Monday, February 28, 2011

Abdullah Zawawi Md Nor

Abdullah Zawawi Md Nor stood in the centre
to his right, Shuhaimi Mat and to his left Mohd Rashid Isa
all three of them are part of the local organisng comittee
of the STAROBA 69 60th Reunion this coming May in Kota Baru, Kelantan...
the picture above was posted on our batch's facebook group
and someone commented what a great crop of black hair
Abdullah still had.......

Sunday 27th February 2011

It brought out much sadness when pakdokter received an SMS this morning from fellow STAROBA 69 batchmate, Samat Moain, that one of pakdokter's fellow batch-mate in STAR passed away today. Abdullah Zawawi Md Nor, from Kelantan, joined STAR, together with pakdokter in 1964. He reportedly succumbed to cancer of the liver.

In pakdokter's memory, Abdullah was a very quiet but hardworking boy. Pakdokter remembers him as always coming to class every Sunday morning after the hostel inspection, to do our homework or revise our lessons. The two of us were usually the earliest to go to the classroom of the Remove Class A which was located at the top floor of the main school block. Pakdokter suffered terrible homesickness and would look over the window across the field into the horizon, imagining pakdokter could view pakdokter's family back home. ( pakdokter had intimated about this recollection in some of pakdokter's earlier posts in this blog- look up the blog-post on Monday, July 19, 2010). And pakdokter, at times, were choked with the emotions of 'homesickness'. If pakdokter's memory is correct, Abdullah had shared similar feelings and had appeared to pakdokter to be also infected by pakdokter and became overcomed by his own feelings.

If only pakdokter had the chance to verify this fact with Abdullah at our planned 60th year Reunion this coming May in Kelantan, for which Abdullah was recently roped in by his Kelantan colleagues into the organising comittee.

Pakdokter never really got to know him well but he was a constant quiet hardworker. Again, if pakdokter's memory is right, he went on to finish 6th Form and entered the University of Malaya? to pursue a Science degree. What he did after that, pakdokter had the faintest of an idea.

We both went our seperate ways, caught up with our own lives. But to pakdokter, Abdullah remained that classmate during Form Remove A in 1964 who shared pakdokter's agony of greatly missing pakdokter's family.

To Abdullah's family, this is a record of pakdokter's condolence. May his soul rest in peace.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Fruitful Sunday....

Sunday, 27th February 2011

Pakdokter woke up early for the usual Sunday morning game at the RSGC with the 'young men' of the club. 11 golfers had signed up for the weekend game which was played on the New Course as the Old Course was closed for the 2nd round of the Club Championship.

Pakdokter's flight consisted of Amran ( handicap 18), Redza Tan Sri Abu Talib ( handicap 18) and Syed Izuan ( handicap 24). Pakdokter also played to handicap 24. ( the Sunday group's rule is highest handicap allowed is 24 - for the record, pakdokter's club handicap is 29 and Syed Izuan 26)

We decided to play a partnership match between pakdokter and Amran against Redza and Syed Izuan. At the same time we also played individual matches against each other except between the partners.

Starting from the 1st Nine Syed Izuan took the 1st hole to go 1-up using his handicap advantage. Pakdokter helped keep it at that by squaring the 2nd hole but lost out to go 2 down when Syed Izuan 'birdied' the index hole par-5 3rd! By the 7th hole the Redza-Syed pair was 3 up after Redza birdied the 5th and Syed scored a par at the 7th. With game over for the 1st Nine, Syed took the 8th (with a par) only to be cancelled out by pakdokter's par at the 9th.

The Redza-Syed pair went into the 2nd Nine with a 3-ball lead and great confidence! But pakdokter's game finally came in with two consecutive pars on the 10th and 11th with Amran taking the 12th to give us a 3-up lead. After a square at the 13th pakdokter took the 14th with another par to go 4-up with 4 to go!

Although Redza got a par for the 15th, pakdokter's bogey squared it due to the stroke advantage. We went on to square the 16th and 18th and pakdokter took the final hole to give pakdokter's pair a win of 8 balls.

Pakdokter's score for the day was 51/46.

