Of reading out loud

Ink Heart was ok, for a fantasy movie. I like Brandon Fraser ( probably that’s why I think it is ok ) and well, no harm fantasizing for a while what if I am a Silvertongue, you know–like Brandon’s character in there, Mo. When he reads a book out loud, the characters come alive into this world.

Image taken from here

If I could do that, I would like to read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre out loud, so that Jane can come out and live in this era where she can finally be emancipated. And also, I would like to tell her that Mr Rochester, in my humble opinion does not really love her.  And as many men ( fictional or otherwise ), he was just playing with her feelings, pretending he was clueless about her feelings for him.

The other book which I would like to read out loud is The Crazy Dervish and The Pomegranate Tree. I can do with a crazy wise man around telling me about lessons in life in the most unorthodox way, although sometimes I feel that the husband is quite like him, although not crazy nor wise enough ( like the dervish ).

I had green tea ice-cream today. It was thick and delicious and the green tea taste was not too strong, neither was it too mild. I think it was just nice. Hence in the month of January, I basically ate 5 different ice-cream flavours and lost 3 kgs. Those two had no correlation/cause and effect whatsoever. I didn’t lose 3kg because I ate ice-cream every weekend and of different flavours too. I just eliminated the other junk food and ate healthy. It was quite easy actually.

Like the ending of Inkheart, I think I am able to write the ending of my story, at least of what is within my control. Like dieting… I would like to see it a happy ending and I give myself say, till June?

Not cookies, just crispy things

Tried baking oatmeal cookies with the homeschooling kids but I think we used the wrong sort of flour or too much butter and too long in the oven. It turned dark brown, flat and very crispy. However, looks could be deceiving because they were delicious. I used ‘were’ because none is left. They were indeed delicious and crispy, although they looked pretty ugly.

After dinner we went for a Friday night discourse on Rumi by an Iranian professor/scholar. I wanted to know more but 1.5 hours merely touched the introduction to his life. However,  since this is the first in the series of lectures going to happen, it is good enough for me. In fact, it was very informative. Not that I can convert it to wisdom yet. Because knowledge which does not lead to wisdom, are mere information. And so I learnt today.

So I think the almost burnt oatmeal cookies did elevate a little wisdom today. They were ugly but they tasted really good and none are left.

carrefour means ‘crossroads’

I sat at Gelato Fruitty KLCC with raspberry gelato in hand absent mindedly staring at La Cucur. Half my mind was on the gelato, thinking that I did manage 4 ice-cream flavours in this month after all. The other half of my mind wondered how she would be like now. I have not met her in years. When we parted, both of us were pursuing our own things in different geographical locations. We were both at the crossroads of our lives.

Chloe and I met through films. She was an au pair from France who was working for an expat family in my hometown.  She hailed from Bordeaux and is a year younger than myself. Many years ago, we met through a website discussing  INDIE (independent/art films)  and travels, two things we are both passionate about. So from the website we became film mates, going for screenings and film festivals together. The other thing that binds us is our fascination with Java. For me, it is my cultural heritage. For her, she is just fascinated with everything Javanese. We wanted to do Java backpacking together but it never did materialise ( marriage was in the pipeline for me ) and she went with her mother instead. Her life long ambition was to become a stewardess so she could travel and get paid for it. The year I got married, her dream came true when she got the job with Etihad, the airlines for Abu Dhabi.

Friendship with her through the years was unique. Through films and travel notes, we learnt about each other’s culture and belief systems in a non judgemental way. It was also through her that I learnt that the word ‘Carrefour’ (which I know as a supermarket and which everyone here pronounce as ‘Care For’ ) means ‘ Crossroads‘ or ‘Intersections‘.

It was a nice reunion just now with the  insider’s scoop of the airlines industries. About what they, as airline crew see at their level, about pilots cheating on their wives with the stewardesses, arab men in dish-dash cornering the stewards/stewardesses in the kitchen area on air demanding for alcohol even in Ramadan but pretend to fast in front of their wives and kids, Indian passengers asking for toilets only for ‘British’ passport holders, about her meeting Arab sheikhs in Abu Dhabi with 4 wives and some mistresses and wanting to make her part of their ‘collection’ and many other PG-rated things.

Through it all, I noticed that nothing else has changed in her. She is still the village girl from Bordeaux just like how she was an au pair many years ago when I first met her. In fact she admitted that her colleagues and pilots find her to be the ‘queer’ French girl who is a stewardess but doesn’t do parties/wild night outs/frenzy shopping and pilot-screwing. So basically, they left her alone to work as a stewardess without all the ‘extra things’.

From our carrefour some years back, we have reached to where we are now. I am happy she has arrived where she set out to be and I have arrived on mine or rather still on my journey. When I look back, watching films was made a more enriching experience because many times I had gone with her and we came out with two different perspective on the same film. And just now, we recapped that the last film we went to watch together before we parted company was the film Le Grand Voyage. How apt.

