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Thursday, August 31, 2006
My Favourite Things

It is past midnight and officially it is Merdeka Day. Alex is upstairs, either watching his stash of porno or sleeping. I was glued to the sofa, sitting on the sheep’s skin since 11 p.m. catching yet another episode of Sex And The City.

I looked underneath the coffee table, avoiding the mindless chain of advertisements. There was a pink transparent plastic box with a collection of needles, threads and common buttons. You know that you are a grown up when you own a needle box, I thought to myself. To its left, were three pairs of black shoes. All were mine.

How many pairs of black shoes can one possess? Quite a few pair apparently. Two pairs of leather black shoes from TopShop. They were different although they were black. One was a 4 inch high heel on days when I feel I need a “lift” and then there was the 1 inch flat shoes. I do not believe many girls can carry flat flats, so I opt for the 1 inch flat. I have chicken drumsticks thighs, now shut up. Then there was the black pair of Jones Bootmaker sneakers. Got it during the summer sales.

Seeing the three pairs of black shoes made me think of all the things that I have in my possession. I do not own a single branded good beginning with the letter D, G or L or any of those famous letters. Like most girls, I do feel a tinge of jealousy when my girlfriends parade around with their luxury item of the month. It is almost normal to feel envious when your girlfriends talk about their latest shopping victory.

I could afford one if I lived on instant noodles for a month. I do not fancy instant noodles much and so I have resisted falling into the consumerism temptation. This is mainly because I know once I start, I just would not stop... And I really do not want to sell my soul to a dead guy named Louis or two fabulous gay guys named Dolce and Gabbana. Come to think of it, I change my mind. I might sell my soul to Marc Jacobs.

But anyway, back to my thoughts the moment I looked underneath my coffee table. The three pair of shoes, then the blue patent leather pair of Aldo I bought a week ago, a flat suede pair of Aldo with fluffy pom-pom, the slim green Nine West and Rock Port orange sneakers.

And these are just the ones I have here in the UK! What about the ones back home? The knee length boots, the Pedder Reds and some miscellaneous shoes that colour coordinate. I think I own quite a few pairs of shoes. Actually I think I own enough pairs of shoes that I cannot justify the purchase of another.

I think I am going to hide from the consumerism monster. There is only that much a girl can buy before she realises that maybe (just maybe) she has bought too much of everything. I am thankful that I have what I have and I am thankful that I am not running into the next Marc Jacobs boutique I stumble across in Bond Street.

It is so easy to walk into a boutique and buy what your heart desires. It is however difficult to overcome the increasing pressure to walk around in fancy clothes or carry an “it” bag. What’s an “it” bag? It’s the bag with a name like Mary, Kate, Elizabeth, Kelly, the lot. I read somewhere that an “it” bag has the ability to win a girl the positive attention she desires in her career world. It is the female equivalent of an expensive Ferrari. It is an item so ludicrously expensive and highly sought after, for the simple fact that not many are able or willing to cough up the dough for it. In shorter words, it spelt success.

Or at least success by the common man’s definition. Most of us associate success to wealth and owning material goods. However truth be told, success often is a state of mind. There is no end when it comes to material wealth. You will always want something more and something better. The fancy car of today will be a thing of the past tomorrow and that super powered laptop you bought this morning will be old spare parts in six months time. If you think you would be happy when you own this and that, you cannot be more wrong.

I think the secret of being happy (and emotionally successful) lies in the ability to keep our lives simple. When you are a slave to the latest gadgets and bags and shoes, you will never be financially free. You will feel more calm and peaceful when you are not stressed out trying to earn more money to buy yet another bric-a-brac, because at the end of the day, even your £40 keychain (yes, a damn Marc Jacobs plastic key chain costs £40 in House of Fraser) or your £300 pair of black knee length Prada boots are knick knacks. Just like your MacDonald’s limited edition Hello Kitty, these items will lose its charm. The mere different lies in the fact that unlike your RM10 per Hello Kitty, these items are very expensive dust collectors.

So I guess I am glad that I am not a sucker for luxury items. At least not this moment. The force is strong within me and I shall resist. I hope I will always feel like this evening. I might always lust after yet another something on net-a-porter but I am determined not to purchase them. In its place, I shall be happy with my simpler things. Like my newly painted and decorated living room.

Yes, I live my life dangerously.
My work desk in all its chaotic glory...
And uh, my favourite Vodka and Whiskey within arms' reach.

The big fish is Alex and I am the little fish.
A small collection of postcards from Victoria & Albert Musuem.
My favourite pink suede bag and retro jacket
on the leather sofa we bought this summer.
Sheepskin pillow on a 1930s black leather recliner.

I should tell you about this fish theme going on here,
less you think Alex and I have a fish fetish.
Alex calls them an investment - old antique plates by Shorter & Sons.
You can get them in all shapes, sizes and colours
and these are my Xmas 2005 gifts.

So readers, what do you think of my first adult living room? I peeped into the 14 houses around my lane and I conclude that I am residing in a house belonging to a rather house proud man *smiles*


Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Miss Not So Nice

I am unsure if I should feel happy or sad when thinking of my latest emotional discovery. I am beginning to figure out that perhaps sometimes it does not pay to be nice to people in general. And that is such a pain because I much prefer being nice to people. I have asked Alex why he loved me and on all those occasions, Alex said that it was because I was very nice to him. I was so nice to him that he could not live with anyone else that was less nice.

I come from a family of nice people. My mother was nice and her mother-in-law took full advantage of her niceness by trampling all over her head. 30 years has passed and still, my mother cannot get over the trauma of being subjected to less than modern daughter-in-law treatment.

My father is Mr. Nice. He is so nice that he believed his mother’s wicked little lies all his life. He stopped believing some time earlier this year, I think. (And no, I do not come from a family where we get along with our paternal grandmother.) Anyway other than being nice, my father is also patient. He tolerates my mother’s nagging for the past 30 years. She is the mother of all Drama Queens. She was the bullied daughter-in-law and her husband (that is my dad, Mr. Nice) never loved her. That’s what my mother believes anyway.

Over the weekend, the elder of my two younger brothers, complained how he is sick of being nice because he felts taken advantage of. He said he was enormously pressured by others and he is beginning to realise that being nice is not so nice.

Younger brother Number Two has everything in his little hands at the moment. He is responsible and well guarded to the point that I cannot do my sisterly duty of putting him down, like how older siblings should do. He is doing well etc etc that I cannot pinpoint a precise case where he was naughty. Hoo hum.

And then there is me. Miss Nice. Who discovers, as she grows up, that being nice to people sometimes just does not pay. And here are some of the reasons why.

Case In Point #1
I am not known to be the most sociable person on earth. Actually I am quite well known as the stuck-up snob. I cannot help myself if I am shy around strangers and it takes me time to warm up to people. I might be stuck-up/snobbish/”haulian” but I do effort to better myself.

So in 2006 as part of my New Year Resolution, I decided to be less stuck-up, which equates to being a little tad friendlier. Take more interest in people and put in more effort to know new people. It so happen that one day, as I sat for my famous fishball breakfast with PY and friend that I bumped into a guy.

I do not know much about this guy other than the occasional hello in the pubs. I knew just his name and his profession. When he saw me at the table with my bowl of piping hot fishball soup, he remarked that I had disappeared when in actual fact I was away in London on my summer migration last year. He did not know that fact since we were not close buddies or anything of that sort.

He asked for my mobile number. I do not give my number to people I meet in clubs, period (unless the guy is either Craig David or Chris Martin). But having this new resolution, I did just that. I wrote my mobile down. He walked away and I proceeded to enjoy my bowl of fishball noodle when I was interrupted. My mobile beeped, which basically meant that I had received a text message.

