Labels

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A CUT ABOVE






Kevin
You are definitely in the league of your own
A CUT ABOVE the rest

Saturday, December 20, 2008

JOLLY DAY

Tis a season to be jolly.....tra lala lala lala la la....

Xmas has become a celebration for all.
Not only the Christians, but the Buddhists and the Muslims and the atheists and the Hindus in Malaysia are traversing the shopping mall this weekend looking for a little or a huge something for their loved ones.

While the parents grudgingly spend the bonus in advance, the kids are all smiles in anticipation for the Day.

More appropriately, perhaps would be....
Tis a season to be joli.....tra lala lala lala la la....

(jolly in English means festive, happy whilst joli in Malay means "enjoy by squandering!")

Friday, December 19, 2008

GHOST TOWN

En route to the "Pearl of the Orient" (I think that's what they call Penang) we stopped by in Taiping for two reasons.


One was to get some sustenance since 6 bodies were playing orchestra to the different beat and tempo in the car. Actually it was the only sound that was keeping me awake while the rest of the passengers were being lulled by my smooth driving.


And secondly, to verify that Bukit Larut is still the wettest place in Malaysia or whether KL has taken its place, given the amount of rain we get in this metropolitan city!


So, we parked our car at a cost of RM 0.50 which gave us 3 hours of parking. (Yes...it's RM 0.50 and not RM 5.00 or RM 50.00!) and off we went on an adventure in Taiping.


The town was so quiet and we could not help but notice that most of the shops were closed. Our first thought was that it was lunch time (although it was a bit too early as it was only 11.00 a.m. then) or maybe it was a holiday in Perak and we are not aware of it.


It became the topic during lunch why this town is like a Ghost Town on a weekday and none of us could come up with a justifiable answer.


While strolling back to the car, my hubby, the ever "penyibuk" one amongst us, decided to ask one of the locals what has been happening. Then it was revealed to us that the economy is so bad that it's affecting the small shops. In fact most of the shops in town have been closed for over a year now.


We were so saddened by the news that our second mission remains unaccomplished.



Saturday, December 13, 2008

MADE IN ITALY



My husband, Franco wasn't born in Italy. In fact, he has only been to Italy once in his whole life -to a small town called Rende, which is actually his surname, which is also the place where his father came from. It is a village with dying population in Calabria, South of Italy.

Although he is just an Italian descendent, he takes pride in everything that is made in Italy, more than what's made in Canada, except the maple syrup, of course. From food to furnishing. If the cheese is from Italy, it has to be good. If the furniture is made there, it would be top quality. And 9 out of 10 times, he is absolutely right.
MADE IN MALAYSIABlockquote

On the other hand, I was born and bred in Malaysia. I am a true Malaysian in every sense but why can't I have the same confidence in anything that is made in Malaysia?

I remembered receiving a survey call asking some questions about the household which includes whether I have any appliances in my home that is made in Malaysia. So off I went to do the inventory while the lady waited on the phone - Tuscany oven, Lebbenstil toaster, Bosch washing machine, Fujitsu laptop, Beurer dehumidifer, Sharp microwave, JVC speakers...my last resort was the rice cooker and even that was not Made in Malaysia. I just hung up the phone as I was too embarrased to admit that I have none!

I am not trying to be a snob but the truth is we are still not as MALAYSIA BOLEH as we hope to be.

THE KILLER SHOES





"Ouch...these things are killing me."
And yet Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos are still being sought after by ladies all over the world. These shoes usually have a special shelf in the ladies' wardrobe. They are polished and kept in the box until the next use. They are talked about and compared to. They become the obsession for most women.
Medically, there is nothing good about wearing high heels. On the contrary, they give you a lot of pain on the toes, the heels, the back of the knees and along the spine!
How can something so expensive and so beautiful be so cruel?
How can anything that give you so much pain be loved that much?
The answer is simple but difficult to be comprehended by practical people, like moi.
It is all about style over substance, vanity over sanity and beauty over sensibility.

THE LANDSLIDE


A) What does it take for the authority to stop giving permit for the hillside construction?
B) What does it take for the developer to stop developing in areas prone to disaster?
C) What does it take for consumers to stop buying properties built on such location?
Another tragedy?

Nope...I don't think so. We have had a few landslide incidents involving death, property damages, personal injuries but apparently they were not sufficient reason to stop all together.

To answer the first question - possibly, a cleaner local authorities with smart, qualified people who are accountable for their action.
Secondly, the developer will always build when there is a demand. Basic economics. In Malaysia especially, where the properties are bought even before the construction begins. If the consumers show no interest or response to a particular housing project, then the developer will for sure rethink of their decision to build or not to build.
Finally, as for an individual, we have to be more savvy and do a lot more due diligence.

From an economic standpoint, the cycle starts with the consumers who create the demand. And where there is demand, there will be supply. The authority is just the opportunist in an economic chain.

So, who are we to blame?

DEWI BENCANA



"Hello, Dewi Bencana speaking."

That would be the response I would receive from Tasha when I call her on the phone now.

Such was the power of acting by Raja Azura who played in Sinbad held in Istana Budaya recently. Tasha is so enthralled by her acting and jokes that she could not stop talking about the performance.

Sinbad was played really well by a really handsome kid (by Tasha's standard) and Puteri Maisarah sang oh so beautifully.

It was a great night out for us (well...not sure about Franco as the play was in Malay).

So, well done the Malaysian Children's Theatre for putting up such a great show.

