Friday, August 31, 2007

You're 50 darling!

Abdullah Hukum To understand life one must travel. Though I might not have traveled to a variety of countries, I have traveled pretty often and each journey has taught me to value one of the simplest things in life - my independence. Nothing is more important to me than that. I for one can’t take this simple word for granted.

If you asked me to pinpoint just one reason why I love this country, it will be - the ability for women to travel alone regardless of the hour of the day in Malaysia (as long as they are street smart). I have never had the need to think twice about going out late at night, or to venture out alone in the streets whenever I felt like it.

Last night I was sitting alone at a Coffeebean having given up driving through traffic and you know what was the best part, it was already 11 pm and I had not even an ounce of fear that as a gal I shouldn’t be out so late that too alone. Of course I’m also street smart enough to know it’s stupid to walk alone in a dark alley in a questionable area or to go around drapped in jewellery and swinging your handbag as gay as a lark.

Nothing compares to the feeling of being able to do what you wish when you wish it. It’s a matter of making a split decision on where to go and when to go and never is it safe to go? Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lived a lucky life, I’ve had my share of unpleasant encounters. I was robbed next to a police station when I was 10, I’ve had my home nearly broken into while I was sitting behind closed doors (thankfully our doors were locked and they decided it was just too much trouble), I’ve nearly been a victim of snatch thefts twice where both seemed unplanned and pretty much my carelessness (holding my bag towards the road and not the other way round). I’ve also had my share of unwanted harassment, but it is pretty rare and mostly by foreigners who are the persistent harassers since in their countries they have been brought up thinking it is their right to harass women.


Singing the blues Its not that men in Malaysia don’t look at women or disturb them but I must give them due credit, somewhere down the line they grew up different from their Asian counterparts. Glare at the Malaysian guy whose giving you a dirty look and I’m 80% sure he’ll smile at you sheepishly or give you the deer caught in lights look and quickly turn away. However that’s not the case in different countries. Harassment of strangers is a huge issue and most countries tend to advice women travelers not to travel alone. As much as I love India, everytime I travel there I make sure I’m covered from head to toe, coz the stares from the local men make you feel so uncomfortable. Ogling seems to be the national sports of the men in India (most of them) and no matter how many times you glare back they will still continue to stare. My recent trip to Cambodia wasn’t any different, it came to a point where I had to take photos of these oglers to stop them from staring and even had to resort to being rude.


Rows of JGWhen I related this to one of my non Malaysian friend, she nodded back telling me how lucky I was to be born in Msia. She tells us we seem to take for granted the independence and freedom we enjoy over here, something which is considered a luxury all over the world. In her home country, it’s not safe for even the men to walk in the streets after 7 pm while a midnight supper out at the mamaks for us is pretty much a daily affair.

Yet we take for granted these little things that we have. Late nights at the mamak (hawker stalls), the ability to watch a late night movie alone at the theater (actually watching a movie alone itself is a huge thing), or chill with a book or your laptop at a café while you watch the world go by, the 24 hour restaurant cook whose ever willing to cook that special maggi goreng as spicy as you want or without a single dash of chili when you have your 4 am cravings, or the shop keeper who remembers your favourite drink eventhough you’re neither his race nor his caste. And guess what you’re not gonna be looked down for being out late, when its practically taboo in most asian countries for women to be out late at night even with friends and family. And for this I will be ever grateful that I was born a Malaysian.

Nosyness is a character of its own in other Asian nations. I’ve never had a total stranger ask me why I’m not married in Malaysia or call me an old unwanted dame ( I got the old unwanted dame tag at 24 in India!) but everytime I travel to other Asian countries, everyone seems to think its their right to poke their nose into my marital status. You see, unfortunately most men in other Asian countries treat women as secondary citizens who are valued by their marriagebility. We still have that mentality at small towns over here but a stranger will not shove their face into your personal business. Relatives are a different story that no one can do a thing about! ;p

How often have we heard the slogan
“Come to Malaysia and experience the warmth of our people”

– whenever someone talks about Malaysia? Sounds artifical doesn’t it? In all my travels across the country or during my street walks I have had the pleasure to meet the most interesting individuals. Before you brush it off as humbug let me relate to you some of my experiences.

A week back my photographer group had ventured into Kampung Abdullah Hukum one of the oldest Malay villages in KL. The homes which have been around for more than 200 years have seen more than 5 generations pass through it walls and most of them still live there. Besides brandishing an astro (satellite tv) dish for entertainment, a bevy of automobiles and fresh coats of paint, the homes were pretty much true to its original architecture. Unfortunately the little locale is due to be demolished in lieu of the development of the city.

Flag away There we were a bunch of people from all walks of life, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Caucasian – you name it we had it. We had just gotten down the (ramp) and were looking at the flats adorned with rows and rows of the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian national flag) when this old uncle stops me and strikes a conversation.


Eh kenapa tak datang semalam – semalam ada kebakaran tau – sure you all boleh ambik banyak gambar
Eh why didn’t you come yesterday? There was a fire accident here yesterday you guys missed it la? You could have taken so many photographs!

Kebakaran?? Semua ok ke pakcik??
Fire??? Are they ok???

Ye diorang ok, bomba datang dan padamkan api tapi korang dah missla

Yeah they’re fine, the firemen came on time and put out the fire but you guys missed itla

Nasib baiklah tu pakcik, tapi pakcik kita orang suka ambik gambar orang gembira la kesian lah rumah terbakar tak nak ambik gambar
Thank god uncle, its okla uncle we only like to take photos of people being happy, dowanna take photos of a firelah uncle.


The hospitality of the villagers didn’t stop there. We were practically walking in a remote Malay village, when an aunty walked out of her house and as we backed of thinking we were intruding on their privacy, she stops us and says hi and enquirers on who we were and minutes later just hands us a huge bag of rambutans. Then one by one the residents took time to talk to us about their lovely village while the resident cats purred at our feet. By the way I think we need to rename the village as kampung kuching (cat village) coz there were so many of them.

Hawker Another friend (malay) shared her experience shooting in a fishermans cove sometime back, where an aunty (chinese) just handed her a bag of prawns to take back home. Such is the warmth of Malaysians regardless of whether you know them or whether you were the same race or religion.

On holiday in Kuantan last year, I walked alone into a fishing village looking for photography opportunities when I met this lovely little boy and his family. After inquiring if I needed anything they went back to their work while I continued photographing the little boy. Of course after 10 minutes the father assumed his son was disturbing me and decided to call him back.


Amin cukuplahtu kau berposing posing.
Amin you’ve done enough modeling for the day!


Heheh that was definitely a cute moment.


crabpg Remember my crab story? That story still makes me laugh. Yes this country is definitely full of warmth, its people are mostly harmonious as the hype suggests. As long as you are nice, respectful and friendly, you can expect the same from most of the strangers you’ll meet in this country. Of course we have our black sheeps, like the old Indian man who joined us recently, who rudely spoke in Tamil while we were in the midst of a bunch of none Indians. I hate such behaviour. Or the certain comments we get from certain editors and public figures, you sometimes wonder which cave were they from. I’ve met my share of racist’s people, but generally from my experience most Malaysians I know aren’t viciously racists.