“You remember that Chinese chick we see in the club occasionally? Well I have her mobile number now.”

That guy was so deliriously happy to have gotten my number, that he sent the bragging SMS to the wrong person. He sent it to me instead of his clubbing buddies. Serves him right.

Since then he calls me every now and then. It does not mean I have to pick up his phone call now, does it? I did not pick his calls for more than 6 months now and yet he is still calling. I would not have written this post if not for the fact that I am going mad because he calls me even when I am here, in the UK! Obviously he does not know that I am in the UK but that phone of mine rings everyday because of him. Some days he calls TWICE! Twice, I tell you!

I was so annoyed that I swore I would have picked up the damn mobile and spend my money telling him, “Eh, can you quit calling me? Don’t you get it when the person doesn’t pick up your calls? It means I don’t want to talk to you, so bugger off.”

But that is of course, not too nice a thing for me to do. So I did not pick up the phone nor swear at him. It does not mean that I did not wish that I did though.

Case In Point #2
I love Ain. I told you that I did. I think Ain is one of the sweetest friends that I have. We speak whenever we could and she would tell me about her life in Jakarta. Recently she showed keen interest in finding work in KL and thus enquired with R at the prospect and procedure. At the same time, I have been busy with my business (yes, I work for my business, even when I am 10,000 km away), with this blog and with Kat.

A week or so ago, she caught me online and we chatted for a bit. She asked me if I was okay and I said that I was. I truly was okay. I was busy but fine. Perhaps I was just a little too busy and away from the laptop to chat with her whenever she was online. That did not signify anything more than just busy schedules on my part.

I cannot remember how we got into the conversation but we did. She asked if I was ever disappointed in her and I said, “NO”. She then said she was disappointed with me once but that was a long time ago. Now that got to me because I do have issues with her. Personally I swept the issues aside because I consider them to rise due to the age gap between Ain and I; which stands at a staggering 8 years gap. I never figured the issues to be so huge to classify them as "disappointments". That's the Miss Nice in me talking.

As a result, I resented what she said. I resented the fact that I trivially swept away the issues I felt with her and I resented the fact that she was disappointed in me prior to this. Above all, I resented feeling so resentful and pained. And so I rattled on to my MiniBoyFriend, R. Which now brings me to Case In Point #3.

Case In Point #3
So I told R some things that I have been thinking about, namely Ain and her disappointment. And I went on and on about feeling resentful and frustrated about it. And MiniBoyFriend R lashed back with a “Why is it always about you?”.

“I knew this is something that you talk to Ain about too. I know that I am selfish and conceited. At least I try to change. I ask you to talk about yourself and you are forever generalizing everything.”

And that was the truth. Friendships develop because of trust and open communication. There is no friendship without being open about things. There is no friendship if you cannot share about yourself, your feelings, your burdens and your happiness. So yes, friendships are about you and about me. Because that’s what friendships are about – the people involved and their lives.

If I could go back in time, I would not have been so nice and polite. This is what I would have said to R instead.

“How do you carry a conversation when you refuse to participate? Does it not mean that I have to contribute more by exposing more of myself? Obviously we talk mainly about either parties – that is you or I. And if you do not talk, then I guess I have to. Obviously I am not going to talk about other people’s lives. That’s their lives to live, not mine. It is not for me to judge. So I back at talking about me. So don’t give me flak for carrying conversations with you.”

Instead I admitted that I was indeed selfish and conceited. R thanked me for admitting my selfish nature. Admitance is easy but changing requires more proactive role. I make a conscious effort to be more caring and generous towards others. I make up for my selfishness by being there always for my friends and going the extra mile for them, when I know they will never do the same for me.

And I find that I am unable to cope with a friendship like this; where the person does not tell you much about himself (because he does not want to burden me with his emotional baggage, because he does not want others to know of his weaknesses etc). I simply can't.


The truth is, growing up is made harder when your friendships are tested and you realise that many failed. You feel down beaten and disappointed as you grow older. You cannot trust the people whom you used to trust. And just when you think you know everything, you see that monster in staring back at you. I am a toxic friend too. Being someone’s friend does not give me right to trash my emotional garbage on the person. For that, I am truly sorry.

Friendships developed in your childhood are sweet and innocent. You share that precious ice cream cone and that special Barbie eraser your mother bought you. You can share everything and you do not fear that your vulnerabilities will be used against you.

When you are grown, you become weary. Disappointments and betrayals teach you to be resilient on your own. You are more guarded and you no longer share freely as you used to, when you were five and you sat with your best friend under the Rambutan tree.

I believe everyone is born loving and kind. It is the world and everything in it that consumed everything positive that a child believes. When childhood is lost, so are all these good traits. People are apprehensive when you are nice. You are misunderstood when you go out of the way to help someone. And more often than not, you will be abused and used, if you are kind.

And each day, life is teaching me that I will be punished for being nice and good. Friendships become a rare treasure, so consider yourself truly blessed if you have one trustworthy friend. Perhaps we are too hurried and consumed with work and errands that we no longer have time for the finer things in life. We cannot afford acts of kindness and niceness anymore. In its place, we comfort ourselves with, “at least I did not do anything to hurt that person”, as if a passive no ill intention role is good enough when both you and I know that it is not.

I find myself being more and more of a recluse as days are swiftly passing me by. It might be true after all. We are the only person to experience everything in life. Whatever happens, we are the only ones to feel what it it is like to be us. Friends, family members, religious friends etc can only do so much to offer support. From then on, it's our little journey. Nice or not so nice, it is us who feel it in the end.

Wisdom fills in whatever positive feelings that were lost in childhood. And wisdom has the ability to help us discern who are the ones who deserve being treated well and nice and who are the ones who we should not give our time to. When I feel hurt because a friend failed me, it is not the failing of the friend but myself for it was I who failed to recognize who was and was never nice.

Do you think that you will have less emotional hang-ups if you are less nice to people? I am beginning to believe so.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006
Just Because Racism Exists Elsewhere

As mentioned in my previous article, I do have a lot to share with my readers. However I had to raise only the general points (without much discussion on how I arrived at those points) because I had to bear the post’s length in mind.

So here in this particular section, I would like to just elaborate some points raised in previous post entitled “We Are 49 Years Old Now And What Have We Achieved?”. It is hoped that you would understand how I came to my conclusions.

Many thanks.


  • Comparison to London And New York
    This comparison was made specifically for the concept of “multi racial society”.

    How many of us have told tourists and friends who are visiting Malaysia, almost beaming with pride at “how multi racial Malaysia is”? How many of us took time to explain how we are so multi racial and tolerant of different cultures here?

    I feel almost cheated by the government for promoting this concept so religiously, to the point where I felt utterly proud and patriotic that our country is so blessed with so many races and we are all galloping next to each other in playgrounds. When I left for London, I realised that London was equally as multi-racial as Malaysia, if not more! Nowhere did the city claim to be ‘multi racial’.

    I felt short-changed and stupid for going around telling all my western friends how multi-racial and multi-cultural Malaysia is. Imagine you describing (with great pride) to tourists from the world over that our country is multi racial with Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous tribes living close together. Now imagine these tourists come from cities where an underground carriage has a collection of people from Africa, the Indies, South Americans, Pakistan and India, China etc. Can you imagine the polite smirk across their faces as they entertain your perception of how wonderful our nation is?

    It is like a little fish in an aquarium calling his aquarium the biggest aquarium in the world without realising that fish from the sea swim fast and free in a boundless body of water.

    We should bear in mind that we are nowhere half as multi-racial/multi-cultural as some cosmopolitan cities, who never bragged a day in their lives how multi-racial they are.

