Wednesday, December 31, 2008

08 The Year in Books


Sons and Mothers by Colm Toibin

Growing Up in Terengganu by Awang Goneng

The Gathering by Anne Enright

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

In the Country of Men by Hisham Mather

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (lyrical but still unfinished)

January 29- May 6: Sprong pops out. No reading unless The Baby Bible aka The American Academy of Pediatrics counts


New Complete Baby and Todler Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel

123 Brain Games for Baby by Jackie Silberg

Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan


How Children Learn by John Holt (Unfinished)

Empire's of Profit by Daniel Litivin


Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

How Babies Talk : The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life: Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Oct - mid Dec

I start work so hardly any reading for pleasure unless Newsweek and the Financial Times count


Trying to read The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 08

Yawn! Yes, still around, just not been blogging.

Time for the annual audit. Must. Do. Soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Joint branding I've heard but this one is just genious. Indian dairy producer Amul cashing in on current phenomenon. Read tag line with heavy Indian accent for full effect please!


On a more serious note, I am not really sure if Obama's win is really going to structurally change race relations. In fact, I think it may actually work against African Americans - you know, the President is black, what more do y'all want? kinda thing.

Also, I think the whole world is expecting too much from one man. He is going to save the world and change things from North Korea, middle east to spin around the credit crisis. Only a mythical man can do this. Or a Kyroptonite superhero.

Still, it's amazing to have a leader the world looks up to, after such a long time. The last great leader who brought the world together like this whom I can think of is Winston Churchill.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


you would never think its possible- a black man in the WHITE house but there you go.....

even brought me out of blogging hiatus.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Year Ago Today.....

....I sat down in my hollow living room. Ammerton Drive and every memory of it reduced into 63 boxes, all labelled and ready to go. Tear fest was made worst by raging 5 and half months pregnancy hormones.

I miss. I miss.

Monday, September 08, 2008

guacomole and other such

wow. i am almost posting everyday after a long, long time.

After going through a period of loving avocado, Sprong suddenly is turning his nose away. Must seriously look for guacomole recipe pronto before the few sitting in fridge go bad.

Otherwise, am currently reading the Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh. Yes, I am thinking of potty training Sprong as I hate diapers - just the fact that it is so chemical-fied and what not. His eczema is further aggravated as well because of the synthetic material. I have been using cloth napkins (I bought a couple of Bambino Mios) but I am paranoid about the cleanliness- much effort needs to be exerted in ensuring hygience, etc which is a headache I can do without. Solution? Go diaper free in 6 months. That's the plan anyway.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This is almost becoming a mommy blog

Today, I sat at a cafe and Sprong could self- entertain himself for 15 mins by which time, I finished my nasi lemak. How amazing is that?

Sprong turns 8 months in 2 weeks - no its not been as quick as some people tell me its been. It has been a long drawn, protracted 8 months interspersed with some of the most magical, ethereal spells.


This blog is avowedly apolitical - in other words, it's all about ME, ME, ME and once upon a time, I was able to talk about quite a range of subjects. Yet, in these few months, I realize that 98% of posts have been Sprong related.

My perspectives have changed forever I think, though I am still me, in many ways I am mom-me first. Funny how all other roles, daughter/friend/employee even wife never defined me like this.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

snap out of it burrowing further and further in a downward spiral. snap out of it jane sunshine. tomorrow is another day.

btw, how come it's already september?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A few days before delivering Sprong, I read Colm Toibin's collection of short stories Mothers and Sons. Toibin is an immaculate observer of human foibles and this comes across every story. How do you judge a selfish mother who ignores her only son's wishes in order for herself to have freedom to live life the way she wanted. Was she a lesser mother?

What about the mother who finds out that her son, a priest, had raped the boys in his seminary? Will she still love that son?

Difficult questions which Toibin unpacks without supplying easy answers.

It's a complicated relationship that has been delved since Oedipus. Some of my favourite books explore this relationship of boy/man with the first woman in his life. DH Lawrence in Sons and Lovers, Lionel Shriver in We Need to Talk about Kevin and Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men. To a lesser extent, The God of Small Things has lovely glimpses of the son-mother relationship. Ammu reaching out to mess Estha’s Elvis puff comes to mind.

Then, there is Lucy Ceccaldi whose brazen brand of mothering (or non-mothering maybe) stands out. She says this about her literary son: "this individual, who alas came from my womb, is a liar, an imposter, a parasite and above all". The question someone like her poses is what happens when mothers and sons become enemies?

