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Monday, January 29, 2007
I Miss You

~ Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones.

I have been back in Malaysia since the 18th. On touch down, the phone rang like an alarm clock buzzing every ten seconds. Got straight into the office after a warm shower and wash. My staff grinned. They looked as if they were relieved that I am back in command, sitting in my little office. Perhaps it was comfort.

PY and I launched ourselves into shopping mania. I had spent a quarter of my salary on clothes five hours after arriving back home. Went home with bags of new clothes, only to be greeted by my fat cat Milo. He had knots in his armpits, which he demanded me to attend to by laying on his back and showing me his armpit knots.

Was out Friday night, catching the usual crowd of people. I went to Lola and gave dear D a warm hug. “You shouldn’t go to the UK too often,” he said between puffs. I realised that we have been friends for close to 5 years. That is how long we have been drinking together. Last Christmas was the first Christmas when I did not buy him some gift. Christmas was the only day in the year when I bought him something. He treated to me sweet bubblies for the remaining 364 days.

Reached home at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Slept 4 hours and caught PY for last minute breakfast. Then she was off to Langkawi for a week and one day. Had a special date on Saturday night, which turned out lovely. Then it was one drinking binge with E, E’s boyfriend, BestGuyFrien, Nikki and SL.

That was two Saturdays ago. By last Saturday, nothing much had changed. I had very restless sleep during the four hours I get each night. I did not possess appetite for food and felt full after eating a bun or half a bowl of noodles. My dreams were vivid and wild. Some were sexual and Alex was not the man in my dreams. The dreams were disturbing in every sense of the word.

I could not take the quarrels I had with my parents anymore and so I left home. I created a home of my own in an instant, purchasing pretty little furniture pieces and made myself a nest. I slept in my new room in my new bed with new bed linen but my seven pillows were the still the same. Maybe the stress of returning home, coupled by jetlag and non-stop weekend parties turned me into this zombie.

I do not feel tired despite sleeping inadequately. I do not feel hungry if I had only one muffin a day. I worked during the day and when I had time, I ran to the boutique to buy yet another blouse that I would wear only once. I laid awake in bed, tossing around until 3 a.m. on weeknights and on weekends, I do not reach home before 6 a.m. the next day.

And yet, I do not feel a thing.

Or maybe I do. My world is not complete when I am not with you. Food taste bland and nothing is special in my life. I know what is wrong. I try to medicate my soul with clothes, shoes, pretty furniture and booze. Do you know that I had 2 glasses of whiskey on rocks, 1 tequila pop, 4 shots of vodka neat and 2 vodka cocktails. Then I had one whiskey on the rocks as nightcap before dropping myself on Nikki’s sofa. That was just one Saturday’s worth of drink.

I tried to medicate my soul but then I realised that what I needed was you. Nothing feels right when you are so far away and I miss you deeply. My soul did not know this but now I do. I miss you.

I miss the way you used to push me onto the bed and then you jumped on me, with your eyes and mouth opened wide, as if to scare me. Each time I giggled and screamed, watching you fall onto of me. It looked scary when you do that but when you do land on me, you were as light as a feather.

You tickled me senseless each night before we go to bed. You said that it tired me out and I would sleep better. Each night I complained that I nearly peed in my panties and you said that it was erotic. And no matter how much I protested, you would tickle me again. This, I miss too.

I miss running around the house with you. The house is small but it is filled with giggles and laughter. Sometimes you carried me on your back, like a stallion galloping up and down the stairs. Sometimes I closed my eyes and screamed for mercy but you knew that I was just pretending. You would be just out of my reach, each time when I stretch my hands out to touch you. You have the cheeky grin whenever you do that. You hold my attention whenever you are around. Your presence offers me security.

I miss breathing heavily into the pillows. I miss listening to your jokes about migrating to Canada and your declaration that the world is ending. I miss you telling me how we would start a cult together and I would be written in as the goddess. I miss you making me a cup of hot chocolate or the occasional hot tea when my nose feels blocked by the damn sinus. I miss sitting at the end of the tub and you sucking my toes just to hear me giggle. I miss you loving me coy.

I miss you swinging by for lunch, where we would sit in the little tight living room and we had the tastiest food. I miss marching into Tesco for our bargain hunts. I miss GU chocolate cake with you. I miss how you mewed for my attention. I miss nagging how you are annoying whenever you are without things to do.

I miss watching you mow the lawn from the bedroom window. I miss watching you shave. I miss the way you look when I shave you. I miss listening to your endless stories of how the dehumidifier improved our laundry chores. I miss you showing off your vacuum cleaner that looked cute. I miss watching House in bed with you. I miss watching you as you watched Japanese manga.

I miss you unpacking and petting your latest tent equipment. I miss your Leatherman. I miss your pimp daddy black shoes. I miss your ties that took some space in my cupboard. Yes, it is my cupboard. You hang your clothes on the left side and mine on the right. I miss the way you are meticulous with things and how you are manic about your bolts and screws.

