Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reading, ranting and `rithmetic

"So what are you reading now?"

I pause awhile and consider. I am in various stages of three books. One new and two, I've read before. My appetite is voracious and I devour anything that takes my fancy, from the highly literary (oh, only us select few read and understand these things) to the uplifting to the downright maudlin to the nice cliched stuff I've read a million times and continue to re-read cos it's like talking to an old friend.

Usually when someone asks me this they simply want to know what I'm reading. They're asking for information and also because I'm likely to plunge into the narrative, summarising it, telling them what I like, what I don't like, how it makes me feel...

But this person is not asking for information's sake. He has that air of conscious superiority. He asks to despise my taste. In which case I should say, "Torrid Lovers at First Embrace" or some such inconsequential tome (although I could probably argue that Bakhtin would have approved) and now despise me if you dare!

Except that I'm not Elizabeth Bennet and although he's contemptuous and forbidding, he's not Mr Darcy.

I would like to say a book of Virginia Woolf's essays and I'm up to Addison at the moment, but that would be approval-seeking. And I don't want his approval. Or to let him see that his contempt has affected me. The way to deal with contempt is to go the other way. As in, I'm too secure in myself to care what you think. I know I'm smart, too smart for the likes of you, who reads an article (or review) of a book or flips through reading only sections and then attempts to lay down the law on it.

Excuse me? I read the fucking book in question. Like twice. Or three times. I could quote great swaths of it, not to impress you (God forbid!) but because I loved it so much. How dare you come to me with your half past six understanding, with that slight sneer and bored, rather sarcastic expression and tell me what to think?

My lecturers didn't attempt to make me think one way or another about fact they encouraged me to disagree, to form my own opinions on the relative merits of Hamlet or Death of a Salesman and they gave me high distinctions for doing so.

Who the fuck are you to tell me what to think, you underbred wannabe writer?

So go ahead then, despise me if you dare.

Because you know what?

I sure as hell despise you.

A Little Musical Interlude

OK, OK, this is a departure but I want to put it up on my blog so it is always there for me to click through to. I heard it a few years ago, actually they showed the video on Malaysian tv, a filler in between serious serious Indian drama type shows (I think it was the NTV7 Sunday thingy or it may have been TV3 or RTM2) my father used to watch. Oso me. Anyway I saw this. I didn't know where it was from or anything...but I absolutely loved the song (mind you, I don't know what it means except that it is something about friendship).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

That still silent moment

Poetry is that still silent moment screaming in my pancreas. It is the sky bleeding silver into my fur at night. Poetry is the wind that gently brushes my face but leaves before I turn around.

It calls to something inside me. Something primal. Something raw and untamed. Beyond reason. Beyond boundaries.

This is why I prefer to read it only when fortified by a glass of Cabernet Merlot. Or two. Then it makes sense. Then it doesn't have to make sense. Nothing has to make sense.

I swallowed a tail of lightning and all the green tea in the world will not save me...

Slightly heady, veering off into unenclosed spaces. I pause. I rest. I read some more.

Red is charming. Merlot is fruity. And poetry tastes like the moon.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A State of Mind

Senility is an interesting state of mind. I know. I am getting there. I made it to my mid-30s (yesiree Bobbo! as Julie would say) two days ago and am now feeling the effects.

I find myself gazing at my friend Mary with mild interest when she says:

"Yes, and you were saying?"

"I was saying...?"

"Yes, you know, just now, you were talking about..."

"I was talking about?"

Her nostrils start to flare a little. What are we, a vaudeville act? I continue to look mildly inquiring, sort of like a friendly cow.

"You know about MPH? The presents? You were saying something..."

I root around in my mind for any possible connection. MPH. The bookstore. You know, lots of books. I was saying something about lots of books? What could I have been saying about lots of books? That I like to read? But everyone knows that. What else? Presents? I thought I told her I was making my presents this year.

And then a dim candle goes off in my head. Oh yeah, now I remember. I relate my pithy anecdote. She nods in all the right places, satisfied. God is once more in His Heaven. And all is right with the world.

