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Malaysian Alien


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Monday, February 04, 2008
One Thing Man Should Never Do

What I love most about being away from Malaysia is, it challenges my daily routine. I find myself bewildered by what I normally take for granted back in Malaysia. A good example would be this morning when I got up and looked out of the window. Another good example would be the oh-so-ordinary trip to the neighbourhood grocer.

This morning I was up like usual. The definition of “like usual” would be 7 a.m. It is calm here; not more than the occasional sound of water chugging through the pipes. I took a peep through the kitchen window. The forest looked different. Ah yes, it is different. It snowed. A lot. The forest was pristine white, with dark chocolate brown lines marking each individual branch of each individual tree.


‘Are you free to talk, Miss Otto?’ Her left eye blinked through the small gap through my bathroom door.

‘I’ll be out in a minute. I just need to make sure the yellow eye shadow on my right eye matches my left,’ I said then plastering myself closer to the mirror in hopes that I could match my eye shadow as accurately as possible. No pressure.

If I were to name the culprit for my high (real or imagined) stress level, staying across my office would be it. Clients came in every hour of the day and I could never run away from the phone calls. I had a TV and Astro installed late last year but I was never able to watch TV from 7 a.m. to approximately 7 p.m. My bottom was stuck to the office chair from the moment my eye shadow matched each morning till I was too tired to type another letter each evening.

This morning, I am writing a story to you finally. Staying away from Malaysia means I am writing this to you while sitting on the loo. How different my day is after a 13-hour flight to a city where leaves sprout in late May.


I wasted a year of my life taking short breathes. Taking short breathes through tiny slits of imaginary air, before submerging myself into tasks that never seem to end, emerging only to take another short breathe.

Today is the first day I slowed down to smell everything around me. Today is the first day that I find time to take a slow, deep breathes, relishing in the air that my lungs received.

I am not drowning anymore.


‘Aiya! Why you don’t fly after the lunar new year?’ my mother asked when she found out that I had a ticket booked for Europe five days before Chinese New Year.

‘Nothing special happens during Chinese New year, so I thought I should fly,’ I said nonchalantly.

Which is true. Nothing ever happens. My family is small, consisting of my parents and three brats they call children. When we outgrew our cute phase called childhood, my parents babysat three siblings, who are equally as bratty as my parents’ real children. Reunion dinners never seemed important. Well, we have reunion dinners but it was a small affair consisting of two adult parents, 3 adult real kids and 3 more artificially adopted kids.

We don’t smoke. We don’t drink and heaven forbids if we ever learnt to gamble! Which left us with only one Chinese sin – eating.

I think Eve spends a typical Chinese New Year. It is family tradition for Eve’s father to talk about the bird and the bees to his three girls after having some Henessy. My family finishes reunion dinner by 6 p.m. We then do random non-Chinese New Year related stuff.

Three years ago, we tried to be our Chinese best. We learnt to play mahjong. We should have realised that it was a failed venture from the start. Even the blind can read the tiles better than my brothers and I.


To date, I owe the following to the following people:

1. My contractor, a sum of RM13,000 for building renovation on my office.

2. Alex, a letter answering his questions. An emotional debt.

3. My bank, a sum of RM20,000 for an overdraft.

4. My car financing institution, a sum of RM1050 for the pretty car I zip about in.

5. My credit card institutions, random sums of money for random manic purchases which now include a pair of ruby red Camper shoes and a gold bracelet that looks like an earthworm crawling on my wrist.

I will expedite payment before Chinese New Year, as I would like to clear as much debts as possible. One should start the lunar new year with as little debt as possible. It is like the act of cutting your hair. You always come out feeling lighter and fresher.


The sun is out and it is melting the snow away. A sparkle of jewelled water drops off the end of a tree branch.

Do you think the sun will melt my emotions too?


‘And that is why men should only tell women things on a “should know” basis,’ he said, then stumping the life out of his cigarette.

One evening, his girlfriend (ever so innocently) asked him how many girls had he brought home to shag on his bed. He now admits that it was a mistake to tell her the truth. He claims that anger seethes through her pretty rows of porcelain teeth. Sometimes she claimed magnanimity by saying that she was cool with it. (Seriously, who was she kidding?)

‘I knew it! I shouldn’t have told her. You should never tell women the truth. Just tell what is necessary, and that’s it!’ he said.

‘No, no,’ I replied, ‘Don’t ever do that. The one thing that a man should never do is hide.’


‘You will prefer to be nagged for something that you did than for something that a woman thought you do. At least the nagging is justified. She will make up an answer if you did not offer a satisfactory answer. So you might as well get flak for something that you really did. At least you are punished for your real sins, not imaginary ones.'

He lit another cigarette and nodded his head.

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are u living in the woods? this is certainly very confusing.

8:45 pm  

No, I am not living IN the woods. I am living near the woods though. I can see the woods from the kitchen window =)

Hey, just visited your blog... I love the Four Seasons! Oh my goodness, I love the duck there to bits! I am willing to work, so I have some dough to buy duck there. Somehow ducks don't taste the same back in Msia?

6:28 am  

How true! My wife once innocently asked me how many gf I'd slept with before meeting her. I stupidly answered her and have regretted it ever since. Women may forget many things but not THESE THINGS. And she has a habit of reminding me every now and then. SHEESH!

10:17 am  

well.. u gotta try the one in sunrise sea's the second best after .... 4 seasons... hehehehe...

7:05 pm  

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