Monday, November 16, 2009

The Reunion (Albeit a Little Way Past Eid Day)

The day before Eid Day my family and I, all six of us, packed our bags into the car boot and went on a five hour drive to Kuala Lumpur, where we were supposed to celebrate this year’s Eid Day with my father’s side of the family. How do I describe my father’s side of the family? Hmm. If you know me well, I would tell you to picture me on my highest sugar-level state. Then picture a whole house filled with people exactly like me in my highest sugar level state. If you don’t know me, I would then tell you to picture 20 Chris Rock in the same room.

My grandfather just came back from a trip to Europe with my Aunt. My Grandad is in his late 70s (or early 80s), smokes about probably 10 cigarettes a day and tends to repeat the same stories for about 20 times. My cousins told me about an interesting incident that occurred when they were in Spain. In an effort to make sure that my Grandad will be fine in case they lose him while travelling the city, my cousins taught him some basic words in Spanish – one of them being the word ‘Thank you (Gracias, in Spanish)’.
Attempt 1
Cousin: Atok (Grandfather), how do you say thank you in Spanish?
Atok: Err…. Wasiat!
(Wrong. Indeed, ‘wasiat’ is a Malay word which means ‘death will’.)
Attempt 2
Cousin: Atok, how do you say thank you in Spanish?
Atok: Err… Graciat!
(Wrong again. ‘Graciat’ is neither a valid Malay word nor a Spanish word)
Attempt 3
Cousin: Atok, how do you say thank you in Spanish?
Atok: Err…. Gracias!
(Everyone sighs in relief)
Anyway, what our family would do when we get together on Eid Day is have a giant brunch, consisting of all the heavy spicy Malaysian cuisine. After we’re stuffed we would get into our cars and make a road trip convoy to visit all our relatives, some which we only see this once a year, all around Kuala Lumpur, and the state of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
Total cars in convoy: 5
Total days of road trip: 3
Number of participants: 7 parents
11 young adults (>20 years old)
4 teenagers
1 child
Number of houses visited: more than 12
Number of cute guys seen: 1
All in all, this could probably be one of the best Eid Days I have ever celebrated in my life! Life does not get any better than good food, good family and friends and good jokes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fancy a Bus Trip Home?

Right now I am sitting in a huge bus station in Ipoh, waiting for the bus to get here. It’s Ramadhan and my absence at home during the fasting month for the past three years has taken its toll. My parents insist that I come home every week this month. And since this weekend my Dad couldn’t come and get me, I have to take the bus instead. And thus our story begins.

I always envy people who are born to be travelers. You know, the sort who can sit anywhere on earth and look perfectly like they belong there. Apparently I am the total opposite. If I am lost, I look like a five year-old who just lost her mother at the grocery store. Right now I am at this unfamiliar bus station, with people walking around like herds of sheep. They all seem to know where they are going. Meanwhile, here I am sitting right in front of a guy who has a weird tick going on. Every two minutes he’ll start nodding his head like crazy for like ten seconds. At first I thought he was nodding at me, and being the dimwit that I am, I grinned back at him and said, ‘I beg your pardon?’ But when I realized that was just a tick he had when he started nodding at me enthusiastically every two minutes I felt stupid and ignored him.

On my right is a guy who’s definitely an immigrant, one of the labor powers brought from other parts of Asia. He’s wearing a funky orange collared shirt tucked in blue slacks (so you know how I knew he’s an immigrant. Yes, I am aware that it’s a mean statement, but hey, I’m just saying what’s on everyone else’s minds). He’s looking left and right, left and right, suspiciously at everyone around him. I have a theory about this guy. I think he’s an illegal immigrant, and judging by how he’s eyeing people around him I suspect that he thinks one of us could be the immigration spy. (oh sure, I’m an immigration spy. I’m wearing two inch heels and am looking completely lost) And because right now I am typing in a laptop he’s probably most suspicious with me. He might think that right now I’m typing, ‘Reporting from Seri Iskandar Bus Station. This is spy #009 reporting suspicious behavior of an illegal immigrant suspect. He’s wearing a seriously unflattering orange shirt paired with hideous blue slacks…

Ohh the bus is here! Gotta go.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yummy Yummy Yummy I’ve Got Love in My Tummy!

