Sunday, December 1, 2013

THE MOTHER HEN AND ME

Let me tell you a little story about the mother hen and me. Calm down, its not that kind of story. This story happened some time back at the onset of the rainy season.

It was a dark and stormy night, as Snoopy would have had it. As per the usual nightly routine I made my way to the stables to give the horses and the fishes their supper (yes, catfish feed mostly at night and horses like to munch during the night when they get bored). The rain fell steadily as I rushed to get over the routine soonest possible. Just as I was finishing I noticed something blocking the drain which ran along the length of the stables. A blocked drain would cause a spillover which will only create a mess of the already soggy grounds. Expecting a bunch of leaves or something similar I approached the cause of the blockage and what greeted me was a total surprise. Squatting quietly in the drain was a hen half soaked in water. Without any protest (most probably numbed with cold) she allowed me to pick her up. 

As I held her I felt something wriggling beneath her. I lifted her higher and a little chick fell from beneath her wings, perfectly dry and warm. How the mother hen could have kept her warm in the flooded drain was beyond my comprehension. Without any hesitation I placed the chick in the incubator with other newborns and left the mother to go back to her usual perch. She must have been relieved. You see, she belonged to a group of recalcitrant chickens who refused to be housed with the other chickens in the hen-house. They would roost wherever they wish, mostly on top of the stables. Everything would be fine if they do not have young ones to take care of. With her usual perch on top of the stable it would not be possible to bring the chick back up for the night, hence the night spent at ground level.

This little episode got me thoughtful for along while. Why did she choose the drain instead of somewhere more convenient, say at the base of one of the big durian trees, in between the buttress roots. The answer drew on me. On open ground she and baby would have been visible to the dogs. Whilst the dogs have been taught that the chickens are off limits, one of them, Socks, sometimes finds the temptation to much for her tender heart to bear. Socks is a Collie with the most endearing of eyes and the sweetest of smiles which belie a fiendish attitude. I swear she must have been part fox. As a pup, she has been seen going after chickens and when caught in the act, she would give that "who me??..." denying look with her mouth full of feathers. As an adult, she is the only dog who would busily following us around when we are rounding the chickens for sale, seemingly offering assistance, whilst suspiciously licking her dripping mouth.

So the choice of the drain as a refuge was a smart move by the mother hen. That way she would not be visible to Socks. So who says chickens are dumb. One point for intelligence. But she did not account for the flooding drain. So shall we take away that one point.

But what touched me most was the sense of love, devotion and sacrifice demonstrated by the simple mother hen. It was most moving to see her half frozen in the drain, risking life and limb to keep her chick safe and dry. On that score I would think that she would put some, if not many humans to shame. Strange that a creature with limited intelligence and lacking in the spiritual self, as we humans like to believe can demonstrate such devotion to duty and love. What I saw was humbling and it opened another window to the endless wonders and mysteries of God's creation.

I am reminded of a saying of the Prophet (May peace be upon him). He said, " Knowledge/Wisdom is the lost camel of the believer. He picks it up where he finds it and from whichever vessel it ensues.". In this case I learned a new meaning of love, care and devotion from the most unlikely vessel, a mother hen. My late grandfather used to tell me to respect my teachers, even if they happened to be a little boy, for they are purveyors of knowledge and wisdom. I guess now I have to give chickens more respect than for their delicious meat.

The choice of camel as a symbol of lost property by the Prophet (pbuh), is quite interesting. The Prophet (pbuh) was an Arab and he was speaking to a Arab audience. To the Arab peoples, then and now, the camel is something very dear and valuable to their hearts, hence lost property = lost camel. To the Arabs the camel is among the most beautiful of creatures and many poems are recited over campfires extolling the virtues and beauty of so-and-so camel. Of course to non-Arabs like me and many others like me, this is something we would have to work very hard to understand, what more appreciate. I mean, horses, cats, dogs, even tigers, lions and arowana fish, yes, I can see the beauty in them. But camels? But never mind, to each of us his own.

The Arabs' love for camels is demonstrated yet again in another amuzing, yet gentle incident. The Prophet (pbuh) was describing paradise to a group of companions. In the middle of the discourse, a bedouin, interrupted and asked the Prophet (pbuh) if there are camels in paradise. The Prophet (pbuh) replied, "yes" and continued with his discussion,. Not believing his ears, the bedouin asked the Prophet (pbuh) again, and was given the same answer. A bit later as if to really make sure, the bedouin asked again, and the Prophet (pbuh) laughed and told him that there are camels the likes of which he has and will never see on earth. Satisfied, the Bedouin  left for his tent, probably reinforced in his determination to work for paradise where there are beautiful camels.