I miss catching you watching porn and you had a hard on. I miss your sniffling self when you cut onions for the curries. I miss you washing my hair. I miss drying your back after we have our morning bath. I miss you enjoying the way I fuss about you. I miss you doing things that make me fuss over you.

The Malays have a proverb and I dedicate it to you. You are the reason why I "makan tak kenyang, tidur tak lena". (trans: "eat and I don't feel full, sleep and I don't sleep soundly"). Without you there is no satisfaction in my life.

I love you with my heart and I miss you.

"I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no girl reaction
'cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no"
~ Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones

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Thursday, January 25, 2007
The Goo

Help Wouter get rid of the hideous photo below!
What started as a tease has turned into a game. I will only write a new post when this particular post receives 25 comments, ranging from totally silly "FIRST" to whatever creative you can think of.
Failing which I'll post another photo of something gross.

You have been warned.

"And you thought you had cancer..." my mom said as she popped it. I could hear her sarcasm. "Well would you rather me suffer cancer instead of a septic pimple?" I asked her.

"I am in no hurry to die..." I said a few seconds later, looking at this amazing amalgamate of green icky stuff, germs and antibodies.

My left index finger with all the goo that popped out last night.
Neat, huh?

Related Links
  • Find out how this special goo made Otto feel like a child all over again.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I have been having daily heated arguements with my parents since returning home. Maybe they never understood how much I love them. Maybe I never understood how they wanted to be loved.

But this post is my peace offering. My way of saying I am sorry and my way of appreciating them for all the good things they have done in my life.

I discovered in recent years that my parents were right. They were right when I was a child. They were right when I was a rebelling teenager and they are still right till today, as long as the topic does not involve career management and computer skills. Those two skills, I am always right.

Now do not panic if you wake up one day and find yourself agreeing with your parents’ ideas and thoughts. That happened to me one morning not too long ago. I can’t remember which day but I am sure thought process changed ever so subtly. Suddenly everything my parents said made perfect sense.

If that is not creepy enough for you brave souls out there, then what about this? I found myself saying things like, “You don’t give the spoilt brat RM2 each time the child whines. You give the child a good whooping, that’s what you give,” and “Yeah, yeah, yeah – you think you know everything. Wait until you grow up!” at whiny children and teenagers.

I winced each time I found myself uttering words that my parents drummed into my ears when I was younger. They were like little reminders, each time saying, “See, I told you, Otto. Your father/mother is always right”. Which means I was always wrong when I was a child.

And all those time I thought I knew everything as I slammed the doors and threw a fit because of my raging hormones as a teenager? I was wrong then too.

The funny side about growing up and knowing that you are grown up is realizing the role reversal between parent and child. Part and parcel of agreeing with your parents and seeing their point (which simply makes you a PARENT), is that you begin to play the parent role and as if like magic, your parents are the spoilt brats.

That is karma kicking your butt.

As my parents start aging, I find myself nagging after them and asking them to do things. In my parent-child relationship with my parents, it is often about two things:

  • TV

  • Exercise

I remember clearly how my parents nagged me when Beverly Hills 91210 and MacGuyver were the hit TV sitcoms. Highschool was a mean street if you did not watch those popular sitcoms, among with other TV shows which felt so important then but means nothing to me now. Especially since I do not recall the names.

So I was your average teenager, arguing with parents and challenging for the control of the TV control and couch time. I was met with brutal reprimands for not completing my homework and not studying enough. The “You watch too much TV” nagging was so bad that I was considering giving up TV all together.

And now what do we have here, 15 years down the line? My two parents sat on their asses from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. glued to the TV. My god, they are worse than me when I was a teenager, I thought to myself on more than one occasion.

And so I nag. I nag them like they nagged me as a child. And I have good reasons now, just like they had good reasons then. My parents need to exercise, especially my mother, in order to remain healthy. And they are hardly ever going to have healthy hearts and livers by attempting to beat the “The Malaysian that watches the most TV per day” record in the Malaysian Book of Records.

“That’s it!” I screamed one day. “I am fucking going to cut the Astro subscription off!” That line is so my mother in the mid 90s. I was attempting to yank my mother off the chair to join the neighbourhood auntie for line dancing. “Talking to Milo does not constitute socializing!”

Milo is my fat cat.

Plus my mother seriously needs to exercise to maintain her health, which is deteriorating as a body normally would when it ages. But she refused and so I played the mummy role. Suggested that I would buy her a nice bag to keep her little towel. Maybe a new pair of shoes, if she was good. And even a fancy water tumbler! And true to the role reversal, my mother refused to go for the classes like a 5 year old rejecting kindergarden in the first week of school.

“Please teacher, here is a cane,” I said as I giggled. My father and brothers were listening as I told them about what I imagined to have happened if I brought my mother for her first day at line dancing. “Here is a cane and if my mother is naughty, please do not hesitate and cane her naughty bottom.” Needless to say, my mother did not find what I said during our Sunday family dinner funny.

