回家吃榴莲

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流连摊

流连摊

飞往槟城的那一夜,地面上刮起了强劲的风,飞机尝试降落好几次都不成功,机身强烈的晃动,最后一次尝试降落,飞机即将接触地面的那一刹那,我以为再也见不到槟城老家了。

飞机折返吉隆坡,待风停后再把乘客送往槟城。在槟城等待接机的爸爸显然不知道空中发生了什么事,很兴奋的告诉我他已经在外头等我们了。我只好说:“爸,夜深了,也不知道下一趟机几点才能到达槟城,你们先回去吧。”

爸和妈每次听到我回家都回很兴奋。尤其是每年的这个季节,即榴莲季节,也是我的生日。最近几年都兴致勃勃地吵着爸要吃榴莲。很多时候朋友们都不明白为什么我一定要回槟城吃榴莲,甚至还有人不知道槟城盛产榴莲。

飞机凌晨两点终于在槟城降落,爸和妈急急开车来接我回家。回到家已累到不成人形,休息一会儿又要赶早上茶楼,上茶楼喝茶也是回家的例行公事,我每次都回跟姐姐们说,陪两老上茶楼,志不在吃,乃在陪。

早晨天气凉凉的,爸开着他的老爷车走在亚依淡朝浮罗山背的路上。宛延的山路,一座座的榴莲山从车外晃过。时间还早,榴莲摊都还没开,好不容易看到了一档批发兼零售的榴莲摊,一问之下有红虾和葫芦,也就是此行我们志在必吃的榴莲品种。槟城美味的顶级榴莲,就在路边的榴莲摊吃到了。爸看我吃榴莲吃得开心,只吃了那么一两颗就停手了。妈也舍不得吃,眼睛直盯着榴莲看。我和朋友对望了一眼,吃了一个大概,就推说吃不下,让妈吃。

这里真好,到处充满人情味

爸妈在浮罗山背附近一个叫公巴(Teluk Kumbar)的小镇上交了30年的书,在这一带走动时常都会碰到自己的学生。开榴莲摊的、管榴莲山的、经营海鲜餐厅的,这些学生也都已经是五六十岁的阿伯阿婶了。爸爸兴致勃勃的走走停停,看到熟悉的榴莲摊就停下来聊天。谈到兴致,就说要上学生的榴莲山。我一夜没睡好,说真的要上山的意愿并不高,但是看到爸和妈兴高彩烈的样子,也不好扫他们的兴。

10年前上过的榴莲山,10后还是老样子。山路边的榴莲树依然伫立在那儿。不同的只是,爸和妈都老了,无法走上去,我们是开着车子上山的。爸爸的学生看到爸爸,高兴得不得了,采了好大一篮子比苹果还大的水蓊和两个尖不辣(cempedak)坚持要送给爸爸。只可惜榴莲已经送下山去卖了,吃不到。随行的朋友说,啊,这里真好,到处充满人情味。的确,在吉隆坡居住了这么多年,我还是会想念槟城的人情味。

车子满载着充满人情味的水果,下山了。爸爸说明年还要再来,我心里想:爸爸啊,我明年一定会回家吃榴莲的。只希望那时候你们还能够载着我,一起去吃榴莲。

文:裴拉(吉隆坡),刊登于星洲日报副刊

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Landing room only: Owl ambushed by his playful brother in the Colorado desert

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Dropping in: The playful bird perched on his brother's head as wildlife photographer Rob Palmer took the amazing shots in the Colorado desert

Dropping in: The playful bird perched on his brother's head as wildlife photographer Rob Palmer took the amazing shots in the Colorado desert

This is the moment a playful owlet pounces on his baby brother to give him a friendly kiss on the cheek.

Spotting the perfect moment to surprise his unwitting sibling, the crafty six-week-old creature swooped in, talons outstretched, in the display of affection.

Caught completely unawares, his brother is almost bowled over backwards by the playful ambush.

The heartwarming antics of these two burrowing owls was captured by wildlife photographer Rob Palmer.

The 57-year-old was on the look out for burrowing owl dens when he came across these two, part of a brood of six.

As their name suggests, this species of owl nests underground in burrows that have been abandoned by animals like prairie dogs and badgers.

Mr Palmer, from Littleton, Colorado, USA, said: ‘I spend a lot of time looking for burrowing owl dens, which are fairly common where ever you can find a prairie dog colony.

He's behind you: In another frame the cheeky burrowing owl creeps up behind his sibling

He's behind you: In another frame the cheeky burrowing owl creeps up behind his sibling

‘There were six owlets in this brood and they would play in the early morning.

‘I managed to get about 30 feet from them to take the pictures and, after a while, they had no problem with me being there. They were very tolerant of my presence.