Friday, November 28, 2008

THE NIGHT COMER V86.4


Allah ordered (the appointed angels) that the good and bad deeds be written, and He then showed them the way how to write.
If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed;
If he intends to do a good deed and actually does it, then Allah will write for him in his account from 10 to 700 hundred times, to many more times;
If somebody intended to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write a full good deed in his account;
If he intended to do a bad deed and actually does it, then Allah will write one bad deed in his account.
Sahih Al-Bukhari

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROTHER

If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken,
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools;
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run;
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my brother!
IF By Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ROOM OF TREASURE


The best thing in life always comes in small packages. This is so very true for me when it comes to our recent house renovation.
The room I love the most was the maid's room that has now turned into a storage room. It is the smallest room in the house but I LOVE it for everything that is dear to my heart sits in there. The books that I would not part with and their smells, the photos that shape my life, my CD collection that I used to head bang to and Franco's tapes that filled with angry music. My shoes, handbags and power suits. My gzillion postcards from all over the world, our love notes, my university books along with other references - they are all in there.
For everybody else, it may just be a storage room, but for me, THIS IS MY ROOM OF TREASURE.

FATWA ON YOGA


There is now a fatwa in Malaysia banning Muslims from practising yoga for fear it might deviates their belief. These are a few moments that I must say, I am ashamed to be a Muslim. It is this fatwa, along with some others that have rendered us Malaysian Muslims to be completely narrow minded.
I admit that I am not a devout Muslim but I will stand by every Muslim principle that I believe in and I will fight and debate those matters to death when challenged. But when this fatwa was made public on Saturday, a Christian yoga friend called me up to challenge me on this issue. And for the first time ever, I was speechless.
I am not sure how something so good can be seen by a few narrow minded people as a deviation and then be passed on as fatwa. I bet none of these people have ever been to a yoga class. I bet they don't even know the different types of yoga that are available, let alone name them all. Again these people manage to put Malaysia as a laughing stock on the map.

So, all I can say is Good luck Malaysia in reaching the 2020 goal...if this is what our leaders are concerned about, then we have a long way to go...

CAVEAT EMPTOR

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Low Yat to look for a new handphone pour moi. The current one that I am attached to is 10 years of age (hence my attachment to this little thing). Unfortunately, for the last one year it has been plagued by certain illness which makes the ringing tone unuseable and when the message comes through, it only vibrates whenever it wants to - all of which I am happy to live with. After all, having a phone is never a life or death situation for me. It is convenient to have but I can definitely live without.
Of late however, the battery is acting up on me. A lot of times, I would be so into a conversation, describing the most gruesome experience when I realised that I have been talking through a dead phone ("potong stim" only!). And since the phone is so old, they don't even sell the batteries anymore. Hence the trip to Low Yat.
Anyway, the choice was between a Blackberry or a Motorola V9. The Blackberry was for the possibility of joining the corporate world in the next few days (or weeks) while the latter was purely for esthetic reason.
When asked the retailer for help, I was asked the question "under water punye ke?" which I thought meant that the phone is water resistant. So, "yes" was my answer! and marveled at the latest technology!
Little did I know what it truly meant and lucky for me, the knowledge came just before I made the purchase! I am not a BIG under water fan, so , we aborted our search and moved to find the authorised dealer for these phones.
LET THE BUYERS BEWARE

Sunday, November 16, 2008

REFLECTION AT DAWN

It is 4 o'clock in the morning and I just couldn't put myself to sleep again. So many things are going through my head - not only about the issues that are bothering me but also about things I am thankful about. For even in times of trouble, there is always something to be grateful for. And friendship tops it all today.
Through the years I have made many friends but retain very few. It is usually in times of need that you realise who your true friends are. I am so blessed to have a few of them and would not trade them for anything in the world, unless it is a mansion in Hollywood Hills, of course! So, goodbye my fair weather friends and hello and thank you to my stormy weather ones!
Friday started off well with a good tennis session with Coach Din after dropping the kids off at school. After a quick shower and change at the Tennis Centre, I drove to Shah Alam to pick a stormy weather friend #1 up from a hospital. It was the least I could do for her kindness in offering us a place to stay while we battle the contractors and each other.
Anyway, it was at this hospital that I received a phone call from my stormy weather friend #2 who excited me with her recommendation for a position in an MNC, that years ago I probably would die for. After the conversation was over and I had time to digest the news, I suddenly have a mixed feeling about this offer. The truth is I thought I was resolute with my decision to go back to SKM but this offer is making me think twice about my judgement, and that is NEVER a good way to reignite one's career!
But that is not the worst news that is giving me stomach and mouth ulcers. I am not sure how I feel or should feel - disappointed, upset, sad, or all of the above - I thought I know of this stormy weather friend #3 like the back of my hand, but lately he keeps making one bad decision after another that is affecting our life, so I am beginning to wonder whether our welfare is being taken into consideration when these decisions are made. And when they are, where does it lie in the list of priority. Currently I am feeling pretty low in the list when usually I am a very high person who would not be perturbed by such things. It would be so easy for me to brush off my feelings as being silly, but this time, I just can't shake it off.
I guess that's why they are the stormy weather friends. They usually are the ones brewing the storm, oopss, I mean...they are suppose to be there when the storm is brewing, no.. really, I mean they will always be there when the tea is brewing after the storm.