    The point we should also consider is why are we relentlessly promoting this point? Why are we obsessing on the fact that we are multi-racial? Is this because we are trying to compensate for something that we are not? Is this government propaganda to brainwash us into believing something we are not? Is this fact “Malaysia is a multi-racial society” the truth or was everything a shamble? Why didn’t London and New York promote itself to be so? Were they truly multi-racial and thus not needing any affirmations anymore?

    As my first commentator from the previous post had pointed out, London “is a thriving metropolis that has been the centre of cultural exchange for hundreds of years”. So why didn’t London heavily promote itself as a multi-racial society? Why they did not include this fact in their bid for the Olympics 2012? Why aren’t the English as obsessed about it while Malaysians are?

    You don’t think we obsess about the fact that we are multi-racial? Just count the number of campaigns, both tourism and national day advertisements we subject ourselves to each year. Now the question is why are we obsessing?

  • Just Because Racism Exists Elsewhere
    You will discover that I believe it is the same everywhere on earth as you read my blog. You will not find any reference where I say that Malaysia is second-class or that western nations are the best. Usually I would actually remark that each country has its own set of strong and weak points.

    There is no perfect place on earth. Racism exists everywhere on earth but that is not good enough an excuse for me to accept racism as part of my life. I believe that human always strive to be their best and to aim for the best and as such, I believe we should educate the young about the ills of racism.

    A clearer example - Just because UK is projected to be an obese nation in the next four years, it doesn’t give me the excuse to be fat. I am in charge of only me and I shall keep my body healthy. Similarly this is my country and I shall do my best to negotiate a better future for it.

  • With reference to Nude Squat, Bloody Sunday, UPM and Lina Joy
    Please take note that I have specifically mentioned that these issues can be used as opportunities to grow and develop. It depends on how the nation wants to handle these issues. We can either bicker and kill each other over this or we can sit down and discuss ways to improve the situation for the better.

  • Malay Special Privileges
    I advocate the Malay Special privileges to exist for a certain number of years. I believe the some Malays do need assistance; there is no denying that. But I want assurances from the government that the help is given to deserving Malays. I do not want to see how a politician’s family has benefited from the bumiputera quota. I want to see the privileges being extended to those who truly need the assistance and help.

    However I believe that the special privileges should be capped. They should have an expiry date, by which the privileges will be revoked. This is where the JKF quote comes handy. The Americans allocated 10 years for their space development and within the span of that time, managed to send men to the moon.

    What is the acceptable timeframe for the Malays to compete alongside the rest of the communities in Malaysia? We are not talking about really technical ‘send them to the moon’ scenario. With proper training and help to the truly deserving Malays, I am sure everything is achievable in very short period of time.

    This special privileges encompass the education and employability section paragraphs, as found in my previous post.

  • The reference to Kennedy and the Moon
    The reference was made as an example for my readers to grasp the concept of human achievement within a span of time. In this specific example, it was about the American's determination to reach the moon within 10 years. They were the first nation to place mankind on the moon and all achievable within 10 years.

    Now compare that to the fact that the government's stand that the Malays still require help, subsidies, quotas etc in place (ref: the latest NEP). The government had given 49 years of privileges with the intention of helping the Malay community to raise itself up as equal with the other communities. They had ample provision given to them and had 49 years of it. Is it more difficult than putting a man on the moon? Why does the Malay community still need support and help? Are they so stupid that they need constant protection and care?

    Obviously the Malays are not stupid. They are an intelligent community as our history has proven (case in point, Tunku Abdul Rahman). So if there is nothing faulty with the Malays, why is the system failing them? Is it because the rightful Malays are not receiving the adequate support, which they need? Are the special rights serving only a minority of Malays and the proper help is not channelled to the those who are truly in need of some sponsorship/training/education? This is the golden question.

    I advocate for the Malays to receive special privileges for a certain number of years. The fact that it will one day expire will put more pressure on them to fully utilise the privileges and to be the best that they can be. The current situation is not ideal and neither is it natural. The government cannot protect a majority of citizens forever. It is not economically feasible and even if it was feasible, it does not promote productivity and healthy competition. The better option is to carefully channel the special privileges to where it is needed most and educating the people that this is a privilege and it is not going to last forever. Knowing this will create a sense of urgency and awareness, to treasure all that is given at the moment and to make full use of all services available.

  • Common Excuses
    One of the most common excuse heard is the "oh you think Malaysia is bad? It's same-same everywhere else". I honestly do not care about other countries because my loyalty and future does not lie there. It lies in my country, the place where I am born, which is Malaysia. I do not console myself that it is okay to be racist every now and then, just because it is also the same elsewhere. I do not possess a "tidak apa" (trans: never mind) attitude about racism just because my third cousin studied in Australia and he encountered lots of racial slurs too (which is a common arguement as well). Racism happening elsewhere has no bearing to my arguement at all. I have no say in other countries but I have a say in mine.

    Another common excuse heard and is overused in political campaigns in Malaysia is, "No other parties had historically led Malaysia successfully. You want to take chances with PAS/Keadilan/etc political party?". Please turn on to CNN and BBC for an idea how matured politcians campaign. They talk about how they are going to serve the people. They talk about the future, talk about taxes and how they are going to make the future brighter, if they are voted into power. They do not dwell on past glories or play the "fear for the future" card.

    I would like to see a day when politicians will start talking about the future. They will come up with the numbers and show how they are going to achieve their projects.

Well this is all that I can think of for the moment. I shall add more as I receive comments from my readers. Till then I am going out to visit a museum or something. I wrote the post to engage a discourse with my readers and I welcome constructive comments.

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Friday, August 25, 2006
We Are 49 Years Old Now And What Have We Achieved?

This post has been read more than 3000 times in the last 3 days. This shows how important the issue is to the nation. Many have commented in this post, which sparked off two other articles. Please read them to fully understand how this post came about. Thank you.


With the Merdeka celebration just around the corner,
I am taking time to highlight some national issues.
These posts will be longer than usual,
so I appreciate your time reading them. Thanks.

Dedicated to all Malaysians,
yesterday, today and forever.

Years of Malaysian education taught me that Malaysia is “truly a multi racial country”. I was damn proud of the fact that in my country, there are so many races all living in harmony. Can you recount how many Petronas advertisements and government propaganda subliminally brainwashing us into believing that Malaysia is a multi racial society, where everyone lives respecting the varying cultures and religious beliefs?

Like you, I was proud of the fact that Malaysia was harmonious. It implies other countries were not as special as Malaysia. Why? Because they were not “multi racial”, of course!

It was a fall from grace the moment I set foot in London. I saw people of all skin colours and heard languages that I have never heard in my life. We are not talking about just 3 major races and 3 major religions here. We are talking about diversity as broad as your mind can allow you to. I even saw a black guy speaking fluent Cantonese to an old Chinese lady in the tubes! Now THAT’S multi racial.

We are not talking about just the Malay, Indian, Chinese and “dan lain-lain” (trans: others). We are talking a mixing pot of various colours, languages, cultures, food and religious beliefs, all freely mingling and interacting with each other. London has been this cosmopolitan before Tengku Abdul Rahman shouted “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” (trans: Independence! Independence! Independence!” on the birth of Malaya in 1957.

Can we ever say the same for Malaysia? Please raise your hands if you had racial slurs thrown at you. Perhaps someone called you lazy because you were born Malay. Maybe they call you “India Keling” just because your forefathers came from India. I had the “Balik Cina lah!” (trans: Go back to China!” thrown in my face by young, village kids.

Be honest with yourself and ask, where is the “multi racial society living in harmony” in our lives? I don’t know where it is. You want multi racial society? You go to London or New York. Those two metropolitan cities are truly multi racial. What we have in Malaysia is the Petaling Street version of the original thing.

