Friday, 6 May 2016

Never Too Old

She got married when she was fifteen
She was constantly scolded by her mother-in-law because she couldn't do laundry properly
She once slept on the sidewalk street because her in-laws chased her away from the family house
She worked more than 12 hours a day to help her husband support the family
She gave birth to her first born when she was seventeen
She lost her 19-yr-old eldest daughter to heart disease
Then she also lost her 40-yr-old eldest son, also to heart disease
She was hit by a motorcycle which left huge ugly scars on her leg
She lost her husband when she was in her late sixties

Only a mother knows how terrible and painful it is to lost a child
Every mother wants their children to outlive their lives
Losing two children in a lifetime is too much to bear

She is a woman who has plenty valid reasons to be bitter and sad
She is a woman who has gone thru hell and come back

And yet....
She chose not to be broken
She chose to smile and laugh
She chose to be happy
She chose to raise her six children to be successful
She chose not to give up on life

She learned to drive when she was 70
She learned to dance when she was 76
She mastered tango and salsa when she was 77
She danced 3 solid hours when she was 80 (on her 80th bday)

Her hair is always salon perfect
Her nails is never without color or glitter
Her dress is never black or plain
Her face is always made up

She is still smiling everyday
She is still laughing when I tell her I can dance better than her
She is still complaining about my floppy hair
She is still wearing bright flowery dress
She is still doing her yoga three times a week
She is still beautiful

This one-of-a-kind woman is my grandmother
My mother is very fortunate to be her daughter
My siblings and I are very lucky to have a living example of a fun grandma
My children, nephews and nieces are blessed to have a loving great grandmother

Be good to your mother, your grandmothers, your mother-in-laws and the mother of your children.... You may not know the pains and struggles they hide from you...

Happy Mother's Day Everyone...
















Thursday, 25 February 2016

Insult

I went back to Bandung to spend some time with my family a few weeks ago.  On the way back to Kuala Lumpur, the flight was delayed.  Fortunately I brought my laptop with me so I could spend some time working on my second book project while waiting.

I had never imagined that I would be able to write and publish an ebook, more so a book on how to open a restaurant in Malaysia.  I am trained as an accountant who is supposed to be boring and befriended with numbers. Typical accountants love numbers and hate letters. Yet, here I am making good friends with words and thesaurus instead of numbers and spreadsheet.  

I remember the first time I entered the F&B world as an "Indon" accountant. Being an Indonesian in the land where most of their illegal immigrants are from my country is not that pleasant.  While some Malaysians know about Indonesia and its people, a lot of people still have the thought that "Indons" are poor illegal immigrants who come to Malaysia because they can't find a job in their country.

When I walked into the office for the first time, a chef talked to me in Cantonese, thinking that I was a Malaysian Chinese.  When I told him in English that I couldn't understand Cantonese and I was Indonesian, he gave me "the look".  It's the look of insult.  "Ooh, Indon," he said.

He asked me what position I was hired.  I told him that I was an accountant, recently hired by the owner to fix the financial problem of the restaurant.  He was surprised but didn't say anything because his assistants called him to the kitchen.

While I was working, my colleague ordered a plate of Spaghetti with Seafood and Olives from the kitchen for lunch.  She was kind enough to share the spaghetti with me.  When I tasted the dish, I could taste that the spaghetti was still raw, not cooked properly.  I could see the white flour inside the pasta so it's definitely not al dente.  When the chef went up and asked how the pasta was, I told him that the pasta was undercooked.  I showed him the spaghetti and asked him to try.  Without trying it, he said, "You don't know how to eat pasta.  This is al dente in Italian."

It was my first day and I didn't want to pick a fight with a 28-year-old executive chef who had been with the company for four years.  I let it go.

The next day, the chef came to my office asking me to order a jar of winter truffle. I could not understand him as his Chinese accent was very strong.  It was very difficult to understand any English word coming out from his mouth.  When I asked him to write down the brand he wanted, he became furious and asked," You Indon, go to school or not?"

I was beyond furious.  I don't get offended easily but that remark really set me on fire.  I could feel my face turning red. People can call me fat or ugly or unsophisticated or poor but I am most offended when they think I am stupid.

I tried to calm my tone and asked again properly the brand that he wanted. He repeated the same question, "You go to school or not? Until standard what?" 

I don't display my certificates nor boast my degree to anyone but his insult just pressed my snob button.  Since I was also managing the HR department, I read all the staff files, including his.  I read his file that he finished his elementary education in Singapore then went straight to work in kitchens of several restaurants and hotels in the republic.

"Just so you don't ask me again, I actually finished my high school in Indonesia then completed my bachelors in accountancy in US before taking a master degree, also in US. So, if you think I don't know pasta or Italian food, you are so wrong. I had eaten pasta and cheese before you could even spell your name in English."

