Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Merdeka Belog

That isn't a spelling error. It's Malay for Merdeka (National Day) blog. To join in the Malaysia Boleh spirit, I'm going to blog some in Malay (this project is a conspiracy by Malaysian bloggers).

Semalam, saya sedang kemaskan meja makan dan terdengar pula lagu Keranamu Malaysia dinyanyi oleh budak-budak. Dari tv ke nyanyian itu? Bukanlah. Tv tiada dipasang pun. Kemudian saya sedar bahawa budak-budak jiran yang menyanyi. Jiran dibelakang rumah saya ada empat orang anak lelaki. Seronok betul nyanyian mereka.

Lepas tu, saya tanya anak ke3 yang berumur 8 tahun, apakah maknanya Merdeka.

Harijadi kerajaan, katanya.

Ya ta ya jugak kan?

Pada pukul sebelas lebih, budak-budak jiran bersorak Merdeka! Anak ke4 saya yang belum tidur tanya, mengapa mereka kata Merdeka? Tiba-tiba dia berteriak Merdeka pulak! Terkejut saya dibuatnya. Saya kan tengah membelog ni. Kacau konsentrasi sajalah.

Hampir pukul duabelas. Terdengar budak-budak jiran kira, lima, empat, tiga, dua, satu, Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Terdengar bunyi bunga api dari depan rumah.

Terkejut saya pulak. Budak-budak ni memang patriotiklah. Anak-anak saya semua sedang tidur kecuali yang bongsu tu. Hah, biasanya dia tak tidur lewat sebegini. Agaknya kerana Merdeka menjelang?


While cleaning up the dining room last night, I heard the song Keranamu Malaysia being sung. Is it from the tv? Nope, the tv wasn't on. Then I realized it was coming from the neighbour's. My neighbour at the back has four boys. They seemed to be having fun.

Later I asked no. 3 who's 8 years old what is the meaning of Merdeka.

The government's birthday, he said.

Isn't that right?

At eleven something, the neighbour's kids shouted Merdeka! No. 4 who was still awake asked, why they say Merdeka? Suddenly she shouted Merdeka too! She startled me. People blogging here, some more she disturb.

It's almost midnight. Suddenly the neighbour's kids counted down, five, four, three, two, one, Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! I hear fireworks exploding from the front of the house.

I was startled. These kids are patriotic. My own kids are fast asleep, with the exception of the youngest. She usually doesn't sleep so late. Maybe it's because of Merdeka Day?

Happy Merdeka.

Flag it

I'm not one of those who fly the Jalur Gemilang on the car but I do like to see the various ways in which it is done.

The small flag mounted on a white base is the commonest. What varies is the number and the location of the flag. One or two at the side of the car is rather pedestrian. There are the extra-zealous drivers with a roof-ful of tiny Jalur Gemilang sticking out like thorns from a durian.

Small lorries like to hoist a big flag at the back of their truck. Usually one side will have a broom sticking out, the other the Jalur Gemilang. Drivers should remove the broom when flying the Malaysian flag as people may suspect their patriotism. It's like giving the broom the same status as the flag or vice-versa. How can?

Drivers who don't like fluttering flags messing up their speed drape the Jalur Gemilang across the bonnet or the boot. Then there are the sticker flags. I hardly see these around. This year my husband got one from a friend. It's stuck on his windscreen now.

Yesterday I saw two huge flags flying from a 4WD. The flags were sticking out of the rear windows. I had a good look at the car when it passed by. Two primary school boys were holding the flagpoles. Now that's a new one.

Happy Merdaka Day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yvonne Lee's book talk

Yvonne Lee, author of the newly released The Sky is Crazy - Tales from a Trolley Dolley is having a book talk at MPH MidValley Megamall on 31 Aug at 3.00-4.00 p.m. Nell Ng & co will be performing some skits based on scenes from her book. Catch them there!

Must publicize a bit, she said I'm her mentor mah. But seriously I don't think she learnt that much from me, she deserves credit for her own initiative.

Car-wash and Roti Canai

Some things just don't go hand-in-hand. Coffee and creamer, yes. Socks and shoes, yes. Shopping and eating, yes. Car-wash and food, no.