In the individual matches against Redza and Syed, pakdokter collected from them too by virtue of the good 2nd Nine which cancelled out their 1st Nine winnings.

Now for the 2nd round of he Tom Morris Cup on Wednesday...

For the group's Sunday ''pool" money, Azman Noorani, who came home from Zurich for a short business meeting here took all when he came home with a score of -3 ( handicap 18?). He must be getting good golf training in Switzerland. He also won the last time he was home in early January.

Hosting pakRoslan at RSGC...

Saturday, 26th February 2011

The much overdue invitation to pakRoslan to play at the RSGC finally took place. TgAzman applied for the permission to bring in our 'guest' a week in advance and the clearence finally came in on Wednesday.

TgAzman invited pakdokter and TgMuzaffar to complete the flight. pakTgAzman, since his return to golf the two months ago ( after a 2 month break due to a shoulder injury) had been having a good run - boasting that he had been beating his brother, TgMuzaffar, in the last 16 consecutive games. In his last game with pakdokter some 2 or 3 weeks ago, he also gave pakdokter a good thrashing!

So naturally, he was looking very 'radiant' and walking about with confident strides even before the game......

PakRoslan ( who was Staroba's Golf Captain for many years and currently Staroba Chef-de-Mission of all the Overseas Tours) played to a handicap of 12. He generously gave pakTgAzman a stroke in all the holes except the par-3s! And the offer was also extended to pakdokter which pakdokter accepted somewhat 'embarrasingly..........."

pakTgMuzaffar gave his brother and pakdokter 5 strokes each. ( for the record - pakdokter's official club handicap was 29! and pakTgAzman was 27 while pakTgMuzaffar was 22. And pakTgAzman held pakdokter to ransom that we had renewed our agreement 2 years ago to play scratch in all our games for the whole year...)

We played at the Old Course (the New Course was closed for the 1st Round of the Club Championship). Azman started off badly ( must be too excited to win..!) and lost to all the rest at the 1st. He squared pakdokter on the 2nd, squared again at the 3rd, lost the 4th to remain square but consecutively won the 5th , 6th and 7th to go dommie-2 at the 7th.. Pakdokter took back the last 2 holes to square the match and win the dommie and walked into the 2nd Nine with 1 ball in hand.

In the 2nd Nine, pakdokter was still 'square' with pakAzman at the 14th hole but took the 15th,
squared the 16th to remain 1-up and clinched the game with a par at the 17th. Despite throwing away the 18th with a score of 9! ( after sending the ball into water from the tee..) pakdokter still came home with 5 balls from pakAzman.

Pakdokter's 2nd Nine also came back well against pakRoslan and he reduced his damage by doubling up at the last hole after pakdokter had won the match. But the winning was from getting 14-strokes from pakRoslan..........( this kind of victory tak bolih kira sangat lah....)

PakMuzaffar's game has come back. He finally broke his 'jinx' and won against his brother at the 17th run. But Muzaffar has yet to be at his best......

Anyway, the main 'sponsor' for the day turned out to be our gracious host - pakAzman....

Thank you, Azman......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vaclav Havel : To The Castle and Back...

Vaclav Havel

Born on the 5th October 1936, Vaclav Havel is a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician. He was the last (10th) President of Czechoslovakia (1989- 1992) and the first President of the Czech Republic ( 1993-2003)

From 1960 his works focussed on the politics of Czechoslovakia. After the Prague Spring of 1968 ( invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw pact armies led by Soviet Russia) he became more active in his political writings and in 1977 became involved in Charter 77, a human rights-civil society group. For these activities, he was put in prison for several times.

The 1989 "Velvet Revolution" - ( a bloodless mass protest started by students followed by the general population - very much like what happened in Tunisia and Egypt recently) - launched Vaclav Havel into becoming the President which led Czechoslovakia into a multiparty democracy from Communist Totalitarianism.