"So, please write down the brand that you want so I can order it. Or actually, do you even know how to write English?" I stared at him with burning fire on my eyes.  

He was shocked. I could see he didn't expect my response.  He then wrote down the brand of truffle he wanted and left.

I was also shocked.  I never thought I would be able to speak as loud as that. But that moment, something in my brain lit up.  I had to prove to everyone in the company that I was not dumb. I may be wearing high heels and lipstick but I can still kick some ass. I had to learn everything about the F&B industry and work very hard so nobody would insult me any more.

Although I was hired as an Accountant and Human Resource Manager, I volunteered to do other things in the company.  Within six months I knew everything about the restaurant operation, from purchasing, costing, stocking, bar operation, arranging wedding and company functions to managing frauds.

When I looked back, I had to thank that young chef for pushing my button. Because of his insult, I pushed my self to excel in the F&B world. Because of his insult, I fell in love with the industry. Because of his insult, I forced myself to accept the challenge of (financially) managing a few restaurants at one go. Because of his insult, I could write my ebook on restaurant business.

After a few years working together with him, I understand better how chefs and cooks think. I understand why he was always grumpy.  I understand why he was always irritated when things were less than perfect.

Fast forward to now, I made peace with that young chef.  We became friends who could talk about food for hours. He knows that I am not "just an indon" but a woman who will kick his ass when insulted.   I learned a lot from him.  He taught me the difference between a cook and a chef. He made me understand the importance of discipline, hard work, attention to details, system, cleanliness and shouting in a restaurant.  He even shared some of his recipes with me.  I owe him my skill of making a perfect steak.

Thanks to the Food Network, the restaurant business looks glamorous from the outside. But when we are inside, things are not as glossy as it looks. Same thing with life.  A girl may look pretty and glamorous from the outside.  But she still farts smelly gas.



People say when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.  I say when a guy throws you lemons, squirt them in his eye..!!





















Thursday, 31 December 2015

Fireworks

I closed the last few minutes of 2015 by the road side, near my old house, waiting for fireworks display from nearby malls. This has been our rituals since the kids were toddlers. Inem always the one who is very excited about the fireworks, comparing which mall displays the best fireworks.

This year, as I looked at the firework, a sadness crept into my soul... Something I didn't feel in the previous years. The faces of my friends who passed away in 2015 came up. As I looked at the brightly lit sky, I saw their faces, I remembered of their smiles, their laughs, our conversations.... and suddenly I missed them. I wondered if they could see the fireworks from their place too.. I wonder if the fireworks sound louder from their place...  I wondered if they could feel what I felt.. 

While everyone "ooohh and aaaahhh" at the firework display, my mind raced back remembering the unforgettable moments I had in 2015. Slowly, the sad feeling subsided. I had many sad things happened in 2015 but I also had a lot of unexpected blessings and beautiful moments.

Allah called back three of my friends last year but I met many new friends in 2015. New friends can never replace the old friends but I hope one day these new friends will be my "old friends" too.. Not just old acquaintances.

I attended my high school reunion last year and re-acquaintanced with my old friends. It is really fun trying to match names and faces of old friends. I have always been terrible at remembering names. It embarrassed me to forget the names of friends who used to be in the same class with me. However, the embarrassment turned into laughters as a lot of them were also as bad as me in the name game.

Last year I had a chance to meet, chat and laugh with a few of my BFFs who were separated thousands of miles away from me. The meetings reminded me that no matter how far apart we are, how different our lives are now, when we are together, we are still the same crazy talkative women who think too much about everything and nothing. 

I also attended the wedding of my parents' BFF's son. My parents have been friends with them since their primary school days. I used to hang out in their house and have family vacations together. Their children become our best childhood friends. I admire and treasure this friendship. I don't see this kind of friendship everyday.  When my father was unwell, he cheered him up. When my father was too lazy to exercise, he picked him up and brought him for a walk. Last month, one of his daughters even bought a user-friendly smart phone for my father. The other daughter came to our house to set up and teach him how to use whatsapp and facebook.  (My parents love their Nokia phones.  My siblings and I bought them Blackberry and iPhones but they are hardly switched on.  We tried numerous times to teach them how to use smart phones but they insisted it's too complicated). My father listened to them and started using the new smart phone.

I feel so blessed to witness this kind of friendship.. I feel so blessed to have them in my life...: Ko Nam Seng, Ci Cen Mey, Nana, Fin2 and Raymond... You have touched our family's hearts more than you know. We are forever grateful.

I don't enjoy small talks and meaningless conversations with random people. I don't feel comfortable surrounded by acquaintances who may not remember me six months from now. I don't like attending parties where I know less than 50% of the party goers.