There is this eating spot in Klang with three outlets in a row. Roti canai, bah-kut-teh and Indian food. Recently a car-wash set up shop in the parking area, directly opposite the roti canai and bah-kut-teh eateries. Now if this was a one-man show with pail and sponge, fine. But this is a full-fledged operation with vacuum, high-powered spray and what-not. I can just imagine all the extra ingredients that would land on the roti canai, bah-kut-teh stew and banana leaf rice. Dust and grime. Soot from incense paper stuck on the cars. Mud from the mudflaps. Bits of roadkill from the tyres. Eeeww.

This reminds me of the car wash near my house. It's been around for a long time and does a roaring business. Cars are done in 30 minutes. Most people just sit there and wait for the cars to be washed.

Sometime back, a wise guy decided to open a roti canai stall at the very same place. The stall is located on the extreme left of the open lot whereas the car-wash took up a good two-third of it. It may seem like a good idea, the car-wash operates in the daytime and the stall at night. But their hours overlap in the late evening. The spray of dirty water could easily reach the food preparation counter. Whoever fancied an extra serving of dust and grime, soot from incense paper, mud and roadkill would make their way there. But you know what? People with such weird culinary taste are scarce because the roti canai stall folded up a few months later.

It's different if the all the unhygienic stuff which could possibly get into the food is unseen to patrons, hidden in dirty kitchens. That's another story altogether.

Big Bertha Meets Eh Poh Nim

The Star, 1 Jun 2005

Ms EH Poh Nim is a talkative woman who fancies herself something of a wordsmith. She loves to brag about her knowledge of words to anyone who cares to listen.

If she was entertaining clients at the bar and someone ordered a Bloody Mary, she would launch into an explanation of how the cocktail of vodka and tomato juice came to be named thus.

“Did you know that Bloody Mary was named after Queen Mary I? She put to death some 300 people as heretics and imprisoned many more. What a bloody shame, isn’t it?”

If someone at the office came down with diarrhoea, she would announce to everyone that Daniel Elmer Salmon, an American veterinary surgeon, was the one who identified and gave his name to the bacteria Salmonella which was probably the cause of the diarrhoea.

Recently Ms Eh’s principal office in America sent over a representative for a familiarisation visit. Eh Poh Nim and her chubby colleague, Eddie, met her at the airport. While waiting for the American woman to change currency at the money-changer’s, Ms Eh nudged Eddie with a wink, “That’s Big Bertha for you, Eddie,” she said. Eddie frowned, not knowing what she meant.

“Big Bertha is an expression for a fat woman. It also refers to a large calibre gun. In fact, anything with a large size or great range can be called a Big Bertha. The name came from Bertha Krupp, whose grandfather, Alfred Krupp, founded the German armaments factory. The Germans used Big Berthas to shell Paris in World War I. Mmmm, I wonder if Bertha Krupp herself was fat.”

By then, Big Bertha had rejoined them and said, “I hope I can get some good quality chocolates here to take home. I’m boycotting the American chocolates because their fat content is too high. I refuse to have anything to do with it.”

Ms Eh replied, “Of course, we’ve got low-fat chocolates here. Did you know that the word ‘boycott’ was coined from the name of Captain Charles Boycott? He was an English land agent over Irish tenants and when he refused to lower rents during hard times, they ostracised him.”

“Say, you’re a smart cookie,” Big Bertha said admiringly.

“Thanks. Casanova here is also a smart guy,” Ms Eh pointed towards Eddie. “He’s a lady’s man. Don’t you fall under his charm.”

“I am no Casanova!” Eddie protested angrily.

“Did you know there was a real Casanova who lived in the 18th century? He was Giovanni Jacopo Casanova, an Italian adventurer who wrote of his numerous love affairs in 12 volumes of memoirs.”

“I didn’t know that,” Big Bertha said.

“Now you know. In fact there’s a whole bunch of words that are derived from people’s names. They’re called eponymic words. The names themselves are called eponyms.”
“Say, what’s your name again? Eh Poh Nim? That sounds like eponym!” Big Bertha exclaimed.

