for all the hard work he’s put into. The fact that he goes out with his team three times a week to clean the river is beyond admirable. It’s no wonder the mangrove is spotless.

You know you have so much respect for yourself when everything you do, you do it with respect.

“I tried passing this knowledge to my brother-in-law, everything I know but in the end if you don’t have the heart, it just doesn’t work.” Mohd Hafiz bin Abdul Majid said when asked if he trains other people.

Cherating Mangrove

When I go back to Nuddin’s question and I think of heroes like Hafiz, I feel like I have a responsibility to do here. At least for now, until Malaysia couldn’t tolerate me anymore. If all the good ones go away from their nest, who’s going to defend? And therein lies so many questions in my mind, uncertainties, dreams and hopes.

I guess as a dwarf, I can only take it one day at a time and hopefully a little piece of what I do in life makes Mother Nature feel a little bit better. Also for the rest of us who depend on her to be healthy.

Side Note: Anis wrote an awesome piece about Hafiz for News Straits Times yesterday. You should definitely read The Magic of Hafiz and The Fireflies. And if you wish to check out other activities in Cherating by Hafiz, check out his blog and facebook fanpage Hafiz’s Cherating Activities.