Kota Bharu: Arep, Gossip Lounge & Mekyam

Extreme shyness and fear of meeting people: This is one of my major problems; in the unlikely event that you folks aren’t aware of it yet. However, with Arep here, something inside pushed me – I had to meet him. No “ifs” or “buts”, and regardless of time constraints as mentioned in the Kota Bharu: Odyssey of the `Holy Grail’ Package post earlier.

By the way, I realise that quite a few people are annoyed with my tendency to not end a post, and instead have continuations. And taking my sweet time to do so:-) I’m sorry; although there are valid explanations for both. With the first one, it’s NOT planned as such when I started to write. I don’t have a list of points that guide me – I just write…Then I’d realise that a post has gotten too long and should be continued with another one.

As for “my sweet time”; not really – sometimes I’m just so tired and would put it off. Like right now, when I really feel like lying down after working since early morning… to read a book for 10 minutes and immediately fall to sleep.

However, the last two comments have pushed me into writing this now – the one by Mekyam and also KijangMas before that. Then there was Sherry Nor-Jane, who had SMS her displeasure immediately after discovering the “To be Continued”. And just a few minutes ago, Jarod Kok of Paradise Storm mentioned it at Facebook. So…

arep_PrtSc What about Arep then? There’s something unique about him – the fact that was one of the earliest readers here when this blog was started 4½ months ago. A little kindness on his part had gone a long way – he had taken the trouble to send me a “Welcome to the blog world” comment. Now that’s certainly appreciated, especially at a time when blogging was very new to me, and I was worried about exposing myself to hit-and-run insults by the anonymous…

Arep and “Ted Baker” of The Gossip Lounge had encouraged me to continue writing here. I also discovered that besides Ted Baker, Arep was also from Kelantan. We visited each other’s blogs and left comments. And then came the post at Rocky Bru early in the fasting month…

After Hari Raya Aidilfitri in October, I might have met with Arep when he was back in Kelantan. However, the timing was very bad. He had obtained my handphone number from Sherry and called me one day towards noon, informing that he was in Kota Bharu. Unfortunately, it was a day when I did not sleep the previous night and was just about to have a nap. Then there’s the matter of having taken some medication which sometimes resulted in deep sleep…

But my biggest regret was the time when he had come back for a while before going to Belfast, United Kingdom. It was a busy period for him and it wasn”t possible to meet. There was sadness in me for some time, every time I visit his blog and read of him being there… regretting that day when he was in KB but I was “too sleepy”, and both missed the chance. It troubled my mind when I think about that. And now he’s so far away…

So, when he called that day, my thought was, “Whatever else, I MUST meet with him, even if just for a few seconds to shake hands”. Fortunately, Arep was obliging. I mentioned that I would be going around the Bersatu Shopping Centre near the bus-station to buy an electric kettle. It was 5.15PM, and I had worries about whether he could make it from Tesco to the town centre in time, for I remembered the road coming in from the bridge was chocked earlier.

CAPTION: I’ve included a map of Kota Bharu that is almost 196 KB. Clicking should expand the map. The courier’s office is near to Merdeka Square and Hotel Indah/Hotel Aman.   map_Kota_Bharu

A quick walk to Bersatu/The Store in the heavy rain, and straight to the electrical equipment section. Earlier, I had SMS Sherry – who had just arrived back in Indera Mahkota, Kuantan from KL – to inform her about Arep, and she had “Kirim Salam” (Sent Greetings). I remember at the Pusat Khidmat AADK in Jalan Gambut, Kuantan at the end of 2006, the electric kettle we used was a National Panasonic. So, for sentimental reasons, that was my first choice, if it wasn’t “too expensive” (not more than 20% above a`Cipalang-class’ Made-in-China equivalent). I had guessed the Panasonic to be “around RM70”.

Unfortunately, there were only three brands – all unknowns. Now I’m quite okay with things made in China if they are “US, European or Japanese” brands (The Huawei HSDPA USB mobile broadband modem I’m using now is okay though). And they weren’t really `cheap’, with a 4-litre size at RM70. It wasn’t the time to be choosy and look elsewhere due to my wanting to meet with Arep. I had SMS Sherry (my main advisor) on whether to take the China brand, look elsewhere or come back another time. Her reply was “Beli ajer” (“Just buy it”). She was probably considering the possibility of me going back empty-handed…

But that was one of the rare moments when I overruled her. I feel justified because she did not what the salesgirl had honestly said: There was no guarantee and “not many people had bought China-made kettles…reliability issues”. She even helpfully mentioned an electrical shop further down where there would be branded kettles! Hmm, when even an employee had snubbed the products, what business did I have to take the risk? It was 5.30PM – a quick walk and a “just buy it” should still be possible…

At Ban Huat, there was a new problem, albeit a welcomed one – there were choices! There was no National Panasonic kettle. But there was a Kenwood at RM98, which the salesman claimed “was better”. I liked that brand too. But there was another category: “Automatic Jug Kettles”, where there were a few  brands. Now they were almost half the capacity of the 2-litre Kenwood, and half the price too.

I was thinking of Arep, so it had to be a rushed decision: Sederhana in Islam and `The Middle Path’ of Buddhism came to mind and they converged – the Kenwood looked “too luxurious”. Have to consider that I’ll be improving from “Zero/Don’t have anything at all” to “Able to boil water”. That is already very good. The Kenwood is more “sederhana/middle” if it’s for a whole family. And definitely for a hostel… Asrama Cendana.

