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Malaysian Alien


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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
But Honestly

‘I don’t want you to meet him or talk to him or have anything to do with him,’ she said.

‘But he’s my lawyer and we’ve known each other as long as I have known you, E. What do you want me to do?’

‘Don’t see him. Find another lawyer. Don’t have any contacts with him,’ she replied.

He was my lawyer and E’s separated husband. She knew him as a teenager and I was sometimes included into their dating routine. After four years of courtship, they got married and shared children.

The very first Christmas they parted, I took her children to the shopping mall and bought them presents. I called him up and he was there when I was busy with the kids in the toy store. These are no ordinary kids. I was there, especially for the 2nd child – at the monthly check-ups, looking at the ultra scans with her and even pushed her into the labour room.

I had not met E for a few weeks prior to the Saturday afternoon Christmas shopping and she did not respond to my phone calls.

I guess I should have known then what I do now.


‘You ok there?’ I asked him. Music was banging against the wall that he leant against. His eyes were squint like little slits on post boxes.

‘Yeah.’ Arif let out a little yawn. It must have been past 2 a.m. when he walked out for a breath of fresh air. I took after him, just to keep check. Two years after dating E, he gave up smoking because his lungs could not take it anymore. Then he gave up drinking like a mad person because his liver just could not cope with the abuse.

‘Hey you. What are you doing out here?’ E asked. She slid into his arms and gave him a hug. ‘Come in. Don’t stand out here alone. Lots of party!’

They walked into Lola, quickly getting lost amongst the hundreds of beautiful people on a weekend night.


E happened to be around for the weekend some weeks ago and her friend, John dropped by. ‘This is quite a scene, isn’t it?’ he asked. His head was bopping to the music.

‘You really think that this is good?’ My eyes nearly popped in disbelief. My definition of a good night often included two shots of vodka to start the night, followed by crazy dance moves (but no sandwich between two girls) for three hours in a row and ends with fried instant noodles with eggs. His happened to be a crowded Irish bar. But then again, what else do you expect from a 49 year old man who has tasted almost everything in life?

‘So what kind of sports do you do?’ he asked, between puffs.

‘Erm, sports like in exercise?’ I asked sheepishly. He nodded. ‘Well I have not exercise since I left school.’ That wasn’t the type of conversation I wished to have with a stranger at my drinking table. E had left him in my responsibility for a bit while she wandered off to another table on a social call. ‘I have been meaning to join some kind of yoga or pilates.’

The fact was I felt quite stupid. I was talking to a seasoned rugby player and all I could cough up was a miserable, ‘I don’t do sports.’ I would have committed suicide if I had a conversation with someone as boring as I was that night.

‘This place is fantastic. Too bad E doesn’t talk much about this other side of her life. She has never mentioned this fantastic place nor you.’


‘You should check E’s photos in her Facebook. She looked absolutely stunning but you could see a very poor thing Arif in the shadows of her photos.’ Alex wrote me a few days ago.

‘Facebook? E has a Facebook?! Oh god.’

I have always been a strange person. I never want to join any clubs that wants me for a member. And I was never one to follow fashion or trends. As a matter of fact, I was anti-trend and I was quite anti-whateverbook they are marketing these days.

I do not own a Facebook. I don’t want to register into the latest what-so-not in thing, Myspace, yourspace or whatever photo album thing. I hated the concept of ‘Now check me out. I have a kabillion friends and my friends said that I am phatcool.’ In my book, what’s cool is what is the latest uncool. It takes guts to stand alone in your thoughts, opinions and beliefs.

So when all the girls did the Rachel, I went for a full-blown 50s curls. I did the gypsie/traveller look before it was hip in Notting Hill and retro before the word even existed in fashion magazine.

But I bent the rules and registered Facebook so I could see what the big fuss with E’s photos were, according to Alex. I found out two things.

First of all was the fact that Alex owned a fucking Facebook too and he was listed as one of her friends. There were 11 other guys listed on E’s book and no girls, so I know I have no reasons to be angry with her.

