Friday, January 27, 2006

The Dogged Cobbler’s Story

The Star, 27 Jan 2006

For once, the talkative Eh Poh Nim is rendered almost speechless by the cobbler’s touching tale.

EH Poh Nim is at the sidewalk cobbler’s to repair her sneakers. While she waits for the man to repair her shoes, she notices a little sign that says, “Dogged Cobbler”, resting against the wall.

“That’s a strange name for a cobbler,” she remarks.

“I’ll tell you my story. Then you won’t think the name strange,” the man says as he glues back the sole which had come loose.

“I once worked in a pet shop as a dogsbody, running around doing menial tasks. My boss was a good friend of mine until an incident threw our friendship to the dogs.

“I was carrying some Dalmatian puppies in my car when I stopped to pick up a custom-made doghouse from the carpenter. When I came back, I found that the puppies had been dognapped.

“My friend fired me although it wasn’t my fault. I had locked the car before I went off and was gone for only 10 minutes.

“Later, I found out why he reacted that way. He had fallen for my girlfriend and was looking for an excuse to get rid of me. And that woman dumped me for that dog-faced baboon!

“I tell you, Miss, for six months, I led a dog’s life. I didn’t work. Just hung around the house watching TV and reading newspapers. My room was a doghole.

“One day my mother gave me a small bundle of papers. She said, ‘I know you’ve been hurt, son, but it’s time to move on. Do you know what these papers are? They’re pawnshop receipts. I’ve pawned all my jewellery and there’s nothing left to pawn. Where do you think money for food and rent comes from? We’re dog poor and you don’t even know it.’

“She said, ‘You’ll have to pull yourself together if we’re going to have a dog’s chance of survival. Would you rather I go out and work? It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Don’t cower like a frightened puppy at the slightest threat. Give yourself a chance. Every dog has his day, you’ll see.’

“I stared at my mother. She suddenly looked so old and frail. I felt so ashamed of myself. I went out that day to look for a job and I came across a cobbler mending his shoes right here.”

“You mean at this very spot?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

He nods his head. “As luck would have it, the Indonesian guy was going back to his country for good. He wanted to sell off his business dog-cheap. The next day I returned with a small deposit for him and he taught me the ropes. A week later, using money borrowed from my cousin, I paid him in full.

“On my first day of work, I returned home dog-tired. But for the first time in a long while, I had a good night’s sleep. So here I am today, the Dogged Cobbler. I chose this name to remind myself that I have to be persistent in order to succeed. One day I’m going to have my own shoe-repair shop.”

The Dogged Cobbler puts down Eh Poh Nim’s repaired sneakers in front of her.

“There you go, Miss. They’re as good as new now.”

Eh Poh Nim inspects her shoes and nods her head in approval at the handiwork.

“I hope you achieve your dream soon.” She pays him with some dog-eared dollar bills.

“Thank you. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you, Miss.”

“ I hope the dog year will be prosperous for the Dogged Cobbler. Bye!”

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Three Little Pigs' Edible Houses

Once there were three little pigs. They went off to the forest to build their own homes.

The first pig met a man carrying doughnuts. He bought the doughnuts and built a house with them. Along came the wolf.


Who's there, said the pig.

It's the wolf. Open the door!

No, no, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, said the pig.

Then I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall eat your house up, said the wolf.

And he huffed and he puffed and he gobbled up the doughnut house AND the little pig.

The second pig met a man carrying papayas. He bought the papayas and built a house with them. Along came the wolf.


Who's there, said the pig.

It's the wolf. Open the door!

No, no, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, said the pig.

Then I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall eat your house up, said the wolf.

And he huffed and he puffed and he gobbled up the papaya house AND the little pig.

The third pig met a man carrying durians. He bought the durians and built a house with them. Along came the wolf.


Who's there, said the pig.

It's the wolf. Open the door!

No, no, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, said the pig.

Then I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall eat your house up, said the wolf.

And he huffed and he puffed and he tried to eat up all the durians but the thorns on the durians hurt him so much that he shouted, Yikes! Help! and he ran all the way back home.