I need months and sometimes years to develop a friendship with someone. 

Because of that, I take friendship seriously. I take relationships seriously.
Because of that, my reflection of life in 2015 is about my friends and families.

Last night, after the fireworks died down, I saw the sky full of smokes. 
This morning, I woke up to a bright sky.

Last night, I let go all the sadness I had in 2015. I said goodbye to the heart-wrenching, tear-jerking and heart-pounding experiences. I let them disappear into the smokes.

This morning I woke up to a brand new page of my life. I pray to Allah to grant us colourful pages in 2016. I hope Allah bless us with more beautiful and meaningful moments.

To my readers... This blog is not an open blog. You read this because you are my friends, either on Facebook or Google+. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your friendship.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year... 
I wish you 365 days of happiness...
May God bless us all...












Sunday, 19 April 2015

Telegram from Heaven

I had a very bad food poisoning last week.  I have had several food poisoning before but never this bad.  This time I had tummy ache for 3 days.  It was so painful that I cried every time the spasms hit me and it hit me every 2 minutes.

After I went to the doctor twice, finally the pain subsided but my body was very weak. I couldn't even walk. I spent my days on bed, exercising....

Yes... Exercising....

I exercised my fingers and brain by texting, chatting non-stop on Telegram.

My high school friends are planning to have a reunion in December.  Because of this, a dear friend set up a whatsapp group to gather some ideas.  However we had more than 100 people, so whatsapp can't accommodate our needs.  We migrated to Telegram that allow up to 200 members in a group. While most of them live in Bandung, some of us live in Jakarta, US, Malaysia and China. Telegram really suits us well.

Initially we tried to remember which friends were which. Remembering 200 people that we met 25 years ago was an ardent task for us..... the 40+ years old who always forget where we left our keys.  If I can't remember what I ate yesterday, imagine trying to remember a friend whose front teeth were missing when he was in high school or a friend who sat next to this so and so. Those are the descriptions they gave when I asked them who is this guy and who is that gal.

Some uploaded blurred old high school pictures (and their current looks) but I still can't remember a lot of them. I only remember some friends who were very naughty in class. I remember friends who always cheated in the exam and got caught. I also remember friends who used to be punished by teachers for always came to school late.

Although I don't remember some of them, I managed to chat and re-acquaintance with them.  The chat was mostly in Sundanese, mixed with Bahasa Indonesia.  After a day or two, we got so comfortable with each other.  We felt like we never parted. The chat room was ON all the time. When I had to sleep, I would wake up to see 1500+ unread thread. If I didn't open the chat overnight, the thread can fetch 4000+.  There were always people chatting about something all the time. While the morning shift greeted us good morning at 5am, the night people stayed up and chatted til 3am.

What started as a reunion plan transformed into something else.  We forgot the topic of reunion and chatted about something else.  The topic varied from discussion about children, love, education, food, happiness, our teachers, health, medicine, adult stuffs (you know what I mean), business, money, doors and sink, and so many other things... YES, we did talk about doors and sink...!! I don't know why but we chatted about doors and sink for 2 days..!! And to make it worse, none of us is in the construction business.

Chatting with old high school friends made me smile and laugh more often.  It eased my tummy pain. It killed the boredom of staying in bed 24 hours.  It rekindled a lot of great memories. It added my knowledge about doors and toilet sink (or wastafel in Bahasa Indonesia).  But most of all it confirmed my belief on the importance of friendship in life.

When we chatted we forgot all the superficial manners.  We ditched our titles and social status.  We poked fun at each other.  We called each other names. We exchanged crazy silly impossible ideas with each other.  We argued about small stupid things. But most of all, we made each other happy....

All of us have responsibilities at work and home.  A lot of times, we work so hard to please our employers, to please our husbands/wives, to tend our children, to take care of our parents, etc etc.... But we often forget to please ourselves.  Many times we don't have time for ourselves.

Chatting with my high-school friends has given me the break I need, the crazy laugh I crave and the warm feeling I lust after....

I am blessed to know that I have friends who are as crazy as I am... Friends who are as passionate about food as I am... Friends who can tell each other off without hard feeling....

To Telegram... thank you for providing free friendly platform for friends to chat...



To my friends at Telegram.... thank you for making my food poisoning days bearable... thank you for accompanying me when I can't sleep at night... thank you for the laughs (lots of them).. and thank you for saving my money... (with you,, I don't need any botox..!!)

Have a great week ahead...!!

















Sunday, 7 September 2014

Perfect Love

I listen to Mix FM every morning when I drive my daughters to school. For the past one week the topic was about finding the perfect wife or husband. Whether it exists and if it does, where to find this extinct species?

