Monday, 29 April 2013

Dog meat? No way!

Hachikō, was an Akita dog born on a farm near the city of Ōdate, Akita Prefecture, remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even many years after his owner's death.

Have you ever wondered why some meat are considered as taboo while others are not? I believe that the culture we are born into and the role played by the animals in our lives has always been the deciding factor.

I would like to talk about dog meat and why most of us do not consume it. Not that I have eaten it. I also do not wish to eat it.

Some of you, or most of you who reads this post perhaps share the same cultural perception as me. There must be reasons for why certain things are taboo in our culture. 

If you can eat goat, why not dog? It is a four legged animal too.

Man's best friend.
The answer is very simple. Dogs are considered as man's best friend. They can work for you, cuddle with you, be your companion and above all, protect you whenever needed. These qualities are not seen in other animals. That is why dogs are even accepted as the symbol of loyalty itself.

A dog will risk its own life to protect you and your family. Chickens don't do this :p

Kabang, a small family dog, is being credited with saving two children from a dangerous collision when she threw herself into the path of a speeding motorcycle that was about to hit them in Zamboanga City, Philippines

There are many who eat dogs. The Bataks of Indonesia eat them. They even have a dish made of dog meat. It is called as Saksang.

Those who eat dog meat do not value it for its other qualities. They see it as food. In Indian society, such people are classified as Chandala. There is also a common saying in Tamil "Ada paavi Chandala" which literally translates as "You sinner Chandala".

The word Chandala carried a different meaning during ancient times.

But for most of us, dogs will remain as our best friends and we certainly value its characteristics more than its meat. Therefore, we have no heart to eat them.


Mayir Pudunggeriya? (Plucking your hair?)

(This is based on oral history and not written evidence)

The Tamil language has many foul words. Some of these words were not foul in origin. One classic example will be the word mayir. Mayir is hair in Tamil. The other word for hair is Mudi. 

Mayir is often pronounced with an extended 'u' as mayiru.

"Mayir pudunggeriya?" is a common phrase used especially when someone is angry. It is used on people believed to be useless, procrastinators, lazy. If someone uses it on you, then he is trying to tell you that you are good for nothing, in a very harsh way.

What's the origin of this phrase?

In ancient times, Tamil Nadu was under the influence of Jainism. The Jain religion has many extreme practices. The monks are usually nude and hairless. They do not shave their hair. They remove the hair by plucking it out.

These Jain monks are usually jobless. They do not work to earn a living like most people do. It was common for the other working Tamils to see these Jain monks plucking their hair daily. 

For some, what the monks did was useless. They don't work and spend time plucking hairs.

These people would have then sarcastically asked the monks "Mayir pudunggeriya?". Even now, when someone is angry for an unfinished assignment, they may ask "Ennada, velai seyama mayir pudungganiya?" (Were you plucking hair instead of working?)

Jainism is no longer a major religion in Tamil Nadu. There are not much monks left. No more sights of people pudunggeraning their mayir.

But the phrase got stuck till today!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Turkey Trip 2013 - Part 2

I will recommend Novotel for their service. It is indeed a good place to stay although it is about 15 minutes drive from the town. The Black Sea is just opposite the hotel. It is not surprising that the seafood served was very fresh and good. They also had other varieties for breakfast.

Potato, Salmon, Sardine, Turkish cheeze, chicken slices, sausages and turkey ham.

Turkish omelet

Turkish pastries
I did not take much pictures of the hotel with my camera phone. My battery was dead at that time. The second picture below was taken from Google.


Unlike here in Malaysia, the people of Turkey drive on the right side of the road. The same is done in Bulgaria. That means the driver seat is on the left.

We actually visited the Istanbul town on the day we arrived, Saturday. My camera battery was dead and I could not take much pictures. We visited the town again on Sunday, right after our breakfast. This time I clicked as much as I could. Some of the pictures which you see here will be a mix of Saturday and Sunday shots.

This is Simit. It is a type of circular bread. More like crunchy donuts. There are different types of Simit. It is very popular in Turkey and Greece. You can find it almost everywhere. According to archival sources, it has been produced in Turkey since 1525.

A butcher shop.

More bread

The Turks are very proud of their heritage. Well, they were once the most powerful Islamic Empire ever to exist. Feared by many European kings. Anyone with such heritage will surely have some sense of national pride in them. This is why, the Turks do all they can to preserve the old structures in the country.

One of the best way to know a country and its people is by walking on the streets and trying out street food. Walk where the locals walk, eat what the locals eat.