The Politics of Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia was ruled for many years by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia with its totalitarian rule allowing no opposition at all. In January 1968, Alexander Dubcek came into power and started a reform program of decentralisation of administrative authority etc which was not liked by the Soviet leaders who led a Warsaw Pact army to invade and occupy Czechoslovakia. The invasion saw a non-violent protest by students but no military resistance from the army of Czechoslovakia. ( One student carried out a protest suicide - quite like what happened in Tunisia recently ). This invasion which took place in the spring of 1968 became well known as the " Prague Spring". It inspired works in music and literature and propelled names like Vaclav Havel, Karel Husa, Karel Kryc and Milan Kundera into the limelight.

The 'Velvet Revolution' took place in 1989. A peaceful student street protest was dealt with by the police with harsh means which triggered a massive non-violent uprising of the general population. Sensing a strong generalised mood against it, the Communist government gave in to the public and relinquished power. Vaclav Havel was made President and Alexander Dubcek became the Speaker of Parliament. This revolution saw the beginning of a multiparty democracy in Czechoslovakia.

To the Castle and Back

This is Vaclav Havel's memoirs. Pakdokter picked it up at the book-store in Prague last month. It was an 'easy and interesting' reading especially if one has in mind the history and politics of Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Havel wrote his thoughts and feelings on the many topics about politics and the people in politics in his country. His observation of the places he visited and the people he met up with were also jotted down. He also included all the many 'little notes' he made during the years as President - he is either a very meticulous person or he could be someone troubled by forgetfulness. There were hints in the book that he may be suffering from a ' depressive illness' ( this is the psychiatrist in pakdokter at work) - well, many an artistic person do suffer from mood disorder - and that he enjoys his drinks maybe too much at times.

This 'Memoir' opens up a lot into Vaclav Havel, the person.

Pakdokter hopes Dr M will complete his 'memoir' soon....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tom Morris Cup....winning the first round

The "Tom Morris" tournament is an annual event which had been held at the RSGC for many many years. It is a knock-out partnership matchplay event.
Checking out the wikipedia, Tom Morris is the father of 'professional golf' and was responsible for the redevelopment of the St Andrew's Course. He died at the age of 87!
Pakdokter had played in this event for the past two years. In the first year, pakdokter partnered Hyder Ali and lost out in the third round to the pair of A Aziz Dat and Chua Seng Yong. Last year pakdokter partnered pakTgAzman and was demolished in the first round ( by the pair of Tg Muzaffar and Tg Farith who went on to win the Cup.)

