Friday, November 16, 2007

63 boxes later...

....we are settled.

Sort of. Moving continents while being pregnant is not the best of ideas but things have been such. Finally, we have a semblance of a home. (most) Things are out of boxes and in some kind of organized place.

How have I been surviving Kuala Lumpur? With lots of air conditioning, that's how (at 7 months, my concerns for the environment take a back seat unfortunately).

Big, big sigh. I won't go into details with regards to all the super-stress this move entailed but for a variety of reasons, it had to happen. M's been a troopper in this process, bearing the full brunt of all my pregnancy winges and whines. We found a place not that close to Raju the Banana Leaf man but not that far either (taking into consideration leasehold properties vs convinience).

I am officially unemployed for now. Well, I still have a thesis to submit so that's work in a sense. I have found this state very marginalizing but that's a post for another day.

It was really tough saying goodbye. Sometimes, late at night, I think of Ammerton Drive, our cute little house, my garden, my sun dappled spot at the dining table where most of my thesis was worked on. I miss driving down to Borough market for fresh veg and fruit. Tate. Bundling down to the British museum to just unwind when work got to me. Feeing the ducks at Epping forest. Food fests at Holiday Villa (at regular table) with scrumptious company to boot. The second hand bookshops at Charing Cross Road. Coffee at Holborn high. Saturday Guardian. Autumn walks.

I miss. I miss.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Waiting to Exhale

All I can say is that the year so far has been one of ups and downs, most importantly, of transitions. Won't be writing for awhile now, at least until things settle and yes, when I get a chance to exhale.

Little Gidding
TS Elliot

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Wedge of Dusty Sunlight

Verdict on Atonement? I am not nearly done yet but I think I've bee reading it at the perfect time- with fabulous summer sun. The first part of the book is set amidst a sun dappled day and harrowing night which sets the tone of lightness/darkeness, happiness/unhappiness throughout.

I am reminded of atmospheric reading. How reading a book at a particular time or place enhances the experience.

A few months ago, when I was sieged with grief and loss, I re-immersed myself in Anne Fadiman's charming little book on books Ex Libris Confessions of a Common Reader.She says this:

I begin writing Ex Libris when it occurred to me how curious it was that
books are so often written about as if they were toasters. Is this brand of
toaster better than that brand of toaster? At $24.95, is this toaster a best
buy? There is nothing about how I may feel about my toaster ten years hence,
and nothing about the tender feelings. I may yet harbour for my old toaster.
This neatly omits what I consider the heart of reading: not whether we wish
to purchase a new book but how we maintain our connections with our old
books, the ones we have lived with for years, the ones whose textures and
colours and smells have become as familiar to us as our children's skin

I entirely agree because I cannot ever think of books as acquisitions. My favourite books have personalities and lives of their own for which I am eternally grateful. I strongly believe that as much as I choose my books, they choose me as well. Why do I end up reading a particular book at a particular time? Book karma, that's why. The good ones sometimes tiptoe into the radar subtly, camouflaged amidst the louder and brasher ones. Books are a lot like men.

When I remember all the books that accompanied me over the years, my younger self comes tumbling out again. Some of these books have grown up with me, like Franny and Zooey. There is a much scribbled Potrait of the Artist that stores my 18 year self. How can these just be cheap books, expensive books, torn books, leather bound books, picture books? Between the covers are memories, pain and laughter. Rereading them is a kind of comfort food effect, a feel good warmth without calories. Some pages bear old food stains, obviously because I tend to read during meals a lot. There are also chunks of underlined passages which would have particularly caught my attention and often, scrawny scribbles of my thoughts. Sometimes, other stuff that have been submerged for years spring out-movie tickets, shopping lists, forgotten postcards, payment receipts, parking fines, blades of grass, an odd stamp or two.

Some books have travelled with me far. A few years ago, on a sweltering July day, I sat down at the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh reading Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz. Amidst the lazing cows and half clad sadhus, this is a book that continues to influence my work and shades my thinking.

All cried out at 22, the book that helped me get through my first break up was Sons and Lovers. Like Miriam, I felt that I would never find a man to truly love me because no man will be able to reach out to my soul. I was too complicated and to be part of any man's life, much less the superficial a***hole with whom I was going out with. But I also saw that Miriam deserved better and surely I did too. Slowly, I picked up myself and the year.

