Thursday, 29 December 2011

What have I done?

We are ending 2011 and approaching 2012... I was stuck with this question in my head : What have I done in 2011?

The first answer came to my mind was : Nothing..!!

I felt I had done nothing important, just strolling my days and nights like zombie in automatic gear mode doing mundane housework. Instead of losing weight, I gained few kilos... Instead of regular exercise, I found every imaginable excuses to skip it.

But when I thought that I had abandoned my blog for more than a week, suddenly I realized that in 2011 I started blogging. Heyyy... I did do something different this year..! A warm feeling radiated in my heart... Then I started to think about things I started in 2011.

1. I started my part time job.... It's something I had never done before. It's not as easy as I thought. Working at home means a lot of distractions from my kids, my maid, my contractor, my blackberry messanger chats, facetime chat, TV, food, etc etc... I had difficulties in managing my time... making me doing my work past midnight when the house was quiet and nothing interesting on TV.

2. I drove and got lost in Selayang and Templer roundabout. For the past 11 years living in KL, I was scared of driving to unfamiliar areas alone, afraid of being lost. Now I "enjoy" being lost and found my way out to the right roads.

3. I overcame my fear of butterflies. Yes, I was scared of butterflies and all other flying insects. Now I have no goosebump and tingle in my ear anymore whenever a butterfly comes near me. But I still can't shake the nervous feeling when I see cockroaches yet... I will have to work on it.

4. I adapt slowly to a new habit or environment, too slow in fact. Shamefully I admit that while I have been embracing my "new" religion of Islam, I have been very slow in implementing its teachings. Fasting has been easy and I never skip it every year but praying in Islamic way has been very difficult for me. I had always needed my husband to guide me everytime I pray. I just couldn't remember the Arabic sentences that I have to recite during prayer. It really frustated me and I was so ashamed of it that I avoided solat jemaah (group prayer) and any religious gathering. Don't be misunderstood, I talk constantly to Allah swt everyday but in English mixed with bahasa Indonesia. I believe that Allah swt is a supreme being who understands all languages. In August 2011.... I could do my sembahyang (praying in Islamic way) by myself. It surprised me on how I could do it. It just happened.. I don't know how but suddenly I could remember and recite the prayers in Arabic. Come to think again, this is actually my biggest achievement in 2011.

5. I had a full two-week holiday alone, without my kids and my husband. This is the first time in my 11+ years of marriage being away from them for a long period of time. It was very refreshing... Felt so free... I felt young again like when I was single and carefree.. The break made me appreciate my husband more, for taking care and entertain the kids while I was away.

6. I went to Japan with my mom and my sisters. It was our first "girls only" holiday. Despite being stranded in Maihama shelter caused by earthquake and tsunami (we were there when the tsunami hit), it was a very meaningful experience for us. It is one of the best vacations in my life, doing nothing but chit chatting with my mom and sisters for a whole week.

7. Last but not least, I made a lot of friends thru this blog... From the bottom of my heart, I really thank you for reading my blog. It really means a lot to me... To have total strangers reading my rantings and grumblings.. And to have old friends getting to know me better thru my writings.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year... May our 2012 be filled with great beautiful happy moments...

Cheers...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Muslim celebrating Christmas

Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. The sounds of christmas carols, the pretty lights in the malls, the smell of fresh pine trees, the sinterklaas and swartepiets, the cookies, the christmas trees, the rains and cold weather, and a lot of other things that I can only experience in December.

When I converted to be a Muslim, I was confused... I still love and sing (off tune) Christmas songs, I still decorate Christmas tree at home in Bandung, I still cook my Christmas roast (but not turkey anymore..replaced by smaller chicken to fit into my small oven), I still go to malls just to hear the jingles and carols, and I still love everything about Christmas. Am I allowed to do this? Does it mean I am a less Muslim?

Some people may think that I shouldn't enjoy Christmas anymore...

But over the past 11 years I have chosen to keep enjoying it. Does it make me less Muslim? I don't thnk so. I have grown to understand my religion better and strongly believe that it is the right one for me.

When I looked back, I realized that my Buddhist mom, my atheist father and my Catholic sister had been having Maulud Nabi celebration every year since 20 years ago. They usually had an imam or uztads from nearby mosque in the house to do some prayers together with my parents's employees for Maulud Nabi celebration. My parents sacrifice lamb or cow almost every Aidil Adha at the mosque behind our house. They had done it for more than 20 years yet it didn't make them a Muslim or less of a Budhhist or a Catholic.

They did it to respect and appreciate the muslim employees who work for them, at the same time also enjoying the togetherness, the food, and the festivities.

A lot of people may not understand this but i trully believe that understanding and participating in other religious celebration has actually strengthened my belief in Islam. My husband has been my dictionary, my historian, and my engineer. I used to hate history class during my school days thus very ignorant on it... My husband came in handy explaining the history of religions, ready with wikipedia for referrence. By understanding the reasons and the origins of religious celebrations, I become a better Muslim. My views and thoughts on religions become clearer.

So when my girls felt guilty for wanting to have a Christmas tree at home, I told them that we would have it next year when our new house is ready. In fact, we plan on celebrating every major holiday next year. We will decorate our house for Chinese New Year, paint some eggs on Easter, put on some pelita during Ramadhan, (try) make a mini kolam on Deepavali and put up a christmas tree in December.

Living in Malaysia has enabled us to live a very rich life by experiencing massive cultural diversity.... Why waste it?

Imagine all the food we get to eat.... Yee Sang during Chinese New Year, chocolate in Easter, lemang in Ramadhan, chicken varuval in Deepavali and turkey for Christmas.

Just the food alone is a good enough excuse to celebrate every holiday....

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday....

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Let's live like a Bhutan

I've been wanting to write about this since a few months ago but distracted by other things.

I read this article at The Star newspaper about The King of Bhutan who measures the country's wealth NOT by GDP but by GNH which stands for Gross National Happiness. Initially I laughed it out and thought how ridiculous it was. But after a long discussion with my husband, i agreed with him that every country should implement this GNH, or at least every family should think about this.

GDP is measured by material wealth, by how much money an average citizen earns. But I found out again and again, material things do not guarantee happiness. In fact lots of wealthy people need to spend their monies on psychiatrists, doctors, plastic surgeons, papparazzi, "fake friends", car dealers, and real estate agents to make them happy. After they have spent the money, a lot of them are still not happy. So again, while material things are important to make us feel safe and comfortable, they don't guarantee happiness.

In Bhutan, the government is doing all it can to make its people happy. They spend the government's fund on researches for happiness. They spend government money on things that make its people happy. Isn't it what every citizen in the world wants? It's really money well spent. Our government spends millions of ringgit in building palaces and under-utilized stadiums. Did they do it to make the people happy? US government spends billions of dollars for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world... Do they do it to make the Americans feel happy?

I am trying to follow the way Oxford-educated King Jigme Khesar Namgyal spend his money. I will spend my money and time only on what makes my family, my friends and I happy.

What can make me happy is different with what can make you, my friends and other people happy. So first, find out what can make us happy... Beware : amusement and happiness are two different things that can be mistaken for each other.

I am at my happiest when surrounded by people I love, enjoying delicious food and have great conversations. I don't care about fancy jeweleries, branded clothes, big cars, or other things... That's why I don't spend a lot of money on cars, clothes or fancy handbags coz they don't make me happy.

I spend most of my money on food : spicy food, street food, fancy food, exotic food, anything that has "food" on it except dog food and cat food. I just spend on the basic carnal need of human being.

Siiiggghhh...... Finally I can understand why I can't have the body, the hair and the skin of Adriana Lima.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

An alien in Japan

My previous blogs have never been about travelling but this time, I just can't resist myself... I want to write about my travelling to Japan.

I am writing in the kitchen of my sister's house in Chiba over a cup of coffee with baked sweet potato breakfast. This is my second time here, the first trip earlier this year disrupted by tsunami thus less enjoyable.

I am here to be with my sister who just gave birth to a baby girl, Maya Murakami, three weeks ago. I am supposed to take turns with my mother in assisting her with housekeeping, cooking, baby sitting and keeping her sane during the first one month after delivery. Malaysians would call me the confinement lady, Indonesians would call me Inem and the Japanese would call me the lovely sister...

Since I am here on a mission, not for sight seeing, I practically spend my days at home or at grocery shops. We live in the outskirt of Tokyo so I rarely see any foreigners or anyone who can speak English. Although I had Japanese language for 2 years during my high school, I lost them all. I am dumb and mute in Japanese now and I accidently left my Japanese phrase book in KL. So, my first trip to grocery shop made me nervous.

I love grocery shopping in foreign countries. I enjoy looking at the fruits, vegetables, meats, dried goods, and other things that I can't find at home. Everything here is pre-packaged and labeled. I can't find any weighting machine there. Onions, spinach, gingers, fish, fruits are all cleaned and wrapped, so I can just grab and go. All beef is boneless, sliced thinly and has light pink colour due to the high grade of fat marbling. Chicken is cut into parts and mostly boneless. I can't find whole chicken. The only chicken part with bones is chicken wing thus it's quite impossible for me to make tasty chicken broth. I had to settle with ready-made chicken or beef stock.