Did I hear some of you grumbling out there? Dear Miss Otto, a traitor to her race and country, you said? To be honest, I love Malaysia. I love Malaysia to bits. I love Malaysia, right after my family, some closer friends, my business and Alex (not necessary in that order of importance). I sincerely think that it is time for our nation to stare that big zit in the face. You are absolutely wrong if you say there is nothing wrong with Malaysia. There isn’t a place on earth that’s perfect, what more our multiracial country which is still searching for its identity.

Respect and Diversity
It is safe to that the nation is no longer a “child” as it celebrates its 49th anniversary. In recent past, our people stared at glaring problems ranging from the Nude Squat, Bloody Sunday to the UPM students that were never punished and Lina Joy. I don’t know what your opinions are in this whole hoohaa but personally I am glad they happened.

In my opinion, these incidences are windows of opportunities for the government and the nation to address issues that have been put off for a long time. Whilst in the past, we as a nation might not be able to deal with the problems but now many of us are working in bigger cities. We have access to the outside world and our interactions with the world help us mature more as a nation. We are able to take up more responsibilities and behave more responsibly.

We should be able to voice our opinions, even when they are different. We should respect our fellow Malaysians because we are already grown. We do not have any excuses for failing and when we fail, it shows our immaturity as private citizens and as a nation.

I am glad that we are addressing “sensitive” issues. They are not sensitive to me, perhaps because I believe I can carry a decent discussion about these issues without threatening to kill another person who does not agree with me. I hope that there are many others who are able to talk about things without kicking tables or burning a flag or two.

The Subsidy Mentality
I believe that the government was right in raising the petrol prices. I feel the pinch like every other person but I believe that it is something that the government had to do. How long can the government subsidize us with cheaper petrol? We must realise that the government has to find the money from other revenues, in order to continue provide the petrol subsidy.

Think about it this way. The government has to work doubly hard to find the amount of money used for subsidies. So if the government budgets to spend RM1 billion to subsidize the various schemes (such as education sponsorship, petrol and farm subsidies), it will need to find that RM1 billion from other revenues. Compound this with the fact that the same amount of money could be used to develop things that will benefit a wider spectrum of citizens such as better transportation systems, superior quality education for its young citizens and healthcare for its people.

I prefer our Malaysian government spend its money wisely, in areas such as education and healthcare. Part of being a responsible citizen is to help the government administer itself smoothly and efficiently. We can start by taking up more responsibilities for ourselves, do not depend on government’s handouts and work hard at being competitive. It is all part of growing up.

Education Quota and Employability
Where the deteriorating education standards in Malaysia are concerned, we should have realised that we cannot turn dust into gold. The current university quota is not doing the nation any good. We are churning lots of graduates who do not possess the necessary skills for them to work efficiently in private companies. Whilst it was created with the best intentions in mind, the quota directly produced a generation of Malaysians who think Malaysia owes them special rights.

These people believe that the country and the government owe them because they are born a certain blood. What these people failed to realise is that they are basically going to ruin the country by not performing to the best of their abilities. I agree that the government has to help the weak but I do not believe that the weak consists of just a particular ethnic.

Kat was a part-time music lecturer in UPM. She mentioned that some of the students accepted into the Bachelor of Music program hardly had Grade Two or Three in music. Logically speaking, how is it possible for these students to graduate with Bachelors in Music when their foundations (Grade One to Eight in any musical instrument) are not even in place? Where is the logic? Is it therefore surprising that these students struggled through their university course and graduated by scrapping past their examinations?

How are these students going to graduate and be good employees when their knowledge of music was so poor? In what capacities can they serve anyone?

Let’s take it a step further by analysing teachers and lecturers in our local schools and universities. It is utterly shameful to sit in some of these classes to witness students correcting their language teachers’ pronunciation! What do you expect from young students when the teachers are weak and not properly trained? Who is responsible for permitting these teacher trainees to graduate and teach our young? On what basis were these teachers trained and hired?

If the teachers are bad to begin with, how are they able to train/teach our young? A bad tree can never produce good apples. Period.

In its place, we should encourage our young Malaysians to develop ideas and to hold discourses in a rational manner. All students scoring perfect A-s are automatically granted government scholarships, in whatever course they wish to study, in return for a few years of service once they have graduated. All applications are accepted based on abilities, not ethnic. Such regulations will encourage our young people to compete in a healthy environment and to strive to their best possible.

We need to learn that we are rewarded for being the best in our fields. Superior quality should always be rewarded. We will not be rewarded for poor performances, be it in education or in our work life. Once we understand this basic concept, naturally we will work hard to improve ourselves. It is the most natural law of nature.

Begin With The End In Mind
I believe that our nation needs to begin with the end in mind. The country will need to leave behind its racial discriminatory past and quotas if it wants to compete realistically. We should start rewarding our citizens based on merits and good work. We need to make plans to transform the current subsidy mentality and special rights privileges to one that is based on excellence, healthy competition and merit.

Perhaps we should start telling our young that they will have only a limited number of years to grow up and compete equally alongside other races. This right will not be there forever, just like parents are not always there to protect their youngs. The rights will be revoked after a certain agreeable years, ensuring that these young people will work hard, capitalising on their actual intellect and resources.

Ideally it would be perfect as our 50th anniversary gift to the country but I guess that is a little too late now. The question remains – how long does a nation need before its people can stand up for itself, without calling for hand-outs and privileges? Is not two generations more than adequate to improve our future children and ourselves? Are we so weak that we cannot better ourselves in 10 years? In 20 years? In 50 years? It is time for us to rethink who we are and what we can achieve.

The economy will suffer and the nation’s growth will be stunted if we continually fail to reward people who worked hard and excelled. Honestly, are you motivated to be your best when your good work is never recognized? How do you feel if you are turned down for a promotion just because you are not a certain race? How many people do you think are broken spirit and disappointed with the current system? Even the most patriotic spirits will move away to other companies and join other countries that will accept them and reward them for hardwork and diligence. It is already happening. It is called braindrain.

The longer we put this discussion off, branding it as “sensitive”, the worse the situation will get. We should stop asking what can the government do for us. It is time for us to ask ourselves, what can we do for our nation. How are we going to shape our future and influence our politicians? What can we do to ensure that our children will enjoy a better Malaysia? How are we going to win back our best students and experts? It is time to get real with ourselves and stop yelling “go to another country if you are not happy here” at critics that disagree with us.

I shall end this post with an illustration. It gives us a rough idea of how a nation can potentially grow within a span of time. Let’s compare ourselves with the Japanese, who suffered greatly after the Second World War. They had to rebuild their nation after the two atomic bombs and subsequent repercussions for their participation during the 2nd World War crimes. Despite everything, the tiny nation has grown to be one of the richest countries in the world, being the second largest economy in the world. Its people flourished and enjoy a stable country, with an eclectic mix of traditional and modern.

The Japanese managed to rise from their ashes of destruction. In the same time, what have we achieved as a nation? Where do we stand in the world community?

Small Talk
There are many comparisons that I could use to illustrate what mankind can achieve in very short period of years. Such as the Americans being the first people to land on the moon, ACHIEVED IN ONE DECADE.

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal,
before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon
and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project...
will be more exciting, or more impressive to mankind,
or more important...and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish...."

~ President John F. Kennedy, 1961

The Americans managed to land on the moon in a decade. What have we achieved in five?

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Give The Man A Reason

Straying is fast becoming an epidemic in our modern society. Communication with the working world exposes both partners to many different people each day and statistically it is just a matter of time before you will eventually meet someone that would catch your eye and make your heart beat fast. It will creep into your heart like a silent killer and before you know it, you are scheduling lunches with your charismatic workmate.