And neither do I when I think about it. Things have changed. My parents are getting old and my brothers and I are beginning to take over their roles as parents. At least I see that there is a change of roles as vague as it might appear to be. Perhaps I am insolent in my ways and I believe that as much as they are my parents, I am now grown and I speak to them as a peer, rather than as their child.

But there are days when I am reminded how much a child I still am. Like when I knock on their bedroom door past midnight, feeling frightened that I discovered a lump on the back of my neck. “Open the door! Open the door! I am sick!”

I turned around when the door opened and pushed myself into their room. My mother came to see what the fuss was. “Look at the lump! I am going to die of cancer!” I freaked out like a little child. I lifted my hair and showed her where the lump was. Finding a lump at midnight isn’t fun. You can’t rush to the doctors for consultation at midnight.

“Oh don’t be silly,” said mum like a true pro. “It is just a pimple. Put some Salvon on it, keep it clean until it is ready to pop.” She walked to her dresser and looked into a drawer. I heard the tiny bottles of potions and ointments rumbling about in the drawer. She dabbed some on the swollen pimple and right tha very moment, I was their child again.

~ When times were better.
I imagined my parents encouraging me to talk when I was a year old
and now that I can talk, I imagine that they can't wait for me to shut up.


Monday, January 22, 2007
Songs of Alex

~ Perhaps by Doris Day.

My hands tremble when you are near. See, my hands are trembling now. They only tremble when you are around. They dance to an unknown rhythm. Maybe my hands are dancing because of you. Maybe they are dancing for something that my mind is yet to know.

My heart skips a beat whenever I see you smile. Thump, thump, thump, my heart goes like a little leather drum. Even if there are ten thousand laughing in the room, my ears only hear yours. I know your laughter. My heart recognizes your laughter as tiny melodies of joy, floating gently into my very essence. And yet sometimes it beats so hard, I swear that my heart leapt out into yours.

Everything in my life is beautiful because of you. Colours appear more vibrant and each sound more distinct. Each cloud is whiter and even the grey skies seem brighter. What used to be a burden now appears lighter. Is it because your love gave me wings to soar when everything was dragging me down?

I now know why lovers say, “you take my breath away”. I can hardly breathe when I catch you looking at me. Those eyes of yours, they look deep into mine. Your eyes strip me bare and all that is left is just who I am inside. What is it that you see when you look at these brown eyes? Do you mind what you see?

Do not touch me for I fear that I would melt away. Do not kiss me less I disappear like the morning rain. Love is only beautiful when it is fragile. I feel my breath slipping away again. I think I am in love with you. “Do you love me?” I asked you many times. Each time I do, your answer is “perhaps, perhaps, perhaps”. Perhaps that is why I am still here. I am here because I can never be too sure.

Love make the strongest man shy and the weakest woman bold.

Related Links
  • Read more about Alex.


Thursday, January 18, 2007
The "Don't You Worry I'll Bore You With More Horrific Tales Of Milan" Post

Today I shall spare all my readers from scrolling 3 pages ranting how I lost a potential Prada bag. Instead I shall share about the fabulousness of Rome.

Rome was fabulous. Here are the proof...

The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier;
Italian's version of Tugu Negara (National Monument)
commemorating the sacrifices of brave soldiers.

Envision a sea of heads in the background and
you will have the Pope's eyeview whenever he speaks to the believers.

A statue in the Vatican Museum.

The famous Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo,
depicting souls, risen and judged by Jesus.

The site where Peter the Rock lies forever...
(or at least until some country invades Italy and carts this treasure away.)

Just a shot of my ass in its firmer days.

Related Links


Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The Milan Tax

“You know that you are punished because you refused to buy me the Prada bag I wanted,” I teased him.

“Babs, don’t be cruel,” Alex said. His three frown lines appeared thicker after the police car drove off. “I lost 600 Euros…” He flattened his lips, pouting like one of those yellow plastic rubber ducks. “Oh fuck it!” He ran his fingers through his hair, sighed and submitted to the Consumerism gods in Milan.

At long last I managed to drag Alex into a tabachi (Italian newsagent) on Day Three in Milan, who sold the right ticket on the right side of the street, on the right road towards the right tram platform. Happily we walked down the street. Alex was singing his happy tune again and I was absolutely thrilled that my legs could take a rest. Afterall we had three more days of walking in Rome, so obviously we should conserve as much as our walking miles points as possible.

A car pulled up fast to the side of the road, just a junction away from the right tram platform. The fellow wound his window down and spoke in Italian. We shook our heads and replied that we did not understand a word of Italian. Our hands were still strung onto each other’s and we were still smiling, happy for the fact that we managed to buy the damn tram tickets.

“There are complaints of drugs around here. What are you doing here?” the fellow asked in English. He opened his badge and we saw a shiny silvery tag of some sort. The driver (on the left side of the car) was talking on the radio, mumbling on in Italian whilst the guy on the passenger seat asked us for our passports.

