January 15, 2011
Alor Setar, Kedah Darul Aman
For Your Weekend Entertainment
Dr Kamsiah and I arrived in Alor Setar on Firefly which landed on schedule at the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport. It was indeed a very pleasant flight. The weather on route was great and Alor Setar is also enjoying good weather after the heavy rain and flood last month.
We are here to spend the weekend to celebrate the 83rd Birthday of the most revered The Sultan of Kedah, Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia (DYMM) Al-Sultan Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbudin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah. May DYMM Al-Sultan enjoy continued good health and happiness and guide Kedah Darul Aman towards peace, harmony and prosperity. Amin.
As you know, Alor Setar is the town where Mongkut Bean, Tean and I grew up. It is the administrative capital of Kedah and a nice place to be because the cuisine here, especially Laksa and Mee Pak Abu is excellent.
From our hotel room window on the 17th Floor of Holiday Villa, we can see the majestic Gunong Jerai in the distance and beyond this wonderful landmark is Penang. Gunong Jerai lords over the seemingly endless paddy fields and Muda River and its tributaries and dominates the skyline of Kedah. I was born in Guar Chempedak, near Gurun, at the foot of this Gunong, three scores and ten plus one years ago.
Dr. Kamsiah and I will visit some sites where I used to roam as a kid . Hopefully we will be able to meet some of old friends. We plan to visit the famous Pekan Rabu where Mahathir used to sell pisang goreng when he was a boy many moons ago. This market place is bustling with activity from dawn to dask.
Missing from this area are two cinema theaters, The Empire and The Royal, where Bean and I used to watch movies starring Jeff Chandler, Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper, James Dean, Maureen O’ Hara, Esther Williams, Doris Day, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
We will also make a visit to the Siamese Temple, Jalan Wat Siam, not far from Mongkut Bean’s homestead in Jalan Kanchut. Our Thai brother and fellow Malaysian, Tean Rean will be happy to hear that. And the new Temple in Jalan Telok Wan Jah is very impressive.
For this weekend entertainment, Dr Kamsiah and I would like to play for you songs of the 1950s and 1960s when Alor Setar was rural town, a sort of Peyton Place (Grace Metalious wrote a novel of this title). We will start with Dean Martin because he was popular with the teenagers of this quiet town when he sang That’s Amore and Volare in the 1950s.
And we can’t resist play this favorite Dino number here. It is titled “I have but one Heart”. Here it is and you will understand why this tune is special.
The favorite female vocalist of those Alor Setar days was Doris Day and her pillow talk movie starring Rock Hudson. We will play two tunes from her. The other popular lady of song of that era is none other than Rosemary Clooney.
We wish you all a good weekend. Please take a good rest before you resume your hectic routine on Monday, January 17. Cheers.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican