In passing…

Gulai lemak nangka, eaten with hot white Thai fragrant rice, with sambal belacan cili padi and ayam kampung goreng garam kunyit, panas-panas straight from the kuali. Add some kerabu taugeh with babat and sliced green cili padi. Eat using the right hand, wash it down with sirap rose with lots of ice.

Kampung weddings are awesome. And so I discovered here.

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I think, it’s a wrap

Today is my last lesson for the little dwarf I have been homeschooling for the last six months. I have completed the syllabus and his mother thinks he will need a break for December before joining the main stream Sekolah Kebangsaan come January. Which came timely as I do need to give myself a break in December to stock take on things on the home and personal front.

It has been quite an amazing 6 months with him. When I first taught him, he was bed ridden from the spinal operation, in which the surgeon suspected that he would stay bedridden probably for life. Hence in my initial lessons with him, he was wearing braces and had to have the maid on standby to carry him around to the toilet or for his breaks. Sometimes I taught him with him lying down.

With his staple reading materials being the ‘Ujang‘ comics, he is forever ‘ loyar buruk’, usually coming out with snide remarks I didn’t think a bedridden 9 year old could come out with. He always gleefully said to me, ‘ I may be born a dwarf but I am handsome, you know? ‘ … ye lah tu.. I would say. And I remembered he wanted to walk again so much that one day while he was still bedridden, he told me ‘ Give me 6 months teacher and I will walk again. You just see ah!!’ Two months later, he was already waddling all around the house.

Lessons with him threw me into a cocktail of emotions. Sometimes laughing my head off with his silly antics, sometimes feeling I wanted to throw him up the roof with his lackadaisical attitude, sometimes feeling warm and fuzzy inside with his sweetness, sometimes giggling to myself listening him talk to himself while doing work, sometimes feeling.. why did I agree to teach him again?

But it has been good. He is good to go to Sekolah Kebangsaan next year. I will miss his antics, I will miss him trying to ‘kelentong’ me all the time, I will miss his questions, I will miss him showing me that one may be physically deformed, but life can go on and nicely too!

Of Eu Film Festival and cultural/language differences

While issues on the fatwah on Yoga, Michael Jackson’s conversion to Islam and the never ending ongoing drama in the local politics became the talk of the town, I indulged in something quieter in the form of the European Union Film Festival. It happens every year here and last year’s was also around this period of time. But we were moving house at this time last year so we caught only one film. This year, I caught 3.

The first one I went to was One Day In Europe, a hilarious comedy film circa the Champions League Finals held in Moscow, and how the different Europeans cope with their differences in their languages, and where English can’t get one anywhere amongst the villagers and townsmen, let alone bargaining a police report in the different police stations from Moscow to Istanbul to Berlin and finally to Spain.

The film was in Russian, Turkish, German and Spanish and a little bit of English by a disgruntled Londoner. It’s hilarious to see that assumptions and stereotypes are universal attributes that everyone has about the other ‘different’ racial groups. One scene when the German lad wanted to get his point across that his backpack was stolen to the Turkish policeman, after a whole hour of ‘ayam-itik’ frustrating exchange, the policeman shouted, in Turkish ‘ I ONLY Know some German!!! Ja ! Ja ! Kaputt ! Kaputt ! Hitler ! Hitler !’ we had a good laugh about it. In the end, the film showed that against all odds and all cultural and language barrier, Europeans have at least one thing in common i.e Football. And their common language is Goal!

One day in Europe pic taken from here.

The next one is a really a beautiful film, Mozart In China in German and Mandarin. It tells the story about the friendship about 2 boys, a Chinese and an Austrian made in the hospital where they were warded in Salzburg. The Chinese boy, Li Wei whose family hailed from Hainan island in China invited Danny, the Austrian boy to spend summer holidays in his grandfather’s village in Hainan. Danny reluctantly accepted and although he was very wary of all the stereotypes and assumptions that people have of him as a white foreigner, he discovered himself and the beauty of knowing what is beyond one’s shores. In one scene, when they first arrived, Li Wei’s gang of village boys went to smell Danny’s armpit, just to see whether the stereotype of all white people stink true. Danny was furious and confronted Li Wei about it and Li Wei shot back with a ‘so you think it was easy for me in Salzburg with people calling me slant eyes’ talk.

Image of Mozart in China taken from here.

The film was also interesting for me because while the German dialogue has subtitles, the Mandarin dialogue didn’t. Hence I surprised myself at how much Mandarin I can still understand, although I have been away from that environment for some years already. And I tried not to read the subtitles to the German dialogue, to see if I have improved in that language. Not doing good, I must add. Oh well, like they say in Chinese, man man lai.. or pelan pelan kayuh…

The last film, was set in Luxemborg is about a handsome young train controller Georges, meeting Yamina in the train from Luxembourg City to Bettembourg. She is Algerian-French she was just like any other passenger whose ticket needed to be inspected. The next day, she’s on board again, but this time on the run from mysterious assailants. Yamina refuses to go to the police, so Georges kindly offers her a hiding place in his holiday cabin. As she shares her story, his compassion grows into fascination, friendship and maybe even love.