What is amuzing about the incident, is the demonstration of the wide spectrum of human interests, which ranges from the simple camel to the sublime ideals and principles of metaphysics. And God being the all merciful and gentle provides for all.

Goodnight and salam to all from Pak Din.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

ULUHATI: HOLIDAY CAMPS WITH ULUHATI

ULUHATI: HOLIDAY CAMPS WITH ULUHATI: The end of year long school break is coming soon, all six weeks of them beginning from mid November till just after new year 2014. Check out Uluhati Holiday Camp programs under the Page: Holiday Camps with Uluhati

Friday, September 27, 2013

ULUHATI: COUNTRY WEDDINGS AT ULUHATI

ULUHATI: COUNTRY WEDDINGS AT ULUHATI: Ever had that feeling of Dejavu each time you get invited to a wedding. You could almost visualize the setting, smell the food and hear the...

COUNTRY WEDDINGS AT ULUHATI

Ever had that feeling of Dejavu each time you get invited to a wedding. You could almost visualize the setting, smell the food and hear the sounds that normally comes with such occasions. You wonder what is new this time around but more often than not you come back feeling more of the same. Let's face it, it is getting to be quite routine and finding that difference is becoming quite a challenge.

Perhaps this is where Uluhati can make that difference. Without costing and arm or a leg, or having to mortgage you father you may yet have an event to be remembered for a long while.

With recent additions to our facilities, Uluhati is now ready to host wedding functions which, shall we say, would be a truly country in nature. To start with, Uluhati is blessed with about 2 acres of well manicured compound, surrounded by shady trees. The compound is large enough to accommodate over two thousand guests at any one time. Don't worry about the animals. We will not overdo the country flavor as all the animals will be well fed and locked up in the respective quarters during the event.




For Malay weddings with the customary Bersanding ceremony, our latest addition, the Serambi is a unique setting. The Serambi is a 20 x 20 feet covered lanai or gazebo over a swimming pool. So a Bersanding ceremony held at the Serambi will be one of a kind which the Malays might call, "Pelamin di Kayangan" or the "Wedding Dias in the Clouds". Apart from the actual bersanding you may also opt for the Akad Nikah Ceremony at the Serambi.



Alternatively you may want to hold either one of the events at the Ruai, which is the elongated varendah of the Longhouse. Measuring 60 x 12 feet this venue is also suitable for such events.



As for those who really want to have that up-close and personal thing with nature, you may want to consider having your Bersanding under the trees itself, on specially constructed tents and Dias, of course.

Our other latest structure is the Balai Warisan. This is a 50 x 20 feet long open hall with with the roof made of woven Bertam fronds ( a specie of palm). This roof structure is hardly seen today and was made by the family of the Aboriginal Headman himself. This structure can be use as the dining venue for the wedding couple together with VIP guests.

Last but not least we have the unique Uluhati Lodge (Longhouse), which can be used to house outstation guests and/or dressing rooms for the wedding couple, or as mentioned above for either the Bersanding or Akad Nikah Ceremonies.

Other things which may appear trivial but most urgent when you need them are washroom and parking facilities, both of which we are happy to say are adequate to meet most needs. Our paddock, which can be converted to a car park can accommodate up to 200 cars at any time.

The settings and the food is entirely up to the taste of the client. It could range from the simple and pragmatic to the sophisticated and luxurious. Whatever your taste could be Uluhati has the space and the facilities to make it happen. To sum it up, with all the trees and eco-friendly structures it cannot get more country than this.

For inquiries do call 012-2787722 (Safiya) or 012-2716262 (Din)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

ROAD WARRIORS FROM SINGAPORE

When I first saw the email from Isaac informing us that a group of bikers would like to stay in Uluhati over the weekend, I was simply ecstatic. What!! all those huge superbikes on the grounds of Uluhati beneath the rambutan and durian trees and getting a chance not only to see but also, if they allow me, touch those fantastic machines. This is a chance not to be missed. We must make it happen.

