23 Oct 2013

Sarah's wedding preparations

Sarah's wedding is just under a month from now. I think most things are okay, except for the guest list. We had not wanted to invite a lot of people- just very close relatives and friends. People ( relatives who were not invited) keep asking why they were not invited! I never realised its so hard to say no, we can't invite you because seats are limited and if you don't attend we would lose a lot of money. I had this problem at Wan's wedding. Friends say they will attend and then on the very day itself tell me 'I'm so sorry but I can't attend because of a family emergency! " 
Don't they realise that the seats will still have to be paid for since we can't replace them as they told us too late? I wonder at the inconsideration of some people. 
Today I got a note from my sister in law who insists that I invite her two brothers, who are not really related and not even close to us. Sarah says just ignore it and pretend I didn't receive the note. Maybe I'll do that. If we had the wedding at home it would be so easy. We'll just invite everybody! 

There are still some things to do - I haven't ordered the flowers yet and the door gifts for the Malacca ceremony. Thought of doing that today but now I'm down with a horrid headache - had to see the doctor yesterday. Hopefully I'll be well enough by this afternoon to go out. So many things to do and so little time

The wedding invitation
Sarah's invitation card which she designed herself.

And this is her solemnisation ceremony dress. The ceremony will be held at home and we are having a very small  gathering after that . 
the wedding dress that she will use for the solemnisation ceremony 

21 Oct 2013

The Ghost Bride

Title: The Ghost Bride published by HarperCollins Publishers
Writer: Yangze Choo
Year published: 2013

 The Ghost Bride, written by first timer Yangze Choo, a Malaysian settled in the US tells the story of Li Lan, a young motherless girl in Malacca in the late 19th century. What pulls me about this book is not the characters, nor the plot but the setting. Set amidst the hustle and bustle of colonial Malacca, a port city in then Malaya, it brings to life the realities of historic and colourful Malacca. I enjoyed reading about 19th century Malacca, partly because I am a Malaccan and also for the beautifully described cultural scenes. 

Lee Lan is a genteel Chinese girl, whose mother had died of smallpox when she was just a child. Brought up by a father who is more often clueless and drugged on opium, she depends a lot on her old Amah. The family fortunes had dwindled and now they are living in almost poverty, when one day Lee Lan is told by her father that one of the richest family in Malacca had approached him to propose her as a wife for their dead son! Fortunately her father had rejected the offer. 

However things changed when Lee Lan was invited by the Lim family to play mahjong with the matriarch. Wandering around the house after going to the rest room, she comes across a young man and is at once fascinated by him as he courteously explains to her the intricacies of the clocks in the house. She did not realize that young man is actually the nephew and heir to the Lim family, Tian Bai. Soon after Lee Lan takes her leave but just before she leaves the Matriarch of the house asks for her hair ribbon. 

That night Lee Lan dreams of the young man who had  died. His name he told her was Lim Tian Ching and he was courting her. Frightened, Lee Lan blurted out "Aren't you dead? " which kind of made things disappear. She wakes up sweating in bed, too frightened to go back to sleep, until she finally dozes off in the early hours of dawn. 

From that night onwards Li Lan is haunted by dreams of Tian Ching who insisted that he loved her  and wanted to marry her! 

The first part of the story is rather slow and in spite of Li Lan's  journey through the spirit world and her experiences there I found that I really had to push myself to read on. If the romance part of the novel had been better developed it would have made better reading. In the second part we follow Li Lan through the spirit world in her fight against Tian Ching. She finds help with a spirit guide, Er Lang and with his help finally makes it back to the real world just in time to claim her body which had been stolen. 
I spite of its slow start, this book does have  a satisfying ending and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys something different. Li lan as a character is different from other girls of her time. She is educated, strong and brave and even though puled into the underworld, fights against it.

A book that has many things to offer - ghosts and ghouls, demons, dragons, good guys and wicked vengeful spirits. Very interesting read. I'd give this book a 4 star rating, out of 5.

2 Oct 2013

A short trip to Bandung in Indonesia

After I came back from Mauritius, my sisters Laila and Sabar invited me to follow them on a shopping trip to Bandung, in I ndonesia. Indonesia is our neighbor and although I won't say that it has fantastic shopping ( not to be compared to London or Paris) but things there are really much cheaper than here in Malaysia. We were there for three days and two nights- just a small forage into their fabric market where one can buy Swiss voile and French lace for a third of the price here in Malaysia.

My sister Laila intends to open a bridal boutique and the best source for bridal wear and other stuff is tally Indonesia. A beautiful lace kebaya here costs only RM20/- while here in Malaysia the same one could cost up to RM200-300/-. So off to Bandung we went - my sisters and a niece and myself. It was a fairly hectic trip because Sabar is a shopaholic and does not know the meaning of tiredness or fatigue. After the first day of going around looking at fabrics, haggling the prices, trying on clothes, I felt ready to give up. But Sabar and Lin my niece will go on, saying oh this is beautiful! Or 'you should take a look at this one!' The many willing salespeople were so so helpful - demonstrating  lines and shapes, pulling out more and more fabrics for our perusal and persuading us to make our decisions to buy.