THE MESSAGE NO.96 NOVEMBER 2009
- THE TENGKU ISKANDAR SERIES -
, THE HARBANS SINGH - 5th EDITION
Just four more to 100. we are approaching the 100 number issue of the Mesian-message.
MY TRAVELS IN THE UNITED STATES BACK IN 1956 PART 2:
by shamsuddin bin salleh as told to the editor
In the previous Mesian-message Shamsuddin said, "the ship anchored in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. We went
ashore and I
had a hair cut."
From Halifax, the ship sailed to Boston. Since it was the first port of call in the USA we had to disembark. We
travelled to New
York. New York then had the tallest building in the world – The Empire State building. We went up that edifice and
had a look
see from the top. From there we had a very captivating view of the New York City.
Remember the above building loomed tallest in the world in the 1950s. The Empire State Building was completed
in the year
1931. It is a 102-story landmark in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Its name is
from the nickname for the state of New York. It stood as the world's tallest building for more than forty years from
completion, until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the
destruction of the
World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building once again became the tallest building in New York City
and New York
5 May, 1956. Mr. Miles and I left New York City for Chicago. We travelled by train named the "Pace Maker".
From Chicago we headed to Kansas City. Mr. Miles's birthplace and hometown was in that city’s vicinity. That was
why we went
there. We stayed in his birthplace for a week visiting his friends and relatives. But one of his closest kin we had not
seen, that is
his elder brother and only sibling. For his brother Charles Miles lived in Los Angeles. So next it was Los Angeles we
12 of May 1956. We, Mr. Miles and I, were on the move again. We travelled by train from Kansas City in Missouri
towards bound for Los Angeles. The journey took three days. The train passed through the most picturesque and
countryside. At night I could see the stars dotted sky and the silhouettes of the mountains. I could see nothing but
just all pitch
dark on a moonless and starless night. Traversing the great expanse of land I was overawed with joy by the
vastness of that
14 May, 1956: We arrived at Los Angeles. At the great railway station in that famous city, we were met by Charles
Miles and his
wife Jean Miles. Charles is his only brother and elder than Ted Miles. They drove us to their apartment in Long
Beach, quite a
distance from Los Angeles. That was the first time I had heard of the word "apartment". All the way I marvelled at
the flow of
heavy traffic approaching and receding all the way along the highway.
I stayed with the Miles at Long Beach for quite a while. Charles and Jean Miles were wonderful people. Jean often
took me to the
beach which was only a walking distance from where we lived. She took me to the fun fair nearby. We had ice-
cream and soft
drinks and watched people passing by. Then we took a roller coaster ride!
Surprise, what a ride! I sweated at both palms from fright!! After that I decided I would never ride on a roller
A few days later, Mr. Ted Miles and I moved to stay in a big bungalow. It was sitting on a hill. I do not know till
now the name of
that place. It was a great place with a lot of space. Outside was a vast expanse of land. I used to spend a lot of
time in the
garden outside the huge building. The scenery all around was just absolutely beautiful. There were huge
swimming pools way below. Yonder there was the blue sea - the great Pacific Ocean edging in.
One day while I was mooching around in the garden, I heard a buzzing sound similar to the sound made by a
swarm of bees
passing by. But not a single bee could be seen around. Then my eyes caught sight of small flying objects darting
from flowers to
flowers. On looking closer, to my utter surprise, I noticed that those small flying objects were birds so tiny and so
were the humming birds. These birds were so tiny measuring less than two inches long. They hopped from flowers
seeking and sucking up nectar their daily feed.
The hummingbirds flew on. Mr. Miles and I must also move on. Where? Read it there, in Mesian-message 97.
.....he writes seven, he types click, clack to tell when he became a Malaysian.....
FROM SIR WITH LOVE
When I tell people that I had to give up my American citizenship in order to become a Malaysian citizen, some
others disbelief. And very often they follow up their initial reaction with "Do you have any regrets?" "None at all!" I
I do''t know how to explain it, but somehow this country seemed to be where I belonged, right from the moment
I arrived on that
memorable November day in 1951. Five years later it was with a heavy heart that I had to return to the U.S. to
finish studies that
would put M.A. after my name. While I was away, I could think of nothing but returning as soon as possible. When
came - August 4, 1957, just before Merdeka - I was already thinking of applying for citizenship, but of course I had
to wait until
1961 when I met the residence requirement.
I took the Oath of Allegiance in the District Office, and the A.D.O. administered the Language Test. Fortunately for
me, he had
better things to do that morning and was in a hurry to get my business over with. "Where do I sign?" he suddenly
(in English), and I replied, "Sini," pointing to the place on the line and trying out my new language.
Now I have a confession to make—about regrets.
I regret that I never took my language studies as seriously as I should have. I've lost count of the number of Malay
had through the years; in almost every case I ended up giving them English lessons, the student becoming the
I hide behind the excuse that I am simply not a linguist. In High School I attempted the study of Spanish, in College
German; when I thought I was going to Africa, I even had lessons in Swahili. Please don't ask me to say anything
in any of those
If I had it to do all over again, I would spend the first few months living in a kampung, absorbing the language
use. But that wasn't what happened in 1951. Right after arriving, I began teaching English in an English school,
and my whole
Malaysian experience has found me working in English-medium schools.
