Thursday, November 29, 2007

In A Song

No dinner, a cup of tea and then one brandy.

And now I feel ineffable. It must mean something but since the music is swimming around this room and illuminating corners with Schopenhaeur who begs me to inquire further, I cannot tell you, no I cannot, what it all means.

A single teardrop seems to crystallize this experience into something real, something tangible, something that feels like hell...

And I am slightly inebriated but not too much. I drove home through quiet streets, avoided the cavorting animals, stopped at traffic lights, listened to Stylistics and breathed deeply and imagined pearly moonlight spread out like a picnic blanket in front of me.

It makes sense.

It doesn't have to.

And I know you're listening and I know you're laughing and I know you think I belong under twisted sheets and I know, I know, I know...

Everytime I tried to tell you the words just came out wrong
so I have to say I love you in a song....

Monday, November 26, 2007

When All I Can Imagine Are Hands

I skipped over to the rest room just in time to hear the deejay announce - Happy Birthday to Jennifer...oops, she has gone to the rest room, why did she have to do that now?

I was at the Attic with Mary and Addy. We had opened a bottle of Annie's Lane. It was not humming (people were staying at home, all set for the trouble of the day to come) and the lights were muted, as was the conversation.

People swirled in and out as Annie's Lane trickled into my veins and made itself felt (incidentally, I managed to get a stash. A guy from some wine cellar-type shop just called to ask me how many bottles I want - he is selling it at less than half the price - woo hoo!).

I dug into my bag for a book of Irish poetry and made Addy and Mary listen as I declaimed at the top of my voice - let everything that is to fall, fall, beginning with tired love.

Addy liked the poem but Mary was all for something less depressing, so I recited The Olympians (at the back of my mind, those words continued to resound ...because you are not here this dishevelled bed holds no dreams)

Mum called just before midnight. Then Jackie and Simon. Then Julie. (The family except for the Chubster and the Dadda-man, basically)

And Jairus smiled at me from across the smoke and held out his hand.

Come dance with me.

So I did.

And I closed my eyes and laid my head on his chest, listening to the steady beat of his now-still heart.

The smoke cleared. Mary was smiling. Addy was laughing. I was reading a poem about Lobsang's last wish.

And somewhere behind me, Jairus gave a little wave and moved out into the whiteness.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Birthday Message

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him," said Tweedledum, "when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

"I am real!" said Alice and began to cry.

"You won't make yourself a bit realer by crying," Tweedledee remarked: "there's nothing to cry about."

"If I wasn't real," Alice said - half laughing through her tears it all seemed so ridiculous - "I shouldn't be able to cry."

"I hope you don't think those are real tears?" Tweedledee interrupted in a tone of great contempt.

-Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Which seems a particularly apposite (if not slightly depressing) way of beginning my birthday message. I don't know why with each succeeding year I seem to acquire less density, but there it is. I hear my voice disappearing into the silence:

Green, how I want you green!

I am a lover of uncontained spaces.

I stand three feet from my body and I have ceased to listen. What is it saying? This pageant around me, Christmas lights, fake holly, plastic evergreens, mustard-coloured lightbulbs, styrofoam snowmen - I turn away.

And a friend confides in me her hopes, her dreams, it's all so very real, it's all blood and guts and moisture.

I turn away.

And I force myself to concentrate on this document I am simplifying. It's all so real. And I am three feet from my body.

So, I turn away.

And I read about how this girl tried to shrink herself into nothing to try and gain some measure of control in her life. She was three feet from her body, existing in some alternate reality, wondering, wandering, somewhere. She turned away.

All of which amounts to nothing. So, in keeping with the momentous occasion...of turning 36 and not really caring that I'm turning 36 and wondering if it's me or if the world has become so terribly old and dusty and devoid of dreams:

Joy to the world,
all you boys and girls
joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
joy to you and me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Angel that Wasn't

I'm going to have to start doing something about these mood swings...impossible highs (so high I get a frigging headache), Mariana Gorge lows, then highs, then lows, then two glasses of Cognac, then to sleep, perchance to dream, then to wake up and make my zombified way through a management meeting - then not listening, not caring, then listening, but not has got to stop!

I learned something today which I should have guessed but which was like a stab in the gut anyway.

