Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's time to move on

Happy Maal Hijrah to all...

This morning I was really touched when reading this blog. Pok Ku as he’s always known in the blogging world is very wise man to me. I look up to his postings especially the ones that speak about social and general issues happening in Malaysia as he is really a person of vast experience. I really like his wisdom.

So I am ashamed that I didn’t look up to Maal Hijrah this year. It’s actually today. Now we are in the month of Muharam, year 1427 after the ‘hijrah’ of our prophet Muhammad s.a.w. from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. This is a very important history to Muslims as it marks the new calendar of Islam.

I almost forgot about it all together until to the very last moment last night when my mother reminded me about it. She’s fasting yesterday to welcome Awal Muharram. I feel guilty for celebrating other festivals more than I should at least appreciate and contemplate my own basic root. Well, that will change insyaallah.

Hijrah literally means moving on from one place to another. It also symbolically means moving on from bad/negative/stagnant things to better things ahead. Islam is a religion of moderation in every way but a lot of Muslims misunderstood the meaning of moderation. It’s not that we have to me a moderate society. It’s not that narrow a conception that we will not excel or progress in life. Moderation here is to be reasonable in things that we do that we must try hard for good results with less destruction. That’s what I understand of the meaning of moderation in Islam. Please correct me if I am wrong.

It’s amazing that I have welcomed three New Years; i.e. Gregorian Calendar, Chinese Calendar and Muslim Calendar. I asked my Supervisor Yoge, when is the Indian Calendar for New Year? He laughed it out and obviously he’s not so sure. So my point is, being Malaysian, we should know all these. We must never forget our roots even when we have reached modernity of living and thinking. I like the idea of modernity in our society but how we portray modernity is another thing. We need to mold our society based on our local culture, not necessarily we need to act like the westerns to be called modern.

With knowledge comes understanding
With knowledge comes unity
With knowledge comes prosperity
Then PEACE for everyone

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lucky Dog

I was reminded today not to write anything about the garden or plants because it seems that I wrote too much about it already. It’s getting boring and dull, one good friend commented (you know who you are and happy birthday dear) that it’s not interesting at all. So today following the wise advice of the birthday person, I’m not going to write about plants or the garden for I don’t want anybody to puke when reading my blog.

Anyway, I have to start with wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year; “Gong Xi Fa Chai”. We are now in the year of the Fire Dog. I hope it’s going to be a good year for everyone.

I’ve found a baby bird fallen from a tree today. It seems so special. I named the chick ‘Lucky Dog’ and everybody agreed; they all call it just ‘Dog’ but I call it 'Lucky'. Seems so funny but it makes me happy, so we’ll take care of it for we don’t want it to die. It’s like giving it a new life and life is a cycle. It’s a rebirth and life will continue. It’s very symbolic and it’s CNY. What a wonderful day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Look at that tree

The Tower Tree or Tree-Fern
Schizolobium parahyba

Beautiful Tower Tree at dusk

“Look at this tree”, says the Tour Guide to a group of visitors. That was supposed to be the funniest joke. Only three people will see the sense of laughing over the phrase of “look at this tree”. That is my Senior Tour Guide, Kumar and my Outdoor Supervisor, Yoge.

A month earlier:

“Liza, I don’t know about this fella. He seemed not so sure of himself. He can’t even explain the garden properly to our visitors. A Tour Guide is supposed to make the visitors have interest about the garden with interesting explanation”, says Kumar.

“Oh, I know who the person you meant just now. I’ve encountered the same problem with him a few times that I never wanted to use him if I had important visitors. I was so disappointed because he was so quiet and he didn’t even help me explaining the garden. I was quite new at that time and you can imagine how difficult it was to explain the garden when you are not yet have the full knowledge and this fellow never bothered to fill me in. Kumar I think, you should give him further training. He’s not fluent with the garden yet and he’s very shy”. I told Kumar and he smiled over it while Yoge was surprised that I didn’t inform him earlier. He said he could’ve given me a better Tour Guide for my guests.

