Something like the willow tree

Training ended early last Friday because a whole row of seats were booked for the whole class to watch the movie N.in.ja…which we discovered in the first 20 min that it was a B-grade movie with bad acting and very gruesome violence.

Just to make our money worth, we looked for something positive out of the movie which was as B grade as it could be or even worse. So it had to be in the first ten minutes during the scene at the dojo when the sensei in the story reminded his disciples on the concept of ‘Fudoshin‘. We have not learnt that in class yet. But we discussed it after the movie.

Fudoshin:

A spirit of unshakable calm and determination,

courage without recklessness,
rooted stability in both mental and physical realms.
Like a willow tree,
powerful roots deep in the ground
and a soft, yielding resistance against
the winds that blow through it.

Fudōshin is losely translated as the ‘unmoving heart’, the level one reaches when the focus is so strong that one becomes unperturbed by any distractions. It is a state of tranquility of the mind, heart and soul after one has achieved the ‘Masakatsu Agatsu’ ( ‘true sense of victory is the victory over oneself’ ). Once victory over oneself has been achieved, the next step is to achieve Fudōshin. It is not something easy, but the greatest samurais and warriors of the past have managed to achieve it, hence they were able to go heads on into the battle looking so tranquil that ironically, it was  their tranquility that caused the greatest fear amongst their enemy.

I find that paradox to be somewhat fascinating. Like how do people fear tranquility? But I guess, when a warrior has reached that state of tranquility, the enemy has nothing left to feel but fear, because by then, the warrior has already won the greatest victory ( i.e over himself ) so what is less than the greatest victory? Nothing. Which is what the enemy has been reduced to.

About simple guilty pleasures

This post is a pick up from Mat Bangkai which was a pick up from AndreaWhatever. About guilty pleasures which, well if they are entirely good and right, we won’t be guilty of it right? I have many guilty pleasures in which I indulge in time and again, but I think the most distinct ones will be these..

1. On a super rainy day like right now, I have maggi mee ( which is banned from my household by my mister, hence the guilt ) with lots and lots of fiery red chilli padi enough to murder the Thai prince at one sip of the soup, break an egg into it and slurp the hot, super spicy, delicious bowl of (msg) laden ( non ) goodness till ‘things’ start to flow out of my eyes and nose and sometimes even my ears. But I would continue slurping. And how did I get away with maggi mee in the house? I make a quick dash to the cafe at the library in front of the house and buy one pathetic packet from the makcik there for Rm 1.20. I would be as gleeful as a … ? ( what’s extremely gleeful ? ). But this will only work in heavy rain AND I am home alone.

2. I walk all around IKEA which is like 5 min away from home and imagine how I would want to furnish our own place. Living in a rented house I go very minimal with the decor inside as I always have the mentality of ‘it’s a rental so why bother’. The longest I’ve spent in IKEA doing that is 4 hours, with breaks in between for another guilty pleasure, that yummilicious DAIM cake. Guilty because it really wastes time to walk around IKEA aimlessly and DAIM cakes’ fat content is enough to make me float like a whale, who needs Noah’s ark.

3. I carry Tito on her two front paws and swing her around, enough to give her a heart attack before she attempts to bite my nose or my lips whichever is accessible to her first. Don’t call SPCA. She’s not that innocent either, by the amount of scratches and torn magazines and books around the house. Ok, so I am guilty of pet terrorism. But it’s payback time, no?

4.  Eat a whole block of Cadbury choc by myself. Not that small bar mind you. One whole block. Usually over a sappy chic lit or Grey’s Anatomy dvd which I bought at the Pasar Malam for Rm 10 per disc. Ok, ok… ciplak is haram. I will try not to buy anymore ( can I kirim anyone instead? I didn’t buy it, you did! I just watch.. heh ) and oh, about that block of Cadbury, guilty of inviting diabetes, but hey, I don’t smoke, I don’t do alcohol, I’m not a druggie and I am certainly not a shopaholic. So what is a Cadbury block all to myself at one go, really 😛

5. Last but not least, I sit at the corner of the room with hot steaming tea in one hand and my thoughts halfway across the globe. I fantasize about being a master sensei of my own dojo in Sweden. Ok here’s how the fantasy works. I am a master sensei of aikido and also a master chef of my own book cafe. So during the day I bake/cook for my own book cafe and teach aikido at night. Why, why Sweden? Well if the fantasy is not fantastic anymore, I can always do the number 2 above but in the biggest IKEA in IKEA’s homeland. Fair enough? 🙂

People say in your 20s you work hard to achieve your dreams. In the 30s, my take would be, just dream lah. No harm right 🙂

So what’s YOUR guilty pleasure? 😛

About Julie ( and her Julia of course )

What happens when it is towards the end of the year where  the students under your care for homeschool/ tuition are just about to be switched off into the school holiday mode, the translation co that you work for is actually co-owned by yourself and a childhood friend who is also the editor, and with you suffering from a serious bout of pms and top it off with you have a husband at home nose deep in his thesis who can also run to the shops in front to pack breakfast/lunch/dinner?