And my friend Sree commenting wryly on my latest status update ala Whitman (to die is different from what anyone supposes, and luckier) sent me an inbox message to whit, I am the queen of goths...there is a winter within me, a place so cold, so covered in snow, I hardly ever go there.

Yes, indubitably.

Sadder but never wiser.

Why is that?

And what I really really should be doing right now is uploading pictures from our event onto my boss' blog with funny, quirky captions. Except that I don't feel particularly humorous at the moment. Thank God, Zafrul in his infinite wisdom (and dorkiness) has taken the photo CD and gone off somewhere. He is not due back anytime soon. In fact, I think he's going overseas. When I texted to ask him, he said, oh shit, yes. And when I asked if I could come out to meet him and take it off him, he didn't answer. Probably stuck in some ponderous highly important top secret meeting. Whatever. Not in the mood.

I think I shall take myself off. I need a drink. But I'm still hungover from last night.

When I fuck up, I really fuck up.

Later for you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

OK, I'm in the office, listening to Carole King (could you tell?) on the iPod and updating cos my friend Addy went to check my blog and to her dismay, there was no update. Naughty Jenny, naughty, naughty! OK, I smacked my own wrist.

I'm in kind of a high mood at the moment (even rejection can't faze me and I've received all of two today) because I'll be going to Backyard tonight and Mark is playing. Yay! (When I get obsessed, I get obsessed - and Addy asked me what's with the Mark theme in my life and I said, I really don't know, coincidence is all)

Anyways, I was feeling pretty down yesterday. One of those "pale shade of azure" days. I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other and feigned enthusiasm when we received such good coverage for the almighty launch of our Tune Card. It was sorta anti-climatic. I don't know...

The boss was all smiles and cheeky grins as he checked out his blog and comments etc. He was pleased with coverage - but then he's received so much of late that he's beginning to take it as a matter of course. As I've told him so often before, he doesn't need a PR. Just someone to field the requests from the press and pick out the best ones.

My friend Terence called and asked for help. So now, I'm his business development manager, his marketing manager, his press consultant - he said, just call it drinking buddy and have done with it. Luckily I love Terence, so none of this is a problem.

Baby, baby, baby, I got so much love in me...

Now for the launch. It went off with a bang. Literally. I was xeroxing press releases and the boss' speech at about noon (thing was due to start at 2.30 - I am nothing if not last minute). My hands were a blur, stapling sheets together, shoving them into very inconveniently built press kit cases and Nadia, my very own Din Din who was about to make her way to the KL Convention Centre noticed my set expression and my evidently increasing panic. She strolled over languidly (that one is a model, she is) and offered to help. Then Denise came over and offered to help. Also Mor Nee. All in all I had three helpers and we got press kits stuffed pronto. All one hundred of them because lots of non-press people, i.e. the other guests, have this bad habit of collaring the press kit.

I struggled carrying all hundred press kits (the iPod is now playing James Taylor's You Got A Friend) to the car, and then rushed to pick up Ambikah, from Tune Hotel, which was on the way. Poor thing. She's pretty high up in the ranks and what did she end up doing but carrying half the press kits for me as we staggered from the KLCC where I parked to the convention centre (kinda far and our arms were all but falling out of their sockets).

The boss wanted to do one practice with the animation (when he speaks pictures appear on the big screen behind him) and he gave this hilarious speech that we were rolling in the aisles. I begged him to give it like that and he said, you mad ah? I'll be killed!

We didn't have time for lunch what with the arrival of guests (they started trickling in sometime around 2.15 and swelled enormously by 3 when the event was due to start. One thing about Tune Money, we tend to start on time, which I love. Also, our events are well attended because my boss Zafrul has this habit of inviting everybody and I mean EVERYBODY on every single mailing list he happens to be on. He SMS-es everyone on his phone (and he has at least a few hundred names there), everyone on his Facebook network (as well as those who are not on his network), everyone on his email address book. (OK you get the picture)

Considering that he invites a thousand people at least, it was amusing to see creepy bald Indian guy (of the rude SMS fame) sign up at the guest book and ask rather pompously, "where do Zafrul's friends sit?" expecting to be assigned a VIP seat. He looked up to see me watching and appeared to start in surprise. Well, fancy seeing you here. (Yeah, fancy, I just happen to work at Tune Money, I mean, big surprise, right?).

