09 February 2012

With a sigh (Pt 11 ) - Atlas, what is it?

Ask me, “What’s an atlas ?”

I will start with a book of maps showing position of countries, towns, seas and mountains etc. School children can answer that equally well.

A world atlas

“What else?”

I would go back to my childhood days when, like children of those days, I was interested in old folk lore like Pak Pandir, Hang Tuah etc. Then of course I would imagine the mighty Atlas of the Greek mythology holding the earth on his back.

The might Atlas

“What else?”

Now I have to scratch my head thinking hard of my old geography lesson when I learnt all about the prominent ranges of Alps, the Himalayas, the Andes etc. And among them stands Atlas Mountains stretching across North Africa.

“What else?”

Now you catch me. I am sorry. I cannot think of any more, unless you mean AlAttas.

“My goodness. You don’t have to go to school to know what Atlas is!”


I was then doing English with my Form TWO pupils when something made me ask them what ‘atlas’ was when a line in the book we were reading read, “ …… bought me an atlas ….” I was glad to have asked them that question. a stupid question, perhaps. About twenty blank faces looked at one another, a few shaking their heads. I just stood there with disbelief. Then a boy mastered the courage to suggest,

“Kain pelikat, Pakcik!”

Indeed ‘Atlas’ was a popular brand of man’s cloth (kain pelikat) at that time. Everyone in the village knows that. How silly I was.

Pelikat Atlas

That old man standing in front of the class could only draw a sigh to realise how out-dated and silly he was. To him was kain pelikat 'cap gajah benang seribu', nothing but the best of his time.

Berkhidmt kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


yongzu @ 9W2YZU said...

Assalammualaikum Pak Cik

Got to say that the answer is acceptable :) he he he...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
Your entry made me ROTFLOL...har har har. OK, now, am giving you more fodder to "quench" the kids' curiosity. It is actually technically wrong to say that Atlas is a brand of kain pelikat as the term "kain pelikat" means woven cloth that comes from Pulicat, name of a place from India. Atlas is actually a brand for kain tenun from Indonesia. As depicted in the photo you put up, it even says kain songket. To me, kain pelikat must be Cap Gadjah from India, somewhere called Pulicat, not from anywhere else. As with what you call kain gajah benang seribu, that is kain tenun cap Gajah Duduk with 1,000 thread count, made/woven in Indonesia. We recently had a lesson in choosing so-called kain pelikat for Dad. Our repertoire now include tenun Bugis from Makassar, kain Samarinda from Kalimantan, and tenun Sarawak or kain pua. There's also kain tenun Trengganu, which is hard to find nowadays. We love them all for the variety, quality and comfy. Who says fashion is exclusive to women? Kain pelikat pun sudah ada berbagai-bagai. purrr....meow!

Cheqna said...

When we were kids, my brother and I used to play games involving the atlas book and at one time had written to some embassies asking for info on their countries..I can't remember how many responses we got but one I remember most was from the Canadian's, I was fascinated by the National flag of Canada that they sent. (may be one day if dimurahkan rezeki I can go there :-D )

I should study the world atlas again as I'm a bit out of touch with the list of countries in existence now.

I'm not sure about pelikat atlas..but I know of gajah duduk..hehe.

Haslina said...

thanks to this entry now i remember that i used to have an atlas for my geography lessons.

i amsterdam said...


Funny entry, it made me laugh... loud :D

Al-Manar said...


So I pass, cikgu, don't I? Boleh naik Ting. 2 lah. Thank you. I do not think this situation on the West Coast. You have to travel a lot, visiting schools, tell Pakcik some time how things are compared what Pakcik have been saying in my postings.

Al-Manar said...


For a second I was stunned by ROTFLOL. Ripped Open To Fill Lots Of Liquer. That cat must be drunk, hence that rolling on the floor!

I like your lesson on this Pull It Cat. Seriously, you are truly learned on this. I never knew all those differences. In fact I only know this as we say it in my people's elitist dialect, KAENG PELEK KAK. I wondered what that beang 1000. What thread count is it? Honestly I am too thick to understand.

That tenung tgganu is familiar and I know that. It makes very beautiful dress for ladies - naik seri. But that kain pua is totally new to me.

In short, I need some tuition from you. Thanks

Al-Manar said...


I never thought of obtaining information from an Embassy. I wonder what the British Embassy have by way of teaching/learning materials.

So your dream is Canada. Aren't you tired of traveling, AND enjoying foods? I envy you though, a lady of leisure.

Al-Manar said...