Monday, November 10, 2008

COMPANY DINNER

Oh...there is nothing worst than having to attend a dinner with Franco's colleagues and their spouses.
As recluse as I am, I am usually not that bad but Franco's colleagues are in a different league all together. At 41 years old, he is the youngest ex pat in his company, with the oldest being in his 70s and the second youngest a granny of 55 years old!
So, do you blame me for finding a million excuses not to attend any of these functions? Usually I succeeded but tonight, I can't escape it.
Franco's BIG boss from Canada is in town and we are going to Zipanyu in Shangri La for dinner. He even arranged for Sylvia to babysit Tasha and he has chosen the night in a week that I don't have yoga or tennis! Bummer! Tough to say no, though, NOT because Franco has threatened to rent a wife if I decide not to join him but I heard the Japanese food is out of this world there and j'aime la cuisine de japonais!
After years of begging, he finally finds the bait that works!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

ORGHE KELATE

My youngest sister has been crashing at my place since our trip to Singapore. Being the chatterbox that she is, the house has been filled with Kelantanese dialect since her arrival instead of the usual English and sporadic BM used when I am upset.

Tasha is loving the language and tries to speak it at every opportunity, which is a joy to hear although half of the time, it sounded like a new language has been created! We even took her to watch the movie Budak Kelantan which is a bit too adultish for her but has some beautiful Kelantanese language spoken by some of the actors. Even my husband didn't want to miss out on the fun and has finally succeeded in saying "seksen ne belah" like a true Kelantanese.

Ahhhh...at last... my home now feels like a real Kelantanese home!

Friday, November 7, 2008

FOR GOOD TIMES...

I love Singapore for a number of reasons but mainly because of the family whom I love dearly live there and they are a part of a beautiful memory of my teenage years.

Way back in 1964 when my mom was studying in Singapore, she was notoriously playful that my grandparents placed her under the watchful eyes of Pak Cik Salim and Mak Ain, who were my grandparents' best friends. The families were so close that for a while I thought that my grandfather and Pak Cik Salim were brothers until it was revealed to me otherwise.

They took on their role as godparents seriously and extended the same hospitality to my sister some 20 years later when she entered STF in Johor Bharu. Since I was in TKC, Seremban during the same period of time (we are only a year apart), my parents would drive from Kota Bharu to do the mill run and eventually all of us would end up at Pak Cik Salim's place. Singapore was truly our second home way back then.
When we heard that Pak Cik Salim was battling with lung cancer and had just undergone sessions of chemotherapy, a trip to Singapore was in order. It was decided that my mom, my sister and my daughter would follow me. Undoubtedly, everybody was eager to see Pak Cik Salim and his family but little did I know that everybody had an ulterior motive which was revealed en route - my mom was dying to go to Joo Chiat to buy her jubahs, my sister had been dreaming of going on the Singapore Flyer and my daughter insisted that the trip to Singapore would not be complete if she couldn't get her favourite Roti Pisang at the Food Republic on Orchard Road.



Back in Tampines, Pak Cik Salim looked a bit frail but still has his charming smile on. Mak Ain is never short of stories - be it about the past, present or future. I love reminiscing with her as she has the capability of filling in the gaps with details that made you go "yeah...that's it". The memory became so vivid that the past seemed just like yesterday. Kak Mina has not put on weight since 1986 and is desperately looking for pills to help her gain some weight while Kak Esah's food is out of this world that she should be awarded as a 5 star Michelin chef! Abang Man is the envy of the family who spends most of his time in his holiday home in Batam.



I have not slept at their place since I left TKC and decided to do so on this trip for old time sake. So, "Hotel Lambak" was back in business again after 20 years and everybody slept peacefully after all their wishes came true.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

HOUSE RENOVATION




I have two words for it:

NEVER AGAIN

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN

http://decideforyourself.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/left_right_brain_xp.jpg


One of the qualities that attracted me to Franco (apart from him being very neat and funny!) was his analytical prowess. He is always very logical and practical in his decisions (well...the few that he arrived at without the DIVINE intervention!).
He creates spreadsheets for everything and carries a TO DO LIST wherever he goes. All risks are calculated and if it tips on the risky side, the project is abandoned long before it commences.
In the "brain" world, he is your ultimate LEFT hemisphere.

While I on the other hand loves spreadsheets and schedules (LEFT) too but sometimes wonder why I bother with percentages and bottom lines when 9 out of 10 times, I would just go with the flow, let my gut feeling and instinct (RIGHT) lead the way. I tend to see the bigger picture (RIGHT) as opposed to seeing parts in detail (LEFT) and believe that when it feels right, it should be and would always be right (SO RIGHT)! (Of course that was not always the case - but when it is, it's a euphoria!)

I love forming strategies (LEFT), (in fact that's what I do for a living) but most of them are in flow charts (RIGHT) instead of words, and I draw maps (RIGHT) when giving directions rather than use words (LEFT).
But don't get me wrong...I use words a lot and so does Franco. In fact I am sure my friends would be ever so willing to testify that we are never without words, kind or otherwise, especially to each other.

I am a challenge to the "brain" world as my left and right sides are probably wired to each other and it is just a total BIG mess up there.

And then we have our sweet but impetuous daughter. We couldn't handle her 11 imaginary friends when she was 4, and get annoyed with her lack of eye for details. She perceives things spatially, beyond the place where our imagination dares go. I don't even have to make a list of her trait...she is just RIGHT in every way.