And then, this happens again, about 10 minutes later. Distract me for one a half seconds and I find myself gawping like a friendly goldfish. (I don't know what gawping is, but I like the sound of it)

When it happens the third time, Mary, who is about 15 years older and has more right to senility, tells me I had better start writing things down. So as not to forget. Although some things are best forgotten. I agree wholeheartedly. She waits for me to remove my ever present notebook and fountain pen from my bag so I can make a start.

She waits.

I stare into space.

She waits.

I stare into space.

She taps her foot.

I stare into space.

"Angel child?"

"Yes?" I turn to her. Mild inquiring surprise at the slight impatience in her tone.

"The notebook?"

"What notebook?"

"You were going to write things down..."

"I was?"


"Are you feeling all right?"

She starts to tear her hair out.

I continue to gaze at her with (you got it!) mild inquiring surprise.

"I give up, I give up, I give up!"

I try to remember what we were talking about. No cigar.

So I resume my examination of the air in front of me.

Senility is an interesting state of mind.


Where is home I hear you say,
So far away
So far away...

Today I found out that one of my favourite bands has long since broken up, the members moving off to other things.

There is a crack in everything God made.

No more beautiful music punctuated by Maori voices raised in song.

Oh, she will never come again.
Never, never, never, never, never!

Nothing stays the same. All we have are shifting sands and we stand confused wondering where to fix our eyes; how to pick the transient from the eternal.

We lie down somewhere and wake up somewhere else.

Thus far and no further?

Which is the dream and which the waking?

I sliced my finger today, and watched as blood poured out, wondering briefly at my lack of clotting stuff. Fibrinogen. The blood was thin. Sparkling. It didn't seem quite real. (But then it's the ketchup that's real, blood is only water mixed with poster paint)

I wonder how I would feel watching blood seep from the wrist.

Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well...

No cause, no cause...

...lives of quiet desperation.

One equal temper of heroic heart...

A counterpane of white...

Only God can make a tree!

Fodder for cannons, Hal, fodder for cannons.

Ophelia was sad. Hysteria passio, they said, but maybe she was just tired of all this transience.

Everyone leaves me.
Everyone leaves.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holding Back The Crowds

"Angel child, you must publish, you have all these stories lying around. Publish and be damned," she laughs knowingly.

I sigh. This again. Thing is, I'm happy writing my little stories and tucking them away in my famous filing cabinet or in my blog. Lots of em here for people to read or ignore at will. Mostly ignore. But that's OK.

If I promise not to breathe, do you promise not to know I'm here?

Where the bee sucks, there suck I,
in relative obscurity, let me lie...

But no. Her voice is gentle with an undercurrent of steel. Not much room to negotiate. I picture the publishers pissing themselves laughing when I present them with a sheaf of stories: "Hey, hey Tan, you gotta come read this, it's too funny..." I slink out of there, head hanging in shame, wondering how I ever dared.

"Look," she says, "are you scared of the crowds? You know when you go for signings? Don't worry child, I'm big and I'll make sure they behave properly and not like typical Malaysians, cutting the line trying to get to you."

At this I snap out of my customary somnolence. "Lines? Crowds? Excuse would be more like, one solitary person who strolls up after I sit there for about four hours smiling painfully. And I will grab her book, sign it before she can object, thank her profusely, offer to pay her for buying my book, offer to buy her lunch so we can talk about said book, ask if she has transport home and if not, offer to send her."

We crack up.

Crowds indeed!

And I feel just like
I'm living someone else's life
It's like I just stepped outside
when everything was going right...
and I'm surrounded by
a million people I
still feel alone
let me go home.

No more angst, no more angst, no more angst...I promised.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Hello! It's my Happy Birthday, so I thought I should tell you because it is a matter of grave importance and of public interest to boot!

Shameless hussy forsooth! So happy birthday to me, lalalalalala.

