Marahkan Nyamuk Kelambu Di Bakar

We were watching the Parliamentary telecast on the midnight news. Ruckus was not quite apt to describe it. Circus more like it. Did Malaysia vote a group of leaders who knows not the meaning of decorum, ethics, manners, emotional management and dignity ?

They were calling yelling each other degrading names in parliament.

I think my kitten’s cat fights have more class, really.

It’s going to be a long, long 4 years, Malaysia.

Relenting, finally.

I finally relented to reading The Kite Runner. After watching the movie, I thought I could give it a pass, but as I said, I relented.

For two days I felt I was weighed down with Amir agha‘s ‘merengek’. Hmm, that was the word I was looking for. ‘Merengek‘. Maybe it’s just me. I have very little patience for long term whining, especially from a man.

The kittens are getting fatter. They look happy. There is no doubt now they have decided that we are their parents, following us everywhere when we are in the house.

I am procrastinating big time with my editing work which is bad. Getting a freelance project on ad-hoc basis like this is good, but because these days I seem to have lost my mojo by quite a bit hence neglecting on 2 important things; editing and studying for my German exams.

Of late I have had questions from family back home. Where next after his post-grad? It won’t be anytime soon, we said. Yes, but where next ?

I don’t know. We don’t know. 4 choices. 1) Stay put here 2) My kampung 3 ) His Kampung 4) A brand new neutral place.

He can’t stand my kampung. He finds it ‘merimaskan’ with too many people and too many tall buildings and he feels claustrophobic. I can’t stand his faraway kampung, although a university there has a faculty that fits exactly his area of studies. I don’t fancy their winter and the anal way of life there is a bit off for bohemian me. So, we are left with stay put here or a brand new place. Malaysia has been good to me. I enjoy it here, seriously especially our inbound travels and masuk kampung moments. That’s a lovely option. BUT, for both of us, on a personal level, there are things we need a break from in Malaysia. So that left us with the last alternative which is a brand new neutral place to both of us.

Where? Don’t know. We don’t plan that far ahead because we cannot even be sure that tomorrow will come for either or both of us.

Fashion Statement

The 19th Century French writer Marie-Henri Beyle, or better known as his pen name Stendhal wrote,

“Only great minds can afford a simple style”.

I was reading about him earlier on today and remembered some photographs I took from the recent Miri trip. These photographs were taken from the archaeological museum, about 1.5 hours walk away from the Niah Caves.

I did Ancient History of China for A levels History long ago and I came across this feet binding culture amongst the Chinese. To them, small feet reflect a dainty maiden, walking with small delicate steps. If present day horror stories about women hospitalized and going into comas etc, due to cosmetic surgeries gone wrong–is an indicator at all for the things people would do all in the name of beauty, underneath this pretty tiny shoe is a…

I was startled when I first came across this and quickly fished my trusted camera out. I thought wow.. that must have been painful. Until I saw…

In a culture where big earlobes are funky!… OR…

where long necks will guarantee better suitors.

Beauty is to the eye of the beholder, aye? Fashion and the idea of beauty is always evolving. One moment it is in fashion and everyone thinks it’s beautiful. The hippies flower power era made a comeback once in the 90s and teenagers in that era all so suddenly wanted to be floral, UNTIL the new fad came in. Once the new beauty/fashion form has been defined, all the world’s fashion sheep will start labelling outgoing ones as ‘OBIT‘, a term we use in my hometown to denote something which is off beat tacky ( OBIT ).

Likewise, a long, long time ago, when the Europeans first came into our region and colonized our land, they called our ancestral prebumis, who were then wearing cawats and the women wearing what were enough to cover their bosoms ( some not even ) and their simple loin clothes, uncivilised. With all their mighty judgment, they labeled our ancestors as uncivilized because with their full tuxedos and their women in big skirts, corsets, bonnets and gloves where nothing else could be seen but their sunburnt faces, our ancestors’ idea of beauty/fashion was not their cup of earl grey tea.

But alas, the uncivilised ways of our forefathers proved too irresistible. Much, much later in this day and age, that uncivilized fashion of covering up just what was necessary, became imperatively cool revolutionary fashionwares called the bikini and the g-strings. And those who are dressed like their women back then, with only the faces shown are now labeled ‘oppressed.’

