Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Postcards From Bapak - Sept 11 2007

These days, people hardly send postcards. People hardly write letters, even. Ask your kid to pen a letter and he/she will probably pull a face before giving you a weird look as though you're not from this planet.

The letters I have been receiving are from the banks, the clubs and the telcos. You have to read them just so you don't overlook any warning that you have been negligent in your payment.

Friends don't write me letters. They send SMSes and emails. Okay, so I know we are living in this century. Sometimes I forget that.
I think I've been revelling too much in the past.

The internet, of course, is amazing, An incredible "invention". Out of this world. It takes us anywhere in an instant.
You get to send emails. Communication across the oceans in real time.
But, you know, I don't like sending emails. I know it is an effective form of communication.
I don't know why but I always sound so impersonal in my emails. And I often seem to want to get it over and done with. I don't enjoy writing emails.
But who writes letters these days, anyway?
Well, I do... just give me a pen and a paper. Ok, ok... just my notebook and I can "write and write". And I will make a print-out of the letter to be put in an envelope, stamped and posted. Very old-fashioned. Very satisfying.

So, postcards? I can count the number I have received from anyone the last five years. Ten years even.
Gone are those days.
I know Rocky sends postcards to friends whenever he is overseas.
The last one I received from him was when he was in Sardinia. That was cool.
I got another from my dear friend, Shamsul Akmar, just after he arrived in the UK late last year.

I make a point of sending postcards to my children whenever I am abroad. The last were from Holland and Pakistan.
Sometimes I don't have to be that faraway to want to send people postcards, like from Penang or Terengganu.
I love the postcards in Sabah and Sarawak.

Postcards give you a sense of being wherever you are. Usually far away.
I suppose in this day and age, we are made to remember that it is a borderless world. Nowhere is too far away.

Bapak used to send us postcards those days when he was a journalist covering overseas assignments in the 60s.

I know I have them stored safely somewhere in my trove of treasures. One day, I will take them out and read them, one by one which really is not hard to do because Bapak wrote simple one-liner or two.

He would send one each to Kak Olin, Kak Eda and I. Sometimes, he'd send to Azah and Kamal too.

When he was in Africa covering the Non-Aligned Movement conferences, we'd get postcards from faraway places.

In big scripts, Bapak would write -- "Olin, Cairo is very historical. Bapak".

Or from Sudan: "Ena, It is hot in Khartoum. Bapak"

Of course, sometimes he'd send to "Olin, Eda & Ena, It is cold in Sarajevo. Beautiful country. Bapak".

Everytime Bapak went abroad, we'd wait anxiously for postcards from him.

I'd rush into the house after school to check for any post card from him.
We'd all be so excited.
And oh! Just to look at the pictures on the postcards!

I remember the postcard from Khartoum. It showed a picture of a woman clad in Sudanese attire with a traditional headwear.
I kept on looking at the picture.
Yes, I remember my young mind thinking -- Bapak is in a strange land far far away.

When I first went overseas (not counting Singapore) and arrived in London in 1979, the first thing I did was to buy postcards to be sent to family and friends.

I think I have not stopped doing that. Like I said, even when I am somewhere not faraway, I'd be thinking about sending a postcard.

But I wonder whether Adel and Shaira have kept the postcards I sent them, as I have kept the ones Bapak sent me.

I have never asked them. I don't think I will.


Mat Salo said...

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (in the form of 1s and 0s - digital-lah!)

Oh Kak Ena, you're such an incurable romantic. Yes, I miss writing letters or postcards too. The last letter ( a personal letter with pen and paper, I mean)I wrote was over ten years ago.

So thrilling kan? I remember during the cinta monyet days of feeling restless each time waiting for the sounds of the postman's motorbike. Such elation, such joy when the letter from a buah hati arrives! Can the feeling ever be the same on the internet? I dunno, but thousands I'm sure have met online and fell in love.

Aiyaah, don't bother asking your kids whether they treasure the postcards you sent. I know it's sad, but those days are long gone. I'm like you kak Ena, I still have tons of shoe boxes. I even keep my parents' love letter fron the fifties...