Merdeka I’ve never been offered beef by anyone and whenever I’m vegetarian I’ve had them go out of their way to make sure we had food at a place that had vegetarian options. Funny part is they spend more time explaining my requirements for a purely vegetarian meal than I do. I’ve taken them to temples, for celebrations and each time they will check with me on what they can and should do to make sure they didn’t offend anyone just as I would when I was visiting their religious places. my wishes and my choices have always been respected and similarly i've extended mine. Maybe i’ve been lucky to have wonderful friends, but strangers who are as warm? That’s definitely not a coincidence.


MerdekaI love my country like no other. I cherish this independence and freedom that we Malaysians seem to take for granted. I’m ever touched by this warmth that I continue to find everytime I walk out of my home. As long as I have these three things, Malaysia will be my home and the country that I call my nation.

My beloved nation turns 50 tomorrow, its time to hoist the Jalur Gemilang,

Happy Independence Day Malaysia.

Selamat Merdeka Tanah airku.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A thousand miles seems pretty far

Sometimes you have to say stuff to avoid certain things and agree to things that you have no intention of following. Unfortunately sometimes they catch up on you and you’re left in a lurch wondering how to get out of it. I think my bag of tricks is running out of tricks.

Oh well I still have a few more tricks.

I have been swamped with work and my activities. I’ve been walking around (taking photos) Brickfields, Abdullah Hukum, Dataran Merdeka, CM, catching the merdeka rehearsal, partying with FLickr international (which was a blast by the way), taking the kids out, temples and been going out so much I have had no time to update over here.

If you’re having a bad day go try this link out – believe me it works at least for a while! ;p Just close your eyes and imagine that person whose been giving u the bad day ;p Oh yeah.

Simon had blogged about this song and I have been wanting to blog about it forever. Its such a beautiful love song, the kind I have been looking for. Simple lyrics, simple music and yet so heart wrenching.

Here’s the lyrics and the video – have fun listening.



PLAIN WHITE T'S

"Hey There Delilah"

Hey there Delilah
What's it like in New York City?
I'm a thousand miles away
But girl tonight you look so pretty
Yes you do
Times Square can't shine as bright as you
I swear it's true

Hey there Delilah
Don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice it's my disguise
I'm by your side

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me

Hey there Delilah
I know times are getting hard
But just believe me girl
Someday I'll pay the bills with this guitar
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

Hey there Delilah
I've got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you
Would take your breath away
I'd write it all
Even more in love with me you'd fall
We'd have it all

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me

A thousand miles seems pretty far
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way
Our friends would all make fun of us
and we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way
Delilah I can promise you
That by the time we get through
The world will never ever be the same
And you're to blame

Hey there Delilah
You be good and don't you miss me
Two more years and you'll be done with school
And I'll be making history like I do
You'll know it's all because of you
We can do whatever we want to
Hey there Delilah here's to you
This ones for you

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why me??

I was innocently walking down the road and then they pulled a big one on me!

Why me??? why why ??

KL Hehhhe enough of being a drama queen – last Saturday at my monthly flickr meet we had headed towards dataran coz we heard the rehearsals for the national parade were going on. There they were bunch of school college and some adults having their lunch after the gruesome rehearsals. Having been part of the parades before at the very same location I knew how they were feeling but when they saw a group of photographers heading their way, they sure got excited. So of we went shooting, and having a few laughs (which ill tell you guys later)

Apple kid
There I was happily shooting when suddenly I hear one of my friends go – there you need an Indian gal shoot her! I turned and froze in my steps what the???

I had just walked into a tv interview by RTM and they weren’t planning to move an inch away from me. Mike happily in my face, I went ah ah talk about what?

Luckily I was asked to speak on preserving our heritage buildings. The only problem was I was to speak in Malay and as much as I tried all I could talk was in English! I just couldn’t argue in Malay, it would have been a different story if they had asked me to flirt in Malay but that wouldn’t have been appropriate for national tv ;p

Armed with instant inputs from my friend, I went on and on about preserving old buildings. Which of course is something I’m passionate about.

If we don’t preserve them who will, and unless the government brings laws to protect these buildings, the privately owned buildings will vanish and with that our heritage and history. I think I quoted the british, bugis, dutch, rumah bok, and morela - I just went on and on ;p


Don't ask me whens it coming out - they dont know either ;p

I realized one thing though I can speak fluently in 3 languages but I can only present, argue and discuss issues in one language! Weirdla!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Photofriday : old

Grace She’s one of the most photographed lady monks in Siam Reap as she can be found everyday at Bayon. Nearly everyone who has been there has a photo of her. Since we went there twice, we met her twice n the second time at a more relaxed moment, as there were very few ppl there.

I like the grace she exudes though you can see that wrinkles have defined her.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ghost??

Today morning started with ghost stories. First it was my friend relating this harrowing story and then my colleague joins in and tells us another. Then I reminded them hey isn’t today the start of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival? Hhehe what a day to tell ghost stories huh?

Anyway few hours later while I was sitting alone in my office room, I suddenly hear this weird sound. It sounded like someone was wailing. It was one of the eeriest sounds I’ve ever heard and there I was sitting alone in this quiet office room. I decided not to panic and walked out of the room to investigate. The sounds were getting stronger and my colleague had the same look on her face. What the hell was that sound?

It turned out to be the sound of the wind howling. It was raining so heavily outside that we could hear the wind inside the building – sure gave us a fright ;p

When you end up living in a multiracial society you don’t only share food and festivals, even superstitions are shared. Today (if i'm not mistaken) marks the beginning of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. According to the Chinese this is the day hell’s gate opens and the ghost wander earth for a month. And to appease these souls, prayers, food and entertainment is held throughout the month.

You’ll suddenly find huge effigies placed in wide open spaces where a concert will be taking place. When I was younger it used to be Chinese opera songs, now the ghosts are entertained with modern Chinese pop songs where singers wear dazzling sequined dresses. The interesting part of the festival is normally the front row seats are reserved for the ghosts.

I used to live next to this huge field which was normally the centre for the ghost concerts in our area. So the moment they started putting up the tents you knew what was coming. It’s quite entertaining and colourful.

When I was younger while Chinese parents were telling their children to be extra careful, not to touch or disturb the offerings placed by the side of the roads, our mothers (non Chinese) would be telling us the same. And since I was the eldest (ghosts love the eldest children don’t ask me why) we were given strict warnings to be home by 7 pm or else the ghost will haunt us ;p

I remember as a kid of rushing home with my brother and our neighbour (Chinese kid who was older than me) before 7 that we wont be caught by the ghosts. We’d be happily playing around the neighbourhood, cycling the alleys when the azan (muslim call to mark the prayer times) will be sounded and we’d rush home coz the azan was at magrib is normally around 7pm and if we weren’t home on time both our mothers would be waiting outside for an hour long lecture. Try getting scolding not only from your mom but also the neighbour aunty. Not fun ok!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Project Zoo-out

Recently a group of fun loving privateers (100% voluntary) organized Project Zoo-out where they took kids from the Agathians Shelter on a trip out to the zoo which doubled up as a fundraiser for the children’s education.

