Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kerapatan Waris & Hari Keluarga BERKAT

The Rasah Clan

Last sunday 28 December 2008 happened to be the last day of Hijri 1429 and it was an auspicious day for BERKAT - Rasah, because the planned " Kerapatan Waris & Hari Keluarga BERKAT " finally materialised, Alhamdulillah.

It was significant in the sense that it was the third large gathering of the descendants of Tuanku Tambusai ever to take place. The fortunate part is that although the day before an announcement was made of the passing away of the state ruler and the hall which we were going to hold the function bore his name, there was no cancellation. Luckily the ownership of the Golf Resort has changed hands and the new team just took over the management of the Resort just two months before.

Although I had a discussion with other members of our organising committee at the venue on that saturday afternoon, little did we expect surprises, but as the saying goes, if something were to happen , it will and when we arrived on that sunday morning we found the place to be in a mess. The night before the venue hosted a function and somehow the management got the wrong facts about the timing of our function. Nevertheless since we pressed for quick action, the mess was quickly cleared up and our function started half an hour after it's scheduled time.

Since we had expected that the latecomers would still be streaming in after the scheduled opening of the function, which only involved the family members, and the only outsiders were the invited reciter of the Al-Quran and Prof. Abdullah Zakaria Ghazali from University Malaya, we somehow were spared any embarassment.

The function went on fairly smoothly after the late start of about half an hour, beginning with the recitation of the Al- Quran by Ustaz Abdullah Omar and he followed it with the Doa. My welcome speech took about ten minutes or at most about thirteen, and then followed by the talk by the good Professor. His talk was quite revealing as he had been to Rokan Hulu and visited the Benteng 7 Lapis, so he knew what he was talking about. Since he's a Professor of History, he gave a good interesting account of Tuanku Tambusai. The session was chaired by my brother Dr Mohd. Hazim Shah who was instrumental in getting him to come for the talk.

After the slide presentation and the endorsementof the new line-up of the Ahli Lembaga Waris Rasah, we had a photography session and lunch. So ended the auspicious day which had been planned well in advance and with no less than four meetings which started on the 10 August 2008.

The central focus of BERKAT's effort for the 3rd term would be the encouragement of more younger generation people to be involved and later lead the organisation. As it is now the transition is taking place where half of the new line-up consists of new faces, and it takes into consideration two additional posts which is provided for under the amended provision in the Undang Undang Tubuh of BERKAT. I wish them all the best for the future!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Riau Diary (4)

I have been procrastinating in following up my Riau diary not because of anything but got caught up with the preparation of BERKAT's "Kerapatan Waris & Hari Keluarga" which will be on this weekend 28 December 2008, InshaALLAH. Of course it's not the nitty gritty things that I am worried about, but I am rallying as many members of our large Tuanku Tambusai's descendants which originated from the "Rumpun Rasah" to attend. The younger generation who are internet savvy can be approached via their e-group in the Facebook, but for the older generation, it's by snail mail of course.

Our recent trip to Riau was an eye-opener in sorts, because we have heard from our fathers or mothers about Tok Ungku and his heroic fights with the Dutch and the missionary zeal which he carried out in various parts of Sumatra in spreading Islam was legendary. So when we heard the accounts from our Tambusai friends in Riau, it just confirmed those stories which were handed down by word of mouth. The welcome which again was unplanned and entirely at the initiative of the Rokan Hulu Dept of Culture and Tourism was a touching one. A group of well dressed schollchildren awaited us and as we arrived, they sang their National Anthem and other songs in our honour and we never expected such a welcome.

Ibu Yurikawati, Ketua Dinas Dep Kebudayaan & Pelancongan in Rokan Hulu is an absolutely wonderful host and thanks for her leadership, as well as Pak Syamsurizal and others. We cannot find the words to express our gratitude for your hospitality and welcome. It's hoped that such cordial relations with BERKAT would continue.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Riau Diary (3)

For this third instalment of my Riau diary, I had consulted my sifu, Tengku Ali Bustaman (see his blog Dibawah Rang Ikan Kering) as to how to upload photos, so here I am.