Alex showed his red one while I ransacked through my black bag for mine. Milan was equally famed for her pickpockets as well as her Dolce and Gabbana’s, so I had my stuff locked securely in the secret pocket inside one of the three compartments. The police took a look at our passports and proceeded to ask us for reasons why we were in doing in that slum part of the city.

“We are tourist in your city,” I replied firmly, peering into the car. There was a radio and walkie talkie set and of course, the two men in dark police suits.

He asked Alex to empty his pockets. So out came the map of Milan. The police man proceeded to sniff it and flapped it a little. Maybe he’s searching for pot, I thought to myself. Another pocket revealed some tissue paper and scribbles of paper. And the two damn tram tickets. I was smiling nervously as the police said that some residents lodged a report that some tourists were dealing drugs in the area and he was searching us.

Fucking stop sniffing, I thought to myself. The thought was meant for Alex. He was having slight flu and was busy sniffing away, like a coke addict. “We are just walking to the tram stop,” I said to the police. I tried to remain calm as he asked Alex to empty his jacket pockets.

Out came the passport again and then his wallet. The police took his wallet, swung it about, opened it and sniffed it. He emptied the wallet into his left hand and said, “Are you sure you are not on drugs? You really tourist here?”

The moment he touched the cash, the Malaysian in me jumped. Oh my fucking lord, the police is doing it here, I thought to myself. I could not believe what was happening in front of my eyes. The damn Italian police were fleecing our cash. I heard of “duit kopi” (trans: coffee money ie. Bribe) back home in the sweet country called Malaysia but to see it happening in Italy was something absolutely devastating.

What are we going to do? Two stupid tourist just passed their cash to the police and there was nothing that we could do. I stood there, stunt by the whole event when Alex reached out and demanded for his wallet. The driver picked up the radio and mumbled something. He handed the wallet back to Alex, and then the cash.

“It’s dangerous here. Don’t walk about after dark,” he said. They then sped off down the street, leaving us only with dust and a wallet much lighter.

Three seconds later, my mouth was still wide open. “Did the police just take our money?” I asked Alex. I turned around and looked at his face. Alex’s frown lines deepened. “Did it happen here in Italy? Fuck, it has never happened to me in Malaysia and it is happening in Italy?!” I asked again, shaking his right hand for comfirmation.

“They are not the police,” Alex said as he took a deep breath. He turned around and covered his face with his hands. “We lost 600 Euros.”

“Are you sure we lost 600 Euros?” I asked. I asked him to open his wallet up and check precisely how much we had lost. The hairy boy nodded his head. He walked aimlessly down a street while I tried to convince him that we should report to the police.

“What for? We are not going to get our money back…” his voice trailed off as he walked on.

“We might not get back our money but we have to report so the police can look into the matter and make sure other tourists don’t get conned by the police or otherwise!” I took his hand and walked back towards the hotel, determined to make hell for the people who took our 600 Euros. Oh now Milan has really pissed me off.

We informed the front desk that we were just robbed in broad daylight. The man nodded and repeated what I said a sentence earlier in question form.

“So we lost our money!” I fumed.

“So you lost your money?” the front man asked.

“Yes! The police stole 600 Euros!”

“The police stole 600 Euros?”

It was getting us nowhere. I asked where was the nearest police station. Judging by the near circle on the map, we were about 20 minutes walk from the police station.

“It is too far. Let me call a taxi for you,” the front man said.

“No…” the hairy moaner said. “We don’t have any money. We will walk…”

I recorded the time and street where it took place and we walked towards the police station. The Italian police are a strange bunch on a public holiday. They do not speak a word of English. You should bear in mind that the fashion and tourism industries are Milan’s heart beat, one would assume that English is spoken, no matter how broken the English might turn out to be. Even the egotistical French, known for their national pride and insistence on speaking only French, speak rudimentary English at all tourist related industries (such as restaurants, museums etc).

A Chinese man with a small moustache walked in a few minutes after Alex and I sat on the bench. After a talk with the policeman who appear to have swallowed five honey melons for lunch, the policeman walked on over to us. We spoke in English and he shook his head. He did not understand English.

I mustered all the Mandarin vocabulary I had under my belt in order to communicate to the Chinese man. He nodded his head and related back to me that he was at the police station for similar reason. He had 3000 Euros stolen from the same syndicate and he had the car registration number. After going around in three way conversation, the policeman instructed the Chinese dude to go to another police station to record the incident.

So we got a ride in the Chinese man’s car since we were all in the same boat, quite literally. After two stops, we found the police station and were made to sit on benches again. A Greek couple came in after us and I could not make it out what was their report about. Another Italian couple came in, presumably tourists too to make a theft report. Then 4 chubby kids came in with two Thai ladies to make a theft report. Their 6 passports were stolen and their passports were Australian.