Sant'Antonio di Padova, alternatively known as S. Antonio di Padova, St. Antoine or St. Antuan, is the largest cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul. It is located on Istiklal Avenue in the Beyoglu district.

Pope Giovanni XXIII (John XXIII, 1958-1963) preached in this church for 10 years, when he was the Vatican's Ambassador to Turkey before being elected as Pope. He is known in Turkey with the nickname "The Turkish Pope" because of his fluent Turkish and his often expressed love for Turkey and the city of Istanbul.

Both me and Max stepped into the church, light up candles and prayed in silence.

This was not my first time in a church or chapel. I prayed silently in the chapel in Assunta Hospital back when I was 5. I was admitted in the hospital and I could not walk to the nearest temple across the street (the Sithi Vinayagar Temple) to pray. So I just walked into the chapel, did my prayers, flipped through the Bible although I did not understand a single thing and walked out.

Although Turkey is a Muslim majority country, the old churches are well preserved there. Wait till I write more about this in the next post. I need to show you guys something. Something about religious tolerance, Turkish style!

To be continued.....

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Stone worshippers? Said who?

I recently wrote a simple response to Zulkifli Nordin's remarks on Hindus. It was an open response, therefore I chose to make it public. It went viral.

Over 800 comments.

All in just 3 days. I definitely did not expect it to go viral especially when I have a mere 365 friends in Facebook, 40% being my relatives.

I did not want to make a detailed explanation on Hinduism or even Islam in my response to Zulkifli. I think it was unnecessary. I am not conducting any religious classes in Facebook. But I believe that a straightforward response was needed.

Here is what I said:

For as much as people will agree with me, there will be some who disagrees. I respect your right to disagree but I do not accept your accusation about me because it is baseless. Let's take a look at some of the feedbacks.

#1. Sharmalan Thevar claims Muslim worships stones.
This comment is from those who did not even bother to read what I wrote. Here is what I actually wrote:

(During Haaj, the Muslims go around the Kaabah, kiss the stone and bow towards its direction. By doing this, it does not mean the Muslims worship the stone. It simply means it is used as a focus point by Muslims worldwide.)

Anyone who read that would have understood the message. I just said you do not worship the stone, Hajar Aswad. 


#2. The sacred black stone is not our focus point. We pray in the direction of the Kaaba.
If I made any error in my claims, then I do not mind being corrected by my Muslim brothers and sisters. But let me tell you why I said the following:

(Similarly, the Muslims too worship in the direction of a sacred stone in Kaabah. You pray in that direction everyday.)

Muslims worship according to Kiblat. The original Kiblat was pointing towards Jerusalem. It was later changed to Kaaba after a revelation by God to Muhammad. 

The Kaaba is believed to be the renovated first temple originally built by Adam. The temple was lost during Noah's flood. Abraham rediscovered the temple and the sacred black stone, Hajar Aswad. He then ordered his son, Ishmael to renovate the temple. 

This renovated version of the original first temple became the Kaaba we know today. 

According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba was built on the same spot where the Hajar Aswad fell from heaven. This makes the Kaaba's spot, and the Hajar Aswad's spot, literally the same.

Where the stone fell, is where the temple was built. 
Where the temple is located is your Kiblat. 
Where the Kiblat points, you pray.

#3. The stone is not sacred for us. It is just a stone.

During Haaj, there is a ritual called the Tawaf. The Muslims will walk 7 times around the Kaaba. The starting point is the Hajar Aswad. As they walk around, they will point towards the Hajar Aswad. After each round, they will kiss and embrace the stone. Some bow in front of the stone.

During Muhammad's time, the clan leaders had an argument about who should place the Hajar Aswad back to its position after it was misplaced. Muhammad being a wise man, placed the Hajar Aswad in a cloth and asked the clan leaders to lift it by holding the corners of the cloth. They brought the stone back to Kaaba and Muhammad himself placed it back. 

There were even battles fought between the Qarmatians and the Abassids for this one stone. Nobody fights over a stone if that stone is not important for them. They will not go to the extend of killing, robbing and asking for ransom from their own people to return the stone. 

This clearly shows that the black stone is sacred in Islamic tradition.Ordinary stones don't get this privilege.

#4. We will climb the Kaaba and even step on it when we clean it or change the cloth. You Hindus do not do that.