When I approached the cashier, I got panic... She mutterred something in Japanese and I couldn't understand. I told her, "Nihon go wakarimasen." meaning I don't understand Japanese. But she keeps on talking until I paid, took my change and the goods that I bought. When I told my sister about this, she asked me to ignore it. She said all cashiers mutter some welcoming sentences and have standard questions that need answer yes or no. If I ignore it, it means no. she also needs to tell the price of each item when it's scanned thus making her talking non-stop. That's a new experience for me compared to the Malaysian cashiers who do not even look at me, keep her lips tight throughout the scanning, paying and putting the goods into bags.

As a muslim, eating out is very difficult. Tokyo has few halal restaurants serving mostly Indian food. I can't find any halal restaurant in our area except for sushi shops. Sushi here is more expensive than it is back home and I can't eat sushi all the time. I don't want to go back to KL with scales and gills. Most of Japanese foods have pork elements in them, from ramen to bento to curry to instant noodles. Yes, we can get shrimp and vegetable tempura but to eat that everytime we eat out is like putting more oil into my already oily scalp... yuuucckk.!!

I use buses and trains everywhere. They arrive on time up to the minutes. There was time when I waited for a bus that should arrive at 8.24pm and the bus didn't arrive at 8.25. I began to panic thinking I must have stood at the wrong station. Then when the bus arrived at 8.26, the driver apologized again and again and again...

I notice that nobody travels in group. Everyone gets on and off the buses and trains alone. Nobody talks, eats, chats, laughs, giggles or even whispers in buses and trains. Everyone is either reading, sleeping, texting or playing with psp, oblivious of the surrounding. I am amazed on how those who are sleeping on a train can wake up just in time at the designated stations. I think even the biological clock of Japanese bodies are fully tuned to be on time.

Everything is done following procedures and rules, accurately...

I don't know how long I can last in Japan until someone reports me to the immigration and deports me. I love whole chicken, with bones, head and feet. My brother-in-law will faint if he finds some chicken feet stew on the diner table. I am a self-confessed foodie in KL but here, i stare at restaurant menus, don't know what to order.. I am not always on time... I have missed few buses by few seconds. I am a rule breaker, jay walking near traffic lights. I chat, laugh and giggle in trains and buses with my mom and sister.

I am really an alien here... A happy and legal one.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Whose fault is it?

Mornings drive me crazy... I savor the extra 3 minutes snooze of the alarm clock. It goes off like 5-6 times until I m fully up. Then I rush preparing my eldest for school, making breakfast, having my coffee, showering, preparing my youngest for school, sending her to school and buying groceries. When I get home, most of the time I am still not awake...! I am just a slow starter in the morning...

Becrause of my slow motion in the morning, sometimes my youngest arrives in school late. I feel guilty about that and try my best to be faster in the morning, to let go my 3-minute snooze, and to have stronger coffee.. But nevertheless sometimes she still comes late to school, not only caused by my slow motion but unexpected traffic jam, can't find parking spot, sudden stomach ache, bring wrong bag so have to turn around, forget to bring her book, my bad hair day, etc etc

When those things happens, she usually doesn't care because her kindergarten teacher doesn't scold her. But last week, when we were late, she asked me,"whose fault is it that we are late?" "Is it your fault or my fault?"

I was taken back by her questions. I didn't like the sound of her voice and definitely I didn't like the fact that she is trying to find who to blame, which was me of course..(i couldn't let go my 3-minute snooze).

Long time ago in one of the management classes, i learned to find "what is wrong" when something unpleasant happens, not so much of "whose fault is it". I tried to practice it in my work life as well as my personal life. It was frustating because very often my instinct told me to ask "whose faults". We love to find someone to blame. It gives us a feeling of being better or even smarter.

While it is ok to ask who did the wrong thing to find out what happened so we can correct the mistakes, very so often we stop at that point and concentrate on blaming, scolding, or even hitting the person until he/she looks like an oxymoron surrounded by einsteins. We forget on correcting the mistakes. What we usually do after that is telling other people that the disaster was caused by an oxymoron who deserves nothing but a severe punishment. Then people start talking like they are the smarter ones who never make mistakes.

Usually in that situation I would interrupt and try to get people start finding solutions to the problem and leave the oxymoron alone so he/she can open the window and jump from the building and go crying on his/her mommy's shoulder.

But when I do that, people think I am being a defence attorney of that oxymoron and start talking to me as if I were the one who created the whole disaster or part of the disaster makers.

Because of that, I started to be quiet when things go bad. I would just listen and only react when people ask me for help. I know it's wrong and I do feel bad about it. But there are times that I just want to be selfish and mind my own business. I just play safe even if it makes me look more stupid than an oxymoron. At least I don't need to deal with loud accusing voices that can break my eardrums. We all know how expensive and uncomfortable it is to have a broken eardrum fixed, right? Just not worthed.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Pillow talks and partner in crime

I love spicy food...
She can't even stand the tiniest chilli powder on her food

I only drink ice water after meal and I drink lots of it
She hates drinking water, only tea and coffee will do

I shop only when I need something
She can find lots of excuses to buy everything on impulse

I enjoy cooking
She doesn't even know the difference between stir-fry and deep-fry

I dread going to gym and do anything that makes me sweat
She is an exercise junkie... She can go to gym twice a day

I am hopeless in throwing parties
She can't live without hosting breakfasts, lunches, teas or dinners less than once a week

I dress up and put on make up only when I have to
She follows the latest fashion trend and can't go out from her house without her eye-liner and lipstick

I love working with numbers
Numbers give her headache

I am obsessed with food
She eats only to avoid starvation.. If pills can make her live healthily without food, she would probably have boxes of those pills and not a single grain of rice in her pantry.

We are so very different, yet we are so connected.

We don't see each other often. For some... not even once a year. But when we meet again, it's like we were never separated. Facebook has made it even easier for us to update each other.

I am so blessed to have my BFFs... All of them are so different from me yet we can understand each other completely.. No explanation needed...

I used to think that friends click because they share the same hobbies, same passions, same social status, or even same taste of clothes/food/boyfriend.

But when I think about my friends... Most of them are different from me... Our differences actually complement each other and make the friendship more interesting.

In this world, people tend to stick to "their own kind". They group themselves based on the same race, same religion, same social status, same skin color, or some other silly things. I believe that no matter how different one person to each other is, everyone can still get along fine when he/she stop thinking that his/her race, religion, skin color, or social status are superior than others.

I thank Allah swt for blessing me with different types of friends who have been my shoulders to cry on, my partners in crime, my personal drivers, my party mates, my body guards, my pillow talks, and my food tasters for the past 20-30 years of my life. If they have the same personalities with me, nobody would have forced me to exercise, reminded me to put on make up for my husband, stopped me when I keep on eating and eating, and saved me from wearing the same old clothes over and over again til the point of embarrassment.

Let's embrace diversity and live the world in full colors.


PS : My dear friends who read this blog, you know which one is you.. ;) Miss you and love you all....

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I am poor, cruel, dirty, and fat...

I am rich
Compared to the old lady selling banana chips by the roadside at night

I am poor
Compared to my friends who drive Porches and live in huge mansions

I am smart
Compared to a normal 5 year-old who just starts reading

I am stupid
Compared to those with genius IQ

I am kind
Compared to the criminals in the prison

I am cruel
Compared to animal lovers who never kill a single living thing

I am a clean freak
Compared to hoarders who live in a dungeon

I am dirty
Compared to an OCB (Obsessive Compulsive Behavior) person

I am talkative
Compared to my husband

I am a quiet person
Compared to my friends doing sales for multi-level marketing

I am religious
Compared to an atheist

I am not pious
Compared to my friends who never miss praying 5 times a day and wear hijab

I am skinny
Compared to the 180-kg biggest loser contestants

I am fat
Compared to Victoria Secret models

I am remembering what my nanny told me when I was young : Di atas awan ada langit yang lebih tinggi dan di bawah pantai ada laut yang lebih dalam. In plain English : there is a higher sky above the clouds and there is a deeper ocean below the beach.

My nanny worked for our family since my father was 1 year old and stayed with us until I was 9 years old. She had always been a part of our family and I will always remember the kind words and advices she told me.

Though she didn't go to school, her wisdom can beat any Oxford graduates...

Today I got sentimental thinking about Nini Kimah, my late nanny... She assured me that I was not fat, I was smart, I was not naughty and I was not ugly by teaching me doing the comparisons above (of course she didn't compare me to Victoria Secret's models but to the Indonesian actress Titiek Puspa)

Today, when I felt down and thought that I was not slim enough (shocked looking at the scale..!) and not good enough (forgot to do a lot of things) her words came back to wake me up....

And I am fine....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

God sent Mentor....

For the past 12 years, I kept hearing his voice in my mind. He was like talking to me in almost every major situation I faced. And yet.... I haven't met or talked to him again after I resigned from my first job in Jakarta.

I was so fortunate for having been trained and mentored by this fine gentleman when I was working in Indika. He was "on loan" from a reputable conglomerate company for 1 year. Although it's only 1 year, he made tremendous impact in our work ethics, discipline, integrity and company culture.

When he first came in, we feared him. He was very strict and discipline on the "Dos and Don'ts". But after a few months we totally understood him and grew enormous respect towards him.