That was my first as you can probably tell from the cake. I look troubled as I had just pooped my pants. The folks kept trying to get me to smile in the studio and discovered why I wouldn't when they got home and checked my diaper.

OK I thought I would share what Julie (Googlie) wrote in her birthday card.

"Are You Sure It's Your Birthday? Are you really sure it's today? Really sure? I'm only asking because old people are so easily confused. Happy Birthday."

(OK that's not what she said, that's what the card said. Now for what she said)

Dearest Appu, (she calls me that, I donno why, maybe cos I call her, among others, Shi Sho)

Happy 35th! This was the rudest card I could find. And it's quite tame some more kan? Anyhoo so 35. Thirty five. Yesiree Bobbo...the big mid 30s. I just have to say this. You don't look a day over 25!

I am waffling so here's wishing you the best of all the ill-gotten booty there is to have, run wild and free like the bulls in Pamplona (sp?), enjoy the breeze like the tumbling tumbleweeds and fly high with the birdy num nums in the sky. (and poop on anyone who tries to 'lastik' you down).

Have a great one.



I would give you Jackie's card as well, cos it's sure to be as funny, only it hasn't arrived. Pout. Nemmindlar, I'll have an elastic birthday.

(I asked Julie what she meant by people trying to lastik me, and she said shoot me with a catapult while I'm flying high, lastik is sorta Malay for elastic).

Now that I've suitably amused myself...

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Way It Crumbles

There were none at Ikea (actually there were some but they were so large that they were for gingerbread, not cookies). There were none at the Bangsar Village Grocer. There were none at the swanky House of Presentation (the nice Indian girl said, aiyo, so many customers have been coming to ask, so I called the boss who said they discontinued the linelar, try Bangsar Grocer, can?) There were none at Bangsar Shopping. And only very tacky ones at TMC.

Ugh, whatever happened to cookie cutters? They should have been simple enough to find. I even called them by their Malay name "acuan biskut" and still, no cigar. When did Malaysians cease to bake cookies? Or better still, did they evah?

I wrestled with the ancient question:

To bake, or not to bake,
that is the question,
whether tis nobler in the mind
to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous cookie-cutterless fortune
or take arms against a sea of troubles
and by Opposing,

A conundrum, indeed. How was I supposed to take arms against this sea of troubles, to say nothing of ending them, when I couldn't find a cookie cutter for love or gold or a princely ransom?

Not to worry. I hired a superhero. Or actually, I confided my troubles to a superhero. My friend, Mary Zack. She put the word out on her supersonic radar and immediately, an answer made its way through the stratosphere...."try PJ Old Town. Got lot of shops with kitchen stuff there. Very cheap oso!"

She texted me. I leapt three feet, charged with some of her bionic powers, transmitted over the mobile.

PJ Old Town was grotty. Not to worry. Grotty is as grotty does. But were there cookie cutters? Or acuan biskut here?

First shop: Same tacky plastic ones as in TMC.

Second shop. More of the same. And some of those thingamajigs that you use for tarts. Or tat, as it is apparently known in Malay.

We traipsed from shop to shop recoiling at the miserable selection. Yes, they had it. But really, ugh!

The final shop. Cookie cutters (from Europe, because they had German words on the cover). Only circles. OK, what the heck, who needs Christmas trees anyway, right? I mean circles, they are practical. Yes, yes. So OK I bought them. The nice thing about PJ Old Town is that you never pay what's on the price tag. You're expected to bargain. So RM7.80 meant RM5. We pointed out to nice Indian guy who looked dubious when I said RM5, that the item had not moved in years, as was evidenced by the five layers of dust on plastic cover. He shrugged philosophically and gave me my change.

The mission was a success. Sort of. It was time to fortify ourselves with curry puffs and teh tareks at Jalan Gasing. (All in the neighbourhood, what?) We ate and ate and ate and watched the youngsters who congregated there. Sort of a who's who. The up and comers. Also some oldies who think they are up and comers. I mean I saw the former group editor. With another former group editor. With a group of young lackeys. Probably plotting the overthrow of present management of various newspapers. We nodded as we passed and he smiled and spoke to Mary. I was invisible but it made me no never mind.