And the third little pig was safe.


This is a new version of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. I have two other wacky versions. Will post them up another day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Link me up, Scottie

When I started blogging, one of my concerns was about linking. What if other people link me and I don't link them for one reason or another? Would they think I'm snooty or "one kind" for not reciprocating? Is it better to approach the blogroll with an attitude of the more the merrier?

What are we telling people by the blogroll on our sites? Are we informing the world who our online friends are? Who we like to be associated with? Do we remove a blog from the list when the blogger offends us? Or we don't want to be seen associating with that blogger?

These are the questions that played on my mind. Now after five months of blogging, I've come to this conclusion.

The blogroll is like an open reading list and address book. They are the blogs we read, so we keep their addresses handy. More than that, we're telling the world, "Hi people, if you care to, please step into these blogs, they're my online cronies." These are the blogs that we do not mind introducing to the world. The fact that some blogs don't make it into the blogroll also speaks volumes.

So who do we link? This may be pretty obvious but it's all up to the blogger, isn't it? Whether one has the policy of "you don't link me, I don't link you" or "everybody also link" or whatever shades in between. It is the blogger's prerogative no matter how others may read into his linking policy.

Some bloggers are quite judicious in their blogrolling in that they only link blogs which are similar to theirs and friends' blogs. Some adopt a freer policy, resulting in a mile-long blogroll. Some are more structured, divided into different categories for ease of reference.

I don't have a long list of blogroll because I find it so tedious to open up the blog template and insert the html code to link other blogs. Thanks to Blogrolling, linkage is now just a click away. I discovered this program while poking around eyeris's blog. It was also from his blog that I learnt how to index my entries into categories. This time round, the technophobe in me made me bug him for help before I could finally get the blogrolling to work. Thanks, eyeris.

My blogroll will be slowly expanding.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Chinese New Year is one week away, and I haven't done anything to prepare for it!!

No spring-cleaning, no crates of Mandarin oranges, no smell of freshly baked cookies, no spruced-up garden, no new notes, no plans of what to cook for reunion, the curtains and bed linen haven't been washed, yadda-yadda-yadda.

I hate it when CNY falls in January. There's no time to prepare, what with the kids going back to school and all that jazz. This year I'm totally not in the mood for CNY. Maybe it's because of my father's passing away last month. Mum and my brothers' families won't be celebrating because they're still in mourning. Daughters can celebrate because we're married out. Maybe it's because I'm getting old.

But then some people never get too old to celebrate CNY. Take my mum's neighbour. She's a 50+ grandmother and she still buys new clothes for herself every year including must-have brand new underwear. Everything must be spanking new.

We're all creatures of convention, aren't we. Bound by traditions. Once in a while, it's liberating to buck convention and do what one likes to do. Like my sis-in-law. She's going to Egypt next week with a friend. Though she's looking forward to it, she's beginning to feel jittery about what MIL would say when she finds out.

I tell her next time it's my turn to go gallivanting during CNY. It'll be good to get away from the Lunar-cy for once.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Eh Poh Nim is here

I've decided to include here all the Eh Poh Nim series of articles that have appeared in The Star's Mind our English column. Look under Categories of Posts for Learn English with Eh Poh Nim.

Articles reproduced with permission from The Star.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Know your Rights

I got this in the email from Jennifer.

I was talking with a lawyer friend of mine. We were discussing the law and woman's rights. She told me about this incident - a young girl was raped by a man posing as a plain clothes officer; he asked her to come to the police station when she and her male friend didn't have a driver`s license to show. He sent the boy off to get his license and asked the girl to accompany him to the police station. Took her instead to an isolated area where the horrendous crime was committed.

In fact, the law clearly states that between 6 pm and 6am, a woman has the right to REFUSE to go to the Police Station, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against her. It is a procedural issue that a woman can't be arrested between 6pm and 6 am , ONLY if she is arrested by a woman officer and taken to an ALL WOMEN police station. And if she is arrested by a male officer, it has to be proven that a woman officer was on duty at the time of arrest.

