Sunday, 26 June 2011

Tora.. Tora.. Tora....

Assalamu 'Alaikum

Waiting for lunch on a very warm and humid Saturday yesterday, I got into FB to kill time - looking at the rants, the love messages, the complaints and all that what my FB friends had to offer.  Suddenly I got an FB message from a dear old friend.

We were in the same class from kindergarten in 1979 until Form 5, minus a couple of years during lower secondary when I moved to Government school and he followed suit a couple of years later.  Tora and I went to the same sixth-form college in 1991 but he lasted only three months - his GCE 'O' levels result the year before was so good the government sent him abroad to do his A levels and subsequently his medical studies in Ireland.

During a motivational talk for the government scholarship students three years later, I was so proud I had goosebumps when the Director of Studies mentioned, "Tora is not only the best Bruneian student in Ireland, he IS the best student in Ireland". That was MY friend Tora Leong.  Today he is Dr Dr Tora Leong Sun Fu - he is a medical doctor and got his PhD last year. He brushed it aside as nothing - that is Tora.

I graduated in 1997 and has worked for 2 companies in 14 years. In contrast, Tora is STILL practising / specialising in Ireland and London, with the last leg in Paris later this year, before he is due to return to Brunei in 2012. By then he will be one of the few local cardiologist Brunei has to offer.

The thing I remembered most about Tora is his big handwriting (he claimed being a doctor, that is now long gone), he plays piano very well (he said he has little time for that now) and the best one, he's very very smart yet very down to earth.  He enjoyed having meals at the gerai (stalls) and loved local coffee (Kopi kampung) that he'll bring back to UK following his short trip home. At school he mingled with everyone, and make time to assist us on the math and sciences... including my wife and I.

So, Tora came home on Thursday and will fly back to UK this coming Thursday.  Mr Leong's two elder sons came home especially to celebrate his 7th decade of life.  In between, as is his usual practice during his trip back, Tora had personal audience with the Minister of Health on his specialization and catching up on old friends, including yours truly.

Tora's FB message to me was to check if I would have time for coffee with him.  Who wouldn't.  So I agreed immediately and spent the afternoon baking my wife's favourite - Cinnamon Rolls - which my wife assured me would go well with coffee.  She wasn't lying.  I am sinfully hooked.

Tora came around half eight and we chatted until well after 11 about everything: his life, his studies, our childhood friends, my kids, his dad's 70 years birthday, also the fact that the mother still remembers me despite haven't seen me for the last 20 years!

It has been a pleasure having you Tora, and we look forward to have you around again.

Coffee with Dr Dr Tora last night

This was taken 2 years ago, after another short trip.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Catching up.... Asha is 5 @ 11.1.11

Assalamu 'Alaikum

I had a very long couple of days at work. As I said, new job and I loved every minute of it and the challenges.  It's two days now that I could only leave after 6.

But I am trying my best to keep to my promise (to myself) to get back to writing, or blogging rather.

I am catching up to those missed posts, to start with, my Baby Princess's birthday.  Before going further, let me explain why I am posting 'old' stories:  Well, the Gembo Juniors surf the net everyday and they question their Babah on the static Gembo blog.  They love and enjoy seeing their 'stories' on the web.  Iman surfs on her iPod touch, Asha on daddy's old MacBook and Muhammad on any of the two.

Asha, my Gembo Junior #3, turned 5 about 5 moons ago on a very nice date, 11.1.11.   Apart from sharing with you that she had two parties - one with the family at home and another one with her friends at school, I won't say much and let you enjoy these well preserved photos. 

Ancu Leeja baked these nice cupcakes. They tasted as good as they looked!

And we got this for her birthday at home too... 

That's Baby Princess Asha

Getting her first steps (or rolls rather) with her Kaka Iman and Abang Muhammad

And here's Asha going solo

Now, this is Asha's cake at school. Ice cream cake, mind you.

Teachers made sure Asha's kindy classmates lined up and sang her Happy Birthday 

A proud looking Asha

And a happier smile next to her darling Mummy

Every classmates greeted her, including the prince of the class, Danish 

Now that's the widest smile I'd seen in any of her birthday photos

One of Asha's all time favourite, water/soap bubbles

Asha and her beloved Kaka Iman, with the gifts from her classmates


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Now, that's a long time!

Assalamu 'Alaikum

I have been very quiet on the social networking since the turn of the year.  No posts of my kids' birthday (Aaeeshah on 11.1.11 and Muhammad on 28.5.11), our travels (February shopping, April F1 and June school holidays) or Muhammad's rise to adulthood.

Close friends knew my reasons.  Alhamdulillah the family is all well.

My reasons? Time... or rather the lack of it.

The thing is, I have moved on from the Insurance section where I have been for the last 8 1/2 years to a new job in Safety.  Still with the same Company.  The move had been given the green light in August last year and materialised only in April this year as my successor only joined in March.

Over the turn of the year, I had to ensure all the insurance documents, procedures, manuals, controls and what nots to be in place by the time my successor join us.  By the time she joined, I had practically a month to do the handover.

To make it more challenging, I attended a 2 weeks NEBOSH course (on Safety) with practically zero experience in Safety from mid-March.  I still had to do the handover from 4pm till 7 at night, or 9pm at one point.  Luckily for me this lady is well qualified and knew the stuff well, so handover was a breeze.  Still, in between the handover and the classes the next day I had to do revisions at night and the result came out just last Friday... I passed! Alhamdulillah. With distinction.... Alhamdulillah.  Alhamdulillah. Thanks to my wife for keeping the kids distracted during my course & revisions, and for reassuring me that I'd do well.

So with this... would I return to regular blogging? And update my Twitter & Facebook accounts? I can't promise but it feels good. The writing feels good.  It keeps my mind going and away from work. I can sense that my wife misses my blogs too. She reads.

I still have a lot to do and READ in my new job. I finished reading a 70 page manual whilst waiting for my son's procedure last Tuesday. 3 hours read. Heavy stuff. And there is another Framework paper to be read - all 216 pages of it!

About reading, I've just finished reading Jeffrey Archer's latest book Only Time Will Tell during the recent holiday to KL and the reading felt good. So good that I reread his old book, the Eleventh Commandment and finished in three days. It felt good, and helps with my vocabulary.

Now, the writing felt good. I hope to blog more. Sooner, rather than in another 6 months. InsyaAllah.