“Those police you met were not real,” said this young man, a guard at the main door said when I related the story to them. Alex coughed a “no shit” audible only to my ears while I recounted the incident to the young guard turned translator.

“Slowly,” he mumbled. “I don’t understand.”

So I repeated the story, the second time a little slower and a whole lot more concise. He nodded and got a form for us to fill. Since we did not have the car plate number and we could not recognize the men from a profile book, it was a formal goodbye to our 600 Euros. We walked out of the police station 3 hours later, passed by Armani Café and had no heart to feast on something then.

“See, this wouldn’t happen if Alex bought me the Prada bag,” I said to Adrian. Adrian had a smirk on his face. Yes, the curse of the Consumerism gods in Milan struck a hard blow on us. Alex refused to part with his hard earn money on some useless bag with manmade logos beginning with “P”, “D” and “G” and now had to suffer the lost of 600 Euros at the hands of some con artist posing as the Italian police.

I must add at this juncture that the real Italian Policia were not the most empathetic people on earth. One would have expected that they had more heart for people who find themselves in a terrible situation. Such as the lady who broke down in tears as she sat in the police station, realising that her whole family had lost their passports and it spelt the end of their Italian holiday as they had to file report of lost in the police station and then at the Australian embassy.

“You have a point, Otto.” Adrian agreed. “If the money was converted into a bag, it would not be stolen.” He pointed his finger at Alex. Alex broke into protest. He crossed his arms and said, “Well they could have snatched the Prada off Otto… But anyway it was Otto that lost her Prada than me losing 600 Euros.” Alex rolled his eyes.

Yes, your mind has the ability to cheat you into believing a better lie. Alex convinced himself that he did not lose the 600 Euros. He decided that it was less traumatic on his brain if he deceived himself into believing that it was I that lost a potential Prada handbag. It obviously appealed more to his ego self – Otto losing a bag instead of Alex losing 600 Euros. Whatever, I thought to myself, the first time he uttered this nonsensical excuse.

So there you go, gentlemen out there. Here’s a tip from Miss Otto. Remember to buy your girl a Prada when you are in Milan, less you get penalized by the Consumerism gods who are eyeing on your wallet. Either way you have to vomit your cold hard cash, so you might as well treat your girl to her dream bag.

Don’t lose money + happy girlfriend + extra shagging potential = happy holiday in Milan.

It makes absolute mathematical sense.

You know it would be a shitty day
when the sky is crying...

Oh rainy day...

The height of Roman technology.
This was a two storey palace built in before Christ!

The Romans call the building behind us
the "Wedding Cake".

Will be flying back to Malaysia tomorrow morning, arriving in Malaysia lunchtime 18th Jan.

Related Links

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Monday, January 15, 2007
The Lady And The Tram

“Ask Alex why he is allergic to the trams,” I said. The three of us were sitting in a pub across of Café De Hong Kong last evening when the Milan and Rome topic came up. It was the last minute catching up with Adrian, Alex’s childhood friend and partner in many childhood crimes. Plus I was waiting for Mary, MiniBoyFriend R's girlfriend to come into London to pick up a parcel from her beloved.

There is this hearty laughter that is distinctively Adrian's. I heard it many times before when the three of us were travelling around Malaysia two years ago. He has gorgeous eyes, usually held together with a classic black jacket that made his eyes sparkle even more.

“So Alex, why are you allergic to the trams?” my now co-conspirator asked Alex. In his usual laidback manner, Alex declared that it was very difficult to ride the stupid trams in Milan. Yes, that was his exact words. Trams in Milan were stupid.

In my humble opinion, walking from the hotel to the city center (that would be Piazza Del Duomo) and back, with the total walking time of more than 90 minutes daily is stupid but Alex is entitled to his opinions. I am not dogmatic about this sort of things.

The first walk was fine because we arrived in a new city and one of the best ways to see a new city is by walking. But the subsequent walks turned me into this begrudging monster. We walked more than 7 hours on the first day, because we walked:

  • from the Central Station to the hotel.

  • from the hotel back into the city center, which is less than 10 minutes from the Central Station.

  • round and round the city center using Alex’s Spiral Technique (because the hairy boy does not understand the “Let’s Stop And Ask Someone” Technique).

  • From city center back to the hotel.

“Good morning,” the reception man said, “This is a free map. This is where we are,” he said, then circling the piazza where we were located. “And this is Piazza Del Duomo. You take a tram into the city. Do not take the metro,” he said, then pausing for a second, to stress how important it was not to take the Milan underground, which was inconveniently located too far away from our hotel.

“And where do we take the tram?” I asked him.

“Tram number one or nineteen,” he replied promptly. “Down this road and right.”

Alex and I walked out of the lobby and into the sunshine. It is amazing how warm this year’s winter is. It had not snowed in the UK and I was certain that it would not snow in Italy whilst we were there. BBC weather was reporting 18 degrees in Rome, which was not Milan but at least it was an Italian city.