In Kota Kinablau I walked with sea spray in my hair and dried flower bracelets laced on my wrist. My colleague Nora slept while I stayed up reading The Inimitable Lightness of Being to make sure we would be up by 4 am to make it to the seafood wholesale market. My mother made the most delish prawn stir fry from the purchase later in the day and my copy of Kundera's book still has some of those stains.

I remember the night I spent in a hotel room, unable to sleep as my first trial loomed in the morning. I had re-read my files and notes 25 million times and it made me fidget. So I opened Angela's Ashes which I had bought that afternoon at the airport. The sodden, gloominess of the lives of the McCourt boys kept me rapt, and I dozed off after a few hours. The memories of my first trial remain intermingled with the McCourts.

I've also traced the steps some of my favourite characters and poets. When I went to Bath, I brought along a copy of Persuasion to re-read all the Bath escapades again. Anne Elliot is my favourite Austen heroine and the sense of tracing her steps as well as the dishy Fredrick made my heart skip a few beats. Last week, I went to the Keats museum in Hampstead. With the gradual change in season, I re-read my favourite poem, Ode to Autumn. The words tumbled with a calming cadence.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy 50th Malaysia

Selamat Hari Merdeka kepada rakyat Malaysia di mana-mana jua.

Malaysia is like family- full of warts and skeletons but can't be severed from my identity either. Sometimes it is a happy family, sometimes it is not. Like Tolstoy says, 'all happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way'.

We need to sit and think about the gnawing unhappiness that is increasingly glaring. Today however, is a day to celebrate so lets put family altercations aside.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Over the weekend, warm, honeyed sunshine streamed in, casting the whole world in a magnanimous warmth. Happiness. Happiness. In twirls.

What little it takes to make me happy (especially after weeks of interminable grey skies).


I am madly trying to sneak in reading Atonement amidst harried schedule-before the movie. Saw the trailer and Keira Knightley looks ravishing. This is my first Ian McEwan and now know what the fuss is all about and why people worship the ground he walks on.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Sprong Sprang Last Spring

Yes, we are pregnant!!! Its been a mad ride so far what with trying to finish work and moving and hundred and one other things happening at the same time. I had a text book first trimester which was nausea and puke-filled. Not the best times.

But all's well now that we are well and truly in the second trimester. My energy has returned and so has my appetite.

I miss my morning coffee so much. Just that one cup of perk me up that used to be the highlight of my morning is now well and truly a memory. I now sneak a cup of tea here and there in the evenings, caffeine police be damned.

Overall, I think pregnancy is one of the most spiritual experiences to have - where your body transforms a couple of cells into a living, breathing human baby-apart from the fact that you soon resemble a beached whale to achieve this.

I am quite keen on this blog not to be morphed into a mommy blog. I don't have anything against mommy bloggers but personaly, it's important for me to have a life/personality beyond being a mom or soon-to-be mom. Plus, I don't think talk about books, travels and travails really sit well with baby buggy purchase and other such ilk.

But for repository of pregancy related tales, here's link

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I'm mildly addicted to Heroes, the NBC series.

If you were to be gifted with a superpower and could choose your gift, what would you want it to be?

To fly? (no need any more for waits at airport lounges).

To be invisible?

To have superhuman strength?

To hear other people's thoughts?

To see the future?

(in the tradition of comic book good guys, you can only use your power for good causes).

My superhero power wish: to eat all that I ever want but never to gain weight or have health issues like ordinary mortals.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


-Truly drowning under all this work. So much to do, so little time.

-Thought of calling for a blog hiatus but I hardly update anyway.

-I have a fox surreptitiously living in my garden at the moment and its driving me crazy. My neighbour has a 1 year old baby and we were wondering if foxes attack babies like dingos? As a result, we both don't open our back doors unless we have to. Sounds pathetic. M thinks the council can do something about it but they don't seem to be too bothered.

-The weather's got better so I can't gripe on that end but I don't have time to go out and enjoy it so that's current source of consternation.

- I have been trying to read Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk about Kevin before going to bed and its so fascinating. She explores how motherhood is not all that its cracked up to be. She's such a great writer, working on the unreliable narrater technique with eloquence. The only complaint is that I am so tired these days that by the time I get around it, I can only manage a page or two before getting knocked out.

-Have to mention about this dissapointing documentary on Channel 4. I've been following the Empire's Children series on and off. It explores how the British empire has impacted the lives of people in and from the 'colonies'. Malaya, during the communist insurgency was documented with comedian Jenny Eclair tracing her soldier father's steps. Her father was part of the British troops that were sent to combat the insurgency. They had some fantastic footage of the Emergency but why oh why did they get an airhead of a woman to cover such an important and painful part of Malaysian history? I got the impression that here was a hormonal woman striving to hear only what she wanted and as a result, painted a sloppy history.

-I had pasembur about two weeks by chance (laced with some crazy conversation with an even crazier bunch) and am craving for it again. Should do it again soon. Along with some mee rebus. Malaysia Hall anybody?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


-Looks like I may actually end up reading Harry Potter what with this intense hype building all around. I used to follow the series quite religiously until the 3rd book (is that Order of the Phoenix?) but my interest sort of fizzled out when I realized that Rowling was actually borrowing so much from other writers. But I am one of those sad consumers who gets easily swayed by marketing glitz and may just fall for this one as well. It's kinda nice to be part of the madness in a way.

- If you really, really want to read just one book this year, my recommendation is something from last year's Booker Prize. I finally finished The Inheritance of Loss. I can only use superlatives to describe how well Kiran Desai writes. The whole book is poetry in motion, a luminous exploration of displacement and identity. Her ultimate strength is in the language- it has an uncomparable cadence and beauty which took my breath away.

-Summer reading is currently work related so I won't bore you with that though I am quite tempted to pick up Alistair Campbell's Diaries. I've been following the dramatization on TV and am enjoying all the high drama behind the Blair years. Campbell's role was something like Director of Communications at No.10 and he was spin doctor extraordinaire. Which made him one of the most unpopular persons in the country at that time. Or was it Cherie Blair?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Where is Summer?

Lack of updates due to mountains of work since coming back from longish break but I think the bigger excuse is plain laziness which hasn't been helped by this horrible weather. What's happened to summer? Summer means languid lunches at the park, shorter skirts, falling asleep in a green field, strawberry's and cream and endless days of bountiful sunshine.

This grey gloom is making feel totally crap and cranky. Few things happening in the next few weeks which are going to keep me even busier, not least the fact that the in-laws aka out-laws are visiting. Part of the reason why I keep this blog anon is simply because I want to be free to bitch and moan. And this I will probably be doing when Dowager Queen of High Drama arrives. Grin and bear Jane.

Otherwise, I am working this weekend to make up for holiday time out. In fact, what holiday? Can't remember it now.

I think I'll write when I am feeling sunnier or if the weather gets better.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Listen to this

I've hijacked this song lyrics from Ms Light Bulb. Lightbulb and I date back to 1996 and really became good friends circa 1998 when she coached the rest of us tone deafs to sing Innuendo's Belaian Jiwa on stage. We also had some really bizzare escapades together where we transported around RM20,000 cash to the bank by cab (don't ask, except that it was all legal), watched one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life together ie Anaconda and ate cold satay in Fraser's Hill.

I love this lyrics by Maliq and d'Essentials (never heard of them before)...but it's just so dense and filled with all the angsty pain that accompanies the heartbreak of unrequited love:

kurasakan sudahada ruang di hatiku yang kau sentuh
dan ketika, ku sadari sudah
tak selalu indah cinta yang ada

mungkin memang,
ku yang harus mengerti
bila ku bukan yang ingin kau miliki
salahkah ku bila
kau lah yang ada di hatiku

adakah ku singgah di hatimu,
mungkinkah kau rindukan adaku
adakah ku sedikit di hatimu
bila kah ku mengganggu harimu,
mungkin kau tak inginkan adaku
akankah ku sedikit di hatimu

bila memang, ku yang harus mengerti
mengapa cintamu tak dapat ku miliki
salahkah ku bilakau lah yang ada di hatiku
kau yang ada, di hatiku

bila cinta kita tak kan tercipta
ku hanya sekedar ingin tuk mengerti
adakah diriku, oh singgah di hatimu
dan bilakah kau tau, kau yang ada, di hatiku
kau yang ada, di hatiku

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


-I haven't been updating much these days. But life updates itself, work being the primary culprit. Not been doing much otherwise.

-My roses are blooming. Pink, light orange and a deep damask, almost slutty red. But this weather, I tell you is awful. We have been having rain, rain, rain for an interminable period of time now.

-Lots of other things happening as well- long haul trips happening real soon, a wedding and an anniversary. As a unit, M and I turn four very soon. Somtimes, its a great unit but other times, I feel like breaking every bone in his body.

-We are planning on watching the Mousetrap to celebrate. When I tell people, they just say, 'what, you haven't seen this show? I've seen it three/four/five times'. I know. I know. That is why we are actually going, finally.

-The plan was to be in Hereford this weekend beginning with a Baaba Maal concert and some exciting meet the writers sessions. But man plans, and God disposes. So, I am off on a work related *&%* which it seems cannot be avoided. I have reached the stage where I am really enjoying work but I just wish it wasn't so consuming like this. I need to get out of this rut soon. Like a friend mine says, karma will bring you to Hay-on-Wy* if you are meant to go. Some day, some day. Hopefully, friend and I get to go as planned, just that it will now happen in the future. Not this weekend (sniffle).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cutty Sark in Flames

Isn't it sad that a national icon has been ravaged by an arson attack?

M and I love rambling around the area and further afield where the maritime museum is.

A sad, sad day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mid-year Book Audit

Wot, is it seriously going to be June soon?

To be honest, I am quite happy that the first half of 2007 is going to dissipate. It's been an extremely difficult few months and I want to really look forward to June.

It's an apt time I suppose to do a mid-year review of books read, loved and loathed.

1. Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
Full of dark passions. Felt like a criminal at the end of it.

2.The Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Ho-hum. I wanted to turn the pages to know the propped up secret, which however evolved into a disappointment. I can't quite place this book though. I didn't hate it but it didn't do much either.

3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This was read while recuperating from surgery and hence had time out from work. I'm probably the last person to have read it – absolutely everyone seems to have devoured it. Verdict? Yeah, mind blowing in ambitiousness but at some level, I am not sure if I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. There was also this hint of reincarnation thing going on which I think didn't quite work. Still, a writer with great dexterity.

4. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Cute and disturbing (how weird is that?)

5.The Secret River by Kate Greenville
Australian history has been explored in many books but this one has a lyrical beauty to it. Not without its flaws, some bits plod on but overall good writing, capturing the heritage of guilt and sadness with numbing clarity.

6. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
The best book I've read this year, so far. I cant sing enough praises. The dialogue leaps, the characters are unflinchingly alive and a story that rips your heart out. It explores the Biafra war- the war by starvation which Nigeria plunged into the mid-late 60s by looking at three central characters. My friend Sam who is an Ugwu (the tribe that was massacred) said that he cried reading it. So did I.

7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Currently reading (part of my self imposed requirement of interspersing my reading with classics which have been missed over the years).


Lots of re-reading Between Facts and Norms by Jurgen Habermas, The Communitarian Persuasion by Philip Selznick, Global Capitalism (ed by Will Hutton and Anthony Giddens), Bounds of Justice by Onora O'Neill.


Oh, I also made some lovely tandoori chicken and lamb inspired by Ranjit Rai's delectable book Tandoor.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Adios Barcelona

So, after a few months being in the country which I believe is sufficient for my carbon offset, M and I were desperate for a holiday and we hopped to Barcelona. Was sad to leave after a lovely, languid holiday involving sun, tapas, paella, seafood, gothic architecture, Gaudi, Picasso, Dali, street dancing, Las Ramblas, Avenue Diagonal, Los Caracoles, more paella (that smelled like the sea).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

we move but our words stand become responsible for more than we intended and this is verbal privilege

says Adrienne Rich.


The Namesake,
the movie is better than the book. When I found out that they were making a movie of the book, I wasn't very keen. How would it translate, I thought? For a start, there wasn't much dialogue and most of the book was introspective reflections of the characters, particularly Gogol. But the movie reflects scriptwriting at its best- I loved how the character quirks have been fleshed, especially Ashima and Ashok. And Calcutta was another character as well.

I remember feeling the angst of Calcutta many years ago in Anita Desai's Voices of the City. There it was a city of desperation and pain. Now, in The Namesake, it is a Calcutta of coming and going, heaving and lurching, absence and longing. It's been a long time since I left a cinema hall feeling moved.


I have been holed in at home a lot these days, working furiously. Inevitably have fallen into the routine of watching old TV re-runs at lunch time including Ally McBeal and Sex and the City. What strikes me is how male centred these shows are. Sure, the main characters are women and their friends and lives. These women are successful, beautiful and talented. And yet, their lives revolve only around men, the ones that they like, the ones that they think are cute, the ones that got away and broke their hearts. If these shows were such hits, do they reflect how women are wired? That life must revolve only around men?

I think one of the most progressive series on TV ever has been the Golden Girls. Bunch of girls living a full life with or without their men.

Time to reach out for Marilyn French, who talks about chic-lit type of books but the context is the same:

'Male character is less important than male centrality. In a male centred novel, the heroine clearly needs a man; whatever her fate, the male reader does not feel threatened since he knows she could be happy if only she had the love of a good man-one very like himself'

Introduction to the Woman's Room
Marilyn French

I think of my young cousins who read/watch this stuff and the kind of impact such shows and chic lit can have on them and shudder. I am not anti-man. I live with one and they are generally quite fulfilling (emotionally and physically) but the premise shoved to women of all ages in such literature and media is that without a man, life is somehow hollow and meaningless.

Time to burn all that chic lit? Too radical?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Top 10 books of all time

I hate lists of all kinds. I am one of those persons who goes grocery shopping without a list and always forgets the garlic/tomatoes/coriander (and ends up coming home with a horseradish). I am the one who forgets the toothbrush on the weekend away because she didn't make a list. In my final year exam in law school, I forgot to bring the Criminal Procedure Code and realized too late that I should have made a list the night before of all the things to take into the exam hall (one of the lecturers had an extra copy, no doubt in anticipation of nuts like myself).

I know people who make major decisions in life by sitting down and drawing a line marking Pros and Cons on a paper or computer. They are able to make life altering decisions based on such a list. I envy the method and precision that goes into such a task because it is something that eludes me. Most of the biggest decisions I make are ones that remain a congealed mess in my mind until I just decide.

I tried to do it once. I wanted to follow the rational and sensible path. Should I make the big career change that I wanted? A list will get me there, I thought. But as I drew the dividing line with a black marker on a fresh paper, I knew deep down that what I wanted would not be the most sensible thing to do. To leave a well paying job with all the prospects for the great unknown? I didn't know if what I wanted would make me happy or if it was right or where things would head after that. In all probability making a list would urge me to do otherwise. But in the hinterland of my heart, I knew what I wanted. I threw the piece of paper away.

I am a resolute non-list maker married to an assiduous one. The ever methodical M has lists for everything including a master list for travel which is filed according to event-weekend away, annual trip, short trips. I am kind of used to it though-I grew up with a whole load of Virgoans who made lists for everything under the sun.

It didn't daunt me then when Sharon Bakar put her loyal readers (me! me!) to task with the Star challenge for their Top 10 favourite books of all time. Here's mine:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Possession by A.S.Byatt
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

There are a few must haves on the list like Old Man, Lolita, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Anna Karenina. Beyond that, Catcher in the Rye may be a bit esoteric but if it has touched so many young people and continues to do so, surely it must feature? Midnight's Children because it changed the feel, sound and soul of English as a language.

Portrait of the Artist was tossed around with other stream of consciousness novels notably To the Lighthouse but I chose this simply because it is my personal favourite. The Unbearable Lightness of Being had to be mentioned, being a paean to post-modernism. Possession because of its mastery and expanse. And the one book that leads me into the heart of nobility and restraint -The Remains of the Day.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thinking Blogger

Kak Teh has given me a Thinking blogger award!!! I am not entirely sure if I deserve such an honour (suddenly I am gripped with thoughts of the quality of this blog. The thinking bit is often nothing more than a repository of rants and random spiel). But I am deeply touched that she thought this blog worthy enough to be mentioned. Hers is a friendship that emerged from blog-world and spilled easily into the real one. We exchanged a few emails and discovered that at that time, we worked in adjacent buildings in the Bloomsbury area. I was a bit apprehensive about the first meeting as I had seen her by-line many times in leading publications, a known no-nonsense, respected journalist. But all was quelled when I found her to be warm, kind, opinionated and fairly mad. And I also discovered in her a master storyteller who kept us mesmerized with anecdotes of her various adventures over the years. This is a friendship that continues to be cultivated over many a curry mee, nasi goreng and nescafe tarik.

So now I must set about tagging five more bloggers. This is a difficult task though a few names popped in my mind immediately. The problem is that I don't know some of these bloggers that I am going to mention- I have just started reading their blogs and haven't left a comment or exchanged any kind of contact. I just hope that they don't think of me as a random weirdo- I genuinely love these blogs and they also leave me with brain fodder.

1. Starlight : Starlight and I have become virtual friends. I always feel a sense of lightness emanating from her entries, how she is always striving to learn from all the life lessons that are thrown to her and the inner contemplativeness to always check herself, her thoughts and views. Of yoga journeys, introspections and always, exhaling.

2. Masalachaii: If there is one thing that strikes me about Ms Chai, its her infectious upbeat, fiery and kick-ass attitude. She is always doing doing something, going somewhere and learning something . Of maximum living and joie de vivre.

3. Amir Muhammad: He doesn't know me but through his blog, which has been a repository of his film work, I read about the trials and tribulations of making Komunis and Kampung, the political brouhaha and the ban on the movie as well as the new one, Apa Khabar Orang Kampung. I love that he never loses his sense of humour in all this and that he remains undefeated, moving on with his next project. Of history, sense of self and a certain up your a***

4. Nursamad: I've just started reading 3540 Jalan Sudin but it is such an addictive blog-opinionated, passionate and honest. The biggest draw are the stories about her father's imprisonment, the emotional journeys and the intersection with the larger political background during that period. Of politics, passion and family.

5. Ms Blabs : We have become firm friends now. What I love about her is her honestly written posts. Through her, I have traveled vicariously to Egypt and shared all the angsty adventures of moving to a new country. Of travels, learning and always, cats.

This award was started here:
And now my dear recipients, your award comes with a price. You have to award five others whose blog you think deserve this award.

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all - blogs that really get you thinking!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If you shed tears when you miss the sun, you also miss the stars

says Tagore. Writing is a catharsis of sorts.

We sit in the half light of dusk. A few birds streak the purple-blue sky, rapidly disappearing from view. The crisp evening air chills the room. Somebody should get up and turn the heating on. But nobody does.

I hold on to my cream cable sweater, not thinking of putting it on. The tea my mother made has gone cold. The liquid that slides down my throat is unpleasant. It tinges my mouth with the slight acidic aftertaste of tea that has been left undrunk for too long.

Grief-numbed silence engraves the room. Opaque, dumb eyes stare at each other momentarily. We are still figures slumped on brown cushion chairs, watching the day sinking away. A few hours ago, a phone call comes through bringing results that breaks each one of us.

I place the phone down the receiver. It takes time for the news to be coherent. A numbness sets. An almost detached, clinical logic to the information. I am familiar with viable research projects. One that wins you grants, funding and jobs. Here, it is a question of a viable pregnancy. Of not being viable that is.

Suddenly, like a burst of molten lava, reality explodes. The tears come in a wrenching profusion.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Again

"Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you'll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You'll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival."

Spring brings with it renewed vigour, succour for the maligned heart and always, hope. The weather has been erratic but there have been days, even weeks, of glorious, honeyed sunshine. Spring's largess is the rebirth of colour after the grey starkness of the winter months.

Spring days are ones that are beautifully warm as you wake up. 'It's a T-shirt and skirt day', I decide, and throw in a flimsy cardi for good measure as I head out to the high street. A few hours later, the deception is done and I have foolishly fallen for it. The wind nips my nose. I shiver and cling on to the sorry excuse of a cardi and rush home freezing.