In a lot of ways it is frustrating but fun that we don't think, do things or act the same way .
Franco will always be our ROCK while I play a hand of black jack and Tasha dreams and dances her night away.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Earrings from Tasha beloved
Days before the 23rd
She was too excited
Or so she stated
Breakfast at La Bodega
With fancy friends and their Prada
Thank you for the lovely present
Which makes me trendy but decent
Hit the gym in the evening
With a trainer that keeps beaming
While pushing till I'm in pain
Otherwise he will go insane
Had my favourite dish
One that's called Rojak Buah
Simple, cheap but ooish
It gathered lots of wahhhh
Played the best tennis ever
With a mate met just months before
Although sore the next day
What an exhilarating experience, I must say
The ritual dinner at Toh Yuen
With the Peking Duck ordered in advance
Always fun to be with family and friends
Right till the very end

Thank you all for the wishes, thoughts, gifts, meals and presence.
They are most appreciated.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

FRIENDS

Sometimes you go through life wishing that special someone was there to share the blissful moment, or be there when you need a shoulder to cry on.
Admittedly, I only have a handful of those special ones. It could be because by nature, I am an introvert, or maybe, I am simply just difficult.
Friends for me would have to be like the perfect pair of shoes that fits in so snugly and effortlessly and becomes an extension of you. They are difficult to come by but MY GOD when they do...they will be cherished and treasured till the day I die.




























GRADUATES?!@

Last year, I had the displeasure of having to recruit some fresh graduates for a post with a consulting company. After going through 20 CVs and shortlisted 10, I experienced the most painful time of my life when I interviewed the candidates.
2 out of 10 candidates arrived late. I have no tolerance for tardiness, regardless what the excuse is, so, they were sent home without a chance to be interviewed.
Out of the 8 who arrived in a timely manner, the first one was eloquent but lack enthusiasm. He was quickly dismissed as I would rather have a non-graduate with passion than a Masters graduate without one. It's a shame as he was the most qualified on paper but the slouch and the slur during the interview were something I just could not handle.
The second had an acceptable command of language but was so black or white. I was like that too, but when I was 15, not 25! Wish life is as simple as that.
The third was presentable, but a tuxedo for an interview? I asked him whether he was going to a wedding after the interview but he didn't get the joke. Oh...never mind.
The fourth didn't even last for two seconds. He just stomped in, took a sit without being offered and what got him thrown out was that he didn't even have the courtesy to wish me good morning. So, I wished him good bye instead.
The fifth one was a sweet girl who nearly cried when I challenged her to a debate about how much she was worth. She eventually recoiled and told me it was up to me. Hmm....not exactly a procurer's material.
The sixth insisted that the interview be conducted in BM because her English was not that great. I insisted that she should know not to apply for a job with a foreign company if she was not able to communicate in English, and I further insisted that she left without further ado.
I won't bore you with the rest but you got the drift?

HE IS


The sunshine of my day

The shooting star in the night



An oasis in the desert

A Noah's ark when it floods



The BCD when I'm drowning

The safety net when I'm falling



The voice of guidance

The cane in the darkness



My solace

My bliss

Thursday, October 16, 2008

HARI RAYA 2008






We landed on the morning of Hari Raya in Kota Bharu. My sister and her kids were already there waiting for us. The street was almost empty.

As we drove away from the airport, the sound of takbir from the nearby mosque filled the air. Funny how you associated a sound with a certain feeling or a face or a place. For me, the takbir brought back the memories of my maternal grandparents, and the place is Pasir Puteh.

As a child I used to celebrate every first morning of Hari Raya with them. We would get dressed up to the ninth and walked to the mosque and every year, people would comment on how I had grown, since most of them would only see me once a year on this auspicious day.

After the prayers, the adults would stop by at my grandparents for breakfast and the children, hundreds of them would line up to get their RM1 duit raya and Teh Bunga (Chrysanthemum Tea). Nothing gave us more pleasure than seeing a smile on their faces! I remembered how sneaky some of the children were. They would get in the queue over and over again. Not to be beaten by those cunning boys and girls, we implemented the stamp system the very next year!

For 17 years, that was the routine on the morning of the Hari Raya. It was like the groundhog day, with me being a year older each year.

I wonder what Hari Raya means to Tasha? Is it as meaningful as it was for me?

EAT, SLEEP AND BE MERRY

Let's face it....
There is no magic cream, no slimming treatment, nor a gallopping machine that would shed those extra pounds permanently. If there is, we would not have obesity as the number 1 killer in most developed / developing countries.
Seriously, if you are determined to lose weight, there is only one way and that is the old fashion way. Exercise, exercise and more exercise.
However, for some, exercising tend to backfire. I know this for a fact when I was trying to help a friend lose weight. She would go to the gym religiously, spend hours doing a combination of cardio and weight training, only to return home to an enormous dinner! She called it carbo loading as an athlete would do before a competition, but seriously, her work out was not even close to half the intensity of the athletes, but I didn't tell her that!
I was determined to help her lose weight but I couldn't tell a food lover to stop eating, so, I went surfing in a hope that I would be able to give her a list of food and drinks that she can have in abundance instead of giving her a list of Don'ts.
What I found in a nutshell are as follows:
A) Potassium-rich foods are great for helping you to lose weight as they are low in calories and will keep you going for longer. So, try eating more beans, spinach, yogurt and baked potatoes with the skins on.
B) Instead of drinking water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, beans and wholemeal foods, all of which are packed with H20. It will do your weight loss plan more favours in the long run as you’ll feel fuller for longer.
C) Get enough sleep. Studies have shown that people who get more than seven hours’ sleep a night are less likely to put weight on than those who don’t. Scientific research has also shown that a lack of sleep can reduce levels of the appetite-regulating hormones.
So, now you can "snack and sleep" and still lose weight. Isn't that wonderful?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LEARN HOW TO LEARN

In such a fast-moving ever-changing world that we live in today - where jobs are exposed to digitization, automation and outsourcing, one of the abilities that should be developed is the ability to "learn how to learn" - to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new ways of doing new things.

It is not only what you know but how you learn that will set the person apart. Because what you know today will be out of date sooner than you think.