But again, the idea of beauty is always revolving, and defined by traditionalist, modernist, imperialist, colonialist and whatever other ‘ist’ there are in this world. It would be ticklish if one day in my grandchildrens’ generation, the burqa suddenly become a cool outfit to wear to the Grammy Awards. 😛

Politikus

This morning over hot roti pisang drenched in Kari Ikan and Sambal at the mamak shop where we frequent, I read that Jamal Mirdad is entering politics.

Mirdad, left with his wife Lydia Kandou. Image taken from here.

I grew up with a very staple diet of Indonesian entertainment, from Hetty Koes Endang to Titiek Sandhora&Muchsin, Endang S. Taurina and yes, Jamal Mirdad and his famous ‘Jamila’ dangdut. This was long before this era of Peter Pan and Cokelat and what have you now. Mirdad’s wife, the actress Lydia Kandou, was, and still is amongst my favourite- along with Rano Karno and Meriam Bellina. I love the Rano + Meriam combination in films and personally, I feel they have much better chemistry than the present day IT couple of Ari Wibowo and Lulu Tobing of the DIA fame.

While I love them to bits doing what they do best i.e entertaining, the thought that Jamal Mirdad has dangdut-ed his way into politics in the already very ‘bobrok‘ Indonesian political landscape, made me ask myself, what does it take in this day and age to be a political/world leader, really? What is the core value we look for in a leader to lead our community/society/nation/country/world that politics has become such a circus around the world ?

I have other questions as well. When Francis Bacon said that Knowledge is Power, then I reckon that those chosen to be in power should, I presume, have to have the knowledge to lead things to betterment– ideally speaking. But do they really?

Ok I know. There is no utopia and there is no ideal world, BUT , if knowledge is power—technically speaking, with higher literacy and a supposedly more ( by media definitions, not mine ) ‘modern’, ‘progressive’, ‘intelligent’ world that we live in now, why is that as the days go by, our world is more in shambles, more ‘bobrok’ and more nonsensical with each passing day?

Is it because we have all been/is being led by.. errm… intellectual fools?

Anyway, enjoy his famous Jamilah. Before he starts giving political pidato.

Under the Rain Tree

I was about 10 minutes late for my class this morning. My Lehrerin, Frau L does not take it well to people being late. She blasted us many times before that Germans value punctuality and if you cannot keep to the timing, you have already ‘spoiled’ your image to the Germans. Oh well, sometimes or rather most of the time, no one can predict Malaysian traffic, can you ? The whole class have since memorised the magic sentence,

Entschuldigung Frau L, ich bin spat

…and we roll that sentence out like native speakers. Only that sentence. It’s called survival. Somehow saying sorry about being late made her continue her lesson without drawing everybody’s attention upon the late comer, who is already flustered as it is.

It is a hot day today. The husband fetched me after class and we were caught in a bit of traffic en route home. We saw some trucks by the roadside. On one truck it says Rojak Kader. The famous chendol truck. Many cars have already begun to make their pit stop for Mamak Kader’s chendol and rojak. 2 meters away from Mamak Kader, is the Pakcik selling fresh young coconut, chilled in his styrofoam boxes full of ice.

We decided to stop by the roadside as well. We got a packet of Rojak, a bowl of chendol and two chilled young coconuts and sat under the huge rain tree about 5 metres away from the food trucks. And we ate watching the traffic from the main road inched by, passing the two trucks from where we bought our lunch.

Some occupants of the passing cars peered out of their windows looking at us eat. Their cars big and luxurious. Did they wish they could join us ? Or were they pitying us for having those, there for our lunch? In any case, today I found out something that most people don’t know about.

You know, in the hot sweltering heat and bad traffic, icy cold chendol and chilled air kelapa muda from roadside trucks taste like a piece of heaven.

Asam Garam

Milo did the wee-wee on my pile of clothes this morning. I spanked her and flicked her ears, scolded her and threw her out of the front door and locked it. Her brother looked pained as he watched his sister punished. He tried to get to her through the grills but he was scolded too. So he gave up and went to sleep.

In the evening I let her in and the siblings rejoiced over the white ping pong ball and several rounds of wrestling. Milo was aware that I was still mad at her so she ran each time she saw me. Only later when the husband came back that she started her ‘mengada-ngada’ purring, asking for cuddles and to be carried by him.

