Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Perak River Expedition

Upon coming back from the Kelantan River Expedition [ (here) June 02, 2010 posting 'In The Nick of Time' ( 2 ) ]I heard that OP Maniam and Seng Lim were already planning something similar. This time it would be the Perak River Expedition. They had planned it for the week during the term-break from the 13th till 20th April 1963. It was a white water rafting from Chenderoh Dam in the upper reaches of the Perak River to Telok Anson ( now known as Teluk Intan )

OP Maniam suggested that I join in, considering my experiences just a few weeks back in Kelantan. I also had harboured the intention of joining in as well, as it was fun. The sun-burnt nape of my neck had healed by then so I thought why not?. I may even be called upon to give some useful pointers which eventually I did. This came about when we were discussing on the positioning of the paddle. Many had thought it should be by the side akin to paddling as in a sampan but I had told them otherwise (more of this later)

The 2 Officers who accompanied us this time were Capt A.C. Loone and Fl Lt McKennon
( an academic who taught us Geography fondly known as Milk ) He was such a likeable guy, a chain smoker. There was an occasion while we were cooking he came by. He playfully offered me a cigarette ( knowing fully well we were not allowed to smoke ) I had whimsically retorted back, 'Thanks, sir, but that's not my brand' ( to the amusement of everyone, OP Maniam laughing the most )

Capt Loone was a soldier's officer who knew everyone by their first name. He made you at ease with his presence. There was never a dull moment with him around.

In view of the many photos uploaded this time, the narration will be substantially reduced. Instead this is going to be a pictorial essay of sorts.

Amidst some foolery on board the 2nd class coach : This was en-route from K.Lumpur Railway Station to Taiping Station. From Left: OPs Osman Khan, Maniam and Hank

Kamunting Camp Taiping: Loading rations on board the 3-tonners ( military trucks) In organising our expeditions in the RMC we had the advantage of military logistics provided for us. We were given train warrant tickets to and fro, military transport pick-ups from Taiping Station to Kamunting Camp, Sauk and Chenderoh Dam and military rations for the whole river journey.

At Sauk ( 3 miles from Chenderoh Dam ): OP Maniam giving last minute instructions on what to do with the bamboos. The bamboos were already felled for us by villagers in Sauk through the kind offices of the Officer-in-Command of Kamunting Camp. We needed then to await for military transport to load them to be brought to Chenderoh Dam.
( Sauk if you remember was where the 'weapons-snatching' incident happened )

Chenderoh Dam : Unloading the bamboos one by one from the trucks. From Left: OPs Malik Abdullah ( Dr,deceased) Andrew Hooi, Hank and Ng Mee Ken (deceased)
Dr Malik was a brilliant scholar, a voracious reader in his school days ( we were dorm-mates ) He had won many academic accolades during his medical studies but whose young life ended sudden and tragic ( The late Dr Malik sadly died in a freak car accident in Johore Bharu in the 70's)

Collecting Soft-wood From the Nearby Forests to Reinforce the Bamboos. Chenderoh Dam in the distance ( hidden from view)

The More the Merrier - Building the 2 Rafts: We spent a few days,I cannot recollect how many days ( Unlike in Kelantan, OP Wan Ghani had organised the building of the 2 rafts before we arrived. We just had to hop in and off we went within the hour of arrival at Manek Urai)

The Bottom Frame Being Lowered into the Water.

Something Fishy? Yes! Someone ( not from among us, apparently some villagers ) had planted sticks of dynamite upstream and we were looking around to catch some of the stunned fishes that came downstream.

Chow time - Cooking our meals in mess-tins. From Left : OPs Hank, Bakar Sulaiman and Cpl Mat ( one of the PTI's ) There were other soldiers also from Kamunting Camp who helped us with the raft construction but didn't accompany us.

We Were All Set - Fixing up the Ponchos For Shelter ( Notice the Life-Jackets Hung over the Poles ) It was at this point that the paddles were fixed at both ends. They act as rudders to push the rafts to either sides so as to avoid obstacles ( they were not meant for paddling as some of them thought)

U-Boat Surfacing? - The Sad Condition of the First Raft.