Why! You declare yourself a public holiday on this blissful Monday of course! 😛

For the sake of Julie ( and Julia of course, but I relate more to Julie than Julia so it’s really about her, I think ), today I self-declared myself a public holiday, which to be fair, my pms is a tad bad to be working ( ehem! ) . So I stayed in bed, after the delicious meal of pucuk paku masak lemak, sayur bayam bening and sambal tempoyak which the husband packed from the Kelantanese eatery up front. Under the quilt, weather rainy with angin sepoi-sepoi bahasa, I went on to finish off my last lap of journey with Julie ( and her Julia ).

I bought the book 2 years ago I think at the warehouse sale and it was sitting in our library for the longest time UNTIL, I realized that it has been made into a movie. Hmm. And friends who love food and love to cook have been yelling at me over pm in FB and twitter to go blardy read the book, I relented and then got hooked.

Julie was a bored under stimulated secretary in a government agency whose life was leading to nowhere until, her husband Eric suggested the B word. Yeap. BLOGGING! And she went on the journey through the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking which was written by Julia Child a celebrity chef. So Julie went on a project which involved cooking 524 recipes from the entire book in a year and blogging about it every single day.

She’s all the current woman with the laywomen’s issues. PCOS, dissatisfaction at work, entering the realms of 30s, married but childless, many cats, an oh-so-patient supportive husband who was able to take her neurotic hormonal self –found solace in food blogging and turned celebrity writer through that! There is a Julie in many of us today especially in my generation and let’s just say she is the Bridget Jones of the married fraternity!

A chic lit of sort for the ” food loving, married with no kids but lots of cats” women whom I have as friends ( myself included! ). I love the book. And the way she describe her cooking them French food! Kinda orgasmic if I can put it that way 😛

Now, I have to declare another public holiday when the movie arrives here. Girlfriends, are you ready?

Vomitting some thoughts

There are some things which are bothering me this wee hours of a Sunday morning past midnight where I am supposed to be translating but I am not. The issue that is bothering me has a little to do with translation, a great deal on my education and a tiny drop of it,  a family member. A concoction of them all muddles in the mind with all sorts of possibilities and questions.

It suddenly dawned upon me that ‘mental illness‘ when translated terminology-wise becomes ‘sakit jiwa‘. I’ve never paid any attention to that before  and accepted that just as another ‘dewan bahasa’ defined terminology. But then, I sat down and thought further, especially in relation to what recently happened to my cousin as written in the earlier post, I then realised that the discrepancies in translations brought about a whole deeper issue than just a ‘dewan bahasa thingy’.

If I want to translate the term ‘mental illness’ literally, it should be ‘sakit otak’. But it isn’t. It’s defined as ‘sakit jiwa’

My question then being, is that really a discrepancy in translation? Or does it reflect the world view of two different civilizations ? That the west sees it as a cognitive issue i.e when something goes wrong, it must be in the head, where the overly active dopamine activities create those imbalances in one’s head causing the mental illnesses which are believed to be ‘curable’ by drugs. In contrast to the world view of the Asians, where it is the problem of the soul, that when things go wrong, it means your soul and spirituality is not in tandem hence settle it the holistic way?

If language defines society, then this translation between mental illness and sakit jiwa puts myself in a situation of sudden uncertainty. Sure, having been trained in western psychology, I studied that world view in order to pass my exams and ‘believed’ that synthetic drugs, (although with dangerous side effects in the long run ) can be the short term solution to the ‘mental illness’ . Because hey, Prozac and other anti psychotic drugs do calm the person down after depression/hallucination, hokay? ( when actually all they do is to lull the nerves and curb the overly active neurotransmitters in one’s brain, but doctors don’t tell families of patients that, do they? )

But what if I were to take the translation of that mental illness in Malay to be sakit jiwa? The whole paradigm shifts don’t you think so? Soul is not something that is tangible and cannot be defined by science. In fact science rejects the existence of soul. Hence if your soul is in turmoil, drugs cannot cure it, right? And if drugs cannot cure it, will spirituality be the answer? Like the whole shebangs of holistic treatment e.g zen, ayurdevic, sufism/tassawuf and nature healing and prayers and meditation etc?

It does make a hell lot of difference. If we are to go by mental illness, we would have to proceed with synthetic drugs, which in 10 to 15 years down the road brings about the side effects we all learnt about in psych school (but downplay it in front of families of patients) so that ethically, we stay true to our practice or at least what we were trained to be. On the other hand, if we are going back to our eastern roots and take the whole issue as a problem of the soul, the process would be slow and tedious and aims for the long run of things but alas, we can be sure that we don’t produce a new civilization of institutionalized druggies?