Now I 'get by' with my own brand of 'camporification Malay'. I'm used to putting up with smiles and behind-my-
back smirks when
I open my mouth in Malay company.
Case in point: That fateful day at the Agricultural Show in Temerloh when the Sultan of Pahang asked me, "Bila
and I replied, "Besok, Tuanku."
See what I mean? That one regret of mine is certainly justified.
MORE ON TABLE MANNERS
Then we talked of a little about table manners. I lamented to Mr. Miles that nowadays people of the younger
generation do not
know table manners.
Immediately he told me that during the MES hostel days, nobody began eating until the hostel master started to
raise his fork
and spoon. What I have told him earlier was that everybody who sits at the table must tell the others to begin
starts eating. Nobody should begin eating until everybody has sat at the table. Even if someone who is busy must
be called. If he
or she could not come, he or she should answer and excuse so. According to cultivated customs of the Chinese,
we should ask
everybody at the table to start eating. An informal way of doing it is to say, "Everybody raise your chopsticks." And
chewy session begins.
Mr. Miles told me that westerners are disgusted at seeing everybody dip their chopsticks into food in a common
platter or bowl.
He emphasized their dislike seeing people pick up morsels of food with their pair of chopsticks. But he said when
chopsticks one should only bring the morsel of food picked up to the mouth without the chopsticks touching the
tip as to the hygiene of using those two simple sticks isn't it. Yes the chopsticks should not touch the lips, nor
should they go into
In using fork and spoons, I think the same rules apply. Grab your morsel of meat or whatever with your teeth from
before the prongs of the tool reaches the teeth. Pour the contents into your mouth from your spoons. Can you do
your lips and tongues touching the food in the spatula of the spoon?
That reminds me seeing some Asians drinking from cups and especially from stainless steel tumblers. They raised
somewhat like looking skywards. hen they tilt the tumbler above the lips making sure the vessel touches not the
lips. Next they
pour the contents of the cup into their wide-opened mouth! For men you could see their Adam's apple moving up
and down when
the liquid glides down.
Back to Chinese table manners: when anyone finished eating earlier and wishes to excuse oneself from the table
excuse with honour. Say "man, man sik" in Cantonese or "man, man cheh" in Putong hua! What's that? Mandarin I
is a misnomer because nowadays billions of Chinese speak and communicate in Putong hua.
What does the expression mean? Diners take your time. The phrase literally means eat slowly. Why, so that you
enjoy the food
more. Then why get up and walk off. One might as well stay put and continue to enjoy the food. If you are a
junior among the
diners, it is ill-mannered to prolong your food downing session. My clansmen called a junior slow eater as
"long teeth" which is a sort of polite disapproval of such uncouth behaviour.
As we dug into the bowl of wantan noodles, we drank the soup too. The soup the master had poured into
bowls. Actually I should have done the serving as he was the master and I was his pupil. However, that I could
pass that as he
was the host and I the guest.
Oh yes, the first thing we treat to a guest is to offer him or her a drink. I have drunk glasses and glasses of cordial
master. When we visit a Chinese, no not only Chinese but any oriental, he or she would offer you tea or a cup of
water if you decline tea. That Chinese tea is but a cup of stuff that had been browned with tea leaves. It is plain
bitter. No milk no sugar.
The cup must be about three quarter filled. It is impolite to offer a cup filled up to the brim. Why? Till now I still
have not got an
answer to this strange practice. But my parents though but ordinary folks, were insistent that we children served
tea to guests in
cups three quarter filled! I may venture here an explanation. One, a fully filled cup could easily spill and might
cause a mess in
front of the guest. Two, you presume that the guest is not darn thirsty but just accepts your tea out of gratitude
because you serve him as is customary. Right, sometimes the guests only took a sip of the drinks offered. They were
but accepted our offer out of courtesy. Do you know more? Let's hear it from you and I will tell it to all.
WE DIP WE EAT,
THEY PECK THEY FEAST
WE had a feast. It was steamboat. We cooked an assortment of stuffs in a pot of boiling water. The cooking gas
attached to a stove. After a while of cooking a pot of various meat, vegetables and dumplings we dipped into
the pot with ladles
We started to eat. As we ate, we were engaged in casual conversations. Someone asked Katie how she fared the
other day when
she helped in the Matta Fair. She said she struck some success when 8 people signed up for trips to China. That led
discuss which country each of us would prefer to visit. Wan said China would be the last country she would go.
Many said they
would like going for a look see in China. I chipped in and said the last country I would visit would be Africa.
Dana said she wished to visit to see places like picturesque Guilin in Guang xi province, ancient historical places
Great Wall and most of all places where the inhabitants practise cave burial. That led me to tell all something I
saw on the
internet. It was about sky burial in Tibet. I told them what they did to the dead. The corpse was tied to a pole
stuck in the desert.
Then they let the vultures descended to peck. The birds came and then pecked and pecked at the corpse until
there was left no
more flesh. You would think that was that, the frame of human skeleton left standing in the desert!