A friend of PY’s left his wife and two kids for a younger woman, a colleague from his office. The affair was going on right under the wife’s nose through the nine months she carried her baby to full term. The wife became hysterical and acted like a crazy lunatic. She begged the woman to leave her husband. She brought her baby to the younger woman’s mother and begged the older lady to restrain her daughter. She called everyone on her husband’s phone list and cried.

It is a pitiful case, especially when the husband was hardly there through the pregnancy and subsequent care of the newborn third child. It sounds cruel but let’s be realistic here. What does the husband see when he encounters his wife? This is what he sees - a much older woman, with pregnancy fats, a torn vagina, who drives around Malaysia, chasing and begging for him to return home. In the man’s eyes, it was super logical to run away with the younger woman!

The wife worked and earned 3 times her husband’s salary. So obviously she was not after the financial security. What was the wife looking for? Perhaps she was looking for some emotional support through the pregnancy and birth of her third child. Perhaps she wants her husband because she loves him. No matter how hard she had tried, she could not get her husband back. Her methods were futile.

In her shoes, the first thing I would do is to throw the man out of the house. Next I would strengthen my financial situation and improve my career prospects. I will head to the gym straight away and overhaul my image. Simple things like a good haircut and wearing proper bras and panties improve your body image tremendously.

Give the man a reason to cry and regret. Oh heck, you might as well make it ten reasons for him to cry and regret! Give him reasons to crawl back to you and when he crawls, you make him run like a dog. Of course it would be emotionally painful and obviously there will a lot of tears involved. I am not asking you to play games with the man but if a man takes you for granted, you will have to put yourself in a better position and make him beg to be let back into your fabulous life.

You will have to do something that will command the man's attention and respect. And you are not going to get that by asking him to come back home to throw out dirty diapers or watch your saggy bottom walk around the bedroom in your Bridget Jones underpants. You are not going to win his heart by reminding him that he has tonnes of responsibilities with you or that he is already old. He will just go out and show you how desirable he is as a stud, even if he is a 45 year old stud. You are not going to win him by begging or crying or pleading. Do you want to be with a man who cries on the phone each time you speak to him? I guess not.

The only way he is going to sleep in your bed is by being the best that you can be and having a good life ON YOUR OWN. Have some dignity and do not accept shit attitude from him. Do not forgive him easily. Tell him that he is not accepted in your family until he behaves himself. He will respect you when you exit gracefully, with the kids. Tell the younger woman that you do not want a man who leaves his wife when she is pregnant. Tell her that she can have the rejected goods instead. Wish her good luck with him.

You will stand a higher chance of winning him back by getting on with your life. Own a pretty house. Take over the family home, if you could. Love your kids and teach them well. Develop your personal set of opinions and purposes in life. Let your personality and intellect shine. And of course, take care of your physical self.

Now doing all these things might win him back. It might also be too late for him to return. Either way, you will have nothing much to lose. You keep your children with you. You get on with your life. You might not have the man but you most certainly will have the money, the car, the house and hopefully some truly supportive friends and family members.

And if your man do not respect you nor cherish you, then blow him. He's not worth a second of your day.

Daughters are sent away to study, receiving the same privilege as sons in most families these days. The end result is a generation of girls going away to study and work. These girls delayed relationships and marital responsibilities, in order to pursue their education. Eventually they embark on their career choices and enjoy financial freedom never found in previous generations of women.

Chances are, you would have bought your own car by the time you are in your late 20s. You would have a house to your name and furnished it with pretty things. You would have travelled to a few countries, either with friends or on your own. As your biological clock ticks on, you are left to think why do you need a man.

I famously asked my parents what is the use of a man when they started to apply mild form of pressure for me to "settle down with a nice gentleman". "You will get old and eventually you will need to start a family," came the not so original reply. I laughed and told them that sperm banks are available. Or MiniBoyFriends. You can imagine my answer was not satisfactory to my parents.

So readers, what is the use of a man? What is the use of a man, especially if he is a prick to begin with?

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
A Maximalist's Lifestyle

I grow bored of my things rather easily. I change my bags and shoes faster than a slut change her pool of men. However I was very fond of my last leather bag and used it for close to a year. It was an achievement, by far. It was not until last week that I decided to rest my old faithful and return to a long forgotten but much loved bag.

It is a pink suede bag with lace and sequins. I deeply despise minimalism, opting for its more flamboyant sister personality; maximalism. The bag, with its opulent beadings reflects my personality.

While clearing out my bag last week, I found 6 Durex condoms. Today clearing the bag again to make space for my mini umbrella, I found 24 dice. Finding all these things made me smile and a sense of contentment filled my heart.

The condoms were long forgotten items hidden in the extra zipped compartment. They were sponsored by Durex and were given out as part of my safe sex campaign during Valentine's Day 2005.

As for the 24 dice, they were paraphernalia for drinking games. I have been carrying them half way around the world and I cannot even remember how the games were played.

My life has taken a drastic U-turn in the past two years or so. Looking at these things make me wonder how my life has changed. It is calmer these days and I appreciate sleeping right through the night. The phone does not ring at 5 a.m. anymore. There is a whole less drama and things are changing for the better. It is no longer spiralling out of control, like a mad drunkard on a binge night. I feel more stable, having a firmer grip of my life.

Everything has its time. It was fun and adventurous, with stories brewing daily like morning coffee in an expensive percolator. Nights were colourful and mesmerizing. Emotions ran wild like swatches of lights in dance clubs.

These days you can see me sitting poise, a warm smile lighting my face.

I am not running away. I merely chose to thread a different path. It was a conscious choice, never a sacrifice.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Friendship With D
The music wa

s loud and the crowd was wild. And yet there I stood, feeling as lonely as ever. There might be a few hundred people squeezed within the tight spot. Some singing birthday songs while others are undressing each other in frenzied drunkenness. Camera flashed every few minutes. Girls walked to the ladies in groups of two or three. Boys snaked their ways closer to girls that they fancied that weekend night.

“Why do you always look so sad?”

He swept pieces of hair off my face and looked intensely into my eyes. He gave my hand a squeeze. Some nights he pat my head, like I was a little child. He kissed my cheeks and the top of my head. He fed me when I was hungry at 6 a.m. and filled me with so much liquor, I would not be thirsty for a long, long time to come.

Others figured him to be a womaniser but to me, he was kind and generous. Other girls painted him with tainted brush strokes but my few private moments with D, I found him to be considerate and helpful.

I think it was part of his job hazard, being the person in charge of Lola. He had some stakes in the business and he was its frontman. Surrounded by an endless stream of pretty girls, it was not surprising that he would fall for one or more. I am very practical in this sense and I see no wrong for a young, eligible bachelor to wine and dine several women in his prime.

Our friendship might have been an odd one but odd or not, I treasured nonetheless. Maybe I dreamt him up, like the way I dreamt every other person up. Strangely for someone who is has trust issues, I am also a born optimist. I hopelessly think only the best of everyone around me and stubbornly reject the cracks I see in each person.

I remember the first time I met him. His club had recently opened and I was there, like the rest of the cityfolks, in search of a new weekend playground. In all the years I had been out on weekends, I never had a trip like the night I first met D. My drinks had extra “vitamins” added into them (by some unknown person) and I literally felt sick in the pit of my stomach. Not wanting to puke all over the dance floor, I requested a friend to fetch me home.

A head popped from the crowd. I saw the first instant when he looked at me. I do not know how I managed to wave good-bye to him with my blood shot eyes, bright red face and a heart beat rate of 120 per minute but somehow I must have managed it well because he recounted our first meeting during one of our more private conversations.

