Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Hijab : A Thin Veil Between Modesty and Vanity

The Hijab is an Arabic terminology popularly used to describe a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in defence of their modesty, when in the presence of adult males not of their immediate family.

It usually covers the head and chest of the lady but the Hijab can also be referred to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to a certain standard of modesty.

In Malaysia, the practise of wearing the Hijab by Muslim women gained popularity sometime in the mid or late 1980s. The practise of the wearing of the Hijab or ‘The Tudung’ as it was more commonly known back then, was simple, uncomplicated and not at all sophisticated.

Some would adorn a modified version of the head-dress of the ‘Telekung’ (which is the garb worn by Muslim women when performing their prayers) whilst some would adorn a simple shawl steadied into place by the use of cloth pins.

The wearing of the Hijab was initially looked upon rather unfavourably, even by a majority of the Muslim public at that time, as the wearing of Hijab was linked to a few so-called Islamic movements deemed ‘unsavoury’, at that particular moment in time, either by practice or rhetoric.

Over time, the donning of the Hijab began to be accepted by the general Muslim public in Malaysia as evident from the number of Muslim women who began to don the Hijab, either on their own free will or as ‘encouraged’ by their husbands, fiance or even boyfriends.

It was always mentioned back then, when a Muslim lady dons the Hijab, it is seen as a life changing moment for the Muslim lady and it is an action that is not to be taken lightly.

By donning the Hijab, it is seen as a commitment made by the Muslim lady to not only be modest in the way she dresses in public but also as her commitment to observe her religious obligations with respect to the way she manages and handles her life obligations.

The way they talk, the language they used, the way they dress and the way they interact especially with male colleagues and friends are all part of the package that comes along with her commitment to change.

It is not uncommon to hear back then that once a Muslim lady dons the Hijab, she would freely give all of her wardrobe that is deemed ‘revealing’ and to replace them with new clothing that complies with the demands for modesty.

Indeed, a life changing moment.

For the Muslim women back then, the Hijab they adorn were made of simple materials, nothing too fancy, as the priority was to keep to a modest code of dressing. The fashion conscious would say that it’s a dull and unattractive way of dressing but then again, we are talking about modesty.

As more and more women don the Hijab, including those who were fashionistas, there began a clamour by the more fashion conscious segment of the Muslim women community for a more stylish and fashionable Hijab, both for when going to work as well as to attend other social functions, official as well as personal.

From this desire to dress modestly and stylishly at the same time, different types and designs of the Hijab began to make their way into the market, addressing this growing demand.

These designs brought into the market differ by the materials used, level of sophistication in donning them, colour combinations, the number of folds etc. In short, a new market was developing ie fashion based on the Hijab.

Some might even say that this was the start of what is termed as Islamic fashion. The evolution of the this new market, however, and level of sophistication has its price, even if it’s for a fistful more Ringgits than before. At least.

In ‘the old days’, one can don a Hijab and achieve that degree of ‘modest dressing feeling’ for only a few Ringgits. One can still do so today, as they are many Hijabs that still can be had for as low as RM10 (circa USD3). Not one to affect the weekly budget for most. Simple in design and simple in materials used.

But today, the market for the simple and modest Hijab has gone beyond comprehension. Put on a label or a brandname, slight change in the materials used, change the packaging concept and reward the customer with a paper bag (plastic even) with the name of the label clearly visible, a touch here and a touch there and voila, the price goes stratospheric.

A sad state of affairs this, for what was seen as an encouragement for Muslim women to go modest is now seen as a reverse.

Surely it is obvious that the price of the Hijab nor its exclusivity does not dictate the level of modesty of the Muslim women, and does not dictate the respect that a Muslim lady commands. Or has its significance got lost somewhere in the design, manufacture, packaging and marketing of the Hijab? Or has it turned into a sacrificial lamb in the pursuit of excellence in the name of Islamic fashion?