“Just now when we had our training session, he kept on asking everyone to take a look at the tree. Many times he kept on repeating the line without further explaining the purpose and lack of explanation makes it so uninteresting. I just don’t know what to say.” Kumar later imitated the line the poor Tour Guide was using during the session, i.e. to look at the tree.

We all cracked into big laughter and the line became so famous among the three of us sometimes we joked about it in the garden. Kumar used it many times. Now it’s his favourite line too. Again yesterday when we were touring the garden, he joked about it to me.

The next tree that I’d like to write about here is the Tower Tree or the Tree-Fern. So everyone… Take a look at those trees :)

Now, isn’t it amazing?

Yes. It is.

It’s majestically very tall and beautiful. The long stems shooting up the sky with single crown or sometimes two or three but it never branched like any other trees. It also looks like fern species because of its leaves. That is why it is also called the Tree-Fern. A combination of a tree and a fern but it is truly a tree. It fascinates me so much because whenever I go to that place where the tree grows, I feel like I am in another era; a dinosaur era to be exact; a time whereby this earth has very limited vegetation and a different one.

The scientific name for Tower Tree is Schizolobium parahyba, native to South America countries. It’s a tree that grows from beans. When it’s started to seed, the bean will fly away; gracefully it will spin down like a helicopter fan. Only good seeds will make perfect spin and be carried away to new terrain. Good wind will carry the spinning seeds to new grounds. That’s how plants like this got scattered around and reproduced. We always demonstrate this spinning seeds to our visitors.

I’ve been thinking of planting this Tower Tree at home (my parents’ of course) but have to think very carefully if it suits the garden. Surely it will look so out of place but I really like that tree. Just look at it. So beautiful and yet so simple a tree. Just like the dinosaur era.

Don’t you think so?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Touch of Red for Lucky Garden

Russelia equisetimosformis (Firecracker Plant)
Tropical America Collection, Taman Botani Putrajaya

Coral red will lend some good cheers to any garden

I had a wonderful time today talking about nothing else but plants and nature. Two of my most senior personnel gathered around for an interesting talk. It was superb!

Fine weather enhances flowers and the recent rain gives vibrant lustre to the leaves. Thank God for that. Every morning is a breath of fresh air. Beginning from walking in the expensive parking lot with marble tiles scattered on it (yes it is true marbles), to the climbing of the special water inspired wave-like staircases (beautiful but dangerous, better watch for your steps) to the panoramic view of the palm trees and colourful foliages lining the undergrowth; the walk to my office is truly a scene to behold. It’s truly something that will calm your restless soul.

To cut it short, what I am trying to say here is that my senses are sharper today than any other day. When my mind started to wander on negative terrains, out of a sudden something beautiful happened to correct it. Small deeds such as a simple hello and a sincere conversation could change the whole thing.

So today, I’ve spent most of my time with two of my senior personnel talking about plants and nature. It really made my day by talking to these two intelligent people. One of them is studying for his MBA majoring in Environmental Management which I considered very cool. Very interesting that he’s willing to share some of his knowledge with me. We talked about fungi and penicillin, carbon dioxide and oxygen and most interestingly the wonder of terrarium (an art of growing plants in glass container - my new interest at the moment) and vivarium (a combination of terrarium and small living things). The other person was busy decorating a terrarium. I got to learn how to do it as well by observing him.

I would love to talk about terrarium later in another posting but for now, I must write something about the Firecracker Plant and The Tower Tree from our Tropical America Collection. I’ve wanted to write about it since the very beginning of seeing it for the first time. These are the two most beautiful and fascinating plants that I’ve personally like. I took lots of photos of these plants because of its uniqueness in beauty and its rarity in our local landscape sceneries.