She has just conveniently forgotten to share with me that:
  • she had a Facebook.

  • I was not invited.

  • But Alex is.

Second was that I had three friends listed before I joined. One turned out to be my Swedish Love, so we started corresponding for quite a bit. It was lovely to see photos of his siblings, who are all so grown up now. Even his baby brother is now a dashing 18 year old.

Facebook was an eye opener, bringing some friendships closer and tearing others wide apart.

These are all rubbing in more salt into the wound. I have been licking this wound for the longest time. I have always known but I have pretended otherwise. That was the only way to sustain the longest friendship I know.

‘Hey, why didn’t you come last week?’ AB asked. He gave me a warm squeeze when I turned up at the DJ console just as he was about to start his session.

‘E had taken ill, so I didn’t come. I am not going to come here on my own,’ I said to AB. He was still in his blonde phase and E used to call him ‘Blondie’ then.

‘But E was here last week,’ he said. ‘We talked and drank together. As a matter of fact, she even asked me to join her for a short trip next week.’

‘But E said that she had flu and that she didn’t want to go out. So I stayed back home…’ I said. My eyes were lowered as AB gave me another squeeze. He patted my head, popped his ciggie between his lips and started spinning his usual tunes.


‘I need to bitch,’ I typed to MiniBoyFriend R. I could see him on webcam, R in his relax white T-shirt and jeans. I could see his room and everything in it, which included a bottle Heineken as teatime drink and an ashtray stuffed with cancer causing cigarettes.

‘Go ahead, shot me,’ R typed into the Yahoo Messenger.

And so I told him all that had happened. About E and Alex on her Facebook and me not being there or even knowing that it existed. I told him the sense of betrayal I felt inside for a friend that I held so dear to my heart. It broke my heart time and again.

‘Plus she failed to tell me that she went out for dinner with The Bachelor last October.’

‘So what?’

‘Well initially I was a bit confused as to why she was angry when I told her that I went out with The Bachelor. Everything fell into place when The Bachelor told me that he had gone out for dinner with her once last October but nothing happened between them,’ I typed.

‘Nothing big deal about a dinner, right?’

‘Nothing at all. But it helped me understand why she was upset when I told her that I went out for a few dinner dates with The Bachelor. If there is nothing to hide, she could have just casually mentioned that she had been out with him.’

‘True, true.’

‘And seriously, I don’t give a fuck if they have fucked. They are adults and I am not too bothered. I am just bothered by the fact that she left out such an important fact.’

‘Maybe she is just jealous.’ R typed. ‘Lots of people are, for all that you are and all that you have. And we aren’t talking only about boys.’


I have never gotten used to the word. Jealousy, what does that mean in reality? Does it mean that you would lie and cheat? Does it mean that you are jealous? Why would you want to be jealous? Where are the benefits? It is a monster that will only eat into your soul.

I am basically a social retard and I admired her natural talents all my life - E’s ability to light up parties and be the center of attention. How she is able to talk to people, making them feel at ease is so amazing to witness. I always felt that she was better and smarter than I ever was, because of her inborn ability to influence people and communicate her thoughts.

Although a social retard, I do know that there are some lines that I should not cross. Like how E wants to be private about her life and she wants to maintain a different circle of friends that I know she specifically do not want me to be part of. That is her right and I have also made sure that I did not intrude into spaces in her life, where she wanted some measure of privacy (and the boys that came with it).

It isn’t a competition, who has more boys and who received more attention. I have realised that whilst you can have the attention of a million men, at the end of the day, you can only go home with one and more often than not, just want to go home with one very special man.

I just cannot get over the fact that I feel betrayed by sharing this friendship with her. Time and time again, I sniff out news that I felt she should have told me, rather than me hearing it from other people. Alex told me to let it go. ‘You cannot make her be your friend. It doesn’t work that way.’