It is common knowledge that some women who do not don the Hijab adopt a more modest lifestyle and dressing than some who actually don the Hijab. By dressing, they are not pretentious and are well-respected for it, professionally and personally. The language they use and the manner they conduct themselves in public.

In saying so, it is also common knowledge that some who don the Hijab lead lifestyles that raises more than a few eyebrows than they who do not don the Hijab.

The conventional wisdom says that a return to the basics and common sense is required. The decision to don a Hijab or not, lies with the Muslim ladies. But a word of caution, if we may.

By going back to the basics, it is meant that the donning the Hijab must be for the right reasons, for the donning of the Hijab comes with responsibilities. Not because of peer pressure or that because you look or may look good in Hijab or that you want to cover your hair, for the line between vanity and modesty is separated by a very thin veil of cloth.

A very thin veil indeed. Literally and figuratively.

 

 

Date : 10 August 2017

 

VEP :A mountain out of RM20 per entry?

The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru (source : gerbangperdana.com.my)

The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru
(source : gerbangperdana.com.my)

After two years since it’s intended implementation was first announced (please also see meandpolitics.wordpress.com on related posts – ‘VEP : An Act of Sabotage?’ as well as ‘Malaysia, Singapore, Johor and the VEP’), the never-ending saga of the implementation of the VEP (or Vehicle Entry Permit) for all foreign-registered cars entering Malaysia is finally over.

Or is it?

To understand the implementation of the program a lot better, a look at the JPJ website at https://vep.jpj.gov.my states that :-

  • ALL foreign –registered vehicles are to register with Road Transport Department (RTD or more commonly known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym, JPJ). When registering the vehicles the vehicle owners have to produce the necessary documents eg proof of car ownership, insurance etc etc,
  • once registered with the JPJ, these vehicles will be issued non-transferable RFID tags. These RFID tags contains pertinent information with respect to the registered vehicle, and
  • these RFID tags are valid for 5 YEARS

And all these for a processing fee of RM10 (circa RM2.50 or SGD3.30, take your pick).

Once these vehicles are registered and issued the RFID tags, these cars are then permitted to enter the country at any time during that five (5) years the VEP is valid for.

On entering the country, these VEP-registered vehicles are charged a fee called the ROAD CHARGE (RC).  The RC is ….wait for it, RM20 (Yes, its RM20 only) and is charged PER ENTRY (Yes, its PER ENTRY).

The proceeds from the RC is used to offset road maintenance costs, amongst other things.

JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

After SO MANY DELAYS since its intended implementation was first announced in July 2014 by the Prime Minister himself, the system was finally and officially implemented on 1 November 2016, at the southern entry points of Johor Bahru (at the Causeway) and Gelang Patah (The Second Link).

And even that, it is not yet the finished article as there are exemptions, for one reason or another, currently in place for motor vehicles, government and diplomatic vehicles, as well as public transportation. It has been announced that some of the exemptions will be lifted while some of them will remain in place.

Now that it’s finally up and running, Malaysians have now to contend with the implied threat of retaliation from the Singapore government IF the system that Malaysia implemented is deemed to be discriminatory against Singapore, as reported by Singapore media.

Judging by the tone of the statement…… well, you know where its leading to. (Knowing which member of the Singapore media reported it will indicate to you that it is very very near and most likely to be an official stance of the government of Singapore.)

Come again? Does that mean that the sovereign government of Malaysia is being threatened with retaliation from Singapore for implementing a system designed to monitor and control traffic entering Malaysia? Like I said earlier, come again!?

It is public knowledge that ALL foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore has to register with the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA), with supporting documents (but of course).

Upon registering, a plastic card called the AUTOPASS is issued to the owners of these foreign-vehicles. One vehicle, one AUTOPASS.

The AUTOPASS basically controls the entry of your vehicle into Singapore and upon exit, tells you how much you have to fork out for driving on the roads of Singapore, what with the different gantries and charges and the likes.

