Monday, July 16, 2012

Do you have a recipe for a happy retirement?

I LIKE Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail's recipe for retirement. In an interview with this paper last Friday, the outgoing Kuala Lumpur mayor said his most immediate plan was to cook for his family for Ramadan. He will later open a restaurant or cafe, or perhaps write a recipe book.

Having served an extended two-year term to make sure the city is better off than it was three years ago, the former mayor certainly has made a good decision to serve his family now instead.

Many of us forget that we spend a third of our lives in dreamland, and the remainder chasing those dreams and building our careers. To be able to happily retire and pursue one's passion is a blessing indeed.

In between working on our careers and taking care of our family's day-to-day needs,  the years fly by without us realising it.

When all is done and the years have flown, we may realise, sometimes too late, that we should have spent more time with our loved ones or done  the  things that we loved instead of being tied to  the workplace and being consumed by our jobs even when we are away from the office.

No doubt, some of us are happier at the workplace than anywhere else but that's a different  story.

Cooking is a great way to show love and appreciation for the people who mean a great deal to us. Panir, a friend in the food business,  told me that if one cooks with love, even a simple meal will be a feast for the person eating it. I couldn't agree more, although I am no cook.

For all the fancy food I have eaten,  nothing is more satisfying than a  plate of steaming hot rice, a fried egg, cold cucumber slices and some belacan (shrimp paste) for a dip. It is a simple meal that my mother used to prepare for the family when I was growing up.

After I got married, my wife asked why I loved this meal so much. I told her it reminded me of the hardship my family faced post-1969, when my father's grocery business was ruined by racial strife. But the meal does not only remind me of hardships, it also reminds me of our resilience in overcoming difficult times.

My wife, who grew to share my love for the simple repast, would prepare it whenever she sensed that I was having a rough day.

I am sure Fuad's family will be overjoyed when he takes over the kitchen to cook them a buka puasa meal this Ramadan.

According to Fuad, the last time he cooked dinner for his family to buka puasa with was in 2000, when he was serving as the Subang Jaya Municipal Council president. Twelve years is a long time. And what better way to catch up  than over a buka puasa meal?

The former mayor celebrates his 59th birthday today. On top of wishing him a happy birthday, I hope  he will be blessed with the good health to celebrate many birthdays to come, and to cook many more meals for his family and friends.

And when he does open a restaurant or write a recipe book one day, he can count on my patronage.

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