NST: Pahit Manis, The Bad and The Adventurous

PAHIT MANIS: The bad, and the adventurous
2010/09/26
By Ahmad A. Talib

IN the last few weeks, there was nothing but murders and accidents in the news. Really not something one wants to read during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. It makes us wonder if we really care about ourselves, especially when some of the fatalities could have been avoided.

Road accidents, according to the authorities, have declined. The number of deaths on our roads too had dropped. Well, these records are based on the accidents that have been reported to the police. There could have been hundreds more that went unreported, for one reason or another.

With better enforcement procedures and preventive measures — both voluntary and imposed by the relevant agencies — the f atalities could have been reduced. If we expect our road users to practise selfdiscipline and adhere to good driving habits, then we are in for a major disappointment. To me, it’s better to impose heavy fines and even suspend driving licences to teach the guilty culprits a lesson.

The gruesome killings in recent weeks, too, have raised eyebrows.

Have we lost our senses? Have we no more sense of what’s right and wrong? We seem to have complete disregard for the law.

So, against this scenario, I was pleasantly surprised when Hadi, a volunteer with Yayasan Salam, dropped me a line from Belgrade, Serbia. Hadi is riding solo on a kapcai (a small motorcycle) going on a journey of discovery, in more ways than one. He started a few months ago from Sri Pentas in Damansara with London in mind.

Hadi has always been adventurous.

In February last year, I was with him on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

Hadi’s other humanitarian missions include Aceh during the tsunami, Iran, Pakistan and Jogjakarta besides the floods in Johor and elsewhere.

Here’s his story thus far: “Salam. And Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir batin. I’ve been on the road for five months. I’m now on my second set of rear tyres and a new wheel chain. My odometer has clocked almost 20,000km passing through 12 countries alone.

“I’ve lost count how many nights I’ve spent in my tent sleeping under a million stars or bunking in at cheap backpackers lodges. Sometimes, I just sleep on the roof in the open just to cut costs. Food is not a real problem because I survive on bread and cheap street food.

“Most of the time I eat where the locals eat. That’s where I get to experience the real things and the real taste of the local food and hospitality.

That’s what I’ve come for in this trip. And of course not to mention the nice and very helpful people of the Malaysian embassies.

“They were always there to give assistance whenever I needed it. Often I just drop in for a brief courtesy visit. They in return invite me to their home for a meal or a cup of hot coffee, sometimes at a nearby cafe.

“Along the way, I took a break to assist the victims of the Pakistan floods. I spent two weeks there and managed to help send almost 100 tonnes of food to the victims. I did this by volunteering my services to a Karachi-based non-governmental o r g a n i s at i o n .

“I went through different climates too. From the coldest temperature that was below zero in the snowstorm in the Himalayan mountain range to the hottest desert temperature that peaked at 58ºC on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It was quite an experience.

“Oh yes, fuel. The cheapest fuel was in Iran with US40 cents (RM1.20) while the most expensive was in Turkey that burnt a hole in my pocket with US$2.60 a litre! “I’m spending a few nights in Beograd, (the Serbian spelling) before heading to Croatia. As at ever y stop during the trip, I check on my trusted Modenas bike to ensure that I have a roadworthy vehicle with me.

Apart from the bike, I cycle in some places as I roam the city and along the banks of the Danube.

“I’ve met some people from the Malaysian embassy here. For a while, I don’t feel like a complete s t r a n g e r.

“As I get closer to London, I now do battle with the cold. It’s another test for me with the temperature dropping to below 15ºC at some point. The rain along the way makes the trip more challenging.

“Well, Brother Mad, that’s all for now. I’m going out for dinner with some Malaysians. I miss the Hari Raya experience and the ketupat and rendang. But this trip has taught me much about life and people. Wish me luck Bang Mad. All the best..!” Hadi’s trip is also updated in his blog at hadihussien.blogspot.com.

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