29 Oct 2008

What I love

I love waking up to the sounds of birds chirping near my window, hearing the tinkling bells of my two cats as they run upstairs to greet me the moment they hear my door opening; I love watching my koi swimming in the pond and gobbling up the food pellets I throw; I love looking at my garden - the white purity of my jasmine, the rustling of the bamboo as it moves in the breeze, the soft gurgling of the waterfall as it falls gently over the manmade pond and the bright beautiful faces of my hibiscus - white, pink, orange and yellow. I wish I could see the bright happy smile of my grand daughter every day - surely her grin alone would banish all clouds of gloom!

Like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, there are times when I feel like bursting into song - "All I want is a room somewhere... far away from the cold night air... in some enormous chair oh wouldn't it be loverly...lots of chocolates for me to eat... lots of coal making lots of heat.." And talking of Eliza Doolittle, My Fair lady is one of my favorite films. I love the play - Pygmalion and also the movie that it was turned to.

I think here in Malaysia we have so much that we take everything for granted. We forget sometimes that the peace we enjoy can be taken back by words meant to hurt and disrupt. We all say that we are against racism and yet when we are the favoured race we tend to close an eye and that is something that I hate. In the 60s and 70s when I was growing up in Malacca, race is something that is just there on paper. We never thought of ourselves as Malay, Chinese or Indian. I grew up in a small village in Malacca. My Chinese neighbours had two children - Ah san and Ai lee - both teenagers to my 8 year old self. And yet when my mum had to leave me alone in the house, she'd tell Ah San, a 15 year old Chinese boy to look after me. Sometimes when it rained and my mum could not take me home from my primary school, she'd ask Eddy or Chong - both 17 year olds - to go to my school in her place. Its the innocence of those far off days that I love. Days when I could go to Ranjeet's house and stay over for lunch, with no... or walk with Visalachi to the library to borrow books and then stay at the foot of St Paul's Hill to talk and play without worrying that someone would come to kidnap us - a couple of 8 year olds.
I wish the world can stay safe so that my grand daughter may enjoy her childhood as much as I did mine.

28 Oct 2008

Thinking aloud

Generally Malaysia is a great country. We don't have floods, earthquakes, volcanic erruptions or even cyclones. The tsunami that hit us in 2004 was so mild compared to the one that hit the coast of Sumatra. Yet, its as if we Malaysians want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. We brag of our multi -ethnicity and talk of our ability to live in harmony all the time. Its right there in many of our advertisements showing all the races living together happily. But is all this just what it is - a brag? Something that is as real as the plastic plates we love so much. Just yesterday I saw in the papers (Utusan) the criticism of so many supposedly educated people about Penang's proposal to use all main languages on the road signs. What is so wrong that we cannot use English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil on our signages? How long are we to cling to the old and much used phrase - negeri Melayu? Will we actually lose our Malayness if we have the 4 languages on our road signs? Think of how easy it would be for our foreign guests if we have signs in English. In Singapore, not only are the signs in the four languages, all announcements at the MRT stations are in the 4 main languages. We teach our children to respect the other races in our country but in action we are not really showing them a good example. Just tune in to the parliament sittings either on the radio or on tv and you'll know what I mean. If we want Malaysia to survive, we have to start thinking as Malaysians and not as Malay or Chinese or Indian. Saying that we are a multi -ethnic nation and yet not giving a chance to the other races to be heard or seen is as good as being a hypocrite. Sometimes I wonder what we are afraid of. Is it losing our language? I doubt we'd lose it since the schools are teaching it anyway and it is the national language. Is it our cultural superiority? That is again not the answer because by learning and having more languages at our disposal we add value to our culture rather than detract. So what is the problem?

23 Oct 2008

OUM Raya Day

As usual OUM hosted its raya on a working day. This time around, probably to save costs, no singers were invited, which is probably a good thing too because the last time they invited outside singers, one of them wore a shamelessly tight outfit you could see everything, including her map of India. Ha ha. The flowers arranged by Prof Shaari were again fantastic, though Puan Sri commented on the fans which were held up by white, cloth covered poles. She said they looked like batu nesan or grave stones and that it affected her mood. However where food is concerned there's nothing fantastic about it- everything was run of the mill. The weather was good - no rain, though it had rained heavily for the past few afternoons - but as can be expected it was humid. Sweat trickled down my back. I bet no trace of makeup or lipstick can be seen anymore on my face. There was a fairly large crowd, though from what I heard they were mainly from the admin and other staff. Few lecturers turned up. I wonder why. Don't they feel they belong? When I was working I enjoyed mixing with the other staff and here I see that the academic staff hardly mix at all. Except the Heads of course. I sat with prof Zoraini, Prof Rahmah and Dr Widad as well as Hanin who is now the Director of CIDT. We were entertained by the staff some of whom sang very well. There was also a Bhangra group. They sang a few Hindi songs and also performed a Bhangra dance for us which was really energetic and fun.

18 Oct 2008

How does your garden grow?