An excerpt from: The World is Flat


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

BAHASA MALAYSIA

This scene took place as soon as Franco returned from Tasha's ballet class a few weeks ago, where he, the one and only ballet dad, caught up with all the gossips (from politics to the Malaysian education sytem) with the ballet moms.
You may think that I am cruel to subject him to this. The truth is, he enjoys the session more than I do, plus, with his "inquisitive" mind, he's normally able to extract info beyond your imagination. So, the session gets very out of hand and very juicy indeed with his presence!
OK....back on track
"We have to find Tasha a new school. They are changing the language medium in her school yet AGAIN!" Franco yelled from the door.
"I don't know why they can't just decide whether the children should be taught in English or BM and be done with the decision. I don't know what inspires the change, after all, it's not like their (the Malaysian politicians) kids are affected. They are all in International Schools anyway," continued my ALMOST Malaysian husband.
I said almost because he has been here 12 years and he is still not able to quite digest that in Malaysia, every issue needs to be politicised.
THE PAST
When we were choosing school for Tasha, I fought for her to be in a Malaysian education system whilst Franco wanted her to be in an International School. Among other reasons, I wanted Tasha to learn Bahasa Malaysia and be proficient at it by exposing her to a more Malaysian-oriented school as opposed to diverse foreign cultures and languages in an International School as she is already experiencing such diversification at home!
I am also very aware that English is a prerequisite in the world that we live in today and possibly for the next few decades.
Putting the 2 together, we eventually compromised on Sri Cempaka as the school offers Bahasa Malaysia as a subject and use English language as a medium for other schooling matters.
W
ell...not to mention that it is a mere 10 minutes drive from home.
THE PRESENT
3 years came and went, and what we realised is that the knowledge of the Malaysian language that she possesses barely even scratch the surface of the deeply rooted language. Whilst her ejaan (spelling) and rencana (dictation) are perfect, she has very little pemahaman (comprehension) and struggled to find the correct words to write a karangan (composition). This is frustrating for me because I know what she is capable of doing with the English language (which is not even her mother tongue!)
That was indeed an eye opener for me. I started observing friends and acquaintances around me. My french friends especially, would speak their mother tongue to their kids at all times, regardless of company present. So do my chinese, my german and italian buddies. But when it comes to my Malay compeer, especially the ones in KL, most admit speaking to their children mainly in English. Some even told me that they are far too superior for the humble language!
THE FUTURE
I am not saying that this is wrong as I am guilty as charged too. But what I have come to realise is that, if we truly want our kids to speak, breathe and think the language, we should start by exposing them to the language where it matters the most, at HOME.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SELAMAT HARI RAYA


Selamat Hari Raya
It is Hari Mulia
Celebrate with sanak saudara
Who is ogling for duit raya

Let's forgive and forget
So that we can beget
Peace in the heart
And Paradise I bet

On raya day we eat and eat
Until we finish all the rendang meat
This goes on day and night
Till our bajus become very tight

After raya it's another story
That we all love to hear surely
Boring stories become bestseller
That's the way it would be until next puasa




Saturday, September 27, 2008

BEING HAPPY

From the book BEING HAPPY by Andrew Matthews

"Here I am at last...happy!" Hence their life story is one of "I'll be happy when...."
Each one of us has a decision to make. Are we prepared to daily remind ourselves that we have only limited time to make the most of what we've got, or will we while away the present, hoping for the better future?
The following piece was written by an 85 year old man who learned that he was dying.
"If I had to live my life over again, I'd try to make more mistakes next time. I wouldn't be so perfect. I would relax more. I'd limber up. I'd rather be sillier than I've been on this trip. In fact, I know very few things that I would take so seriously. I'd be crazier. I'd be less hygienic.
I'd take more chances, I'd take more trips, I'd climb more mountains, I'd swim more rivers, I'd go more places that I've never been to. I'd eat more ice cream and fewer beans.
I'd have more actual troubles than imaginary ones!
You see, I was one of those people who lived prophylactically and sensibly and sanely hour after hour and day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it all over again, I'd have more of those moments - moment by moment by moment.
I've been one of those people who never went anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do all over again, I'd travel lighter the next time.
If I had it to do all over again, I'd start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay way later in the fall. I'd ride more merry go-rounds, I'd watch more sunrises, and I'd play with more children, if I had my life to live over again.
But you see, I don't."
Isn't this a beautiful reminder? We only have so long to live on this planet. Let's make the most of it. The old man realised that, in order to be happier, in order to get more out of life, he didn't have to go and change the world. The world is already beautiful. He had to change himself.
The world is not perfect. The degree of unhappiness is the distance between the way things are and the way they "ought" to be. If we cease to demand that things be perfect, the business of being happy becomes easier. We then choose to have preferences for the way things might be, and decide that if our preferences are not met, we will be happy anyway.
As the Indian guru once told a pupil who was in desperate search of contentment, "I will give you a secret. If you want to be happy, BE HAPPY!"

Friday, September 26, 2008

BACK TO THE GRIND

William and I had been on skype for the last month, negotiating my package to rejoin the establishment that I left less than a year ago. We finally came to a settlement a few hours ago.
My husband congratulated me. He seemed to be more excited than I am.
Why am I not feeling elated about going back to the corporate world, about being the only lady in the man's game, about leading a team of players from every corner of the mother earth, about getting an increment without even having to fight for it or justify it.
A year ago, this prospect would give me a high for days and days but now, it just doesn't give me anything. In fact, it might have given me a low! What is wrong with me?
The answer came when I spoke to Tasha. She bawled almost as soon as I uttered the 4 letter word and in between sobs, asked, "Who is going to surprise me at the door when I come home from school?"
I felt my tears welling, but I fought it so that I could reason things with her, without making a big scene. I finally managed to convince her of all the good things that would come out of it. By the time we were finished she was all smiles again, kissed me good night and jumped into bed. I managed to muster a smile back at her while thinking, the one person that really needs to be convinced is yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It all seems to be rather dim at the moment...