Thing he said:

1. Do the best in whatever you do. In plain malaysian slang is "no Cinchai cinchai" in doing things. He told me, if one day I have to be a taxi driver, be the best taxi driver. If I have to be a housewife, do the best in that role. Don't be the best manager only (I was a manager at that time) because we hold a lot of roles in this world. Do the best in every role you hold and you will be happy and satisfied. Until now I still believe it and I swear he is right.

2. Everyone has a past "video" of his/ her life that makes him/her behave in certain way today. A grumpy person may had a very difficult life before. If we have a very difficult life, it is very difficult to be nice to other people. He asked me to imagine if I were abused, no money, no education and everybody told me I was stupid and useless. Would I be smiling and nice to everyone I meet? So when someone is giving us a sour face, he said, we should pity him/her instead of being angry at that person because he/she must have some bad moments. And if we still can smile, laugh, help people and give something to other people, we should be very thankful because it means we are better off from millions of other people in the world.

3. If you work in an office and you have subordinates, you have to come earlier than them. He really did what he said. I had to stay in the office until 6 am to finish a proposal. I went back home, had a nap, took shower and went back to office. He expected me to come at 8.15am before the office opened at 8.30am. He said, my staff wouldn't know that I stayed up late and I didn't need to explain to my staff about what I did. The only thing they needed to know was we all have to come on time. He let me go earlier that day after some meetings outside. Because of that everybody came on time to the office. Even all my big bosses...

4. Respect and trust are EARNED. Being a manager, a director, a boss, or a parent does not mean people will respect and trust us. Only fools and ass-kissers (literally what he said) respect and trust a person based on a person's title. Prove yourself first...

5. Don't ever join a NATO. Meaning No Action Talk Only. Once people associate us with NATO, nobody will trust us.

6. Listen. Most people talk and talk and talk trying to show off how smart they are without realizing that actually they are revealing their foolishness and stupidity. It's a simple thing that a lot of people fail to do : LISTENING.

7. We live our lives in a huge turning wheel. While everybody is trying to be on the top, the wheel keeps on turning. Sometimes we are up and sometimes we are at the bottom. So treat everyone equally with respect because one day that person may be on the top and we are at the bottom.

8. When we climb a mountain, we get tired after we climb half way. We get even more tired after 3/4 way to the mountain. That's when a lot of people give up and turn back down. Most people give up when they are close to the top. Same thing with success. Most people give up without realizing how close they are to success.

9. Share your life with your loved ones but never give your life for anybody. He gave me an example: I made my friend her favorite cake. When I gave it to her, right away she gave the whole cake to her husband. To make it worse, the husband couldn't appreciate the cake and threwq it away. Will I be angry? Yes.
But if she eats the cake and share it with her friends and relatives, will I be angry? No. Same thing with life. God has created the beautiful world and life for us. Enjoy and share it with our loved ones. Don't simply give our lives for someone else... Worse, giving it to someone who can't appreciate it. The minute we give our lives to someone's else we will lose our identities and we'll die inside.

10. Be like water in the river. Water flows into a river, touches the soil and makes grass and flowers grow on its bank. The water gives life to the fish, insects, snakes and a lot of animals in the river. People can have fun swimming and cooling down from the hot sun. When small dirts drop into the river, the stream will wash them away. Let's use our body, mind and life like water in the river, giving meanings to lives. If we can't contribute in a big way, make someone smile, help someone alleviate his/her sorrow, clean the earth, plant a tree, etc... When bad things come, wash them away... Don't waste our lives making someone angry, miserable, or sad.... Life is too short to be wasted on unnecessary things.

While there are so many other things that he told me, those 10 things are still echoing in my mind until today, following me every where. I thank God for having a chance to be with him, even for a short one year. Like he said, it's not how long you live but how you live your life.

He may never read this blog but I want to say again and again, Thank you very very much.... I can't say thank you enough to Pak Djonny Wiguna, the President Director of PT Central Asia Raya (CAR).

Friday, 7 October 2011

Lessons from Steve Jobs

While most people are touched and amazed by Steve Jobs's genius and creative ways incorporating art and technology, Steve Jobs inspired me with his life story and how he lived his life.

I have to confess that I am not a gadget person. I didn't get excited when Apple released its first iPod, iPad, iphone or Apple TV. I even laughed when my brother-in-law queued for 10 hours to get his first IPhone. My gadgets are only laptop and blackberry. Yes, recently my husband got us an iPad2 which I now enjoy tremendously but I am not the type who would buy newer version of any gadget. If it ain't broken, I ain't gonna replace it..

Steve Jobs made my father, who doesn't even know how to type and switch on computer, addicted to iPad day and night.

My mom uses her blackberry only for making phone calls. We bought her blackberry to join bbm group of our family and relatives. But she just can't operate it.. And yet, now she does FaceTime almost everyday with me and my sister who lives in Japan. iPad has been the only gadget she has ever used.

My two daughters can never get enough of the hundreds apps to play with, giggling and fighting with each other.

As for me, what he said and thought were great example on how I want to live my life. Here's the list:

1. To live as if it's our last day on earth.
2. Do only things that we love and passionate about.
3. Death is inevitable. Nobody wants to die... Even those who want to go to heaven don't want to face death. This shows how people always want easy and comfortable ways to reach what they want.
4. He connected the dots of his unfortunate events in his life and saw that all those events contributed to the success of his life. If he hadn't dropped out of college, he wouldn't notice the calligraphy on the wall of his campus. The calligraphy contributed to the first ever nice fonts in Apple computer. Remember how fonts looked like in PC before Apple? Green and ugly? If he had not been fired by Apple in the 90's, he wouldn't have the time to create Toy Story
5. Like anybody else, he also experienced business failure. While it hurts, failure is not something we should be ashamed of because it teaches us valuable lessons about "what to do" and "what not to do"
6. Hiring the right person is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in any organization. He was fired by the CEO that he hired..!! That is bizarre..!
7. Nobody knows what causes cancer..! So many people claim and testify that certain pills, diet patterns, food and theories can prevent cancer. Steve Jobs only ate organic food. He was a strict vegetarian. His food at home was raw vegetables and fruits. He still got the rare cancer..
8. Last but not least... Human can plan but only God decides. When it's your time to go, you have to go... Nothing and no one can interfere with God's plan.

As million others out there, I was sad with his passing. Since Einstein, Edison, and Graham Bell didn't live during our time, no doubt Steve Jobs is the greatest inventor during our time.

As much as I am saddened, I am also a bit relieved.... I can still eat my steaks and seafood and ducks and lambs and muttons and chickens without too much guilt. There is no guarantee that being a strict organic vegetarian prevents us of getting cancer. My theory remains : cancer is caused by a very complex combination of food, beverage, state of mind, life style, gene, and hundreds of other things...

So..... Bring me my juicy rib-eye steak...!!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Pet Pet Pet

Few years ago an Irish tourist was bitten by Rottweilers while walking in a fruit orchard in Penang. She died of massive bleeding.

Two days ago a guy was attacked by few Rottweilers while walking near a fish pond. He survived with 120 stitches in his body. The victim said that he was helpless and horrified when one of the dogs actually bit and ATE and CHEW his flesh...!!! I couldn't imagine it..

In the first case : the dogs were "put to sleep" and the owner was fined.

While I symphatize with the victims, I also pity the dogs. They were doing their duties to "guard" their owners's properties. I felt bad that they had to be put to sleep. But they were too dangerous to be left with irresponsible owners.

Rottweilers are not for everyone and they shouldn't be let loose outside without leash. Anyone who is thinking about having a Rottweiler as a pet should know and practice a very strict monitoring on the dog.

A lot of people taking pets without thinking it's consequences. I am not talking only Rottweiler... I am also talking about other pets such as little dogs, cats, fish, monkeys, and other animals.

I used to have cats who came to my house, had some gatherings in my tiny gardens and did their "big and small businesses" there, leaving horrible stench everyday. My poor maid had to clean the garden everyday, wearing mask and gloves...

I tried all kind of cat repellents, from gel, spray, granules, and Powder. I spend hundreds of ringgit every month trying to get rid of the cats. I even tried stupid silly things like making something like a scarecrow and put it on the tree. I google "ways to keep cats out of your garden" and followed almost everything. I sprinkled crushed black peppercorns on the soil, I put wires around the gates, I even poured kerosene around the garden..! I knew it might be dangerous but I was so desperate... I just couldn't take it anymore.

I didn't know where those cats came from. I asked my immediate neighbors who had cats. He said his cats didn't go out and do their business outside. They were trained to do it in the sand box at home. Everybody said that... Nobody was responsible..

Finally my maid came up with brilliant idea... She took 100 gr of bird's eye chillies, pound them, poured water on it and sprayed the water on the garden. It worked magic.... The cats stopped coming to our house. It becomes our ritual, spraying the garden with liquid chillies once a week.

My point here.... Pet owners should not let their pets roaming outside their houses. Sharing is good, but this kind of sharing is really irritating..