Screw dieting. It’s been a year in waiting, and – Ta Dah!! Here it is again. The great food exhibition, the mother source of all the hardcore Malaysian delicacy as you’ll ever know them. RAMADHAN FOOD BAZAAR!!! Put a shirt on fellas. Wear your best most comfortable shoes. Bring loads, if possible sacks, of loose change. Take a deep breath and step out of that door of your boring, food-less home and into the haven of smoke, food and big foreign butts rubbing against your own in the midst of the overpopulated crowds (note to self and to other women: always shield your God-given chest ‘cos some guy is always ‘accidentally’ elbowing them while crazily purchasing things).

Chicken. Somehow that always seems to be the main menu. Grilled to perfection with creamy orange spicy percik sauce. Fried with all the herbs you can think off, with that heart-stopping (literally!) crispy skin. Or turned into your original, home-made satay with peanut sauce. A simple dish to your pleasant chicken rice. Or if you’re feeling like a vegan lately, how about some hot deep-fried oyster mushrooms? And do not, absolutely do not, forget about ye olde Malaysian fruit salad (mangoes, guava, cucumber, pineapple, etc) completely drenched in hot, thick, black peanut sauce.

If you’re in the Ramadhan Food Bazaar and you see no rice dishes, then go buy a lighter and burn the damn place down. It doesn’t deserve to be called a Ramadhan Bazaar. Tomato rice. Chicken rice. Briyani rice. Coconut rice. Kerabu rice. Fried rice. If you want your carbs in a different kind of way get one of those noodle soups with delicious beef or lamb soups. Off the stove, drenched-in-flavor fried noodles. Yum.

Oh yeah. While I’m writing this I’m thinking that tomorrow I’ll skip all the heavy stuff and eat at least 10 different types of Malaysia’s finest desserts and savory snacks. Puddings of all flavors. Curry puffs with spicy chicken and meat curry fillings. Rolled up dough with sardine fillings or sweet coconut mixture. Some that will give you type 3 diabetes. Some that will give you diarrhea for a week. And it’s all worth it, baby.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not a very Happy Birthday After All

It is now officially the beginning of my 22nd year in life. I feel wiser already! (ha-bloody-ha. Not so much to be honest. I still have no idea what the word ‘recession’ actually means. And I only found out on May that my country now has had a different Prime Minister since February.) And the birthday was… well on one hand, it’s the first of birthday celebrations with my family since like what, five years ago? On the other hand, to think that last year I was on a birthday cruise in Darling Harbor, Sydney, while this year I celebrated beneath the rambutan trees at my grandmother’s who happened to have six cats but is absolutely clueless that it’s my birthday.

Regrettably I wish I am seventeen again. Oih, those days when you can eat a pile of fat and not gain a pound. And it was definitely a simpler time, when nobody expects you to figure out where your life is headed and race towards it. Everybody flirts and nobody is taking everything so seriously. I am sometimes jaded by the twenty-something-old community. We all seem to be standing at the career doorway. Any interest in the opposite sex seems to notion a very far-fetched future together, so flirting has now become too much of an effort. A night out of fun consists of movies, bowling or dinner. What a blah. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned finding the things that makes your adrenaline rush? Like road trips that lead to nowhere and takes days. Or going to watch culture shows. Or planning backpacking trips to the must-see places before you die. Picnics at the park. Fishing trips. Taking French classes together. You know, stuff that makes you feel like a person who lives a fulfilling life, instead of letting the waves of the world sweep you in doing things like a billion other people are doing in the same city. The feeling of being herded like sheep in the city world sometimes suffocates me in ways I can’t explain.