Upon exiting, it is best to make sure your AUTOPASS has enough credit to pay for all these charges including the VEP (that is if you have used up your free quota of 10 days a year and that it’s not a weekend or a Singapore public holiday or not between the hours of 6pm to 6 am (I think)), otherwise you will be fined an additional sum of money for not having enough credit to begin with, all of which has to be paid PRIOR to exit.

But just how much is the Singapore VEP?

Last I checked, its SGD35 (RM105 or USD25 thereabouts) for private vehicles and SGD40 (RM120 or USD30 thereabouts) for commercial transport vehicles. That was when the then VEP rates were increased from SGD20 and SGD10 in August 2014.

Since then, I have not checked and it has been a long time since I checked.

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Looking at them Singapore VEP rates, I guess that’s why my Malaysian friends who work in Singapore drive to work in Singapore-registered vehicles. Otherwise, they will be contributing more to Singapore that what they get paid by working in Singapore.

I mean, 10 VEP-free days can only go so far and people do work for more than 10 days in a year and yes, I do believe people work to get paid and not pay to work.

It works out for the betterment of the Singapore economy I guess. Auto traders have a business where people buy and sell cars, both new and second-hand. That plus the 10-year ruling, of course.

Workshops in Singapore too would be gainfully employed, with repair and servicing jobs. Otherwise, there might be one less economic activity in Singapore and lots more people with lots of idle time on their hands.

Now if the Singapore authorities want to ‘retaliate’ and ‘match’ Malaysia’s actions for daring to do what it just did, by all means, IF that ‘retaliation’ means that the Singapore VEP is reduced to the RM-equivalent of RM20 per entry.

But in all honesty, I seriously doubt that the Singapore authorities will ever reduce the VEP rates. Increase, yes. Reduce, hhmmmm. But miracles have been known to happen.

In the same tone, Malaysia can also claim that when Singapore implemented their VEP, it was discriminatory against Malaysia. I mean, is there any other country which has land links to the island? And was Malaysia ever consulted? What are the odds of that ever happening? Be consulted that is. And will it ever happen in the future? Your answer is as good as mine.

But seriously folks, is the Singapore government making a mountain out of RM20 per entry? IT IS PER ENTRY, you know. And the maximum a Singapore-registered vehicle or any foreign-registered vehicle for that matter, can stay in Malaysia is three (3) months. That’s theoretically RM0.22 (USD0.05, SGD0.07) per day for the maximum 90 days. Not even the price of a French fries at the neighbourhood McD, I would suggest.

And three months is definitely far longer than the period a FOREIGN national is permitted to come in and stay in Malaysia. Just have a look at your Singapore passports.

Being kiasu does have its limits you know. It may be the accepted norm in Singapore but when dealing with another country who is no less sovereign and independent than you are (as you would like to impress upon everybody), too much kiasu and it’ll border on being ridiculous, never mind offensive.

Thing is, no one’s laughing.

Images of Water : The Fresh Cool Streams of Ulu Bendul

Images of water, be it of waves rushing to meet the ocean shore or images of fresh cool water running down a stream has always had that calming and soothing effect on people viewing these images.

Ulu Bendul Water 6 - 31 Dec 2015

The cool streams of Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul (Ulu Bendul Recreational Park), Negeri Sembilan (@ all rights reserved)

Ulu Bendul Water 1 - 31 Dec 2015

Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul (Ulu Bendul Recreational Park), Negeri Sembilan (@ all rights reserved)

 

Ulu Bendul Water 2 - 31 Dec 2015

Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul (Ulu Bendul Recreational Park), Negeri Sembilan (@ all rights reserved)

 

Date : 4 May 2016

For more on Travels and Places of Interest, please click https://shahscorner.com

To do a Leicester : Dreams Do Come True.

LCFC

Leicester City Football Club (image sourced from wikipedia.org)

When the referee of the English Premier League (EPL) football (or soccer, depending on where you are from) game between Spurs and Chelsea blew his whistle to signal the end of the EPL game, the reaction amongst the millions of football fans all over the world, never mind those at Leicester, was a mix of joy, wonderment, amusement, amazement, and maybe, a small dose of pride as well.