I remember that in July 2006, our electric kettle went kaput and we had to make do with a self-made heater – a Chinese guy with experience in a few pusat and with several prison terms previously had assembled it. Actually, it’s against pusat regulations to use these kettles or other heaters – you can get hot water at the kitchen. However, lazy that many of us were to walk the distance PLUS up a slope, practically every hostel had a kettle or heater of some sort. Our kettle was `borrowed’ by a previous Pengawas (Prefect) from somewhere in the pusat… probably one of the officers’ rooms;-) Well, that’s how things were over there.

The Cendana Philosophy was: “If you have the chance to contribute to Cendana and to our fellow brothers, DO IT!It’s okay to steal; erm `borrow’ things belonging to the pusat for our common interests and usage. Ah, I love the fellowship, the loyalty of Pusat and Cendana!

But anyway, Water Jug it was. But which one, for there were a few brands and models? Pure sentiment was the main decider, with only a bit of `scientific evaluation’: Wasn’t Sharp the main sponsors of Manchester United once? Well, that’s scientific reasoning enough, and the salesman agreed to `reduce’ from RM65 to RM50.

The salesman was Chinese but it was a very Kelantanese “Wano gapo demo nok?…puteh, kuning, kelabu..pink pun ado” (What colour would you like?…white, yellow, grey..there’s also pink) Huh?! Any dumb colour would do with me – Okay, “white”. Or “whatever that’s here in front and not in the store” (Thinking of Arep).

It was 5.40PM. I didn’t know whether Arep could manage to brave the traffic. I went towards the bus-station for I also wanted to use the toilet. I also wasn’t aware he had sent a SMS informing he he would be behind Bersatu/The Store. The phone rang when I was inside the toilet. We decide to meet near Azam Hotel/Azam Money Changer – I knew we’d recognise each other, and we did. BTW he doesn’t look like the old picture in the previous post – you’ll have to keep an image of him wearing spectacles, as in the later pictures of him at his blog or at Ted Baker’s.

I was glad he wasn’t holding a camera or handphone with one – I’m loathe to have anyone take a pix right now in this “not healthy-looking” state of being so thin and frail. Okay, Sherry: I’ll try start that “Riadah” at 5PM; I will. Arep was certainly “the finance/banking/auditing type of guy” in his appearance and speech. It was a chat for only 10 minutes, as we stood outside Suria Hotel at the end of Jalan Doktor that faces the bus-station. At 6PM, he expressed concern that I might miss the 6.15PM last bus, which was on the other side of the building. Well, we parted ways, with my feeling so fulfilled – of both of us succeeding in the effort.

Apparently, the Kota Bharu-Pasir Mas-Tanah Merah bus was already there. And it seemed to be full. I later learnt it was supposed to be the 5.30PM bus, but was cancelled due to disruption in the schedule. There wouldn’t be a 6:15PM too, but 6:30PM. I certainly wasn’t going to stand up so I went to sit with a young guy on the steps in the middle. Fine enough with me. And guess what? There was a young guy – mute, and wearing the bus company’s uniform – tapped me on the shoulders and gestured to “an empty seat” nearby. Was it his, or had I really not been aware it was empty? I don’t know. But that’s yet another gift by God on that day.

6.30PM – The horrendous jam of Kota Bharu! It took 30 minutes just to reach KB Mall from there! `Usually’, you could reach my house 17 miles away in that time! Or at least Pasir Mas. I took it as an opportunity to read the book. Earlier, I had bought a 20 sen sharp razor specifically to carefully slit the cellophane tape and save the beautiful Kikokuniya wrapper. I had heard of this bookstore – I’ll go there someday. Bookstores and libraries are among places I like to be at.Four Agreements_CoverBig164

THE FOUR AGREEMENTS by Don Miguel Ruiz – A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom – A Toltec Wisdom Book

Dear Mat,

I hope this book will help you understand how perfect we are – you just need to find yourself inside


A reading of the jacket showed that this isn’t an ordinary book. I’m still in the early stages yet since I was bogged down with so many things. But I take this one very seriously; because the sender had taken so much trouble to buy it (and a CD titled The Secret), to write the notes, to send it, to follow up… and again. Thank You for your kind thoughts.

Well, I finally reached home at 8.10PM. The first thing to do … Yes, to test the “Automatic Water Jug”. The salesman had said it’d take only 3 minutes for the 1.7-litre water to boil. It took 4 actually. The automatic worked. Three boiling sessions that night – one for drinks, and two for… A hot water bath. What a nice luxury, and the end to “Odyssey of the Holy Grail Package” 


4 thoughts on “Kota Bharu: Arep, Gossip Lounge & Mekyam

  1. Mat,
    Nice candid post. I am glad you now have a kettle and need not go over to the other house just to get some hot water.
    Am looking for the appropriate time to get to your place soon.
    Take care.

  2. Urgent Appeal: Palastine Relief Fund…

    Growing Up”Our spiritual condition is the basis for a successful recovery that offers unlimited growth.”Basic Text, p. 43When our members celebrate their recovery anniversaries, they often say that th……

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