Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Heat-Induced Torpor

I'm sitting at home in front of the large screen tv over which Joe Vitale is telling me some stuff. Dadda, who succumbed to diarrhoea and then giddiness, is asleep in his room. I'm alternately answering emails, editing some pages, checking my facebook, and the like.

I think I need to write another article but although I write the most beautiful articles in my head, the pipe is choked when I apply fingers to keyboard. Will have to get over that...ahhh me.

It's hot. Very, very, very hot. The kind of heat that induces a torpor. So I'm in a torpor at the whatever you read after this, bear in mind I was in a heat-induced torpor. (I just like saying torpor)

Jackie has already left for England.

I seem to have picked up some expensive stuff over the way in the past month. Like my new Guy Laroche wallet. And my new Dolce Gabanna shades (present from Jackie). And my Birkenstocks (OK, I know they're not supposed to be expensive, but they are here).

So it was with some trepidation that I opened my credit card bill yesterday. The trepidation was warranted. There must be some mistake I stammered, as I went through each item and actually whipped out my cool phone to calculate (not trusting the bank, because what do they know about numbers) the total.

How on God's green earth had I spent so much?

It's the lure of that little silver card. You just whip it out, sign the dotted line and forget about it. Until of course, the lady at the crystal shop tells you, that sorry miss, your card got some problem lar. And your sister cocks an inquiring eyebrow at you: "Exceeded your limit, huh?"

So of course, I decide to pay up and tighten my belt for the rest of the month. I make plans to buy loafs of bread and sandwich meat and maybe some lettuce to serve as lunches for the week. Of course this is when the company decides to play silly buggers and not pay us.

I ask our head of HR about it and she profers a languid smile. "Maybe end of next week."

It figures.

Monday, April 28, 2008

For Posterity

Sometimes I wish I was more regular in updating this. Although nobody may be reading it anymore (ever since I password-protected it) it's still a good record of what is happening in my life at any one time.

I'm back in JB now. It's the Big M's birthday today. We had a midnight sort-of celebration and there was port. I had two glasses which made for a very deep sleep after.

I'm leaving for KL early tomorrow. There are various things I have to do and bloody Maxis has just threatened to cut off my phone line yet again. This is a phone bill I've already paid twice this month. Only, first time I paid it, I stupidly did it over the internet. I didn't know it takes three days to clear. So when they cut off my phone line the next day, I marched off to Maxis' office in Bangsar only to be told that internet payments take that long to clear and if I wanted to open my line I would have to fork out RM100. Which I did. Surely RM100 is enough to see me through the three days plus two (weekend). But sadly, it was not to be. I woke up today with another threat SMS-ed to me. Ye gods and little fishes. So maafan one!

I think the best thing I've done this year is quit the gym. My yoga class is great and Richard (from New York) is the quintessential yoga instructor. He's this very interesting person who, among other things, meditated for a year at a monastery in Burma. He regards my pathetic attempts at the asanas with patient tolerance. (My favourite is the shivasana at the end, the dead man's pose where you're supposed to lie relaxed and go into deep meditation - from my snores, you can tell that my meditation is particularly deep).

This seems to be turning out a very strange year. Very strange indeed. Kookier than all previous ones. Nice to break out of the 'more of the same' cycle.

Later for you...

(Oops, I just remembered, I missed Mark's birthday this year...the other Mark, the one who wrote a book. It didn't even cross my, I think we're officially not friends anymore, how sad)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Song From The Singer

I went to Backyard last night on a Monday for the first time in a couple of months. I was there with Mary. We sat in front and listened to Mark play. He smiled a lot like he always does, and played very well, like he always does. Four other musicians took turns on stage - it became a veritable jam session.

Mark sang "Call Me Al" for Mary and "Return to Pooh Corner" for me and various other songs for various other people.

A guy called Cletus who works for BMW (and drives a Beemer cos he has no choice about the matter) got up on stage and sang some other selections (he dedicated his first song to me and Mary).

Vijay went up on stage and sang some and dedicated some Beatles number I have never heard to us.

Two guys tried to pick Mary up. A Malay buaya with a goatie and paunch who was dressed as if he had come straight from work (he moved on to a lady with a beautifully exposed cleavage when Mary proved uninterested) and a Finnish guy who told Mary she was beautiful and he liked her teeth. She managed to blow him off as well.

Basically it was very nice to have all these songs sung for us and Backyard wasn't crowded or smoky which is always good, and I was very tired so I leaned back and tried not to fall asleep. The music was soothing and I think, I think, I really think that:

I have finally managed to separate the song from the singer.

(It's hard to belong to someone else when the right one comes along!)

Friday, April 18, 2008


Government decision-makers, many NGOs, and international consultants usually start the work of poverty alleviation by launching very elaborate training programs. They do this because they begin with the assumption that people are poor because they lack skills. Training also perpetuates their own interests - by creating more jobs for themselves without the responsibility of having to produce any concrete results. Thanks to the flow of aid and welfare budgets, a huge industry has evolved worldwide for the sole purpose of providing such training. Experts on poverty alleviation insist that training is absolutely vital for the poor not to move up the economic ladder. But if you go out into the real world, you cannot miss seeing that the poor are poor because they cannot retain the returns of their labour. They have no control over capital, and it is the ability to control capital that gives people the power to rise out of poverty. Profit is unashamedly biased toward capital. In their powerless state, the poor work for the benefit of someone who controls the productive assets. Why can they not control any capital? Because they do not inherit any capital or credit and nobody gives them access to it because they are not considered creditworthy.

excerpted from Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Gate-Crashing and the consequences thereof

So Mary and I have the best seats in the house at this posh party at Planter's Jim in Bangsar. It's the owner's mother's birthday. The owner happens to own the Social as well. Which is also in Bangsar.

