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Of open house insecurity and traffic jam

September 13, 2011

The month of Syawal is exactly what it is – a month. People love the month of Syawal, what with the festivities and merry-making. I think you’d be familiar with the saying you always hear when we were kids. If you don’t fast, you don’t get to celebrate Hari Raya.  For some reason I believe I hold on to that saying until now. I don’t think I could celebrate Hari Raya if I don’t complete my fast. So I try my best (note the word try) to not miss a single day of fasting. The other thing is because Syawal is a month long, most people get the idea that the merry-making is for the whole month. Nothing wrong with that in my view.

Which brings me nicely to the point of holding Hari Raya open houses. You have open houses by individuals to big corporations. People used to call friends and tell them, “I’m coming over to your house for Hari Raya.” That would be a cue to start preparing for the visit. Fry some noodles, buy some satay, things like that. But nowadays, it’s always an open house. You prepare food for a specified number of people and invite them over to your place. I guess it’s more organised that way. You budget for the number of people invited. People come and congregate and generally have a good time. Friendships and relationships are maintained that way. Oh, and you don’t get surprise visits. Although you don’t turn people away if they want to come over.

Personally I’m never one to hold an open house. Haven’t had one. And not planning to have one. I tell everybody just call me if you want to come over. I’ll have some food prepared. I think I’d never get people to come over if I hold an open house. I have that feeling of insecurity in me. I’d prepare food for 200 people and in the end 20 people turn up. Kind of embarrassing isn’t it? You see guys who have open houses having to go to the nearby kedai mamak to buy more food because people just don’t stop coming (I think I’m over using the word “people” in this entry). I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to attract that kind of crowd. If there are 5 open houses that day, I have the feeling people would always say/think, “let’s just call Shahrin up and tell him we wouldn’t be able to make it”.

I do get invited to open houses. It’s nice to know people care enough that they’ll invite you over. But the thing about open houses is the roads will be absolutely jam packed during Syawal weekends. The time taken to get from Gombak to Sungai Buloh would be equal to the time taken to get from Gombak to JB. Which is not a good thing. You’d hear complaints about people getting stuck in massive traffic jams during said period. Here’s a suggestion – what if we all stayed home during Syawal weekends? Or have open houses during other periods besides Syawal weekends. Probably have a belated Hari Raya open house. Or have a particular scheduling of having open houses. How’s this for an idea – during the busy balik kampung season, PLUS (the highway company) devises a schedule for people who are going back. For instance, people whose car licence plates ends with an even number are supposed to move within a certain prescribed time. The same applies to people whose car licence plates end with an odd number.

So it follows that people with even numbered houses have open houses on certain prescribed dates. The dates are to be evenly spread during Syawal weekends. I think that might just work. And gone will be the days of crazy traffic jams during the open house season. Some Ministry could take charge of prescribing the relevant time slots; ala PLUS.

I have been invited to a pot luck session this weekend with a few good friends from my previous workplace. Am really looking forward to catching up with the guys. I’m happy to have been invited. These are people who mean a lot to me. I guess in four and a half years you really get to build good, honest friendships. Friends who see you as you are and have no ulterior motives for being your friends.

Looking forward to the gathering. Not so looking forward to the traffic jam.

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