26 Jul 2010

Reading Lights

When we were in Bandung we went to this little second hand bookstore which really caught my fancy. It was called Reading Lights and was actually a small bungalow which had been turned into a bookshop cum cafe. The shop also sells handmade jewelry and other accessories.
There are not many books but they were really interesting.Some must have even gone out of print, they are that old.  I even found one book written by MM Kaye - Death in Berlin, printed in the early 60s.  There were mainly romance novels - at least three bookcases of them - but there were also a lot of travel books, old ones as well as new ones. Browsing through the shelves I found an old book of Dean Koontz that I  had not read before - The Eyes of Darkness. Like most of his books it is full of suspense and makes you want to continue reading and not stop! Actually it  has been some time since I read any of his books so finding this one came as a pleasant surprise and it was sold for only RM10 (about US 2.50). Repin too found some books on travel and even oone about India which he had been looking for. What a real treat.

25 Jul 2010

Family Day 2010

Yesterday was our family day - the one day in a whole year we get together as one big family - my brothers and sisters, their children and mine, our spouses and our grandchildren. We've had this organised family outing every year since the year 2000 although at first it was mainly impromptu and hardly organised at all.  At that time we just got together as a family - those of us who could attend. We would have a picnic at one of the beaches in Malacca. This was after both our parents had passed away and we felt that we needed an  activity to get the family together, to be closer as brothers and sisters. But without an organised day, not many of my brothers and sisters took the time to join us and we wanted everybody to attend. So my sisters Sabariah and Jasmine took it upon themselves to organise a proper family day - complete with games, special t-shirts, banners, prizes and all!
Yesterday's event  is the  6th such event and this time almost everybody with the exception of Zaleha, attended. Leha could not attend because she lives in Singapore and her children are schooling. Sarah was back for the summer holidays as was Amir Ridzuan and they both joined in the activities. This year Rizal and Poh Lin my son and daughter-in-law also attended with their daughter Sophia. I think everybody had fun, as can be seen in the pictures here.

There were many competitions - jigsaw puzzles for kids below 12, a Treasure Hunt, for everybody, a  Waiter Race for the nimble, Stepping the balloon,building sand castles and the grandest one of all - the karaoke competition.

My brother  Zin, taking part in the karaoke competition!

Without our knowledge, a turtle - a hawksbill turtle - had landed on the beach in the middle of the night. Some of the kids were awake to watch it laying its eggs. The turtle hatchery and conservation center is just next to the resort where we had our Family Day. Some of us could see the men collecting the eggs to be hatched in the center. Quite an educational experience, though totally unplanned.

20 Jul 2010

Jakarta/ Bandung

We were in Bandung and Jakarta last weekend - for a bit of shopping and R and R. I love Bandung - its narrow, tree-lined streets, its old Dutch houses, its cool climate. Well cooler than Jakarta anyway. As usual the first place we went to was Rumah Mode and Heritage/ Cascades. After a hectic time shopping we all went to the  second floor cafe with its Koi pond and had some delicious fried ice cream and banana fritters. The Koi there are some of the biggest I've ever seen! And over fed too I think.

On Saturday we drove back to Jakarta. This time around traffic was okay on the highway - and we made it in under 3 hours. After checking in at our hotel - the Millennium - and a quick wash, Sara wanted to look at their mall. We decided against the largest and newest, Plaza Indonesia and chose to go to Senayan City instead. Even this was quite big by our standards - it had as its anchor tenant the large chain from England - Debenhams. It also boasted a Mark and Spencer outlet, Selfridges, Esprit, Guess, Jimmy Choo, Charles & Keith and so many other well known brands. Sara is in her element though as responsible as she is, she'll only buy things she knows we can afford.

Time flies when you are having fun they say. But I believe Time just flies - whether you are having fun or not. Its now July 2010. Sara is back home for the holidays - my daughter who is studying Medicine in Russia and she'll be here for almost 2 months. Its now almost 2 weeks since she came home. I look back at the year she first went to Russia, in April 2004. Its almost 6 years already. I've missed a large part of her youth - 5 years and 3 months. Today she is a self possessed, confident young woman of 22. who knows exactly  what shew wants. When she left us she was only 17 and a half - almost a baby by my reckoning. I miss the easy unconscious love she has - she is the only one of my brood who will still come and lie down beside me in bed, hug me for no reason in the world and put her head on my shoulders, even in public. Next year when she comes back for good she'll be a doctor and probably will work somewhere far away in the boondocks of Malaysia. So I say how time flies. I wish I could catch hold of it and let it stay - Time you old gypsy man, will you not stay? Put up your caravan, just for one day?

