Traditions and festivities

 

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Source: Duasenku.com

Last week, I took a drive downtown into Masjid India, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. In what has now become an annual ritual around the weeks before Deepavali,  I brought my parents out to do some shopping. Yes, the annual Deepavali shopping. The shopping trip that almost all in the family looks forward toward, except, perhaps the one who is funding the trip. The trip with my parents, brought back old memories of similar trips with my mother and myself and later on, with my brother, to outlets such as Globe Silk Store and Tangs located just outside of Masjid India, along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

Back then, my mum, brother and I, would board the bus in the morning heading to Globe Silk Store. We would first go into Globe Silk Store and then Tangs, located a shop or two away, sifting through shirts and pants, finding one set that we liked and more importantly of the right size and within the budget. After spending a significant amount of time, we would finally make our choice. During that time, mum would pick a set for our father.

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Source: Wikipedia

Once we were done, it was time to follow mum to the various textile shops that sold materials as well as sarees. Mum would painstakingly go through the material over a few shops. After spending considerable amount of time at each of them and looking into what is left of the shopping budget, she would make her purchase. Then, depending on how much was left, we would get some savouries, to mark the conclusion of the shopping trip, before heading home by bus.

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Source: Duasenku.com

Aside from shopping, the other major preparation was the making of traditional savouries. My mother, in cooperation with some ladies in the neighbourhood would get together after lunch, to make different types of savouries and complete them by dinner time. Different savouries would be made on different days.

My brother and I contributed to these activities too when we were not away at school. Our official role, was to assist with bringing over the raw materials when the ladies were comfortably seated by the stove, washing of the utensils and later on, arranging the savouries into the designated containers as well as the post-cooking cleaning.

Then, there was our unofficial role as the food taster. Unofficial, because none of the elders were aware of such a role. Food tasting would be done stealthily by first removing the said artifact to a secret location and then savouring it before being caught red-handed. One of my fondest memory of this part of the preparation was that try as hard as I may, I never could locate the savoury filled container, once it is hidden away, until the day of Deepavali. I never quite figured out how my mother managed to hide it, in a little house, even till today.

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Source: Pixabay

The final days before Deepavali, would then be filled with the annual spring cleaning. Curtains would be brought down and washed, while a fresh set would be hung up. Cushion covers and bedding would be removed and washed, while fresh sets would be put in place.  Fan and lights would be dusted and wiped. Cobwebs would be cleared. The floor would be swept, scrubbed and then mopped. Every single surface and corner that we can lay our hands on would be cleaned. Late nights were the norm. With lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion, tempers tend to flare before cool heads prevailed.

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Source: Pixabay

The eve of Deepavali was typically spent with all of us glued to the t.v. screen after a hearty dinner. The few available t.v. stations would play the latest Tamil movies for our viewing pleasure, helping us usher in Deepavali. As typical Tamil movies goes and adding on the numerous advertisements consisting mainly of Deepavali wishes as well as the late night news, we would end up sleeping way past 1 or 2 in the morning.

The morning of Deepavali would be spent with baths, excitedly getting dressed up in new clothes, seeking blessings from parents and more importantly, receiving our annual bonus, in the form of Deepavali “ang-pow”. After that, it was off to the temple by bus while our father would follow on his ever reliable “Rolls Royce”, his ever dependable Raleigh bicycle. Once we were done with prayers and quick visit to our relative’s house, it was time to head home, rummage through the containers of savouries that have magically appeared and most importantly doing justice to them by consuming them, while watching, again, the various Tamil movies being aired on t.v.

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Source: Pixabay

These traditions or rituals, pretty much remained the same with some differences, as my brother and I grew up through our teenage years, before going away to the university and then becoming tax-paying citizens of our beloved country. The differences were in how involved we were in the preparations prior to and even up to the eve of Deepavali. Mum would still do her annual pilgrimage to Masjid India to buy new clothes for us, with the difference being, without us most of the time. Mum would still prepare savouries for Deepavali, with us being absent through most of it. Mum and dad would clean-up the house, with us making occasional appearances to help out.

During the transition between the teenage years, young adult and then adulthood, the significance of the festivities changed. It was no longer as exciting as it used to be as a child. It was just another annual affair like the many other festivals scattered throughout the year. For a time, it became an event that we arranged annual leaves around, get together and spend time with ones that we love.

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Source: Pixabay

Over the years, as my parents aged, I matured as an adult, started my own family and then my brother got married and started his own family, I have begun to appreciate these age-old traditions and festivities. More so, as my wife and I embarked on our own journey as parents with our little boy. I realise that I have gone a full circle in regards to how I viewed these traditions.

I was again involved in Deepavali shopping with a slight change in the role, in that I am now the worried financier of the shopping trip. This year, there was also the added shopping, for our little boy. I was again involved in making Muruku at home with my wife. I was again involved in cleaning up the house as comprehensively as I could, with my wife. I will most likely spend time watching whatever movie is being aired on the t.v., on the eve of Deepavali.