So now I have everything and my life is perfect and I could actually embark on cookie baking frenzy I think I will go to sleep.

What can I say?

That's the way the cookie crumbles...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wanted: Two bowl lickers

I decided which cookies I was gonna make. Then I made a list of ingredients and scoured acres and acres of supermarket aisles (OK, this was mostly within Bangsar, but still!) found treacle and pecans at Bangsar Shopping (if you're looking for these in TMC or Bangsar Village, fuhgged about it) and even found cookie tins in Ikea. Cookie cutters as yet remain elusive, but I'm going for an adventure with my friend Mary Zack later, and we may stumble upon them at this place that was recommended for baking implements in PJ Old Town. And then I'm pretty much good to go. (I tell you, next year, I may just resort to store bought gifts)

What I lack now, and what I probably will never find as I'd have to go back to the 80s to look for them, are my two bowl lickers. One curly headed (Jackie go comb your hair!) with a mischievous grin and the other sort of angelic looking (it's very nice, Jenn-fer) with a sweet soothing voice suitable for tv commercials.

They should preferably answer to the names Jackie and Julie (or big monkey face and little monkey face), love everything I make and wash up after (the bowls, I mean, licking it clean will just not cut it).

Apply within.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My bounty is as boundless as the sea...

You're in my blood like holy wine,
you taste so bitter and so sweet,
I could drink a case of you, darling
and I would still be on my feet.
(Joni Mitchell)

So I am sauntering along the hard bright streets of Nusantara, whistling a solitary tune, when before my amazed eyes, the trees start bleeding golden light onto the pavements. I glance around to see if anyone else has noticed, but the people continue to shuffle along, clothed in the greyness of their thoughts.

Ah me,
Life is joyful.

I reach out and the light spills onto my fingers, the texture of warm honey, or Sheila Majid's voice singing Lagenda. Or Dick Lee singing Bengawan Solo. (Listen to it Jack, there's gamelan and it sounds wonderful)

Bengawan Solo,
riwayatmu kini,
Sedari dulu jadi,
perhatian insani...

Strains of Nella Fantasia. A joyful noise. Oh, this is uplifting with a vengeance. All the colours coming down to kiss me. People look up and smile. Hey Pink. Hey Green. Hey Cerulean Blue. Oh, look at Yellow there. Ah Orange. How I've always loved you. And Red, where's Red? There's Red. With Purple. I used to love Purple better when I was a kid. Purple was then my favourite. Whatever happened to us, Purple? She smiles and waves gently. Melambai-lambai. Belaian jiwa. That sort of thing.

And there are smiles. I can pick out smiles in the crowd. Cloud. Something like that. What is happening to me? I can't take it.

A surfeit of waterfall and wine. Jane Austen waltzing by with Virginia Woolf. And was that..., no it wasn't. Must be a trick of the light.

I have to go now. In vacant or in pensive mood. The air smells of Christmas and there are cookies in the oven - gingersnaps and chocolate bars and butter cookies. And then there are the various wrappings and ribbons and presents strewn around in various states of glorious disarray.

Maybe I would be more coherent if I had daffodils.

That would be a glorious life; to addict oneself to perfection; to follow the curve of the sentence wherever it might lead, into deserts, under drifts of sand, regardless of lures, of seduction; to be poor always and unkempt; to be ridiculous in Piccadilly. (Virginia Woolf)

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Malaysian Dream

I was not going to post today, but then I listened to Ikhlas and thought, what the heck. Everyone charges that we Malaysians are not integrated. That we have failed to achieve the spirit of "Muhibbah", Petronas ads on the various religious festivals, notwithstanding.

They say we are polarized. Split apart. Pulling in our own different directions.

Not being an analyst, political or otherwise, I couldn't say if this was true. I refuse to pontificate (although pontification is my very favourite thing, being Catholic) one way or another.

But I will say that Malaysian integration has succeeded in at least three instances.