Anyways, the guests were seated by five to three, the VIPS marched in a little after and the event started bang on the dot. It was really cool. Everything was RED and the boss went up and gave a rollicking speech (I wrote it so it should be). One of the VVIPs, Jessica Phang of Visa was late. When Zafrul was starting his speech, making all the necessary greetings, he said: "And Jessica Phang from Visa, whom I believe is on the way..." just as she scrambled in and ran to the front. I stifled a giggle.

He inserted a heck of a lot of jokes and the atmosphere was Tune Money's own brand of informal (who says financial services have to be boring?). Then the Minister-du-jour made his ponderous way up and gave his speech (which I wrote too, but he delivered it so badly it sounded like any old government speech, yuck!) My sister Julie came (albeit a little late as she mixed up the times and got a little lost trying to find the convention centre) said Zafrul was cool and the Minister was a sucky presenter. I agreed on both counts.

Then two winsome babes in Tune Money tee-shirts (no they were not our staff, but Zafrul talked of hiring them to deal exclusively with the CEO's office) brought a giant card out to stage and the VVIPs went up and arranged themselves around it. They were supposed to "load" the prepaid card, so each was given giant RM100 notes and told to put it in a slot in the card, which was made out to Tony Fernandes.

Then Tony was required to remain on stage while Jien (our very funny and rather attractive MC) asked him what he would like to use the RM500 to buy. AirAsia tickets? No, Tony the showman replied, MAS tickets. Or better still Firefly. Everyone tittered appreciatively.

Then the stage backdrop separated to reveal one of those thingamajigs where you swipe the said "payment processing" and then issued a giant bill that Tony was required to sign, which he did with gusto.

It was all so showy and nice...good music, "let's get retarded in here..." and then everyone filed out to eat. Including me. I shoved pastries and savouries into my cakehole with wild abandon, dragging Julie to the different food displays to taste this, that and the other. We were cheerfully discussing something (I forget what) when I heard a stern voice repeating my last statement quizically.

I turned around and who should it be but my ertswhile boss, the lady from hell herself, Hardev Kaur (or Hardcore Dave as we used to call her). Putting on my best PR smile I talked to her for a bit and then went off to search for more food.

Julie wasn't hungry. Most people recognised her from my wallpaper (they would recognise Jackie as well should she come, as she shares my wallpaper with the Shi Sho girl) although Kanesh, when I introduced him, couldn't believe Jules was my sister. "Too pretty huh?"

"Yes, I mean no, I don't look anything alike."

Yeah, so I've been told.

Anyways, the press conference was on in full swing...although the press seemed to have thinned out considerably. It went pretty well. I needed to rush back to the office to send everyone the Minister's speech as his press secretary had conveniently forgotten to bring copies. There were figures involved and figures are always tricky. Better to have it on paper.

Then it was off to Backyard to er...celebrate. Actually Mark was supposed to have been playing but he wasn't. (My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes - Anne Shirley, Green Gables).

We hung out with H (our event manager) and Jien (the MC) and Andy (H's partner) and it was a lot of fun. Some fight broke out inside between a guy and his girlfriend. The guy flung out of the place, screaming "fuck you" and drove off in high dudgeon, while his girlfriend stood at the door, surveying him thoughtfully. He was back in about 10 minutes (time to cool off?) and went in for Round Two.

"On a Monday night?" asked H, shaking his head. Never a dull moment at the Backyard. Mary, Addy and I who were there outside with the guys, thanked our lucky stars that we were not sitting inside. Being pawed at by drunk Indian guys gets a little old after a while.

(OK Addy, I've updated with a passion - you should be happy now)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Coming out of the Closet

Was I ever in it?

Anyways, I think my colleagues think I'm gay.

Which is kinda funny, but I will not go out of my way to deny it.

I do know they think I'm weird and get away with murder (what is weird exactly, and what is normal?)

Twice I've brought a date to office parties and both times a woman. The same woman. Oh dear...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Come One, Come All...

I'm sitting in a management meeting which is supposed to be weekly, but hasn't been for some time because the boss has been away. It's moving desultorily. The boss is not here (he's late or at another meeting) and Kanesh, the other boss is feeling particularly belligerent. Some people have already got up and walked off and I'm hungry. I don't know why this meeting always makes me hungry.