I think we all had an atlas each during our school days. Something is missing, at least in schools around my area. It is odd. I feel sorry for for children who are not being exposed to atlas. Something is missing in their learning.

Al-Manar said...

i amsterdam,

Waalaikum Salaam.

You ask the top form 5 pupils in the schools around my area where Amsterdam is and I can bet none of them can tell - somewhere in America, perhaps.

Tell the children here that you are having the coldest weather in February, -8 deg C, they will ask whether you have snow in Amsterdam.

We laugh at such ignorance but I am sad to know the reality. Hence I sigh, feeling truly sorry over the sisuation.

ninotaziz said...

Dear Pakcik,
I panicked for a while and immediately asked Irani what an atlas was (I was at my Mum's place when I happened to drop by your blog). I was thinking if Irani doesn't know this,my Mum is going to be very disappointed - Mum majored in and taught Geography for many many years.

Thank God Irani immediately brought out a thick and huge Reader's Digest atlas. It has a section on the Wired World which shows high users of internet by country. Malaysia is pretty high.

We have a globe at home for Ilena and Ikesha to quiz each other. Favourite locations are Qatar where their cousins are, Paris where we all dream of a family holiday someday and sing French songs on the Seine and Indonesia where Bik is.

ninotaziz said...

Cat from Sydney- kain Ainulbanat or jong sirat ada ke?

yongzu @ 9W2YZU said...

Pak Cik,

FYI, my first posting was in Jerantut, Pahang. At that time, I used to have mini excursions for those students who were interested to follow me "makan angin" :) So whenever there's a special event like a book fair in KL for example, we travelled by train from Jerantut to K.L. (That was during the 90's)

I love to see their "faces" during this type of excursion. I should also thank my uncle and aunt who let me take them in their house without any question. :)

You could also "travel" virtually by using "Google Earth" :)

Al-Manar said...


That scared you for a while, didn't it? Now can you imagine those children did not know what atlas was? They also told me that they were never shown a globe during geography class. I think one cannot, for example, explain the four seasons on earth convincingly without the help of a globe.

What would you do if Irani failed to tell you what atlas was? Would you beat her or storm the school to beat the geography teacher?

And now what's this, Ainulbanat or jong sirat ? Some secret loin cloth for Maori down under?

Just wait until Ayah Wang comes in with his tall story!

Al-Manar said...


That was exactly what I thought. You have even been posted to Jerantut. You would have seen how appreciative these children were when you treated them well, taking them around and so on. Makcik and I used to take children to KL for a few days. We have stopped doing that now as there are far to many and picking a few may appear favouratism.

yongzu @ 9W2YZU said...

Dear Pak Cik,

Your response reminds me of the story "The Star Fish" I believe you have heard/read the story. :)

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
Mama has a new hobby now....collecting textile from all over the world and she's starting with nusantara. Her dream is to see, touch and own a kain cindai....jong sarat is pricy. Maybe Aunty Ninot can bring us to some remote areas in Pahang where the people weave some nice kain tenun there.
We don't know about your time in school.Pakvik but Mama used to learn something called Ilmu Alam amali where you learn how to read maps, contours etc. Dah takde ke? purrr.....meow!

kotastar said...

Sdr Al Manar,

Besides the good tip about 'Atlas' I am sure you are overjoyed at the clearance of yr blog problem, which I noticed has disappeared.

Maybe I can add another meaning / concept to it even in term of phonetic ' at last' kalau murid cerdik jawapannya 'akhirnya che Gu". You also touched on my teaching ability when you mentioned 'atlas' My former students of Sekolaah Menengah Sultan Abdul Halim in Jitra (1965- 67) the only other fully residential school then next to Alam Shah still recalled how I taught geography. No books, no text book. They got through SPM with excellent result in Geography.Esp topography. Everyone must have the atlas in class.It was a lesson of deduction from looking at the physical features, to the population distribution, communication, commercial activities etc the students could explain issues of transportation, land use, distribution of rainfall, sites of industries or plantation/ crops distribution etc. Even quite recently an ex student now a parent did telephone and asked if it was a special methodology I adopted because he wanted his son to approach it in the same way as he did. Yes the atlas is a wealth of knowledge, esp if it is up to date. Sorry to fill yr comment column with our outdated approach now. Because even geography is not taught / or a choice subject in school now. No wonder youth and young men get lost easily because they don't know directions. They have to resort to GPS otherwise otherwise they will not arrive. Antara kelemahan/ kekurangan yg sdr sebut kelmarin. Salam

Anonymous said...

LOL :) I think the boy is smart - don't u think so? HE THINK OUT OF THE BOX

Cheers Pakcik!


ninotaziz said...