“You’re right! Never realised that. You guys know of any other eponyms?” Ms Eh asked excitedly.

“There’s ampere or amp for short. It’s a unit for measuring electric current. If I’m not mistaken, the name came from a French scientist, Andre Marie Ampere,” Eddie chipped in.

“Isaac Newton gave his name to newton, a unit for measuring force,” Big Bertha said.

By then, they had already made it to Eddie’s car. Large raindrops suddenly pelted down on them. They scrambled in not a minute too soon.

“What a torrent! I understand the rain here can be rather ferocious. I hope you’ve got a mackintosh in the car,” said Big Bertha.

“No raincoat, but I’ve got an umbrella,” Eddie said.

“Thank goodness for Charles Macintosh. His invention of a waterproof cloth was later made into raincoats,” Ms Eh interjected.

“You’re something of a walking dictionary, Ms Eh. Do you have any favourite eponyms?”

“I like Mae West. As you know, she’s a buxom American actress. She gave her name to a pneumatic life-jacket for airmen which when inflated resembled a well-developed bust. Then there’s Samuel Maverick who was the owner of a large cattle ranch. He didn’t brand his cattle and that made them easy prey for thieves. Now maverick means a young animal which isn’t branded or someone who dissents from the ideas and beliefs of the group he belongs to,” Ms Eh said.

“Ms Eh, do you know what Hobson’s Choice is?” Eddie asked.

“Yep. It means taking the thing offered or nothing at all. Derived from Thomas Hobson who insisted on hiring out his horses in strict rotation. He gave his customers the choice of the horse nearest the stable door or no horse at all,” explained Ms Eh.

“Righto! And I’m giving you a Hobson’s Choice now. Either you shut up about eponyms or you get out of my car,” Eddie said sternly.

And that was the last they heard from Eh Poh Nim for the rest of the journey.

(Reference: A Dictionary of Eponyms by Cyril Leslie Beeching)

Monday, August 29, 2005

School Blues

Today is the first day of school after a one-week break. No. 3 was reluctant to go to school.

"Mommy, I feel sleepy," he said. I ignored him.

"I think I have a bit of fever," he tried again. I touched his forehead. It was neutral. I warned him not to fuss.

He took it out on his younger sister. "She messed up my room," he said and went round crumpling up pieces of paper and chucking them into the bin. I found him in the kitchen later, filling up the water cooler with boiled water from the kettle, fat tears rolling down his cheeks.

I've had it with him. I brandished the cane (yes, I'm of the "spare the rod and spoil the child' persuasion) and warned him again. This time it worked. He settled down and stopped fussing.

Reminds me of another incident just before the school holidays. After a 4-day break courtesy of the haze, he cried on the way to school on a Monday.

"I got stomach ache," he said. I touched his forehead. Cool as marble. I remember what Mum says, cool forehead means you have upset tummy. He hardly touched his lunch earlier which was unusual. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I told him he need not go to school but that he can't play computer or watch tv at home later. He's only allowed to read and rest.

I decided to take him to the doctor. Just before I reached the clinic I told him, "You know you have to go to school no matter what. Only if you're sick will Mummy allow you to stay home. I'm taking you to see the doctor now. He'll tell me if you're sick or not. How's your stomach now? Is it still painful?"

He shook his head. I stopped the car at the side of the road and looked at him.

"You're sure you got no tummy ache now?"

He nodded his head.

"OK, I'll send you back to school. You'll be late but I'll come and explain to your teacher."

He was forty minutes late for school that day.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My hometown

Mention Klang and visions of steaming bowls of bah-kut-teh will spring to mind. As you tuck into the aromatic chunks of pork swimming in its rich brown gravy, be prepared to be serenaded by squawking cacophony from crows perched on tree tops. Some are daring enough to swoop close to human denizens to peck at morsels of food littered by the sidewalk.

That's Klang in a nutshell, at least to Klangites, to Chinese. In this town where bah-kut-teh coffee shops abound like milestones on the NKVE, the crow population is so prolific that the town council has to organise crow-shooting sprees to keep them in check.