We walked down the street and to the right, as instructed. There were tram lines neatly lined up next to each other, very much like veins in our lower arms. Alex resisted walking towards them. I literally had to drag that hairy boy down the block of apartment building, onto the main street, Via Del Corso.

“Why are you resisting this?” I asked him. I was getting quite annoyed by the fact that I was conned into walking through the Milanese ghetto the previous day. I swore I would have been robbed and Alex's hairy bottom raped, while walking through the Milanese slums. So you can understand why I was extremely determined that Day Two in Milan did not involve walking like idiots, when we could have taken the tram. So determined.

Alex yanked me across the street, in the wrong direction. “Why are you doing this?” I asked. It was my turn having my feet dragged across the black bitumen, which if you were not too careful, you would step on a dog poo or two. “We are taking the tram TODAY!”

“But which side of the platform will we stand on?” Alex whined. Now that was unusual. He has not whined when we were in Thailand, Singapore, Burma nor Malaysia but there in the claustrophobic and dirty fashion city called Milan, Alex was making a fuss about catching the wrong tram to the wrong spot on the wrong platform.

“So we will explore the city a little,” I said. “If it’s the wrong stop, we just get off and walk across the platform and start over.” I waved my right hand, hoping that Alex would be convinced how easy it was to ride the tram. He was not convinced.

Note to oneself: 2007 New Year Resolution #1 = improve acting skills to con Alex into doing things that I want.

One of the reason why Alex liked me (or so he says) was because I am head strong. I broke away from him, walked towards a newsagent and asked the old man in brown sweater if I could purchase some tram tickets. He pointed me towards another newsagent, a buddy of his, I presumed. The first newsagent sold out his tickets. He told me so in English. So I smiled politely, thanked the old man and walked in the direction, as per instruction.

Alex caught my hand and spun me around. “We’ll find another newsagent as we walk down this street,” he said, pointing towards the street leading to the tram platforms. Sounds logical, if you think of it. We walked hand in hand towards the tram platforms, past two more blocks of building. I reckoned we were lost but at least there was a newsagent on the opposite side of the road.

The hairy one whom I suspect is allergic to trams insisted that we should not cross the road to the newsagent (“tabachi” as they were called). Instead we should keep walking down the road, towards an imaginary tram platform and keep hoping that we would stumble on a newsagent on the right side of the street.

There was one! I ran into the tabachi, all excited and smiling. I asked for the tram tickets. He replied in Italian. “T-R-A-A-A-A-M tic-kets,” I said slowly, hoping that he understood what the hell this Chinese girl wanted to buy. He shoved some pieces of paper in my face. I have not seen the tram tickets before and had no idea how the tickets would look like. And I did not understand a word the newsgent said in Italian. Neither did he (understand English).

There and then, I resigned to the fact that we would spend Day Two in Milan walking into the city center again. We failed to purchase the tickets. We failed to locate the tram platform and we failed to find out which side of the platform we should be on and where we should stop. You cannot blame me. I am just a woman.

Actually we walked TWICE into the city center on Day Two. Once during the day to visit the Cathedral on Piazza Del Duomo and again later in the evening, to visit all the boutiques Milan was famed for. If walking 90 minutes was not a punishment enough, we walked 163 steps up to the roof of the Cathedral (saving a cool 4 Euros). The view was spectacular, albeit the fact that I spent the whole time walking silently on my own, away from Alex who was busy clicking the digital camera for all ANNN readers.

(Yes, it is official. Little Miss Otto has a photographer hired to take beautiful photos for About Nude Not naked. Which she promptly blur in Photoshop. Well if XiaXue can lengthen her torsos in Photoshop, Otto can blur her face. Ok what.)

“So you don’t like walking much,” Adrian said. He took a sip from the third bottle of Magners he had last evening. His eyes darted between his childhood buddy, whom he had to defend loyally and a new species called “Best bud’s girlfriend”. My eyebrows arched sinisterly. Take my side or die, my eyes said to Adrian.

“Actually I do not like walking 90 minutes extra daily when I could have taken a 10 minute tram ride,” I replied.

He nodded and then patted Alex on his back. Sympathetic.

“One learns new things every day,” I said. “I found out that Alex is afraid of public transportation and we will stick to island holidays from now on.”

Adrian tilted his head, his mouth ajar. I clicked my tongue four times as I shook my head. “There aren’t any buses or trains or trams or anything remotely four wheeled metal moving thingy with a schedule on small islands.”

Adrian tapped his right index finger on the tall glass. “You’ve got a point there…” His green eyes closed partially. Adrian appeared to be pondering with lightbulb moments running through his head. There must have been a thousand and one memories from their childhood shared together in Scotland flashing through Adrian’s mind as he nodded silently.

“Wait till you ask Alex about the time we were stopped by the police on Day Three…”

Adrian's eyes were wide open. He realised that the Italian trip was beginning to sound like the trip from hell and Alex had not explained what happened during our rendezvous with the Italian Policia on Day Three.

