Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is that a Jumbuck on the Xebec?

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome rath outgrabe.

If you read Alice in Wonderland, you would recognise these lines from the nimble and riveting Jabberwocky tale. I loved it, the nonsensical words roll so well off the tongue, and if you chant it in your head, you can summon superhuman strength.. no kidding; I used it a few times on particularly difficult track workouts (back when I did those); the last curve of the last 300m where vision is blurred and the temptation to stop and puke is real... recite the bits that start with Beware --- BEWARE the Jabberwock my son! The jaws the bite, the claws that catch.. BEWARE the jubjub bird and shun.. the frumious bandersnatch.. !! ... the Jabberwocky sure helped me through many a mimsy borogove...

Fast forward to 2009; I wander through a toy store with no aim, except to feed my curiosity at the volume and variety of toys for kids. I spot something that takes me back through the Looking Glass. It is one of those supposedly educational props that associate English words with the alphabets that they begin with; you know.... A for Apple, B for Boy... I am sure you who have wandered through a local toystore, have seen one or more variations of this prop:

Er.. I am not a boating expert, but I *think* that is a hovercraft...

.. and that Xebec ... is that the word for 'badly drawn spanish galleon with cheesy smile in yellow sail' ... ?

A 'Jumbuck' is a scary clown mutating into a sheep... or might it be the other way around..

It used to be that mass market sub-standard products were locally-made. However that has now gone global. This toy is made in China. That global production giant can now ciplak everything from toddler milk powder to iPhones.... and walahh, it can ciplak English words too. Lewis Carroll, you may have met your match...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Give us today, our Daily Bread...

I am in a bread-making phase of my life; it is just another addition to my list of stress-busting activities, which currently looks like this:

Doodle with inky pens.
Make jelly.
Eat jelly.
Smell Rohan's hair.
Kiss Charu's cheek.
Spar with Tony.
Drink coconut cream with brown sugar.

Now, after the last Run, I can put - Bake Bread. It is so simple, and quite satisfying a quest -- just scoop, mix, pour, stir a little, then mash your fingers into the dough and work it. The action you need to apply on the mixture automatically transitions from squish...sshhh...to...squelch...cchhh...to...squeeze...zzz...to...knead...and knead... and knead (ok maybe I sometimes overdo it) till fatigue (or a niggling back ache) nudges you out of your trance, at which point you should have a ball of elastic and maybe somewhat sticky dough. Leave it to rise while you wash up, and you will notice that the skin on your hands are quite smooth and supple. You will be tempted to start your own yeast-based beauty products. By the time you finish daydreaming about your multi-million dollar empire (or if you are a little less ambitious in business but more so in other ways, then you may have actually smeared some of the stuff on your forehead...), you can check on the elastic ball and find that it has doubled in size. Imagine that its the face of someone you despise, and punch it down once more. Finally, depending on what you or your intended consumers may want, shape them into whatever you like, and bake; I use a 180 deg. C convection oven but best to follow a proper bread recipe, measurements and all. I must try that one day... follow a proper bread recipe, that is...

Recently, I discovered that oatmeal bread is ONE way to get Tony to consume oats. Hooray for bread! So here are photos of my 'success':

Success at Right, and Bread at left :-D

Charu practising to be brand rep for when mum's bread gets deployed commercially...

When I have unpaid labour, I get to make these (can you spot a little finger?)

Brand rep again...

Say if I REALLY opened a bread shop, what would I call my stuff? How about -- Well-Bred :-)))

Friday, May 15, 2009

Berjaya ke Tioman!

Pulau Tioman is an island close to my heart. I first holidayed there when I was 4 years old; before younger siblings existed for me. I do not remember much more than the nausea during the boat ride from Mersing (no Berjaya Air back in the 1970s YES I'mthatold). Years later, I would travel back with then-fiance Tony, to collect clearer, more pleasant memories.