Going back to last week in Masjid India, after almost being done with our shopping I took my exhausted-internally-yet-putting-up-a-strong-face-externally parents for much-needed lunch. Over a hearty vegetarian meal, I realised how grateful I was to God for giving me the opportunity of a happy conversation with my parents. We spoke about the old days and the mischief that my brother and I would get into. We spoke about how my little son is working hard to live up to those standards. We reminisced a little on some events of Deepavalis past. Thanks to traditions and festivities, I realise that I am able to create more wonderful memories and opportunities with my loved ones. Memories and moments created with the help of traditions and festivities, that remains with us for as long as we live. Something that I hope our son will cherish when he is older. That is indeed something to look forward to.

Time and tide waits for no one

 

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About a week or two ago, a good friend of mine messaged me on Whatsapp to catch up on things. During our conversation, he asked if I had stopped blogging as he had not seen new posts in a while. That same week, another friend asked me if I had lost my way after going to the moon or overshot and ended up going beyond it, in a reference to my last post back in July, “To moon and beyond“. A few days back, my wife wondered aloud as to what happened to my blog and if I had run out of interest with it.

I think I told all of them something along the lines of, yes, I have stopped for the time being but it is just temporary, a mere pause. It is not that I had nothing to say. On the contrary, as always I had a lot to say about any number of things. The fact is, since my last post I have been tied up with one activity or the other. I just could not set aside time in an effective manner to put my thoughts down into a post. My wife can attest to that, considering that she takes the brunt of listening to me articulating my thoughts on anything that I fancied about.

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Source: Pexels

When I posted for the very first time (“Ahh…that first post“) on this site back in April, I was sure that I will post something worth reading, at least once a week. I suppose like everything else in life, on hindsight it was a nice goal to have but a difficult one to keep, what with all the things that I had committed myself to or contrived myself to be involved in. This of course is on top of trying to be a doting father, loving husband, a filial son and much more, all of which are in no particular order by the way.

So, I decided to set some time aside from what seems to have become the new daily grind for me and give my wife a respite from my thoughtfully melodious voice. I converted the energy usually expended on sound, while voicing out my thoughts, to the mostly kinetic kind with a smattering of sound, by typing out this post. As I was tapping away on the keyboard, I recalled something I learned the hard way, working as a software engineer and later on as a manager, managing deliveries. Time, is precious and more importantly finite. One had to manage time wisely, lest the project fails to be delivered as expected. Time was one thing that I will not be able to conjure in tiny amounts, let alone in abundance, to rescue my project.

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Souce: Pexels

Similarly, when looking at the bigger picture of life, the one resource that we all have, regardless of how wealthy or less wealthy we are, is time. How successful or unsuccessful we end up, depends very much on how well and efficiently we use the God-given precious resource called time. Over time I realised what has been working well for me thus far, was to simply reflect on what I wanted in life, figure out what I had to do, prioritise them, determine how much of time I was going to spend on each of them and  then as Nike is fond of reminding us, just do it.

Along the way, it is absolutely important to periodically review how we are faring in order to make necessary changes. After all, what was important a few months ago, may no longer be important or the top priority, today. By not reviewing and restrategising as needed, we may be wasting the very thing that we are trying to save and use wisely, time.

It is equally important that while doing all of this, we bear in mind that we also have to juggle the various roles we play in life, from that of a child to our parents, a partner to our significant other, a parent to our child or as a Uber driver to the masses, just to name a few. As time is finite, if we don’t strive to spend it wisely, we may never get the chance to play the roles that we want to, let alone as well as we would like to. Sadly, by the time we are ready to play our role, the other party may have moved on with time.

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Source: Pexels

My own journey in life over the past one to two years has been pretty interesting, from my point of view. I made certain decisions and acted upon those decisions. These are decisions and actions that I certainly would never thought I would do 10 years ago or even as recent as 5 years ago. As I mentioned above, it is very interesting how perception about what is important in life, changes over time. This is especially true when looking at it from the perspective of how precious time is and even more, when we realise that we don’t know how much more of it we have left with us.

For a start, I made a choice with regards to my career. A decision to leave what most if not all that I spoke with for advice, considered as a good job with a good MNC, to do something on my own. Along the way, what I want to do has remained the same but how I am going about achieving it has evolved. Then there was a new and important role that I found myself taking up. The role of a father to a wonderful little man with a big personality, who has changed the lives of my wife and mine, drastically but for the better. Sixteen months on, in the role of a father, I have no regrets in making the choices that allowed me to play this role as I have done thus far.

Being a parent myself, was a gentle reminder of how I may not have paid as much attention to my own relationship as a son to my parents or even as a partner in life to my wife, in recent times. The realisation that time rarely is on our side, has made me rethink and allocate how I spend time with my parents, wife and family. The arrival of my son after years of waiting was also a reminder of the amazing ways my maker is present in my life. I took it as a sign to prioritise my time to review my relationship with God and do what is needed to deepen my understanding of my faith further.