Project zoo-out
Some of you would recall receiving emails on the event from me. I met the group one evening during the pre planning stage when I was at the home visiting the children. They’re basically a group of friends who got together to raise funds for the home and I must say both the pre and during the event organization was really well done.

A blog was set up to track the event with constant updates. It was the way the money was generated that was most interesting as most of the money came from friends of friends of friends and just like that, plus a few other generous donations they collected a whopping RM 32 705.

The event wasn’t without its glitches but despite everything that was going on the team and the guardians (pledgers who turned up to spend time with the children) were all smiles and excited about the event. Their persona never changed at any point.

You have to credit them for the minute details that were looked into to make sure the children had fun. There were personalized name tags for each child, the children were divided into groups whose guardians had already been assigned and briefed, there were little flags with the zoo-out image passed around, another bunch of volunteers were seen busy getting the food ready for lunch and so they ended up arranging the food and making sure the famished group will be fed then having fun with the children.

It didn’t stop at that, each kid was given 2 huge goody bags filled with stationary, school stuff and toys for the children and each bag had been personalized with each child’s name.

The itinerary was well planned to coincide with activities at the zoo and other activities the group had planned for the children. Besides watching the animal show and visiting the zoo, the kids had a visit from the resident orang utan, played so many games and even had face painting sessions. Food was more than ample for the children during lunch but even before that the guardians were seen purchasing sweets and snacks for the kids.

It was really nice to see how fast the guardians bonded with the children. At times too fast as some of the little naughty ones were seen bullying them which they found really cute. 


Eagle


 Knowing the twins mischievousness I made sure they weren’t in the same group and kept an eye on the naughtiest one. Sure enough the smart kid was seen jumping from one volunteer to the other depending on who had a better cam or who hadn’t bought him sweets yet! And everytime he was about to do something mischievous he’d look out for me and if he caught me watching he’ll grin back innocently. As much as he melts my heart, I finally had to warn him enough sweets or he can follow me. He tells me ok and less than 2 minutes later I caught him trying to trick one of the guardians into getting him sweets and so I had to hold on to him for awhile despite his protests until he promised not to have anymore sweets. This time he kept his promise ;p

By the time lunch started some of the children even had their own cheer squad. I tell you these children really know how to steal hearts. One little smile, a tug on your finger as they excitedly show you something and you’re sold for life. I should know, I’ve cancelled outings to spend time with the children!

Painted faces


When the war paints came out, the children excitedly began choosing who they were gonna be. Lions were the most popular request, though a few cheetahs and moons were seen walking around. I decided to try my hand at painting the kids but on the condition they’d have to let me draw whatever I wish. This darling initially didn’t like my design until ppl started telling him it was nice and then he comes and tells me he likes it too ;p hehe

We actually got lost a few times in the zoo as we weren’t following any particular group and forgot to get ourselves maps ;p which turned out to be a good thing as we’d suddenly appear along one of the groups much to the surprise of the children. So they couldn’t really be naughty.

We even had time for an impromptu football game and the football crazy boys were quick to invite some of the guardians to join them every Sunday evening.

Like I said they did an excellent job. Organizations and clubs could learn a thing or two from them on how to organize an event, how to treat children and how to be well prepared. It just shows that you don't need to be part of an organization to be able to make a difference. The children had a blast and my kudos to the team who did a wonderful job organizing and executing the event.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

can dreams get weirder?

My mom had the weirdest dream. She actually called me up to tell me her dream and we were laughing non stop. And so were my friends when I told them and so you get to read it as well.

Here’s the dream

Some saint we know dies, and we decide to go pay our last respects. We end up going somewhere but instead of going to the funeral it seems I stole the dead body! Oh yeah I stole the body. Anyways we pay our respect and suddenly someone says the police are coming. So I fold the mattress and the dead body on it into two and drag it around.

Lol – can dreams get weirder? ;p

I want my monkeys saved!

Malaysia lifts 23 year ban on trade of Primates

Despite his patriotic stand, he will soon be stripped of his citizenship and banished to another country. The Cabinet has literally signed their death warrant by withdrawing protection for the so-called urban monkeys under the Wildlife Protection Act. How can we stand tall as a nation, when we so casually shrugged-off our responsibility to protect the weak and defenseless?

Continue reading the monkey's plight here:

First we clear off their habitats and then claim they’re a nuisance to our lives? Just because we can voice out our grievance does that make us more important and them a nuisance when they couldn’t protest being thrown out of their homes??

Please pass the word around - and help save our monkeys!

photo by Mycen

Monday, August 20, 2007

Things that irritate me

Things strangers do that irritate me

ppl who don’t wait for others to come out of the lift before entering (hello don’t be so rude)

There are some buildings ..... that have only one lift that travels from the basement to the other floors so if you see someone walking towards the lift you should have the courtesy to wait for them as well! Its not gonna take longer than a minute!

Leaving the toilet seat wet – ewww how disgusting can you be?

Wasting toilet paper unnecessarily – I once saw this gal unroll a long bundle of toilet paper and threw it coz it was touched by someone else! Sure go ahead and do that but you don’t need to throw away so much of paper!

Not flushing – yeah women are culprits too!

Cutting in line coz she was previously in the line earlier.

Men who walk through doors that you opened for the pregnant/ old folks!

Hogging your seat (when there’s a pregnant lady or old people standing) and the one next to you coz you think you own the bus or train

Pushing people to get ahead.

Leaving their icky chewing gum on the streets, under tables on chairs!

People who insist on driving ahead when it would be easier for them to reverse since the other person has no space to do so!

You’re trying to change lanes and the person isn’t giving way for you coz they don’t want someone else to get back earlier. Sure do that if they did that at the toll or the traffic light but not on the highway

Wanna add to the list??

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bayon

Smiley face

There are a few temples in Siam Reap that shouldn’t be missed. Of course the first will be the Angkor Wat. The second place that you shouldn’t miss is the Bayon. Now these are where the famous smiling heads are found, 218 of them to be precise. Every single space in the area is covered with one of these huge 4 headed statues. What is interesting is no 2 photos will look the same coz every angle you move will give you a different shot.











Kiss meThere’s also so many levels to the building. The bottom looks pretty rundown with fallen pillars and then you’ll find some of those steep but short staircases. And then you’ll face this huge pyramid like structure with hidden chambers and sun lit chambers. The smilling faces with the most gorgeous lips are found everywhere across the top part of the building. It is just an amazing sight.


How are you ?
We ended up going twice coz my friends cam ran out of batteries and the first time we were there the place was overflowing with people! We decided to try our luck by going really early when most of the crowds would be busy snapping the sunrise at Angkor.







5 Faces tWO fACES












So the next day we headed back to bayon at about 7*am riding through the chilly giant tree forest Angkor lies in and yes it was worth the chills. The forest gets colder as you venture deeper – and you’ll be amazed at how clean it is kept. There’s the one thing you have to give credit to the Siam Reap folks. The place is amazing when it’s all quiet with nary a soul nearby. Taking photos is also easier but most of all it’s so serene, you could just sit and stare at the beauty of the place.