But do not misunderstand me. My fascination with superbikes is just that and nothing more. I marvel at their designs, engineering and overall good looks. Owning a motorbike has never fall into my scheme of dreams, though recently I bought an old beat-up Honda Cup for the gardener. You see, I belong to that fast disappearing generation who were raised by parents who viewed of the motorbike as something less than desirable and the people on top of them even more undesirable. This is the generation where everyone one in the village is either and uncle or an auntie, even though no blood ties can be proven, and all of them have the license to beat the living daylights out of you if you misbehave. On the other hand every other house is your home and you can have your lunch or dinner or drop dead for the night at whichever home you're at. This is also the time when most parents if measured by today's legal system would have filled up Pudu Jail to the brim. You see, discipline then was a nice good lashing with whatever is handy, some times pineapple fronds, thorns and all. Those were "difficult times" in more ways than one, especially for youngsters, but if not for those times, where would I be today. 

But I digress. Actually my distant infatuation with bikes, big or small, has another dimension. So the time finally came I left the "comfort and security" of home and struck it out on my own in university, and guess what, one day, in my freshmen year, I actually borrowed a bike to run some errants. As luck would have it, due to the bikes fault, I ended up reving the bike up a tree. You know how its like in your freshmen year. Everything you do becomes the hit of the month. So the story went around of this confused freshman who tried to bring his bike up a tree. That they could never figure out who it was, because of the full face helmet, did not keep my brown face from turning purple each time it was brought up in the canteen, corridors and concourses. So I swore I will never go near a bike again, resigned only to admire them from far. Strictly platonic, a genuine case of unrequited love.

Again I digress, but never mind. Having got through my initial excitement at having the superbikes at Uluhati, worrisome thoughts slowly crept to my mind. Superbikes means Supermen, no? Those 200 pounders with tattoo upto their necks and everywhere else, thick bushy beard, arms as big as banana trunks, thighs the size of coconut trunks, and those eyes... which you can never make out what they are at. They would be like modern day Vikings, okay in this case Eastern Vikings. What am I (56 kg) going to do if 20 of these grizzly bears decide to run amuk and start uprooting my durian trees.

But hang on. They are from Singapore, no? Surely such unsavory characters are not tolerated in Singapore. So it would be okay afterall and I can resume my superbike fantasy again.

So the great day finally arrived and the great machines finally rolled in. Issac, the team leader smiled charmingly beneath his helmet. That plus his normal size put my heart to rest and we looked forward to a great weekend. When everyone disembarked and took their helmets off, most of them were our older children's age and very nice charming people. No tattoos, no beard, arms normal, legs normal. Okay Paul was big, but tell you about him later.

So they had their bamboo rafting later in the day. When all the rafter have departed from the rafting point, I found that our "Langat Express", the lorry transport had left without me. So I only had Big Paul with his Super Big bike to bring me back to Uluhati. Torn between anticipation, excitement and trepidation, I inquired if he would ferry be back to Uluhati. Paul answered politely and softly, "sure uncle, no problem". So there I was grinning ear to ear hanging on to dear life as Paul weaved effortlessly through the winding country road. I was pretty sure he was going at least 100 kph, but when I glanced at the speedometer it was only 40 kph. See, how easy it is to please me. It felt funny and humbling when a 56 year old man can be entertained by a man who is as old as his son.

The rest of the weekend was light and easy. It seems they do this quite often just to get away from the usual city madness and realign their emotions again. It is very nice to see young people enjoying themselves in such wholesome manner. So the myth about those terrifying bikers is finally broken, at least for me.

Thank you Isaac and Jocelyn for gracing Uluhati and we hope to meet again someday. Salam













Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RAMADHAN & ME



I can’t quite well remember when my first fasting began. Well into the second half of my first century memories of those early years are as misty as the morning hills of Hulu Langat. But I am sure I began fasting sometime in my seventh year or so as any other youngster would. Early memories were peppered with recollection of the seemingly never ending pangs of hunger and thirst. But like everyone else I persevered. Why? Didn’t give it much thought then though. Everyone is doing it and it’s expected of good Muslims. That was about it. Ahh, and the breaking of the fast, a maelstrom of sweets and drinks to your hearts contents. Never mind that the adults would say that too much cold drink and not enough proper food would be regretful the next day. That would be next day’s problem.

I guess that went on for many years, I would say that I would fall into the category of people whom, the Prophet p.b.u.h would describe as getting nothing more than hunger and thirst for 30 long days. Along the way however, much further up the road, the mysteries and meaning of Ramadhan began to slowly unfold itself. One of the first stories which made a lasting impression on me went like this.

God declared to the Angels that He would create Man who would then be the Vicegerent on earth. The Angles politely listened and when God had finished His announcement, equally politely inquired as to why He would do such a thing. The Angels politely pointed out that Man with his propensity for violence would only spread destruction and corruption on earth. This was very mystifying to the angels as it would be too for me.  God replied quite simply – “I know what you know not”.