I got a 6 year old boy. Sometimes when I'm home he'll write or draw something and put in an envelope to give me. So sweet, but he will probably outgrow this.

Me Kak Ena? Give me a pen and paper these days I don't know how to marshall my thoughts and instruct my pea brain to tell my shaky hand to write. These days it seems I can only write with a keyboard... *weep*


mat salo : somehow I always forget that you're way younger than I am!
we like the same music, think the same things....

you are right... i don;t think i can write a letter with a pen now...but i still ove writing letters, though..using my laptop!

shoeboxes....yeah yeah... to keep those treasures.

oh...in my lifetime.. i have written hundreds and hundreds of letters...to penpals, to sisters, parents, to friends and to er..er.. friends.

Mat Salo....those were the days, my friend

Pi Bani said...

Ah, I remember when my late father used to send me my monthly pocket money when I was in boarding school. There'd be one big piece of paper on which he'd just write, "Attached, your pocket money for this month." Then he'd sign off with his looooong signature to penuhkan the page... :)

Business letters aside, I think it's been ages since I wrote any personal letters to family and friends. But I still do send Raya cards whenever rajin so that I won't forget how to write using a pen... ;)

Anonymous said...

Ah, a walk down memory lane with this postcard's post Kak Ena.

The internet and e-mails make the art of writing letters and postcard a dim memory for me now.

However, I love quaint stuff. I keep all of the postcards, birthday cards and every hand written material I received in a box somewhere. Got to find it soon.

When I was studying abroad, Ayah wrote to me using aerogrammes (not sure of the spelling). Do you remember those? I still keep it until now.

See ya later Super Mom (without maid)at MRT

Alliedmartster said...

Aha....something in common then.
Me? I am the same (but not so much in sending postcards I guess, cause If I dod then, shoeboxes wouldn't be enough! I have a collectio of matchboxes form each place that I have been too. Funny thing is I can still remember where it was and how I got it! As for the missus, she did take up this post card sending habit to our girls. Pity that Allyson did not get any.....Danielle and Caitlyn still has theirs in a photo album.
They'll have some story to tell next time....

Anonymous said...

Kak Ena,
Hehehe, you are right, the feeling of waiting and seeing a postman stopping by the house...me and my sisters will rush out of the house to get the mails from him (somehow he prefers to hand the mails to us, instead of putting them in the letter box).

One day in 1975, the postman came, picit horn motorbike non stop because we were not out to get the mails.....as we were busy in the house, the non-stop noise got us running to him. When we stood in front of him, he started to look for our mails from the bundles on the bike for a while... and then announced with a smile..'eh, sorry lah dik, tak da surat hari ni' Hahaha,

Anonymous said...

Dang Ena,

You make feel so very guilty... over all the postcards from wherever I had left unsent.

I'd always get some, with the best of intentions, and then would inadvertently forget all about them till I got home and discovered what was making my handbag heavy as sin.

Yeah, literally! Sin of unwitting disregard. :C


Elly said...

dear nuraina,

wow, as much as I love buying postcards whenever I'm abroad, I'm just too lazy to go to the post office to buy stamps and send them out; teruk kan?

but i do love writing down short notes and sending cards to my close friends or loved ones. normally, i would make it as a surprise, and the gesture is certainly more impactful than sending emails or SMSes:-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting thing about postcards... I once sent postcards of Cambridge to my children when I visited it, thinking that it would 'inspire' them somehow. Guess what? My two daughters and son then didn't really care about Oxbridge, or the London Bridge for that matter... they said they have "seen" enough of Oxbridge "products" who become "penyangak korporat"... and I wonder whether they kept those postcards, may be not... Salam.

Anonymous said...

dear kak ina,
yr post this time reminds me of something i regret. when my girlfriend went island hopping in greece a few years ago, she send me a postcard from each islands. they r beautiful and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling when i received them. somehow, i never get to do the same for her when i was away. i really should put more effort about it next time. cheers.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can say that nobody writes personal letters nowadays.

In the 70's I used to write letters to my brother who live in KL. At that time I was staying with my mum in Segamat, Johor. My brother 'merajuk' and ran away to KL and left our kampung. The only way to communicate was through letters mum made me write because she was illiterate.

