Saturday, October 21, 2017

Peter And Jane

My second daughter lay-over at our house in Okinawa from 5 Oct. to 11 Nov. 2017. The family was transferred back to Japan. The three children (twins at 5 yr 5 mth and the younger boy at 3 yr 7 mth) gave me quite a shock with their good command of spoken English.  Before moving here, they were at a stage of learning phonics in kindergarten and have grasped the idea of relating sounds to letters.

They could make a string of conversation and made their intentions understood in proper, good command of English. I thought this should continue and I ordered this series of Peter and Jane book from Amazon.

I remember it was Peter and Jane that made me realized letters have meanings and sound in books when I was in Primary 2. Imagine my grandchildren able to read easily Book 1a, 1b, 1c and getting into 2a while I was writing this.
I was a slow child in reading but I caught up by Primary 5, by which time I read one Enid Blyton per day.

My granddaughter was so excited to read Peter and Jane without my supervision. She would sneak and read by herself but I told her I need to teach her the new words on each page. This is her writing practices (see image) while reading the book.

I would recommend Peter and Jane books to all children who are just about to start reading. It was effective for me, that's all I can say about it.


Monday, October 02, 2017

Si Ayu

Ayu is my second daughter. Immediately after graduating from Ryukyu Univ. (Mar. 2008), she opted to work overseas and not in Okinawa. Upon her elder sister's advice, she went to Singapore to start a career. 22 April 2008 (picture), she left Okinawa and started her life's journey.

She found her love in Singapore (Japanese) and got married at Kobe Mosque on 16 Feb. 2011. Both returned to Singapore to start a new life as a married couple.

Yesterday, 1 Oct. 2017, they returned to Japan to start a new life in Japan. They are parents to a set of twins, a boy and a girl aged 5 yr 4 mth with the third boy aged 3 yr 6 mth.
She started her first career in Singapore and with the children starting every new in Japan, they will have a different rhythm of daily activities in Japan compared to Singapore.
Just as they've enjoyed their lives in Singapore, praying (doa) they do not need to adjust much living in Japan from now on.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Penamatnya Mabrur

Semalam 13 Ogos 2017, cerpen ini disiarkan oleh Berita Harian Singapura.
Setahun saya tidak menulis cerpen. Akhir sekali (kalau tak salah) Ogos 2016.
Dalam rangka setahun ini kenapa saya tidak keluarkan cerpen?
Saya puji sangat penulis yang mampu menulis beberapa catatan dalam satu masa sekaligus. Maksud saya sedang menulis novel tapi dapat pula pusing sudut lain dan menulis cerpen. Saya tidak dapat buat begini. Satu projek untuk satu masa.
Dalam setahun saya tidak keluarkan cerpen sebab saya tumpukan pada penulisan terjemahan novel PAGI SEMERAH DAUN MOMIJI dari bahasa Melayu ke bahasa Inggeris. Usai dihantar ke penerbitnya, saya mula pula novel baharu. Kali ini saya cuba novel Inggeris pula. Saya belum boleh maklum penerbitnya.

Saya sengaja kaburkan imej di atas sebab saya sedang kumpulkan semua cerpen.

Oh, saya ingin kongsi satu perkembangan negatif sebagai penulis. Apabila cerpen pertama tersiar di akhbar Berita Harian Singapura, ramai yang menulis tahniah atau LIKE. Boleh dikatakan berderet-deret dan sampai keesokan hari pun masih ada yang memberi tahniah.
Kalau tak salah semalam cerpen saya yg ke 7 atau 8 (agak-agak saja) disiarkan, yang pelik tiada seorang pun penulis yang saya kenal, yang rapat dengan saya di Singapura maupun di Malaysia sudi memberi komen. Saya ambil ini sebagai kenaikkan saya ke taraf yang sudah glemer sebagai penulis.
Kalau artis atau penghibur, glemer mereka meriah serba serbi tapi lain rupanya sebagai penulis. Semakin prolifik seorang penulis, semakin dia disenyapkan. Tiada LIKE atau tahniah berderet-deret lagi.
Saya rasa masa mula2 karya tersiar, ramai yang mengucap tahniah sebab ingin memberi dorongan. Tapi kenapa dorongan itu terhenti apabila penulis itu sudah menjadi terkenal dengan tambahan karyanya?
Pelik bukan?

Saya perlu perhatikan perkembangan ini dan mengambil contoh dari penulis lain.
Semakin mereka terkenal, semakin bertambah karya mereka, tiada perlu memberi dorongan lagi atau mengucapkan tahniah lagi atau memberi LIKE berderet2.
Ada bagusnya kita belajar dari pengalaman.

Apa-apa pun penghargaan saya kepada para editor, penyunting sastera di meja Berita Harian Singapura kerana memberi saya peluang dan ruang untuk berkembang sendiri.

Terima kasih.


Monday, August 07, 2017

Such a deer.