Lately, I've felt a frog in my throat (I think it has something to do with Bar Savanh on Saturday and a really really strong gin and tonic, cigarette smoke, raucous music and enduring it till 2.30am).

Sleep, lots of sleep is what I need. I realise that I cannot do the going out every night thingy. Maybe it's age. But I ain't no party girl. Come to think of it, maybe I never was.

It's Wednesday now and in a few days, we have another major launch. This time it's prepaid cards. I have to send the invites out today.

You wanna come?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some Men Just Can't Hold Their Arsenic!

"I'm beginning to believe in liposuction," I lean over and whisper to Nits.

"I always have," she replies.

The models continue sashaying with languid arrogance in what passes off as a catwalk in this ballroom. Turn this way. Turn that. So you see the contours of their impossibly tall slim bodies, their sucked-on cheeks, their exaggerated eyelashes that look like nothing so much as cockroaches. Modelling local designers. I lean back in my seat and feel myself wanting to huddle and fend it off.

We're at the Supremes concert. Rubbing shoulders with the glitterati of KL. Thing about Malaysian glitterati, they tend to glitter. All that ice and spangles.

Then the ex-Supremes come on - and they are beautiful ladies, so confident, so larger-than-life, that I stop writing the feminist essay about decorative bodies in my head. (An exploding frangipani? A blade of grass? Which would you rather lie next to?)

We leave before the end when the Queen (of Malaysia not England) goes up to present something or make some speech or whatever. We've gotten what we came for.

And on the way down we bump into the serial SMS-er. Except that he is bearded now, and looking so diminished that I don't recognise him. Nits does. He watches us and when he sees we are going to pass by without saying hello, asks in a hurt puppy dog sort of way:

"Aren't you even gonna say hi?"

That's when we realise that it IS him. But I must say, it's rich to appear so aggrieved considering how rude he was. Never mind. Bygones. Not interested in more drama. We say hi. He tells Anita that I made him remove me from Facebook (except that I beat him to it, and removed him first. And blocked him)and he doesn't even have my number to say hi. Funny thing is, my primary emotion is boredom. I really need to go to the bathroom and I wonder how long we're gonna have to stand there making polite small talk. We move away. Discuss it a bit but we have better things to talk about. Proceed after to Vintage to have a couple of drinks and a nasi lemak (the beef varuval was to die for) and we notice the now-bearded serial SMS-er making his way slowly through the lounge, to see where we're sitting.

"There's something seriously wrong with himlar. Was he always weird or is it that this is the first time I'm seeing him in the light?"

It's tomorrow and I've just parked at Istana Budaya. Mary and I scored free tickets (off Anita) to go watch Chicago. The good thing is, we arrived an hour early. Congratulating each other and patting each other's back on making such good time, despite the notorious Tun Razak jams, we wander around trying to find posters of Chicago. Thing is, there don't seem to be any. Only Peter Pan. We are mystified.

Then Mary suggests I look at the tickets. I do. Chicago is playing at the KL Convention Centre. I don't know how to get there from here. Except that I gotta get there fast.

Gone is the blissful smugness of having arrived early. We leap into the car and take off. I get lost and find myself driving towards the hills. At this rate we'll be in Ipoh in a couple of hours. Mary, beside me, laughing so hard I think she's gonna bust a gut.

I do a U-ey and turn back. There I see the Twin Towers set out before me. I just need to keep driving in that general direction and we will get there. Somehow. We do with 15 minutes to spare. Park in the wrong carpark but that's OK. You're not gonna be finicky about things like that when you're so horribly late.

We scramble into the KL Convention Centre and try to find the Plenary Hall. The map says it's on first floor. We get into the lift which kindly informs that Plenary Hall is on groundfloor. To hell with it. We just follow every sign that says Plenary Hall and eventually we get there. Seated and breathless, we realise that we're up in the rafters. The free tickets were RM100 each. But apparently RM100 doesn't go far when it comes to Chicago.

It was very entertaining (although I did nod off briefly from not having slept properly the night before) but from where we were, the faces were white blobs, we couldn't make out features.