Klang's rapid development in recent years leaves me gasping for air. It's like, now you don't see it, now you do. Take the newest private hospital in Klang, Kota Medical Centre. It is nestled somewhere behind the South Klang bus terminal. I did not even know of its existence until a friend's mother was admitted recently to the gleaming new hospital which resembles a four-star hotel. Previously there was only one private hospital, Specialist Medical Centre, now renamed Pantai Klang. To the Hokkiens, it is known as "si-lao" or four-storey building. Now affluent Klangites have more than "four-storeys" of hospital floors to visit when stricken with ill-health.

Then there are the many large shopping complexes which have sprouted up in recent years. Klang Parade with Parkson as its anchor tenant, Bukit Raja Complex housing Jaya Jusco and Shaw Centrepoint with The Store as its main tenant are the "mega-malls" of Klang. This is a far cry from the days when the only supermarkets around were Gama and Great Wall, forcing Klangites to make weekend exodus to KL for shopping sprees.

Where palm oil estates had once stood, new townships such as Bandar Baru Klang have given Klang its own Kenny Hills. Here upmarket eating joints such as Windmill and hip cafes have sprung up. Here telephone and electrical cables are buried underground and no unsightly cables criss-cross at awkward angles overhead.

So far, development has centred around North Klang. South Klang has yet to catch up. However, Bukit Tinggi which is a new township at the periphery of Klang, will be opening its doors to its first denizens soon, paving the way to a more developed future for "southerners".

Where tourism is concerned, Klang is hardly the place to rake in the big bucks. Who visits Klang other than hungering souls hankering after its bah-kut-teh? There's the Keris Semenanjung, Gedung Raja Abdullah and Kota Raja Mahadi, the only touristy attractions in Klang. The Keris is a familiar sight, situated after the Sungai Rasau tollbooth as one enters Klang from Shah Alam. Who could miss the towering, gleaming, steel coloured dagger which was erected in 1985 to commemorate the silver jubilee of the Sultan of Selangor's installation?

Ask the man on the street where is Gedung Raja Abdullah and he may well ask you in return "What gedung? Is it a new shopping centre?" Then you will have to enlighten him that the gedung houses a tin museum.

The Kota Raja Mahadi is a fort built by Raja Mahadi in 1886 to protect his people during the civil war against Raja Abdullah. It is nothing like the A'Formosa in Melaka. At a certain website, this historical attraction is touted as "a contemporary structural wonder, juxtaposing angular and slender round lines that almost bring to mind many famous architectural masterpieces around the world." Hats off to the writer of this "masterpiece".

Then there is the Arked Kota, a row of shops built parallel to the Jambatan Kota over the Klang River. These are supposed to be quaint shops selling touristy souvenirs. The problem with this place is there is no common trading hours where all the shops are opened simultaneously. Some open in the daytime, some at night, some during weekdays, some on weekends only. Strolling along the arcade at night can be hair-raising, as shadows dance eerily along the stretch of closed shops and the cool breeze from the murky Klang River carries unidentifiable scents to your twitching nostrils. This makes it a good place for romancing couples, especially when they have blocked nose courtesy of the flu bug. The latest newspaper report has it that the Arked Kota will be converted into office units.

Located near the Arked Kota, on the southern side of the bridge, an impressive brown squarish building stands diagonal to a clock tower. Stepping into its cool interior with gleaming, speckled-brown marbled floor, one can't help but feel awed by the size of the reception hall which is as big as say, an Olympic size swimming pool. Welcome to M.P.K., Klang's town council. Fronting the building is a circular patch of garden which is bursting with a kaleidoscope of flowers, of vibrant red, yellow, orange and scarlet hues. In fact tourists passing by may mistake it for a tourist attraction.

That is Klang, my hometown, the only town in the whole world which makes me feel as relaxed as if I were in my own living room.

(First published in Against The Grain, an e-zine in 2000).

Note : Gedung Raja Abdullah is now closed and the Arked Kota has been demolished. Here's more on Klang.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Camaraderie at the coffee shop

Went to coffee shop to ta pau dinner. While waiting for the claypot chicken rice and fried lala, I leafed through a recipe book which had been left on the table. It belonged to the claypot chicken rice seller.