Our language.

"We Malaysians like to tokkok like fren fren one."

"Adar podar!"

Our food:

Butter prawns*, which includes ingredients from all three races and has been declared food of the gods by those not allergic to prawns or not able to eat it cos they're vegetarians. And don't even get me started on black pepper crab.

The song Ikhlas. Malay song. Sorta Chinese introduction. Tabla throughout. Amir Yussof singing meaningful lyrics that don't mean anything in English.

OK here's the Petronas ads. Praby, I thought you'd like this. I found your favourite.

Seri pati, seri, seri.

And vat about this "Indian" fler, huh?

Tapi sayang,
hanyalah impian,
bulan tak bisa tunggu di taman,
dan bila mentari datang,
pulanglah segala kenyataan...

* 600g large prawns
oil for deep frying
2-3 tablespoons butter
15 bird's eye chilli (cili padi, you know, like me, small and deadly)
10-15 sprigs curry leaves
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese wine
1/2 grated coconut deep fried until golden


Remove heads from the prawns but leave on the shells. Slit down the back and remove intestinal tract. Trim feelers and legs and dry prawns thoroughly. Heat the oil and deep fry the prawns. Drain and reserve.

Melt the butter, add chillies, curry leaves, garlic and salt. Add reserved prawns. Add soy sauce and Chinese wine. Then grated coconut, last of all. Cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve immediately.

(yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The doors slide open

Yesterday I split in two.

Effectively, I turned right and left at the same time, and, rather than tripping myself up as I usually do when I attempt two directions simultaneously, I split.

Usually when I split and occupy several different realities at once, I don't know about it. No one has come up to me yet and said, hey Jenn I saw you at such and such, when really, I was at home, curled up in front of the tv, cradling a bowl of ice cream (because ice cream is milk and milk is healthy, and sometimes I have lettuce with it so there!) and watching The Waltons. Or M*A*S*H*. Or Shakespeare in Love. Or Stage Beauty. Or Tuesdays with Morrie.

No. They nod and smile crookedly, as if they're not sure about something and then they look away. (You get used to people looking away after a while and it doesn't bother you anymore. Much).

But today, today, I found out that I did something I didn't do. And it could have only been me. It couldn't have been that evil twin who pretends to be me, when I'm not looking. Only, I put on weight and cut my hair and adopted scruffy looking fake Birkenstocks and a crumpled kurta. She's into coiffed hair and business suits, so you see the problem. We no longer look alike (OK, I am sticking my tongue out at you evil twin, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah)

Jackie says I wrote a post yesterday. But I didn't. Really! I wasn't even at home yesterday until long past midnight. I went to a variety of places, arriving five to 10 minutes too late at each, and finally had tea at the mamak near the old office with Addy and then swung by to see if Mary Zack was back. She was. We hung out. Hence the late homecoming.

This intrigues me. It would send me into a meditation on quantum physics and the endless different worlds we occupy.

Everytime we turn a corner. Split. Split. Split.

Hey Jenn, still at the newspaper. Do you smoke now?

Hey Jenn, who stayed in is Charles?

Hey Jenn who actually wrote a book: Did they publish it?

Hey Jenn who stayed about four: How are Amechi and Daddy? Is Malaysia still sultry and hazeless and full of nice people?

Next time I bump into one of you, in your endless variations, I'll wave and smile.

Wave back.

And then we'll split again.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hidden Joys

PLEASURES lie thickest where no pleasures seem:
There’s not a leaf that falls upon the ground
But holds some joy, of silence, or of sound,
Some sprite begotten of a summer dream.
The very meanest things are made supreme
With innate ecstacy. No grain of sand
But moves a bright and million-peopled land,
And hath its Edens and its Eves, I deem.
For Love, though blind himself, a curious eye
Hath lent me, to behold the hearts of things,
And touch’d mine ear with power. Thus, far or nigh,
Minute or mighty, fix’d or free with wings,
Delight from many a nameless covert sly
Peeps sparkling, and in tones familiar sings.