Sprong is currently going through an early form of stranger anxiety: he wants his mommy exclusively ie mommy has to run out of the shower/ rush back from the corner 7-11 because of meltdown moments. Everyone is exasperated except me. I am quite aware that after this stage, Sprong will never quite want me this way again. One day, I know that he is going to walk to school with nary a backward glance (later rather sooner hopefully). For now, I am quite happy to smother (pun intended) him any which way he wants.

Monday, August 11, 2008


this blog is dusty. need to update soon. sleepy all the time. bubba is teething and can't sleep at night. poor babe seems to be feeling awful. otherwise he's been eating apple/pear sauce, courgettes, leek, potatos, avocados, bananas, papayas, brown rice, carrots in various combos - or not. solids been hit or miss really. but real fun for me - i let him hold the spoon and we make a total absolute mess!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I am so, so tired. Of everything.


When S finished his soy milk today (after some serious struggle), I told him that he is a superbaby. I just wish that I am supermommy who can make his eczema go away.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Community Message for Parents (ideas most welcome)

1. Everywhere I go in KL, I see Avent (by Philips) baby bottles on SALE. There's a reason for this folks- traders want to get read of their stock as Avent clear plastic bottles have been recalled in Canada and the UK gvt is considering the same.

Avoid ppl! Clear plastic baby bottles contain Bisphenol-A, a chemical that leaches and leads to all kind of side effects. Of course, the science is unproven but my take is, why risk when it is your baby at stake? I used Avent myself till I stumbled upon this fact and am unsurprised that traders in M'sia are trying to dump the bottles on unsuspecting parents. A friend of mine just bought SIX bottles, quite happy that she got them at a hefty discount only to discover her folly.

2. We started rice cereal yesterday for S at 5.5 months (there have been feeding issues with his reflux so that's why we are starting slightly earlier). I am so excited about him starting solids with his own proper bowl and spoon! I've been referring to Annable Karmel's New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner which is fairly good and idiot proof. Any other weaning ideas are welcome. I would like to make my own rice cereal but not really sure how.

3. I have resigned to the fact that an outing in KL means going to the mall what with the heat and all. We have so far ventured to ones where people don't go much so we can manage when he is fussy and wailing his lungs out ie Subang Parade. I discovered that SP has a lovely Mother's Room with private cabins for breastfeeding, diaper changing etc. We are in Bangsar Village a fair bit as well but its crap with regards to breastfeeding facilities and the changing room is with the toilets which I hate. Someone told me that The Curve is also v. good with facilities (plus there's a brand outlet store) so must check that out. Any other ideas re: KL malls, please let me know.

4. There's not going to be an Epping Forest or a quiet country farm to take him to here but there have been some good finds. With regards to parks, the Taman Tun one is great excpet that it so packed over the weekends. Avoid the Kelana Jaya park with a vengeance -it is not buggy friendly and tends to be dirty. Last weeked, we discovered the Kiara park (I can't remember what its called now) and loved it because it was guarded, clean, buggy friendly and also not crowded. Yeay!

5. I suppose there are lots of non-mall related activties that can be arranged in Mall-Asia if one looks hard enough. When S is older, I can't wait to take him to Planeterium Negara (sp?), and the various butterfly/flower parks.

6. I called to find out about a play nest for babies 6 months and above and am shocked with the astronomical prices that I was quoted! I am thinking of starting an informal play nest for S with other babies myself. Just a couple of moms singing and doing some puppet shows etc. Any takers (preferably in the PJ/Bangsar/Damansara area) please email me privately.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Loving 'Evening is the Whole Day'

For two whole days now, I have been holed up at home, sporting eye bags from lack of sleep and leaving baby with maid for tending. Guilty I know but the object of my adoration- Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan.

At heart it is a book about love and loneliness framed by hyphenated identities, what it means to be Malaysian and Indian. The present time is set in 1980 but I think most if the issues are still relevant. Looming over the characters is Ipoh. Although I never went to school there, at many levels, due to family connections, I consider myself Ipoh mali. I was delighted with the Ipoh details and anecdotes.

Growing up I always wished my name was Jennifer or Amy or something more American sounding. Besides, nobody in my books ever sounded like anyone I knew in real life. In real life, my big cousin sister was action-action for not friending us.We drank from kovalai's, bought bread from the roti man and tapau-ed food from FMS Bar. On special days, we got to makan at Station Hotel. And run to the corner shop for tinned milo, dried chinese plum, kandos, axe brand medicated oil. Every Divali, we went to get kain for tailoring from Kwong Fatt textiles. This is the Ipoh of Aasha and family. It is also the Ipoh I know and love.