White and Black Come with me


Grace You’ll also find these lady monks in white all around the temples, most are quite reluctant to be photographed unless you pay them or buy insense sticks from them but the rest are probably some of the most photographed people in Siam Reap. There’s just something about those white ladies against the stark grey of the stones.







Maybe the temple was built by 2 different contractors. You’ll understand why I said that when you get down the temple through the back exit. Suddenly the lines of the temple are no longer curvy and sculptured, gone are the lovely smiles of that beautiful lips, instead its replaced by plain pillars and boxy walls. So it is pretty different. So don’t miss Bayon if you ever decide to go to Cambodia.

Smilling in the blue Two face










Blue Note for photographers : if you want to get a shot of some damsel in ancient clothings then you’ll have to wait till after 8 when the troops come in. USD1 for 3 shots but you’ll have problems framing the shot as by then the place will be swarming with ppl it becomes quite de-motivating!

Read the previous posts on Cambodia below
You want photo? 1 Usd!
Siam Reap
Travelling in Siam Reap
Bayon
20th Century's Hell on Earth
Majestic Angkor
Temple circuit : Siam Reap

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mixed emotions

@ If you’ve been following my Flickr page, you’ll realize there haven’t been any updates since July. Well I ran out of space on my pc and photoshope refused to launch. So I am currently painstakingly deleting images from my pc and saving only the best ones on my external hardrive. So far have managed to create over 10 g of space but I still can’t open photoshop! Sigh it might be a ram problem and looks like pc darling needs an uplift! I miss posting images!

@ Met a few of my ex colleagues from the last 4 years in ex company last week for dinner. Its interesting to see that some of us still click and we had so much to talk and b*itch about. Though the restaurant was really bad. Bad service, mediocre food, and questionable cleanliness – btw stay away from Esquire Kitchen at Midvalley. Not only did we have to request for clean utinsels we saw a rat run around in the kitchen! Luckily the company was good. The last time we met we actually ended up yakking in a silent dim lit passageway bench hours after closing time ;p Time just flew!

@ I had a really wonderful weekend at the zoo with the kids;p Details of which I will delve on soon.

@ Organising taking 30 kids out for dinner at a temple isn’t easy I was nearly at my wits ends not coz of the children but because of how selfish some adults can be. But seeing the happiness of the kids enjoying themselves with us was priceless enough. Oh but it was so cute to have a tail of kids following me everywhere and dragging me around the temple to show me the little things that excite them. Oh yes the restaurant still holds the best veg nasi lemak title ;p

@ One of the things I hate about society gatherings is how selfish some adults can be. They’re first to stand in line and are so thick faced, they’ll have containers ready to pack food enough for a family of 4 for the next 2 days! Even when you hold them back politely they will push you and children away so they can get the food! I think beggars have more dignity than you people! Idiots! Knowing your selfishness we had a separate section set for the children and all I did was leave the spot for a second, before I know this woman and her friends had stormed the section packing mountains of food. Bloody bit*ches. If you think you’re holy let me tell you, you’re gonna rot in hell. Selfishness was never part of any religions prayers!

@ One b*astard who raped his sick wife and then let his friends gang rape her was hanged today. Good riddance. I am so happy I’ll probably go celebrate this later, just I’m a bit disappointed he’s dying so easily.

30 December

Bawangred tagged me ;p

BIRTHDAY TAG - 30 December

The rules for this tag is simple.
(i) Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday (month and day)
(ii) Write down 3 events, 2 births, 1 holiday, and tag 5 friends.

I found out some really interesting stuff about my birthdate – so here’s some of it.

Events
1460 - Wars of the Roses: Battle of Wakefield. 1871 - Brazil passes law freeing future children of slavery.

1896 - José Rizal was executed by firing squad in Manila. (which was eventually commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal Day.)

1943 - Subhash Chandra Bose raises the flag of Indian independence at Port Blair.(Since today is India’s independence I picked this one)

Births
1865 - Rudyard Kipling, British writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)

1879 - Sri Ramana Maharshi, Indian philosopher (d. 1950) (whoa I was born exactly 100 years after him ;p)

1975 - Tiger Woods, American golfer

Deaths (I added this coz one of the most prominent deaths of the century happened recently)

1691 - Robert Boyle, Irish scientist (b. 1627)

2006 - Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi President (b. 1937) (executed)

Holidays & observances
Philippines - Rizal Day (commemorated as a Philippine holiday to mark the execution of Jose Rizal.)

As usual I'm not tagging anyone so you're welcome to pick it up;)

Sambal

I love tomatoes but I like them spicy if I don’t take them fresh. That’s why I rarely order spaghetti bolognaise at restaurants coz they’re normally on the sweet bland side. So I tend to cook it ala Malaysian – I just do a simple sambal base I normally make and eat it with pasta. I really love this. This was also one of the first few things I cooked.

Malaysians cannot live without their sambal and for most the spicier the better. So don’t be surprised if you see someone huffing and puffing and still continuing into their food.

This is a basic recipe. It can be stored in air tight containers and used later or you can add different items to it from tofu to chicken.

Sambal

Grind
Ginger
1 Onions
Chilli (dried)
chilli padi (omit if its too hot for u)
3 cloves of Garlic
1 Tomato

Spices
Pepper
Chilli Powder
Cinnamon
Salt

Saute
Onion
Garlic
Mustard seeds
Cinnamon sticks
Anise seeds
oil


Grind the ingredients together and keep aside. Sauté all the ingredients till golden. Then pour in grinded ingredients and simmer till first boil, under low heat. Then add in the spices stir and cook for a while. You’re done.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Story Telling

Time to tell a story oh no I meant coin a story. I’m gonna be away tomorrow so lets see what you guys can come up with. The idea is to continue the story from where one person stops. So lets see how bizarre the storty goes.

The train halted abruptly taking its passengers by surprise. Most people managed to hold on to something in the nick of time while some weren’t as lucky. So far no one was injured in David’s compartment. David looked out of the window of the train to see what had caused the driver or someone to pull the breaks.

All right now its your turn!

Have fun.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Greatnest comes with a price?

There’s this proverb in Tamil – ooran pillayeh vahlartha than pillay sohndama vahlarum (I might have gotten the words wrong but you know what I mean)
Translation : your child will grow up well if you help bring up other people’s children.

Basically they’re saying if you’re good to society, that society will look after your child. Now this might have worked few decades ago but today I don’t think its relevant.

I agree that a person should be socially conscious, helping whenever possible, putting aside time and money for a good cause but none of these should be done at the cause of your family. So, greatnest comes with a price and life of sacrifices, but is that price really worth paying?

Families are no longer supported by an extended family. Most families are scarttered across the globe and children grow in small nuekles families where their only inspiration and motivation would be their parents and their environment. Neighbours are no longer made of a close knit of well balanced individuals. The smart dressed and reserved family at the corner of your block could end up being drug dealers or worse (worst case scenario).

If parents are not strong role models to their children, these children run the risk of becoming victims of their environment. If you seriously wanted to do great things then don’t start a family. No matter what good you do for society, there is a child who is suffering because of your negligence.