“You wore a black backless top on the first night I met you,” he said.

His actions were different from everyone else. He had a distinct look that separated him from the three hundred people around him. I did not know who he was and yet I could very well guess. It was convenient being his friends and so I imagined many would be his friend anytime of the day. Especially so during the Christmas and New Year season.

I, on the other hand, avoided him like a plague in the first two months or so. D happened to be one of those few friends I had, that I did not want to befriend initially but his sincerity stood the test of time. He invited me for various drinking sessions for a period of time before I actually took up on his offer. And for the next two years, he was good company whenever we were found together on a table.

One evening he came to me when we were out drinking.

“Why do you always look so sad?” he asked.

I smiled. It was 3 a.m. and the music was ethereal. It felt so calm and surreal, almost like rapture. The whole bar was dark and hands were slithering around us. I was analysing my life when he caught me thinking.

“Just mention my name,” he said. “If you get yourself into anything, mention my name and give me a call. I’ll come for you.”

I laughed. Drinking more than 5 glasses of vodka magnifies any sensation you experience and that night, my lot of trouble felt like a huge cross on my back. I rejected his offer of help and laughed a little more. It was the classic example of why people were gossiping and why I felt my life was a misery. I could no longer differentiate reality from fiction and truths from lies.

“You know, people tell me that the only reason why you are helping me is because you want to get into my pants,” I said to him. I was sat on the table, swinging my crossed legs when I said that. Everyone was already talking about it, telling me that he was only hanging around because he wanted some poontang. I lost nothing telling him what everyone else thought about our friendship. I do not remember how he reacted to my honest remark.

The last time when we truly talked was on New Year’s Eve. How strange how our friendship ended. I was shouting vulgarities into the phone, with D on the other end of the line. I was battered and bruised emotionally. I did not know what else to do.

“You should have mentioned this to me earlier,” he said quietly.

“Why the fuck should I tell you? I am not a little girl. I do not need protection from any man,” I sobbed. Angry tears drowned my bedroom at 5 a.m.

“She pushed me every fucking time she saw me. I fucking had it with everyone pushing me around. And she had the nerve to complain to you that I harrassed her?" I paused for a second. I caught my breathe. "All my friends knew she was pushing me around and I just swallowed everything silently. Now she dare complain to you? Fuck all of you!"

“You should come to me, if you are ever in trouble, Otto. You know I will help you. Now stop crying. Please stop crying,” he said gently.

“Just leave me alone. Can you just leave me alone and give me peace?”

I felt the rawness of my emotions pouring out that 5 a.m. He said he would save me when I needed saving and yet he failed me when it mattered. He knew I was very tired of everything around me at that time. He knew because I told him some of the stories. I could not take the pressure I felt from people constantly talking, analysing and stabbing me behind my back. I could not handle the unwanted attention I received.

He gave me what my heart desired. I did not encounter any incidences with the girl who pushed me since talking to D. She walks away each time she sees me. But that conversation was also the last true conversation I had with D. It was mutual, I guess. Our once warm hello hugs are now reduced to cold handshakes. Our conversations are polite and no longer open.

He often sent me sms and emails whenever I was in the UK. He was very happy to see me the last I went home. So happy to see me that he gave me a squeeze and squealed how he panicked at the thought that he had lost me forever. How different everything is now. There are days when I regret all that I said to him and then there are days when I had so much to tell him.

Like how I really thought he was a good friend and that I appreciated him for it. But then I rationalised that he would not have understood. Perhaps he would not even appreciate what I said. Life is strange, you know. Sometimes the people you appreciate the most are the very same people who never appreciate you.

There is no ending to this story. I do not know where it will end. Perhaps it has ended. Perhaps this is it. Some people just move on with their lives. Maybe we will never be friends again. Maybe we will never talk like we used to. But whatever it is, however life changes things around us, I wanted D to know that I remember his acts of kindness.

After saying this, I would move on with my life in peace.

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Monday, August 14, 2006
You Are Beautiful

On the third morning the man said:

You are beautiful but your beauty is fake.
You wear a smile daily when your heart really aches.
Your scent reminds me of pure Heaven but your soul is rotting in hell.
You are lost in the sea of grief and silently you cry for help.

Men are charmed and they are deceived.
Such a beautiful flower, so ripe to pick.
What men failed to see are your tears each night.
What they did not know are the demons you fight.

Honey locks and a smile so pained.
Your bronze skin, seducing a thousand men.
Two thousand would fall for your allure.
Three thousand more for your face so pure.

A long time ago you were full of life.
Your heart was willing and your eyes were light.
Now your lips are sweet but your heart is bitter.
You are doomed for eternity in an angry winter.

Count your fears each night, one two and three.
Count your blessings each day, for your soul to be free.
Your eyes are glazed and your spirit is broken.
What are you do to now when your fears are woken.

So pure your face, a thousand secrets it holds.
Of torment and heartaches, of sorrows a million folds.
Each night wrestling demons, you get no sleep.
Each morning your face shines like an angel's but your soul,
O how your soul weeps.

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Friday, August 11, 2006
I am sorry

Here are the statistics. I have had several long-term relationships with a few men. There is HighSchoolSweetheart, someone that I loved when I was 16. The relationship was a combination of obligation to God (we were church going) and pure innocence. I took a look at him walking into my life and I had gut instincts that he would be with me forever.

The feeling is weird. How do you describe looking at an angel and feeling that you belong together? And even when time and place tears the both of you apart, you will still be together in spirit. It is the feeling that there is this person on earth that will think of you and will love you. You will never be alone on earth because there is a connection to this person. You will never be alone because your souls are tied together and destiny will always bring you back together, like frothy waves along the beach on a summer's day.

You know when you are much younger, you do not have as much mobility as you do when you are older. When I was young, I was governed by the choices of colleges that I needed to go and he was governed by his career options. HighSchoolSweetheart and I were worlds apart, in a time when the internet was still scarce and email was unheard of. We burnt holes in pockets, calling each other and loving each other while our physical bodies were continents apart.

When we had better control over our futures and I was studying for my Masters, we found ourselves away from home and away from everything else. It was just the two of us, sitting in the bathtub, drinking wine and being ourselves.

He just returned from the UK with a bachelor degree and was basically bumming around until he had to go home to Tamparuli, to visit his family. Life was simple and fun for the first few months when we were together. Then reality struck and he flew back to Sabah to be with his family. His sister was pregnant with a drummer's baby. The decision to keep and raise the baby without a husband was a rather difficult feat to achieve when one is surrounded by village folks and Christians. He chose to stay back with her and to help her through that period.

It was something that I absolutely understand. He wrote me a long letter, a letter that is still with me. Sometimes I read it and a sense of despair fills my heart. I spent my teenage years sitting at the foot of my bed, crying and asking him to come back to me. How stupid, if you really think about it. He was in the UK at the time and he would not have listened, no matter how hard I cried.

He did come back. He did come back. He will always come back, you see. I might not know when he would turn up at my door but I know he would turn up in my life again and again and again. The bond is so strong, I knew we would continue to remember each other as we walked this earth.

Two years had passed when he joined a huge group of my friends, celebrating my graduation. He lost himself and his voice somewhere between all the bouquet of flowers and soft toys. Graduation could well be one of the best moments in my life. I was well loved by everyone. Looking at photos from that day, I can still see my father’s eyes gleaming with pride. I had so many flower bouquets that my friends had to help me carry them. And in the middle of it all, stood HighSchoolSweetheart with a secret.