Sometimes I ask myself and wonder - there are so many things I still do not know about you even though we have known each other for decades!

I never knew you wanted to go to Canada. If I knew, I would have brought you back a real pressed maple leaf! And more!

Al-Manar said...


No I do not think I have heard that Star Fish story. Tell me some time.

Al-Manar said...


They do learn some very basic contour lines etc, but very basic. I do not notice them making cross-sections to show elevations and so on, and I doubt they have any clues that contour has any similarity to isobars. That reminds me to ask them one day what isobars are - some kind of ice-cream bars.

My sister who deals in handicraft works, including songket, is likely one (or a bit more)up on her elder. brother.

Al-Manar said...


I am very pleased to see your comments which bring me back to those years in mid 1950's. It is likely that your comments will be a theme for one of my future 'reminisces' series. So I will not give much response this time. I thank you,Sir. You ought to be invited by the ministry to undo/redo the present geography syllabus so that studying this subject is a pleasure in itself, not for exam sake.

Referring to my blog problem caused by sheer ignorance, it seems to resolve the moment this entry was posted. My daughter and Mama Tim herself lent a helping hand as well. Itu lah gatal sangat jari ni, cari masalah saja!

Al-Manar said...


I never thought of that, thinking out of the box.

I was getting concerned over your silence, thinking that things did not go well.

All the best to you.

Al-Manar said...


Do you believe what Cheqna claimed? I lost my heart in the Niagara Falls! Sorry, is that in Nigeria?

MamaTim said...

PakCik.. yep so glad we cleared your blog-link problem.

I'm just overjoyed to be reminded of that word Atlas, especially in this age where PapaGo or GoogleMap is more common words to look up for places.

Wan Sharif said...

Wow.. am I glad there has been a lively exchange of information across the globe.. or atlas!
If there is going to be any tall story from Ayah Wang.. it is about that pulayakat or kain Pelikat thinghy..
I was once on a business trip to Yemen back in the 1986.. after looking at the geological and geophysical data to recommend whether Petronas should explore in Yemen.. we ended up in a hotel in Port of Eden
After an early dinner the leader of the delegation called for a short meeting in the hotel lobby.. I have the cheek to ask whether there is any dress code for the meeting, the leader said I can wear national dress if I want.
I purposely came down a few minutes late in kain Pelikat.
The leader was not very pleased and scolded me for coming in a meeting in kain Pelikat..
"I thought you said I can wear a national dress" I told the leader.
"Yes! but kain Pelikat is not our national dress".
"Agreed.. but kain Pelikat is national dress for Yemen and you did not specify it has to be our national dress" I cheekily countered.
What do you mean! came another unhappy reply.
I called the hotel's bell-boy or garcon and asked whether kain pelikat is Yemen's national dress..
The answer was in affirmative... and we have a super short meeting that evening ;)
How is that for a tall but true story from Ayoh Wang

anaktimurlut said...

Assalaamu'alaikum Pak Cik. This posting reminds me of one of the games that we used to play during our childhood 35 years back: listing of 'nama orang, nama negara, nama buah etc which starts with a specific alphabet chosen by any of the competing persons. The game made us to refer to Atlas regularly in order to beat others.

BTW Pak Cik, we have something in common - I took the path less travelled. Until Form 5, I was in an Arabic medium school ( and no one could beat me in Arabic), then I switched to civil engg, much to the dismay of my father, a former guru pondok. It was all fated, Pak Cik

Al-Manar said...


The lesson is not to venture into something you are not good at! Anyway all is well at the end. Thank you.

I suppose you are right that the book of atlas has been replaced by Google map, by satellite and so on. The children could have been one step head!

Al-Manar said...

Ayah Wang,

I knew you would come up with some interesting tales. I was not wrong. That was a good one. It is good for a posting in your blog. A picture of you in an Atlas pelikat, whatever that Cat may call it, would complete the scene.


Al-Manar said...

anaktimurlut ( could it be ...laut?),

You are teasing me to ask who you are. Of course I would like to compare notes. Please email me:
almanar@pd.jaring.my .Who knows if you are not too far away we will have a tete-a-tete over a cup of coffee.

So long until I hear from you

Anak Timur Laut said...

Afwan Pak Cik. It would be good to compare notes with an engineer with IEM Membership No. of less than 1000 (am I correct?). BTW, I am from Kelantan but staying in Shah Alam (but will be getting a menantu from KT) soon ;))


ninotaziz said...

Ayoh Wang called me while I was riding the waves to Langkawi, to be sure I read his tall tale. And what a delight! What a story - especially when it was not a tall tale at all!