The rise of sociall ills, displinary problems, and vices among teenagers can be attributed to the lack of guidance, discipline, strong role model and mostly love.

If a parent spent most of his/her time outside, whose gonna spend time with the kid whose growing home alone with the maid for company. Let's not rush to blame working mothers, children need their fathers guidance as well. Maids are no longer the caring aunty figures that were once cherished by a whole generation of children. So who will the child receive love and discipline from when the limited time spent with their children are probably used to spoil them instead. Spoiling your child does not show that you have ultimate love for them in actually fact you are taking the easy way out and harming your childs well being.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do good at all and be totally selfish, I’m saying balance it out and never commit to something that comes at the expense of your family. So do you think the proverb still applies for today’s world?

Travelling in Siam Reap

ConcentrationThey have a set system in Siam reap. You either get a one day pass that costs USD 20 or a 3 day pass for USD 40.

So if you arrive in the afternoon don’t bother going earlier just go the next day morning as the booths are open early and be prepared to get your photo taken. Yep all passes come with a photo and must be shown at all temples.

Find a reliable TUK TUK driver (ok that’s a bit hard no such ones exist). We ended up changing 2 different ones as we had problems with the first one. We should have just took the first guy we met near the airport. We met him again 2 days later (towns really small) after we had taken the second guy!

Make sure you decide on the price before hand as they tend to ask you for more despite the agreed price. I’ve traveled in a few countries and so has my friend and we haven’t seen such dishonest people ever.

On the first day they tend to cover the small circuit, then second day big circuit and then last day probably out bantey srei. Get there find a guide book or find one online and you’ll understand.

Now I don’t think its necessary to see all the temples so don’t listen to what he’s saying.

Start at Angkor one morning and the next day start at bayon. But you’ll have to skip some places as its out of the way and then they’ll pull a long face.

Its about USD 10 – 12 per day for a tuk-tuk. Test the tuk tuk for comfort before getting one. The roads are treacherous. If you’re planning to go to bantey srei get a car – cheaper and more comfortable. Can be arranged with the hotel/ guesthouse.

If you’re staying at redpiano don’t get the tuk-tuk drivers from near the house. Get them from pub street.

Take the bus from Siam Reap to Phnom Pehn – its cheaper (USD 4 -10) and faster and definetly more comfortable plus the boat ride isn’t all beautiful as the stretch is pretty barren and a stream of brown water. Plus during the dry season the river tends to dry up and you might end up with glitches (water is too shallow in some places) during your journey.

You want photo? 1 Usd!
Siam Reap
Travelling in Siam Reap

Cinnamon Delight

Cinnamon delightOne of my fav desserts as it’s easy and fast to prepare. Plus it uses apples and since I’m not a fan of raw apples – it works well.

Apples
Cinnamon
Water
Butter
Sugar
Vanilla

Melt the butter in a pan. Lightly sauté the cut apples in the butter, add sugar, water, cinnamon and watch it turn into a golden colour. Add a few drops of vanilla essence before you remove it.

Taste’s good on bread pudding, ice cream or on its own.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Siam Reap

Lotus
(this is how lotuses are folded in Cambodia - really pretty)

Siam Reap is basically a temple town as it is home to the world famous Angkor Wat and over 20 ancient temples in the nearby reserved forest. 1/3 of the town is populated by foreigners and that has probably been the cause of why the place is so expensive.

While looking for an accomodation find a place near Pub street as it is the ideal place to shop, surf the net, get food or just laze around. We stayed at The Redpiano guesthouse which is midrange priced (usd18 above) but you can get lower priced places. I would recommened the place as its just a walking distance from pubstreet where the food is and the rooms are excellently decorated, new and clean and importantly (I so cannot do dirt cheap backpacking coz of this) nice clean bathrooms. You can get cheaper places but this was quite sufficient. The owners are also quite friendly.

You could get a copy of Lonely planet for more ideas. It was pretty convenient to use while we were there.

Though their curency is in reil they smartly use USD for all financial transactions. 1 usd = 4000 reil. USD 0.50 = 2000 reil

Food doesn’t come cheaper than USD 2 in 90 percent of the places. Though if you hit the stalls where the cambodians eat you can get it as cheap as 1000 reil. You really should try this laksa like stuff they sell on the streets. We tried ours outside Bantey Srei – the stall is just outside the temples. Really good food.

Even weird is how expensive drinks and water are. A cup of coffee can set you back as much as USD 2 though if you look around you can find coffee for USD 0.50 to 1. Coca-cola ranges between USD 0.50 to 1 as well. A 1.5 liter water bottle should cost USD 0.50 only though some places will try to overcharge you. Always check the prices before ordering.

Things you should do at the town centre is try the ice cream at The Blue Pumkin. The ice cream (and sherberts) is quite good but the ambiance is even better. It’s a different setting on each of its 3 levels and we just loved the bean bag chairs on the first floor so much the electricity had to get cut before we reluctantly left the place. Slightly pricey for ice cream but its worth it.

The best food we had at Cambodia was at this charming Vietnamese restaurant called Viroth on Wat Bo street. Beautiful ambiance in a serene outdoor setting where the food and place matches the price. Don’t miss this place when you’re there. (USD 3 above).

Next up comes the Khmer Kitchen that comes a real close number 2. Try their excellent Makohan Curry. The service is slightly slow but its worth the wait and get there before dinner time as the place is really famous and you will have to wait for a table. (USD 2 above).

Internet is about USD0.75 per half hour or cheaper in some places. There was this really fast connection near our guesthouse (red piano) in Siam Reap.

Read the previous posts on Cambodia below
You want photo? 1 Usd!
Siam Reap
Travelling in Siam Reap
Bayon
20th Century's Hell on Earth
Majestic Angkor
Temple circuit : Siam Reap

My recipes

Star of anise I actually enjoy cooking on the one condition that I don’t have to do it everyday. I started cooking when I was around 13 coz I got sick of the vegetarian food that was being dished at home and the stuff I got from the shops. I was actually a full vegetarian for two years. Why I became one and stopped being one is a long story. We’ll leave it for another day.

Anyway because I still practice vegetarianism every other time, most of my recipes (attuned to my taste from other recipes) have 2 versions – the veg and the non veg. I prefer cooking than baking as cooking doesn’t require measurement it just goes by taste – so if you’re looking for measurements in my recipes – you’re looking at the wrong place ;p

I was contemplating whether to start another blog for this but I realized heck I don’t cook that much to have many recipes. I normally cook only dishes or simple meals coz its food I prepare after work when I’m famished and wanting something quick or stuff my mom doesn’t cook. Pasta is really good for quick meals. So do try them. Will try to post photos but sometimes I’m too hungry to set up the food.



Chicken casserole.

Yummy One of my most fav recipes is this casserole dish. Its easy to prepare and totally tasty. I love cream pasta and have tried a few recipes. I started with macaroni, but I’ve now stuck to this one recipe coz it’s so sinfully delicious. My fav type of pasta is fusilis as it holds the sauce and does not slip and slide like spaghetti.