Finally, a book that sounded like all of us with real people, grappling with their hyphenated identities and fractured by family secrets. Rich in detail and finely executed, the characters leap with intensity, the narrative is taut and kept me rapt right till the end. Incidentally, the last sentence is one of the most powerful ones I've read for a while-it captured every anguish and made my throat dry.

Yet there are some problems. Appa's farcical descent bears a false note, a change so abrupt that it appears more to feed some tragicomic need. Also, the need to tie the occupants of Big House to 1969 was built with gusto only to crash and then suddenly disappear. That part seems to be almost diembodied from the rest, a Necessary Section towards making The Book a Serious One. What causes Appa's incendiary chants to fade away is never really explained. Also, the need to rely on Arundhati Roy-esque language is A Perplexing Matter to Consider. How necessary was it to the narrative? Why bother when the tone already works?

Still, I am being finicky.

This is a remarkable first book and Preeta Samarasan pens a truly Malaysian tale. The dialogue is scintillating, its cadence and singsong beauty made my heart leap. She also captures the Malaysian Indian psyche with candour. The attachment to fair skin which denotes beauty and class. Children must not call house-help as servants but the mothers are free to gloat how well provided their own servants were treated. When Kooky Rooky sits to gossip with Amma at the kitchen formica table, I tell you, it is a scene that has been repeated on countless kitchen tables. More importantly, the untold class distinction between the urban Indian who feels superior to the rubber estate fellow, like what Suresh says: 'a real estate woman she (chellam) is'.

Go out and grab a copy y'all- not just Malaysians but lovers of good fiction everywhere. This is a stunning debut and I will look forward to more of her work. I hope that the book receives the adulation it richly deservers.

Friday, May 16, 2008


The thing about Mother's Day that irks me is this outpouring of luurrvvvee. How all mothers are so fabulous and all-sacrificing goddesses.

Don't get me wrong. '08 marks the first year ever that I can demand some kind of celebration and gloat at my own greatness with regards to raising my own little pet, oh sorry, kid (in any event, nothing much happened cause I have a husband who forgets this kinda things unless nudged. And since motherhood has happened, I have no energy to nag anymore, much to his benefit).

But still, to treat mothers as a homogenised entity seems incredibly naïve. I am sure that there are those filmi mothers who sacrifice life and limb for their babes but what about the regular ones, who are imperfect, lazy, selfish and infect various complexes on their children. Do they get celebrated as well?

I have more thoughts on this but (yawn) later. I had a long day entertaining one very active baby.

Blessed (again and again and again)

Last Tuesday, I sat for a while at a pub in Holborn, gathering my thoughts. I watched the shuffling crowd, entangled in the after office rush. A few minutes ago, I had stood on the grey pavement with a giddiness that made me want to slump. I felt emptied out, knackered beyond belief.

When the panel congratulated me, it didn't quite sink in. It still hasn't I think. What is a culmination of a lifetime's work seemed to have pirouetted into this one singular moment. So, I can now sign off as Dr. Sunshine.

Afterwards, surrounded by some of the loveliest of friends who came together to celebrate, I had to ask what is it that I had done to receive such benevolence.

To the universe for conspiring to bring such goodness in one fabulous year. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This sure takes the cake

M swears that I sang 'here's tommy kitty' out aloud in my dreams last night. How do I reconcile this with my readings on communitarian politics?

Otherwise, kiddo is okay. Just waiting for his reflux to go away.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Birth Story

Been silent for so, so long.

Wanted to recount birth story and decided that I better do it before its too late. Baby S is 10 weeks as of yesterday. When I look at pix of him in the hosp, I can't believe how much he's changed and grown. Was it yesterday that I gingerly held that tiny, wizened old froglet? Today, he can lift his head briefly already- so proud of my little bubs.

So, we had reached the stage where we were 39 weeks, heavy, heaving and counting. No baby in sight. 'Who knows' said my gynae. 'Maybe the tyke will appear on your due date itself which will make you an interesting statistic'. Then, on the 20th of Jan ie Sunday, I thought I had some bloody 'show'. Not sure what to make out of it as I had a gynae appointment the day before and she did mention that this would happen as she had examined me. My parents and M insisted that I drop by the hosp nevertheless cause 'what if?'

'No way' I said. 'Today is so just not it, I tell you'. I even had a list of 'things to be done' for Monday morning ie bank in cheque, pay electricity bill etc. 'I will be right back after this - we are wasting our time today - I still haven't finished my errands' says moi. Plus, I didn't have time to wash my hair that morn. For months, I had told myself that I must have nice hair on the day of delivery (must look nice in photos with baby okay), so made sure I washed and blow dried everyday that I felt 'is today the day?'.