Having a pet is a big responsibility..... Not only to the pet itself but responsibility to the public too. Make sure the pet is leashed when it is out of the house. And please.... Don't bring your dogs or cats into malls, they don't care about the sale at Zarra or the latest model of Coach... Leave them at home...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

"I don't know....." is good

I grew up visiting Gynecologists almost on monthly basis since I was 10 years old. I had gone to Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, American, Malaysian and Singaporean Gynecologists trying to understand what was wrong with my body. I tried traditional Indonesian herbs, western pills, traditional Chinese herbs, massages, and few other things to cure this thing.

It took me 14 doctors and 21 years to finally find the problems and fix it.

For male readers, my apology... Today's write ups may not be for you but I think it may be useful if you have sisters, wives or girlfriends who have problems with their reproductive organs.

I had irregular periods. Most Gynecologists I visited told me not to worry too much as I only had some cysts in my ovaries. Sometimes I had my period very light, sometimes I didn't have any period for a year, sometimes I bled profusely until I had to be rushed to Emergency room.
So, it baffled me when the Gynecologists told me not to worry about this coz I was worried sick when I was stuck in freezing-cold ER for few hours with piles of ice packs on my belly.

When I reached early twenties, few Gynecologists told me that I might not be able to have children. At that time I didn't like children. Having seen horrific restaurant events where children ran around screaming and finally vomiting their meals on the floor, I found them to be annoying creatures. So when I was told that I might not have children, I was cool... It didn't effect me at all except when I had serious relationship.... when I thought I would marry the guy. I would tell him that I might not be able to give him children. As I wrote earlier, I had few failed relationships. Some of them were contributed by this. When I told my (ex) boyfriends about my conditions, some started to avoid me, some said we could adopt and some even said we could get dogs.

When I told my husband the facts about my reproductive malfunctions, he told me we could either adopt or spend the rest of our lives just the two of us, traveling without excess baggages.

Everywhere I lived, I had to have a trusted gyne. So when I moved here, searching for a gyne was my top priority. I tried more than 3 gynes here who also told me that I had cysts and nothing could be done about it except taking pills to "force" my period to come out.

One night I was driving the Damansara area when I saw a woman clinic opened until 9pm. It was perfect for me coz I could go there after work so I didn't need to take a day off work.

When I went there, I met Dr. Collin Lee. After listening to my medical history and had my USG scan, he told me, "I don't know what's wrong with you."

He was the first and the only gynecologist who told me "I don't know"

But then he was the one who gave me my two "miracle daughters"

Because he didn't know, he did further tests. I was put into so many tests and I had my first laparoscopy, a procedure where a mini camera was inserted into my body to "see" the condition of my organs clearer. He also performed a biopsy, taking liquid and tissue samples from my uterus.

Finally he found out what's wrong with me, put me in 1-year treatment program and performed 2 DDNC procedures. Throughout those years, he always said, "We will try our best."

My first daughter was conceived naturally two months after the last DDNC. Both Dr. Collin and I never expected this. We thought I would need to try IVF to have babies. After the delivery of my first daughter, my period has been very punctual... No more pills, no more injections, no more monthly trip to gynecologist.

Two years later, my second daughter was conceived.

It all started with "I don't know"

How many times were we too scared or too embarrassed to say "I don't know" when we were unsure?

A lot of narrow minded people think saying I don't know means admitting stupidity.

Our world is huge... So many things to see, so many things to learn.... It's impossible to know everything.. yet so often I heard people said,"I know everything, no need to learn."

To me, learning is a lifelong experience.... I learnt from my trusted gynecologist that a simple and humble "I don't know" has made him one of the most influential Gynecologists and Fertility experts in Malaysia. His small clinic has grown into a public listed company and he was conferred a datukship (similar to a "Sir" in England) few years ago.

I also learnt that it pays to get a second, third, or even fourteenth (Dr. Collin Lee was my 14th gynecologist I visited in 20 years) opinion when we are not sure about something.

If it weren't for the "I don't know", I wouldn't be able to survive my daughters's nonstop challenging questions of "why". They ask me at least 5 why's a day.. And I often have to answer, "I don't know..... let's find out."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Mend my broken heart...

I fell in and out of love so many times. Every time I had a serious relationship, I always thought "this is the one" until few months or years after that we started arguing, feeling bored with each other, finding faults, getting irritated of small tiny unimportant things or avoiding each other.

No matter how many times my heart was broken, how many gallons of tears shed, how many painful memories made and how many tequila I swallowed to reduce the pain, I could never reduce the pain of broken heart. People say "practice makes it better" but I think it's not true for broken heart.

Although the experiences didn't reduce the pain of broken heart, they have taught me a lot of things:
1. I learnt that the first few months of the relationship is the best time. I would smile just thinking about him. I could really be super slim coz I didn't need to eat... Seriously, love alone could make me full... I skipped my meals just to hear his voice or just to be with him. I didn't feel hungry at all.... A very weird thing for me who eat even when I don't feel hungry.

2. No matter how the boyfriend looked, the first few months he could easily beat Brad Pitt or George Clooney. At that time, I could find a lot of things that made him beautiful and handsome. I really learnt that "beauty is at the eye of the beholder" is really true.

3. I think "Nothing's gonna change my love for you" is totally bullsxxx!! and overused. If I fall in love with another guy, will he still love me? Of course not...!! If I hate his mother and always break her heart, will he still love me? Of course not...! If he said he would, then I would not want to have him as my husband anyway...

4. Opposite attract is amusing in the beginning but after awhile it's more fun to have someone who enjoys the same thing like I do, even the simplest thing like eating spicy food. I love spicy food but there were times that I had to settle ordering non-spicy food all the time for the sake of accommodating my ex. At the end I used it as a weapon when we argued by saying that I sacrificed for him... Which now I find it very immature and selfish.

5. No matter how many times I told my self I didn't want to fall in love again so I wouldn't get hurt, I still did... Falling in love is not something that I can plan... It just happens.

6. I believe that if it's meant to be then no matter what happens, it will happen.

7. I strongly believe that I have to use my heart AND my brain in any relationship. Love alone can blind a person for awhile but once the lust and passion simmer, the relationship may not be that beautiful anymore.

8. Bad breath and body odor combined is the ultimate #1 turn off factor. No matter how handsome, how rich or how romantic a guy is, if I could smell a mixture of durian, belachan and blue cheese oozing from his pores, I would just run as fast as I could. Because of this I learnt that look and money are not that important....!!!

Actually there are more things I learnt from failed relationships but the point I am trying to make is, no matter how bad the broken heart is, after awhile it will heal and we can learn something from it.

It's better to have loved and hurt than to never have loved at all... What do you think?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A fine young man.... Gone too soon

I've never met him. He didn't even know that I existed. But I felt like I've known him all my life. I cried when he was in pain. I smiled when he wrote funny things. And today.... I cried and cried and cried..... He went back home to God leaving beautiful memories to those who know him.

Rheza Christian struggled against Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, a very rare cancer that ate his bones. He lost his arms, his legs and his freedom to breath, walk, and sing. Despite of his difficulties, he didn't complain to God... He was still grateful that he was blessed with friends and families who loved and supported him throughout his fight against cancer.

With his blog, he made hundreds of people smile, laugh, and cry. He had inspired me to be a stronger person, to be grateful for my arms, my feet, my lungs, my eyes, my overweight body, my sagging skin and even my house chores..

He lived a shorter life than mine, he was only 29 hrs old, but he surely had taught me more about life. Even during his last months, he still wrote and twitted, inspiring his followers to live life to the fullest.

I started blogging coz I got a bit bored with my new life as a housewife. He blogged because he really wanted his friends to change their views about lives, to appreciate every small little things in lives, to live life to the fullest, to ignore minor irritations, to love our parents, to know that God is the boss, and all other good things that make our lives richer.

It's too late for me to say thank you to him.

The only thing I can do to honor him is by asking the readers of this blog to pay a visit to   http://gayot.posterous.com/ or to google his name and read his write ups in his facebook.

Rest in peace Rheza... May God bless your soul...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The age of innocence

It's Friday morning and I am taking a break from my housework of washing dishes, doing laundry and ironing... so this blog will be short and light.

We went to Nadine's friend birthday party last month. The mother rented inflatable slide, gigantic jumping castle, two clowns, and an event organizer for the party. Judging from the amount of food, party packs, party props, and the decoration in the house, I was sure that she must have expected at least 50 kids.

The party supposed to be from 2-5pm. I was a bit late, arriving around 3pm, and found out that Nadine was the only friend who had arrived. Half an hour after I chatted with the host, few more kids arrived. At 4pm, the party started with 6 kids. I felt so sorry for the host... I was sure she expected more than that but sometimes things just didn't happen as expected. The fact that she didn't put any phone number for RSVP on the invitation card contributed to the inaccuracy of the guest numbers.

But despite of just having 6 kids, the party was really fun... Everybody had good laughs looking at how the kids were so innocent, answering and doing hilarious things the clown asked them to do:

The clown started the party by asking the kids their names and where they came from. The first kid reply, "My name is Adam and I come from my mommy's tummy." We just burst... The clown didn't give up...

He asked the boy,"Adam, where do you live?".

Then Adam answered, " I live in a house."

"Where is your house?" added the clown.

Adam replied, "Next to my grandma's house."

The clown gave up....

Then the clown asked the kids to line up, put on some fancy shawls on their shoulders and asked them to do the catwalk. All 6 kids, boys and girls, bent on their knees, started crawling and do "meow meow..." LOL.... The clown really unexpected this... We had a good laugh...!