All this emotions amidst the many shakes of the head. Why? Because, basically and essentially, for all of us, we have witnessed a fairy tale come true.

lcfc champions bbc

(image sourced from bbc.co.uk)

 

For nine months, twenty teams making up the English Premier League (EPL) battled it out, playing half the total number of 38 games played in a year at home and the other half away at the grounds of opposing teams.

For nine months, we witnessed teams assembled to the tune of a few hundred millions pounds sterling slugged it out with teams that were assembled, for whatever reason there’d be under the sun, for a fraction of the cost and yet, could not get the desired results against these ‘lesser’ teams. And this despite playing on their home turf, never mind playing at away grounds.

kasper scheimechel daily mail uk

Kasper Schmeichel – out from the shadow of his father, the legendary Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel and now a champion in his own right (image sourced from dailymail.co.uk)

For nine months, we witnessed star studded teams comprising of international players, some coming as far away as from South America, struggled to put up any sort of a decent run of games and/or performances of merit.

Yet, most of us expected that the Championship will finally end up at either the front doors of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City, the four clubs with the most in their financial and human ware arsenal.

And when the final whistle blew and it was unequivocally confirmed that Leicester City is the new EPL Champion, not Arsenal, not Chelsea, not any one of the Manchester clubs but Leicester City Football Club, all hell broke loose but in the nicest possible way.

claudio ranieri skysports

Claudio Raneiri – Tinkerman no more. (image sourced from skysports.com)

It re-affirms that belief that you don’t need bags of money to succeed. It also re-affirms that if you work hard and put in 100% effort, you have every chance at success.

It also re-affirms that if you believe in yourself and the people who are together with you in your quest, you can go a long, long way.

And it also re-affirms, if you have a dream and no matter how improbable it may seem, if you persevere and keep working at it with all the belief and faith that you can muster, it might just come true.

lcfc v lfc forbes

If Liverpool can’t win the League, Leicester winning it is OK. (image sourced from forbes.com)

For that, we must not only congratulate Leicester City Football Club for winning the English Premier League but thanked them, for putting words like ‘belief’, ‘faith’, ‘perseverance’ back into the picture.

Leicester City Football Club’s amazing feat is now immortalize in all languages of the world, with ‘to do a Leicester’ as an inspiration to many of us harbouring dreams of success. And long may it be so.

The Comforting Smell(s) of Coffee

A glass of strong hot local coffee. Good drink to have when hanging out with friends or family, either at home or at the “Mamak” shop round the corner. (@ all rights reserved)

When I was younger, I was an avid coffee drinker. Brewed or instant, it does not matter. The word ‘tea’, then, was no more than just a word in my not so extensive vocabulary at my command then.

Today, of course, I am as much as into drinking tea as I am into drinking coffee. That as well as into other types of beverages.

But coffee is still my beverage of choice whenever I am dining out, especially when I just had my dream dessert of ice cream with brownies.

On the subject of coffee, I remember once coming across this headline which read “Today is International Coffee Day”. It was eye-catching enough to make me stop and read more of the article.

Apparently, International Coffee Day was on October 1st (well, fancy that!) and it had come and passed without much of a whimper.

Just two of the many choices of coffee available nowadays : instant and 3-in-1 coffee. (@ all rights reserved)

But having read that article, it did make me stop and look back at my coffee drinking ‘career’ and try to make sense of it all.

‘Sense of it all?’, you might ask.

Well, coffee was once upon a time looked upon as a pretty bad drink. The (negative) effects of coffee eg caffeine etc were deemed to be not at all conducive to good health.

To make matters worse, the poor beverage was even once touted as (possible) cause of cancer, much to the despair of us coffee drinkers, and was one of the reasons frequently highlighted as to why we should stop drinking coffee.