I'm back in Melaka and things are just great. My roses however are not doing so well though the orchids are showing their true colours. I still don't know many of them - I guess orchids will always be strangers to me. My true love is always the rose, in spite of the many difficulties growing them. The problems with the roses seem never ending. First its the little white maggot like caterpillars, then it was whitespots, now I don't really know what's eating them. I've sprayed them with an insecticide but the problem has persisted and now the buds look stunted and brownish. If anyone who knows how to deal with them is reading this, please please tell me what to do! This time around none of the roses look healthy, though the white one is not too bad. The lllies on the other hand are doing great! I've pictures to show them off but will have to wait until I get back to KL to upload them.

I was watching the news last night and the news about the plundering of our Forest reserve came on. To me it isn't really news - this has been going on for years and only now the authority finds out? One does not need any great intelligence and a research team to know that anybody who can, is stealing our logs, taking reserve land, killing the forest and goodness knows what else! Admittedly Jandabaik is a bit off the beaten track but if you are in charge of the forests, wouldn't you be there going around, flying over the forest reserves tracking poachers, and log thieves or illegal land acquisitions? Even in Selangor I think a lot of our reserves have been taken over by illegal immigrants. There's this area near the MRR2, just across the Putra Terminal that I notice has suddenly bloomed into a mini township with largish bungalows and semi-Ds. Whether they are legal or not we don't really know but they do look haphzard and very illegal -looking. In fact they look very much like a group of squatter homes due to the nearness and lack of proper drainage systems. Also they have been cut into the hillslopes - much of which I feel pretty sure belongs to the Selangor government. Doesn't the Gombak District Council realise what they are doing? If the land is legally owned, the way the buildings are put up definitely look unsafe and illegal anyway. They really look like a squatter settlement, albeit with brick houses. Can somebody tell me what they are please?

Generally Malaysia is great country. We are so blessed in that we don't have any natural disasters and please don't say that our floods are a natural disaster! You have not seen the floods of India and China or even what hurricanes can do in some parts of the world. And yet its as if we want to kill the very goose that laid the golden egg. Instead of fighting with each other - in politics anyway - I really wish the Opposition would look at the REAL issues - pollution, environment degradation, poor education planning (esp the curriculum), poverty, improving our infra structure and the list goes on. Not how many MPs are leaving BN for PKR, or what Hindraf is doing... When BN lost their seats in the last election it shows that the people are fed up with its lack of action with all the problems that have been plagueing us all this while. But now that PKR has been given a chance to do something... what have they done besides gripe and boast and generally create a scene during the parliamentary sessions? Even Anwar is just acting - Nst -Oct 13-Act 1 scene 1 (front page news). Come on Mr Opposition, stop boasting and start working! Show us that you do care for the country and that your party is not just for you to take revenge against the BN for what it did to you before!

15 Oct 2008

Birthday blues

My birthday has come and gone - no big deal. Well at least 3 of my 4 children remembered and my daughter in law can be said to stand in for her husband I suppose - the one who forgot to wish his mum happy birthday. Shasha bought me an ABBA cd and two of my favourite authors. Repin gave me a new phone to play with. And OUM sent me some flowers - courtesy of Datin Teh, I suppose. Beautifully decorated by Prof Shaari. So what did I really want for my birthday? NOthing much - just my old Longines watch which had gone missing for some time. I have not given up hope anyway - I'm sure its somewhere, waiting for me to claim it back. But I do feel heartsick when I think of it, because no way is Repin getting me another Longines. I know I've been careless with it - just leaving it wherever I like. Once it was in the pocket of my jeans, where I had put it for safekeeping when I went to take my ablutions. Yatie my Indon maid, put it in the washing machine without checking whether there's anything in the pockets and washed it! You can imagine how I felt. Luckily for me though, it was quite tough enough - it was still going strong when Yatie took it out after the first spin cycle! So you can take it from me - the Longines does have 9 lives and is as tough as an elephant. So I do want it back and hope it is somewhere around the house, though I've searched everywhere, even between the cabinets and all my handbags.
Talking of birthdays - Peck Choo called and since I missed that, she texted me a birthday message. Feel so rotten coz I didn't remember her birthday until it was a week later - and it was already Ramadan. Much later Gurnam also sent me her wishes and repeated wanting to meet. Hmmm... sounds familiar right? Anyway I told her I'm always free - just make a date and I'll be there. Like last year and the year before, she's the one who's always busy.

13 Oct 2008

Sophia at 14 months

And her generous smile See her cheeky face ! Engrossed in mum's purse

Sophie is now 14 months, almost 15 months old. Its amazing how much she has learnt in just a few weeks.

She definitely knows what she wants and shakes her head if it isnt what she wants. Loves books, Disney playhouse, Teletubbies and Noddy. Enjoys music. She goes to some gym thing to learn how to play and to mix with other kids and enjoys the pool. I think she's really the greatest kid anyone can have.

8 Oct 2008

Mamma Mia!