Then time for games.  The clown asked the kids to give him 50 cents. The fastest kid who can give him 50 cents would get a present. One kid quickly put his hand inside his trouser and gave RM1 to the clown.  The clown told the kid, " I wanted 50 cents NOT 1 Ringgit."  The kid said, " Yes, you can give me back 50 cents."

That kid must be a math wizard... He outsmarted the clown.

Here's what I learnt from the party:

1. To always put RSVP number on the invitation card.

2. Kids are really amazing, they can turn simple things into laughters.  Sometimes we don't really need fancy bouncing castle, inflatable slides or other props to have fun.  People are the ones who make a party fun.. not the hardware.

3.  To try my best to attend every invitation I get.... It's such a sad thing when your guests do not turn up on your party.  Sometimes we get a bit carried away... We expect people to come to our party but when we are invited, sometimes we skipped the invitation... I am guilty of this.. I promise to try harder, to make time attending invitations wherever it is.

Thank you for reading my blog and have a great weekend....:)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Spread the eggs...

I heard and said it a hundred times and I had probably applied it more than ten times : Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

In terms of investment, I did it. I spread the little wealth I have in cash, stocks, and property. In terms of love, I spread the abundant love I have to my family, my relatives, my friends, my neighbors, and some deserving strangers. In terms of food choices, it's definitely widely spread. Imagine if I put all my passion only in Asian food.... I won't enjoy traveling anywhere outside my comfort zone.

But after so much said and done... sometimes I still forget to keep doing it in every aspect of my life.

Last weekend my family spent a nice 5-day holiday in Bangkok with my in-laws. We went to the amazing Safari world, shopped at the malls, had relaxing massages, and dined scrumptious seafood and Thai food. But the much anticipated trip was going to Jatujak market or JJ market as the locals call it. It only opens on weekends and has everything under the sun, from funky clothes, furniture, bags, perfumes, plates, cutleries, food, to pets... Yes, it has traders selling cute puppies and kittens. All sold at very reasonable prices.

While my husband took care of the kids at the hotel swimming pool, my in-laws and I braved the heat and Bangkok traffic jam to go to JJ market. We shopped like mad women let loose from the mental institution for the first time, ignoring breakfast and lunch, hopping from one shop to another . We just had some snacks in between our shopping spree. After more than 6 hours melting under the heat of zinc roofs, finally we called for a break... We decided to have a few minutes before going to the household section.

To us, break means finding a bench to sit down and check on our handphones. To my relief, I got no SMS and no missed call, meaning my kids were alright and my husband did an excellent job entertaining them.

When my sister-in-law checked her handphone, she noticed that her bag had a big hole. Someone had slashed her bag and took her wallet. She had all her money there plus credit cards, ATM cards, ID card and driving license. We made a police report and apparently it happens all the time there, just like in any other tourist spots anywhere in the world.

At that time, we were reminded again not to put everything in one basket. My mother-in-law and I started to rearrange things inside our bags. I spread my cash and credit cards, I put some in the handbag, some in my jeans pocket , and some in the shopping bags. We were so paranoid that we did some silly stuffs by putting our cash in the candy canister and inside the pocket of the our newly-purchased clothes. Luckily we didn't put it under our bras, like the old indonesian women used to do. Can't imagine the face of the shopkeeper when we took the money from the bra..... LOL

But on the second thought, maybe I should.... Who knows the shopkeeper will give away d goods for free in exchange of the yucky sweat-drench money from the bra..

Anybody dare to try...?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Old Kebaya

My mother had always bought new clothes for Chinese New Year when I was young.  She said it's a MUST to wear something new for Chinese New Year.  During that time nobody wore cheong sam (Chinese traditional dress) for Chinese New Year in Indonesia.  The previous government banned everything chinese in the country so our CNY celebration was only at home, having family lunches wearing new dress or pants or even new jeans while waiting for ang pao (red pocket money). After CNY, we would wear our "new CNY clothes" like any other normal clothings.

My mother-in-law also has the tradition of buying new clothes for Hari Raya Idul Fitri.  She usually takes her grandchildren for shopping spree weeks before Hari Raya.  I started going to my tailor months before Hari Raya.  It's a custom in Malaysia to wear traditional clothes during Hari Raya. While men wear Baju Melayu, women can wear either Kebaya or Baju Kurung. 


This is the typical Baju Melayu worn by Malaysian men


 Baju Kurung

The Kebaya


I like to wear Kebaya instead of Baju Kurung because I always had my baju kurung loose-long sleeves accidently dipped into curry gravy or rendang.  I still haven't mastered the art of wearing baju kurung without dirtying its sleeves or skirt. 

Malaysians celebrate Hari Raya Idul Fitri for one whole month.  We will have a full month of "open houses" where friends and relatives visit each other's houses for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Companies will book hotel ballrooms to host open houses for their employees and clients.  Because of this, I have to have at least 3 or 4 Kebaya on standby. 

So, every year I would ask my tailor to make 3-4 Kebayas. 

Unlike normal clothes that I wear during Chinese New Year, after Hari Raya celebration is over, I hardly wear my Kebaya anymore.  I am a jeans-and-t-shirt kinda girl so the only time I wear my Kebaya is when I have to go for weddings, which at this age, I seldom get any wedding invitation anymore.  Most of our friends are married (or decided not to get married) and it's too early to get invitation for friend's children's wedding.

After 8 years of Hari Raya in Kuala Lumpur, I was stuck with a lot of kebayas that I rarely use.  I don't want to throw them away because I still need them once in a while.  The Kebayas occupy too much space in my small closet. 

Since I couldn't make my closet bigger and I couldn't throw the kebayas, I told myself not to buy or make new kebayas for Hari Raya.  If I have to buy, maybe buy only 1 piece, just to participate in the festive mood and to contribute to the economy cycle. I decided to just reuse the old kebayas (which I wore max 3 times each).

Initially I was a bit uncomfortable wearing previous years' kebaya.  But I think my decision was well justified.  Let me tell you the reasons:

1. NOBODY noticed that I wore the kebaya that I had worn 4-8 years ago.  Kebaya has the classic and everlasting style so there is no "out-of season" kebaya.

2. I save the space in my closet.

3. I don't need to waste time going back and forth to the tailor to make the kebayas.  I have to go to the mall, stuck in traffic jam, find parking, and buy the fabrics.  Then go to the tailor, stuck again in the jam, find parking again, have the tailor measure my ever-changing body size.  After 2 weeks, I have to go back again to the tailor for fitting, another round of driving and parking.  Then after another week, I have to pick up the kebayas... again... another round of traffic jam and parking hassle.   Imagine how many hours I used to spend for that. I got tired just reading this no 3 reason..!

4. I save some money.  Tailor-made kebaya is much more expensive than the ready-made but since I don't have an ideal model body, I could never find any ready-made kebaya that fit me.

5. I can contribute a little bit to the environment by polluting less (eliminate the CO2 emission from my driving back and forth in the attempt of getting the new kebayas) and reducing the waste from clothes  (Reuse, Reduce and Recycle)

6. It makes me feel super good... coz I can still fit into my old kebaya...! Either I had a great tailor who could make my kebaya fit my enlarged body or my enlarged body is actually not that large..:)

7. It motivates me to keep my body size in check. 

So... the secret is out.... I am wearing my old recycle kebayas for Hari Raya. 










Thursday, 18 August 2011

We are not normal

I was always confused on who I was when I was a little girl.  In fact, I believe most of Indonesian Chinese were, growing up in a place where they felt like they were second class citizens all the time.  Our homes were never homes to us.  Our ancestors were immigrants who came to Indonesia to seek better living.

I never thought that I really belong to "one particular group".

In Indonesia, the country I love dearly, the place I was born and grew up... I am not really considered the true blue Indonesian.  I am a "tionghoa", a term Indonesians use to call Indonesian Chinese. Indonesian Chinese is never considered as one of the ethnic groups.  I am not a "pribumi" (a term for the real Indonesian).

If I were to go to China and live there... The Chinese will also never consider me as one of them.  For them, I am "Ing Nie Hua Chiao" which is a term for Chinese who are not originally from China, but from Indonesia.  The fact that I don't speak Mandarin (or any other dialects) and I don't eat monkey brain even confirm that I can't be the real Chinese.

So, I really don't belong in either country.  I never feel that I have equal rights with the "real citizens" of any country.

Fortunately someone invented the word "globalization" which made me feel that I am a real true blue citizen.. Not of a particular country, but as the citizen of the earth.

But how can I explain this globalization to my daughters?  When Amber, my eldest daughter was 4 years old, she had already felt that she was different, she didn't belong to any particulart group. 

One day, coming back from school, she looked so sad and asked me,"Mommy, what am I?"

I was taken back.. At that time I really didn't know what to answer. It came as a total surprise to have a 4-year old ask me that question.

She said that in school, her friends told her that she was not a Malay because she had Chinese mother.  But her Chinese friends also told her that she was not Chinese because her father is Malay and she is a Muslim.  Poor little girl.... at such a young age, she had to choose to be in a group where she would always be different from the rest of the group members.