‘These two are just having fun so neither got hurt.’

The burrowing owl grows to around 10 inches in length and has a wingspan of 21 inches.

Brotherly love: But in a tender moment that seems almost human, the owlet appears to nuzzle up to his sibling

Brotherly love: But in a tender moment that seems almost human, the owlet appears to nuzzle up to his sibling

The small, long-legged species is found is usually found in the dry, open areas of North and South America.

Unlike their nocturnal relatives, these owls tend to be at their most active during day-light hours.

They hunt for food from dusk to dawn, their diet consists mainly of insects and small rodents.

They are preyed on by badgers, coyotes and snakes as well as cats and dogs.

The burrowing owl lives for around nine years in the wild but can survive for more than ten in captivity.

[source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1305395/Playful-owlets-caught-camera-having-hoot-time.html]
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[News] Kenyan officials seize 2 tons of ivory, rhinoceros horns destined for Malaysia at Nairobi airport

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Wildlife officers seized 2 tons of elephant ivory and five rhino horns at Kenya's main airport that were to be illegally shipped to Malaysia

Wildlife officers seized 2 tons of elephant ivory and five rhino horns at Kenya's main airport that were to be illegally shipped to Malaysia

NAIROBI, Kenya — Wildlife officers seized 2 tons of elephant ivory and five rhino horns at Kenya’s main airport that were to be illegally shipped to Malaysia, an official said Tuesday.

Paul Udoto, a spokesman with the Kenya wildlife Service, said sniffer dogs from the KWS inspection unit, based at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, detected the tusks. They were concealed in wooden boxes being transported with avocados and destined for Malaysia.

Two people have been arrested, he said.

Udoto said the 317 pieces of elephant tusk are believed to have been acquired after the deaths of 150 elephants. He estimated that it took 20 years to amass the collection and said it is unlikely the elephants were killed for the tusks but, rather, that someone collected them from elephants that had died naturally.

Udoto said three of rhino horns had transmitters in them, meaning they were being tracked by wildlife officials.

Airports in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa have emerged as the three main airports through which to smuggle African ivory to Asia, where it is a collector’s item.

Early last month authorities in Thailand netted 1,683 pounds that were flown from Kenya. In May, Vietnamese authorities discovered nearly 2 tons of elephant tusks illegally imported from Kenya hidden in dried seaweed. The shipment was bound for China.

According to wildlife officials, elephant poaching has risen seven-fold in Kenya since a one-time ivory sale was approved in 2007 by CITES — the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species — for four African countries. Last year 271 Kenyan elephants were killed by poachers, compared with 37 in 2007.

CITES banned the sale of ivory in 1989 after poaching devastated the African elephant population from 1.3 million in 1979 to about 600,000 in 1989.

[source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/08/kenyan-officials-seize-two-tons-of-ivory-rhinoceros-horns-destined-for-malaysia-at-nairobi-airport.html]
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Ghost Festival: procession at the cemetery

By | Beautiful Melaka, Photography | 4 Comments
from left: Kok-Liang and Wee-Peng with their shirt stamped with the names of Da Er Ye Bo (大二爷伯), blessed and waiting for the procession to begin

from left: Kok-Liang and Wee-Peng with their shirt stamped with the names of Da Er Ye Bo (大二爷伯), blessed and waiting for the procession to begin

The seventh lunar month is regarded as the ‘ghost month’ (鬼月), which is the traditional Chinese festival celebrated by the Chinese in many countries during the 30 days. In this month, the gates of the nether world are opened up and ghosts are free to roam the earth where they seek food and entertainment. Chinese would perform rituals and prayers to their deceased relatives, offer food and drink and burn hell bank notes and other forms of joss paper. Mass rituals and prayers are also held in temples or Chinese neighborhood and in some case, Chinese opera, dramas, and even burlesque shows are performed to the deceased ones as an act of ‘merry-making’.

Every year fall on the 13th of the ghost month, Chinese temple – Di Fang Fu (地方府) located at the Jelotong cemetery in Batu Berendam, Melaka, holds a grand celebration. It is the temple where Chinese worships to the Deities “Da Er Ye Bo” (大二爷伯) and “San Ye Bo” (三爷伯), who are the Deities from the nether world. There will be a 1.5 km procession around the Jelotong cemetery with devotees carrying a black and a white palanquin, ferrying Da Er Ye Bo. It is believed that ones who participate in the procession would be blessed by the Deities and be in good fortune.