Local coffee in a tin. Just tell the stall helper your choice of coffee beans, and he’ll grind it for you the way you like it. Or you can just pick one out from the many pre-packed packets of grounded coffee available. (@ all rights reserved)

 

The fact that most of us coffee drinkers were also tobacco loving junkies, of the smoke kind that is, and not of the chewing kind, made the sense of despair even more acute, as smoking too was highlighted as a culprit to bad health and a more potent cause of cancer compared to coffee.

As for me, I put my hands up and admit that I am a coffee drinker. Designer or otherwise, sophisticated or just plain uncomplicated, instant or brewing required. Arabica, robusta, and whatever ‘ca’ or ‘ta’ there might exist in the world of coffee, it does not matter to me.

With all that many types and brands of coffee available, it must be good to be able to make a decision. (@ all rights reserved)

I find that, as I grow older, the coffee that I drink, most often than not, complements not only with the mood I am in, either down-to-earth or just plain ‘hip’ (LOL. Where’s an emoji when you need one!), but also with the surroundings I find myself in at that moment in time.

But as I grew older, I also noticed that my intake of tea has also increased, with me now being able to name a type of tea as my favourite kind, and not a brand.

As it is , my favourite tea at the moment is jasmine tea. Something of a balancing act in the latter stages of my life, I reckon.

Anyway, back to the article on the International Coffee Day. Apparently, efforts to promote and celebrate International Coffee Day were first initiated by the All Japan Coffee Association in 1983. Due to a lack of publicity, I guess the efforts are still ongoing.

Coffee beans ready for the grinder. (@ all rights reserved)

Upon reading the article, an interesting piece of trivia that emerged was that the first coffee beans were thought to have been discovered in Ethiopia, where it was cultivated.

Another piece of trivia is that during the 15th century, the Arabs in Yemen took a liking to the brew and from there, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee gained in popularity, first in Asia and later in Europe via Italy and onward to the Americas.

Personally, I can’t remember when I had my first taste of the brew. Over the years, I guess I have developed a liking for a cuppa of hot and strong coffee, earthy and not too sweet, of course. The kind of coffee that brings me back in time when my family would sit around the dining table, and just talk. That and the laughter.

The many forms of packaging to attract your interest. A far cry from the days of old when coffee just comes in a plain clear plastic bag. (@ all rights reserved)

Back then, the choice of coffee for us simple folks was mainly limited to the coffee beans sourced locally and roasted with margarine, the kind of coffee beans that you could find at the local market’s coffee traders.

It’s always easy to find your way to their stalls. Just follow your nose as the sweet smell of coffee beans being roasted wafts through the air.

Instant coffee were already available back then. But they were not cheap, comparatively, and thus assumed a sort of status symbol as only families with the extra budget can afford instant coffee.

Today, with the many types of coffee available, each packed in attractive and bright packaging, headlined with exclusive sounding brand names, makes buying coffee for the household a very tricky chore. Gone are the days when you can just go and buy coffee off the shelves, your coffee shopping all done within a few seconds.

Cappuccino anyone? (@ all rights reserved)

Nowadays, it would not be surprising seeing people spending a little bit more time at the coffee section, going through the many types of coffee available, and despite having gone through several packets, have yet to select one.

Some though make a fast and safe decision and bought not only one packet but instead, several packets, all of different brands.

Now, that would be a method to resolve your coffee shopping for the next few months.

Next time when you have your morning mug of coffee, take a look at your coffee before taking a sip and just imagine that the coffee you’re drinking, from humble beginnings, it’s now part of a global multi million dollar industry.

How time flies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Garden at the Rooftop

Whenever one mentions of a city, the first picture that comes to mind are rows and rows of office blocks and shopping malls, one next to the other, all high and tall and made of concrete adorned with reflective glasses at every floor and at every angle. 

And as we pound the pavement making our way from one to the other, we make mental notes to seriously look for the proper and right footwear to alleviate the punishment that our feet and our legs take whenever we make our way in between these blocks, day in and day out.