At the age of 22 I have now officially belong to the adult group. I am expected to grow up. Fortunately I am here to declare that I refuse to grow up. What does a ‘grown up’ mean anyway? A wise friend once told me that maturity is not about how you act or look. Rather, it’s about how you think and evaluate things that would lead to your own personal happiness. So this year, my resolutions are still the same as my new year’s. Only, I will stop pretending that I want everything that everyone else wants. I really don’t care about where I would go in the job hierarchy in the office, actually. I just want to work at maintaining to enjoy my work. I hope I get to write for a living one day. I want to travel and see everything with my own eyes. I would love to get married some day, of course, but I have decided to settle with the fact that I am not, nor will I ever be, the kind of girl who plans her life around marriage. Rather, I would like to plan marriage around my life.

Okay, deep breaths. I am not stepping in the door of being 22. One foot in, now the other. Tick-tock tick-tock.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wedding Henna is Red and Birthday Parties = Sugar Overload

Just got back from another chaotic weekend in Kuala Lumpur. I am relieved that my ass has now landed on my most favorite place in the world again – the office chair in my parents’ study. On Saturday I went to Odd’s Birthday party with Hana. Odd is one of my oldest friends and I have known her for a decade now. Very calm, relaxing, family-themed party, and as usual I over-ate and ended up bloating with too much corner piece of the oreo cheesecake birthday cake. I don’t know about you but when I’m on sugar high I feel so goooood while pigging out on cupcakes and tiramisus but by the end of the evening as I lie down in my bed I feel my tummy and think, ‘Damn, so much of bitching about Kristy Alley’s lumpy butt!’.

(Odd's Birtday cake. Gotta say, kudos to her parents for being thoughtful enough and making her blog the top of the cake!)

On Sunday was my roommate in college for three years’ wedding reception. When the first wedding of your closest BFFs happens, somewhere in the background you hear a clock starts ticking. You might be a career woman in no hurry to get hitched, or you might be the kind of girl whose future plans are centered around marriage – it doesn’t matter, you can’t help but hear that annoying tick-tock of the imaginary clock, and think to yourself, ‘Am I in this phase of my life already? When everyone is starting to get married?’


(Some pictures from the wedding)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Once in a while I become a person in a place where everyone knows everyone else and I am just a complete stranger. Oh, you know you've been there too. Like when you go to a party your new friend is hosting and everyone else in the party works together or have been friends for a long time, and they talk about work that you know nothing about and have private jokes among themselves. And you'll be standing there, sipping gallons of punch because it shows that at least you're doing something while you'll be smiling around like a bloody gibbon trying to laugh at jokes you don't undestand. See? We've all been there.

I went to Kuala Lumpur to visit one of my bestest friends, and it happened to turn out that on last Saturday, 20th June 2009 (yes, that's right, a month to my birthday. Yikes!) her office mates asked her to go for a trip to the Waterfalls in Ulu Yam, which is located in the state of Selangor. Of course she insisted I joined them, and secretly I kind of dreaded this, because

a.) it'll be worse that the awkward party, because there will be no punch to drink

b.) there're only 3 girls and the rest of the 4-car trip will be boys. I mean, it's always easier to pretend to know a girl. Just find a topic to bitch about and you're all set.

But we went anyway, and Hana (that's my girlfriend's name) and I rode in a car with a pair of twins. Shirt-matching, look-alike, yelling, lovable 23-year old boy twins. I don't think I have ever seen a pair of grown-up twins before. And for the whole trip they argued about everything - the route, the food, the life. At one point they were swearing at each other so hard i thought they were going to rip each other's heads off.

After about an hour drive (or more) we were driving uphill to get to the waterfalls. On the way we passed by the Batu Water Dam, which is one of the state of Selangor's major water dams. Here's what it looks like.