14 Jul 2010

Spring cleaning

I don't know why we still call it spring cleaning - we don't have Spring or Summer or whatever here in Malaysia after all. Maybe it's one of the legacies the British left us? Whatever you may call it Yatie and I had us a real spring cleaning of the Malacca house on Saturday. We came down on Friday night, arriving right in the middle of the night. The last time we were home  here in Malacca was perhaps 3 weeks ago so I sort of expected some mess and dust. There wasn't much of a mess though the house was kind of dusty after 3 weeks of not vacuuming.

So last Saturday the two of us got to work. She cleaned all the rooms upstairs while I helped to clear the mess under the staircase - boxes of books actually. Some day  we'd have to have a jumble sale - then maybe we can get rid of some of the books. Our house is almost like a library - we have books everywhere. Some are in the rightful places , ie a bookcase, but most are still without a home. These are the ones given to us - free books from organisations and printers. And just last week I gave away a whole bag of books to Puan Sri to sell at her Hospital Charity Shop. Repin says we could sell the books online but I still haven't done anything about it. Most are of the romance variety - the type with really sexy covers with hunky looking men and beautiful women in a steamy embrace.

I got rid of most of my old notes for Literature from the Examination Syndicate days, all of Shasha's OUM notes and so many old magazines. I wonder sometimes about our (mine and Repin's) habits - we are hoarders at heart. We refuse to throw away old things - papers, nice looking boxes, old books which we know we will never read again, trinkets that are no longer usable and oh so many other things. The proof is in my storeroom - there are old letters, postcards, plates, tins (pretty ones), old ornaments, old shoes etc etc. I just don't have the heart to throw them away and after cleaning them up, away they go again into different boxes! To be opened another year - for another spring cleaning!

7 Jul 2010

A very sick Karupin

Karupin is really very sick. He hasn't eaten for two whole days - just sips of water and when we tried to get him to drink some milk from a syringe I got scratched for the effort. The vet thinks its only a very bad cold - his nose are all blocked and and he had so much phlegm this morning. I've taken him to see the vet twice already. The next visit is Friday. The problem with him is that he's so difficult to take his meds - even to get him to eat. Even the vet can't get him to swallow his pill, so he has to be given a jab. So today he had two jabs - one for the antibiotic and the other one a vitamin to help improve his appetite. He is such a fussy eater, even when he is not sick, and right now he is refusing all his food, even the one recommended by the vet for malnourished cats.
Poor thing - there's so  much snot in his nose I wish I can do something. If he doesn't struggle so much we could perhaps use the syringe to take out the snot but I'm afraid it might hurt. But I really wish he would eat something! What do you do when your cat is sick? He's just like a baby - this morning after the vet had given him the injection for the vitamin (which was painful according to Dr Christine) he cuddled up to me, trying to burrow under my armpits. I felt like crying. I think both of us are stressed now.

4 Jul 2010

Recent reads

I've just discovered a new writer - I mean I was introduced to this historical novel by my daughter, who works in the largest bookstore in Malaysia, Kinokuniya. The writer is Mary Balogh and she writes historical fiction - her style is rather like Georgette Heyer although  Georgette Heyer normally writes about the Regency era. I  was given an uncorrected copy of the novel by Shasha but didn't read it until last week when I found I had finished reading most of my books and there wasn't anything else to read! I immediately scrounched around until I again had at least 3 books on my bed side table - one half way through and two to go! Anyway Mary Balogh was in the pile so I started on that first. And so I read... and read on and found I couldn't put it down. I like her - her heroines are independent, no nonsense types, fun loving and a bit rebellious. This was "Slightly Married" - about a young woman who was about to lose her property, her home and her way of life because of her father's silly will - she could keep the property if she married into the nobility. Otherwise everything she owned would pass on to an obnoxious cousin who was waiting for the moment to take away the house and kick her out. The saviour turns out to be her brother's commanding officer -  Colonel Lord Aidan who had come to the house to fulfil a promise he had made to her dying brother - that he would look after her, no matter what.  So as you all can guess he married her - just to save her house and allow her to live the way she was used to. The fun begins from here. The two agree that the marriage is only one of convenience and that they wouldn't really be husband and wife.   I'm not telling what happens though I'm sure you can guess.
Here is an excerpt:

She dashed across the checkered floor of the hall, flung open the door of the visitors' parlor, and hurried inside.
"You wretch!" she cried, pulling undone the ribbon of her hat. And then she stopped dead in her tracks, feeling intense mortification. He was not Percy. He was a stranger.
He was standing before the empty hearth, his back to it, facing the door. He seemed to half fill the room. He looked seven feet tall, dressed as he was in full regimentals, his scarlet coat and its gold facings immaculate, his white pantaloons spotless, his knee-high black cavalry boots polished to a high gloss, his sheathed sword gleaming at his side. He looked broad and solid and powerful and menacing. He had a harsh, weathered face, its darkness accentuated by black hair and eyebrows. It was a grim face, with hard, nearly black eyes, a great hooked nose, and thin, cruel-looking lips.

I'm a great fan of historical fiction - whether it's a chick lit variety like Julia Quinn, something more in the Regency style like Georgette Heyer  and now Mary Balogh or something with a bit more meat like Phillippa Gregory. I love them all.

This I promise you

1 Jul 2010

Our Cats

Right now there are five cats in our apartment in KL. There's Momo and Karupin - two persians who are about 8 years old now. Karupin is a bit needy and loves to be combed, while Momo is the opposite. Put a bowl of food on the floor and he'll be the first to rush over. He hates to be combed and runs  away to hide the moment he sees the brush in your hands but he is the one who actually needs to be brushed daily or else his hair will be all over the place. The last time I took him to be  groomed it turned out to be a "nightmare" - at least for him I think. He looked like a plucked chicken with his very very short hair and even his brother Karupin ran away from him if he came near. For a whole week he stayed in his basket and refused to move. He was even not interested in his food, which was very unusual so that was the last time I sent him to be groomed. Maybe one day next time when he has forgotten about the incident.

Then there's Black, who is actually grey, with black patches. A bit of a plain Jane which was why I kept her after she was born. All her other siblings were great lookers - Patrick was a handsome one with his Siamese heritage - bright blue eyes, cream coloured hair and tinges of brown on his tips. All the others were either white or cream colored and looked Siamese. I don't know where Black's colouring came from but she definitely was not a looker. So I thought better keep her with me - and gave away the others to be adopted.
The only one who will come and sit on your lap any time of the day or night is Black, our "Intan Terpilih." Sometimes she scares visitors with her devotion. She loves your lap - anyone's will do, even strangers.

After my favourite, Moshu died, at first I didn't want to take another cat, but Ginger came along. She was a malnourished, abused little one - so dirty and tiny I thought she was a month old kitten. She must have lived in the rubbish heap or in the drain because she was unbelievably dirty. Taking pity on the mewling little scrap,  I fed her and decided to keep her and today she is our new favourite, reclining on our bed like a queen, eating only Royal Canine and travelling with us to Malacca every weekend. She's smart and very mischievous though very shy with strangers. The moment she hears a stranger's voice, she'd burrow under the bedclothes and stay there until whoever it is has left. Of all the cats she's the one Repin looks for when he comes home as she's the one who will play with him. If he teases her with his foot, she sometimes runs after him to try and bite back. But her bites are loving ones and never hurt.

A very playful Ginger
Chi Chi is the beauty. She's quiet and a bit shy and very proud. She never comes to you - you have to take her if you want to pet her, although in the wee hours of the morning she'll come and sit on my tummy and knead. Like Ginger she's smart. Once I caught her trying to catch a frog in the garden. The frog had gone behind some furniture. She quickly went to the other side and waited for the frog to turn up and when it did she flicked it with her paw. Of course I quickly caught her by this time and told her not to play with frogs. She looked as if she understood but when I put her down, she went back to her game of leap frog.

Both Momo and Karupin live to eat and sleep. Like most Persians and males they'll only hang around you if they want something from you - normally food. Otherwise they can't be seen anywhere. In the day they are either behind the couch or outside on the balcony sleeping the day away.

Chi Chi, our beauty queen