And tonight there's a dinner to attend in about two hours. I can't believe I'm out three nights in a row. What a change from my usual lepaking existence. And on Monday, Mark's playing at Backyard. I know I said I wouldn't go back there but come one, it's been a whole week!

I don't feel like working.

Make that: I really really don't feel like working.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Deepavali

Sometimes Horses Die

"The thing is, Jennifer, you have become so terribly shallow." Her smile takes off some of the sting.

I lean back and exhale carefully, like it hurts. Because it does.

"Um, why do you say that?"

"Look there," she gestures to my dressing table. It is full of pots of goo that I just had to have because of this skin problem or that. I've spent thousands on trying to fade a few scars. Close some pores. That sort of thing.

"What have you written over the past year?"

I cringe again. I was hoping we wouldn't get around to this. I talked around things so we wouldn't.

But she is inexorable.

And I can't hide.

Although I've been hiding for close to two years now.

I sigh and shrug. "Um, nothing much, I have this job, you see..."

And she is not buying it. Anyone who works at Starbucks or D'lish as much as I do, has the time to write. Besides I think I wrote the least when I was freelancing and basically doing nothing for long swaths of time.

I trace a circle on the floor with my big toe and brace myself for the lecture. It doesn't come.

"Honey, don't look so guilty. It was always up to you."

I look up and she's gone. She never stays for long. I start to miss her all over again. I wish just this once I could have held on.

A woman like her is not a woman quite,
I have been her kind.

And I pick up Tony Curtis for comfort and he tells me:

There is a winter within me
a place so cold, so covered in snow,
I rarely go there. But sometimes,
when all I can imagine are hands,
when trees in the forest
look like they're made of wood,
then I know it's time
to take my photograph of Akhmatova
and sling it in a bag with socks and scarves.
My neighbours must think it strange
to see me strapping on my snowshoes,
to hear me roar at the huskies
as I untangle the harness.
But when all you can imagine are hands
it's best to give a little wave
and move out into the whiteness.

Maybe I should get a photo of Akhmatova. I have a sketch of Whitman. A postcard that Shelly sent me. She was a poet who was also a surgeon and she had this facility for knowing. She saw all those months ago, I would get obsessed.

I do it so it feels like hell
I do it so it feels real.

I wish it felt real.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Yesterday was...different. I went for the NST's Hari Raya open house at the Marriott Hotel and missed the turning into the parking TWICE. Finally I slowed down, in that extremely jammed intersection, rolled down my power window and leaned out to ask a guard. He pointed vaguely but I got the picture.

Cursing NST for having its open house in hell during high water, I made yet another turn. OK, I found a carpark of sorts. At least the related one. But the ticket dispenser was on the blink. I waited behind two cars as a man fiddled with it. The car behind me got impatient and started to honk. I adjusted my car and he shot past me looking for some other more clement car park.

When I finally got there I was more than an hour late. Not that it mattered. It never does with these open houses. There were people milling around outside and sit down tables, wedding-style inside. No assigned seating and since I wasn't here with anyone (the colleague who was supposed to come with me begged off at the last minute) I felt sort of awkward. Said hi to a few people who were busy talking to other people and as such had no time to talk to me, and then wandered from table to table in search of a spare seat.

Thing is, this was an NST function. Thing is, she works at NST. Thing is, anyone would have thought I would put two and two together and figure out exactly who I was likely to bump into.

So when I came across a table with more than its fair share of empty seats and looked hopefully at the occupants to ask if I could sit there, I come face to face with...
We hadn't seen each other for three years. Not since 2004 and my disaster of a creative writing workshop for kids that she arm-twisted me into doing and that I botched up majorly. Of course, Jeremy was there with his acting class, which the kids enjoyed, to save the day. As bad as he was, he had some saving graces. Any kid stuck in my class would gaze longingly at the other group, to see what Jeremy's kids were doing.

Anyway, I think she sent me a long involved message last year, but she sent it on Yahoo Messenger chat. Rather than an email. Which meant that as soon as my wonky connection cut off, I lost the message. I could have written back to say, hey what? Instead I chose freezing silence. I think if you want to talk to me, fucking talk to me. Don't send me fucking chat rubbish.

When I last spoke to her, her father was dying. When I last spoke to her, her husband had deserted her. For good. When I last spoke to her, she hung on the phone and ignored me. When I last spoke to her, she didn't have time to go out for dinner or a drink or tea.