And when we drove by it, the day was one of those moody. cloudy ones that just made the place look extra mystical. Heavy clouds were smoking around the green, lush hills. The water was calm with that eerie feel, like a Loch Ness monster might come out any minute. I could just picture myself doing Yoga for hours by the shore of the lake.
At the waterfalls things were not as bad as I expected it to be. I mean, this was by no means any match to the Kedah state's best waterfalls, but it was still be-a-u-tiful, like any God given's nature would look like as long as we humans don't start screwing it all up. (that being said, there were still trash everywhere in the bushes. what is up with all these assholes?) Hana's friends were also generally very nice to me, although like any male species, they get excited when there are huge colonies of them and thus begin an endless supply of swearing, middle-fingering, really bad sex-jokes and lots of roaring and jumping (imagine a gorilla thumping his chest, if you will). You just have to look past that and see the good in them. Again, sigh, what we girls have to do to except males as they are.
This was also one fo those rare moments in life when everything you read in 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus' are demonstrated exactly as how it was written in that damn book. A typical girls day out at the waterfalls would go like this.
"Find a nice place. Set out a matress. Wait till water is less cold. Get into water slowly and complain how it's freezing and that we hate this. Soak in the water while bitching. Then sit at the waterfalls and enjoy the running water which is very spa-like. Then find a sunny spot on the rocks and lie on the warm rocks while talking about the office bitch. Conversation carries on for hours about all the gossips in the world while paddling feet in the water. See if there are fishies in the water. Then go back on land, change clothes, fix hair, eat, relax and go back."
Meanwhile, a boys day out, as observed, went something like this.
"Find spot. Who cares about beauty. Just find a place with water. Set out matress, dump everything on it. Take off shirt, jump straight into water. Splash water on everyone else. Play some sort of sport in the water. Accomplish things, like 'how many times can we pass the ball around without dropping it in the water?' If it's twenty times, accomplish thirty on the next round, and so on. Ocassionally check swimming shorts to make sure it's not revealing too much of personal assets. Eat and pig out on food. Play land sports or games.Jump back into water. Accomplish more things with water sports. Meanwhile do not stop swearing and making lame jokes. Then go back on land, change, finish every food that was left behind and go back."
I rest my case.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Bare Witness to this Historical Event!

No, it's not the day when Burberry decided to use checkers for its brand trademark.

I am a girl. No, that's an understatement. I am a girl's girl. I can watch Friends repeatedly over pizza, and I like clothes, drama series and hot guys. Basically I am like you, and if you're not this girl then I'd bet you know one of these girls in your lifetime. Yes, I am that.

Now let me tell you about this HISTORICAL EVENT of mine. I live with a father and two brothers, which means that in our DVD collection at home there is a good mixture of romance comedies and kick ass action movies. One day a few years ago the men in the house watched a martial arts film. Yikes, a martial arts film. I took no notice of the movie and carried on with my life. Now I have just graduated and unimployed. I spend my days drifting around the house, looking through photo albums, sorting out the tupperware in the cabinets (yes, I was that bored people) and re-watching all those collection of my movies. At some point there was nothing left to do. Literally nothing left to do. I had washed all the bathrooms in the house. I had woken up, ate, slept, ate and slept again, but the boredom was like a huge blade poking at my pelvis. I looked around. Hmm, those action movies dusting away in the drawers don't look too bad...

I watched Ong Bak, a Thai movie by a male subject I have never heard before, Tony Jaa. And dayum! Martial arts movies have not been this good since, I daresay ever! Of course, I have yet to watch any Bruce Lee movies, but dude, who is this Tony Jaa person?? Helped by the mighty power of Google, I discovered that this guy, this Tony Jaa, this head-kicking-chest-elbowing-mind-boggling-punch-swinging man is actually the rising star of this generation's brand of martial arts actors, specialising in Muay Thai which is a form of Thaland martial arts.