I will wait and wait for my brother to reply and read them to my mum. On average I wrote 2 letters a month to my brother and I realize now that helped improve my writing.

Today I hardly write letters anymore. Brother and I live in KL. We call each other every week if both don't have time to meet.

IES Agencies said...

Writing with a pen is so therapeutic. it also helps ideas to come out better formed. i think it has something to do with the speed at which we can write. I am only taking about longhand and not shorthand here.
This is why letters tend to be m,ore beautifully worded than e-mails. the emotions have neough time to brew in your heart before they flow full bodied onto paper

Bailey said...

letters and postcards...they give you some sort of sentimental values.

i always love postcards and letters. but now susahla kak ena. zaman teknologi la katakan. :(

Mior Azhar said...

Kak Ena,
Selamat Menyambut Ramadan. Moga Bertambah Pahala kita yeeer


pi bani : aah yes. hari raya cards and other greeting cards..

but i never get to pen so many words in these cards.

elviza: ooooh yes... 30-cent aerogrammes. i used them to write letters if i have no time to be "luxurious".
i used mostly when i wrote to my penpals.
aeons before the advent of internet where you could meet people online, we had penpals....
it ws THE thing then. you only had to register withthe international friendship society or something like that which was based in norway or finland or sweden, i'm not sure now because you;re talking about the early 60s.

i had a pen pal when i was 8 years old, her name ws elaine howe and her address was 133 (or was it 113, or 33) Lydalls Road, Didcot, berkshire. There, I remember that much. she was also 8 years old and she was brunette and freckle-faced. i remember her one question: is malaysia in argentina?
i google her but there are many elaine howe.
then, in secondary school i had gabriela schonbauer from austria and a handsome blonde teenager, martti rynanen from finland.
in college, Susan M Edwards from Ballarat, Victoria, Australia became a pen-friend. But I got to know her through her brother who was a pal of my brother, Abang Med in Sydney, NSW, Australia.

I think I really enjoyed writing letters. i would regale my pen friends with all the things I was doing, would be doing and so on.
i believe that helped, in a way, improve my English.

Eeeh, panjang, nya bercerita.
(what did I tell you?)

Alliedmarster: You know.,..i am so pleased that so many people remember little things in the past...
I remember yout elling us about your matchboxes. I think that was quite a fad in the 70s...
I bet your daughters would have great stories to tell.

molten cake: i think your postman really suka you all! imagine that!
these days, i hear the postman stops by and i dont even bother.
i guessed as much -- alot of junkmail.

elly: oooh yes... the thing about emails is that you get so many from people you dont even know that it is such a chore just going through them.
not that i don;tlike getting emails from friends or loved ones.
in fact, there have been many pleasant surprises in my emails...from friends with whom i had long lost touch.
Emails are really amazing. But I'm talking about the soft touch here. the romance in writing and communicating which we have almost forgotten about. it is a dying art.

Elly... usually the hotels have got postal services..

dhahran: your children are something else! they really know what's going on...

siti ramona: now, this is a romantic. very incurable.

mikamiki: what a sweet girl she is.
yes, indeed... you should do the same. that will be a pleasant surprise for her.

basree: actually, when you come to think about it....who wants to write letters, except for people like me and some others.
technology is around so that we can do things faster...but because we want that "touch", that sense of closeness and being personal, we tend to crave for those good ole ways.

bailey: that's the thing-lah, kan? dah ada technology to make doing things easier and faster.
it's true.. writing letters can be time-consuming for some people.
i don't think my kids and my nieces and nephews even think of writing letters, except in school for their english and bahasa malaysia classes.

ini really zaman technology.


Mekyam ; hahaa... dont worry, happens to the best of us.

PS: at Kak Ton's mee rebus today, Norzu (of "what's in my head" blog, gave me a postcard, She was in India so the postcard had a picture of the beautiful monument of love - Taj Mahal.



selamat menyambut ramadhan, mior.
salam to Yan and your daughters.

take care..

Anonymous said...