Well fine!

So three years.

I wondered. This year, I've discovered that people who meant something to you once, go on meaning something. Love doesn't die. Somehow, after years, you bump into each other, unexpectedly, hug, talk through the painful awkwardness and then...

But that's not what happened. Oh yeah, we did hug awkwardly. She asked after my family. I asked after hers. She told me her brother was married and so happy now. Her nieces and nephew were teenagers. Practically grown up. Her father was even more ill. Her mother had just been asking after me.

"I've been having some intense dreams about you for the past two months," she said.


"No, not that kind."

I didn't really know what "that kind" was. I said "dreams" because I didn't know what else to say. She looked sad, diminished. The joyousness that once characterised her, no matter what was happening, that spirit, was not there. She sat there, huddled, talking to me. Flicking away furtive tears.

I felt nothing.

Or maybe, I don't know what I felt.

A band of traditional music started to play. It was supposed to set the mood. Instead, it did nothing but irritate. We decided to leave.

On our way out we bumped into a few people. Amrin, the NTV7 CEO who had been busy talking to someone else when I said hi before, came over and said: "Hey I've been looking all over for you. Sorry about that. That was a Genting Tan Srilar. No choice."

No problem. We chatted for a while and I introduced him to my newly-minted old friend. She excused herself to talk to her colleagues. It was all so polite. Amrin gave me his number and took mine. Said we should hang out with my boss who is one of his good buddies.

She came back to say, I'm leaving now, Jenn. Take care. And you know where to find me if you want me.

It was all so ...painless. After all that speculation, all the angst about this moment. It was a saltless soup. I didn't know what I felt. Only that I needed a drink.

I called up Mary Z. "You'll never guess who I bumped into here."

Mary tried. And failed.

I told her. "Oh my God! Child, I'm going out to dinner with Chong now. You want to call me later and chat?"

"I really need a drink," I was ascending some stairs and could see into this really posh bar. There were some guys there that I had met when I arrived. Charlie Peters and two of his kakis. They waved at me to come join them. And there I was telling Mary I needed a drink and shaking my head vigorously. Then not so vigorously. Oh OK, one drink.

I descended: "Why do you want to have a drink with me? You ditched me just now."

"Sweetheart, we didn't ditch you, you just arrived, you needed to go talk to other people what?"

If only he knew.

OK, so we had a drink, a few laughs, Charlie left early leaving the other two, practical strangers to entertain me. "That Charlie ah...invites you to join us and then leaves. You call him up tomorrow and scold him."

I nodded but resolved not to. It would be too much of a fag. One of them, Peter, was circulating among some new additions to our crowd of four. I said: "Peter, I'm bored, you're not entertaining me:!" Chastened, he shuffled back to my side and cursed Charlie again. I grinned at him.

He walked me back to my car. Which was a good thing because after one and a half glasses on an almost empty stomach - as you can imagine I hadn't eaten much at the NST do - I was tottering. We found my car, which was a miracle. Then I drove off and found myself sobering up pronto. But I didn't want to go home.

I wanted to go to Backyard and watch Mark perform and wash away the something (the sting?) of the past few hours. I wanted to lose myself in unashamed groupieness. Did I tell myself this?

Of course not. I called Mary, who was home now and asked if I could pick her up and go out to the mamak. Mamak forsooth! I automatically turned my car towards Sri Hartamas and asked her if she would mind. She was kind and accommodating.

I was sad.

Very sad.

Crowding out the thoughts that were insisting on crowding in.


Warmth. The lack of. Connections. The lack of. Loneliness. The lack.

When we got to Sri Hartamas, (there was a mamak near Backyard pub) I turned my footsteps purposefully towards the pub, ignoring the tea place.

"Child, didn't you say you were hungry?" Mary asked.

"Um, do you mind if we go here first for a while?"

For a while? Huh! We stayed two hours.

Mark was singing. He saw us and squinted at me with a smile thinking, she looks familiar. Who?

Anyway he sang, took requests and engaged with the crowd. He smiled a lot. Mary thought a baldie who went up to sing with him was cuter. I said no, emphatically not. And Mark has the sweeter smile. She said yes, he does. And he smiles easily. Nice guy. So we sang along and talked some.