‘She has not been a very good friend but you have to forgive her. It isn’t healthy to hold so much ill feelings.’ R typed into the Yahoo Messenger. That was the typical answer I expect from R – an answer that was socially and politically correct, whether he actually liked it or not.

‘But honestly, we are still good friends.’ I wrote back.

I wished that I believed it today.


Friday, September 14, 2007
Day 14: Riding On The Monster’s Back

It occurred to me some time ago that I might be addicted to shopping. While it is true that all girls love to shop (give and take one or two), I am reasonably sure that not many girls have the amount of stuff I have. Snails and slugs leave yucky goo trails but I leave a trail of clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, accessories, never been worn clothes and unopened packages from my parents home right up to my own home.

So yeah, I concluded that I might be addicted to the rush of shopping a few weeks ago. As with all forms of addiction, shopping addiction more often than not is a sign of a hidden emotional issue. I don’t know. Take your pick. It could be all the arguments my parents had in front of me. Might be the time my mother spat at my dad and spewed Hokkien words that I never knew she knew.

Or perhaps the time when my mother grabbed her bottom bits ala Michael Jackson and asked my dad to screw himself (also in Hokkien). Come to think of it, it’s funny. My family speaks English at home, English being my mother tongue, intertwined with Bahasa Malaysia, so I do not know where my mother learnt all the Hokkien swear words that even I have trouble understanding. It could be the language my parents spoke before any of their kids were born.

Maybe my addiction was birthed out of lack during my teenage years. Can you believe that I did not own a pair of jeans until I started working? My mother sent me to the tailor for pretty dresses, which I wore all through high school. It does not take a mathematician to figure out why I was not the hippest or most happening girl in school. Floral dress in a walking plank is never going to be fashionable anytime soon.


Like all other important things in life, my shopping addiction happened by chance. It started small – just a little gift for myself when I felt frustrated or angry. Sometimes I reward myself with a ‘Oh Otto, you are so hardworking!’ pressie. Soon the gift boxes grew bigger and more frequent. There is no emotional patch better than an Aldo shoe box or three pairs of Levis in different shades or a spanking low cut top to show my best assets on weekends.

It was like magic. Such an adrenaline rush it was. Whatever your heart desires, Otto, whatever. You can be whoever you want to be and you can have all that you ever dream of. The feeling was magical, almost as if I was in love again. The exception being, I was not falling in love with a person. I was maxing out my card instead of making out with someone like Daniel Craig.

This butterflies in tummy feeling extends more than just clothes and shoes. It presents itself in various forms – buying cards for friends who never appreciate it to buying books that took my fancy. Good news is I got rid of those friends and I read most of the books. At least those sprees brought about some measure of happiness and knowledge. I was never the Sweet Valley High sort of girl. I am a geek in this sense. I only read serious stuff, so I always had pieces of conversations ready for most folks.

Except for the baby in the blender thing.


'What baby in the blender?’ you asked.

My friend’s trademark joke was this question, “So what’s cute and red all over?”. It always got the crowd going and questioning. When no one could figure the answer, she would say, “Baby in the blender with razor blades” and snorts.

I don’t get it but apparently it is a popular joke. Everyone laughed.


I knew that I needed help the day I came home with a packet of sugar. Feeling blue about I do not know what that day, I drove out to Jusco and bought a packet of sugar. It gave me the rush that I needed. It was the literal sugar rush. I was so excited and ecstatic. And I knew I was in trouble.

As months turned into years, the shopping budget grew. It had to. It had too, isn’t it? I mean, it is innate for us to crave for more. So what started of as innocent monthly purchases turned into an economy that sustains at least 2 boutiques and another 2 jewellery stores.

For example, I ventured from cheap silver accessories to designer silver pieces from Europe. It started as plain geometric pieces, which then turned into intricate pieces from The Pilgrim, for example. True to fashion, my fashion changed to reflect my inner thoughts and emotions. And jewellery has taken a new defintion - gold, pearls and diamonds. I bought approximately RM10,000 of accessories in the past 37 weeks alone, which some of you might diss as "not that much lah".