Now comes the second part of the story. The first part could be corroborated in the Quran. The second part is somewhat a mystery as to its source, but even so it has a profound message that I could never forget it. It goes like this – So each time the month of Ramadhan came God would look at the Angels and say, “Now, do you know what I meant”. 

It was not clear to me then when I first heard the second part, but it touches the very depths of my thoughts . Over the years as the grey hairs grew in numbers on my head despite valiant but futile efforts to subdue them, glimmers of comprehension slowly seeped into my consciousness.

Through my various explorations I began to understand that Man is indeed God’s most special and spectacular creation. It is no wonder that God asked all the angels to bow down to Adam p.b.u.h., our forefather. As we all know all complied except one. Why special or spectacular?

The way I see it, Man is God’s only creation which combines both the qualities of the beasts and the angels. His beastly qualities pulls him down and ties him down to the earth in his desires and quests for all the material satisfaction that his body desires, be it food, shelter and everything else that goes with it. On the other hand his angelic qualities make him reach out to the heavens in search for true peace and understanding of the universe and it creator. The sublime versus the crass. The unending battle between the crass and the sublime.

The true beast however has no such dilemma. He is quite contented being what he is, happily tearing the zebra in half without an iota of conscience. The Angels also have no such dilemma. They are created to love and obey with no other desires keyed in.

On that note it would appear that it is quite easy really to either an animal or an angel, but not so to be a man. He has to balance between the two qualities, harnessing the beastly qualities only for the right tasks, whilst all the time trying to keep his angelic qualities dominant. Not an easy task by any measure, as we all knows it. Okay, for some it’s easier than most.

Now let’s go back to the second part of the Ramadhan story, where God looked at the angels and say, “Now do you know what I meant?”. Now, it became clear to me the message behind that question. 

Man having had taste of the multifarious pleasures of the flesh, literally and figuratively, now willingly and without question forgo these pleasures during his waking hours only because God said “do it!”. This is something which the angles, being programed only to love and obey with no desire keyed in, never had to content with. Now, is that not obedience or will power or what?. And that is what made man special and spectacular that all the angels had to bow down to him, the will power and the ability to rise over his basic desires and reach out to the heavens just because his Lord said so.

It is no wonder that God said, all of mans deed is for himself but fasting is only for God alone.

Of course, the learned will also say that fasting is not only physical but also spiritual. Simply put, the tongue, the mind and the heart must also fast, purging themselves of every corruption and pollution. Couldn’t agree with them more. In short Ramadhan is an overhaul of the entire system, an annual calibration exercise to make sure that if our course has meandered from the right path we are nudged back on to the right coordinates. This, in itself is a mercy from God. Had it not been for His instruction, reminder, we would go on year after year as we are, checking ourselves only when we suffer a huge bruise on the head after hitting a brick wall. That is, if we take notice. In fact, for me the spiritual fasting is more important than the physical one, yet it is most often overlooked, by me at least.

And then, there is the additional congressional prayers in the nights of Ramadhan, the Tarawih prayers. I grew up admiring those people who can do so many cycles of these prayers, some up to 36 cycles. Sometimes it almost appear like some kind of competition as to who could do more.  Simple me, would struggle to do the usual 21 cycles, which often left me dizzy in the head and woozy in the legs. Later on I learnt that the Prophet p.b.u.h.  did only 8 cycles. So where did the extra cycles come from. It does not really matter so long as the intention is sincerely to get close to God. As for me, the 8 cycles is okay by me. 

The other day I saw a poster inviting people to do the Tarawih prayers led by a Hafiz (the ones  who could recite the whole Quran by heart). Great, but I will pass. It’s nice for the first two cycles or so but as it goes on the long verses can really take a toll on your legs (you stand as you hear them being read). It reminded me of an incident whereby an old man came to the Prophet p.b.u.h. one day and inform the Prophet p.b.u.h. that he would not be attending congressional prayers anymore, because the imam read long verses and he being old cannot stand that long.  The Prophet p.b.u.h. got upset with the imam for being inconsiderate to old people, the infirmed and similar. That is what I admire about the Prophet p.b.u.h. His wisdom and depth of understanding and compassion is incomparable. 

Having said that the Tarawih prayers is indeed special. It is an opportunity to communicate with God in an extended session. He made extra official time for us, to implore for guidance, health and bounty and to thank Him for all His blessings. If extra audience time with a King would drive us ecstatic, what would extra audience time with God do to us. Hence Tarawih prayers should be treated with respect and sincerity.