Our second day in Rokan Hulu started by checking out of the Inn after a simple breakfast of nasi goreng and bread with tea or coffee and the tour bus left at just about 0800 hrs towards Daludalu which was about 33 kilometres from Pasir Pangarayan. The road trip this time was pleasent as there were few gaping holes. We did not see anyone standing in the middle of the road putting out their arms for donations to be handed into their baskets. We only came across a good number of these volunteers when we were on the road from Pekanbaru to Pasir Pangarayan the day before. After about three quarter of an hour, we turned off the road just before the bus stopped at the archway as shown in the photo, where the words " Benteng Tujuh Lapis" was written. Somehow nobody bothered to repair the torn bits of khat on the fascia of the " Pintu Gerbang". As we got off the bus some villagers, presumably the local self appointed guides began to show us the way which was quite obvious as the road is metalled. Invariably the area where the " Fort " was once proudly standing as the mute testimony of the heroic defence by Tuanku Tambusai's soldiers have been "invaded" by the villagers who built their houses since it's fall in 1838.

As we walked towards the further end of the Benteng along the metalled road, we realised that the whole place could have been settled by the local population after it fell to the Dutch since it was a good 170 years ago where the materials used for the Fort were namely earth, water and bamboo ( a special hardy type called aur berduri where the stalks of the bamboo leaves have thorns sprouting at the base of the leaves ). Today one could hardly see where the traces of the Benteng 7 Lapis are because of erosion. The Dept of Culture and Tourism of Rokan Hulu has been given the task of looking after the place as it had been declared as a heritage site under their local laws.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Riau Diary (2)