I once heard a guy said that he spent that much buying Adidas shoes. I bet he would regret the purchase when he turns 50. RM10k is a good sum for business start-ups and the boring downpayment for a house (which in investment terms, will be the greatest investment in your life). Yes, I know. I am talking in grown up terms. I am nearly weeping.


Dear child, what sort of trauma you have gone through to be severely addicted to shopping? I do not have the answer then and I still do not have the answer now. But at least I am willing to admit that I have a problem and that I cannot resolve it by buying a little present for myself.

It is obvious that you feel excited and happy whenever you receive something new. It’s like Christmas, isn’t it? You experience unlimited happiness and everything feels bright. A new present, whether given or bought, offers you a sense of hope that things will get better. No matter how small the present you bought yourself, it is a reminder that everything can be changed and renewed.

But let's admit it. It is false medication.


I promised myself that September is going to be the month that I do not buy myself anything. It is self-empowerment of some sort, I think. I do not have a problem if I admit it (which is a borrowed philosophy from dear Uncle JF aka Unagi) and it will not be an addiction if I can control it. So September is going to be a self-cleansing month. A month of thoughtful consideration for the fallen compatriots, those who maxed out on their plastics and maxed out on life, with no U turns in sight. September will be the month to give to the less fortunate, count my blessings and spend responsibly.


It is Day 14 and here I am trying to control myself, knowing when my urges peak and consciously telling myself that I cannot buy anything to make my stress go away. It is an illusion. My stress merely took the afternoon off, never truly leaving me at all. Therefore I am better off trying to fix my problem and curb my spending.

My hands were shaking this morning when I started writing this. You cannot believe the excuses that an addict can cough up to justify all her bad habit.

You look like a middle age aunty. What you need is some new blouses to jazz up your wardrobe. Your black shoes look dull. You should buy a new pair. Oh come on, Otto. It is just a short peek into Zara. You don’t have to buy anything. Let’s just do some window-shopping. Go on, just run your fingers through the racks and feel all the colours and textures.

It is the weekend, girl. Chill out. Buy yourself a little something to celebrate what a great week this has been for you. Go on, treat yourself a little. You have not bought tight little top in such a long time. You have to keep yourself high on the ladder, remember? And you aren’t going to be there for long, if you let this slip. You only put your best foot forward and honey, it is never cheap.

It is Day 14 and I will not buy anything unnecessary. I will not buy any more clothes. I have enough to open Salvation Army Store. I do not need any new shoes. The 32 pairs I have in my wardrobe are still in near mint conditions. No, I do not need a new haircut or colour or treatment. I do not need a new leather bag when my old bag is only a month old.

Otto, you do not need anything. All you need is yourself. You are good enough and you do not need anything else to make you better. And nothing will make you feel better if you do not feel good inside. Just breathe deeply and rationalize. There you go, girl. See, there is no cause to panick. You will survive the month without shopping because you are strong and you are innovative. You will fix whatever internal conflict you have instead of medicating it. Otto, I know you can do it. Just hang in there. You have to prove to yourself that you not dependent on material things for happiness.

You are happiness inside. You just need to search for it.


The monster is gone. Yes, it must be. I cannot see it anymore. No more nightmares and no growling sounds. Its bloody eyes have vanished into thin air.

Shhh. I can hear him. I can hear his deep slumber breaths in the lair.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Attack of the Killer Bikinis

I was having afternoon tea on Sunday when something crept into my mind. The thought came between sips of apple juice and a slice of curry puff. As the thought grew, my frown became apparent.


You have seen the following movie scene a million times. The movie character (which can be male or female) does some mindless chores around the house, go to work, pick up some laundry, go home, lie in bed, brush teeth, read a book and wham! One day he stares at himself in the mirror and gets the fright of his life.