JEKYLL & HYDE

Fasting month is a great time for reflection and applying the same concept in tennis, this morning, Coach Din and I reflected and focused on the prowess instead of the power of the game.
"Sports don't lie, because in a game, both Jekyll and Hyde come out to play," he chuckled.
I gave him a puzzled look, demanding an explanation.
He then shared with me his frustration with my one habit (of the many) that is so faux pas in tennis (I won't go into the technicalities of it).
Suffice to say, for as long as he has been coaching me, we have tried and tested a lot of different techniques to counter this unwanted action but we have yet to find a permanent solution.
Sometimes when he thinks that he has succeeded, when Jekyll did what he has to do, the Hyde in me rebelled, took charge and came flashing in his face.
So, should I do something about Hyde, perhaps go for hypnosis to tame or be rid of him? Hmmm....I could do that but do I really want to? Afterall, this is the same guy whose persistence and endurance had brought me to a greater mile....who will I then be without him?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HOT YOGA

LET'S GET PHYSICAL
Hatha (Physical) yoga was introduced in India in the 15th century. It follows a program of postures (asana) and breath-controlled exercises aimed at achieving physical strength and stamina, as well as building mental concentration, freeing the mind from distraction. The asanas are designed to tone and strengthen all the muscles and joints, improve metabolism, agility and flexibility.
Approximately 85 per cent of the people who practice yoga practice hatha yoga. While hatha yoga styles vary greatly, all hatha yoga has evolved from one origin or discipline. How the asanas are done and where the attention is focused may change dramatically between teachers and style. Some of the approaches are rigorous or more physically demanding (Ashtanga, Power) while others have a meditative or therapeutic quality about them (Ananda). A few schools crank up the heat to rid the body of impurities (Bikram), while other schools use props for the asana (Iyengar) or chant to create an invigorating and calming experience (Kundalini).

FEELING HOT HOT HOT

“Hot Yoga” or Bikram Yoga which is the IN thing nowadays is a derivation of Hatha yoga. It is a physical yoga that is practised in a heated room. Each session can burn anywhere from 300 to 1,000 calories, so it’s not for the picky and malnourished!

Why the heat?
Firstly, muscles work at their most efficient at 36C. Keeping the muscles warm enables you to stretch more deeply without injury.
Secondly, the heat helps open the pores and rid the body of toxins through sweat. Optimal humidity improves the immune system and rejuvenates the skin as sweating promotes detoxification.
Finally, it helps to thin the blood which in turn would increase the heart rate for a better cardiovascular workout.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Many of us treat Yoga as an opportunity to "work" the body, without integrating the sense of spirituality in the yoga practice.

The way I look at it is that yoga is simply a tool for developing connection to the Inner Self. Many people are capable of attaining this connection without the need to perform traditional yogic exercises and meditation. So, who is to say that it is wrong to solely practice Yoga on the physical level?

Many have also raised concerns about Yoga causing lower-back pain, injuries to hamstrings, knee sprains, damaged cartilage, heat related illness and dehydration (especiallly in Hot Yoga).

My view is that heat related illnesses and dehydration can occur in any kind of sports if the participants do not replenish enough fluids into the system.

The best way to prevent injuries from Yoga, is the same as with any other activities, if it feels good, go for it and if it doesn’t, either stop or go get it checked out.

Secondly, anything done excessively can never be good for you, so, moderation is always the key.

IT"S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Due to a wide range of yoga available, yoga may mean different thing to different people. If you were to ask a yoga master what yoga is, he would probably talk about spiritual integrity and effective healing powers. The individual who suffers from chronic pain might express yoga as a getaway to a great joy while Andy Murray, the tennis ace would reveal that the hot and sweaty yoga sessions helped him beat world no. 1 Roger Federer.

Personally, I have gotten rid not just the toxins in my body, but also my massseur whom I used to frequent regularly due to my back ache, my orthopaedic surgeon who made so much money from me, now I am not giving him a penny and my aesthetician who kept telling me that the breakouts were caused by the imbalance hormones but still insisted that I saw her every biweekly.

While every school of yoga has its own approach, while people perform yoga for different reasons, the results are the same. It nourishes the body, mind and spirit, intimately connecting the triad to wellness.

So, what are you waiting for?




















Friday, September 19, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - CITY OF CLUSTER






THE WEATHER

As we drove from San Jose to San Francisco, the clear blue sky quickly transformed into thick grey clouds. The thermometer reading suddenly dropped from 38C to 23C. My eyes were fixed on the reading which just kept dropping and finally stabilised at 18C. After being in California for almost three weeks, and being in 40C most days, this was the first time that we didn't have to blast the air conditioning in the car. The temperature drop was surreal, to think that San Jose and San Francisco was just half an hour drive away.

When we were walking to the hotel lobby from the car park, we could feel the gush of wind on our face. It felt so fresh and crisp - a nice jolt to the system after being lulled by Franco's driving. Within seconds though, the air became painfully cold when the wind started gnawing on our bones! It was the afternoon of a summer day, and we were freezing! During check in, we were told that day, 20th July 2008, was one of the best summer days they had this year. Oooooo....time to get some hats and gloves!