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Source: Pexels

Coming back to my keyboard and post, I think it is about time I put the final touches and wrap it up. To my dear readers, especially those who had enquired over the past three months, I will definitely come up with more posts, more frequently. With so many things going on out there, there will always be something or the other that needs to be talked about. Now that I am done with this post, I better get started on the next item on my list and play whatever role is needed to accomplish it. After all, time and tide waits for no one, does it not? Oh….. and just in case you are wondering, no, I am not a Uber driver driving people to their destination, at least, not yet.

To moon and beyond

 

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Source: Pexels

About a month or two ago, while surfing the many channels that I seem to have subscribed to via Astro, I ended up watching a small part of a documentary entitled Moon Machines[1][2]. Luckily, as most shows aired on Astro are repeated at a later time, I managed to watch all six episodes of the Moon Machines series of documentary over a six-week period. The documentaries brought back a warm feeling and some fond memories of my childhood. It reminded me of my deep fascination about the moon in particular and the cosmos in general.

As a little boy, I have always been fascinated by the moon. I can’t really remember when this fascination started or what exactly brought it about. However, I am pretty certain that I wasn’t fascinated with the moon because I happen to be a werewolf, just in case you were wondering. What I do know, is that as a child I gazed up longingly into the star littered sky on clear nights. I enjoyed looking up at the beautiful cream coloured moon, imagining what it would be like to be on it and how earth would look like from up there. I used to wonder how the moon changed shape as it waxed from a new moon into a full moon and then waned from a full moon back into a new moon. I also wondered how the moon stayed up in the sky with all the stars at night, just as I wondered what kept the sun up there too.

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Source: Pixabay

At some point in my childhood, I had this weird believe that the moon was made of cheese. I am certain that this must have been the result of a cartoon that I watched as a little child. At that time, it made silly young me fret as to what would happen to the moon if mice managed to get up there and build a colony. Perhaps that is what caused the moon to wax and wane, I thought. Thankfully, a combination of clarifications from my parents, a book about the moon and a section of an encyclopedia on the moon, helped set the record straight on what the moon actually is. Otherwise, I may have well gone to school, thinking that the moon is made of cheese and it is hung on the sky, just like the stars and sun.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong [3]

Growing up being inspired by the images of lunar landings from my encyclopedia, I wanted to travel to the moon. I wanted to walk on the moon, just like the astronauts from the Apollo missions had done[4]. Back then, what Neil Armstrong, followed by “Buzz” Aldrin, did, on 20th of July, 1969, encouraged me to read up all that I could find from the limited books that I had access to, about space programmes and missions to the moon. On hindsight, I think my ambition to become an engineer had some roots in my desire to go to the moon, as much as my incorrect childhood believe that it is an engineer who drives the locomotive engine at the head of the train.

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Source: Pexels

Watching the documentary gave me some fresh insights into what happened in the background, from the conception of the idea to the actual landing on the moon and beyond. To start with, it took the vision and inspiration of great leaders to set the tone for the trip to the moon. Then American President, John F. Kennedy (JFK) made a speech in Congress, on the 25th of May 1961, stating his vision of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth[5]. JFK’s speech in Congress, got the Americans started on their mission to land a man on the moon.

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” – John F. Kennedy[6]

Other than JFK, there was also the leadership of various people within the space programme, from NASA to the various vendors working with them, who led teams of thousands of people to work on the complex and challenging programme. There is no doubt that the space race with their Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union, was a big motivation in America’s thrust to go to the moon. Afterall, until Apollo 11 landed successfully on the moon, the Soviets had always been one step ahead of the Americans in the space race, from having launched the first man-made satellite into Earth’s orbit to the first man-made satelite to orbit the moon[7].

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Source: Pexels

Besides leadership, the amount of technological advancement and progress that came about from the mission to the moon is mind-boggling to say the least. There was the question of how to get man to the moon in the first place, which resulted in perfecting the already available rocket technology, from the fuel to the various stages of the rocket during its flight up to Earth’s orbit. It also brought about the design of the various modules in which the astronauts will travel in and return to earth. The final design, resulted in the command and lunar modules as well as the cone-like landing capsule.

Then there were the other questions, like what the astronauts were going to eat and drink, how they would go about with their regular bodily functions, how they would walk on the moon, how they would maneuver their space vehicle and so much more. Other than the rocket technology, most if not none of the questions had ready answers when JFK made his speech in front of the Congress and set the timeline to land man on the moon. Interestingly, each question resulted in new discoveries and huge leaps in technology. Integrated circuits, spacesuits, freeze-dried food, insulation, improvement in computer programming as well as the reduction in the size of a computer, were among some of the results of the advancement in technology, just to name a few[8][9].

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Source: Pexels

There is no doubt that the mission to the moon back in the 1960s and early 1970s, had inspired an entire generation of people, not just in America and the Soviet Union but all over the world. Today, at a time when many countries around the world seem to face a lack of visionary leadership and people trying to destroy each other while attempting to send us back centuries into the Dark Ages, perhaps what we need is another mission to the moon or an equivalent to that. Such a mission might just be the catalyst that we need to get humanity focused on a common deed centering on something constructive and productive rather than trying to bring about Armageddon. A mission beyond the moon, perhaps to Mars, might just be the answer that we need to inspire yet another generation of humanity and bring us forward.