Chinese lantern on the main building with the name of Di Fang Fu temple and the names of the three Deities

Chinese lantern on the main building with the name of Di Fang Fu temple and the names of the three Deities

The late night on the 13th of the seventh lunar month (22th of July this year), Wee-Peng and I together with Kok-Liang and his younger brother visited to the Chinese temple, Di Fang Fu (地方府) located at the Jelotong cemetery in Batu Berendam, Melaka. Kok-Liang and Wee-Peng had been taking part in the procession for years and brought me there for the first time. According to Kok-Liang, the temple was established in the 80s and first housed in a shed-like structure. Years ago, it was then moved to a bigger building, a shorter distance away in the same area. Today, the temple stands a majestically view with all wall bricks and granite, mural design in and around the whole temple premises. It is a beautifully constructed new place of worship amidst a greenery landscape overlooking thousands of Chinese graves on the hillside of Jelotong.

The temple was already crowded with devotees when we arrived. Not long after that, we met Murphy and Desmond who being the volunteers in helping the event. They had been taking part in this celebration for years and this would be the first time to help as volunteers. We would first have to pay respect to the Deities by offering joss-sticks before we queued up to receive blessing from the medium of Da Ye Bo (大爷伯). The line was long and we waited for about an hour to receive blessing which said to be a must in order to walk across the cemetery.

the medium of Da Ye Bo (with tall hat) giving blessing to the kneed devotees

the medium of Da Ye Bo (with tall hat) giving blessing to the kneed devotees

Years ago, the mediums of Da Er Ye Bo (Da regards as elder where Er regards second, and Ye Bo means lord), the two Deities would give blessing to the devotees for the procession. This year however, Da Ye Bo was the only one who gave blessing. Before I continue on the event, let me share one of legends of Da Er Ye Bo which I found and translated from Chinese:

A very long time ago, in the southern province of China, there lived two inseperable friends by the name of Xie Bi-An (谢必安) and Fan Wu-Jiu (范无救), who then became sworn brothers. They had great mastery of martial arts and worked as the loyal magistrate constables (policemen nowadays), serving warrents and hauling in criminals for judgement, but never harming honest folks.

medium of Da Ye Bo (Xie Bi-An) giving blessing and cleansing to the devotees. The words '一见大吉' (one glimpse, great felicity) can be seen on his hat

medium of Da Ye Bo (Xie Bi-An) giving blessing and cleansing to the devotees. The words '一见大吉' (one glimpse, great felicity) can be seen on his hat

Once during a prisoner transfer, they lost the prisoner. So they decided to split up to search for the prisoner and Xie told Fan to meet up under the South Platform Bridge. Soon after they went seperately, they were caught in a torrential rain, and great curtains of water beat down upon them.

Fan arrived at the bridge first and waited for Xie. The water level rose higher and higher. Fan had given his word that he would wait for Xie therefore he remained where he was. Eventually Fan was swept by a great of water and drowned. Later when Xie arrived at the bridge and found Fan’s dead body, he was overcome with gried, and in remorse he hanged himself to death from the tree where Fan’s body was found.

The extraordinary affection and loyalty that Fan had for Xie (so much that he was drowned rather than leaving the place where he had promised to wait), and that Xie had for Fan (so much that he hanged himself rather than go on living without his sworn brother), much moved the King of Nether World, who had them appointed as his assistants, where they continue to work together to protect the people from bandits and other bad elements.

Today, Xie Bi-An is known as Da Ye Bo, who is recognized by his chalky white skin and his long tongue, and by his tall stature, made taller yet by a high white hat bearing the words, “one glimpse, great felicity” (一见大吉), where Fan Wu-Jiu is known as Er Ye Bo and is easily recognized by his short stature and dark red or black skin and by the little plaque he carries reading “Good and Evil Clearly Differentiated” (善恶分明).

The medium who possessed by Da Ye Bo was giving blessing and cleansing to the devotees. It was our turn after a long queue. We kneed with our back facing the medium while he gave us blessing. While waiting for the rest of the devotees to receive blessing, I met Kenn-Wai. What a coincident! I was so happy to see him that I could learn something from him while Kenn-Wai also showed a happy smile after seeing me with my camera. He did not carry his camera to the procession and felt deeply regretted. We then started to have discussion of taking shots in low light condition and put our experience into action.

It was about 2:00 a.m. in the morning when thousands of devotees had received blessing from the medium, Da Ye Bo. The statues of Da Ye Bo and Er Ye Bo were then placed on the the two palanquins respectively, one was in black and the other was in white. Before the procession began, strict instruction was given that everyone was advised not to talk nor look back when walking across the cemetery. It was somehow to show respect to the spirits of the cemetery. Everyone would then have to walk with bare foot and holding the lighted joss-sticks, following the medium of Da Ye Bo and the two palanquins on the lead.

joss sticks

joss sticks

The procession began with the cheering of the devotees and fireworks setting off, heading towards the cemetery not far away from the temple. The noise was then reduced to minimum soon after we started. It was dark with such minimal light in the sky from the moon and everyone could barely see the path. It was a pain to walk in the dark and on the stony ground of the cemetery. Although it was quiet during the procession, I could hear people complaining about the pain of their feet. Of course there was a truck following the march to pick up those who could not continue the walk.