Oh yes. That’s the moment when the movie character realised that he had not lived a life despite having heartbeat and breath.

And that was exactly what I was thinking on Sunday. Going through my life, doing all the things that I wish to do and dream of doing and yet, waking up one day only to realise that I did not know what the fuck I was doing.

Everything is going great, I though to myself. Everything’s perfect. So what’s wrong? I don’t know what is wrong.


I stared at the mirror after brushing my teeth last night. I looked at my face, taking note of all the little bumps that were never there a year ago and all the lines that only appears when I do not wish to see them. It isn’t so bad, I thought to myself. Some girls half my age look twice my age. I snickered then breathed a sigh of relief.

So alright, I gained a little weight. Four kilos to be exact, which officially makes me a hefty 52 kg. I don’t weigh myself after lunch time these days. Makes me feel a whole lot better.

I could lie and medicate my heart with little purrs that I am still alright. I still look good. I feel great. So fine, fine, I have not pursued fashionable clothes like I used to a year ago. But I guess something has got to change. I guess you change as you grow older. Your priorities change. Right?


I met a client today. Her hands were shaking as she enquired if I would accept her as my client. Her eyes were dilated and her voice was quivering as she explained everything. You could hear all her anxiety through the little words she used.

I reached over and pat her hand. ‘We’ll work together,’ I said. If relief could be visible to the eye, I think the whole office was filled with relief. Her breath slowed down to a more comfortable pace. She had a smile on her face. You could see her optimism. The lady was happy and relieved that everything was finally settled.

It is amazing how one touch can change everything; that you can lean over and make another person feel good again. There is nothing more special than bringing joy and hope to another being.

It is gratifying to be able to change the world and make it sweeter and better. It is almost like magic, the feeling that you are able to make a difference in the lives of those around you. And for this feeling, I don’t think I will ever change what I do.


Do you know what a panic attack is? It can happen to anyone at any time. I think I suffered from mild depression and panic attacks at the beginning of this year and yesterday, I think it happened to MiniBoyFriend R.

I took Monday afternoon off so I could do something about my hair. You know this priority change thing I was talking about earlier? Well apart from neglecting my waistline, I have been neglecting my crown of glory. It’s part of the first impression thing.

I booked a spot at my hairdresser’s and went over by 3 p.m. As the saloon girl washed my hair, my phone started to beep tiny messages from MBF R. He was feeling a little blue and needed someone to talk. I am glad that he shared his thoughts with me. There is nothing worse than suffering all alone in silence.

Depression is a terrible thing. It does not knock your door to announce its presence. As a matter of fact, depression comes silently, sitting on your shoulders like dark clouds threatening to rain terrible things in your life. The more you walk in depression, the more you feel that you are not able to walk out of it alive.

I remember feeling so depressed that I did not want to wake up. Nothing in the world mattered to me and I felt empty. There were also panic attacks, the sudden feeling of heart palpitations and sweat, occurring at the strangest times and places. Everything felt magnified – more real, more painful.

The good news is that a friend always helps in times like these. Just talking to someone else might give you the light that you need, to guide you out of the dark tunnel you found yourself walking.

I am just glad that R decided to share everything with me. I shared everything with him and yesterday afternoon, in the most innocent place such as a hair saloon, I had the opportunity to be a friend.


‘Yeah, I don’t really want to bitch about this but seriously, D is driving me insane,’ he said.

‘Well, D wasn’t a problem to you before this. So why start now? He is just the very same person. The only thing that has changed is the fact that the bar isn’t doing as well as it used to,’ I replied.

I was slumped on my bed on Saturday, having a phone conversation with someone I knew a long time ago. Not much of a close friend but someone I knew and shared weekend tables with in Lola. I was painting my toenails when he started telling me how terrible D was.

‘Serve him right. Bitching to everyone about us doping. It is such a sensitive issue. Those boys dropped a few pops and he was gone on Saturday night.’