I couldn't get enough, so in the same day I managed to watch all three of Tony Jaa's existing movies;
1. Ong Bak
2. Ong Bak 2
3. The Protector (aka Tom Yum Goong)
Okay, now where do I start with this guy? Oh, and he's not cute, by the way. Not to my taste I mean. But he makes it up by kicking lots of asses in style! He uses no computer or CGI tricks, and no strings. All those flying right on top of people's heads and elbowing their skulls were real! And that ripped physique as a result of practicing martial arts all his life - let's just say it makes Robert Pattinson look like a sissy and all those men buffing up in gyms look like amateurs.

All the storylines pretty much sucked. In the protector, for instance, Tony Jaa loves his elephants. Bad guys steal his elephants. Tony Jaa finds them and breaks their faces (very important lesson here, folks. Don't fuck with this guy's elephants!). Then for the fun of it Tony Jaa beats the shitload out of those bad guys. Cliche, cliche. In one of those movies there were even no subtitles, so I didn't understand a single doing of Thailand language in there. But seriously, who cares? This guy appears on screen and I can actually, yes this is true, feel the adrenaline rushing through me, just because I am excited to see him kick some ass. I watched the whole movie without subtitles, and still by the end of it I felt exhausted just by watching him show Spiderman, 'This is how we do it baby. CGI and computer tricks are only for wusses'.

And so, I have witnessed the historical event of the birth and rise of the next martial arts star who will do Asian proud. You heard it here first. And I am now fully converted from the girl who watches the Shopaholic to anxiously waiting for the next Tony Jaa film (Ong Bak 3, coming on Dec 2009. See? That's another clue. If they keep making sequel after sequel, you know what that means. It has to be good). And here's some advice. Even if you hate martial arts movies, and have no interest in some action packed films, give it a try. Come on, girls. It's not all about the shopping bags.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - A Million Dollar Love Story

What is it about good love stories that make you feel oh so warm and fuzzy inside? I don't really like the cliched Hollywood romance movies - they are so predictable, packed with lame jokes and cheesy lines. I don't like cheesy lines. Romance, for me, is not about what you say, it's about what you do. Anyone can produce a cheesy line. All those 'your eyes are like the sparkling starts on the sky' and the 'Oh Romeo, Romeo' crap doesn't make me melt, they make me irk. But when you do something, something unmistakeable not cheesy yet has the word 'love' stamped all over it, now that, ladies and gentlemen, now that is what I am looking for.

I watched Slumdog Millionaire because Rotten Tomatoes movie review said that it was a 'modern fairytale' and 'surprisingly refreshing'. And I love movies. I watch all kinds of movies from action to drama to indie to cross-culutural ones. Movies have this power of transporting your mind into a completely different world. And for Slumdog Millionaire, my oh my. I did not think any of the boys were cute or any of the girls are pretty, which are usually the reasons most people would want to see a movie, but the film just sucks you in, into this world where the hero does not look like an underwear model and the heroine does not wear designer shoes and sips cofee in the mornings.

It's not your typical movie, and what I wouldn't give to watch something original for a change. It's basically about a Muslim Indian boy who went through poverty and the begging industry, and participated in 'Who wants to be a Millionaire' in India just because he knew the girl he loved would be watching him. I mean, the way he was always looking out for her and trying to save her even though he couldn't - I WANT A BOYFRIEND LIKE THAT!! And the best thing was they were seperated for years because of the whole poverty thing, but he never stopped looking for her. A big fat W-O-W.

In the beginning, when they showed his living environment as a slumdog, it actually made me feel like I could not wait to adopt a kid from India. The director did not design the film to be sad and sympethatic, he directed it in a matter-of-fact manner, which is good becuase it reminds us that stories doesn't just happen in New York City, it happens anywhere in the world where humans live.

There was one distinct moment in the middle of the movie when the boy was waiting for the girl at the crowded train station, and when she looked up to see him on the upper floor. Sigh. They did not say a word to each other and only smiled, and that is an exact example of what I meant when I say that it's not about what you say, it's about what you do. They said nothing but you know right there that this is one hell of a beautiful scene. And the ending was just purr-fect.