OK the thing about Backyard is that it's full of Indian men. And two Indian women walking in alone is screaming: "I want to be picked up!"

We nodded at those who nodded at us but didn't engage. One red wine and one warm Seven-Up. I positioned my chair where I could groupie in peace.

It was not to be. A bunch of very drunk very young guys near us decided that we looked lonely. They came over and started putting their foot in the mouth. It was to go on for the rest of night.

One of them had come up and touched Mary. She jumped a foot in the air, swung around like a lionness and snapped: "Don't you ever do that again! The only one in this whole place who has the right to touch me is my friend. You do NOT come up to women you have never met before and put your hands on them."

Guy in question apologised drunkenly. She looked at him tightlipped: "OK but don't do it again. Learn to be a gentleman."

I was listening to Mark and smiling at Mary.

Then one of the drunken friends came over and drapped his arms around me casually. I shot her an appealing glance: "Get your hands off her, Siva. You do not simply go around touching women you have never met. I'm very protective."

Siva desisted but he was not ready to leave us alone. He muttered something about languages and really, why is it that they won't shut up when we're so obviously trying to listen to the live music? I even took care to inform him that I was here as a Mark groupie.

"Oh yeah, Mark? He's good yah...yeah, good. I don't know much about him. Yeah, I'm as lost as you. You know him very well then?"

Motormouth. Nothing interesting to say. But couldn't shut up. I turned away and grinned at Mark. He grinned back.

Mark told us he had four songs to go to complete the set. He took requests. He said he played James Taylor. I asked which ones. He said, name one. I said, Wandering. A burly Indian fler sitting at a table nearby nodded in approval because I didn't say Fire and Rain. Mark sighed. No, haven't gotten around to that one yet. So he played: "That's Why I'm Here and Shower the People" back to back. And then he played England Dan, John Ford Coley: "It's Sad to Belong To Someone Else" (I dunno but in my tipsy state I was thinking there was a hidden message here).

And he ended with: "I'd really love to see you tonight." Which was the song Anita and I most requested on the jukebox in Subway back when there used to be Subway in Medan Damansara with a jukebox.

We clapped furiously and he came to talk to us after a bit. "I didn't expect to see you here." I introduced Mary. We chatted. Then he had to go on his PR rounds and talk to everyone.

We had all of one decent conversation there. With a Londoner.

Mark said the Indian version of "It's Hard to Belong to Someone Else when the Right One Comes Along" is "It's Hard to Belong to Someone Else when the White One Comes Along."

Mary whispered to me: "I can just imagine what those guys are thinking. Indian women coming to a pub being very stand-offish with nice guys like us and talking to the white guy. Thing is, he was the only decent one here who was not offensive."

Since I was busy being a groupie, I was not too concerned what all these ugly Indian men were thinking.

But I think we'll give Backyard a miss the next time. It's divey and I like divey, but I guess I like clean, smoke-free, decent people who don't hit on you drunkenly, squashy sofas, interesting art pieces adorning the walls, muted lighting, a mixed crowd, better.

In short, I think I'm more of an Attic kind of girl. And Mark plays there every first, third and fourth Thursday. With Susan. I think I like him better as a duo.

Later for you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This and That

I was up at The Attic last night (oh my, was I) with my good friend VJ whose birthday it was yesterday...and there was this band playing that I had never heard before and the lead singer was um...kinda cute.

So I force poor old Vij to sit on the sofas right next to the stage so we can hear better (I mean without our faces being actually on stage itself) and I go into frantic SMS mode to my friend Addy to get me the goss on background etc. Addy who is recovering from an illness, obliges.

I think I so the drama queen one.

But it was fun.

And we sang along to old England Dan John Ford Coley tunes.

And there was some birthday party going on there and we got a piece of chocolate cake each which was nice. I only ate half of mine because I wasn't really hungry. I did have the garlic prawns though and that was nice. The Attic is really lovely on days like this when there isn't a crowd or oretty people jostling for attention.

And here's a shoutout to my whippersnapper.

It's been a day and I haven't written anything for NaNoWriMo. As well as other things I'm supposed to be writing but haven't gotten around too, my attention focussed on speeches and press releases et al.

Guilt slowly creeping...