This year pakdokter chose pakZahardin as pakdokter's partner. ( The talk was that pakdokter has divorced pakTgAzman.......)
Our team was drawn to play Aziz Dat and Chua Seng Yong in the first round. This pair was the runner-up two years ago when they beat pakdokter and Hyder Ali in the 3rd round.
Pakdokter played to the handicap of 24 and Zahardin was 20. Aziz played at 14 and Chua at 16. So both pakdokter and Zahardin had many strokes from them.
We started from Hole 10 of the Old Course. Pakdokter started well, managing to keep the game square in the first 2 holes taking advantage of the strokes over the handicap difference against Aziz. Chua took the 3rd and Aziz the 4th to go 2-up before Zahardin came in at the 5th to reduce the deficit to 1-up. We lost the 6th to Chua to go 2-down but pakdokter took the 7th to go back to 1-down. We lost the 8th but squared the 9th to finish the 1st Nine at 2-down.
In the 2nd Nine beginning at hole-1 of the Old Course, pakdokter managed to square the 1st and 2nd holes to keep it at 2-down. We gave away the 3rd hole to go 3-down and thought that we had chance to win the par-3 hole No.4 when pakdokter had a good chance to par and win as this was a stroke hole. But Chua charged down from about 12 feet and got a 'birdie' which put them at 4-up!
Not giving up yet, pakdokter took the next 2 holes by virtue of the stroke advantage and was 2-down with 3 more to go.
The next long par-3 was not a stroke hole. Pakdokter hit it short and had a deep bunker to go over to the raised green. Aziz did the same. Zahardin sent his ball passed the green by a foot or two while Chua was a little "nervy'' and topped his tee to just in front of the ladies tee. He put it on for 2 but for a difficult downhill putt from about 10 feet.. Pakdokter chipped up nicely and was about 15 feet away from the pin, also for a difficult downhill putt. Aziz chipped into the bunker and came out for 3-on. Zahardin played a running chip which came to about just 3 feet below the hole which should give him an easy par and a win. But pakdokter putted down nicely from about 15 feet away and got a par. Chua had a chance to square it but ''nerves" must have got to him and missed the difficult putt by a wee bit. We gave our opponents a 4 and brought the game to 1-down with 2 to go.
The next hole was not a stroke hole. Pakdokter hit a reasonably good drive, reached the green in 3 and 2-putted for 5. Chua and Aziz both hit great drives but also came in for 3 on. But they fumbled on the putt to give us a fighting chance at the last hole. Chua could have easily squared the hole which he missed from just about 2 or 3 feet!
We went to the last hole all-square. Pakdokter had a stroke advantage at the last hole. Pakdokter's drive was 'fair' but a little left into the fringe of the first cut. Zahardin hit a tree on the right and fell short of the fairway. He fumbled on the 2nd and 3rd and finally reached the green for 6-on. Aziz was probably also affected by 'nerves' as he pulled his drive which went in deeper to the left, short of pakdokter's ball. Chua looked determined to take the match, his drive was smack in the centre of the fairway, easily 30 yards ahead of pakdokter. Aziz had a difficult 2nd from the deep rough with a row of trees blocking his line to the green. He hit a tree and his ball fell back into the rough about 120 yards away from the green. Chua's 2nd shot left him with just about 20 yards to the top end pin. Pakdokter used the rescue club to send the second shot over 2 bunkers passed the 100 yards stump and had about 85 yards left to the pin. Aziz did well from the rough and played a low running shot which sent the ball to about 15 feet to the pin. Pakdokter used the new 50 degrees laser-grooved wedge and hit a nice high shot which would have run straight to the pin. It stopped short by about 16 or 17 feet. Chua lobbed his 3rd which unfortunately ran off to the right apron. It should have been an easy chip but the thick apron caught his club face and he chipped it short of the green by an inch! He putted the 4th but the fast downhill green sent his ball way past the pin. He was obviously charging to putt in for a 5 to put the pressure on pakdokter. So both Chua and Zahardin were out of the game.
Pakdokter had an easy uphill putt from about 16 yards. Unfortunately due to the slope pakdokter's top end of the putter hit the ground and pakdokter's ball, although was heading along the right line stopped short by about 5 feet! Aziz would have to putt in for a par from about 15 yards to ensure a winning chance. He putted somewhat aggresively, missed a wee bit and went passed the hole by another 4 feet. He had a downhill putt for a bogey.
Pakdokter collected pakdokter's nerves and putted in for a 5 and even if Aziz had come in for a 5 pakdokter would still have won on the stroke advantage. What a game.........!
Next round will be against regular winners Tg Muin Putra and strong-hitter Shazal Zain.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dr M : Operation Malaysia....

Tom Plate, an American journalist, had been working on the series "Giants of Asia", the first of which was the bestseller ' Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew'.
"Doctor M : Operation Malaysia" is his second and most recent book.
Interesting and easy reading. Plate's style of writing makes you feel as if you were there listening to the conversation. Apart from a few new 'revelations' from Mahathir ( one of which was his revelation that Operation Lalang was decided upon by the police - which drew reactions from Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang - and which probably also set up the forum at the Parliament House recently where former IGP Tun Hanif Omar explained the situation which led to his decision to act on the Operation Lalang. Dr M also took part in that forum) - the book also gave another close-up of Mahathir, the person.
Plate asserted that despite his short-comings, Dr M's achievements could not be ignored. He felt that many in the West had made many wrong assumptions about him because they did not know him in person. Their conclusions about him had been mostly based on western media potrayals of him as just being another third-world Muslim leader with anti-Jew and anti-West attitudes. He felt that Dr M was grossly misunderstood and that the leaders from the west had missed the chance to work constructively with a modern, intelligent, progressive and moderate Muslim leader.
Pakdokter enjoyed reading Tom Plate's work and would certainly go and get the copy on Lee Kuan Yew which had also drawn comments from Dr M in his blog.
Pakdokter is still waiting for the "Memoir of Dr M"....
In the mean time, pakdokter has started reading Vaclav Havel's Memoir "To the Castle and Back" which pakdokter brought back from Prague.....