I told her that she is not really Malay and not really Chinese, she is just special.  A 4-year old didn't really understand what special was... She said,"I don't want to be special, I just want to be normal"

My heart ached when she said that.  That's exactly the feeling that I had always wanted to feel... To be normal.

Since I can't afford to send my daughters to international schools, the least I can do for them is to expose them to kids from mixed race marriages.  I am sure some kids with parents of different races also feel the same way as my daughters. I remember one day, Amber and Nadine told me two of their friends were exactly like them, they have Chinese mothers and Malay fathers.  They were so happy at that time, finding out that they are not that "weird".

I have accepted the fact that I can't never be a normal citizen.. I learn to embrace the fact that I am special.

I hope my daughters will soon feel the same way.  In today's world, normal is boring.... Everybody wants to be special... I hope they will realize it soon.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

A month of "real housewife of KL"

My maid, Inem,is going back to her hometown this Monday. She will be spending her Hari Raya holiday with her family at Central Java for 1 whole month.

She has been with our family since my eldest daughter was 1 month old. Prior to that she worked for my mother in Bandung for 8 years. So practically she's been with us for 16 years plus..! How time flies...

I am very fortunate to have her helping me coping with my houseworks and my children's well beings. Every 2 years she would go back to her hometown for 1 month. In between, she also went back with me to Bandung during holidays. From Bandung she would take 11 hour bus trip to her hometown for a week or so.

No matter how often I was left without her, the feeling is still the same... I am totally loss without her..!!

By western standard, I am super spoiled... but by Indonesian standard, I am a bit deprived of "maids" as most of Indonesian households have 2-3 maids.

A lot of my friends thought my Inem must be super smart, hard working and efficient, so good as she is close to be a Supermaid.

Well, let me tell you something... She is NOT.

Same thing with her friends, who are also working as maids for my neighbours, they think that Inem is so lucky to have a perfect employer.

Well, she will tell you the same thing... I am NOT.

We have our differences...

She forgot a lot of things, she had her bad mood days (which made her accidently shouted at me), she turned some of my white clothes pink, she burnt my trousers, she broke a lot of glasses and bowls, she spoiled my cheeses by leaving them in the cupboard instead of fridge, etc etc..

I got irritated, I was forgetful, I didn't tell her proper directions to do things, I made her upset, I made her work beyond her working hours when I invited people having dinners at my house, I woke her up 2am when my babies threw up, etc etc..

But somehow, we understand each other... Although sometimes we made each other upset.. We both know that inside, we do care for each other. 

We understand that we both are not perfect.. we have our flaws and we accept them.

So, this writing is my tribute to Inem, who will never read this blog.  Because even before she is gone, I have already missed her... The thought of doing piles of laundry, ironing (i really hate ironing), washing dishes, gardening, vacuuming, mopping, etc.., have been haunting me for the past 1 week..

So, for the next one month : my kitchen will be closed, my house will be messy, my mood will be unpredictable and my insanity will be tested.

Let's see what kind of craps I will write in my next blog...

Have a happy weekend...!






Monday, 8 August 2011

Never say never

I thought I could never do it

I tried all kinds of slimming programs, from Atkins diet, liquid diet, juice diet, food combining diet, southbeach diet, etc etc.. All worked for awhile and I would definitely come back to my eating spree.  I just couldn't do those diet for more than two weeks, some even for a few days..

So when I had to fast for the first time.. I knew I could never do it, I knew I would never last more than a week, and I knew I would give up.  I was terrified when fasting month was coming...

My muslim friends and relatives told me to recite the "niat" or "purpose" before I started fasting.  They said it helped a lot.. I didnt believe them but since it's a requirement, I did it anyway.  I recited my "niat" the night before the fasting month.

First day : morning was not so bad coz I was not a breakfast person.  I skipped breakfast most of the time.  But when the time hit 12.30 the hunger started to kick in.  I tried to ignore it and surprisingly after half an hour the hunger dissappeared.  Then thirst and headache came around 4pm.  But since I was working and needed to finish up few things on that day, I didn't have time to entertain them.  By the time I needed to leave the office at 5.30, time went so fast.  I had to rush driving home and buying food.  In no time at all I heard the adzan, the call for prayer.. the time to break the fast.

First thing I did was drinking a glass of cold water.  It was the best tasting water I had ever tasted.  I was amazed on how little I ate that day despite of not having breakfast and lunch.  I broke my fast with 2 dates, popiah, porridge and a piece of kuih.  I was stuffed. 

The third and fourth days were the hardest.  I guess the sugar reserve in my body dropped significantly.  I was super tired. The hunger and thirst started knocking on my brain since 10 am.  But again, since I was busy at the office, I didn't really have anytime to entertain them.

After the first week, everything was a breeze... In no time, I completed my first whole month of fasting.

For some people fasting teach them to be patient, to resist temptation, to feel how it is being poor without enough food and drink, to count the blessing, etc.

For me, my first fasting has taught me about perseverence.. about not giving up... about doing things that I never thought I would be able to do.

I guess what people say is true : when you keep your mind on something, you can do it.  I never really believed in it until that first month of fasting.

Selamat berpuasa to my muslim friends...

For my friends of other religions : it is true that if you don't give up easily, you can do whatever it is that you set your mind into, even losing weight of 70 kg... Just look at the Biggest Loser on TV.. really inspiring. Although I had to admit, my determination on losing weight is probably in the state of crumbling.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

No Visitor Please...

I had a surgery to remove tumours in my ovary 3 weeks ago. 

When my doctor told me that I needed to get a surgery, I only told my husband.  Nobody else.  A few days before the surgery, I had to tell my mother-in-law so that she could help me taking care of my daughters while I was hospitalized  I didn't even think about telling anybody else until my husband asked me, "Did you tell your mother?"

I told him I didn't want to tell her coz I don't want her to be worried.  But my husband insisted I had to tell her.  So at the end, I told her and my sisters.  My mom booked a flight ticket right away, came a day before surgery and stayed with me for one week. I was glad I told her.  Just having her beside me making me felt better.

When I had bad news like this, my immediate response was not to tell anyone.  It's a habit that I have been keeping for years. 

I don't like people to know that I will be hospitalized. Why? Coz I don't like visitors when I am sick.

Strange? Maybe...

But I find it even stranger that some of my friends were quite offended when they found out that I was hospitalized and I didn't tell them.  And I was like.... why..??? 

It's stressful enough to know that something is growing inside my ovary but it's another thing to have to call twenty over friends and relatives to tell them about this.  Calling them means having to say the same things over and over again.  Explaining how I discovered it, when the doctor would perform the surgery, which hospital I would do the surgery, how the surgery would be done, etc, etc....

At that time, I just wanted to get rid of those tumours from my body ASAP.  I had no mood to talk, no mood to please anybody and certainly no mood to accept visitors.

But people just can't understand....

Let me explain why visitors are not welcomed when I am hospitalized :

1.  After a surgery, the anesthetic effect would make me look like a zombie, feel like I had just guzzled one bottle of Tequila, and behave like a vain woman who just had her favourite handbag stolen.

2. During the recovery, I had to dress in a hospital gown with no zip, no button and wide opening at the back which exposed the viewers to a sore body of "mature woman".

3. Since I couldn't take a bath for the first 3 days after surgery, I sure was smell funny (funnily disgusting, I mean...). I don't want to expose visitors to hazardous body odour mixed with alcohol swab smell and hospital chlorine. Let the odour be my secret... nobody needs to know...

4. To add to that horrible sight and smell, I would lose all my dignity when I had to meet people with dirty oily hairs.  I have to wash my hairs everyday.  Failure to do so will result in my scalp producing oil that can pollute the whole head like BP petrol polluted the Mexican gulf.

5. Again.. the thought of having to say the same thing over and over again... How was the surgery, whether I was in pain (of course I was...!! what a question..!), how was the tumour (fine, of course, happy to get out from the fat woman body), when would I be discharge, etc.etc.etc.... I just didn't have the mood to do this.

6. I couldn't sneeze or cough coz it would be very painful.  Some visitors might have some flu or cough and pass it to me. At that point, I didn't want any of those.. Sorry, no gift accepted.

7. Visitors usually feel "obligated" to come and visit, to avoid being labelled "not caring".  I totally understand how busy life is in KL.  Most people work from morning til 7pm.  They have to beat the traffic jam, cook, spend time with the children. Going to hospital is not a fun thing to do. 

8. I attract Multilevel Marketing (MML) people.  Wherever I go, I had always been approached by them, from tens different companies, each believing their products are the best.  During this time, despite of my body odour and horrific look, I became more attractive to them.  They would come with all kinds of vitamins and supplements, trying to convince me that I would be healthy and rich if I become one of the members.  I was in pain.... in a very bad mood ..... so when MML people come, visit and try to convert me, the words coming out from my mouth were definitely not the ones anybody wanted to hear. I don't want to offend anyone but I just can't handle this.

So, let us all spare all this nonsense...

By not visiting me : I m happy to keep my "horrible look and smell" a secret.  My friends and relatives are also not burdened for having to brave the KL/PJ traffic jam, scheduling time to visit, finding parking spot to buy some fruits or flowers, getting stopped by the hospital security for bringing durian to the hospital (my favourite fruit is durian), etc., etc.