Alan took a long walk while HighSchoolSweetheart told me that he promised that he would not walk away from me this time. By then I was already at a point when I could not deny how good Alan was to me and how much I appreciated Alan’s friendship. On that day HighSchoolSweetheart returned the gold chain I gave him when we were lying naked together in bed, a long time ago.

“You have changed,” he said.

“I know,” I said with a smile. I looked into his eyes. “I am no longer innocent,”

He saw me with Alan. Then he saw me with Henrik and now he is seeing me with Alex. It has been a long journey. We have been friends and lovers and friends again for almost half our lives. We talked through Yahoo! Chat often and then some times we needed space. We are both firstborn and equally as strong willed. Perhaps that’s how we survived through the years – through sheer persistence to track each other down.

HighSchoolSweetheart told me a few days ago that he was returning to Tamparuli. He is tired of city life and he can’t seem to score that chick he has been dreaming of. I nagged him. We are like an old couple sometimes. I nagged him that he did not try hard enough, that he had too high expectations of women these days. He basically wanted to marry a pristine virginal girl, like a pastor’s daughter, who is able to get down and dirty feeding free range chicken in the kampung (trans: village). Everyone knows that it is an extinct breed in KL.

It is upsetting. Maybe that is why he is doing this. He is doing it because he knew it would upset me. He is going back to his village, to be with his people. He said he wanted to grow a rice field and perhaps some maize. Find himself a simple church going girl and just breed like rabbits.

“Tough luck when you never had sex,” I typed into the Yahoo! Chat when he made the announcement.

It felt so sudden. I mean, I do not even have the time to give him a good-bye hug since it is my turn to be in the UK while he remains in Malaysia. Now he is going to get himself lost somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where internet connections are poor and mobile lines belong to just a few in the village. I will not be able to talk to him nor ask him how he is.

“Happy birthday! I thought you might cut the phone line soon
in your attempt to get rid of me, so here’s an early greeting.
May God grant you all your heart’s desires.”
~ a text message I sent him last evening.

He said he had to run. He cannot see me too often and we shouldn’t speak too frequently. He says it fucks his mind. He said he is doomed to a lifetime of loneliness, filled with his grandma’s nagging for him to “find a nice girl and settle down”. He said I should not be nice to men because it breaks their hearts.

He said it was all my fault. Then he asked if he could fly to the UK, kidnap me and tie me to a taugeh (trans: beansprout) tree. I do not know whether to laugh or cry when I read it. I am sitting at the foot of my bed, 14 years on and I feel like crying hard.

I am sorry.

"And I never meant to cause you trouble
And I never never meant to do you wrong
Ah, well if I ever caused you trouble
Oh no, I never meant to do you harm"
~ Trouble, Coldplay

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Thursday, August 10, 2006
YC Rode A Tricycle

Confirm I definitely been blogging/dreaming/writing too much.

I am up at 5 a.m. to fetch Kat to Stansted again. She’s off to buy another load of violins and I am half awake, trying not to fall asleep again. Alex was extra loving this time around, so much so I thought I could make him feel guilty/worried enough to drive Kat to the airport. Tough luck. I am driving Kat on my own.

I had the weirdest dream moments before waking up at 5 a.m. I was browsing through a book, a very special book. It was a collection of featured blogs, all graphically beautiful, showcasing the various people in the blogsphere. What I was quite fixated was a photograph of YC and a guy called Merv. They were riding a tricycle.

The dream felt like an LSD trip. Never had any but am absolutely sure, if it would be such as last night’s. I mean, YC wearing black knee length socks, jet black hair hair (ala Emily Strange), sitting on a tricycle with a guy named Merv?! There were swirls of colours and flashes here and there. Damn psychedelic the whole experience.

Confirm blogging too much and watching too many Studio Ghibli movies.

Community Service Announcement
Children, please do not use the word “tiu”. It’s very derogatory. Use “fuck” instead as it is a very versatile word, if you must swear.

Psssst YC, do you actually have a friend named Merv? If confirmed friend named Merv, I am running to the TOTO shop asap!

It turns out that all major airports in England is closed down for the moment. No wonder it took me more than 2 hours to drive Kat to the airport! Apparently there is great risk of a "murder of mass proportion" and the government is taking active steps to curb the chances of this happening. Switch on to BBC and watch it.



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Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Wise Words

A man’s best friend is a dog
and a woman’s worst enemy is a bitch.

Fluffy white feathers floating in the pristine white bedroom. Dressed in nothing but sexy knickers, two girls are having a pillow fight. In slow motion, of course. That’s what men imagine women are doing behind closed doors when the boys are at their Sunday golf sessions.

Men’s sexual fantasies often do not present itself in reality. That’s why they are called fantasies, you see. And in this particular reality bite, women might still be pillow fighting in virgin white knickers but it would not be as innocent as the fantasy. Reality has women fighting and aiming at the jugular veins of their opponents.

Have you wondered if we, womenfolk are doing ourselves a disservice. We often cry for more freedom and equality but often time, the fastest tongue to wage a war against another woman is actually a woman’s. Our eyes have homing devices and we home onto the next girl to walk into a room, sizing her up in three seconds flat. Guys, if you don’t believe me, just check how fast your female friends run their eyes up and down another woman introduced into the group.

Why are women so competitive with each other? Is this trait inborn or learnt? I have been thinking about this issue through the weekend and after 48 hours, I still do not have an answer.

Putting more than two women in a room together and there will be tension. Soon they'll find their bathroom support buddies and equally they will be at each other's throats. You will never see a room full of men do the same. Never ever! Put ten men in a room together and you'll have them slapping each other's backs, measuring their wee penises.

What is wrong with us women?

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Friday, August 04, 2006
I Do Not Go There Anymore

Once I read a girly magazine and discovered that all women’s prayers were answered in the form of Biotherm’s Celluli Choc. To those who are unfamiliar to womanly woes, let me fill you in. We, women are born to absorb fatty fats much easier. We eat a delicious plate of roast duck and it stays with us. On our hips or thighs or butt or tummy. The Celluli Choc acts to tone your skin tissue, for a flatter and firmer stomach. At least that was the Biotherm promise.

I was on my compulsory 10 minute after meals walk when I found myself lured into the Biotherm counter. Ain and I chatted to the sales girl and grew uncomfortable as the minutes passed by. The beauty advisors from each counter were meeting at another counter, busy whispering and looking at us, sitting there in the Biotherm counter.

As the girls converged suspiciously, Ain and I grew more uncomfortable. I decided on the product and bought it in great haste. Then we basically ran for our dear lives before we were critically analysed to death there in the beauty department.

It was much later that I found out that they were talking about me. They were judging me while I spent money at their department. You will smile and say nice things for some commission at the end of the month? Then you stab me behind my back when I am gone? How two faced can you get? Does that not make you a prostitute of some sort? If I disgust you so much, I suggest not serving me at all. At least have some principle in life but I guess you do not know what that means.

Some of the beauty advisors knew me. Or at least that was what they told each other. That was why they stood together at the counter staring. They were busy judging Little Miss Otto and I bet they had a field day. They saw me in the clubs at night. They knew a friend of a friend of a friend. Or they heard a friend said this and that friend said that. So they felt that they knew me.

Or do they?

I was outraged when I first found out about it. I was angry because I felt that it was wicked and unfair towards me. Wouldn’t you feel the same too? I have no problem if someone comes up to my face and say nasty to me. At least give me a chance to defend myself. So as you can imagine, I was infuriated beyond belief! The cheek of these cocky 20 year olds! And you would think that age makes you wiser. Not for the case of the soured middle aged aunties. No, everyone was having a nice picnic, nitpicking my choices in life.

I vowed never to go to that beauty department ever again. I do not need others to bug me with their interpretations of how a woman should be or how a relationship should be conducted. I have my parents to fuss all over me, thank you.