I saw a recipe for Rainbow Marshmallow made with evaporated milk and gelatin. It looked delicious. I copied down the recipe in my notebook. The loh bak seller, a plump jovial man, sat at my table and said, "Go and photostat. There's a shop nearby."

"It's okay," I said and scribbled furiously.

The claypot chicken rice seller, a woman with nicely drawn eyebrows and a smooth complexion, said, "Fifty cents per copy."

"No need, I bought food from you," I said. Though I knew she was joking, I blushed.

An old man with a beard who had sat down at our table, looked at my writing and pronounced, "Your writing like doctor's handwriting."

I nodded. My school teacher said the same thing thirty years ago.

Bearded man asked, "Is the recipe for your shop?" He thought I was a food seller too.

"No! How can it be?" Beautiful Eye-brows said. "If that's the case, I should be copying from her."

"Go photostatlah. No need to copy," Loh Bak man said again.

"He's very nice. He can photostat for you if you want. No need to do is loh bak business," Beautiful Eye-brows said.

She leafed through the colourful book and pointed out a steamed cake recipe to me.

"This is good for prayer offering. No need to go out and buy. Can make our own. My mother-in-law sometimes do this," she said.

I finished copying the recipe and went to check on the fried lala. It was ready. I took the lala and the chicken rice. On the way out I thanked Beautiful Eye-brows.

"Bye-bye," she said.

Klang is a wonderful place to live in.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Women's Summit

I like to attend seminars and conferences, especially when they’re free. Was at The Women’s Summit yesterday. Thanks to ehomemakers who invited me. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

Here are some gems I picked up from the Summit.

Dato’ Seri Sharizat in asking Dato’ Seri Najib to convey the ministry’s requests to PM :

Before we put forth our requests, we would have thought them through many times, because we don’t like to hear No for an answer. We like to hear Yes all the time.

Dato' Seri Najib in reply : Actually, men like to hear women say Yes all the time.

(Note : The above is culled from my memory which may be slightly holey. I didn’t write them down as I didn’t have paper and pen on the ready, didn’t expect them to come up with these delectable quotes. Incidentally, this is the first time I attend a conference which didn’t have pencil and paper in the conference bag).

YAA Tan Sri Dato’ Siti Norma Yaakob, Chief Judge of Malaya

Women do not want to become men.

On the values of good judges :
Patience and inccoruptibility.

Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & MD, Biocon Ltd

On entrepreneurship :
It is strategizing to differentiate, to see opportunities ahead of others.

Chong See Ming, Head of Communications, Jobstreet

It is not who you know but who knows you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Book : Life's Like That

Life's Like That - Scenes from Malaysian Life

Actually I want this pix to appear under the About Me column but it came here. Never mind. I'll leave it here until I can figure out how to move it there.

The world's greatest babysitter

Tv? No. Computer? No. Grandparents? No.

It's SCHOOL. Why is it the world's greatest babysitter?

  1. Schools take children in for six hours a day at a nominal cost.
  2. They give the children an education.
  3. They provide a safe environment for the children to interact with peers and superiors.
I remember a Kee's cartoon which showed parents rejoicing when they left for school while the teachers' face were papaya-long. Come school holidays, the role is reversed. Teachers cheered while parents sulked.

There are four children in my home now. No, I'm not sulking. Neither am I jumping for joy.

About the weather

It's blue skies and everything nice with our weather. What a relief. We often take blessings for granted until they've been taken away. When it's hot, we complain about the sizzling weather. When it pours, oh what a damper. When it's hazy, we hanker for the sun and the rain.

In the thick of the haze, when the fires were still raging in Sumatra, when no relief was in sight, people turned to divine guidance. And God came through for us.


Yesterday I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the kids. It was a wonderful show, colourful, creative, entertaining. It was great to see Roald Dahl's book turned into a movie though they added stuff and took away some. For instance, there was no mention of Willy Wonka's father in the book, in the movie there was. In the movie one parent accompanied each child, in the book two parents chaperoned each child except for Charlie who only had Grandpa Joe. The movie turned Willy Wonka into a cold, enigmatic character, the book's Wonka was jovial and lively. Still, it was an entertaining show with morals dished out in the most delectable way. Get the book for your children to read.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Indian Wobble

I don't know about you but I have this tendency to wobble my head when I speak with my Indian friends.