The thing also is... sandy beaches really are THE thing for my whole family; we have an affinity for them, dare I say the same way ants take to sugar; I daresay the way scandals take to Malaysian politics. Better get back to the beach. It is such a calming place; soft powdery sand stretched out for miles along a wavy shoreline, asking to be walked along and played upon. The breeze nudges the waves, and they oblige, alternately tapping and thrashing the shoreline, then receding. Only to be nudged again... repeatedly. Slowly. Lazily. Eventually, realization sets in that the breeze is also teasing *us*, blowing sand and salty air in our face, tickling our ears with rustling coconut leaves.... sighhh. In a trance, we then unleash our cute kids, slippery with sunblock and brimming with energy, and they scurry out and become part of the beach scenery. Perfect.

That memory is from our last holiday on April 28th, where we spent 3 days at Berjaya Tioman. The journey began with a small glitch; the flight was delayed by an hour. We coped by letting the kids roam around Subang airport until they began trip up other travellers as they ran underfoot, and roll themselves about on the carpeting outside the public toilets. I think the additional zillion microorganisms they picked up during the delay actually required an additional seat...

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Finally we boarded, and most of us managed to snatch some sleep on the plane during the one-hour flight...

...except Charu, can't you tell from that face -- "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

When we finally reached, we boarded the shuttle van to the hotel (a mere 2km away but its a steep winding road). Along the way, I saw sights that triggered memories of my last visit, so many years ago. No change to people's living conditions:

Some parts however were cleaned up and modernized; the island has just been declared duty-free so a few metres from the entrance to Berjaya Tioman there is now a dusty new concrete building, built to house the Customs Department and huge in comparison to surrounding ramshackle eateries and even the nearby school.

FINALLY, we reached!! Checked in, chucked bags, and though I did not do real shutterbugging, when I DID remember to bring my trusty Moto U9, I got some (slightly fuzzy but) REAL holiday shots:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Post, poster, posterior...

Its 11.44pm, late Tuesday night. I have missed wishing Joanne Peh on her birthday yesterday, but I did manage to transmit her my be-earlied wishes via GTalk the day before, predicting so correctly that I would forget to do so on the actual day.

So now I login to my blog, because I haven't updated it for ages, and that bugs me. Not really because anyone actually reads all this, but because like old parents, I feel that this place deserves somewhat regular visits and attention... with 'somewhat' falling loosely between a day and six months.

But then, I have many things to say, I just don't know where to start, and I don't want to reveal things that I don't mean to in case they start some trouble... That is why I usually end up not saying anything at all, much like how my phone conversations with my mum go nowadays.

Oh well. No worries, its now 12.46pm, and since 11.44pm, two funny things have happened, maybe those are enough to wrap up this post. Let's see:

1) I walked past the bathroom, and saw Charu's pyjama pants on the floor. This usually means that she had a late-night big business call. But the bathroom light was off, so I walked into the bedroom to find a smooth-bottomed Charu fast asleep on her tummy, apparently forgotten to put the pants back on after using the bathroom. Very funny sight, but I did NOT take any photo, knowing that that would ruin my relationship with her when she's a teenager in the near future.

2) Amumma walked out of the room, looked at me, and muttered, "Ooh. I thought it was morning!" and walked back in...

What is with people tonight? I had better wrap up, before some other funny thing happens. Anyway, boy am I super dee duper sleepy...........

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Two Year Old Man

On the 2nd of February, Rohan turned two years old, but the amount of laughter and cuteness he has drizzled on us is worth about two thousand years of happiness, with more added on every single day. I often wish I had the superability of a character in Heroes who is able to freeze time; I could then STOP it whenever Rohan flashes that devastatingly grum chipped-tooth grin, with the crinkly eyes and squishy nose:

OK not bad, a camera-phone can do a half-decent job of time-freezing, albeit in two dimensions, sans fragrance and texture.

Another ability worth having, is the preservation of all his thoroughly disarming sayings, like:

"Are you cute?"