Love Songs from the Opera

Saturday, 19th February 2011
Since returning from Prague, both pakdokter and partner have got back into the mood of listening to classiccal music. We used to be regular subscribers to the performances of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, but for the past two years or so had been distracted by the frequent travels overseas and had lost touch with the programmes at the MPO Auditorium at the KLCC.
Credit must go to the MPO Managers who kept mailing out their programmes to pakdokter's address.
In conjunction with the 'Valentine's Day' the MPO put up a programme entitled "Songs of Love" from the operas.

Pakdokter's Argentine neighbours who are regular patrons of the MPO had invited us for dinner at the Petroleum Club which now opens its door to those with tickets to the shows at the MPO. Judging from the heavy bookings for the dinner at the Petroleum Club ( located on the 42nd floor of the KLCC Tower 1), this proved to be a right move by the club to draw patronage to its establishment.
The ladies were presented with a 'stalk of rose' ( perhaps only for this occasion) and a live band played evergreen love songs during dinner. The starter of seared scallops was followed by a lobster bisque. A buffet of various dishes was offered for the main course.

It was a great opportunity to have a bird's eye view of the city from half-way up the KLCC Towers.
The MPO was conducted by Kevin Field and love songs from Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Spartacus and several others were performed by a Japanese soprano, Hiromi Omura and a French? tenor, Marc Hervieux.

view form the 42nd floor of the KLCC...

pakdokter's partner, Graciela del Carmen,
pakdokter and Carlos de Escudero...
Carlos is an oil and gas consultant with one
of the Petronas subsidiaries..

Monday, February 14, 2011

Al-Andalus....a great show at the Petronas Philharmonic...

Having just returned from the 'cultural city' of Prague, pakdokter's cravings for music and theatre was revived. A postal flyer from the MPO ( Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra) brought pakdokter and partner to this show last night at the Petronas KLCC Auditorium which saw a 'full-house' crowd. We were lucky to have got the last two tickets!
Pakdokter had not the least idea at all about this group - expecting to see a classical flamenco dance and music from a troupe originating from Granada or Sevilla in Spain. It turned out that it was a group domiciled in the USA but playing a fusion of 'jazz-world music' compositions. And what a show it was! The 7-piece ensemble was led by Tarik Banzi who played the oud, with other accompanying musicians on the violin, flamenco guitar, saxophone, trumpet, bazz and drums. The hoarse strong voice of the female vocalist completed this award-winning group.
The music was haunting and mesmerising, and the accompanying dancer interpreted the tunes so beautifully in a form that was 'jazz-ballet' tempered with classical flamenco movements.
The pictures below were taken out of the gorup's website.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

STAROBA-KOBA TIN Invitation 2011 ( Day 3)

In the original plan, the 3rd game was to be played at the Royale Jakarta. But in their practise rounds, the Koba Tin players found the course too tough and changed the venue back to Cengkareng, which they believed would be to their advantage.
Having squared the game on the 2nd day, Staroba was hoping to come in winners in most of the individual matches.

group photo in front of Cengkareng..

pakdokter doing his 'bit'...

pakYuzer, pakdokter, pak?, pakMesha...

pakdokter and special assistant, Maris....

Pakdokter (handicap 30) played against pakMesha ( handicap 29). The much younger and fitter pakMesha went 4-up in the 1st Nine only to have pakdokter come back to square the match at the 16th hole. PakMesha was nearly demolished if not for pakdokter's careless mistake in the last hole which gave him the match. It was a closely fought match, eclipsing the other duel between pakYuzer and his opponent which pakYuzer won easily.
In the overall game, Koba Tin players came home with winning outcomes and was leading 9-7 before the last 2 Staroba players came home victorious to square the game 9-9. So the 90 million rupiah prize money was equally shared by all the 38 players.
A return match is in the works, to be played in Kuala Lumpur in June 2011.