The Muslims climb the Kaaba and will step on it when they have to change the cloth. It is after all, a large structure. But no Muslim steps on the Hajar Aswad. They treat the Hajar Aswad with reverence. Similarly, Hindus do not step on the Sivalingam. But they will climb and step on the temples to clean and paint it.

Here is my point brothers and sisters,

You use objects in your religion. 
We use objects in our religion.
You do not worship these objects. 
We too do not worship these objects.

But for the layman, what you do in Mecca and what we do in our temples, will look the same. They will not understand the cup and water story which I told. For them, it does not matter whether it is the Hajar Aswad or Sivalingam. Both are stones. It can be from the sky or from the bottom of the sea. A stone is always a stone.

This is why I said, people like Zulkifli should think before calling others as stone worshipers. Because ordinary people can turn around and say the same thing to the Muslims.

Now, having explained my statement, let's ponder about your anger towards me for uploading the pictures. Some of you complained about the picture I posted in Facebook. It is very unfair to shoot me down for showing these pictures.

First of all, I did not accuse you of anything. I did not insult your religion.

Secondly, the pictures show what the Muslims do during Haaj. There are hundreds of pictures like these in the internet. Try to Google. It is not that hard.

It was the Muslims who uploaded the pictures in Google, 
It was the Muslims who took the pictures during Haaj,
It was the the Muslims who posed in the pictures,

Why blame me for it? Especially when I made it crystal clear that Muslims do not worship the Hajar Aswad.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Turkey Trip 2013 - Part 1

This is what comes to most people's mind when the word Turkey is mentioned.
My paid vacation to Turkey was actually an accident. Both me and my colleague, Max Tan, were supposed to fly to Sofia (Bulgaria) via Istanbul. We had to be there for 2 weeks. It was for work purpose.

Our flight to Istanbul on 02-02-2013 was delayed by a couple of hours. Because of this, our transit flight to Sofia had to be delayed by a day. Therefore, we had to spend our weekend in Turkey.

MAS took the blame and paid for it.
We took took it as a blessing :)

The national flag of Turkey

Map of Turkey

Istanbul is 8000 km away from KLIA. The total flight time was approx 11.5 hours. I spent my journey watching movies, sleeping, eating, watching movies, sleeping, walking. I peeked outside the window a couple of times.

I started imagining 'What if the plane crashes and I get stranded in the sea?'. I started to think about Vasuge and the rest at home. Then I told myself 'Nah, I am meant to have an adventure'.

Let's have a short introduction on Turkey.

Turkey connects Europe and Asia. It is where East meets West.This is where Troy was located. Turkey was once an Islamic power under the Ottoman Empire. They participated in Crusades, won many battles, conquered many nations. Their influence went to as far as South India.

Some of my ancestors would have died fighting the Turks. The district of Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu is famous for Halva. A sweet dish. This dish was brought by the Turks.

Turkey is about 783,562 kmwith a population of around 76 million. The majority speaks Turkish as mother tongue. About 12% are Kurdish, some Arabic is spoken too. Although it is a Muslim majority country, Turkey is a secular country with no official religion.

I think this was taken above Iran

Sunrise during flight
First look at Turkey just before landing.
The temperature was around 7 degree Celsius when we landed. It was morning over there. The airport representative arranged for our accommodation at Novotel. Having informed my wife that I have safely landed, both me and Max headed to Novotel.

The airport
On our way to the hotel
The Black Sea

Monday, 8 April 2013

Bali Trip 2011 - Part 4

This is the final post on our Bali vacation. I will start by first displaying some pictures of the hotel we stayed in.

Kuan Yin

Kuta Beach
This beach is famous as a sunset beach in Bali. It wasn't very clean when we arrived. There were some trashes.

Bebek - Deep Fried Duck
One of Bali's famous dish is their deep fried duck. Trust me, it was good. But I still prefer the roast duck prepared by our local Chinese hawkers.

The restaurant was located in a village. This is just a few meters from where our table was.

A funeral procession.
The Royal Temple of Mengwi is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, this impressive complex stands on an island in a river, its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name Pura Taman Ayun literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’.

Tanah Lot
This was our final destination. Perhaps the most famous place in Bali. This temple is dedicated to Siva. The water level rises turning the temple into an island during high tide. During such time, the temple can only be accessed by boat.

The great Nirarta.

Holy water coming from natural sources. Although the temple is surrounded by sea , this is fresh water.


We left the next morning. It was time to say goodbye to our good tour guides. For those of you who wish to take taxi in Bali, only use BlueBird. It is said to be the most reliable one.