Just saw the much awaited movie (for me). And I can tell you it does not disappoint. I've always loved ABBA and to see a movie featuring most of their songs is really fantastic. I think Merryl Streep was really great as the mother of the bride. I love Pierce Brosnan - the most dashing James Bond ever - but he didn't really shine as one of the"dads", especially the singing parts I thought. The songs chosen were really wonderful, the dancing superb and the story line so natural, it fits the songs so well its as if the songs were written for the movie instead of the other way around. Kudos to the script writer and director. But again I think Meryl Streep was just a super actor - as well as the young actor who acted as her daughter - Amanda Seyfrid. Quite unknown but a good actor anyway. Its a real "feel good" movie - gives you this fantastically great feeling, even much later. I'd recommend this movie for any ABBA fan and for the uninitiated - its a great introduction to ABBA. I guarantee you will fall in love with their songs and be a fan too. I remember teaching my UM students "I have a Dream" and they really enjoyed it. I wish I can see them and tell them to see this movie - I'm sure they'd love it too.

7 Oct 2008


Other favourites My Nora Roberts' collection

My book stash has really depleted so nothing to do but get Sara's books to read. She left her Vampire series - Twilight, Eclipse,New Moon and Break of Dawn by Stephanie Meyers. Quite interesting but its fairly close to LJ Smith's Circle Midnight Books. Hmmm maybe LJ Smith is better in the characterization - her women characters are stronger, not so wimpy as Meyer's. The story line isn't that far away but I still don't like the woman protaganist - Bella. Edward the male protagonist is not too bad. However, the books are engrossing as a whole. Not bad for a fantasy. A bit long winded though. I'm sure there are many parts that can be taken out or shortened.
I'm waiting for Nora Robert's final part of the Blood Brothers' trilogy, The Pagan Stone. This trilogy is quite scary and should thrill adventure story lovers and those who love fantasy.
Wonder how it'll end.

I've also been reading a few other blogs - some as mentioned in the Blogs of note and some as I found them while travelling through other blogs. Irshad's blog is about the Islamic revolution - progress and the Muslim women, tradition versus religion and so on. I agree with some of the things she says but reserve the right to disagree with some other things she has said about Islam and about the Muslim in general. I know that sometimes some Muslims are real hypocrites - either they are hypocrites knowingly or unknowingly I'm not sure. Only Allah knows what they are. But to me, the real Muslim is not what you show the world but what you are inside. Whether you cover your hair (for the Muslim woman) or wear the jubah and keep a beard, and look pious... well that is just the outside, the form. And that is easier to show - the more difficult is being a true Muslim inside and out. One who does not speak false, who appreciates all that Allah has created , not just what he perceives is Islamic in nature but every creature - big or small, poor or rich, good or bad. A true believer would never kick a dog just because we cannot touch it when its wet, or refuse to give alms when no one is looking or throw rubbish over the fence " because it is not in our compound". I have known some Muslims who are bigots and some who are liberal and progressive. I don't think it is anything about Islam the religion but the person himself. If a Christian is found to be a bigot and a hypocrite, do we call him a Christian hypocrite or a Christian bigot? Do we condemn his religion? If a Buddhist or a Hindu does something wrong, do we condemn the religion? No, right? So why do we keep condemning Muslims as bigots, hypocrites or terrorists? I think that is the person that is doing whatever it is he or she is doing. Condemn the person, not the religion.

4 Oct 2008

Flash Flood!

When we woke up today it was raining really heavily. Thunder rolled across the skies and when I looked out the window, I saw that it was really dark. But when I got downstairs a nasty surprise was waiting for me.

Water was seeping through the glass sliding door and also through the wooden door. I hurriedly woke Repin and together we rolled the carpet and I carried some of the chairs to the dining room. By 7.30 am the water had risen to about 6in. Nothing to do but wait. The rain was still pouring from the sky and if it didnt stop anytime soon the water level is definitely going to rise. At the patio I could see some of my flower pots under water so I hurriedly transferred them to a higher spot. My poor roses looked drenched.

1 Oct 2008

Idil Fitri

Raya Breakfast
Today is the 1st of Syawal and Idil Fitri.

Me and my grand daughter

Picture here is Rizal and Sophia having breakfast of lempeng.
Of course we also have ketupat, but the little one wanted her nenek's lempeng ( a kind of pancake), so lempeng it is, Raya or no.

The pace was really hectic this morning - especially around 11 am when all my mother in law's relatives came. In fact, it started just after the Eid prayers. First Hasnan and family came, then Faridah and her family and from then on it was just one long line of visitors with no stops in between. I think at one time there were easily 50 people in the house - there was no space to turn even! Let alone eat. Luckily I had the foresight to cater from Mami Enon. Of course we had the usual stuff - ketupat, rendang, sambal tumis ikan bilis as well as udang, Urap kelapa.

Found out later that Min and Yah came but turned back because of the crowd.Sigh...
I think for me raya will never be the same until Sara comes home. I miss my poor baby - even eating and entertaining isn't the same without her.