(Laman Blanchard)

Because, I felt like it.

Christmas is a-coming

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
Please-a-put-a penny
in the old man's hat,
in the old man's hat.

If you don't have a penny,
a ha'penny will do,
if you don't have a ha'penny
then God bless you,
if you don't have a ha'penny
then God bless you.

There's the sugar plums, of course.

And pulling out the old recipes, fragrant with old brandy. And the creativity required to make a host of presents. (That's right folks, I'm making my gifts this year! I think it'd mean more)

There's books:

To be made by self.

There's CD's. I'll select some songs and burn `em.

There's cakes (tell me which one is your favourite. Addy has booked the Texas Fudge cake).

As for crafty sorta projects, well looks like I will only finish one by Christmas. Maybe I can work on `em next year to have enough presents to go around.

(No, that's not it)

Gosh, I feel all excited.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dale and I

The first time I went to the US, it was because of Dale Carnegie. I was reading "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" (which is an excellent title for a chronic worrier like me) and the US Embassy called to ask if I wanted to interview some VIP, who was part of the International Advisory Panel of the Multimedia Super Corridor (this MF of a project in a country where mega-projects are like rain).

I said OK. Embassy guy said, one problem. She has no time here. You would have to follow her to Sarawak. I said OK (a little more trepidatiously). He said, one more problem, she has not agreed to interview. You would have to ask her in Sarawak.

And the last problem. I didn't have a passport. Although Sarawak is part of Malaysia, you cross the sea to get to it. So, when you arrive there, you whip out your passport. At the time, we were having our financial crisis. Our wonderful Prime Minister didn't want us to travel. So passports went from being about 120 ringgit to 600 ringgit. 300, if you took the one with less pages. Nother problem - since I didn't have money at the time, I had put off renewing my passport. Embassy guy checked around, then called me back to say I might be turned back at the airport.

Oh, this was just getting better and better. So, I didn't have the interview, I could go all the way there (waking up at 3 in the morning, I might add, to catch the first flight out) and be turned away at the airport. Or, better still, be allowed in, and then have Ambassador Dougan refuse to speak to me. Wonderful.

I was sitting in a hotel lobby waiting to interview someone or nother when the office paged me to tell me this latest bit of news. Of course, I was sitting with my Dale Carnegie (since that was my book-du-jour and I am never without a book to beguile the wanton hours, especially if there is a possibility that I will be kept waiting. Also, if there isn't a possibility. I read in taxi cabs)

Carnegie asked: "What's the worst that can happen?"

I said: "They could turn me away at the airport!"

Carnegie said: "OK, they could turn you away at the airport. Now accept that outcome and get on with it."

So, I "accepted" that outcome, set off the next day prepared to be turned away at the airport when I got to Kuching. And instead:

They let me in with my identity card. After all, I am a Malaysian. Also, once when I got to the hall the first talk would be at (after which I would see if Ambassador Dougan would be amenable to speaking to me) I found her a delightful woman. She spoke from the heart and it was wonderful how down to earth she could make a dry topic like technology. After the speech, when everyone was buzzing around, I went up to her. She not only agreed to an interview, she asked me to accompany her on her "official tour" of Kuching. This was more than I could have expected. Anyway, at the end of her tour, we had about an hour to speak.

I did three stories. The guy at the Embassy was so impressed that he recommended me for an East West Centre fellowship (ah, Hawaii! Also San Fran and Seattle. To say it was wonderful would be to damn with faint praise).

And that is how Dale helped me get to the States.

I wonder what would happen if I actually applied the rest of the 100-or-so self help books that I've read.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bum Chums (Get Your Mind Outta The Gutter)

Bumming had lost its lustre. There I was, searching for work, regular work, any work, as long as it had a fixed income, because, the thing I missed most, was my credit card. (Yes ladies and gentleman, as much as that lowers me in your estimation, I have to say, like George Washington, I cut down the cherry tree, I cannot tell a lie ((well actually I can, but in this case, I'm not)) )

Anyway, I thought the days interminable, sitting at home, stuck on the computer, or watching yet another rerun of M*A*S*H - you ever realise how watching the same comedy over and over tends to depress rather than amuse you? Like when I had my wisdom tooth knocked out, and stayed at home with about 10 new PG Wodehouse books and after reading most, started sobbing because it was all so frivolous and if another person said well pip pip then I could have cheerfully chopped off their heads?