THE MEMORABLE MEAL


Our first stop was the Union Square, the city centre which resembled a European city. Still fighting the cold, we decided to heat our body up with loads of sugar at the Cable Car Cafe, famous for their generous servings of pancakes and toppings. I ordered a pancake with bananas, walnuts and nutella and my god! I have never tasted such sweetness in my life. The pancake was deliriously delicious but seriously....If I had to finish everything on my plate, I probably would have to spend the rest of the year at the gym just to burn off those millions calories.

THE HORROR

After the pancake fest, we proceeded to Chinatown where we managed to get gloves, scarves and extra cardigan for Tasha in time for another drastic temperature drop as soon as the sun disappeared.

We decided to tough it out and walked through the Financial District to enjoy the architecture in the area. We ended up doing very little walking but a lot of hopping, skipping and jogging just to keep us warm. So, yeah...we covered the Financial District in less than half an hour!

THE DEJA VU

We decided to have dinner at Fisherman's Wharf which reminded me so much of Sydney sans the Opera House. (They have the view of the Alcatraz instead!) It was a nice stroll along the water and the seafood chowder did the trick to warm me up but it was so "deja vu".

THE RICH AND FAMOUS

I didn't like San Francisco that much. I find that it is a bit too small and crowded for me but, if I had to stay there, it would have to be at the Presidio. Indeed...this is the Beverey Hills of San Francisco. The houses were grand and the lawns beautifully manicured. We spent the morning of our second day walking around the estate and the nearby park. Even the air smelled different here! We got a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge from here but Tasha insisted that we walk across the bridge and that's what we did after each of us had chosen our dream house.

THE STRESS

When we were in LA, the toughest part of driving was not finding the destination as we had a Mapquest that took us everywhere but to find parking without costing us our arms and legs, unless of course you have USD 40 to burn daily just to park the car.

In San Francisco, it was not just bad, it was a nightmare. When we did eventually find one that did not cost us an arm and leg, we were only allowed to park in the spot for half an hour.

Poor Franco had to watch out for the time and run out to put more coins in the slot every half hourly while we had our lunch in Chinatown.

THE TOURISTY THING

Of couse we did the Lombard Street, the Giardelli Square, the Golden Gate Park and the cable car ride but when the sun went down on the second day, we headed to the hotel and thought, let's have a treat.

THE TREAT

So, off we went to a cinema - What better way to spend the evening than watching Mamma Mia. The movie was very entertaining, we loved it and it was a nice ending to our stay in San Francisco.....

































HOLLYWOOD DREAM

The audition in Singapore was flawless and getting a BIG YES from Deborah Gibson was a huge victory. We left the Arts School smugged and contented. With our permission and without Tasha's knowledge, Tasha's agents started wheeling and dealing to secure sponsorship for her to attend the Electric Youth Camp in Los Angeles.
Corporate decisions in matters like this, in the current economic climate could take months and the agents were not naive. We all knew that they needed a lot of miracles to wring an answer in two weeks. Nevertheless, I prayed hard for them to succeed - although I could feel it in my bones that their efforts would not bear any fruits at this juncture - for my daughter's sake and simply because we didn't have any Plan B .
Tasha knew she had done well at the audition but she also knew that perfection alone doesn't land you a job. It could be that her nose was too big, or the eyes were too intense or the hair was too curly. She has gone through enough to know, to accept and to move on. Life was as usual for her while we tried hard not to mention anything related to the Camp in front of her.

The deadline for registration was fast approaching and the agents still had no good news. Time was running out when suddenly an e-mail came from New York.
"Tasha.... Gibson Management has offered you a scholarship to attend the Camp!" I shouted in a high pitch voice which could only be heard when I am very excited.
"Mom, are you serious? Does that mean we are going? Will Papa come with us? Will you tell my teachers in school? Can I call my friends to let them know?" A million questions came rushing out of those tiny sweet lips.
"Yes, yes, yes and yes".
Her eyes glistened and with a smile she whispered in my ears,
"Thank you mom. This is my dream...my Hollywood Dream...."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DEDICATED TO TASHA




Talk? No....you don't just talk, you tell stories, with
Amazing sense of dramatics, yes...you are a Drama Queen
Strong Desire to be the centre of attraction
Has always been your motivation
Animated, you are drawn to lights, camera and action


May you soon be off swinging on a star,
bringing moonbeams home in jar.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

DOES PRACTICE MAKE PERFECT?


"Ah...what is it that you are going to try your hands on now?"

That would be a common question in my family when they sense that I am restless and agitated. To which I would give a bashful smile and answered in my throat..."piano?"

I am a year shy of 40 but I have not lost the insatiable appetite to learn something new. So, I made a few phone calls and chose my teacher based on how the person reacted when he/she heard my age! So, Ricky made the cut and a week later, we started OUR musical journey.... Grade 0!

Although I hated all the kiddie songs that I have to play and all the scales which did not mean anything to me, I practised hard at each piece because I always believe that practice makes perfect. BUT IS IT REALLY ENOUGH TO MAKE IT PERFECT?

My arguments with Ricky are numerous because I am convinced that he is sadistic in nature and only derives pure pleasure when he finds fault in my recital. Being a person who does not take criticsm well, our bickering sometimes gets a bit out of hand! In fact, I have once brushed his comments off with something as childish as... "my house, my rule" to which he retorted "my class, my rule" to which I replied "my money, my rule" ....and the banter just goes on and on.

Failing to tackle the situation in a hard core manner, I switched strategy and started telling him my sad stories of how I spent my whole weekend locked in the house, practising the piano until my fingers were numb when I could have a better time on the golf course; or that I am a creative soul who likes to explore the different ways of playing the piece, to which he just nodded and said "practise again for next week!"