Last night we forgot to close our bedroom door and when we woke up this morning, we realised they both slept with us throughout the night. One snuggled under my armpit which I must have thought was the extra pillow, albeit a bit hairy but I was tired so I didn’t care. The other one parked himself in between me and the husband nicely snuggling in like some baby.

Good will watching

I really, really shouldn’t be blogging now because I have an editing deadline to meet by 4pm later. But my mind cannot focus on work and the harder I try, the harder it becomes.

We went to watch The Kite Runner just now. The book, which the film is based upon has been sitting quietly in our library for quite a while already. I’ve never read it, neither has the husband. It’s one of our ‘buy-to-read-later’ books.

Image taken from here.

The mixed feelings I had after watching the movie is not on the movie per say. Since I have not read the book, I wouldn’t know how it ended but I sort of guessed it halfway through the movie. It’s the theme or the plot of the movie that perplexed me a bit and made me think more of the personal experiences I’ve had with the people who were from that land and/or those who’ve had personal experiences of the land that is Afghanistan.

Had I been to the movie say, for example, oblivious to any information about Afghanistan or Islam or Muslim per say, I would come out of it scared sh*t of this ‘faith’ that seems so barbaric. So demeaning. So negative. So….hmm how do I put this? So not unlike Europe in the Middle Ages.

Being an ultra skeptic that I am, I never believe that the coin has only one face to it. What more taking anything from the media, any media at face value.

In June 2006, I met her in person at a conference in Kuala Lumpur. Somehow, in the very last minute, someone I know from an NGO here needed someone to go on their behalf to this particular conference. And let’s just say I happened to be around at the right time and the right moment and was asked to attend the conference as a delegate, and they foot the RM 1500 delegate’s fee. That was when I met her, who was a guest speaker. She delivered the conference papers and because of her ‘unconventional’ way of coming into Islam, many requested some more up, close and personal sessions with her after the conference had ended.

She was a reporter captured by the Talibans and became a Muslim because of it. No guns were pointed at her head. She was not raped nor was she mistreated. She came to Islam because according to her, the Talibans treated her with so much respect as a prisoner of war that it was the first key that opened up her heart towards the faith, which she speaks for these days. Loudly too, I might add 😛 Before I met her, I’ve read anywhere and everywhere, mostly from American/British based media on how barbaric the Talibans were and yada yada yada, exactly like how the movie The Kite Runner depicted it. But for a former prisoner to tell us otherwise personally, I remember having to make a few mental U-Turns then.

That same year, our Ramadan was in Sydney. The first day of Ramadan, we were invited by the Afghanistan community there to break our fast at one of their houses. The host was an elderly couple who came from the generation of Afghans who fled their country during the invasion. After the break fast, we went to do our Tarawih with the whole community in the hall of the church they rented for the whole of Ramadan for Tarawih prayers. We were the only non Afghans that night. And naturally, I asked alot of questions, amongst which were of course the Taliban issues. To my surprise, not all of them are averse to the Taliban ruling, although some of them did admit that it is too strict for their liking. But one old lady commented that hey, the Talibans did ban the opium, which is the core destruction of the country so not all is bad, is it? She asked me.

And today, when I watched the movie, I asked myself. What is the movie trying to show, actually? Is the plot about friendship of two boys? Or about the evils of war ? Or the evils of Taliban/Islam/Muslim/Shariah ? Or is it another propaganda to feed the unquestioning minds that believe in everything they watched in the movies? If it is not propaganda, then why was the Russian invasion and the atrocities they committed during the invasion and occupation downplayed so much that it was depicted as if the Russians came like fairy god-mothers with just one attempt of rape by a soldier?

One thing that tickled me is that at the end of the day, as any other cliche movies, America came to the rescue. The great land of America, always, always there to rescue the weak, the oppressed, the destitute, the mutilated, the pathetic. The land which promises a thousand dreams to those within, but causes a billion destructions beyond their shores. Is this movie one of those which give justifications to their presence in Iraq and any other places they are not wanted nor needed?

Imperialism ain’t dead, in my humble opinion. Mental imperialism is very much rampant and alive and thriving. And this was the feeling I walked out of the cinema with.

Hail America !!! Yee ha.