So I was quite certain that day would not be it.

When I went in, I was told that I was 2 cm dilated and was in labour! So much for instinct. Had to send M back for my hosp bag. 'Oh wait' I asked. 'Can I go out and have dinner?'-suddenly realizing that this will probably be the last time ever that M and I will be a couple, go to a restaurant without a second thought.

And there I was, over 2 cm dilated, sitting in Lotus Jln Gasing having thosai and tea, being very pensive.

The rest of course you know. Baby S was born after almost 20 hours of labour and I had matted hair in all the pix.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

And Baby Makes Three

I didn't expect it to be this tiring.

I wish I could say that the minute they laid my son on my chest, in full bloody glory, I was totally in love. Instead at that moment, all that I could think of was 'why wasn't he crying?'I remember Blake's babies who made 'sweet moans, sweeter smiles'.

A fear gripped me that something was not quite right. My baby, born through assisted delivery, was vaccummed out on Monday, 21.1.08. He spent the first 3 hours of his life in neo-natal intensive care (NICU) due to lack of oxygen. Once out of NICU, he wailed his chest out into his mummy's heart.

A strange hollowness gripped me the minute he was born. I feel emptied out, as if some part of me had been ripped away. Pregnancy, though accompanied with a steady stream of whining and winges, had been incredibly fulfilling. I felt that my body had reached for its own rhythm, as a vessel carrying life. The baby in my tummy shared many little secrets and we both kept each other company throughout the major upheavals of those few months.

Once he was delivered, for the few hours that he was placed in a glass incubator, I was strangely detached. As the epidural slowly eased off and I could feel my legs again, I felt that the baby was no longer mine. We couldn't share secrets anymore. It didn't help that a steady stream of visitors popped around to claim their stake on him.

The hospital stay was a blur of distress. I was exhausted from the whole labour process and when the baby was put to breast, he didn't latch on. I didn't lactate for a good 5 days which was a greater source of stress as I had been quite intent on breastfeeding him exclusively. We had to use formula which broke my heart into many tiny pieces. Even now, he is still on supplement though I try to pump as much a possible to increase my supply. Then there was the first few times that I tried to pacify him and he continued bawling, I felt personally rebuked. I had never felt like such a failure before.

But I am being pragmatic about it now. I do what I can do, and beyond that call for help. M has been a hands-on dad and I don't think I would have survived the first two weeks without him. There will be days when this whole motherhood thing is going to be more fulfilling than others and I must allay self doubts. Granted, I am never going to be one of those militant soccer moms, will go on to make loads of mistakes and am often clueless as at what to do.
But so what? If there is such a thing as pure love, then I am experiencing that every day. That and those 2-3 hourly feeds.
(oh yeah, he is going to be Baby S on this blog).

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I turned 32 a few days ago. Too many candles on the cake if you ask me. Made me wistful as well - next birthday, I will be a full fledged mom....don't know if I am ready or even cut out for it but I will just have to learn on the job I suppose.

I am at the stage where everyone keeps calling and asking whether I've had the baby or not. Well, the doctor thinks at least not for another week . I'll let Sprong decide when, really.

Don't really want to go into details about current physical discomforts but its really miserable being this big. I've gone into nesting mode as well- clearing the house from top to bottom, filing away all bills, notes, etc.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Obligatory New Year post or more like wake up-and-update-the blog post. But seriously. Have a great '08 ahead folks.

As for me, '07 has been a year of serious ups and downs. In a funny way, I think I really grew up last year, all considering......

Many things to look forward to in '08 including our little bundle of joy, due end of Jan but as per gynae's instructions, to be ready from now basically. So, my hosp bag is packed, there's a stroller in the store room and a cot to be assembled. Whatever it is, I am quite certain that I would have forgotten something.......


These few weeks past saw me mired in a depressive state- combination of hormones and niggling issues but found myself salved in the form of Growing up In Terengganu (GUiT). GUiT is such a charming delight, housing a cornucopia of chuckle inducing tales. The humourous vignettes made me smell the East Coast monsoon, drool over the gorgeous food and simply enjoy the journey back in time.

GUiT has been a beautiful perk-me-up these few weeks and I would recommend everyone grab a copy! Congratulations to my friend Awang Goneng (AG) for such a beautiful slice of Malaysiana. Makes me want to go to T'gganu NOW!

Thanks to GUiT, am all ready for 2008 now.