Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sabah is Veena's paradise

Life is seriously good in Sabah, says Berita Harian Sabah bureau chief Veena Rusli.

"Every inch of Sabah is amazing. What is there to complain when you live, work and play in a holiday destination?" adds the bubbly Seremban-born, who has called Kota Kinabalu home for more than four years now.

Veena looks at Sabah, known as "the land below the wind", with the eye of a person who appreciates the simple things in life. Living in Kuala Lumpur for many years as a journalist had taken a heavy toll on her.

She extols the virtues of a stress-free life which she has found in Kota Kinabalu.

Veena Rusli jokingly describes herself as a full-time tourist guide and a part-time journalist. This refers to her hosting duties, which she does easily, when friends from the Peninsula visit Sabah.
Unnecessary pressures such traffic jams and flash floods are minimal in Kota Kinabalu and these lessen the impact of  managing the worries of everyday life .

I met Veena in Kota Kinabalu recently. I was there to attend the RHB New Straits Times Spell-It-Right Challenge which took place at the Suria Sabah mall over the weekend of July 4-5.

I was struck by her bubbly nature. Her cheerful, friendly demeanour and enthusiasm for Sabah was infectious. I wanted to know more.

Veena with colleagues from the Peninsula. When you see Sabah through Veena's eyes you will never be disappointed. Lucky Veena!
She continues: "Malaysians are friendly but living in Kuala Lumpur makes it difficult for many to get to know each other."

The stresses and strains of city life prevent us from interacting meaningfully with family members, neighbours, colleagues and visitors, she notes.

But you won't be a stranger for long in Sabah, says Veena. The moment you say "hello" to a person you have never met before, out goes the "stranger" label.

And people are courteous in Sabah. To say Sabahans are friendly is an understatement.

This river flows past the Beverly Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. The sampans evoke memories of early Malaya.
Veena came to Kota Kinabalu with no expectations. She expected nothing but gained plenty.

She got that right. As Eli Khamarov observes: "The best things in life are unexpected -- because there were no expectations."

When she wakes up in the morning the first thing she does is to draw back the curtains and let the peace and serenity of dawn in. When the air is crisp and clear and the sky is blue, she knows she is in paradise.

The sun rises at 5.30am and 6am in Kota Kinabalu is like 8am in Kuala Lumpur. You can go for your morning walk or jog at 6am, she says.

Veena loves the food in Sabah. Try the siput tarik plate, a dish that is unique to the state. 
The vegetables are fresh and full of goodness. This is sambal sayur manis.

Seafood is a speciality in Sabah. Picture shows steamed ikan kerapu.
Veena goes to work at 9am and she is done by 6pm. She has the choice of going out with friends or going home to cook. She is really enjoying her new-found freedom.

Kota Kinabalu is also the place where "I can bring bekal (a small meal, especially lunch) to work and there are days when I will do that".

She realises that her stint as a journalist in Sabah may end soon and hopes that her bosses in Kuala Lumpur will allow her to stay in Kota Kinabalu for a few more years.

Meanwhile, life's too short to waste it, she quips. She continues to embrace the pleasures and pains of everyday life in Kota Kinabalu with the spirit of a pioneer.

4 comments:

justmytwocents said...

I guess if we still want to enjoy life sans stress in Malaysia, this is one of the excellent places to live. I really miss those years in KL where people actually smile and talk to strangers without prejudice. Today, you are deemed mental if you try to start a friendly conversation with an unknown person. The moment you say, " Excuse me," people would shoo you away for fear that you are an insurance agent or asking for some donation. A friend of mine recently told me that she went back to her hometown in Penang last month and the people there are still as friendly as ever. She stood outside a Chinese coffee shop one hot afternoon waiting for her mother and an old guy (Chinese of course)invited my Malay friend in for a seat. I guess the more modern we are, the more detached we become from values and what made life great.

Veenster said...

Dear Faezah,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I wasn't sure whether you were talking about the same Veena until I saw the photos. So, yes, guilty as charged!

We have one shot at life - this life - and I intend to make mine a meaningful one, ups and downs included. I am sure KL is someone's paradise, the same way every inch of this world is. It is never where, but always how we live our life. That way, my sanity remains intact and I still sleep well at night.

I will go when the time comes but until the letter lands on my desk, I shall keep doing what I like most - breathe, work, laugh and play - in Land Below The Wind. Life is short, no time for regrets.

Having said that, please come back for another slice of paradise on earth soon. I'll be waiting :)

Sincerely,
Veena

FAEZAH ISMAIL said...

@justmytwocents: You are right! Thank you for your comments.

FAEZAH ISMAIL said...

@Veenster: THANK YOU Veena. All the best. I hope we meet again in KK or anywhere in Sabah. It was a pleasure meeting you again. Take care!