OK. All that buildup and that's not what I came here to talk about. I do not exist when I'm drunk (OK it's early in the morning and it's only coffee, but still).

I discovered why bumming has paled. You need someone to bum with. And yesterday, I had just that. Addy came out for lunch with me (she's a member of the working elite, but she was off yesterday) and we lingered over Chipotle Roast Chicken sandwiches at Coffee Bean, talked up a storm, tried on clothes at British India (Addy, not me), visited a few art galleries in Bangsar (we're both very distinguished art critics, ahem)

Addy: Honestly Jenn, how do they choose these things? That looks like something a talented three-year old could do.

Jenn: Yes, yes. (Imitates La Penseur for a bit) I dunnolar Addy. Anyway, that other quite striking what?

Addy: The background looks silver from this distance. If I had a Malay restaurant with dark wood walls, I would definitely buy that.

Jenn: Hmmm, lot of these end up in restaurants, huh?

Addy: (nodding wisely) Yes, yes.

And then we ran some errands. And ended up at Strudels Lucky Gardens, with clove and cardamon teh tarek and a tangerine ice tea as well as a sujee cake. Yum, the sujee cake was nice and buttery. Then we talked up two storms. (I tried to sell Addy on Shantaram and she has finally agreed to borrow my book and do the flip test). Then Addy had to go to the hairdresser for a hair wash (nice luxury, that) and I went along with her and we discussed really abstruse topics like Madeline Wickham (a pseudonym for Sophie Kinsella of the Shopaholic series) and women who prey on vulnerable men at funerals.

OK at this juncture I have to report that a sum total of two people have said they like my hair. My good friend Omar, whom I talked to about the possibility of hiring me and Addy's hairdresser. So that's two. Versus like a 100. But I would say I'm still ahead.

Then we decided that since we had done nothing but eat the whole day, it was time for dinner. So we sashayed along to the T-Club and had the mutton curry (which was very nice and I would definitely recommend it). As we meandered through Bangsar Village on our way to T-Club I picked up a nice white kurta. Yay! Now I have all of two kurtas.

Large and roomy, that's the ticket.

Addy's friend Antoine joined us at T-Club and he ordered some Japanese dishes (which were also very good)and we talked about Paris, and he said the most unusual time there was Fall of 1996 (the time I visited) because everyone was on strike, so Parisians actually started talking to each other, offering lifts to strangers (cos all the public transportation was on strike) and being uncharacteristically nice. I said my view on Paris was formed then, and I find it difficult to shift. Strangers were chatting to me on the street, everyone was nice, everyone spoke (or tried to speak) English. I found out that the artist on Montmartre who sketched me without permission and then asked for 300 francs for his effort, had cheated me blind, but I didn't feel as indignant as I should have.

I love Paris in the Springtime
I love Paris in the Fall

It's surprising how after a day of doing nothing in particular you can feel so pleasantly tired. I came back to do a Mensa test that the Chubster (that's my brother Ivan, for those not in the know) had sent and was gleeful that I got 16 answers where he got only 5. He asked how I got so many, and I said I must be a frigging genius. Or at least, highly intelligent. Then I asked him how to email him my answers...and he said, duh, why don't you click reply on the mail I sent.

And he said: "Genius???? Highly intelligent????"

And I said: "Heh, I'm tiredlar. And according to your stupid test I am."

And he promptly offered to send me a few more Mensa tests. But I declined. Declared my intention of knocking off. Which I did.