(rocking back and forth in his seat) "I'm on my yocking chair!"

(seeing me in running gear) "Are you going to get gym germs??"

"How old are you today?"
"I'm a two year old Man!!"

OK, so preservation in a blog counts too, I suppose.

Finally, the highlight of the weekend birthday celebration was a trip to Templer Park. Thankfully, its still clean and enjoyable, unlike the disappointment of our last visit to the Tanjung Rambutan waterfalls. Looks like Tony's people in the Rawang district have been better at conserving their surrounding natural beauty than my Ipoh people. So of course the former won our vote as the first stream that we would take our innocent kids to. I don't want them to think that waterfalls are the colour of milk tea, and that bulldozers are part of the landscape, which was the case upstream of the Tanjung Rambutan waterfalls, to my disgust. That was many many years ago, I don't know what it is now, but I don't feel like making an effort to find out unless I hear that they're going to build some hilltop apartments that will tumble down and kill its occupants. OK better stop before this post gets more activisty..

Parting thought for the day -- Slumdog Millionaire is such a watchable movie because it leveraged the amazing candidness of children to tell a large chunk of the story. Look at these and tell me that you do not understand... ?!

Photographer is rewarded with a serene smile by the wading water waif...

... and her little frowny brother

Water waifs can turn impish in a few milliseconds..!

Water waifs are closely guarded by dashing dark-haired demons...

.. that have strange heads growing out of their backs! :-D

Friday, February 20, 2009

Will you, won't you come and join the Picnic

I introduced the concept of a picnic to Charu and Rohan after they watched Minnie Mouse organize one on Playhouse Disney. Now every weekend, at least one meal request comes with some cute laungan of "Mammeeeee, can we have a picnic??" :-) So I oblige, because its fun for me too. I cook their meals as usual, but add on a little extra fun picnic food item. One or more of the following would qualify : chicken nuggets, cocktail frankfurters, jelly, cubes of their favourite fruit (in Charu & Rohan's case, it would be apples, mango and/or oranges), homemade potato wedges, etc.

While Charu poses for the camera, Rohan covets the nugget in her hand...

Chicken nuggets served with quinoa-flecked rice in chicken soup and mixed vegetables, but it might as well be The Most Fantastically Tasty Food Experience To Be Had In The Open Air..

While Charu savours lunch, Rohan smears it in his hair...

Charu: Can we do this everyday?
Rohan: That's a tasty-looking leaf...

I LOVE how happy they look (OK Rohan didn't oblige on camera, but he sure did have fun :-D), and how the food seems to take on more vibrant hues and texture when consumed out in the open sunlight. Its just downstairs by the poolside, but who cares??

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Satyam, the whole Satyam and nothing but the Satyam

Hi back, me blog. This site has been silent for over a month. That is because 2009 handed me its first big-time bogey on 7th Jan. Or rather, to my colleagues and me. In the form of a monumental, Jupiter-sized scandal, courtesy of the company were just sold to at the tip of the year-end.

But by now, February 17th, its all out in the open, you must know what I'm talking about - the Satyam scandal, India's Enron, big-time fraudery that rocked the beginning of this year.

Oh well. More on that later I guess. But for now, I want to move on. I have much more exciting updates about my life....

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Honey, I Shrunk the Future

I feel sad today. We have entered the new year of 2009, but our human brains seem left behind somewhere in the Backwaterthal (also known as Bawahtempurungthal) era, the time where soft cells within the cranial abyss of the homo bodohcus behaved like millions of individual microcellular organisms co-existing in a water droplet, banging against each other, creating heat and lots of animosity. But no substantial useful by-product. No myelin-sheathed neurons with synapses, just a lot of moronic relapses. No great thoughts and plans, just bland hot air with no fans.