45 million rupiah for Staroba....
for a more comprehensive report,

STAROBA-KOBA TIN Invitation 2011 ( Day 2)

The day 2 game was played at the Pondok Indah Golf Course, located in the upmarket expatriate enclave of Jakarta. Pondok Indah is one of the oldest golf course in Jakarta but was reconstructed two years ago and is now in a great shape and condition. It is a buggy course, much to the relief of many Staroba players.

pakChandra, pakRosli, pakdokter and pakHeru...

Pakdokter(handicap 27) partnered pakRosli (16) to play against pakHeru (17) and pakChandra (26). It was pakChandra who carried the game for Koba Tin, for he played very well that day helped by the many strokes he got from pakRosli. PakRosli gave a good fight, and pakdokter did help in some holes. In the end, although we lost the match, our joint scores were good enough to come out joint 2nd and took home 1 million rupiah each for the daily prize.
In the team event, Staroba came back strongly, winning 5.5 points to 3.5 points, thus squaring their loss on the first day. The third day game would be played in an individual match play.

we shared the 2 million rupiah winnings...
for coming out joint second with 4 other pairs...
for a fuller report, please go to

STAROBA-KOBA TIN Invitation 2011 ( Day 1)...

The first day game was played at Cengkareng. This was a walking course and some Staroba players were apprehensive about this course as many of them were not fit and had been spoilt by only playing in buggy courses.
The teams met up for lunch, a briefing on the format of the competition, an introduction of the players and an exchange of gifts from Staroba to Koba Tin
Captain and CEO of Koba Tin, pakKamaruddin Md Top
gave a briefing on the competition format...

exchange of gift from pakAnuarul to his oppponent..

Pakdokter partnered pakDrAzaiddin in the first day game against pakYannito and pakFaskal. Pakdokter played to a handicap of 24 as did pakFaskal while pakDrAzaiddin played to 17 whereas pakYannito played to a handicap of 20.

pakYannito, pakDrAzaiddin, pakdokter and pakFaskal....
It was an evenly matched game. PakDrAzaiddin played his game well to keep us ahead most of the time. Pakdokter came in at the right time when pakDrAzaiddin fumbled to par the hole and kept our lead.
At the end of the day, even though Staroba trailed Koba Tin in the team event 5.5 to 3.5 points, pakdokter's pair came out joint 5th in the day's competition to take home 700,000 rupiah!
Not bad.
For a fuller report, please go to

joint 5th place earned 700,000 rupiah each...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jakarta, Here We Come.....The Staroba-Koba Tin Invitation 2011

Wednesday, 9th February 2010
Staroba's frequent forays overseas, especially to Indonesia, had put us in touch with like-minded golfers from these places and last year, we received an invitation form Koba Tin Indonesia to play a Ryder's Cup format match against their team in Jakarta. Koba Tin pooled all their resources, held practice rounds for the selection of their players many times in Jakarta to pick the best amongst their players. Staroba, on the other hand, sent out invitation to the regular overseas tour participants, before opening up to some winners of the January 2011 Medal competition.
The 'prize money' was big - a total of 150 million rupiah. 90 million would be awarded to the winning team and the rest divided for the daily winners.

pakSirajudin and pakYuzer at Sukarno Hatta Airport....

pakMazarni and pakNorahim....

first day team shirt, blue....
second day, grey and third day white....

The Staroba team went with a set of 3 different coloured team shirt for each day and a team cap to match. The hotel accomodation and tournament fees were courtesy of Koba Tin but Staroba contributed to a portion of the total prize money.

For more pictures and a more comprehensive report, please go to

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some Notes on Prague....

