New Year Celebrations

(The first post for the year although it is 3 days late)

Ironically 2006 ended with “korban” and 2007 started with “korban” (korban = a Malay word for slaughter / sacrifice).

Whilst the Muslims in Malaysia (and all over the world) celebrated the Hari Raya Korban and proceeded with the annual “korban” of cows, goats and in some cases camels, the Iraq government proceeded with the “korban” of their former President, Saddam Hussein. Death was quick and painless it seems.

Then on the first day of the first month of 2007, another type of korban was executed – the toll concessionaires started to collect the increased toll charges. Perhaps this is why the lady at the toll booth could not stop smiling. Smiling at the fools who were paying out the RM1.60 unhappily and yet year in year out, do not fail to elect the same government who seem to put the interest of certain individuals and large corporations very much ahead of the ordinary people. The New Year indeed started on the wrong footing.

The New Year celebration this year was not meant to be done on a grand scale. All prices have gone up and yet the government actions and policies are not helping much to stem it. So, for this year, we had to contend with spending the new year at home, watching the “same old” movies over at ASTRO. One of my uncles was celebrating his birthday on New Year and since his son was going away to India to continue his study (he was on a 2 weeks break), they decided to have a small New Year gathering. The gathering was although on a small scale than usual, it had the usual “ingredients” namely beer, briyani rice, mutton curry, satay and not forgetting, fireworks.

(The New Year cake – after been blown by the birthday boy and is ready to be eaten. After a handful of satay and beer, eating a large portion of cake was testing the limits)

Whilst the guys were on the outside with a can of beer in their hands, the ladies were inside the house busy with the food, gossips and live TV shows. My uncles remarked that due to Hari Raya Korban celebrations, getting enough satay for this year was a tough one – there was only one shop opened and the queue was long. When he arrived there, there were already about 58 people lining up for the satay. Since the waiting was long, he did the next practical thing – to go for beer with couple of his friends. However I must say that the wait for the satay was worth it – the satay was sweet and meat was tender – it went well with the beer.

(The demolition “experts” laying out the firecrackers – note the beer can on one of the expert’s hands. Somehow I had this bad feeling when they lay it out close to my car but luckily I had a can of beer to calm myself down)

The younger cousins of mine tried to spur up the atmosphere by firing up some small firecrackers. It had the sound and sparkles but it did not really have the “bang” to welcome the coming of the New Year. That is when one of my cousins remembered that they have “stockpiled” the long Chinese firecrackers 3 years and have not used them. When my cousin mentioned “3 years”, the question that was raised immediately was whether the firecracker was still safe to be fired. Three years is one long years to be keeping firecrackers without any mishaps.

However, after drinking couple cans of beer, most of us got a bit brave and decided to ahead with the firing of the firecrackers.

So, it was decided there and then that the 2007 is to be welcomed by firing up that firecracker. At about 11.50 pm, the long red firecracker was lined up for the stroke of midnight. At 12.00 am sharp, it was fired up. The noise caused the neighbors to wake up and watched us in anger. One of the houses’ alarm went off, much to the irritation of the neighbor who have been rudely waken up by the earlier firecracker sound. When I told this to my cousins, they just shrugged it off by saying that they had a good excuse – New Year celebrations!

(Let it rock! The sound was enough to wake the neighborhood. Surprisingly it went up well for a 3 year old firecracker but I don’t think the neighbors agreed the same – they must have thought a bomb had went off for New Year)

We probably stayed there until 12.45 am before decided to call it a day and head back home.

2007 was welcomed with a bang but the question remains is that how much we are going to “korban” for the country for rest of the year.

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