My books for Alice...


“Congrats on your recent interview which I found so interesting.


My Johor Stories, Book One and Book Two

There were so many insights which I was not aware of, being someone who did not grow up in Johor Baru,” said Alice in her WhatsApp message on April 10, the day after My Johor Stories was featured in the Let’s Talk show on Astro Awani television station.


“I was wondering if I could get autographed copies of your two books for my husband as he can associate with the stories you wrote about. I want to surprise him with the books!” she said before we went on to discuss about how to get this done.


I know Alice had married a Johor Baru guy and she asked if I remembered him…


My two books, tied up in ribbons

Alice was a former Primary Six classmate in the Johor Baru Convent and I remember waiting with her at the back gate for our transport to collect us after school.


I had a Bas Sekolah to ferry me back to Masai where my parents were based for work while Alice and her younger sister, Ivy, would be collected by their Ah Kong or grandfather in his car, painted a bright shade of blue.


We were in different classes during Secondary school, went our separate ways after leaving school and only met again at our first school reunion event where I learnt that she had settled down in Kuala Lumpur.


In our recent phone chat, Alice said that she and her husband had planned to travel to Johor Baru in April but plans had to change due to unforeseen circumstances.


She then suggested to get her niece, Elaine, who lived near Austin Heights in Johor Baru to help coordinate my book-signing and to send the books to her in Kuala Lumpur.


Thanks to Alice and her interest in My Johor Stories that we discovered that my books were listed but Currently Unavailable from MPH online.


Two years had passed since the start of the global pandemic and the lockdowns which resulted in a great deal of changes in the economy.


Among the businesses that had no alternative but to cease their operations included hotels, restaurants and bookstores like the MPH bookstores in Johor Baru.


A check with MPH Publishing Kuala Lumpur confirmed that their bookstore at Senai International Airport was already closed and that MPH no longer has a presence in Johor Baru.


This sad news compelled me to do a thorough search through my own collection of books to see if I had any spare copies of books for Alice.


I was delighted to let Alice know that I found the two books she wanted, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People (with a photograph as proof!) and was pleased to part with them so that she could present them to her dear husband.


In another phone chat, I asked Alice what message she would like written with my autograph in the books before her niece collected them from me.


“Will ask Elaine to message you directly to make the arrangement,” said Alice.


My books within a carrier bag, 
at the car service centre

Meanwhile, since the long periods of lockdown, I have delayed sending my car for its regular servicing because I hardly travelled long distance except for grocery shopping.


As usual, the Customer Service staff will send several text messages to remind me about the due date for my car to be serviced – and I had ignored them.


But because I had an appointment in Muar to meet with the founder of the award-winning High-Pole Lion Dance troop, I thought I should reply the service centre to confirm the appointment and get my car tuned up before I drove out-station.


Since my car service centre is located at Taman Desa Tebaru, close to Austin Heights where Alice’s niece was, I thought it was an ideal spot for a rendezvous to pass my autographed books to her.


Handing over my books to Elaine at the
car service centre in Taman Desa Tebrau

As soon as I had fixed my appointment with the service centre, I informed Alice who shared my message and contact number with her niece.


Before heading to the service centre, I got my books autographed, tied up neatly in ribbons and put into a carrier bag, ready to be handed over to Elaine.


The car service centre is linked to the showroom and furnished with a comfortable lounge area so while I waited for my car to be ready, I will plug in my laptop and get some work done.


Photo proof from Alice to show me
that my books were safely received!

While I was waiting to hand over my car to the service consultant, I sent a message to Elaine (with a photo!) to let her know that I was already there and she could come over to meet me for the books, at her convenience. Elaine replied that she was on the way over.


Nearby, some car owners were looking through the glass wall, observing while their cars they were being serviced. I politely asked one of them to help me capture a photo memento to document the handing-over of my books to Elaine.


Alice was amused to receive this photo of the ‘official hand-over’ but had not made any arrangements about retrieving the books from Elaine as there was no hurry and no particular occasion for her to present my books to her husband.


This loving wife just knew that her husband will appreciate my stories because he was very proud of being a Johorean.


I told Alice that I can relate to this sentiment because we Johoreans often boast about the “01” in our identity numbers.


Alice presenting my books to her
dear husband in Kuala Lumpur

[Looking back to November 2018, just ahead of the launch of Book Two of My Johor Stories on December 1, I learnt that this book was already on sale in MPH bookstores nationwide for the Christmas and year-end shopping season.


It was an unforgettable delight to discover from an Instagram post that my Book Two was presented to none other than His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim for his birthday.]


After my books were passed to Elaine, the very next day, Alice reciprocated by sending me photos as proof that she had safely received my books and said, “Received today in good order!”


Elaine had dispatched my books via courier and they were safely delivered to Alice by midday the next day. That same evening, Alice presented my books to her husband.


Happy Reading and reminiscing on Johor!


Note: We stay hopeful that mphonline will make my books, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage and My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People, available again very soon.

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