Since reading you yesterday, I have piled on my guilt-trip. Like a masochistic kid unable to stop herself from picking at new scabs, I went menggeledahing and kumpuling old postcards from family and friends who, I guess, had obviously been more thoughtful than I deserved.

Whaddya know, I have one of the Taj too! Another is of the Onion Dome, one of St Sofia, one of a massive red Roo, another from the Lillehammer winter games... there are quite a few brief ones like those from Bapak... all from MEN! ;D

Oh, a big fave of mine is one of a Msian roadside fruit stall sent, of all people, by a German friend visiting our lovely country in 2005 with his family.

I now have a pile to go through. Wish I was doing that with you while we polished Kak Ton's mee rebus and yakked each other's heads dizzy.

Alamak, melalut... before I forget what I came to do, better wish Selamat menyambut Ramadan to you and yours!

P.S. Btw, speaking of handwritten stuffs, I'm some sort of an amateur closeted graphologist. Started it as a hobby yonks ago and became quite serious about it. The skill proved to be a neat party stunt, I tell you. I triumphed over palm-readers every time in terms of sought-afterness.

P.P.S. Have yet to come across a crime novel built around the SMS or the email, in the manner of older whodunnits' use of the erstwhile postcards.

Ayah said...

I went to a local post office here and ask for aerogrammes... the man by the counter looked at me and said, we have not been selling aerogrammes since so long ago....

I forgot to check with lthe post offices in KL before I left... hmmm

mutalib saifuddin said...

hello mdm ena,

as for 'young' man like me, i have only received postcards twice, when a brother departed from KL to KB with MAS in 1997 (standard three then). But it was full of words (and promises).

that was 10 years ago, but not now. Aerogrammes also have been received, each Raya from cousins living abroad, but so far, only once.

as you like writing letters, i have something to share. i can still remember when i read Life & times in NST some years ago featuring Tun Siti Hasmah and MarinaM, and Marina said that telephoning was hard (while living overseas for studies), so she had to write a letter to her mom. Now (at Press date) she insists her daughter to do the same (according to that article).

i think that writing letters is nice. sending postcards is kinda unique and interesting, too..i have some 'foreign' postcards (from mother's), and it's all nice!


Mekyam: Fuyooooh! i can imagine you doing all that...picking those great postcards one by one and looking at each, reminiscing, reflecting.
goodness. what have i made you do!
yes-lah... you having mee rebus at kak ton's and us yakking away. that will be real cool.

no plans to come over for Hari Raya?

okay...when and if and when we get to meet you....you are going to try that graphologist thing on us!

cool. and selamat menyambut puasa!

Unknown said...

Nuraina, I would like to wish you and your family SELAMAT MENYAMBUT RAMADHAN AL MUBARAK.


Ayah: Where is "local", Ayah?
i went to your blog but could not locate any info on where you are. Maybe i overlooked it.

Actually, I only go to the post office to buy stamps, to be used to mail my cheques for bill payments. My friends think I am such a dinosaur.
"Why don't you use Maybank2u?", they asked me.
Well, when I was still working and paying bills took too much time, I did use maybank2u. then i resigned last year. something was wrong with my ATM card and I had to get a new one. so my maybank2u was disabled. i never renewed it.
now that i do have time, i feel that i can afford to take a drive, park my car, walk to the designated office, queue up and pay my bills. besides i get to see the "world" around me. haha... i know i know...

as for aerogrammes. i think i'll ask the next time i am at the post office.

thanks for visiting, ayah.


mutalib: the world of postcards and writing letters seem to be unfamiliar territory to so many young people.

but it's nice to know that a young person like you have had experience of having received something from somewhat of a bygone era and is able to relate to the subject.

thanks for visiting, mutalib!

Anonymous said...

Kak Ena,

When I was away in the UK, the one thing that I looked forward to was news from home. E-mails were unheard of then and phone calls were too expensive. Bapak and mak's weekly aerogrammes were typewritten and used to be numbered to state the sequence of the aerogrammes. And knowing our family, tehre would be a lot of news to convey and the numbering could go up to 5 or 6. It was a real bonus to get aerogrammes from both of them at the same time, as they would have their own versions of the same incident. My housemates used to say, 'bestnya, apa your parents tulis eh, banyak betul aerogramme'. I still keep them - in a shoe box in my dresser.


yesterday, at our Tuesday mee rebus at Kak Ton's, Kak Ton told me that when she was in the US in 1973/74, Bapak wrote long long letters to her.. she looked forward to his letters. Mak also wrote to her.