But no, a priest came with an axe. He looked more like a butcher than a man of god. He smashed the skull to
expose the brain
and all. He crushed the bones and mixed all that remained into a mess. Then he mixed the broken mess with flour.
He left and let
the flock of vultures pecked and pecked up all the broken bones and the rest. After that there was nothing left.
That was a
complete real sky burial in Tibet, story with videos too. So eerie! How could they do that to the dead body? But
philosophically that the dead body has no use, might as well be disposed off as food for the hungry vultures! Yet, I
would say that Tibetan sky burial was the yuckiest way of disposing of a dead human body bones and flesh!
Hey. No body yuck as we continued dipping into the mess! I do not mean that mess of bones and flesh. There was
flesh but the
flesh was cooked in the steamboat. Humanely we continued eating and feeding. I raised my head and saw the
Twin Towers with many bright lights glittering. I thought of what happened on the same day at the same hour on
side of this earth nine years ago! Then and there thousands were buried in a grave of concrete and steel rubble! It
was 911 -
my birthday gathering.
(Who's who in the story: Wan my eldest daughter, Dana my 4th daughter. Gary my second son a good listener.
Barry my 3rd son, and Katie his friend)
HISTORY REELING BACK HALF A CENTURY
WHAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH
There were some problems in the hostel among the students of different ethnic origins, but heart-to-heart talk and
saved the situation from developing into ugly scenes. There were some kleptomaniacs’ actions and their
confessions among the
hostel students. Fortunately in later days, those little thieves did not develop into big time robbers or swindlers.
wayward behaviour had been nipped in the buds by their strict hostel master.
There was mention also about the LCE examinations which was recently introduced. That examination is the
equivalent of the
present PMR, but passing the LCE could qualify one to become a teacher those days. A few of us did really
training colleges and passed out as full fledged pedagogues.
The principal sang with Wong Yeng Kee the song composed by the former titled, "Blue Mountains of Malaya." That
brought me to
remember the late Linda Joo Shek Kuen who used to serenade that beautiful song with the composer at the
piano. I wonder why
no disc was cut for that song; else it could have become a box office number!
Many names were mentioned in his November 1959 diary including: John, Sunny, Say Kuang, Goon Ting, Munzir,
Shamsuddin Salleh, Sharif, Tengku Ahmad, Brian, Latiff, Yang Ahmad (deceased), How Seng, Nik Hassan, Che Aziz,
Sook Yuen, Ghaffar, Rosely, Cheng Yoong, Mohd. Noor Sidek, Tengku Ibrahim, Hashim, Yeng Kee, Basariah, Siti
Choo, Razak, Tengku Nizan.
Mr. Miles recorded about himself learning not only the Malay language but also learning how to write it in Jawi viz
Arabic script. Wow! He was really trying to fulfill his vow to be a true and loyal Malaysian citizen. Now, apa
Sudah pandai dalam bahasa Melayu? Sir, how are you? Good in speaking Malay, now?
WEDDING BELLS TOLL FOR A PAHANG ROYAL COUPLE
CONGRATULATIONS TO YM DATO’ SETIA PAHLAWAN TENGKU HAJI ISKANDAR AU BAKAR BIN TENGKU ALI & TOK PUAN
SETIA DATIN HAJJAH MARIAM BTE HAJI JUSOH WHOSE PRINCE YM TENGKU AHMAD AMIERUDDIN SHAH BIN TENGKU
DATO' HAJI ISKANDAR ABU BAKAR MARRIED RINIE MARINA BINTI ROSELI RECENTLY.
A RECEPTION WAS HELD ON THE BRIDE'S SIDE AT THE GRAND BLUE WAVE HOTEL IN SHAH ALAM ON 3RD OCTOBER,
ANOTHER GRAND banquet WAS HELD AT THE ROYAL TOWN IN PEKAN, PAHANG ON THE 10TH OF OCTOBER, 2009.
FELICITATIONS TO THE ROYAL GROOM AND BRIDE.
Newly-weds enjoy the bliss of your honey preciously.
HOW TO BY PASS A BY PASS
Natural therapy for opening the veins of the heart.
Lemon juice - 01 cup
Ginger juice - 01 cup
Garlic juice - 01 cup
Apple cider vinegar - 01 cup
Mix all the above and boil in light flame approximately half hour, when it becomes 3 cups, take it out and keep
it for cooling.
After cooling, mix 3 cups of natural honey and keep it in bottle. Every morning before breakfast use one table
Your blockage of veins will open. No need any Angiography or By pass.
Please pass on this to your real well wishers. Wishing you a hale and healthy life.
Prof. Dr. S. Vikineswary
Institute of Biological Sciences
University of Malaya
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN NOVEMBER
||JOO SHEK PHIN (WILLIAM)
||MOHD KHALID M. YUSOFF
||YIP FOOK KHIM
||LEE YEW KWONG
||ISMAIL B. MOHAMED
||NG KAM THYE
||JOHN D CLEMENT
||CHAN SEE PHONG
||TAN GEE SIN
||TONG AH TAI
||WONG FOONG CHAW
||LAM HAY YIN
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