Continuing my story-telling journey...

On 15 July, Grace sent her #ffijb a special memento to commemorate that special day exactly three years ago.

15 July 2017 at DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru,
book launch of
My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage
It was a photograph she captured of me, speaking at my book launch event held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru on 15 July 2017.

[When Simon McGrath, then hotel General Manager, introduced me to Grace in June 2014, I did not know that I would become her #ffijb First Friend in Johor Baru.]

While working with DTHJB on various projects and events, I had shared with Simon and Grace about the history of Jalan Ngee Heng and that my grandfather’s house at No. 154 was in fact, just across the road from the hotel.

Grandfather's house – a double-storey bungalow with an adjacent badminton court – situated directly opposite Wisma Maria was demolished to build Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and what was left of it is just part of our driveway.

Present site of grandfather's former house
at Jalan Ngee Heng is part of Jalan Tun Abdul Razak
An enterprising food stall operator quickly set up his business here and over the years, expanded its premises under a matured tree at this end of Jalan Ngee Heng.

On July 21, Grace sent me another photo.

This time it was my full-page feature published in Streets Johor on 21 July 2014, where I shared my experience on, Staying in Jalan Ngee Heng again.

It was significant that my return to Jalan Ngee Heng for a stay experience at the DTHJB was some 37 years since our family moved away from this neighbourhood.

In 2017, Simon and Grace were aware that I was working on my book project in partnership with Think City Johor Baru and MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur and when I discussed about the venue for my book launch, Simon generously offered to host the event at the hotel, with their best compliments.

My feature published on 21 July 2014
It was so significant that I should host my book launch event at a venue which was located on the same road as our grandfather’s former house and I did not hesitate to accept.

I warmly recall the joy and pleasure of the support from friends and family – all you happy readers – who did not hesitate to buy my book for themselves or to present as gifts, because on the first week of its launch, this book went to the Number One spot of the MPH Non-Fiction Bestsellers List.

This title stayed on the MPH Bestsellers List for consecutive weeks and months, and at end 2017, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage was counted among the titles in the Best of MPH in 2017.

My exciting book journey which started with My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, continued with its sequel, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, launched on 1 December 2018.

Photo from IG Official Sultan Ibrahim
Book Two was launched in December 2018, on time for the Christmas season for readers to enjoy reading during the holidays and to present as year-end gifts.

For me, one of the highlights of 2019 must be the occasion of the Johor Sultan’s birthday when a copy of, My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People was presented to High Highness Sultan Ibrahim, the Sultan of Johor!

The two photos from Grace triggered a flood of fond memories and are urging me to press on to write my third book and complete this series of My Johor Stories books in an exciting trilogy.

I was already working on Book Three since last year and derived much pleasure in compiling the list of Contents before meeting with Dato’ Abdul Rahim Ramli to bounce off ideas and seek his comments and valuable advice.

In early March 2020, Dato’ Rahim and I shared a most profitable time together and I remember leaving his office with renewed energy to embark on my next story-telling journey.

Newspaper report on MPH Bestsellers List
with my book at Number One in July 2017
By mid-March, the global pandemic caused by the Covid19 virus was upon us and the subsequent Movement Control Orders, changed my plans for actively pursuing this book project.

While obeying the conditions of these lockdowns, it felt like I had lost some four months of my life but it also gave me the opportunity to focus on working on various parts of my book project while I was staying quietly at home.

As the Movement Control Order gradually progressed from the Conditional Movement Control Order to the current Recovery Movement Control Order, the mood throughout the nation improved in tandem with the reopening of the economy.

With interstate travel reopened again and fewer restrictions in travel, I am finally able to consider going out for events and appointments, albeit wearing the added accessory of a face mask.

Out there, it feels like a whole new world where the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns have caused drastic changes including loss of lives, loss of jobs and when small enterprises had no alternative but to close their businesses.

While this post-pandemic era may present real challenges for many, it spurs me on to document more Johor Stories to encourage and inspire as we recover together and rebuild ourselves to grow from strength to strength.

No comments:

Post a Comment