I never expect the first night of our trip to Hokkaido (29 June to 2 July 2017), when we stayed at Sahoro Hotel that it was one of the Club Med chain-hotel. Club Med being an international chain-hotel, unlike local-run hotels in Japan, caters to the special needs of their Muslims customers. 

We were delighted to be served with grilled deer meat which, we were told to be halal. I can't remember having deer meat before, maybe I had, but I cannot recollect it's taste anymore. It was soft without the smell of mutton. 
That night, I made my way to the common bath-house on the ground floor of the hotel. It has a 露天風呂 Roten-buro (literally it means bath under the sky) or an open air bath. It was dark, I could see the stars so far off into the galaxy with its weak twinkling as I dipped in the steaming water. There was an earthy smell to the water, it might come from the depth of the earth.

I take a public bath every week. Having a common bath with other women every week has a therapeutic effect on me. You should try hit the sauna at 78c, then dip in the water at 19c, repeat in three or four rounds. Feel your body changing.
Most time I tried to keep quiet and relax, feel my body tightening in the heat but that would normally be quite impossible. While dripping in sweat, the women talk about the weather, about some sick friends, about politics or anything that we are willing to share. 
I've come to know many friends I made from the common bath. Sometimes, we arranged another date at the karaoke or have lunch together.
Coming back to the halal grilled deer at Sahoro Club Med, do make a special request during the booking. Oh, I'm not paid for this promotion, just a travel information.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bunga Putat, Sagaribana, Barringtonia

It's the peak of summer (July 2017) and that means the peak of Sagaribana blossoms in Okinawa. Before this, I always missed viewing the blossoms closely but last night, hubby drove to the housing areas around Shuri Castle. On one stretch of there were many Sagaribana plants.
It has a soft, sweet smell like a ripened guava. I should say if the smell is bottled into cologne, it is a female smell as a contrast to musk.
I know in Malaysia the Sagaribana new leaves and fruits are taken as a salad. I've tried tasting the leaves, quite bitterish for my liking but I supposed taking it with spicy belacan should go well with rice.
The Japanese called it Sagaribana. Sagaru to lower or to bow, hana is the flower. Don't you think this name is most appropriate when you see how the flower lowered itself lower while blooming into glorious beauty and fragrance?

Malay: Sekarang tengah rancak musim panas di Okinawa. Inilah juga musim pohon Putat berbunga. Sebelum ini saya tidak berpeluang mendekati pohon Putat pada musim ia berbunga tapi malam tadi saya pergi ke kawasan istana Shuri. Terkejut juga apabila terlihat salah satu laluan penuh dengan deretan pohon Putat ini. Bunganya berbau halus dan manis seperti buat jambu batu yang sudah masan ranum. Saya rasa kalau dijadikan air wangi, bau bunga ini ada kejelitaan seperti tabiat kewanitaan, bukan seperti musk yang baunya kuat seperti jantan.
Saya dimaklumkan di Malaysia, pucuk daun dan buah pohon ini dimakan bagai ulam dengan sambal belacan.
Ini gambar2 yang saya ambil waktu malam sebab bunga Putat kembang selepas maghrib. Gambar menggunakan 3 lampu touchlight.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Walking routine

After I came back from the Hokkaido trip, I started to do morning walk for 30 mins. everyday.
Every morning I see this man sweeping the sidewalk. I think he owns a shop-house. He washes the parking lot in front of his shop, then he cleans the whole length of the road.
I was thinking this man get up early and cleaned the whole length of the road without pay every day, I wonder what makes him so dedicated. Doesn't he have other work to do? Does he live only to sweep the side walk?

There's another man I see during my morning walk. This man is not homeless. But I think he has some mental problem. He's dirty and wears torn outfit. Sometimes, I see him eating thrown food from the trash.
One time, I gave him a bun. Then came home and told my hubby about it. Well, I shouldn't be doing it as it encouraged him to beg for food. So, we are not supposed to give him any food.
But, this man has pride. There was another occasion when I gave him a can of drink. He refused my offer. Again, I was told not to give anything to him.

The meaning of hospitality in the dictionary is not the same hospitality as the Japanese read. Empathy is not for homeless or dirty people on the street in Japan.
It reminds me of the deer on Ikutsujima. Visitors to the island are discouraged from feeding them. They don't want the deer to be fed as the leftover food might dirty the park.
May be hungry and dirty people are like deer. Leave them alone and the place will be spiky clean.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Shirakaba (White Birch)

On my trip to Hokkaido recently, I noticed shirakaba trees lined up the highways of Hokkaido.

I thought the white tone is only on the outer bark of the tree but upon closer inspection during one of the walks in the garden trails, I found out the white colour of the tree went deeper into the trunk.

Previously this tree was normally used as fire woods. I find out this tree is not cheap to have from the shop that sells it as mementoes of Hokkaido.