Stain glass in Piazza Del Duomo

The Italians cakes are delicious! Mmm!

The fashionistas worship here

The spiritual worship here

The Piazza Del Duomo from above the Cathedral

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Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Spiral Technique


We made it. Having slept less than 5 hours on the night before and waking up at 5:30 a.m. to dress up and comb my ever increasing mop of hair, Alex and I found ourselves thrown into the middle of Milan Train Station at lunch time. There were many people walking around the parks. Actually they looked as if they were Mat Rempits loitering on a weekend.

The place was filthy. Which is surprising when you really think about it. I mean, it is Milan. It is Mecca for the fashion gurus where fashion worshippers fork out more than they can afford on the latest Prada or Gucci. There were more than a handful of fashion logos per square metre in Milan and the only initials more than the fashion logos were the terrible graffiti, littering every available surface.

Doors on empty shops. Walls by occupied shops. Trains. Trams. Seats. Walls. Signboards. Every single flat surface was tagged over and over again. Alex asked me whether 2-inch marker pens existed. They surely did. On the walls of everything in Milan.

He held my hands and we began to walk north towards the hotel. I saw bits and pieces of the map, the point marking where the Central Station was and the point denoting the hotel. I found out 45 minutes later that Alex was cunningly trapping me into walking all the way to the hotel. That would be me, my backpack of fuck me boots, beige boots, super pornstar heels, 2 jackets and a few other bits and bobs.

I was cheerful. I tugged at my backpack and then smiled at him as he sang a little tune. He always sang a little tune when he thinks no one is paying attention to him.

I was at my very best. I promised myself that Alex deserved better than a 45 minute nag session as we spiralled towards the hotel, which was conveniently located far away from where we were. I remember a year ago when we walked one hour along Patong Beach…

“That’s the hotel, babs,” I said, walking out of the hotel lobby. We just arrived on Phuket’s busiest street after spending two weeks on the remote island of Ko Raya. Alex was standing by the roadside, with his khaki trousers and leather shoes that were washed by the same water that washed 227,000 lives on Boxing Day 2004. “It is the last room, for three but it’s within budget of 1000 bath. And I can have my warm baths and BBC.”

“We’ll go further down,” he said, then walking further down the road. This routine was to be our activity for the next hour. Each ride up the lift in every new hotel proved to be more expensive and less value for money. One of the rooms had the edge of the bed touching the end of the tiny TV cabinet. Our patience wore thin with the heat of the afternoon scorching on our backs.

I was grumpy and upset. It was sheer stupidity to walk down the road, into the abyss of the unknown when we saw the best room on the road (quite literally) and it was by then, an hour away on foot. I was angry and frustrated by Alex’s distrust in my instincts and was even more so as he walked grouchily with his backpack and mine on his back.

He made the mistake and he was punishing me for his mistake. I was absolutely flustered. Annoyed, I walked the silent walk as we walked down the street to more hotels and I rode up more lifts to discover tiny cubicles at exorbitant rates. After some time, when he finally gave up, Alex limped all the way to the hotel that I liked.

I promised myself that I would not repeat what happened a year ago in Phuket. All I can remember a year on is the sight of Alex, all six feet two inches of him walking and limping on Patong Beach with his backpack and mine. He did not complain a bit while I rattled on endlessly, resenting him for making me walk unnecessarily. All I remember is a very patient Alex. I felt remorseful last year for what I did, albeit complaining unconsciously and without malice. This year I will not do the same. I promised myself that Alex deserved much better.

We walked down a street, then we crossed a road onto road of grafitti filled apartment blocks. We walked with hands clasped and swinging across a park made of huge concrete slabs. A huge St. Bernard treaded gingerly towards a small Cocker Spaniel, who retreated under the shadow of its owner. The two owners laughed as the friendly St. Bernard tried to encroach the small canine’s space.

Ten minutes, then ten minutes more. We stopped at a square to rest and drank some water. Several pigeons crooned near us. Maybe they saw us as pigeon food. Their heads darted up and down, making that strange sound that only pigeons do.

“Bird flu,” I said as I gulped a mouthful of water, shooing the birds by flagging my right foot around. I finally took a good look at the map and to my dismay, I found out that we were walking two rows of streets, joined at 90 degrees, very much like the letter “L”. Obviously the shorter route was one that cut 45degrees. Might be more tricky to locate but much more tender on my well-exercised legs.

“Chicken, you made us take the long walk!” I rolled my eyes.

“It’s called the Spiral Technique. We walk in circles, each time a little closer to the target,” came his meek reply. My ten fingers squeezed my sore calves. Alex had a way to make even the most tedious tasks appealing, turning many chores into fun games that we played with each other. I always found that trait of his very endearing.

“Chicken, you do know that A square + B square = C square, right?” I took a deep breath. “You made me walk so far…” I pouted. “I’ve got this huge bag…” I added. It was a spiral alright. A spiral down the relationship blackhole called grumbling. I looked to my right and saw how his eyes were shining bright like a child’s on Christmas day. I sucked it all up and leaned over to kiss him on his cheek.