As promised, I am continuing my diary on the experience of Riau trip on the second day of our stay which fell on a monday 24 November 2008. The night before, all on the trip were briefed to be ready by 7.00 a.m. to check-out of the hotel, leaving the heavy luggage for safekeeping because we would be checking in again on the next day 25 November perhaps by late evening. We were told that depending on the traffic,the average time to reach our destination would take about four to five hours. Uncle Dol could not share the room with me for the first night stay in Ibis Hotel because Hishmy, his eldest son who came together with him, had a running fever, so he stayed with them ( his other son Husni Zhaeem also came ) because he's concerned that he must get well before we start on the journey to Rokan Hulu. The distance from Pekanbaru to Pasir Pangarayan, the capital of Kabupaten Rokan Hulu, is about 252 kilometres and the road is metalled though riddled with crater like holes in certain stretches of the way. I came down for breakfast before anyone else and made sure I had ample time to attend to nature's call after my fill. It's always my habit to keep my bowel movement as near normal as possible even when I am away from home. It's a cardinal sin for me if I don't empty my bowels every day. I suppose it's a good habit to keep if you look forward to a healthy life apart from eating a balanced meal. A few minutes later other members of my group also came to the coffee house for breakfast, and they brought with them their luggage. I had made arrangements to bring my two pieces of luggage one a sling bag and the other a cabin-bag to Rokan Hulu, since I had no time to sort out which to bring and to leave behind. Right on the dot, the tour guide was already at the lobby a few minutes before 7.00 am and I hastened the rest to get ready and board the bus. We left the hotel a few minutes after 7.00 am and since I set the example to be punctual, the rest had to tag along without further ado. As expected, the morning rush hour saw a lot of traffic in Pekanbaru, but our tour guide knew how to keep the group entertained. Ronaldi, a Padang man knew his job well and we all liked him. Somehow even though I had forewarned Normah who's assigned as the tour leader that we might have to make a good number of pit-stops as most of us do not fall within the below half a century in age, surprisingly did not make the call after several hours. We might have been so engrossed in looking at the scenery as we pass along many places en-route to Rokan Hulu which is dotted by villages and towns like Bangkinang and others which reminded me as if we were travelling to Kuantan from KL on the old road, because we crossed a few large rivers, as big as Sungai Pahang and Sungai Kelantan. It was almost about four hours later that I decided to ask the tour guide to find a pit-stop because my bladder was almost feeling like bursting.Unfortunately the place chosen was not a presentable facility and only in desperation would one could release the bladder. But we stopped longer than necessary because there was a shop selling the SIM cards of Indonesian telephone carriers which seemed to be cheap enough for short term use while in Sumatra to call home. A few of our members only found that it did not work on their phones after making the purchase, much later. I refused to buy because I did not have much faith in their telcos, which I had read when Maxis decided to pull-out their joint venture in Indonesia sometime ago. We continued the journey to Pasir Pangarayan and when we arrived at about noon time, the bus driver could not locate the lodging house where we were supposed to check-in. I gave Ronaldi the phone number of my contact in Pasir Pangarayan and he asked for instructions. However, since he figured that it was quite difficult to locate the place, he asked for the person whom I named to wait at a spot along the main road of the town to guide us. So finally we followed a man on a motorcycle to the so-called "Rokan Permai" hotel, which was more like a motel. A group of smartly uniformed personnel from the Department of Culture and Tourism of Rokan Hulu were waiting for us at the " Hotel" and received us in warm welcome. We introduced ourselves and I spoke to Drs. Syamsurizal, the "Sekretaris" of the Dept in Rokan Hulu and also Tahirman Tambusai, the man who guided the driver to our accommodation.I was given the room on the same level as the front entrance and the rest were shown theirs behind. I had a brief conversation while at the lounge and showed Syamsurizal our family-tree chart from Tuanku Tambusai to the fourth generation and also handed him the CD on Makam Tuanku Tambusai which I brought along for record of our host, the Dept of Culture and Tourism while in Rokan Hulu ( ROHUL for short). In the confusion of leaving the " Penginapan Rokan Permai" I was left behind as everyone left in cars and the tour bus. My group thought I was in the same vehicle as Syamsurizal, but actually I went to the restroom before they left without me. So the innkeeper commented that " Komandernya ditinggalkan oleh anak buahnya!" when I requested him to send me after the tour bus. I managed to catch up as the group realised that I was left behind. It was really a funny situation. But at the "Rumah Makan Ayu" we had a tremendously tasty spread of Rokan Hulu dishes. Drs. Syamsurizal gave an elaborate account of Tuanku Tambusai's heroic deeds in Sumatra alongside Imam Bonjol and Tuanku Rao, and everyone was mesmerised by his fluent account of the past history where our "moyang" was an important player in resisting the colonial Dutch forces who were bent in subjugating the indigenous population from the north to the southern tip of Sumatra. After the sumptuous lunch, we headed back to the inn, and rested after performing our solat jamak and qasar till the next programme to Pawan Hot Springs about 7 or 8 kilometres from the Inn. One of the officials from the Dept of Culture and Tourism accompanied us on the bus to Pawan Hot Springs. We stopped by the roadside stalls in Pasir Pangarayan to buy durians and duku to bring to the hot springs. We were met again by the officials from the Dept of Culture and Tourism at the site and this time Ibu Yurika, the Kepala Dinas ( Head of Dept ) was there to greet us. She's such a graceful lady that I thought I had known her for a long time, and she told my group that she's a Tambusai person, and she said to Normah that one of the characteristic is " Gampang emosinya, tapi hati baik" and in fact Bapak Syamsurizal and many others from her Dept.are also from Kecamatan Tambusai. We had a feast of durians and dukus to the extent that it was more like a picnic because there's a clear stream passing through the hot springs and the water is crystal clear. I told her that we were much indebted to her because the treatment and the welcome from her dept officials is normally accorded to "Official Visitors" and not to a private group like us. We ended the picnic by evening and were back at the Inn by maghrib prayer time. For dinner we went to a place specialising in " Ikan Bakar " about 3kilometres from the Inn and we found it truly special because the " Rumah Makan Sasmita " is perched in the midst of several pools where the fish are bred. Our group really enjoyed the " Ikan Bakar " dinner and as we travelled back to the Inn, we were told that we had to go and ' Putar- Putar ' first as the electrical supply is being restored after a blackout. As we were already exhausted after the day's travel and the picnic at the hot springs, we just could not wait any longer to hit the sack. Cousin Ani was one of those who wanted to return to Pekanbaru as soon as possible, but after a tiring day she too was convinced that the Rokan Hulu trip would await us with better prospect of success. The group were again asked to have an early breakfast so that we would check out by 7.00 am. It was another memorable day in Riau which we could never have expected it's outcome and we were pleasently surprised with such an interesting reception. The next instalment would be an account of the visit to Daludalu where the Benteng 7 Lapis is situated and the prime reason of our trip to Riau. See you then folks!