This trip to Prague has been on the planning board for some time. Our first trip to Prague in 1978 where we launched our back-packing honeymoon tour of Europe started off from the Communist Czechoslovakia capital which was then dull and depressing and somewhat scary. Our return trip 10 years ago on the standard packaged bus tour of Eastern Europe was too short for such a beautiful city. So the World Congress of Psychiatry in the fall of the following year gave pakdokter an excuse to go back there but due to the packed programme over the 5 days or so, pakdokter and partner both felt that we had to go back there for a longer time to take in all that Prague had to offer especially after the opening up of its economy and the transformation that took place during the 2 terms of the Vaclav Havel Presidency.
Czech Republic's economy probably benefited from its cheap labour supply - many of the European industries moved there before they found China some years later. When we were there 10 years ago - French designer labels were sold at a fraction of what it cost in Paris. They were probably factory rejects or excess which found their way in the stores on the sidelanes of Wenceslas Square. Tourism was booming and we enjoyed the carnival atmosphere on the Charles Bridge during the warm and pleasant autumn days. We managed to see a black theatre and a 'marionette' play ( puppet show) - presenting classic story of Don Giovanni ( Don Juan) etc...We did not have the chance to go to any opera or concert performances due to time constraints.
So this time , with the benefit of the internet, we knew what we wanted to see before we left home and with the help of the concierge at the hotel got our tickets soon after after check-in to the hotel. Ticket prices were comparable to what we paid for shows at our own Istana Budaya or the Petronas Philharmonic. The tickets we bought, most of them top seats cost around RM150 to RM200.
Getting around in Prague was easy - all the tourist sites were within walking distances. The cold weather helped. Otherwise their tram services were comprehensive and taxis were readily available. Food was not a problem - restaurants of all types were readily found everywhere and the prices were comparable to what we pay in Bukit Bintang or Bangsar. In fact, drinks were a little cheaper.
Language not a problem. Almost everybody can speak good English. In fact it is probably easier to get around here with the English language than in many Spanish cities. ( Pakdokter understands that there are Malaysian Medical students at the Charles University here and the course is conducted in English).
For culture vulture - this is one city pakdokter highly recommend. Operas, classical music, ballets, black theatre, marionette puppet theatre, jazz - you name it - they have it every day, everywhere - in opera houses and theatres, in cafes, in municipal halls, in churches and synagogues, on Charles Bridge and on boats and river cruises - and this was in winter. Pakdokter can imagine what the programmes will be like in summer!
The economic downturn seemed to have an effect here too. The positive thing was that the low tourist crowd ( and low season) had brought down prices and the fact that our Malaysian ringgit is now appreciating also helped. With economic downturn more people become poorer - so as pakdokter had earlier noted, there were beggars in the Old Town Square and illegal money changers kept hustling you for their so-called better rate. The internet warned of pick-pockets - and unfortunatley pakdokter's partner did become a victim. She lost her handphone which was tucked in the back pocket of her ruck-sack. It was either pick-pocketed or had slipped out of the bag while she was trying out some clothes in the mall. Wallahua'lam.....

Eating Biryani and Thosai in Prague....

After a week of duck confit, deer fillet, creamy rabbit and pastas, pakdokter, especially, was dying for a bowl of hot clear noodle soup or a plate of nasi lemak. And what better than to try out the Indian Restaurant, a few of which pakdokter had made a note of during the days of walking the streets of Prague.
The restaurant we went to was located smack in the centre of the Old Town just a few minutes walk away form the New Town Clock Tower. Located in one of the old buildings, the decoration and feel of the interior would make one feel that one was in a corner of a Maharajah Castle in Rajashtan. The restaurant offerred selections from both the Moghul cuisines of North India as well as the more spicey offerings from the South.
Pakdokter sttled for a plate of the ' Shahjehan Lamb Biryani' whereas pakdokter's partner went for a chicken rawa thosai. For dessert, pakdokter's partner ordered one helping of the 'rasamalai'.
Pakdokter's verdict : the Biryani was 8 out of 10. The chicken rawa thosai looked great and pakdokter's partner was also happy about it. The massala chai was a tad mild - lacking the oomph of the spices we get at home or in India. Pakdokter washed down the biryani with a pint of the Uurquell Pilsner - Czech's most notable brew.


dressed to blend with the wall..

the ShahJehan Lamb Biryani...

crispy rawa thosai with chicken fillings
and a thick dhal curry and yoghurt chutney...

the rasamalai was so so only....