Is there a middle path between these two?

P.S just me vomiting some thoughts. It’s ok if no one understands this heh..

About liking old school food

I like to eat at Chawan. And that’s in Bangsar, opposite Bangsar Village mall. The place reeks everything old school. From the spelling of ‘Chawan’, to the menu up to the array of drinks. The setting is not that much different from Ipoh Old Town White Coffee but somehow or the other, I seem to take a liking to Chawan better because they have more varieties to choose from, especially from the long list of old school kopi.

The week before last when my parents were here, we took them to Chawan. Mum discovered a gem in the form of mee hoon rebus. I’ve never tried that before till she did and we tasted some from her bowl and it was yummy. CIMG0696

Basically it was really good ol mee rebus gravy eaten with bee hoon instead of the normal egg noodles. Mum gave 2 thumbs up. She’s a fantastic cook and a wicked food critic so when she says it’s good, you better believe her.

Both the husband and I like the ‘pisang rebus/pisang kukus’ set. Dad calls it ‘makanan  zaman perang’. Basically it’s fat juicy banana, steamed to perfection eaten with wickedly super spicy delicious sambal ikan bilis or sweetened ‘kelapa parut’

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The pic is a bit blur as I was busy munching when I snapped this shot with my left hand. I find the sambal is the best I’ve found so far in a kopitiam. Others call theirs sambal as well but not spicy enough so what’s the point? heh :p

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This place understands the true meaning of ‘menyambal’. This sambal is not for the faint tongue. Be warned!

Finally the tahu bakar. It’s our must have. Crispy, light, crunchy and the sauce is just nice!

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Now my only grouse is that if ONLY they have old school prices as well….

His beautiful mind

I spent the weekend writing about Schizophrenia. Not that I am doing post-grad studies in Psychology. Not that I am writing an article about it for any magazines or whatsoever. I wrote about the illness in  layman’s term, in a manner a mother can understand what is going on with her son who has just been diagnosed with it. And that mother is my aunt-my mum’s youngest sister.

I studied about that illness and even wrote about it for my term paper yonks ago. Never did it occur to me back then that one day I would have a cousin diagnosed with it and having to explain to my own parents and family members what it is all about, and what the medications they are feeding him are doing to him and the hope for a better life for him.

He’s brilliant, ya this young man. Bagged the top Malay student in all of the major examinations of the republic and currently doing a double degree midway in the local university there on scholarship. He is the family’s pride and joy. He excels in both studies and in sports, an all rounder in every sense of the word that makes him worthy of the prestigious government scholarship. He is also deeply rooted to the faith, which earned him the jesting title of ‘ustaz intellectual’ from us in the family.

I love him to bits. Used to baby sit him and changed his diapers. Used to take him out to playgrounds etc. In his teenage life he used to ask me for advice on girls and generally about life. We used to hang out for movies etc. This whole news about what he is going through really hurts the family, especially his mum. And I feel the hurt stabbing through the night when I sat and wrote about it to explain to the family what is going through the beautiful mind of this special young man.

May HE be with you dude. We will always pray for you.

Reference point…

I have gotten a few inquiries with regards to my previous blog entry–in the last paragraph where I mentioned in passing about behavioral problems/cognitive development in correlation with the child’s diet and food intake. And some of my peers are asking where they can read more about it. Well my resources are mostly academic books in my line and it would be a bit of heavy duty reading and research. However, I found two easy readings pertaining to the topic at Borders here and I think they rightfully give parents the general idea of ‘rubbish input=rubbish output’.

Image taken from here.

I have read parts of the book and found that Alex Richardson explained it clearly on how many roots of behavioral and later cognitive development problems stemmed from the very fact that children now are fed with nonsense, hence they in turn manifest it in their behavior.

The other one that I like is The Organic Baby Book, How to Plan and Raise a Healthy Child by Tanyia Maxted Frost.

The pictures online for this book is a tad too small but it is available on Amazon.

These days, many things are certified halal. But HE said in the scripture to eat what is “HALAL and GOOD“. Vegetables are halal but them being chemical laden, it’s not good. Halal slaughtered chickens and other meat are halal but them given hormone injections and gone through GMO process, is not good. Many snacks and titbits that the kids eat are stamped Halal by the various religious bodies but they contain high sugar, high salt content, msg, preservatives and what nots and they are not good. And all these manifest in the children, and ourselves hence causing many behavioral problems in the children and psychological problems in the adults.

When the saying goes “You are what you eat”, take note of it. For it is true and for more affirmations on it, go on grab them two books above 🙂 .