The 1.5 km path leads back to the temple, making a big turn across the cemetery hill. My friends and I were at the back of the march and we arrived at the temple after 30-45 minutes walk later than many people. Before we arrived we could hear people started cheering and fireworks were set off again for the celebration to the completion of the procession. Though I could not make it in time to witness, Kenn-Wai later described to me how the medium of Da Er Bo was thanked and ‘sent’ back to the other world after finishing the procession. Stacks of joss papers and papier-mâché items were then burnt as thanksgiving to the Deities. The celebration ended in a real peaceful and joyful environment.

joss papers and papier-mâché items were burnt as an offering to the Deities

joss papers and papier-mâché items were burnt as an offering to the Deities

I really enjoyed to witness and would like to thank Kok-Liang and Wee-Peng for bringing me to participate in this grand celebration. And thanks to Kenn-Wai for sharing his shots and experience of photography with me. We had fun snapping the event together. May all beings be happy.

Shots Kenn-Wai and I took:

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Armless Pianist Liu Wei Defies Odds On ‘China’s Got Talent’

By | Compassion | 2 Comments
Liu Wei playing the piano with his toes (photo from http://english.cri.cn/)

Liu Wei playing the piano with his toes (photo from http://english.cri.cn/)

Heartening tales of overcoming adversity are typical fodder on “Got Talent” and other reality shows, but the shocking saga of “China’s Got Talent” contestant Liu Wei makes this season’s batch of “America’s Got Talent” sob stories look like the pampered brats on VH1’s “You’re Cut Off.” And this is a true sob story–seriously, if you watch the video below and don’t get at least a little bit misty-eyed, you clearly have no soul.

Liu, now 23 years old, lost both of his arms in a freak accident when he was 10, after he touched an electrified wire while playing hide-and-seek. However, these tragic circumstances did not stop Liu from pursuing his dream of becoming a pianist–teaching himself how to play with his feet at age 18, after one piano teacher told him he would never succeed. And it turns out, Liu has more talent in one of his pinky toes than most four-limbed piano players have in both of their hands.

“For people like me, there were only two options. One was to abandon all dreams, which would lead to a quick, hopeless death. The other was to struggle without arms to live an outstanding life,” Liu explained to the judges on “China’s Got Talent.” Thankfully, Liu chose the latter option.

Watch Liu’s perfect performance of “Mariage D’amour” below, and make sure to have some tissues nearby:

[source: http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/realityrocks/385927/armless-pianist-liu-wei-defies-odds-on-chinas-got-talent/]
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I’m poor but happy, says lotto girl who blew £2million on flash cars, breast implants and drugs

By | Compassion, Wisdom | 2 Comments
cheque-out: Shopworker Callie Rogers's big win in year 2003 (photo from www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/)

cheque-out: Shopworker Callie Rogers's big win in year 2003 (photo from www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/)

When Callie Rogers won almost £2million on the lottery aged 16, she hoped it would help her put her troubles behind her.

The teenager came from a broken home, had dropped out of school and was living in local authority care.

But instead she became addicted to drugs and attempted suicide three times as her life unravelled.

She says the money brought her only misery – and now she is down to her last £100,000, she has never been happier.

Now 22, she said: ‘Just a few months ago I was taking too many drugs and hated myself.

‘I simply did not want to live any more.

‘But now I have a new man and am finally becoming the woman I want to be.

‘And it’s only after I’ve spent most of my fortune that this has finally happened.’

Miss Rogers, from Cockermouth, Cumbria, won £1.9million on the National Lottery in 2003.

She went on a massive spending spree, splashing out on four homes for her family, flash cars, designer clothes, partying and breast implants.

A fortnight after her win she met unemployed Nicky Lawson, 29.

They have a five-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter.

But during their relationship she spent £250,000 on cocaine.

She suffered depression and tried to take her life, the final time earlier this year after losing custody of her children because of her mental state.

She told Closer magazine, in which she poses nude with only banknotes to preserve her modesty, that she was determined to win them back.

‘I’ve made an appointment to see a doctor as I need help to deal with my depression,’ she said.

‘I need to get my act together and make my kids proud, and for the first time I really do think that’s possible.’

She credits her new boyfriend with giving her the stable home life she has always craved, and she now hopes to go to college and eventually become a counsellor.

‘After all I’ve endured, I think I have a lot of advice to offer,’ she said.

[source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1303665/Lotto-girl-Callie-Rogers-blew-2m-flash-cars-breast-implants-drugs.html?ito=feeds-newsxml]
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