Russelia equisetiformis has many common names such as the Firecracker Plant, Coral Plant, Coralblow Plant, Fountain Plant and whatever else you could find it in the net. However, its most common name is the Firecracker Plant. Most probably because of its colour which is coral red and tubular shape flower that very much look like firecrackers. Oh! And because when you squeeze the unopened flower, it will make the popping sound. POP! It’s such a fun thing to do. I did that when there’s no one looking (without plucking it – plucking will kill its beauty).

Back to the plant, it does not really produce leaves; instead it has lots of green pendulous branches that make up the whole body of the shrubs. May be that is the reason it is also called the Fountain Plant. It all falls down to earth like weeping shrubs. Firecracker Plant is native to Mexico, South America so it grows healthily in our climate. Those who like exotic plants should have this one at home. You could have it as ornamental shrubs lining the garden or simply treat it as a hanging plant because it falls down nicely. It sure will lend some healthy glow to your surrounding.

I always believe that a good garden should have a combination of colours and textures. It should have a theme or at least compatible plants are chosen for each corner so that with one look, you will be able to tell the sense behind it. It should be able to impress and to sooth with just one glance. It should be able to make you want to look for second glance and hold your eyes to it for awhile in appreciation of its beauty. If not, it’s not a good garden at all.

See the tall trees behind the Firecracker? That one is called the Tree-Fern or Tower Tree. How it never fail to enchant me. I will tell you about it in another posting :)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Romancing Morocco

The Public Zone, Islamic Garden Pavilion

The Semi-public Zone, Islamic Garden Pavilion

The Private Zone, Islamic Garden Pavilion, Taman Botani Putrajaya

When I told my friends of how beautiful the place I'm working at at the moment, not many very convinced about it. They can't even imagine it. So I thought it's part of my job to do something about it. After all I am responsible for this place, therefore I am called to write this posting especially to those of you out there who have never been to Taman Botani Putrajaya.

In order to begin this, let me state here that the tag line of the garden is "it's more than a garden". As time goes by, people will know why we claim ourselves more than a mere garden but for the time being, let me introduce to you the pride of the people in Taman Botani, i.e. the Islamic Garden Pavilion (IGP).

As you will see, the photos above showed a few of the most beautiful angles in the IGP. A very fine and exqusite Morocan architecture brought to life for all to see. It was built in year 2003 to commemorate the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) in Putrajaya, a brilliant idea of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself. No doubt you will be amazed as many of my special visitors did

Islamic Garden Pavilion showcases the Islamic architecture by the
Moorish (a name for the Berber tribes living in Roman Mauretania) of four imperial cities of Morocco. Through the many rooms in the building, one would be enchanted by the beauty of the city of Fez, Rabat, Marrakesh and Meknes.

The Moors are well known for their craftmenship. They have a wide variety of patterns from geometric form to floral design. They have built many buildings of very fine artwork and one of the most famous is the
Lion's Court of Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The Islamic Garden Pavilion of Putrajaya is the almost perfect replica of this famous palace.

A tour to the IGP is conducted by our facilitators that will greet you the moment you entered the IGP gate. The journey begins from the massive gate itself which is called the public zone. Then you will be brought to the middle of the garden which is called the semi-public zone and eventually to the grand gate of the court itself where you will see the exact replica of the Lion's Court of Alhambra (but without the lions because it is not Islamic to put animal figure).

You will be facinated by the interesting stories of the imperial cities, their culture and their history. Every corner and every design signifies something. Even the lanscape and the water fountain featured in the garden have their own reasons and stories behind it.

Okay I will not want to elaborate anymore, you should come here to experience it yourself. We are very low profile because this place is so precious, it does not need too many people coming at the same time. What we have now is only the first phase of a total of 230 acres of garden land to be developed. There is more to be expected in the future and I will write about it soon. You will not be able to find any write up or a website about Taman Botani except from the Putrajaya Corporation website because we are not ready to be advertised in a full scale as Putrajaya itself is not fully developed. It is seriously still under development and we need a huge fund to do it which takes time and great patience. I might not be around to see it in its glorious moment if my fate takes me to other places in life but I surely have given my heart to this place.