Now... Since I don't want to repeat the same questions again and again... I want to tell you  how I discovered the tumour:  I missed my period for two months.  I thought I was pregnant... When the doctor checked... Nope, no baby in the tummy... just two cute tumours, happily growing 1 cm a week.  Thank God the tumours were benign.  I was hospitalized for 3 days in Assunta Hospital, PJ where the nurses and staffs were very helpful and friendly. Surgery was done by laparoscopy.  Total recovery time : 3 weeks.

Last note to woman readers : Please have routine check ups of Pap Smear, USG, Blood Test, and Mammogram.  If you experience something irregular, don't take it lightly... Just have a check with your gynea..

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Mommy dearest...

I grew up in a typical Chinese family who never really expresses feelings of love.  I don't remember my parents ever hugged or kissed me and my siblings when we were young.

My parents seldom praised us for our achievements.  When I managed to do well at primary school (ranking 3rd for the whole batch), I didn't get any compliment.  They just thought that it was a normal thing to do.  In fact, they asked how come I didn't get the 1st place?

While they didn't give compliments, they were very generous in criticisms.  They often compared us with their friends' children who did better from us; having better grades, better jobs, better spouses, better houses, etc.

Studying in US had changed how I behaved. I was more expressive in my feelings.  I hugged and kissed (cheeks only, of course) when meeting friends. I became a "warmer person".  Hugging and kissing were part of my daily things to do.

When I went back to Bandung for holiday, I automatically hugged and kissed my parents .  They were so surprised and taken back.  It was such an awkward moment. They didn't know what to do, just frozen until I let them go.  At that time I forgot that my family were not used to physical closeness.

During that holiday, I told my mom about my study hoping that she would be pleased to know that I managed to get good grades.  Although I knew that I wouldn't get any compliment, I just wanted to show her that the money she spent on me was not wasted. Right after I finished my chatterings, she told me that her friend's daughter graduated summa cum laude in Accountancy in just 3.5 years from a better university that I was enrolled in.

I was heartbroken and cried.  My mother was surprised.  She didn't know what she did wrong. She didn't know why I suddenly cried.

At that time, I told her everything I didn't like about her.  I said a lot of things that hurt her.  I asked her what should I do to make her proud of me, to make her love me.

She was shocked and confused.  She never thought that I would think she was not proud of me.  She told me I was insane for thinking that she didn't love me. If she hadn't love me, she wouldn't work that hard to send me to US for college, she wouldn't let me explore the world but kept me beside her so that she wouldn't have to bear the pain of missing and worrying about me.  If she hadn't been proud of me, she wouldn't tell her friends about how well I did in college, she wouldn't ask her friends' children to ask me for advice to study in US, she wouldn't even ask me to cook for her friends.

I told her how could I know that she loved and be proud of me if she never gave me compliments and always criticized me.  She said, she didn't praise me because she wanted me to be humble, not a snob.  She always criticized me so that I would be motivated to do better and not to be content with what I achieved at that time.

It was my turn to be surprised.... a pleasant surprise to know that she was actually proud of me and all of my siblings.  We had a long talk.  After hours of talking, I understood her better.  She did what she had done totally because she loved her children.  She loved her children too much that she didn't care what we thought about her, as long as we could grow up to be decent human beings. 

When I heard about the outrage in US when Amy Chua released her book "Tiger Mom", the picture of my mom popped into my mind.  Although my mom was not as strict as Amy Chua but they do have some similarities in raising their children. Although their hearts are full of love, both of them appear to be cold and heartless.  For American who believes in motivating children by praising them, the book was very difficult to digest. 

Overly praising the children will lead to dilussional adults.  Just look at the American Idol auditions.  Millions of them really believe they are good singers because their parents always praise them although their voices can break the thickest glass windows. 

I know a friend who thought that he was the most handsome and attractive guy around despite his big round belly, short legs, miniscule IQ and bad manners.  He said his mother always told him that she was very proud to have a very handsome and smart son. I should have been honest and bought him a mirror and a GQ magazine..... but unfortunately I was not a "Tiger Woman".

But if I look at my family case, overly criticizing someone will also make the person lose his/her self-confidence and feel unloved.  If I hadn't had that conversation with my mom, I wouldn't find out how she felt about her children.  I told my siblings about that conversation and they were surprised too.  Slowly we began to understand why she did what she did... We do know that she loves her children very much but sometimes she doesn't know how to express her love.  She is now learning to express more of her feelings.  She hugs back when we hug her... She is also used to have us kissing her. 

My mom had never really been a Tiger Mom like Amy Chua but overtime she has definitely turned into a Teddy Bear Mom.

As for me..... Both of my daughters think that I am a bossy mom... Well, I am happy to know that they still think that I am the BOSS not a Tiger.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Father's Day

Growing up in Indonesia, I've never used to celebrate Father's Day.  I started to know about this special day 10 years ago in Malaysia after reading it in the newspaper.  Restaurants charge exorbitant prices for brunches or lunches on Father's day as if the more expensive the prices are, the more love customers show their fathers.

Until now, we don't really celebrate Father's Day.  I remember 6 or 7 years ago, we wanted to bring my father-in-law for lunch on Father's Day.  He simply declined and said it's unnecessary... Since we went out for lunch or brunch together quiet often, why did we have to pay more expensive lunch or brunch just because it's a "special day"?  He said he knew his children loved him and he didn't need fancy lunches or brunches to confirm it. 

The same goes with my husband and I... You can call us unromantic or stingy, but we are just being practical.  We don't go out for lunches or diners on Valentine's Day, Father's Day or any other day that give restaurants, hotels, and florists the rights to jack up the prices. Why do we have to stress ourselves by fighting for parking space, going into a crowded restaurant, eating the same food with twice the price if we can do it a day earlier (or after) with a more pleasant experience?

But of course, it will be a different case for families whose children grown up, have their own families and live far from them.  They seldom have lunches or dinners together.  This Father's Day will be a perfect excuse to get together and catch up with each other.

Just a few days ago, my husband said that a successful parent is measured by his/her ability to raise the children to be independent, able to make their own decisions wisely, able to differentiate bad from good (and do the good), and (since we are a Muslim family) able to follow the Allah's teachings in their lives. 

He also added that sometimes parents measure their success by the "obedient level" of the children.  He is totally against it because he said sometimes being obedient is not good.  Children need to learn to think critically, not to accept everything at face value, to argue, to find the truths, to make their own mistakes and to live their own lives happily.  It's very selfish to expect our children obeying us all the time.

I agree with him... Although it's difficult.... Sometimes I want my girls to be obedient.  But again, so many times I had been proven wrong by them.  I may know a lot of things but there are things that they know better than me.  It's really a two-way learning experience for both of us.

What he said reminded me of a line in one of Sting's song : If you love someone, set her free.  We all know that the best thing in life is Free.

My children are very lucky to have him as their father.  Happy Father's Day...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Passionate Tukang Becak vs Smelly Rude Waiters

My husband took me and the kids for a short weekend gateaway to Melaka.  While we've been to Melaka several times, my kids were still amused by the colourful becaks (rickshaw) covered with plastic flowers.  So everytime we were there, we always had to have a becak ride.









Despite the hot sun and humid warm weather, our becak peddler kept on smiling and talking non-stop about the history of Melaka.  I was a bit embarrased for my shallow knowledge in history.  He told us how the Portuguese came to Melaka, how the Chinese influenced the culture in Melaka and how the Dutch tried to eliminate Catholics and convert the Melakan to be Protestans.  The only thing he missed was where the best Assam Pedas warung was located... (Assam Pedas is Melaka's signature dish of spicy and sourish fish stew)




He was so knowledgable that he made me forgot that he was "just a becak peddler" not a personal tour guide.  I was almost dissappointed when my ride ended.  I felt like staying in the becak longer and hearing him telling more stories. He made history sound very interesting, much more interesting than my high school history teacher who made me memorize a lot of "historical" things that I forgot after the test.

My heart always warm up when I meet such person... A person who is passionate about his/her job, whatever his/her job is, be it a teacher, a clerk, a receptionist, a doctor, a waiter, a banker, etc.  You can tell a lot from the service he/she provides the customers whether or not he/she has pride on his/her job. 

Not being able to afford fine dining all the time, a lot of times I had to settle for ridiculously bad services in smaller restaurants or warong.  I really hate waiters who are rude, have strong body odours, and think that we need them more than they need us. In KL, those type of waiters are abundant.  And to make it worse... they speak neither English or Bahasa Malaysia.  I wonder what the employers think on hiring people who can't speak the spoken language in Malaysia, let alone put them in charge of servicing customers.

I wonder if it's because customers in KL don't really care about the service?  I read an article about this very delicious char kwey teow in Penang whose owner, chef and server are super rude.  Yet, people line up everyday to buy the kuey teow.  As for me, no matter how good the food is and how much I love food, I just don't have any respect for business owners who are rude to their customers. I will choose to spend my money somewhere else.

I am not fussy about food or service... I don't mind waiters or shopkeepers who don't say hello or thank you, but I think a pleasant face is essential when serving customer.  I meet a lot of grumpy, unsmiling and irritated waiters/bank tellers/shop keepers almost everyday. 