Marinate
Cubed chicken
Ginger
Onions
Chilli (dried)
Garlic

Spices
Paprika
Tumeric
Pepper
Chilli Powder
Cinnamon
Salt

Sauce
Evaporated creamer (or any creamer/ milk)
Salt
Mushroom soup powder
Parmesan cheese
Cheddar cheese
Butter

Onions (diced)
Garlic (cut as small as possible)
Tomatoes
Spring Onions
Lettuce
oil

Pasta – Fusili cooked and drained

Method
First you’ll need to marinate the chicken. Grind all the ingredients under marinate with a little water. Pour over chicken and add a dash of all the spices. Leave to marinate.

Next fry the chicken till at least ¾ cook or fully cooked.

Then sauté the onions and then the garlic in a pan in butter. Pour in the remaining marinate sauce and let it simmer. Next add in the creamer, paprika, cinnamon powder, salt and a dash of mushroom soup powder.

Next add in the chicken and pasta and stir well. Cook for a while more before adding the tomatoes and spring onions before switching of the heat and then pour into baking pan (that’s been oiled so it wont stick)

Pasta
Add the cheeses and give it a stir before you cover with alluminium foil and leave to bake (if the chicken was fully cooked u can skip the foil). After 10 mins (heat 250) remove foil and bake for another 3 – 5 minutes.

The golden goodness is ready to be eaten. Serve on lettuce.






Vegetarian version

I sometimes dislike using mock meat in this dish plus it only tastes good with one particular kind. As it’s a creamy dish. Cashewnuts also don’t add to the taste.

The other day I added a simple fried flour fritters that tasted quite good with the sauce.

The interesting thing about this is I had to substitute kadalai (gram) flour with wheat as I couldn’t find it but it actually turned out well.

Vege fritters
Rice flour
Wheat flour
salt
Spring Onions
Chilli powder
water
bread

Tear the bread into pieces. Mix all the other ingredients till it’s a paste and add the bread pieces. Fry.

Add these into the pasta instead of chicken. Add the grinded spices into the pan instead.

You can skip the baking by adding cheese into the sauce (so it thickens) before adding the pasta.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You want photo? 1 Usd!

Sunrise at Angkor

Expectations are a funny thing. You spend years wishing to be somewhere. Images of the place have often left you breathless and years go by and your yearning grows. So one day you make the trip only to have most of your illusion crumbled. So the sights didn’t dissapoint but everything else did. That’s how I’d describe my trip to Cambodia. You see I had wanted to visit Angkor Wat for at least the last 10 years.

I’ve never waited for a trip to end but it happened this time though I must say it got better towards the end only becaused we moved to a different city. I cannot tell you the number of times my friend and I wished we were in India instead where the people were nicer and everything was more reasonable and you didn’t get an 8 year old telling you “this is my country I will stand wherever I want and you get out of my country!”

Yep it was that bad. The people of Siam Reap aren’t nice nor honest. They pester the living daylights out of you and unless you shower them with as much money as they want, you should get out of their country. We had an 8 year old and a tuk-tuk drivers friend tell us that. They will also call you stingy if you don’t pay or spend as much as they want.

Dreams are made here The place is ridiculously expensive though you’ll be surprised how reasonably priced it is to dine in a well established restaurant compared to the prices you pay near the temples in shack like food stalls, actually you pay nearly the same amount. Tuk-Tuk drivers also have the tendency of agreeing on one price at the beginning and demanding for more later.

That was in Siam Reap but as we ventured into Phnom Pehn the capital of Cambodia the situation got better. People were a tad bit nicer, less persistent badgering by children and tuk-tuk drivers and overall we met some nice people. As you can see the trip had its ups and down’s neverthless we did have fun.

I will be writing a detailed report on both the cities and tips on where to go, when to go, how to beat the crowds, where to eat, what to eat, how to save, how to be financially smart in a dishonest city and other information you will love to know. Siam reap is definetly a beautiful place to visit but maybe only once.

ps : this is gonna be a long series as I actually wrote this post immediately after I came back but didn't have time to edit the images so have fun.

Read the previous posts on Cambodia below
You want photo? 1 Usd!
Siam Reap
Travelling in Siam Reap
Bayon
20th Century's Hell on Earth
Majestic Angkor
Temple circuit : Siam Reap

Simpsons - ain't funny

I watched Simpsons yesterday and depite the rave reviews I didn’t find it that funny. I’ve always been a fan, every other evening I’ll be watching reruns or the new episodes. But if you’ve been fooling urself that the movie was as funny as the series I’m sorry but it wasn’t funny enough – it was a bit too nice!

Like Homer says at the beginning of the movie – I don’t believe you paid money to watch this when you can watch it on TV! – I think he gave us due warning we just didn't listen.

Morning blurness

I got a call this morning from a friend who had a serious doubt. You see we’re ordering shirts for ourselves and needed to finalise the sizes with the organizer.

she : vis are you busy
me : no darling go ahead
She : vis all the shirt sizes are too big even the xs is too big
Me : it is? Nolah it’s the normal sizesla
She : nolah its in inches right? Its too bigla
Me : nolah see ah the average waist size is between 26 – 30 so 31 is not too bigla
She : huh but but nolah its too big or I calculated wrongly
Me : I think you calculated wrongly la – go measure again
She : yeah but 31 x 2 is huge u know
Me : huh 62???? Darling 31 is the full circle measurementla
She : ohh not 62??
Me : rotfl heheheh 62 rotfl
She : heheh ops blurla
Me : rotfl heheheh 62 rotfl rotfl heheheh 62 rotfl bye rotfl heheheh 62 rotfl

As you can see I think all my friends suffer from morning blurness I’m just amazed I was clear enough to realize the itsy bitsy mistake ;p rotfl still laughing though

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

lazyness #1

There was only one reason I refused to get a postpaid phone account and was happily using a prepaid service for the last 7 years or so

I hate having to go pay the bills – and I’ll always forget!

Ps : ok sue me I’m lazy ;p

Monday, August 06, 2007

Weird talk

My nose stud attracts more attention then I do. The thing is its bigger than the average sized tiny little studs ppl wear. And people can’t decide whether they like it or the don’t, so I often have strangers stopping me on the streets to discuss my nose stud!

Normally comments vary between wow that’s pretty where did you get it to – how come you wear a big nose stud? And this has happened on the train, the bus, movie theater, restaurant (yes people walk up to me). Probably the bling blinds them ;p

Anyway today morning, I was trying (note the word trying) to pay my parking fees after an appointment when the lady behind the counter decideds to strike a conversation

me : receipt pls
She : suddenly opens the window of her booth and stares
(illeh ungeh mookutiyah ohlungah paakanum)
(aaa I wanted to take a closer look at your nose stud)
me : errr ok (smiling politely but feeling really awkard)
she : konjam perusuleh – ungehluku perusa than pudhikuma
its kinda big isn’t it – u like big ones is it

Me : errr aahh (give me my changeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee this is not a conversation I want to have on a Monday morning!!!!)
She finally hands over the money not before staring somemore.

Hellooo its rude to stare and seriously spare my Mondays! The last I checked the nose was definetly mine!

