Monday, 8 June 2009

In the Queue

For many years now i have tried to avoid traveling on the roads during school holidays and festive seasons...even managed to keep out of the way on long weekends. But my niece Lina and her brother Epo were getting married, one after another, a week apart...been too busy to actually be of much help with the preparation so wanted to really be there for the off we went on friday morning, early for Mona's munchkins, ten forty seven to be exact.

The trip up was not bad at all...may be because we started very late by morning travelers' standards and much too early to be joined by the afternoon travelers. But it was a good drive, the munchkins were in high spirits, sitting with me in the back, snacking and looking at trucks and buses. After a few times of "Are we there yet?" they resigned themselves to singing with Yusuf Islam until nap time.. Took a break at Temerloh. There was a small queue at the Ladies' but it was OK, not a long wait. Even the makan was OK. It was a relaxing stop except for the gulai telur incident where i had my rice swimming in a 'bucketful' of kuah with half an egg... It was too hot and too soon after lunch to stop at our family favourite...Aziz Satar. There were too many people with too few seats, despite the we tapau some satar and otak-otak and told Encik Aziz we'd be back for more on the way back to KL...

Before long it was Teluk Bidara and Rantau Abang...and then we arrived at my kampung halaman .... queing only twice, at the traffic lights in Batu Buruk and Mengadang Akar...the ever busy places in KT.

Our kampung house had been transformed for the driveway, coat of paint on the walls inside and out, new curtains, the pelamin and the bilik pengantin! i had not been back in the house since Toktok passed away...just as well that everything was so different...cheerful greetings from the long queue of nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews soothed away the sudden pang of longing for Toktok's smile.

D-day began with a mini havoc of what time everything was to take place... Epo's menyambut menantu, Lina's akad nikah and the big kenduri...who will go to the masjid terapung...who will stay at home to welcome early guests...?

At the mosque, there was a long queue of couples to be married and their entourages but we were well ahead. As soon as the Kursus Haji ended, Lina was escorted in and Ayah Jak started the whole process. Everything went so smoothly and then it was time to go home for the kenduri and meet the guests...Lina and E'i in green while Epo and Ani in pink.

It was an extremely hot and sunny day. Most guests did not linger because each had as many as ten invitations for the same time. Later in the day, guests came and went without partaking the nasi minyak because ours was their sixth house, or seventh. Someone said the queue on the Jambattang was really long, it took 2 whole hours to get from Gong Badak to Bukit Besar....

Sunday! and it was time to go back to KL. The munchkins weren't happy as too little time had been spent at the beach; but their Mama must work on monday. Goodbyes all around and a promise of raya in KT, then off we went; much later than planned, as expected!

Traffic was heavy even as we set out. Long queues at the keropok stalls; but knowing too many folks are eagerly awaiting fresh keropok from KT, we braced ourselves and waited our turn. The bonnet begged for mercy when at last we stowed our purchase; just a tiny space left for the other compulsory items, otak-otak and satar.
We got to Warung Aziz Satar just after 2pm, too many people and too long a queue. Persuaded that our order would be filled in half an hour, we waited and ate some laksam and sotong gct (goreng celup tepung) ehem, fried calamari. An hour later, a disappointment. Simply not enough satar for everybody! so we took whatever was available and went on our way again. Alas, our man at the wheel took a wrong turn and we joined the highway after having made it pretty close to Sungai Lembing!

By the time we got to Lanchang a jam had formed; the 2-lane highway reduced to a one-lane track; stone-faced people were making 3 lanes out of 2, a guy in a Merc giving them the finger but why bother, Malaysia Boleh!

The munchkins were getting restless and showing some attitude despite being bribed with lollipops and inundated with coke!
No more stops for us; at every one of them there were too many people in the q's, just have to hold the p's!

A whole hour or so later the road was fairly clear, but not for long. As soon as we came out of the Genting Sempah tunnel it was a crawl again. There was a festive mood somehow, at every rest stop and all along the road both ways. We joined the crowd, snaking our way downhill, all the way to the DUKE highway and home....a long, long journey of ten hours!