"Urgh....I can't do the Jingle Bells for another week. I will go jingled, if I do" I muttered.
Ricky then turned to me and said something that striked the chord....

IT IS NOT THE PRACTICE THAT MAKES IT PERFECT,
IT IS PERFECT PRACTICE THAT MAKES IT PERFECT.

Ouch...you can't argue with that.
....And the Jingle Bells filled the air in our humble abode again!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

Almost every divorce you hear of these days are on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. I thought of my similarities and differences with my husband and guess what....
While I have to think hard (very hard) of our similarities, all the differences just came oozing out I can't even type fast enough.
Since it is Sunday today, let me start with my idea of an ideal Sunday - I would love to wake up early in the morning, have a light breakfast, hit the tennis or squash court, followed by a swim. After three hours of workout, it justifies a big brunch or lunch after which we just chill out until it's time to go to our favourite Club and perform our ritual round of golf. Dinner will be at the Club followed by a leisurely drive home for some TV, book or blog.
My hubby on the other hand, loves to sleep in and when he finally wakes up, he expects a big buffet brunch on the table (breakfast will be long gone by then) , followed by TV time to help digest the food. After the digestion process is complete, we would go out for lunch and loiter around aimlessly until it's time to go to our favourite club and perform our ritual round of golf. Dinner will be at any other restaurant but at the Club because the food at the Club is ain't like Chicco or Rakuzen! After some fine dining, it's time to hit home for some TV.
We have been married for over 10 years now, which means we have gone through over 520 irreconcilable Sundays where all we could agree on is golf. (Even this requires a lot of coaxing on my part in the beginning of our marriage!)
Ah...and that is just Sundays. What about how he likes coffee and I like tea; I love Nasi Dagang and he Kopitiam; he talks to his mom long distance every weekend, and I talk to my mom who lives locally once a year; he watches every sports on TV while I play every game he watches; he walks so slowly you almost feel like he's walking backwards while I march through everything like there is no tomorrow; he is a party goer and I will make all sorts of excuses not to have to socialise; he enjoys calling even just the plumber and would talk to the electrician like they are the best of friends while I enjoy being in my study undisturbed; he dotes on our daughter and she worships him for that while I am labelled the wicked mother...and the list just goes on.
Am I therefore doomed for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable difference?
GOD FORBIDS !

I love the fact that he loves to socialise, if it is not for him, we will live a life of a hermit as I would shun every person that walks through my door; I love the fact that he derives immense pleasure from fine foods because now, with his taste and appetite, I must say that we do eat well on the whole; I enjoy going shopping with him where I would normally just choose and pay while he would bargain for every penny; I love going on holidays with him because he is just so laid back and so relaxing to be with (unfortunately this is the only occassion that I enjoy his laid back attitude) while if left to my devices, the holiday would be just another day at work...
So, the way I look at it is that, I don't need him to be me, and I certainly do not want to be him. I accept him for being different and I don't want to change him or reconcile it (well, maybe after numerous efforts of trying, I have grown more mature and know by now that you just can't change a person. It's just not going to happen!).
I just need him to complete me - and that's exactly what he does and I love him for it.












Tuesday, September 2, 2008

DON'T MESS WITH THE MALAYSIAN CENSORSHIP, ZOHAN



On Merdeka (yes...we did a lot of stuff on that day!) we walked to the Pavillion to watch the Zohan movie since it was the only movie that was showing on that day that has a U rating.


U rating, my foot!!! Although the swearing words and any explicit sex scenes have been snipped off, the content of the movie is far from suitable for our 6 and 8 year olds. Sexual jokes and references are made throughout - you can see the imprints of Zohan's genitals most of the time and the scene whereby Zohan would have sex with the ladies after each haircut is definitely NOT what I would like a 6 year old to witness!

I am more than aware that the movie is a slapstick and that it should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the mind of a 6 year old works very differently from ours. Even a bucket of salt is just not going to do it.


Anguished, I returned home and surfed for the movie's official rating. Funnily enough, I found out that The Motion Picture of America (MPAA) rated the movie as PG-13 for its crude and sexual content. So, what the **** is the Malaysian censor board thinking?



Monday, September 1, 2008

MERDEKA CELEBRATION - THE PURPOSE?

The last time we resolved to watch the parade LIVE, the Alam Flora (the cleaning contractor for KL) had already started sweeping the roads when we arrived at Dataran Merdeka.
This year, we set the alarm at 6.30 a.m. and actually woke up to it so that we would have time for a leisurely breakfast, courtesy of the Villeneuve @ City Garden. The plan was then to walk to Dataran Merdeka to enjoy the parade.
Since Franco had to suffer from the road closures due to the rehearsals prior, we thought we'll show him what the parade is all about so that he would have better appreciation of the extra minutes (more like hours actually) spent in the car over the last week!!!

Once there, my mind started to wonder....what is the purpose of it all, I mean the celebration, the parades, the fireworks?
Is it to thank our forefathers for their efforts in achieving this Independence? Well, if this is the case, after 50 years of celebration, I hope the message is loud and clear that we do appreciate THANK YOU.
Is it to instil patriotism in the citizens? I don't know how this can be achieved when half of the population was still probably sleeping when the parade ended or when most of the population was just pissed off to be woken up by the sound of endless fireworks at ungodly hour.
Is it for our children to appreciate the freedom that we have
achieved through independence? I am not sure the freedom is all that much considering the active censorship in this country.
Is it? Is it?Is it? My mind just kept wondering.....