Doc kicked the bucket ( already )

And so it was decided that we go to see him today. After a series of over-eating (which is nothing new on my part) at Saujana Subang Resort where we spent our remaining CNY holidays, it was decided that I go to see him today.

The husband had gone to see him once, two months ago and had taken a liking to his wisdom. He came back with lots of stories to tell about this 80 something year old Indian doctor who then practiced homeopathy medicine. We were recommended to him by the Indian uncle who painted our house in Dec 2007. His clinic is in the Masjid India area.

Those who know me know that I cannot stand going to Masjid India area. Not only it is far from where I am staying, going there on a public holiday means I am part of the mad bargain hunting crowd, extreme heat and workers trying to lure me into buying more textile than I ever need.

But since the holiday at Saujana was very good and I was in a good mood and had really, really good food, I thought, no harm trying to see the doctor today.

We braved the heat and the people and the smell of the crowd. When we reached the lobby of the clinic, we told the person there that we wanted to see the old doctor upstairs. He looked puzzled. Which doctor, he asked? The husband told him ‘the very old doctor’.

To which the man told us that the very old doctor died three weeks ago, and if we want, we have to book an appointment with his son, Dr Ali who is taking over the clinic now.

I have postponed meeting this doctor for about a month plus because the thought of having to go all the way to Masjid India for homeopathy treatment kind of made me a bit ‘lemau’.

Today after finally braving it all, I learnt that the doctor had kicked the bucket. Innalillahi wa innalillahirojiun…

Halal ‘Bak Kua’ and mind setting

I found a shop in Mid Valley selling halal bak kua or roast meat squares which reminds me of Chinese New Year’s eve dinner at the ‘Nad and Niz’ abode. The tradition of having CNY dinner at their place began since— I cannot remember when, but definitely since Nad became a Muslim and they got married and Nad’s mum had passed away. That made us the only people who would actually gather for reunion dinner, with all the Chinese dinner shebangs, halal of course and stayed through the night in their cosy Clementi pad.

Year after year, the same people attended. Our relations, fostered through our youth group days which began in the terrace house in Pheng Geck Avenue. Through the years, we sort of evolved into a close knitted family of siblings in faith. To say I literally grew up amidst them is an understatement. It was always steamboat dinner/Nad’s chicken wings/salad and other stuffs. It was always catching up with what’s up and who was doing what. It was always a series of playful banters and then games or listen to the inhouse ‘kitaro/m.nasir’– Bro O do his music stuff. Or just yak. 

As the years go by, the table began to see spouses and later children. For a while it got noisy and lively like a big noisy clan. And then the tradition kind of stopped for a while because many due to work or marriage had left the island and the only ‘reunion’ was on emails. Last week I was told that the reunion would be revived and of course I was not there. They might still be there as I am typing this but it’s ok. I got my halal ‘bak kua’ from Mid Valley and I think of all of them.

My weekend, other than the halal bak kua went without a new ice-cream flavour this week. I attended a discourse today in which the husband presented an academic paper on ‘Islamisation of the Malay Mind’. My intention was just to see him present, take some photos and off I go. But I saw that the speakers for the morning session were Prof Mulyadi from Indonesia and Abdul Halim from Singapore and I decided to sit through it all.

Prof Muliyadi’s presentation on the translation works being done in Indonesia of the sacred Islamic science scriptures from Arabic to Bahasa Indonesia was really, really impressive and I was in awe at the amount of translation work they are doing there, despite the lack of fund that they are facing. Abdul Halim presented on Islam and education of the muslim minority in Singapore, which was the paper I actually wanted very much to listen to, for updates on things back home and also since now, from the outside looking back on the system which I was entrenched in for many years prior to this.

It has been a long, long day and I am now looking at my diary. Today’s ice-cream flavour is supposed to be Green Tea. Which I didn’t have any but I did have Green Tea cheesecake from Zen. Does that count?

Image taken from here.

Of Sensei and troubled times

It was only that after I watched IP Man the movie I understood what my sensei has been trying to tell me all these while. Remain calm in the face of assault. Something which was very difficult for me to do because simply, I am just ‘kancheung Queen’ ( slang for panicky ). And by nature– historically, I was  a reactive person. Now thanks to sufism, aikido and marriage ( seriously! ), my level of reactivity had dived down into a considerably low level, and any reaction forms only in the figment of my imagination at that point, at that time. Not manifested nor verbalised. 

In Aikido, sometimes I get nervous during training. Usually the husband is my sparring partner but there are other times the sensei made me train with the other big burly rugby built guys twice my size. And I felt intimidated by them. I mean, any husband would cut some slacks with their own wives but with the rest, training means training.