Arabian Nights pic taken from here.

This week is the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival. I have missed a large part of it although it only began on Monday if I’m not mistaken. Down with the (annual) year end flu and have been just rotting at home on the couch with Grey’s Anatomy and Gilmore Girls and a box of tissue paper.

It was a jolly small fire

I was on auto mode. Got up with the mind programmed to make breakfast. It was meant to be egg+cheese+beef burger for the husband and muesli bars for dieting me. Placed the pan on the induction cooker, put some oil on it, turned the induction cooker on. Then it’s Tito’s time to poo and I didn’t want him to do it in the house–again, so I chased him out. By the time I walked back to the kitchen, I saw flame about 40 cm high from the pan.

I actually went.. Errr ( ? ). I actually heard myself said that. For a full 30 seconds or so, I just watched the fire. I think I froze. Then I felt my tongue able to move again. So I hesitantly screamed out. Fire! Fire!……………. God knows why I did that, when I could have quickly poured a basin of water on it or something.

The husband heard, came running to the kitchen. Turned off the cooker, yanked the pan straight into the sink and turned the tap on and off the flame went. I could have done that, right? But I didn’t. I froze instead.

Of hoarding and Lawrence

When things are tucked at some remote corners for a long, long time, the perspective that I carry of that thing, whatever it is, is that it is unused or not needed. Because if one needs it, one will use it . Because the fact that it is sitting remotely unseen, untouched, unused, unutilised means that the thing is not serving its purpose. That thing can be anything. An old envelope, an old tool, files, old garment. Like I said, anything. And anything or something which is not of use to us, may be of use to someone else or the win-win duo of us and the karang-guni man can both benefit from it. That is how I view it.

On the contrary, on the other side of the river, there is another tribe of people who view it differently. They are called hoarders. They want to keep everything for ‘later’ or it may be used ‘one day’ or ‘sayang nak buang’. And they keep everything they could and on their side of the river, there are many mountains. The mountains are called ‘Clutters of Junk’.

The husband and I are on different sides of the rivers. And that, sometimes warrants for the fiercest tribal wars. That, and DH Lawrence. On my camp, I think Lawrence is a cuckoo. Husband, on the other hand is fascinated by him. But the war on Lawrence is not as fierce as war on hoarding things. Because Lawrence, weird as he is to me, was quite a good read during my days as a psych student. And Lawrence, the jolly good fellow with sexuality issues, does not clutter our house with his ‘keep for later’ ‘treasures’.

Of not wanting to do anything ( else )

So Michael Jackson is now Mikhaeel and two makciks are fighting for the Wanita Umno no. 1 post. One with the signature ‘tudung jambul’ and the other with the equally signature ‘Cikgu Bedah’ look. All three of them, in some weird sense, I find intriguing. Especially the first one.

This eventful year is coming to an end. There are many things that I am supposed to be doing, but they are still undone. And I am a big procrastinator. I spent the week binging on Grey’s Anatomy complete seasons dvds. Bought pirated of course, for Rm 4 at the Batu Feringghi night market. Ooops, did I just say that? Bad girl I am. Do not follow my bad, bad, bad example of buying pirated dvds.

… and still walking

Legs are meant for walking. And so we maximize them to the fullest. When we travel, we prefer to walk. And walk. And walk. And really walk. We see more that way. And capture/experience/assimilate/bask in more with the surroundings. In this trip, we just wanted to walk yet again. And we did….

If in Melaka I like to walk along the Jonker Street and the areas 1km around it, in Penang, I love to walk around the Penang Road/Chulia street area. They are like my time machines transporting me back into the yesteryears. Like I’ve mentioned before, I think I was born in the wrong era. I find antiques and all things retro very fascinating and on these streets, be it in Jonker in Melaka or Ipoh old town in Perak or right here in Penang, somehow they made me feel as though they were trapped in time. Just the way I like it.

One of the gems we looked for and found were antique books from old 2nd hand bookshops. The shops which have existed probably before my parents were even born. There were a few shops but what I found interesting about this particular one below is that it also sells old fiction books in all foreign languages, from Finnish to Japanese to Spanish to Dutch etc !… I chatted the old uncle up and he told us that he either exchanged books with any travellers who came to Penang or buy from them. Over the years, he had collected more than enough to sell it to scavengers like us.

In another such old bookstore tucked away in some remote corner, we found some rare gems in the form of old Malay story books with the old spelling… you know the one which was still in the era where they spelt like this ‘ Burong gagak itu terbang naek ke atas pokok untuk mencarik ayer’, some of these old buku-buku cerita Melayu were so old they dated back to 1920s or even earlier! The uncle sold them to us for about Rm 3 each and we ‘borong-ed’ the lot, except this particular one which came with a warning.. heh 😛

We wanted to find Jawi books too but to no avail. So we walked on to Masjid Kapitan Keling. The famous Nasi Kandaq Beratur had not started yet. But I managed to get a shot of the husband’s favourite mosque on the island, Masjid Kapitan Keling. The almost maghrib moment outside the newly renovated Masjid Kapitan Keling