And there were are, uninvited, sitting at the table directly facing the band. The very famous band with Vijay, Albert and Badar (and let's not forget Azmi on sax). I feel distinctly uncomfortable and start edging towards Mary trying to take up less space.

Vijay sings his heart out.

And the band plays on.

The birthday girl comes up to speak to Mary who stands up to wish her. I edge towards Mary, trying to compress myself into an even smaller space.

Thing is, we didn't ask to be here. Thing is, Vijay invited us to gatecrash cos he was performing and also cos he fancies Mary. Thing is, we were happily ensconced in our traditional Devi's Corner with our chappatis and mutton curry and I texted Vijay to let him know we were there. We knew he was performing somewhere in Bangsar and we thought he could duck out during breaks to come and join us.

The moment I texted him, I got a call. He told us later that he received the text afer the band had only done one (one!) song. And he said, we're going to be taking a break now and hightailed it out of there, running the length of Telawi 2 to join us at Devi's. He sidled up to Mary and put his arm around her as comfortably as a long-time boyfriend. (not like an almost maybe not quite boyfriend). He stayed with us so long that Mary and I started to get nervous.

"Aren't they expecting you back? Aren't you supposed to be performing?"

He was. And he received a call from Azmi saying, bro, we're up for another "set". So he ran all the way back (whatever it was, it was good exercise for the Vijay boy)

A minute or two later, he called me, asking if we would like to make our way over. I said aiyo Vijay, private party lar. You want us to gatecrash?

He said no problem, the old flers have started karaokeing and they kicked us off the stage. You come and sit with the band.

I said, hmmm Planter's Jim, very expensive. Are you going to be buying us our drinks? He said, no problem, no problem.

So Mary touched up her lippie (she was looking very fetching in a short maroon dress) and we made our way over. The band were sitting outside. I talked to Albert while Mary and Vijay were engrossed in each other. Azmi talked to Badar. I called them both kudikarans as they were the only ones having whisky. OK, Vijay was having whisky rocks as well. Albert wasn't drinking. He's a sober cat.

I asked Al if he was mechanically minded. He asked why? You want me to fix your car? I said, no, my handbag. I had inadvertendly caught up the cloth in the zipper. Or in non-technical terms, the zipper was stuck and it would take some doing to unstick it. Albert tackled it gamely and then told me I would have to cut the cloth around the zipper.

Now, this bag had been a present from one Prabhakaran, and I wasn't too keen on destroying it. Vijay, who has the Convent knack of noticing ten other conversations while engaged in his own, said, hey bro, pass it over. Then he proceeced to attack my bag with a spike, some oil, a screwdriver (OK, no screwdriver), in fact, with everything but his teeth.

No cigar.

Then Badar took over. A minute later he was handing me the bag properly zipped out. My mouth fell open. I had been resigned. Now I was unresigned. I gave him a million dollar smile and thanked him.

Then the band was up for another performance. OK here's where things get tricky. Mary and I were proceeding to as near the stage as possible to watch them when we noticed that Vijay had arranged our drinks on the very best seat in the house. We sat there and became progressively more uncomfortable. At least I was. I wasn't drinking see? Apparently I can't anymore because it has adverse effects on my mood (I want to kill everyone in the vicinity and I'm not talking maybe, baby!). So I stuck to punch. Two glasses of wine were sloshing around in Mary's belly and she was glowing like a fog lamp. Which means that she was less uncomfortable.

So birthday girl came up to talk to us (us being Mary). The one of the daughters asked us to join their conga line. Another daughter asked us to cha cha. An old fler apologised to us for making so much noise. The birthday girl came back and asked us to request a song.

If you're wondering about the VIP treatment, well frankly, so were we. You don't gatecrash a very posh party and get treated like guests of honour.

Anyway I leaned over and whispered to Mary: "So you're Vijay's girlfriend and I'm your good friend and you don't go anywhere without me and he don't go anywhere without you. Stick to the story!"

Mary was pickled enough to agree.

When Vijay came down from stage for a breather, Mary informed him of our respective positions. He looked at her with a "tell me something I don't know" look. "I already told them that. And the lady said, wah, your girlfriend ah? Why you so clever to choose?"

She took a shine to Mary. She has excellent taste. No wonder she owns two successful restaurants in Bangsar.

Apparently, we were not gatecrashers. We were INVITED. The lady had invited us because Vijay kept disappearing down to Devi's Corner to see his girlfriend and friend. They wanted him to stop disappearing. So really, by coming, we were doing them a favour. Once we (OK, Mary, not me) were there, his attention was no longer distracted.

It was a wild night. We sang at the tops of our voices. I shook my fist at Vijay for suggesting I could dance. He bought us both orange roses.

We went to Devi's Corner after and then I sent both the cooing doves home. To their separate establishments. I got the sweetest text messages from them this afternoon.

Haha, Praby, if you have questions, go to the source.

Btw, that same source insisted that I blog this. So it's not like I'm bocoring rahsia or anything.