As usual, the mild mannered sensei always reminds me that it is not in the form ( of one’s opponent). It is how I tackle their assault and deal with their weak points. ‘Ki’ or energy only flows to its complete potential when the human body is completely relaxed. ‘Ki’ is recognized as a very basic and yet powerful force. I remember this lesson well. I had to bring the men down and pin them down one by one ( the husband included ). I was intimidated and thought the sensei was crazy. I was not relaxed and kept thinking, they are so huge and could have crushed me to a pulp! Of couse I failed to bring any down ( that night ).

Then on another occasion, I relaxed. I felt utterly relaxed and I was ready to learn the technique again. The sensei assigned another classmate to ‘attack’ me one at a time. I told myself  to keep calm and wait for them ( the attacks ) to come. Do not go to them first, the sensei kept telling. ‘Let them come and deal with them one at a time, when they come to you’. Deal with each one calmly, he said. With that, I brought the first man down. I ‘yayyed’ gleefully like an excited  little girl with the whole class laughing at me. I am after all the only female in the class…

So in this globally troubled social/economic times, I think my Aikido lessons are very applicable. Thanks to my sensei, I began to see that economic crisis, war and other problems are like the 3 big burly guys in my class. I cannot feel intimidated by them. I must wait and see how they attack me and deal with them, one at a time with calmness. With calmness comes ‘KI’ and a clear state of mind to bring these troubles down and pin them down.

About being in denial

Through the years, my colleagues and I in the teaching industry –especially that of the younger kids ( pre to primary school ) have noticed that when we call parents to address discipline/behaviour issues of their children in school, the parents would either scold the child or worse, scold the teacher in defense of their children. Or even worse, think out loud in front of the teacher with an over the top distressed moan and desperate hands in the air,  ‘OHHH where did she/he get THAT from??!!’

Now parents, let me do you this little favour of nicely reminding you that your child is your little mirror image and would reproduce things seen at home displayed by yourselves. So please stop being in denial and defensive on where they got this/that behaviour from, or immediately play the blaming game pointing fingers onto your maids/nannies/parents who take care of them while you are at work. The last baton of discipline is in your hands now, permanently and forever until they leave the nest.

And for you, yes you. Don’t knock your head in despair and say loudly ‘astaghfirullahalazim…’ and start scolding her incessantly like you did right after I told you she hit that boy with a metal hole puncher. Do not wonder where she got this violent reflect action of retaliation (to his innocent teasings) from. Do not ask why she did that.  Because I would like to remind you that the other day, I saw with my own eyes you hit her with a dulang when she was still hooked onto the computer game after you called her for the 2nd time. And I also saw you hit her little brother with a tuala when he was being pesky. It may be a joke to you, but she sees and learns from it. Don’t you see it? Don’t you think for a moment that she is now ‘mini me’ for you?

Dark, please

One of the kids commented, as he opened our fridge that how come all our chocolates in there are ‘very black’ ? That’s very observant of him and true enough, we only stock up bitter/dark chocolates at home. We consume a daily dose of that so they deplete by the end of the week. The one I left untouched was the Lindt 90% cocoa block–sugarless, which the husband bought in Singapore, konon nak try but really, it tasted too blergh and none of us touched it since the first bite.

I have sweet tooth but since several years back, I have since acquired the taste for dark chocolates ( sexier chocolates some call it….but I digress ) and the bitter aftertaste with a mild tinge of sweetness often leaves me satiated. The nice thing about eating dark chocolates is that after a bit of it, I can stop eating it without the ‘ I want more..more!’  feeling. That it is good for health too is a bonus as it was reported in scientific journals that dark chocolates can lower the blood pressure, contain antioxidants and significantly help in prevention of heart disease.

And so, I chomp down a peak of dark toblerone a day. Or maybe two peaks. One in the morning. One in the evening. And I notice that I no longer crave for the normal chocolates during my pms nor do I have severe pms mood swings. 

Image taken from here

And why am I blogging about dark chocolates again? I was waiting for the inauguration online CNN.com and my pc took like forever to stream in the video. I missed the whole thing though and went to sleep. These last few lines were written the morning after. But despite it all, it does feel good to see Obama finally as President and for the first time,  an afro American first lady. I am not sure  of the choice of words to describe it but it feels like I’ve just eaten a nice piece of dark chocolate. Satiated and just nice.

Not exactly exciting, really

I thought wrong. The week that I thought was going to be exciting made a U turn. But I guess HE knows better. 

We worked together on some projects for reverts to Islam. For several years, we were in the same team. He even assisted the new comers along with me, talking, befriending, counselling. Burning our evenings and weekends and almost most of our free time. Today I got news that he has decided to denounce the faith for whatever reason he may have. I can’t say I don’t feel the pinch. I do. Especially looking back at all those sessions we had with the rest under Mudpie’s tutelage. 

But somehow, when I got news from F today about your decision, I was not too surprised. Somehow in some weird sense I could feel or see it coming.

So S, I wish you all the best in your new found life or faith. You know you are always welcomed back, especially by HIM.