I played that game and continue to play it with my children today Sir Anak Timur Laut...

Chinaware Cupcakes Caterpillar Cheetah Cameroon

Al-Manar said...


I relish the thought of knowing someone with similar, perhaps greater experience. Am I really a member of EM, and with membership number below 1000? You may be dreaming, my friend. I would have proudly make sure I have Ir in front of my name in all my documents, official or otherwise.

Will email you soon.

Al-Manar said...


Chinaware Cupcakes Caterpillar Cheetah Cameroon

Cium comel cayang
Cubit cubit cuping
cari cik cayang
celah cadar coreng

Wan Sharif said...

Abang Hassan,
I called Ninot when I finished my tall story comment to your blog, afterall.. she was the one who reminded me about your challenge to me on that issue yesterday.. I was rather busy yesterday preparing for hydrocarbon exploration activities for the weekend and did not read your blog.. It was nice of Ninot to remind me ;).
Wow you have me highly impressed with your English pantun empat kerat with all letters start with C.. Argh..
Got the news from grapevine that the cat and cheqna went south today.. And with Ninot in Langkawi...can we expect our blogoshere will be taking unforced break of sort;).

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
missed this lively exchange. Was away on the road.



Al-Manar said...

Ayah Wang,

Go on with your hydrocarbon exploration which is more important than kain pelikat business.

Al-Manar said...


Go on with your trip. It all seem very exciting looking at he pictures. I wonder if the river you cross is not crocodile infested. The grassy bush on the bank looks scary to me.

Come back and be ready with a good posting.

aliya said...

Dear Pakcik Hassan,
Sorry to inform you that I have never seen an atlas in schools for years! Even the Geography teacher no longer carries it to class. So it's not surprising the children gave you blank looks, hehehee.. The only world map available to all students in my urban school is the large one pasted in front of the school library. So anyone who still owns an atlas should keep it; might be an antique for the museum in the next decade :P

Al-Manar said...


What you say about the geography teacher in an urban area is an eye opener to me, thinking all this while that this is an isoalated and localised kampong phenomena. How different this is from the way our experienced teacher (Kota Star above) effectively did during his days at an elite school up north near where yu are.

As an English teacher I would love to hear your views on the current teaching of English; which I often pooh-pooh, rather unjustifiably perhaps.

I am very glad to see you again. I frequent your blog which often carries very interesting Islamic related topics. To give comments requires some thought and that gives me the lame excuse, nantilah dulu.

Salaam to you and family.

Al-Manar said...


I must say I have been having problems trying to make comments on certain bloggers' entries. The comment box appears and quickly disappears leaving space with 'create link' message. I fiddled with this and got myself into some trouble with Mamatim's blog. This is a new problem with my laptop, picking and choosing who I should and should not leave comments! I wonder what the problem is.

Perhaps any one reading this would volunteer to advise me. I am truly 'buta huruf' in this modern technology.

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pakcik,
In my KGV schooldays especially during Lower School (now primary classes), every year I bought an atlas because if I remember correctly, there were different categories as we progressed to higher classes. I loved those printed in England because of the high quality. Alas, our children and grandchildren are not familiar with these hard cover atlases anymore and I am not surprised that many have not seen one.

Al-Manar said...

Akhi AHS

In our old days answering questions in geography seemed incomplete without a sketch learnt from a map. Answering a question with just a well-labeled sketch was good enough to get a good pass marks in an exam. You loved atlas and I did too.

Temuk said...

Do you remember this Malay pantun?

"Kain pelikat" dilipat-lipat,
Mari dilipat tepi perigi;
Ku pinang-pinang tapi tak dapat,
Ku pujuk-pujuk ku bawa lari.

I feel that some of us also refer to "pelikat" as a pattern consisting usually of squares of different sizes (or "distorted" squares such as rectangles and diamonds) printed on a cloth. The present generation might not be aware that "pelikat/pulicat" actually refers to the place of origin of such "kain sarung lelaki" in India, since they know now of only Indonesia as the producer of the "pelikat" that they wear.

Al-Manar said...


How on earth you can remember this very beautiful pantun?

"Ku pinang-pinang tapi tak dapat,
Ku pujuk-pujuk ku bawa lari."

What a beautiful sense of humour. No, Sdr Temuk, I am hearing for the first time. I wonder how many others do. Thank you for teaching me this.

If that is your offering to me then I am duty bound to respond:

Kain pelikat berpetak biru
Berlipat terletak diatas dulang
Kalau begitu hamba ditipu
Dari puteh mata biar puteh tulang