What's the weirdest conversation you've had?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My wheels : Part 2

When I first started working, I enthusiastically decided to use public transport since my office was conveniently located right in front of the LRT station. Someone still had to drop and pick me up from the KTM station near home but I decided I could give this a try. However after a brief and very eventful try, certain incidents forced me to look at getting a car and that’s when my second and first (the first one I owned) car – this grey black Proton Iswara was purchased as bro had officially taken over the Kancil at home. Both cars were manual geared.

After being easily recognized on the streets for years, I put my foot down on the cars number, totally refusing to get a number similar to my dad’s car. We had a huge argument and I finally won (I am impossibly stubborn) and dad grudgingly got the number 5102 (numbers are important as it determines how easily your car will get sold with the local car dealers).

While driving your first car is a wonderful feeling owning your first car is even more exhilarating. I didn’t read a single word in the documents, no lets rephrase that I WASN’T allowed to read through the document since I was purchasing the car from dad and he figured and asserted he knew best. So all I did was sign at all the marked spots, answered a few questions when the bank called and simply waited for my car to be delivered.

My brother tagged along when I went to pick up the car. I was pretty excited. We walked into the showroom at my dad’s office and there was my car parked on the upper level of the car showroom. Both of us excitedly approached the car while making sure we were on our best behaviors coz dad was quite the disciplinarian and he expects total professionalism when it comes to work (that’s a post by its own). So while he was giving us the stern look and getting the papers sorted, bro and I peeked into the car and circled it as if we were fulfilling some vow to circle a temple.

Truthfully I was hesitating on driving the car out as I’ve been driving this compact car for a very long time and I wasn’t used to driving a bulkier car. Plus there was gonna be a lot of maneuvering to do as the showroom was pretty constricted and down the narrow road. Of course all hesitation flew out the window when dad skeptically looked at me and asked if he needs to drive the car out for me. Ego took over and I confidentially told him I could do it myself. Here’s where the tricky part came coz not only did I have to maneuver the car, I also had this audience of men (my dad and his colleagues) who came out to watch me drive the car out! Thanks to the impression created by most women drivers, these bunch of men were waiting for a show.

The first thing that leaped into my mind when I was behind the wheels was – “Oh damn this steering wheel is gonna take the life out of me. If you hadn’t known, the Iswara steering wheel is really a pain to steer. But as they say the show must go on and I was determined to get the car out without anyone’s help. I had my reputation as a daredevil driver to keep! Well I’m glad to report that day I sorely disappointed them when I successfully steered the car out.

It took sometime to get used to that steering wheel but the car had its charm. There was one time I forgot to lock my car door and had happily scooted off to work after parking it at my usual parking area. That evening I came back shocked to find the car unlocked yet safely still at its spot. It probably was because the parking attendants had kept an eye on the car but that was definitely lucky.

The few times the car got hit had also left it free of damage. I once had a kancil drive into my cars rear end and while the Kancil’s bonnet got bent, there was nary a scratch on my car. That car actually was never involved in an accident as long as I was using it. Pretty impressive right.

One night after a long practice session at my veena class, I was cruising across the highway zig zagging through traffic with one hand constantly stabilizing my huge veena from tilting when this car starts zig zagging behind me. He was basically trying to race with me while I was more concerned on getting home and hitting the sack. Anyway the guy catches up and the look on his face was priceless. I think he was expecting a guy to be behind the wheels and so I got a thumbs up from him. That was definitely a priceless moment.

I used to adorn the cars dashboard with Ganesha’s. At one point there was about 15 Ganesha’s of different shapes happily at home on the dashboard.

I still had a soft spot for the maroon monster that after owning the little fella for over 5 years, we finally decided to say goodbye to it as my bro wanted a cooler car.

Nostalgia definitely took over us the day the car dealer came by to pick the car up. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. We had built so many memories with that car, ferried so many friends and family, drove to so many events and so it was pretty sad to see the little thing leave. Hopefully he’s got a good owner elsewhere.

Nostalgia tends to vanish fast when the present catches up to you. When my dad passed away we suddenly found ourselves saddled to one too many cars. There was my dad’s wira, my iswara and bros less than 10 day old satria. We live in a town where it’s totally impossible to rely on public transport and with the number of classes my bro and I used to attend, we definitely needed a set of wheels for all 3 of us. We took turns driving mom around.

It came to a point where we couldn’t sell of the third car as one was brand new and the other was less than 2 years old. Those were some trying times, I had to make so many decisions. Keeping the future in mind I pushed mom to get a license at the age of 60 and use my car while I took over dad’s car. My car didn’t seem happy about the decision coz less than a week after they took over the car, they met with an accident and the passenger door was fully dented. Life’s irony I guess.

A week later I hit another car for the very first time in my life while driving my brother’s brand new car. That incident really shocked me as since that day I have never driven the car. It was one problem after another - as the say when it rains it pours.

Anyway my dad finally had the last laugh, you see after all my protest of using the family car number, I eventually had no choice but to use his car and that was the number everyone knew! Though I had agreed to drive the car I was still hesitating coz I really loved my old car and I wasn’t used to driving automotive geared car which was also lower and bigger, plus there was just too many things going on in my life at that moment. However time has ways of persuading you into bucking up as I was practically forced into driving the car thanks to incidents that involved some unscrupulous relatives.

So dad’s car became my third and current car. It took me sometime to really look at the car as mine. When dad was around we used to call the car his first wife as he guarded it preciously. I can count the number of times I’ve drove it since I got my own car. The only times I drove the car was after his first heart attack and we forced him to let us drive him for his checkups. My dad used to refuse let me or my brother to drive the car when we went on holidays. We used to go for vacations locally at least once a year so the car really could tell stories.

Most of all we associated the car with dad. All my life we knew dad was home by the familiar sound of his car engine which was always followed by a honk so that one of us will go open the doors. Normally we’d know he was back home with the sound of his car but we’d still wait for the honk as it bought us more time in front of the tv.

They say funerals are held not as a send off for the departed but rather to provide closure for the family and friends. Despite having performed his last rites, it has never stopped me from foolishly wishing that it had all been just a dream and one evening we’d hear that familiar purr of his engine and that single honk and everything will be back to normal. Foolish dreams only a child could dream.

Everytime someone gets into my car, the first thing they notice is this gash across the passenger side. I normally just say it’s been there forever coz that’s really the truth. The gash came with the car, a month or more before his death some car had scraped the passenger side and I have never been able to bring myself to get it repaired. I’ve warmed up to the car, I’ve made it my own but I guess I’m still holding on to a piece of the past.
Each of my three cars has had a first moment. This car was the first one I’ve driven on long distance trips. Dad used to insist on driving us on every family trip or any other trips we tried to organize with our friends. I remember there was one time I was asked to perform in JB and we were planning to drive down in my car. So I call up dad and asked him if it was ok for me to drive down to jb explaining why and with whom. He immediately agrees much to my surprise (coz I was expecting a lecture) and then he said those golden words.

“I’ll drive you down myself!”

Those were interesting days alright.