I'm talking about us humans ripping out each others lives, fighting for "justice", blowing up people en masse in the name of "self-defense", fighting for strips of land the way greedy kids do over sour worm gummies. Charles Darwin might wonder if his Theory has become its own monster. Is it really the law of natural selection in place here; are we eliminating the weak and ensuring the proliferation of stronger, better gene pools amongst the homo bodohcus of the future?

At least think about this - if you have planned, ordered, approved of, delighted in or participated in or were ever happy to be part of the killing of another human being, do you think you really have done yourself, your offspring and your descendants a favour? How sure are you that that person is not someone who may have held the key to the survival of your future? What if you Kill Bill, but your ancestral lineage carried a horrible disease whose cure could have been found by Bill had he lived beyond the death you dealt him? What if you Slice Bryce, denying him the chance to be the most effective world leader in history? Effective in my context, that is to say able to stop wars from breaking out between countries, thus preventing the obliteration of your family. What if you Murder Myrtle, thus preventing the birth of the next Mother Theresa or Gandhi. Subsequently denying the world an icon of peace, humility and love. Millions will never know peace, humility and love the way it should be known. I suspect this has already happened, and that the current world leaders are all part of these millions of human beings flying around the world, talking rubbish, smiling a lot and spending billions on smart suits, speech-writers and weapons to kill human beings other than themselves.

Blame my crazed ranting on the front page of today's newspaper. The image of little children's bodies lined up side by side, dead from tank shells battering Gaza. Three little children. The eldest child had spindly legs and a cherubic face that made me wonder if his cheeks dimpled when he smiled. I will never know. Neither will you. They had perfectly-curled eyelashes, that no eyelash curler may ever bestow upon mine. The one on the far right had lovely rosebud lips, frozen in death. When I try to kiss the corner of Rohan's cute soft mouth where his chubby cheek starts, his hot-breathed "You gowawayeeee!!" smells sweet and milky. Rosebud Lips Child possibly would have reacted in the same way, and I think her breath would smell like milk too. But we will never know. The child in the middle was the smallest. Even in oversized blue pants, I can tell that his legs must be pudgy and chubby, cute and cuddly. But what is the use, they will never grow anymore.

Cute and all that, but think, think THINK again. Because we never do enough of it. Think about whether one of those three children held the key to our future. What if we have already destroyed the people who could have improved our future? We, the greedy, backwater people of today, who make money from every rocket launched, every bullet sold. We, who need to be in power, to control the world economy, to be in the limelight, to own it, along with the sunlight, and the land. The Land. We need to own whatever it takes to be happy. To live comfortably. But what does that mean? If you rule the Whole World, and own all its riches, will you be happy? What about half; share half with another crazy human. Okay you get a litttttle more than half, and other crazy guy gets a litttttle less than half. Now will you be happy? No? Still want more??

What do we want? Do we know? Do we care what others want? Do we care at all about others? Do we care about the world we live in? Really? How about the world that others live in? Its the same world, but you want the better part, leaving the worse parts to others, right?? You want the parts that have petroleum and diamonds; the rest of the sorry humans can take the desert.

Do we care about our future? Really? But... like I said earlier, we may already have destroyed it.... we've killed human beings... are we like, Mother Nature? Do we have the right to selectively remove other living creatures from this world? (bytheway, the rumour is that Mother Nature doesn't "select") You think we do? And you also think that it ensures a better life? For whom... for everyone? What about those who love the people that you killed, are their lives better too??

Do we want justice? Really? Do we want it for everyone, or just ourselves? Is justice served if we kill others? How about if we kill those who were not directly responsible for the injustice to us? Is justice served? To whom?? Are we still thinking here??

Do we think about how we can share this world with others? Others as in everyone, not just those whom we like. What about those we dislike? Are they unimportant and not worthy of our "sharing" because they aren't cool? Are these the values we teach our children? Our offspring. Who will go into a future made uncertain no thanks to the tweaking-of-the-future we have done for today. Great job there, destroying our future. Thanks a lot, ancestors. Thanks a lot, leaders. With brains from the past.