Stopover at Mid-stream ( Fl Lt McKennon standing on extreme right)

Kuala Kangsar, Thursday morning, April 18th, 1963. OP Hank at the Second Raft ( the 1st Raft in the background)

The Lower Course, the Last Night along the River Bank. From Left OPs Pathma, Cpl Mat and OP Hank (packing up in the morning of April 19th) We had stopped and camped out on the river banks for the nights.( unlike in Kelantan where we cooked on the rafts and never stopped along the way )

'Abandon Raft'
- 3 miles from Telok Anson: We clambered on board the River Boat as the tide was coming in. Our rafts were stranded in the middle of the estuary. We were not moving. We had called the boat ( which was passing by ) to come and rescue us. There were nearly 20 of us hanging on to dear life ( as you can see, the boat seems to be tilting to the right in the photo ) There were other passengers. We were plain lucky there was just enough space to cling onto even. I just wonder what would have happened had there been no boat passing by then, phew!

Discarded Old Faithful: A forlorn sight of the raft left abandoned. It was drifting upstream pushed by the tide.

Telok Anson :OP Zubir's mom had allowed us to freshen up at the school where she was then the Headmistress. OP Zubir's dad had a hand in getting the Chartered Mini-Bus for us to take us to Tapah Road Railway Station.From Left: OPs Hank, OP Zubir's brother,OPs Pathma, late Dr Malik, Tan, Teng, Ismail, Zubir, Fl Lt McKennon, Seng Lim, En Rauf (OP Zubir's father) Andrew, Capt Loone (at the rear) Cpl Mat,Zubir's brother, Soo, Osman and Maniam ( some of those at the rear couldn't be identified)

Tapah Road Railway Station...and we were going home! From Left : Capt Loone ( later Col) OPs Tan, Bakar, Maniam, Pathma, Soo and Hank

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Postcript : Dr Andy, Dr Farah and Baby Danny makes 3

Dr Andy and Dr Farah on their Wedding Day taken at their reception in PJ in late 2008

Cutting the Wedding Cake ( oops! the cake not in picture)

At the Reception in Seremban

Ever the Loving Couple, so Sweetly!

Will say it Again, Love is Bliss

Dr Farah with Proud Parents on Both Sides

The Wonderful Family from left: Dr Ib, Dr Andy, Dr Farah and Puan Zariah

The Young Parents with Baby Danny

The Cute Little One, Baby Danny snugly in a warm cradle in the Cool Autumn mist in Dublin (taken in July 2010)

I had first posted this on Mar 24th, 2010 but without any accompanying photos. It featured an episode on the drama leading to the birth of Farah to Dr Ibrahim and Puan Zariah. I have since acquired the above photos to make the posting more complete.

Dr Andy and Dr Farah (who was then in the family way) had returned to PJ for the holidays in March. They had since gone back to Dublin to resume their post-graduate studies. I received an email recently from Dr Ibrahim informing me excitedly about Baby Danny ( Danial Imran ) who was born on July 21, 2010. The proud grandparents, are currently in Dublin doting over their first grandchild.

(Below is the extract recounting the drama the day when Dr Farah was born)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A Frighteningly Quick Dash and A Wonderful Bundle Of Joy

Last Sat , Mar 20th, 2010 in keeping with the ‘wedding week’ normally associated with the school holidays we attended yet another wedding. This time it was proud parents Shah and Bee for their son Ijam and his charming bride in TTDI.

We were seated with Dr Ib and Zariah and were later joined by Bang Aziz and Ka’ Su. There were the usual yarn of old times and current happenings, as a way of getting connected on what events transpired lately.

Then someone asked ‘how’s Farah?’ (Farah is the darling daughter of Dr Ib and Zariah) ‘She’s back here’ , Zariah confirmed. An innocent question and a simple answer suddenly led to a flurry of other further little questions and answers on Farah.

Farah evoked a nostalgic and emotional reaction on almost everyone around the table. Farah when growing up had been so close to Bang Aziz and Ka’ Su (almost a daughter to them) that Bang Aziz quickly remarked, ‘We want to see Farah’. Zariah said ok. So we agreed to adjourn to see Farah later.

There is also an emotional attachment Farah had to my loving wife Shadah many years ago. It was on June 26th 1981, to be exact.

Shadah remembered it well. A seemingly innocuous morning, Shadah and Zariah both then were teachers at the Assunta Secondary School in Petaling Jaya. Both were graduate teachers (Zariah later acquired her Master’s from the US) They shared a common bond as most colleagues did in a school.

However, theirs was a very special bond ( a bond that Dr Ib would invariably mention whenever we had the occasion to meet)

This was what happened that morning.