We walked some more. The place was a slum. There were signboards familiar to my eyes. Chinese signboards. We walked pass some small colony of Chinese shops, selling China made products from cheap clothes and shoes in badly furnished shops to video rental shops with bright posters on their windows and the customary Chinese take-aways. There were so many Orientals walking on those streets, I felt like I was on Petaling Street all over again.

I wondered where they were from. How resilient the Indians and Chinese are have always fascinated me. Where did they find the courage and strength to migrate to a foreign land in search of a better future for their family, I thought to myself. I wondered how they arrived in Milan and whether they were the first generation to do so. Some spoke with thick Mandarin accents while others conversed in fluent Italian. That was how assimilated these Chinese were in the Italian society.

My heart sang the moment my eyes spotted the signboard a short block away. Hotel Milan was tucked in the corner of a piazza with no other tourist in sight. We were the only two we knew. We walked into lobby, to the shouts of a foreign woman. She paced up and down the reception desks, shouting at the two men behind it.

“Call the police,” the foreigner shouted. Their squabble escalated as Alex and I took a moment to recompose. I stood aside, looked at a mirror and arranged some strands of hair from my face. Alex lowered his backpack. I looked into his eyes and we spoke in a language that only lovers understand.

“You think something’s wrong?” my eyes said.

“Dunno,” came Alex’s eyes reply.

Our eyes stopped conversing when the lady flung a Christmas ornament across the reception desk. The man handed us our room key just as I thought that perhaps we should view our room before confirming. Why should the lady scream that the hotel has cheated her?

Between handing the man our passports, listening to the lady screaming profanities and threatening to call the police, we shuffled across the lobby with our backpacks on our aching backs. The lift opened and we walked into our room on the fourth floor. It was simple, clean with a good-sized bed. The bathroom was presentable, with a shower cubicle and marble vanity.

I kicked my shoes and with outstretch arms I said, “Welcome to Milan, babs! Fingers crossed that the holiday will only get better," I kissed him on his cheeks. "We have to work on your Spiral Technique though...”

The cathederal on Piazza Del Duomo

One of the 3200 statues watching over Milan

A romantic look at the city

Miss Love is thinking of you

Feast your eyes on Milan's cityscape

"The spiral technique is when you decide where you want to go. You set in any random direction but keep taking right turns (or left, if you prefer, but always the same direction).

It's like you want to go to the yoghurt pot and you spiral towards it in a circle... You circle... Circle... Circle... Circle... Circle until you reach the spot...."

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Socks Fever

I discovered the latest winter sports. It is called Christmas Sales. Oh my god, it is the perfect exercise on cold days. Just came back from Bluewater with a bag full of socks. I am suffering from socks fever at the moment and I purchased 5 pairs of cashmere socks in the past week and just two hours ago, I bought a (yet another) pair of black opague tights (very winter), a pair of lace leggings and 2 pairs of home socks.

"What do you need lace leggings for?" Alex asked.

"Dunno," I said as I slipped the cashier money. "If I can't match it with my clothes, I'll just give them away. Fuck, it's just £2!!!"

Tomorrow is the 4th of January and Wouter will be flying into London. In an alternate world, I imagine I would be sharing a table with him in Cafe Hong Kong and then bopping up and down in a club somewhere. But because I am stuck in this universe, I shall be doing my Italy tour while Wouter does his London.

The plan is to spend 3 nights based in Milan and after a train ride, 3 more nights in Rome. Should find myself in Verona, Venice and Bergamo the week I am away in Italy.

I am the only person who is excited to see HighSchoolSweetheart in Milan. Neither Alex or HighSchoolSweetheart are looking forward to meeting each other, so I shall have a few hours off trotting in Milan alone with HSH. I have this plan of getting him to buy me a nice Christmas gift *evil crackle*

Miss Love will be back with new photos to share with all of you. Hopefully they are pretty and they are not blurred *smirks*

Hey - check out the new photos on the side panel. They were taken in Edinburgh where I spent one afternoon walking on Princes Street buying a pair of Nine West fuck me boots and a pair of beige from Roxy's.

There were lots of "Oh baybabs, I am going to trail after you for THREE DAYS in Milan while you shop. Haaaaave meeeeeercy on me!" moans while Alex and I wiggled our way through the highstreet shops in BlueWater this afternoon. He got off the hook with a promise of endless shopping in Milan. There better be lots of shopping in Milan or some hairy bottom is going to get into loads of trouble.... *brr*

I am rather fond of Marc Jacobs and I really hope that my ten fingers can get hold of this Wham Logo bag. It's a simple thing for shopping days. Could buy it off but it's not fun when it is not cheap. I want it cheap! Cheap! Cheap!!

While I am gone, do check out the following blogs. I have been snopping at theirs over the Xmas/NY week =)

Take care, babes and babettes!