I : So you're bringing curry chicken for potluck.
Friend : Yes (wobble his head)
I : Good (wobble my head)

Even on the phone, when my friends can't see me, I go wobbling.

I : Can you please give me M's phone no.
Friend : Sorry I don't have it. (probably wobbled her head)
I : You don't have it? It's allright. (wobble)

Here's the link to an interesting article on the wobble.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Category : Children's Stories

The three little pigs' edible houses
St Joseph in the forest
Story of the Moonlady
Bedtime story #1 : Superbaddie and Superhero

My first blog entry

I feel like I'm about to jump into the deep end of a pool. I've been wanting to start a blog for sometime now but was afraid that I might get addicted. Besides, I couldn't decide what I should blog about.

Reading? Writing? Homemaking? Child-rearing? Anything goes?

All right, I'll just start off with something and fine tune it as it goes along.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Category : Everything Else

Know your rights
Excuses, excuses, excuses!
Evening classes for men
Hello, anybody there?
Fan power
Mabuhay Manila!
Winner of 1 million Euros
Ucapan Takziah to our PM
Congratulations, Nicole!
Rubbish is Money
Winning Tips
Otaku, geek, dork, Ah Beng
Addendum to meme : Olympic & ILM
Memed, Madam!
My hometown
Women's Summit
About the weather

Category : TV, Radio & Movies

Malaysian Idol 2
Stomp : The good, the bad and the ugly
Lyric hunting
The woo-hoo did it
Singing and enunciation

Category : Food

Easy-as-pie Apple Pie
The Best Cendol in Klang
Cranberry cheese etc etc
Sweet potatoes galore
Car wash and roti canai

Category : Reading & 'Riting

$elf-publishing in Singapore
Self-publishing vs Conventional publishing
Nano advice from Paperback Writer
Do you have a book in you?
Yvonne at Traxx and Borders
Getting down to business
J.K. Rowling speaks
Yeh! My book's on Amazon UK!
The Hem & Haw Writers' Club
Eh Poh Nim #3
Spoiler ahead
Addendum to meme : Olympic & ILM
Memed, Madam!
How to write articles?
Yvonne Lee's book talk
Book - Life's like that

Category : Culture

Evening classes for men
Rush to Death
Passionate about the traffic police
Malaysian greeting
Merdeka Belog
Flag it
Camaraderie at the coffee shop
The Indian Wobble

Category : Family

Making Up
Grade Expectations
Way too soon
I'm big already
Guess the sound
More mummy's bloopers
A mother's wet afternoon
Little Gems #3 : Grass Rice
Saturday conundrum
Mummy's Bloopers
Little Gems #2 : A Little = 1%
Little Gems #1 : No Thanks
School blues
The world's greatest babysitter

Category : Blogging

Link me up, Scottie
What's your blog worth?
New Look
This is Aidyl Het
This is it
To switch or not to switch
My first blog entry

Category : Eh Poh Nim

Who is Eh Poh Nim? She's a twenty-something who works as a marketing executive in a pharmaceutical company. She is talkative and loves to expound on English words at the slightest opportunity. Though she's like a talking dictionary, her English is not perfect. Sure, she can explain the meaning of words at the drop of a hat but sometimes her grammar slips up. Come on, give her a break. Even the brightest of diamonds have their flaws.

There's some tension in her working life at the moment, in the form of Triple P, a colleague whom she doesn't like. Read about him in Eh Poh Nim Crosses Proverbs.

Commonly Confused Words
Eh Poh Nim's Palindrome Quiz
Eh Poh Nim and Fun Words
Eh Poh Nim Crosses Proverbs
Eh Poh Nim's Education Terms
Eh Poh Nim Goes Colloquial
Eh Poh Nim Meets Big Willie
Big Bertha Meets Eh Poh Nim