We bid farewell to 5102 sometime back coz mom found it too big for her. So we got her a smaller car and don’t tell her but she’s seriously become quite a good driver. Though she still manages to do some incredibly stunts now and then but for someone who’s in her 60s I think she’s doing well. Just don’t tell her I said it ;p

Anyway current car seems to get kissed a lot and sometimes at the most ridiculous places like the petrol station and they’re not huge accidents with the bumper falling down and scrapping the world. It’s just this car tends to have secret encounters, a kiss here, a pinch there, a brush elsewhere. I say secret coz I’ve returned to tell tale dents while it’s supposed to be parked innocently.

I actually sent the car to the workshop sometime back after I hit someone car (the second time I banged into someone) sometime back. A week after I got the car back from the workshop, I find a dent at its side while it was parked in the green grassy area of a residential place. I think its time I had a sit down with him and tell him he has got to stop attracting rough women!

So that’s been my 11 years on the road with 3 different cars. I just realized that my license needs to be renewed exactly one year from yesterday! Talk about timing! ;p

My wheels : Part 1

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My wheels : Part 1

I never actually rode a school bus. Dad either dropped us at school or we walked or cycled to and from school. When dad was working with Ford, he used to drop us at school (early primary) in a different car every few months. Everytime there was a new model we’d get to try it out. You have any idea how cool that is?

Well it didn’t last for long coz dad went on to work with Proton after that. The funny thing is I can’t remember any of those Ford cars but I can remember every single Proton we’ve owned right down to their numbers. Dad had this thing with numbers, it had to be a select number and he liked repeated sequences so we had 8555, numerous 1711’s (which incidentally used to be our old house’s number) and another set that has 666 (no wonder I call my cars little devils ;p) in it. He used to rotate these numbers to a point that on seeing one of this numbers on the street most people would know it was one of our vehicles.

My first car was this hot metallic maroon perodua kancil which was actually the family car but mostly used by me since I was the only other family member who could drive. I have so much memories with this car as it was my first car and I have always loved driving no make that speeding and to a 17 year old who just got her license speed rules your life – so you can imagine what fun I’ve had with it!

Less then a day after getting the car, I was driving into KL which is quite remarkable for a newbie driver. It wasn’t exactly my first drive into KL, but definetly the first time without dad’s menancing glance accompanying me throughout the drive.

The first time he handed me the wheels of his Wira was while we were in KL one Sunday morning, I nearly protested as I knew he wasn’t gonna be easy on me. All was well until we reached this tight turn and right smack in the middle of it was a stalled truck. It seems my dad was expecting me to panic and stop the car. So he was pretty impressed when I successfully drove through the tight lane with nary a whimper. It seems he later boasted about me to my mom though I never heard a single part of the boasting. All I ever heard was

”why won’t you drive with both hands?”
”why can’t you put the signal?”
”are you sure you looked left and right before turning?”
”can you tell your daughter to stop driving like me (@ with one hand and without putting the signal! – like father like daughter ;p)

Bah typical Asian dads I tell ya! But I guess that set his heart at ease and he got me (ok the family) the car even before I asked for one. I was pretty surprised when he booked the car.

The exhilaration of a first time driver is beyond words. After years of drooling and desiring to be in the driver’s seat, the moment you get that brand new ugly smugly photoed license is just priceless. The legal first time is unbelievably sweet. Every single action seems extraordinary.You insert the key in and lightly twist them to hear the purring of the engine, you carress your hands lightly over the steering wheel, you adjust the rear view mirror and the side mirrors for the first time, then you get compfy at your seat, finding the right and coolest (driving is all about being cool) angle to be driving at, then you adjust the radio station (yes its one of the most important things for a first time driver coz you finally get to choose what you want to listen to!) and then you release the hand gear and swift into the first gear and excitedly release the clutch.

Universally that’s when the car jerks and dies on you while your friends or family members are watching. Of course they’ll start laughing at you and wonder out loud if you bought your license! Believe me I’ve seen it happen so many times I think it’s the cars idea of a joke! If you have a younger brother be assured that the fella who’s zealously telling you what to do though he himself has not drove before will go though the same embarrasement!

After those castles you built in your mind comes crumbling down the drain, this time you release the clutch carefully and as the car moves without any hitch you let out a relieved sigh! That’s when the fun starts; you’re practically jumping in your seat in excitement of finally being able to drive and despite warnings not to speed that’s precisely what you’ll do. Well at least that’s what I did, I couldn’t wait to see how fast my little baby could go and it didn’t help that I had an accomplice in my brother who kept urging me on.

That’s where the set of unified numbers my dad loved to get for our vehicles became a problem. I’d be whizzing down the streets at break neck speed when some “well meaning” uncle will call my dad up to complain about his daredevil daughter who was driving too fast! I’d reach home to a earful of complaints that just went out through the other ear. Plus there was this brigade of people who would spot me around town and report on my wherebouts to dad. You can imagine I didn’t like it one bit.

Then came the fights on who GETS to be behind the wheel as my brother got his license 8 months after we got the car. You see my once accomplice brother was now my numero uno enemy as we used to fight on whose turn it was to drive the car everytime we went out. That was a different kind of excitement, coz the winner would feel like he won a million bucks.

Of course that lasted only for a while, soon KL’s traffic jams took its toll on me and I started getting sick of driving. I was ever ready to handover the wheels to anyone and while bro was excited for sometime he finally figured sis dearie was just too lazy to drive. So we began to argue on who HAS to drive. Mom used to grumble that we were capable of arguing on the most ridiculous stuff coz we just loved arguing! Heh ;p

We both used to have a habit of racing between traffic lights. It always started with the next car roaring its engine at us, coz they deemed us timid creatures sitting behind the wheels of this little car. Little did they know we knew which buttons to push in our little monster. So we’d speed off and have them bitting the dust of our little car and they’ll come chasing after. It’s just that we couldn’t take the notion that came with drivers of little cars. Alright the impression has changed now but then it used to be the little dainty aunties car and that was an absolutely no to us.funny thing was we used to win ;p

There was one time we actually raced with this BMW with a Singapore license plate coz he snickered at our car. Obviously we lost but not before giving a well fought fight but that wasn’t the end of it. As we were cruising down the highway we notice a car had been pulled to the side by cops and guess who it was – MR BMW of course. We actually slowed down and laughed at the guy feeling smug that at least he was getting a hefty fine ;p

Eventually I got over speed and the excitement of driving thanks to the multitude of traffic jams that I pass through daily. Of course everytime I change a new set of tyres or the car comes back from a full service session, the adrenalin rush for speed kicks in and I’m testing the cars speed limit. There is just something about whizzing down the highway criss-crossing traffic at 160 km/h. Just it doesn’t happen all the time anymore.

That car saw me through univ, was a constant companion for nearly 3 years, witnessed a car fall into a drain right next to it, whizzed all over town, watched me party, shared my pain when I lost my friend, got hit on 9.9.99, I never hit another car while I was behind its wheels, I had never been pulled over by a cop in that car and that car and me share a part of each others history where my life is etched in its metallic walls and his (yes it’s a he ;p) in my heart.

Alright I need a break from the wheels will write more on my other 2 cars in the next part. Yes there’s more to come. ;)