Shadah and Zariah were then in the Staff Room. Assunta Secondary was a model school (and still is) With Sister Enda as the Headmistress then, it was a privilege to be part of its teaching staff. Everyone were so motivated. Teaching in Assunta was just happiness (that was what Shadah used to tell me) That explained why Zariah was still taking classes even though in an advanced stage. Yes, Zariah was due but still at school that morning (dedicated teachers are a rarity these days)

Suddenly Zariah felt it. Yes, the first of many that came (ask any mother-to-be what it means to experience contractions and she’ll swear there and then that , she’ll not have another baby, ever!)

The lingering pain continued. There was no commotion but certainly something must be done, there was no time to lose. Both Zariah and Shadah had to decide immediately on what to do. Baby just couldn’t be made to wait.

An ambulance might take time. Zariah was under the care of OP Dr Idris whose clinic was in Section 14, barely 4km away (OP stands for 'Old Putra', an old boy of the RMC ) Dr Ib was then at his office further than 4km away and would not be in time to drive them there.

So what were they to do? The two wonderful ladies took it upon themselves to do the inevitable. Yes, Shadah was to drive Zariah to OP Dr Idris’ clinic. It was settled without as much of another thought.

It was a risky but brave decision but it must be done. This they agreed. (to this day I cringe thinking what if baby was really impatient, what if baby decided that the car would do just as well for a quick delivery) I dread to think.

Shadah was then driving a Honda Civic (the old version , a 2-door that looked like the present-day Proton Satria, both in shape and size).

Both scrambled to the car, Zariah gingerly holding and leaning on to Shadah’s shoulders for support. It was a miracle how Zariah could squeeze in onto the back seat of a 2-door car, but she did!

Both ladies were of sterner stuff, they kept their head, they didn’t panic. Every inch of the way, the contractions were there, silently but surely. Zariah likewise said silent prayers, repeating silently, lying face up. Shadah kept looking back, with comforting words (which baby must have heard and decided to wait until they reached the clinic)

After what seemed ages, they arrived at the clinic, they scrambled slowly out again, up a flight of stairs to the first floor. The nurses came, it was action stations. Zariah was wheeled into the labour room. Shadah was there stroking her, comforting her, and OP Dr Idris later arrived.

After all her brave efforts, Shadah was squeamish at being in the delivery room and waited outside. She knew Zariah was now in good hands. So it was ok. She could relax now. ( She later confessed she was shivering throughout the short journey but kept her composure somehow )

Zariah was barely 20 minutes in the clinic and not a moment too soon. It was then that baby decided. It was quiet on the western front. It was time to let herself out. And OP Dr Idris was there waiting with open arms.

It was such a wonderful bundle of joy! Certainly far exceeding every anxious moments the THREE of them went through minutes earlier! It was just sheer joy especially for Zariah,the proud mum!

Yes, a pinkish little darling, Farah wonderfully came into this world, oblivious of the drama that took place a good part of the preceding 40 minutes or so ( it seemed hours to both Zariah and Shadah).

It was a great relief and a great satisfaction to Zariah, now that she had a King’s Choice (a pair now with Farid the eldest boy). It was also a great relief and a great satisfaction to my loving wife Shadah for her good deed of the day (when I asked her later how she managed to get around the normally busy traffic flow , she said 'what traffic?' - in her haste she didn’t see any!) We were thankful to God the Almighty, that gave clear passage for them when mid-morning was always very crowded.

The happy Dad Dr Ib arrived later at the clinic, equally relieved that mother and daughter were there safe and well and profusely thanking my brave wife.

I’m so proud of my loving wife, Shadah. At other times she may appear dependent and helpless but in a sticky situation, she would invariably live up to it.

Now back to the present. After the wedding, we followed Dr Ib and Zariah back to the house. Farah was out but Dr Ib managed to contact her. Farah came back and met all of us. And there we were, and what do you know!

Farah is now in the family way herself. Dr Ib and Zariah are going to be doting grand-parents come July 2010 . And this is going to be their first grand-child.
( that makes it even more special!)

Dr Farah and her hubby, Dr Andy were on a short holiday back here. Dr Farah, the pride and joy of both mum and dad (whom Dr Ib referred fondly to as 'my princess' in his email to me) is completing her post-graduate specialist course in medicine in Dublin (so also Dr Andy - there will be 2 Consultant Paediatricians in the house in no time) They have since gone back last Monday.

Apparently Zariah has planned to be with Dr Farah,( by her side in Dublin for the big day in July) and stay on for 3 months. ( ample time to reflect on the moment in time a long time ago when little Farah co-operated very well with mummy and timed it perfectly to the dot!)