Can anyone confirm if this is true? Thanks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Excuses, excuses, excuses!

Whenever criminals are convicted for their crimes, they always plead for leniency with excuses such as these :
1. He* has aged parents to care for.
2. He has young children to feed.
3. He has an unemployed or sick wife to care for.
4. He is a single parent.
5. He was so young at the time of offence.
6. It is his first offence.

Yeah, right. If they are so concerned with the welfare of their family, why don't they think of these reasons BEFORE they commit their crime rather than AFTER they have been caught and convicted?

I wonder if judges do take these excuses into account when sentencing them. And why are these excuses being offered time and time again? Is it because more creative ones will be thrown out by the judge? Does anyone know of more creative excuses or mitigating reasons or whatever it is these EXCUSES are called?

In the case of the businessman who was charged in court for attempted rape on his 7 year old daughter, the mitigating factors given were : he was a divorcee, he was running his own business and this was his first offence. Can you beat that? What has got running a business got to do with it? Was it to persuade the judge to give him a lighter sentence so that he can quickly get out and resume his business?

P/S : Yes, yes, criminals aren't confined to those of the male gender. 'He' is being used throughout to avoid the awkward 'he/she' term, so don't sue me.

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Evening Classes for Men!!!

I received this in the email from Grace.

Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants

The course covers two days, and topics covered in this course include:


Step by step guide with slide presentation

Roundtable discussion

Practicing with hamper (Pictures and graphics)

Debate among a panel of experts.

Losing the remote control to your significant other - Help line and support groups

Starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming
-Open forum


Group discussion and role play


Real life testimonial from the one man who did

Driving simulation

Online class and role playing

Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques

Bring your calendar or PDA to class

Individual counselors available

My husband doesn't need to go for the entire course. Just 5 or 6 modules, maybe.

I expect someone will come up with New Evening Classes for Women soon. Maybe there's already one on offer but it hasn't reached my inbox yet.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Commonly Confused Words

The Star, 12 January 2006

Eh Poh Nim is visiting her friend, Clara, who has had an operation to remove her tonsils.

“How are you, Clara?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

Clara writes on a notebook and hands it to Eh Poh Nim to read.

“It’s been a week since the operation. The pain has eased up but I don’t want to talk too much. Such averse luck! Last month a snatch thief stole my bag, now this.”

Eh Poh Nim says, “I feel very odd having this one-sided conversation with you. So I’m going to write down my reply. Here, give me the pen, please.”

She writes, “The word you want is adverse for unfavourable. Averse means unwilling as in I’m averse to chatting up men with mosquito brains. Anyway, look on the bright side. You can eat all the ice cream you like without feeling guilty.”

Clara scribbles, “You’re so wicked! That’s a complement.”

“If you want to praise me, you should give me a compliment. Complement is that which makes something complete, e.g. Mindy’s dish-washing skill complements her husband’s cooking talent.”

“Sorry. I think my brain is effected by the operation.”

“Your brain is affected by the operation. Effect is a result of an action. For example, the price increase of vegetables has an unhealthy effect of turning people into meatarians.”

Just then, Clara’s mother walks out from the kitchen. “Hi, Eh Poh Nim. So nice of you to visit Clara. I’ve boiled some red bean soup. Would you like some?”

“No thanks, Auntie. I’ve had lunch.”

“Ok. If you change your mind, just let Clara know.” She goes upstairs.

Clara writes on the notepad, “So what if you’ve had lunch? Take the soup as desert.”

“How can I drink sand? The Sahara is a desert. Red bean soup is a dessert.”

“Ha ha. I stand corrected. How was your company trip to Port Dickson last week?”

“Remember Paul?”

Clara nods her head eagerly.

“A sexy woman was sunbathing at the pool deck, so Paul dived into the deep-end to show off. But he floundered and almost drowned. A life-guard had to jump in and save him,” Eh Poh Nim writes.

“Lucky for him. Is flounder the right word? Shouldn’t it be flounder?”