I leave you all to think about it. You don't have to go to Spain to see the great artwork of the the Lion's Court because we have it here in Putrajaya.

Morrocco to Malaysia :)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

"Methinks this heart..."

Methinks this heart should rest awhile
So stilly round the evening falls
The veiled sun sheds no parting smile
Nor mirth nor music wakes my Halls

I have sat lonely all the day
Watching the drizzly mist descend
And first conceal the hills in grey
And then along the valleys wend

And I have sat and watched the trees
And the sad flowers how drear they blow
Those flowers were formed to feel the breeze
Wave their light leaves in summer's glow

Yet their lives passed in gloomy woe
And hopeless comes its dark decline
And I lament because I know
That cold departure pictures mine

~Emily Jane Bronte~

I chose this poem because it's just perfect to describe the weather in the garden. Drizzling since morning, raining cats and dogs last night keeping me in the jam for three hours. By the time I was home, my mood was so bad, I don't even have an appetite to eat my dinner.

So today the whole garden seems like in the state of mourning. I don't know. I just don't feel cheerful today. Whom to blame when my spirits are down? Blame it on the weather? I don't know.

These feelings are hard to explain. It reminds me of the Bronte's sisters which is so sad and so melancholic. The poem says it all perfectly.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Malaysia Truly Asia


Recently Malaysia has launched the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 at the Merdeka Square on the 1st January 2006 during the New Year celebration exactly at 12.00 midnight by YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister. Most Malaysian who didn't go out that night, watched it on TV and bare witnessed to it. People like me, of course :)

Okay, now that was the intoduction of what I am going to write here; the Visit Malaysia Year 2007. Why 2007? Well, it's because 2007 will mark 50 years of Malaysia being independant from the British colonial ruling. It will marked 50 years of the democracy and the freedom of Malaysian of different races and creed living in harmony and peace with one another.

The word I want to stress here is PEACE. Why PEACE? Well obviously because our world of late is not living in peace. Countries are at war, trying to proof who is more powerful and sometimes with no reason at all to justify their causes of action (arrogance and greed I presumed). Races are at violent clashes not respecting and understanding one another. Not to mention religion clashes around the world and many more unpleasant things. These all, upset me very much.

Now back to Malaysia, yes, we are an unbelievably peaceful country that tolerated all sorts of people. Does not matter who you are, where you come from and what religion you embrace, Malaysia has no problem with that. It's a free country with certain law that need to be respected, a new melting pot that practices its own unique way of living. We practice tolerance in every way possible without compromising the constitutional law, culture and religion.

How do we become this unique country? Well, we have learned from our history. We've been to the worst of times during the occupation of the British, the Japanese, the Communist rabels, the violent clashes between races and even the clashes of political believes. We've learned all that and we are a better society now taking into account all sensitivities that might arise. We are still learning and we are perfecting ourselves in our learning. After all, learning is a continuous process.

One of my friend blogger has shared this article recently and I would like to share it with my reader as well. It's amazes me to read this article because like my friend said, we don't even realised the situation we have created for ourselves. It all so natural to us. Well, I leave you all to read this article and surely you will be amused by it.

Now back to the slogan that has been used for next year's campaign. We used to say; "To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia". That was very true, like when you want to love a person, you need to be near to that person first then you will learn things about that person and eventually when you get to know that person love will flourish. Get what I mean? Well, never mind. The slogan was used a long time ago to lure tourist to come to Malaysia because Malaysia was not known to the world then. Now we have a new tagline used by Tourism Malaysia Promotional Board, i.e. "Malaysia truly Asia". That's a perfect way to describe Malaysia, isn't it :)

Just hope that you all enjoy my posting.


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My mind says:

  • If it's not you, who else!
  • Love your country. Keep it SAFE & GREEN...