A mosaic of the garden at the rooftop, creating an ambience for relaxation, relieve stress and dining. (@ all rights reserved)

A mosaic of the garden at the rooftop, creating an ambience for relaxation, relieve stress and dining. (@ all rights reserved)

And as always, a mental note is a mental note until replaced by something else that warrants our immediate attention. And so, another mental post-it gets pinned to that imaginary reminder board in our mind and remained pinned, as it were.

I have to be honest. It’s not really my ‘thing’ to pound the pavements and make my way to one office block to another unless I really have to. If I have to, I’d go in, get my business done and once done, out the glass revolving (or sliding) doors as soon as possible. All in, I’m out of the building within 15-20 minutes after my appointment’s done.

But if there is a Starbucks or a San Fransisco or a Coffee Bean (or is it CBTL nowadays?) , then I would most likely make a pit stop, order a ice-blended caffe mocha and rest my tired legs (they get tired faster as you get older!) before making my way out that glass revolving door. Or sliding door for that matter.

That said, it’s also not my ‘thing’ to wander through the malls, checking out every single outlet and basically do what everybody calls ‘window shop’. Normal practice would dictate that I step in, get my ‘thing’ done and be gone ASAP. Unless the budget allows for a pit stop. Then I am game.

With most malls, I do find it difficult to understand those people who would drop in a mall, either alone or with a group of friends, and spend the whole day in the mall, for one reason or another. Just what is so fascinating in a mall that can tempt a person to stay the whole day in the mall? Creatures of habit? Maybe. Otherwise, I just can’t get it.

Maybe those people who create and build and operate malls should look at aspects of what makes a mall more appealing to people, besides the number of outlets (fixed or moveable) that the mall can have and the amount of rental that the mall can generate etc etc etc.

I was in a mall in Johor Bahru recently, and contrary to what some people might think, we do have several good malls in JB. Maybe they are not in the Super League of Malls but then again, we don’t live for our malls. Or do we?

Anyway, the mall had undergone some extensive refurbishment works recently and since then, each time I entered the mall, I must admit that the mall does look and feel better.

Garden at the roof top. No fishing allowed though! (@ all rights reserved)

Garden at the roof top. No fishing allowed though! (@ all rights reserved)

But the one that, for me at least, which took the cake, must be the way they had totally revamped the food court located at the very top of the 6-storey mall (I think, and that does not include parking!). Well, not the food court per se, which was nicely done, but the open air dining area especially.

I was fortunate enough to experience having a meal at the open air deck, accompanied by a slight cool breeze bringing down the warm evening temperatures down a notch or two as well as the sounds of running water and the coolness that only flowing water can bring about.

The idea of a garden cum food court at the rooftop where shoppers can go and have a drink or a meal, relax and unwind is a good idea and one that other malls should adopt or/and improve upon. For shoppers, the ambience alone is good enough to ensure a return to the mall, even if it’s just for a nice tall cool fruit juice drink.

A garden in the city, but with a twist. It’s at the top of the building rather than at ground level. No hint of the ongoing traffic, no hint of the street level noise. Just you, your drink, and your meal.

Not a bad proposition, is it?

The Joy of Philately aka Stamp Collecting

Malaysian stamps marking the coronation of the DYMM Yang Di Pertuan Agong (source : nst.com.my)

Malaysian stamps marking the coronation of the DYMM Yang Di Pertuan Agong
(source : nst.com.my)

I would like to state here, for the record that I am one of them. ‘Them’ being those who can admit that they actually have hobbies and pour moi, one of my hobbies is the hobby of collecting stamps or more glamourously known as philately, and by extension, I am therefore a philatelist or , stripped of all pretenses, a stamp collector.

Historically speaking, if not for the Frenchman Georges Herpin, we would be known as ‘timbromaniacs’ for having ‘Timbromania’ as a hobby. Thanks to him, he coined the new term ‘Philately’ in 1864 and ever since then, we have been known as ‘philatelists’.  Sounds better and safer than being a ‘maniac’, does it not?