When I feel nice and in cheerful mode, usually I tell them that the secret of being beautiful and healthy is by getting rid of that grumpy look they have in their faces. But a lot of times, I just couldn't be bothered to tell them anything.  But I always try to give compliments and/or tips to those who smile and/or give good services.  I hope the compliments and tips will encourage them to keep on doing the good jobs.


Monday, 6 June 2011

Obedient Wife Club..???

For those who are not in Malaysia, be ready to have a shock of your life : Malaysia has (trust me, it really has) Obedient Wife Club.
Last week in the newspaper, the members of Obedient Wife Club said that the cause of men infidelity is disobedient wife.  Another shock....?

I had an interesting discussion with few friends over lunch about this issue. We thought that the club must be invented by men to bully women.  But then the husband of my friend came and said this club was ridiculous.. he even said the word "obedient" was more suitable for pets, trained dogs, or circus animals.

I think whoever invented this club is a genius. 

He/she is actually able to gather a lot of members to really believe that infidelity is caused by disobedient wife. But I can't say the same to the members though... I really feel sad that there are some crazy women who actually join the club, become members and really believe in it.

Why do women get the blames when men cheat? Or even worse... women get blamed for being raped..!!

I read somewhere that women get raped because the way they dress.  They don't cover enough. Come on... you can go to Europe during summer and see women, young, old, slim, fat, pretty and ugly in swimming suits or bikinis.  Do they get raped? Or go to Japan in summer where women wear light and minimal clothings.  Do they get raped?  In fact Japan has one of the lowest crime/rape rate in the world.

Here in Malaysia women dress pretty much covered, yet the rape rate is high and crime rate is rising like a meteor.

When my friend went for Umroh, she had a very shocking experience.  She usually covered everything when she was there.  But there was one time that she had to go to the toilet badly.  The toilet in her room was occupied... Since the nature call was urgent, she just put on her scarf and went to the toilet at the hotel lobby.  When she put on her scarf, her head was covered but not that tight. A small part of skin around her neck was "revealed".  She then walked pass a group of men in the lobby.  Then there was this guy who stared at her and was lusting for her "open neck".  His eyes looked like he was ready to attack and rape her..!! He extended his hand to try to touch her skin..!! Can you imagine that...??  She ran for her life..., forgot all about the need to go to the toilet.  Luckily nature was very kind to her, she didn't wet the floor...

When she told me the story she said, "Well, I am fat and old... the incident was horrible but honestly a bit of me was flattered.  A man was actually aroused just by looking at my wrinkled skin." 

I was like....?????? Helloooo.... if he was aroused by this dear friend of mine, I can't imagine how he'd behave if he saw me in my t-shirt and jeans, or worse... ask him to go to the beach in Nice during summer, i think he'll just pass out there and we'll have a nice laugh over ice cold Orangina. 

A rapist will rape no matter what clothes his victim wears.

A man/woman will cheat when he/she wants to cheat, no matter that the partner does. 

But of course, a relationship needs both sides to be faithful.  It's so easy to blame infidelity to the other partner's action. So often I heard cheating partner said, I cheated because my partner is not understanding, my partner doesn't take care of me, my partner doesn't give me satisfaction, my partner is not pretty, etc etc. Maybe it's true... he/she cheats because he/she is not happy with his/her partner.  Obviously the relationship is having some problems.

But is cheating really the answer?  I think cheating adds to the problems. Instead of having 10 problems, cheating will multiply the existing problems by 10. 

I am not a marriage councillor nor a wise wife... but I am waiting for another genius to form an "Obedient Husband Club."  Anyone...??? Please keep me posted...

Monday, 23 May 2011

End of problem : Commit Suicide..?

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP): Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru committed suicide by jumping from a balcony shortly after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman, police said Monday. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wanjiru became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the marathon, finishing in an Olympic-record 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds. He was 24 when he committed suicide on 16th May 2011.

BANDUNG, Indonesia : On a bright sunny day in January 2011, a 20-year-old rich guy drove his Z4 BMW to the bridge, got out from the car and jumped.  He died on the spot.  Reason: his parents divorced and his girlfriend left him.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia : Last Friday night, 20th of May 2011, I had to rush an acquaintance of mine to Emergency Room at 9pm for his attempted suicide.  His mouth was frothy from drinking a big bottle of facial cleanser.  He was 28 years old.  Reason : broken up with his girlfriend.  Luckily he survived.

According to The Star Online news, The National Suicide Registry Malaysia (NSRM) estimated that between January and August last year, a total of 425 people in Malaysia committed suicide, averaging 60 per month.  The suicide rate is so high that government opened a BEFRIENDER hotline for anyone who is depressed. The hotline is tended by professional psychologist and psychiatrist.

When we read such news, it's easy for us to judge that those people who committed suicide are weak and do not have strong faith in their religions. 

When two close relatives told me that they wanted to commit suicide, I was speechless.  People around me know those two people as independent strong women who lived happy lives, financially secured, had beautiful children, devoted to their religions and did a lot of charity works.  So when they told me they wanted to end their lives... I was totally shocked. 

Well, we never know what people feel and think. 

From the outside we sometimes envy those who have wealths, trophies, beauties, high achievements, perfect families, beautiful houses, fast cars, etc.  But we don't actually know what they really feel inside. Some of them are lonely, some are stressed out of having to keep the image, some are scared of being kidnapped, some are sad for not having anybody to love, some just feel empty inside. 

Now.. another scenario:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia : Yvone Foong, diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 in July 2002, she has become deaf in both ears. She was also born with an under-developed left eye. Everyday she is researching on ways to prolong her life.  She went thru a lot of surgeries, participated in drug experiments, wrote books and gave a lot of motivational speeches on the NF disease.

BANDUNG, Indonesia : Rheza Christian, diagnosed with  Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (ASPS), a very rare cancer which resists radiation and chemotherapy.  So far nobody has survived this cancer.  He was 28 when the doctor told him that he was in Stage 4 on May 2010.  He did a lot of researches, tried all kind of medications, participated in experiements, amputated his leg, had his tumours in brain removed, lost movements of his arms, and still determined to fight the cancer and live his live to the fullest.  His friends, relatives, and I are inspired by his cheerful attitude.  He even said that cancer has taught him a lot of good things about life. He said HE WAS LUCKY to have a lot of people who love and support him.

I always remember what my teacher told me : God will always try us with problems in life.  It's up to us whether we want to turn the problems into chaos and blame God, or to solve the problems and make us stronger.

In a lame language : If life gives you shit, you can either swear and blame life (or worse, other people) or you can convert the shit into fertilizer and make profit out of it.

Another good quote I like : If you keep on looking up to the sky, you will fall down into the hole on the ground. But if you keep on looking down to the ground, you will ignore the rains and thunders that might come.  Meaning : look up to successful people for motivation & inspiration and look at those who have less to make us appreciate and thankful of what we have.

Of course, it's easier said than done. But at least, let's try.......

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

MARRIED not FOR LOVE

I recalled a conversation with a new friend over lunch 6 yrs ago.  He asked me," Did you marry for love or for something else?"

I was shocked.  How could a person who knew me for only 2 months dare to ask such a personal question..!! I was offended and replied, " Of course I did, what kind of a woman do you think I am?"

Now it was his turn to be surprised, seeing my reaction.  He said," What do you mean what kind of a woman?  Of course you are a very nice woman.  It has nothing to do with my question." 

"So... You married for love?" he asked again.

"Yes I did."

"Well... I am going to get a wife next week," he said.  "I've never met her but I believe my parents picked the most suitable girl for me.  She is a computer scientist graduated from Stanford University. Looking at her picture, she looks like a nice girl."

I was like...????????

My friend was a software engineer graduated from MIT.  He was originally from Bombay, working as an expat in Malaysia for 2 years.  He said he was getting married not for love but out of necessity to continue the family trees.  The girl who was supposed to be his wife married him because he came from a good family, smart, financially stable and his family allowed her to pursue her career after marriage.

I grew up being a hopeless romantic watching When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Notting Hill, korean dramas, disney princess movies and soap operas.  According to those movies, two people get married because they are in love.  If a woman married a man she doesn't love, she is not a good woman.  The same goes for men.
 

While westerners can insist that love is the only reason for one to get married, unfortunately in other parts of the world it is not always the case. 

People get married for all kind of reasons.  Some for companionship, some for family ties, some for protection, some for love, some for money, some for business, some for survival, etc. 

During my 10-years stay in KL, I met a lot of couples who got married NOT for love.  Most of them were match-made by their relatives or friends.  Some of them got married because they were "getting old" and had to get married before their "market values" going further down.  Some of them got married because they wanted to have children to carry the family lines.

Can I say that they are bad couple..?? Not at all... In fact, I grew to admire them.

All their marriages last long, at least until now, they are all still married.  When I asked them how to get married with someone they barely knew.  They all said that both parties learned to tolerate and accomodate each other in the marriage so that it was a win-win situation for the wife, husband, wife's families and husband's families.  All of them said they had responsibilities to their parents to make their marriages work so they would do anything to have good marriages.

Meeting them had opened my eyes and heart not to judge other people's choices of lives. Anybody can get married with whatever reasons they have.  As long as both parties understand the "terms and conditions" and WILLING TO LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES, by all mean... get married...!!!