‘You know it isn’t nice to spike his drinks. He might be tested at any time and you might have gotten D into trouble,’ I said.

‘We are all professionals, so we have to maintain our public image. Who the fuck is he to tell everyone that we’ve been taking K?!’

You know, people are strange. They can be the most loving and loyal. Yet at times people possess such darkness within themselves, that you see the worst in them. Up to six months ago, D had so many girls hanging around him, like flies to light. Who wouldn’t want to be his friend? He had the flash car and the cash to spend on any girl.

The girls giggled whenever he spoke. The boys backed off when he was after a particular girl. Everyone was D’s friend. Isn’t it easy to feel that you are nearly like God when those around you keep nodding their heads. Won’t you feel like the biggest player when you can park your car just at any spot and you don’t give a damn whatever happens tomorrow?

I saw D on Saturday night in a newly opened restaurant. He was alone. He was not his usual self. He did not come for a hug or a chat. I did not approach him either. All we did was to smile whenever our eyes met. There was so much to be said but not a word was exchanged.

The day I spoke a long time ago had come. The day that everyone was worshipping elsewhere at weekends, when D was no longer the weekend God, had arrived. And D sat all on his own, in his little corner and I wished that I said that I was still his friend.


Two weekends ago the boys in London planned a grand weekend camping escapade. They were so excited and spoke of their compasses, new burners, fancy collapsible tents and a Geiger counter. Everything was planned and ready for deployment.

These boys might have fancy everything but nothing in their bags of tricks could stop their girlfriends. The girls forbade the boys from heading out into the jungle to play Tarzan.

It is Alex’s personality to organize a huge barbeque, complete with an axe to chop the wood for fire. He apparently perfected the art of selecting the correct wood for burning – matured oak.

He wrote about the whole process of grilling a nice piece of pork and for a change, he wished that I had a miserable weekend.


I want to go to the sea, to lie in a hammock, to wear a string bikini. That would most certainly bring some sunshine in my life.

Life is hectic and I am busy. I have not stayed here in Malaysia for so many months. I am experiencing slight claustrophobia, which I try to avoid by not meeting too many people. The more people you meet, the more politics and relationship issues you are involved. And that always sucks. At least I think it sucks.

I have to do something about my bikinis. Those 3 new pieces from Roxy are sitting in my cupboard. There is no justice in the world.

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Monday, September 03, 2007
Quite Wise Words

Here is a short collection of quite wise words that once belonged to quite a wise person.

  • “Life would be perfect if I could manage my relationships as well as I manage my career.”
    ~ reply to MiniBoyFriend R’s welcome greeting over the Merdeka weekend.

  • “I sort of figured out this over the weekend. I am not sure if it is too late though but I think I am a difficult person to live with.”
    ~ impromptu self depreciating remark to MiniBoyFriend R.

  • “That’s what responsible girlfriends do best – bore their boyfriends to death and deny them of any opportunities of having fun.”
    ~ commenting on some boys’ grand plan for a macho weekend camping trip, halted by their girlfriends.

  • “If I were to own a blog, I would have to fantasize a fabulous alternate life. Who on earth wants to know about my boring real life?”
    ~ the reply when asked (in rather crafty ways) if the quite wise one owned a blog.

  • “There are two types of men – men who would cry for you and men that you cry for. It’s better be with a man that would cry for you.”
    ~ the comfort words for a friend who lost her lover to another younger woman.

  • “And you, my dear - you are fine with or without me. My gut tells me that you will continue to live your life, oblivious of everything, when I am no longer with you. So good night.”
    ~ a good bye line at the end of a night.

  • “Thank you for loving me.”
    ~ self-scribbled notes on tiny pieces of papers as constant reminders that someone loved her very much.

  • “At least I have never been expelled from school.”
    ~ the quite wise one’s comment on a lady who used to judge her harshly during high school days. Her daughter was expelled last week, all happened while she was a teacher in the very same school.


Come to think of it. I don't think she's wise, quite or otherwise.