This morning I realised something as I stared at myself in the mirror. Perhaps I did not dread their criticism as much as I feared mine. Quite possibly I had projected my own fears on the beauty advisors. Sure, they said things about me. Was I really worried about what they really said or was I more concerned for what I THOUGHT THEY SAID? It occurs to me that I am faced with the challenge of making peace with myself.

After all, this is my life. I will have to stare at myself in the mirror till the day I die. Who the hell cares for a bunch of girls who stared at me in the beauty department one afternoon sometime ago? I do not live with them.

I live with the person who stares back at me in the mirror. And if she is okay with who I am, then I guess I will be ok.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006
A Matter Of Convenience

Dear Friend,

Do you remember walking into my living room some years ago? It was after Christmas, I am sure. You were upset. You said some words that changed everything and today, I will tell you why.

You know, how girls are. We all know one day we will grow up and be mothers and many of us accept that as a part of life. However I am sure that many of us are not receptive to the thought that something so huge will pop through our little uteruses, tearing our vaginas along the way. I remember phoning you sometime close to your son’s delivery date, asking how you felt about the prospect of delivering your first child. I was shocked when you told me that you had given birth two weeks beforehand and that you were already a mother.

I felt ashamed because I felt that I had let you down as a friend. Due to my personal problems, I did not spend time with you. I was so busy drowning in my own tears, that I did not help you into your new role. I promised myself to be a better friend, to give more of myself and to be there when you have your second child.

Remember me accompanying you for your monthly visits to the doctor’s when you were pregnant with your second baby? I was there watching your belly swell. I stood next to you, watching how your baby swam in your stomach. I was there to see your baby girl’s heart beat. I tried my best to be there for you because I loved you as my friend.

I was there on the morning when you felt your contractions. I was the one who pushed you into the labour room and called your husband to come hold your hands as you both usher the arrival of your second child. I remembered all these things because I was trying to make up to you. I was confident that you would have done the same for me too.

But back to the evening after Christmas. Do you remember telling me that I had no life? You said that I had no life, which was why I kept leeching on your fulfilled lifestyle. You remember telling me that the only reason why I kept you company for most of your visits to the doctors was because I had nothing else to do? You remember I stood there, just listening and hardly replying? You remember telling me that you hated me because I could be so calm and composed?

I was calm and peaceful because you freed me. You freed me from being your friend. How was it possible for you to say such things? How could you be so insensitive? I loved you as a friend and I wanted to support you during a very precious period of your life. That was the reason why I kept you company during your visits to the doctors during your pregnancies.

I could have done a million things each time I sat at the hospital benches but I chose to sit next to you. I could have had coffee and had fun with other single friends but I chose to walk with you as you enter the doctor’s room. I could have remained at work, earned more money but I deferred work just to walk you to the pharmacy for some calcium tablets. I could have gone out with other friends instead of sitting in the hospital room, waiting the whole afternoon till 4 p.m. when you were pushed into the labour room.

What you did not understand was that I had a choice and I chose to show what it meant to be a friend. I chose to be your friend because I was certain that you would be my friend too.

Maybe I should thank you for opening my eyes. You said those cutting words years ago and it is now only that I have given up. I am fiercely loyal to those I consider my friends. But some friendships are just not worth my time and effort. When you said I had no life, and that was the reason why I kept following you to the doctor’s, I realised that we were very different creatures.

You were selfish for yourself and so you expected me to be selfish for myself. Your logic told you that I was there because I did not have anything else to do. You thought so because that would have been your response. If it was me pregnant, maybe you would have accompanied me too. But the motive would have been different. I accompanied you because I felt that was what friends do. You would have accompanied me because you had nothing else to do. You would not have sacrificed your time and put in some effort to keep me company. You would have done if the arrangement was convenient for you.

You let the words drip out of you that day, didn’t you? You said that you had priorities in life. First was your husband, then your children. Now you are free, so you have replaced your husband with your boyfriend. Then it is back to your kids. This is something that I understand. Friends understand that you have priorities. Friends support one another through everything and know where their places are.

That is why you have dictated all our schedules from the time we were old enough to drive out and have fun. You decided when we would have that cup of coffee. You dictated when we would go out for the movies, the dinners, the step classes and everything else. I tried my best to accommodate you because I rationalized that you had more responsibilities being married and having kids whereas I was single and free. I gladly rearranged my schedules to fit your schedule, because that is what friends do for each other.

I remember returning to Malaysia early, the year when you separated from your husband. I wanted to be there to support you as a friend. I feel stupid now because I know you would not have done the same. If the tables were turned and you were the one in Sweden with your boyfriend, you would not have returned to see me. I cried when you said you were separating but I now know, the tears were one sided. You, on the other hand, would have check your calendar before you cried and if it clashed with your pretty little dinner date with your boyfriend and your ten other friends, you would not shed a tear for me.

Thank you for confronting me that evening after Christmas. Thank you for showing me who you really are. Thank you for freeing me from the shambles of a friendship. You had priorities then. You still have your priorities now. I was never your priority, not even on the top ten. I was only a priority when it suited your needs. I am your friend of convenience. I am only your friend when it is convenient for you. I am only your friend when it fitted into your schedule, which currently is every Tuesday around 11 a.m. at Starbucks because that’s the only day when your boyfriend is not around. Not an hour earlier because you would still be dolling up for the caffeine treat and not an hour later because you would want to watch a movie, window shop or head into office to work.

Oh yes, sometimes you would ask me out for dinner on Friday nights. You would tell me that we could relive the years when we were both free. How sweet everything sounded and your tales captured even me. You asked me to fetch you, a drive that takes more than 20 minutes when the restaurant is less than 10 minutes from my home. Your excuse was that you could hop into your boyfriend’s car when he arrives after dinner at 11 p.m.

Did you really want to relive our carefree years or was I just a convenient friend who could accompany you dinner, so you don’t have to feel alone on Friday evening while waiting for darling boyfriend? I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?

I guess the last straw was when you asked me to join you in The Boulevard over a long weekend. You said we could have fun, doing all the girl things like we did, tripping into the hotel lobby at 6 a.m. the way we used to do years ago. You said that we could share the room and through the whole weekend, we could drink ourselves piss silly with your bunch of rugby boys.

It has taken you two years to invite me to join your bunch of rugby friends. It makes me wonder why do you want me to join you at all. I understand that we all need our own spaces and private friends. At least that is the excuse I made up for you.

So why are you sharing your friends with me now? What made you change your mind after two years, my friend? Wait a minute. I can conveniently pay for half the board, right? Maybe I am extra useful. I can keep you company you while your boyfriend does some of his work. Maybe your other friends were away for the long weekend and you were stuck to your old convenient friend.

I wanted to reply, "I waited two years for an invitation to join your other friends. It's ironic because I no longer want to go." But I chose not to reply instead. Some things are better left unsaid.

Did my reply surprise you? I am sure it did not. My no response was in fact a response that is all too familiar. I was busy. You should know. You have always been busy. While it is true that you were busy but were you too busy to reply EVERYONE's calls? No, you were just too busy to reply MINE.

These days you asked what am I so busy with. How could I be too busy to accompany you to retrieve your new passport from the Immigration Department or have that special Tuesday’s coffee? Why can’t I queue 30 minutes for the movie tickets while you get dressed at home?

I think we are both a little too old to bitch about friendships, so I guess this is it. Whilst in the past, I might have made time for you but not today, not for you anyway. So you were right all along. You have your priorities and so do I. You are just no longer mine.

So yeah, I will look into my calendar. Perhaps we’ll meet up when I am free.

Conveniently yours,

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