A woman wants to have a perfect husband who can provide her with a big house (or houses) that shelters many luxurious cars that her friends will envy. The perfect husband should also tell her how beautiful she is and how much he loves her everyday. Not to forget the occasional "surprise gifts" during her birthdays and anniversaries to show how romantic her husband is. She also wants to have perfect children who are beautiful, multi-talented, well behaved and treat her in a godly manner.  A recital with philharmonic orchestra will be an added bonus to her life.

A man wants to have a perfect wife who never ages a day over 25 years old.  His wife should have a miss-universe body with angelic face who cleans the house, feeds the children, sweats and cooks in the kitchen for hours yet still maintain the whole beautiful look and smiles when the husband arrives from work.  She should also be as good as Monica Lewensky behind the closed door to make him satisfied. She is also expected to be a dutiful daughter-in-law to his mother and siblings while taking care of his cats.

Is there such a perfect woman or man?

When I was young, I did have a list of criteria on what kind of husband I wanted.  Believe me, the list was longer than my grocery bills.  I searched high and low to find the perfect man who could fit the list.  Most of the men I met could not even pass the first 5 criteria on the list. My mother told me that I would never find a husband with that list so I should settle for less.

Did I settle for less? Almost... But NO.

I persevered and finally found the guy... I married him after meeting him for only 15 times. Yes, I know it was crazy but I was very certain that he was the one.

Is he perfect? No

But he is perfect for me.  He passed beyond the first 10 in my list.  He fits more than 90% of my list.

Is he a rich, super romantic and sophisticated guy?  Definitely no by most people's standard.

When I met him, he didn't drive sophisticated European car.  He didn't even have a house and still stayed with his parents.  He didn't send me flowers or chocolates or romantic cards.  He didn't take me to fancy restaurants on our dates.  Instead, he took me to a warong with rusty zinc roof near Batu Cave to have Thai-style steamed fish (siakap, to  be exact) on our fist date in Malaysia. It was a really hot day, eating really hot spicy food by the road side.  We had teary eyes, runny nose and sweaty body.

Definitely not rich.  Not romantic. Not sophisticated.

But he is perfect for me.

Why?
(My friends used to ask me : What do you see in him?)

He makes me laughs.
He creates thousands of butterflies in my stomach every time he touches me.
He makes me shiver.
He respects my privacy.
He gives me freedom.
He understands me.
He drives me nuts with his cool.
He awes me with his intelligent.
He amuses me with his knowledge.
He doesn't bore me.
He loves my family.
He loves his family.
He loves food.
He nurtures me.
He shares the same passions with me.
He listens when I talk (and he tells me when I talk too much..:)
He is (brutally) honest.
He is a law-abiding citizen.
He is a hard-working man.
He is humble.
He is a man of principle.
He is respectful towards my friends.
He is clean.
He doesn't wear flowery shirts with more than 10 colours.
He doesn't chew loudly when he eats.
He doesn't swear.
He doesn't gossip.
He doesn't shout when he talks (on the phone too).
He doesn't hurt people.
He doesn't judge.
He doesn't flirt with women.
He doesn't show off.
He doesn't pretend.
He doesn't have stinky breath.
He is not possessive.
He is not a fanatic of anything.
He is not demanding.
He is not complicated.
He is not amused by beauty without brain.
He is not afraid of cockroaches (It is very important because I am terrified of cockroaches. He can make my life less scary when there is a cockroach nearby).

Most importantly :  He is a man of religion. He is afraid of Allah. He lives following guides from Allah and he guides me to be a better person.

In a way... He completes me (stealing the line from Jerry Maguire)





I am writing this out of my guilt for forgetting our anniversary this year (again... for the countless time).  Last April, I only realized it was our anniversary when I was filling up a membership form for my friend. When I dated the form, I wrote 09/04/2014.  The date made me thinking... hmmmm... I think there was something that I needed to do on the 9th of April.  After a few minutes, it hit me.  It was the 14th anniversary of my marriage to the man who has shared countless nasi lemak, nasi kandar, kari kepala ikan, nasi daun pisang, laksam, soto, assam laksa, steamed fish, botok-botok, nasi timbel, bakso, baso tahu, harkau, siomay, durian, pulasan, pie tee, char kuey teow, hummus, mandy, nachos, enchiladas, chimichangas, palak paneer, roganjosh, appam, pho, tomyam, somtam, miang kham, briyani, thosai, chapati and many many delicious things in life with me.

Although it's been months since I forgot about that date, the guilt feeling lingers as I had promised myself to never forget the important dates of our lives.

Fortunately, I never forget his birthday... (coz we have the same birthday... so one less date to remember)

For my readers who are still searching for the right guy or the right girl, don't give up and don't settle for less because you only have one life to live.  The perfect man or woman does not exist BUT the perfect person for you does exist.

Thank you for reading and have a great week ahead.