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My Magical Merdeka

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!
31st August 2015

The Zain Ahmed sisters celebrating Merdeka Day like only they know how! How proud and happy we felt to be Malaysians...and sisters.

Being a future beneficiary of a (small) piece of land in the majestic state of Kelantan, I began to feel I finally belong here. I have always loved Kelantan, but having been born and living in KL and Selangor all my life, there was nothing much to attach myself to it save for some relatives remaining. Suddenly I feel an immense sense of pride and belonging, and I wanted to do something special for the coming Merdeka Day.

And I wanted to do it in style. I wanted to capture the moment for us, my sisters and for our children and grandchildren and great, grandchildren to see and remember. Wednesday the 26th of August, the second day we were in Kelantan, my sisters and I had dressed up in traditional Malay fashion and...we made it happen. The sweetest and most memorable gathering of four Zain Ahmed sisters at the site of a Sultan's palace. No less.

This is Istana Jahar, once the home to DYMM Sultan Ahmad 
ibni Almarhum Sultan Muhammad II (Sultan Bibir Merah). 
This information was provided by a Facebook friend from 
the Kelantan Royal family, KijangMas Perkasa
The Sultan was his great, great, great grandfather. 
This beautiful Istana is in immaculate condition 
and has now been turned into the
Muzium Adat Istiadat DiRaja Kelantan.

It was so spontaneous...the idea came when I was packing my bag the night before our flight to Kota Bharu. I was actually a bit surprised by my sisters' response to my suggestion - they were all game. Such great sports they are. Despite the very short notice, it turned out just wonderful, if I may say so myself.

I guess these city girls were just so desperate to look like the typical sweet and demure Kelantan damsels hahaha!! Regardless, we were all so very happy and had so much fun doing this together, in the spirit of family togetherness and patriotism.

We're all rather generous in size so the point of interest in this pix is almost covered. It's actually a Perahu DiRaja which was used by the Sultan himself as a mode of transport. If we had been allowed to do so, we would have jumped in it to have our picture taken by Amir.

A curio shop in the Museum compound. Too bad they didn't sell little hand-held Malaysian and Kelantan state flags. We were overloaded on nationalism that day.

Beautiful architecture that is part of the Malay heritage we are so proud of. All the pictures here were taken by Prof. Azni's son, a professional photographer. He was actually the main reason Azni planned this trip. I had always admired his work and had been very confident that he would carve a name for himself. True enough, he is now relatively well known, and had just completed an assignment in Brunei for a Royal wedding. It isn't easy to engage him - his schedule is extremely tight. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to be photographed by him. Next time, when he has become famous, I can say that I have been photographed by Amirul Hilmi Ariffin heheh. These were taken using a high-end pocket camera, as unfortunately he had yet to unpack his equipment. But that's okay, he had already captured the moments I had wanted.     

At the entrance of the Istana. I could almost hear the nobat playing. Isn't it uncanny that His Majesty's name is coincidentally the same as our late grandfather's, who's land we're about to take over? Sultan Ahmad, Hj Ahmad and of course not forgetting there's also Ahmad Cendana.

This is the entrance to the building next to the Istana. I'm not quite sure what it this time we were all famished and didn't explore any further. We headed to the famous kopitiam White House just nearby and tucked into what else...delicious nasi dagang wrapped in banana leaf. We were still in our garb and no one batted an eyelid. That's the wonderful thing about Kota Bharu...the Kelantan women take pride in their beauty and looks. Many of them are meticulously made-up and well-dressed even in the market, adorned with gold accessories.
From the beginning right to the end of the very brief trip, I had a marvelous time being with my sisters and relatives here in our ancestral land. I treasure these moments, their unconditional love and Allah's unexpected bounties. The more I want to do, the more I want to give, the more I get. Now if that isn't magical, I don't what is.


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