In about a week the fasting would come to an end. How has it been for me? Well, I can say that it has been most unsatisfying for me. My energy level is at its lowest level ever and it has been a real struggle. Perhaps I must admit I am no longer a spring chicken and that I can no longer put on the hours outdoors as I would in regular months. Gone are the days when I could play squash over lunch time during Ramadhan feeling no less for wear. Incidentally, our riding students asked us if riding classes are as per usual during fasting month. We told them that since our horses are also fasting, riding is confined only to early morning hours.

With that we wish all our Muslim friends a blessed fasting for the remainder of Ramadhan and a blessed Aidil Fitri. For our non-Muslim brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, we convey our warmest regards.

Friday, April 12, 2013

IN MEMORY OF LOUI

Got a shock of my life a few mornings ago, when I saw a dog which looked very familiar sitting outside the fence. My heart stopped for a moment, fervently hopping that what we prayed for all these months would come true. We had hoped that Loui would come back, but looking closely it was Duke, his son. Somehow he must have got through the fence in the night, but could not figure the way back in. So he waited till someone opens the gate for him.

Some months ago we went up to the jungle to service our little dam from which came our water supply from the hills. As usual Loui came along. Not only was he a more reliable escort, but also good company. I mean, it will take a really crazy animal to go up against him. Belgian shepherds whilst loyal to a fault, can be a real nightmare to those who intend to harm them or their master.

So there he was jumping from bush to bush, tree to tree inspecting everything, from the curious to the mundane. When we got to the dam, he would  take his usual perch and watched us doing our work. Sometimes I could have sworn he seemed to say, "if only I have hands, I would have helped you just as anyone else". Its that very human and animated look he has which seemed to communicate with you so well. After a while he would give  that "ahh well..." look and resigned himself looking bored.

But that day something seemed to bother him .Every now and then he looked around appearing somewhat agitated. Finally he got up and started to look around. Finding nothing he came back and sat as usual. He did this a few rounds until his interest got the better of him and he went up straight to the upper reaches of the hills. We called him but to no avail. We did not feel much concern then as we knew he his a very intelligent and capable dog and once he is satisfied he would come back. We finished our work but Loui was still not back yet. Then we got worried. We started calling and waited for two hours but no sign of him. Not even a bark. Going after him was out of the question as the jungle beyond was very thick and we risk getting lost ourselves. Reluctantly, we made our way back, hopping that somehow he is safe and would one day appear at our gate, looking tired and guilty but glad to be back. That day never came, until we thought a few mornings ago, but it was a false alarm.

Loui was special, as I am sure any other dog owner would say of his own dog. I can go for hours talking about him, but it would still not fully describe him. Loyal to a fault, playful and protective with children, he was the only dog we had who would sleep with a cat under his armpit, smell and all.






 

Take care Loui wherever you are... we all miss you. May the hunting be good and when you are done, stop fooling around and come back.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

BABY SHOWER, BIRTHDAY PARTY, FAMILY DAY (BULB COMMUNIQUE -HAVAS GROUP) 2 - 3 February 2013



Farhah and friends had their 3 in 1 event at ULUHATI recently. The more adventurous ones took to the river in their bamboo rafts, whilst the rest seemed to have their own good time on solid dry ground as can be seen from the following shots. These great photos are a compilation of the shots taken by various members of the group, hence their credits.


To the rafting point via Hulu Langat Express


ALLL   ONBOOARDD!!!


Where's my steerman?


ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR RAFT...


ARRIVAL POINT





Volley ball Uluhati style. Not as simple as it looks. Should consider listing it in the Olympics. Not sure which was more hilarious, the game itself or the running commentary.


Yep, now you know how its like collecting all those durians...Come back in June and we'll show you the real thing.
Its either the bamboo rafting or the lunch, or both... I don't really care


no its not New Zealand, only Hulu Langat





That's Eleanor with her two kids. Eleanor is British-Alpine, hence her name


 Amazing how tall tales can be so convincing under the durian tree


 Get me OOUT OF HEREE!!!!
 
Prince ; I told that kid not to put his head where its not wanted. King: whatevver...where's the hay?







 Yep, Hulu Langat again


Did we lose any of our guests? No.. there's one guy near the goat house in the back.. Pheew...o..k..


Okay, enough showing off for the day


Comelahh, comelahhh....nice try



Thanks for visiting us guys. Some more new friends.