(Oh yeah, I did all of five Christmas cards yesterday, which I think is pretty good. I also collected a whole heap of addresses. Am I efficient or what? What do you mean what?)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's a matter of perspective, my dear

It is a truth generally acknowledged that if you have long hair and ask a Malaysian hairdresser to bob it, she will get extremely nervous.

Short hair not nice and what have you.

She tries to talk me out of it. Tells me she will add more layers.

No, I insist, I'm sick of it, cut it off, all off.

And she says, but, but, but...

I stick my chin out mutinously.

She sighs, shrugs and gives in.

I wink at myself in the mirror. This is more like it.

My hair is dry and sad and it wants to die anyway.

So she starts clipping. Gains momentum.

It's all coming off, it's all coming off, oh glory, it's all coming off...

She says: "Your hair very hungrylar...why you no condition?"

I say: "No excuse, just lazy. Just don't care enough."

She says: "Tsk, tsk, tsk."

I smile knowingly at her.

Snip, snip, snip.

And the floor is soon covered with my split ends.

She runs some gel through so the short ends stand at odd angles.

It's supposed to look more citified. Or sophisticated. But it just looks like I couldn't be bothered to comb my short hair.

Oh well. I love my hairdresser. I think I'll make her triple chocolate muffins the next time I see her.

Coming out of the dark...again

I know, I know, I can get rather tiresome, same old, same old. I just received an email from a friend in Australia, full of pep and advice, and thought, gee, I used to be the leperchaun full of pep and advice.

Now look at me.

Anyway, I am back in KL. Drove down yesterday. Listened to a motivational tape the entire journey (luckily I was driving alone, because I listened to the same tape three times) and by the time I got to KL I was raring to go. So I shifted the mounds of dust from my long suffering room (the state of it had to be seen to be believed), ran a few errands, sent out important emails, answered important emails, and basically started to get things done.

Today, I made a book. Yes, you heard what I said, I MADE a book. Formatted it, printed it out, and am going to bind it and send it to this nice old lady. I promised to do this months ago, but was busy then, sitting on my tush, being somnolent.

I will do similar important things tomorrow. Like my Christmas card list.

November is the pleasantest month of the year, falalalalalalalala.

New Cars

Ivan's new car, a light blue Honda City, has arrived. He sold his Proton to Julie. The family is alive with new cars.

I think I'll paint mine red. I always wanted a red car. So what if it's not new? At least it can be red.

Pearl red.

BTW, Jackie and Simon (Simon, you there? Say hi once in a whilelar) Ivan's new number plate is Julie's birthday. That young genius suggested that they swap cars. Ivan gave a mirthless chuckle. Maggot has already marked the car but he doesn't recognise it so still barks. As does Elliot. I think they only approve of Protons. Mahathirian, no?

Some mute inglorious Milton

I wandered lonely as a cloud, in a graveyard full of bright black marble because it was close to All Soul's and Momma insisted I tag along. Ivan and Julie were ready and willing, but without me, it would have been three. And three is unlucky. Or so my mother thinks.

So there I was the reluctant grave visitor:

Romeo: Come now man, the hurt cannot be much...
Malvolio, or maybe it was Mercutio: Look for me tomorrow, you will find me a grave man...

The family graves are all sort of clumped together - the two grandfathers, an aunt, a few relations, some friends. Of course, the strangers' graves were more interesting. Like that woman who died at 79, who brought up six children on her own. Her husband, 21 years older, had left her a widow at 40 during the Japanese occupation. Most were those who had lived a rich full life, at least I think they did, anyway, they were old, so maybe, more ready to go. There were some very young ones, like Roland, who died when I was still at school. Run over by a lorry. He was but 14.

And then there was this:

Beneath rests our only child Thambi
Fond memories of a mere 20 years
Can only be treasured
Each day passes in agony
Still pondering why our only Joy
Hope and Future pillar of strength
Had to be taken away
So early in life
Whatelse to give except our tears
To hear those endearing words
"Anyi and Amma:
Bleeding hearts wil not heal
Till we embrace you Dear Son.

I felt a catch in my throat.

And then it started to pelt with rain.

So we left.