When I was in the US, Bapak was in detention. But Mak used to write, telling me about how you and NIna were getting along.


Kata Tak Nak: Thank You and to you too -- have a blessed ramadan!

Anonymous said...

Sis Ena

Ah … postcards from Sarawak. What a delightful memory. My Ayah (now arwah) would bring home various postcards when he came back from “operasi” in the interior of Sarawak (I think those back of beyond and communist-infested places) and other handicrafts as souvenirs. The postcards show the indigenous people in their traditional costumes, with headgears and beads and …. We, the pre-pubescent kids, would then organized our own sports events , drawing contests, maths quiz, cari harta karun, etc and these souvenirs including postcards were the prize attraction. I remember on one occasion, one of my friends who received the Sarawak postcards as prizes told me that her mum was not amused, and asked him to koyak or bakulsampah them. The postcards depict topless Dayak girls. They all are, don’t they? But we were all pre-pubescent and belum sunat lagi. That’s OK kan. I bet National Geographic magazines also published them, and these educational magazines are on the shelves of our primary school libraries.

In this blessed month of Ramadan, May Allah the Almighty make our Iman stronger. May HE forgive all our sins, short comings and mistakes. May HE fulfill all our desires. May HE safeguard us from all calamities and troubles. Ameen.

aMiR in Kubang Pasu


salam aMiR,

my deepest condolence on the passing of your mum-in-law. Hope everyone is ok. I know it is hard, especially for yr wife.
Al Fatihah.

thank you for finding time to visit Jalan Sudin & TWB.

aMiR, that is a delightful story. I know the postcards that you're talking about.
Oh dear...actually yr friend's mum takut kot kot the postcard would fall into the wrong hands!

Take care, aMiR...have a blessed Ramadhan!

This comment has been removed by the author.
Rockybru said...

Hey Ena!

Sardinia was a while ago! I did send you a postcard from Pulau Bintan when I was there end-July, didn't you get it? Bintan is "abroad", you know, even though its roads are paved by Singapore tar and lined by Singapore road signs (and the menus are quoted in Sing dollar).

I still send postcards to Ahirine whenever I travel abroad. It's a way of getting her to share the places I've been. Sometimes, however, a postcard would arrive days after I've reached home. Which was fun, too.

zaitgha said...


Quite late in saying what I thought about TWB this week...the net is playing hide and seek with me and also the frequent visit i do to the hospital to see my dad in law.

Postcard writing was never my thing but i did used a lot of aerogrammes when i was in the States...my dad wrote long letters too...but to bad now i do not write either ones.. however i make sure i send Raya cards handwritten to my frens and love ones...

Selamat Berpuasa.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Pn Nuraina,

The last postcard I received was over a year ago from a galpal in Miami with ‘wish you were here’ written on it. and I thought, yeah, right. If only I have a postcard with a picture of scantily-clad gorgeous lady on it, I’d write back with the words ‘wish you were her’. But I doubt I’ll find such cards here.

I think postcards are still cool. With today’s technology, postcards maintain its sentimental edge to it, which is priceless.

Omotees said...

If you love postcards, you'll love Natinski's collection.


Oh, selamat berpuasa!


ahirudin (rocky):
oooh....of course. Yes.. i got that one from pulau bintan.

that would be something when ahirine gets a postcard from you after you're home.

Zai: aerogrammes were what we used when writing letters those days.
i have not touched an aerogramme in 10 years or more....
and selamat berpuasa to you too.

Kerp: don't think you an find such postcards, kerp.

suzie: thanks.will check the website.

eva's haven said...

have a wonderful Ramadan!


Eva: Thank you.

BaitiBadarudin said...

Selamat mengharungi ramadan al-mubarak pada sdr sekeluarga

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