“It’s correct. Flounder is to move clumsily. Founder is to stumble or fail completely.”

“Ok. Did you chafe him later for his bravado?”

“Clara! I did not!” Eh Poh Nim says indignantly.

“Oops. Sorry. To chafe is to warm by rubbing. Correction: Did you chaff him? Tease him in a good-humoured way?”

“That I did. I’m loath to admit this but I actually felt sorry for Paul when I saw the life-guard doing CPR on him.”

“Don’t you mean loathe?” Clara writes.

Loathe is to feel great hatred for someone. Loath is unwilling. I know my English, Clara.”

Clara mimes wiping sweat off her forehead. “English can be so confusing sometimes. For example, I can never differentiate between stationary and stationery.”

Stationary is not moving, stationery includes writing objects, paper clips, staplers, etc. Just remember NA for no action and ER for eraser.”

“Great idea. How about that word which means not showy. Is it discreet or discrete?”

“Not showy is discreet. Discrete is to be individually distinct as in ‘The company consists of four discrete units.’”

“How to remember it?”

“Remember this rhyme – double E, not showy. Oh dear, all this writing is making me hungry now. How about some red bean soup for desert?”

“DESSERT!” Clara writes in big letters.

Eh Poh Nim winks at her friend and pulls her up from the sofa.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Making Up

No. 4 will turn five this June. She's already experimenting with "make-up." She has this goldsmith's jewellery box, the plastic type with a thin piece of foam inside. She poured talcum powder into the box and turned it into a compact powder case. I caught her dabbing her face with the powder one day.

Where did she learn all this? I suppose she just picked things up by watching. Same with no. 2. When she was about 13, she started buying skincare products and cosmetics for herself. I never taught her what to do or what to buy.

One day about two years ago, we were at the dining table when I noticed that she looked different. I stared hard at her. Her face was powdered and there was a touch of gloss on her lips. My eyes widened and I fired off a string of questions at her.

Who taught you how to make-up?
Did you learn from your friends?
From magazines?
What did you do with your lashes?
What brand of skincare and lipstick did you buy?
You'd better don't simply buy any products. They may spoil your skin.

Children these days seem in a hurry to grow up. The first time I used make-up was during my 16th birthday. And then I didn't touch it until I started my first real job at 20.

Today, no. 4 came and sat on my lap with her jewellery case. I had washed away the talcum powder when I found the box drowning in the powder the other day.

"Mummy, I make you up," she said.

She took out the foam which still had the smell of talcum powder and dabbed at my face. Then she applied "lipstick" with the round red eraser in the box.

Is it any wonder that she's learning so fast? She has two role models now : her mummy and her sister. Aah, but she doesn't need any make-up for a long, long time yet. Her smooth fair complexion and her rosy little lips are already sooo pretty.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hello, is anybody there?

Why have I been so quiet on the blog? There's a reason. Last Wednesday, lightning struck my house. There was a BANG! and a flash. Darkness. When the power came back, we discovered that the computer was fried and the telephone line was disconnected.

Up to now, five days later, both are still not restored. The computer is still in the workshop. My line is still down. I'd been chasing Telekom to no avail. Seems like after the change to TM, service has gotten worse. I reported the fault on Thursday. The next day, a technician came to check and said he'll restore the line at the exchange. Up to now, still silence.

I'd been trying hard to reach someone at TM but in these days of automation, it's so hard to get a life person at the end of the line.

I've called 100 to report the fault several times in the hope that this will help to expedite the repair.

I've called TM Call Centre to check on status. Each time it's an answering machine that puts you on hold saying "Our call centre consultant will be with you shortly" or something to that effect. Then it said, "or leave a message after the beep." What's the point when nobody bothers to return the call? After more than ten tries, I've yet to speak to the call centre consultant.

100 gave me a telephone number at Jln Langat office to follow-up. Nobody picks up the phone. I rang 103 for a number to call at the Klang office. No reply either. Hello, is there anyone working in TM?

What does TM stands for? Takde Masa for customers?