Stamps potraying some of the wildlife available in Malaysia (source : filatelic.,com)

Stamps potraying some of the wildlife available in Malaysia
(source : filatelic.,com)

In addition to being to a philatelist (ehem, ehem), I also admit to being a collector of coins and paper currencies (I have not looked the term up yet!), metal badges (nowadays metal badges are hard to come by, unlike in them good old days of a metal badge for every occasion), telephone cards (see my previous post, Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card (http://wp.me/p21MP1-7i)), music cds and vinyl records (goes well with my interest in music regardless of genres) to name but a few.

I must admit it being not easy to admit to being a stamp collector or a philatelist, be it stamps from my own country of Malaysia or from elsewhere in the known world. I guess it’s all due to the normal reaction one draws whenever one admits to collecting stamps : looks of disbelief, a snicker and a snigger, to downright laughter (almost derisively, I could have sworn), all of whom are not exactly good for the morale, I must say.

A sample of the Malaysian reptilian population  (source : filatelic.com)

A sample of the Malaysian reptilian population
(source : filatelic.com)

But pray tell, where did I get this hobby from, you might ask? From my late father, that’s who. He was a King’s Scout (so I am told) in his school days and used to have quite a collection of stamps, lovingly kept in his collection of stamp albums, compiled since he was young and he kept them lovingly together even when he got married. Lovingly until that is when we, his children, came along not long thereafter.

His stamp albums did not last long after our arrival especially when we came to be amazed and excited at what colour pencils can do. After that, there was never enough paper (and walls for that matter) for us budding Vincent van Goghs to draw on.

Not only his stamps (and the walls, mind you) were not safe from us then, but as we got older and got to know (theorectically that is) that to send mail via the Post Office, you’d need stamps and as stamps require money (kids those days only had the money what our parents gave us), we came up with an ingenious way of sending mail without having to purchase them from the Post Office.

East German stamps - Space exploration  (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

East German stamps – Space exploration
(source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Trouble is, no one told us that those stamps must be unused stamps and they must be stamps issued by the country. We never saw our Father’s stamp collection after that. And kids being kids, we did wonder what happened our Father’s stamp collection, although not for long for there was always something else to attract our attention.

I began collecting stamps early, thanks to my father’s guidance and also thanks in his indulgence in getting me a stamp album. From then on, whatever I know today of stamp collecting, most are what he taught me when I was a child.

However, school began to take its toll on my new-found hobby and soon enough, my passion for stamps, their many designs and colours, all together telling a story, began to take a backseat. However, despite all that was happening in my life then, I still collected stamps, carefully cutting the stamps off from the envelopes they endorsed and put them away for a time when I had the time to really attend to them and hear their story.

Until that is til I was in my late 20’s, believe it or not, of all places, when I was in West Germany. There was, at that moment in time, an East Germany, internationally known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR for short, and a West Germany aka the Bundes Republik Deutschland (BRD).

A sample of a West German stamp (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

A sample of a West German stamp
(source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Some of the stories and the history of the two Germanies were told via the stamps issued by the Germanies, East and West as well as the stamps of the individual states that make up the current Germany – Pruessland, Hessen, NordRhein-Westfalen, Schleswig-Holstein, amongst others.

It was a natural that my West German stamp collection expanded to include East Germany, the United Kingdom, and of course Malaysia. It helped that for enthusiasts like me, there were stores that cater to philatelists, with a good and wide range of stamp albums to choose from.

Since then, I have settled down, got married and have children of my own. Learning from experience, I have kept my stamp albums hidden away from their reach and my collection are now awaiting for the day that I will, once again, be able to channel my energies and time to add to the collection that I already have.

Its hard to explain, this joyous feeling when you have compiled a complete set. It’s either you have it or you don’t, this feeling. Try it and just maybe, you’d understand why.