So kudos to the guy who made this movie. I love it. It's different and authentic, and believe you me, since the 21 November until today I have watched no less than 60 movies, and this is one ranks real high.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year - Time to Shut Up and Stop Complaining. Hip Hip Hooray.

Today is 2009. This year I'll start working, and I'll be waving those years and lifetime attending classes goodbye. I remembered an earlier time when my father was teaching me how to use the toilet properly. I remembered the few times my mother would come home from the hospital with a new baby - my younger sister and my two brothers. I remembered my old school bag with a picture of a cartoon swan at the front zipper. I remembered the little things, the familiar scent of my nanny when I was younger, those junk food i bought after school, that lifetime when the world is a happy place, when I have a mother and a father and a family and friends and school.

I also remembered a vital portion of my life - my complaints. I complain about everything. I wished my handbags are more expensive. I wished my life is more adventurous. I wished I was richer. I wished I didnt have to go to school and spend more time doing anything I want to do. Most of all I liked to complain that my life is not satisfactory enough, like there are so many things waiting for me to do.

Humans are designed to be ungrateful. That is why older men face mid-life crisis and teenagers rebel, why girls want to be skinnier and chidlren think parents are getting in their ways. We are designed to always want more and keep complaining. I am a true example of these people. So to have a resolution to stop complaining would probably be utterly impossible, for me or for anyone else. It's like defying how we were made.

Sometimes when I think about it, I honestly, and I'm not just saying this - loathe myself. I get scared that one day, maybe, God will be tired of listening to my complaints that He would stop giving me anything anymore. Last night was the new year's eve and all I ever did was complain that I did not have a proper celebration, like going out with friends and watching fireworks and screaming and yelling for no reason in excitement in the Perth city. I complained that my life was boring. After midnight I was reading 'Yahoo News' and it said that children died in Palestine during the bombing. Adults too. So as I was complaining about my boring New Year's Eve, simultaneously as I was speaking, a mother had lost her child, a girl had lost a brother, someone was not able to say a proper goodye to her father, and a boy could not even find the pieces of his dead mother.

As I thought about this I wondered why God did not send someone, or something, to come and slap me right across my face and to tell me to SHUT UP AND STOP COMPLAINING. Because God understands that men reap what they sew, that men are selfish, self-centered and have no appreciation on how lucky they are. I'd bet that while I was complaining that my clothes were out of season and my laptop is too old, someone on the darker side of the world, Palestine, say, would give anything to have my life.

So this year, I am going to make a new resolution. The old ones would still be affective of course, those same old resolutions that I've always had, like losing a few pounds, working out more, sleep less etc. But besides that, I will add one more thing to my resolution.

I want to do something that has nothing to do with myself and my benefits.

I'm not sure exactly what it is. Maybe I'll volunteer for a charity, maybe in a few years I will adopt an orphan, maybe I will spend my Christmas holidays helping out refugees in some other countries. I have not figured out exactly what it is that I want to do, but I will definitely do it. My father always told me that when we die, one of the things that will stop us from going to heaven would be those people who I could've helped in this world but I did nothing to help them, because I was busy being too self-absorbed. Why wouldn't they anyway? The life after this holds so much more justice that this world will ever have. And I don't want that to happen to me.

So once I've started working this year and I am more financially stable to support myself I would give it a better plan. And I am definitely going to ask my girlfriends (that'll be you guys, Hana, Odd, Zaza, etc) if they want to do something too. I mean, I'm sure it'll be a lot better if I have friends to do it with. And I am definitely sure that my girlfriends with their lucky lives would look forward to do something bigger than themselves too, right? Wink wink ;)

So, year 2009. Here's hoping for a life better lived, time well spent, and friends and family well loved. Peace out~