The evenings stave dusk away a little longer. The lightness is filtered with a prism of scents emanating from the garden, cajoling me to stop work and just be. The unfurling leaves and peeping flowers are a riotous medley. What have I done to be bequeathed days as beautiful as these?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pause Mode and Weird Things

Life has been on pause mode for awhile now. You think it's a mad, crazy race. And then one day it gets on pause mode. Just like that.

But unpause now.

So, I must get around to this 6 weird thing meme that has been plastered on almost every blog. Thank god I got tagged- I dawned on me that what if nobody tags me (although I don't like tags)- does that reflect on my unpopularity in blogworld? Goodness. Almost feels like school again. But some nice people ie Blabs and Demonsinme did tag me and have therefore done my list:

1 The imaginary parallel lives I tend to live sometimes is quite mind boggling. Yesterday for example, I wondered how delectable it would be to live with Nigel Slater. I have a feeling that he is a bit of solitary nut, more in love with plants and his kitchen then people but how joyous would every meal be! It's not only about the taste but about the pure love for food. My recurring parallel-life dream is to be good friends with Zadie Smith, where we sit and have coffee in dinky little cafes while discussing our mutual love for Antonio Gramsci. I know. This one is weird-pathetic.

2 . I have certain food related weirdness. We all know that the grand food love of my love is the humble, hawker fare-char kueh teow. I can eat a plate everyday and never tire of it. I always order the whole she-bag, cockles, prawns and bean sprout or taugeh. Yet, before eating, I would sit and pick out every single strand of taugeh in sight. Only then will I tuck in. The aversion to taugeh started because I had an allergic reaction to it as a child. I think I've worn out of the allergy now but the ritual remains. 'Why not just order sans taugeh?' asks an exasperated M each time. 'But that would mean detracting the taste' I argue back, not very convincingly I think.

3. This one is weird bordering on obsessive compulsive-with minyak cap do I describe it to non-Malaysians? Basically its a eucalyptus oil type of thing which has calming properties-I use it for headaches, tummy aches, backaches and even when there are no aches, I need a dash of eau de Minyak Cap Kapak everyday. What can I say?

4. I have to read every night before sleeping. I know I read a lot of work related stuff the whole day but I absolutely have to read on the bed. However dead exhausted I am. At least for 5 minutes. Otherwise, I feel that I've wasted my day away.

5. A personal hygiene related weirdness is this need to wash hands. I am very particular about the hand wash we use at home and have tested most products in the market to tell you that I don't think any of it meets my stringent requirements. Yes, I probably wash hands more times a day than I care to admit and carry one of those spray on hand cleaning things whenever I travel.

6. Talking about travel, I am always a last minute traveler. I think I am programmed to be unable to pack early so no matter how much time I have, will pack a few hours before leaving. This does mean that I am always rushing to airports and sprinting to boarding gates. The record was 30 minutes before take off once on a Malaysia airline flight to Bangalore. Trust me, I lost all dignity running around like a banshee to get there. And I never learn I think.

Joy and Sorrow

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, 'Joy is greater than sorrow,' and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater'.
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

You, Me and Tomato Chutney

Why this tomato livery?
a glance, a smile, a blush
and butterflies doing somersaults
add a dash
of adrenaline rush,
season with chemistry masala,
and there- tomato chutney for you.

Ah, Valentines day! A surge of superficial hallmark expressions, shops decked in tacky plastic
hearts and florists laughing their way to the bank.

Nevertheless, I know of a new couple and want to dedicate this post to my sister G and her Mr. R. The early throes of love with all its hourly phone calls, beating hearts, door slamming rows, dancing the night away and hot, opalescent tears in succession. Enjoy your days, it is something to remember after a few years of bed hair, duvet farts and love handles.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Christmas Card day

There's a romance about a snow-clad day like today. A carpet of fresh snow greets my morning. A sudden hush envelopes the world. There's not a stir on the road outside, not even an intrepid squirrel. The reverential silence fills my heart with an inexplicable gladness.

The garden is a layer of white icing. Benevolent cotton clouds glisten on the shrubs. The old shed at the corner sits revived with a fresh white canopy. I saunter around, admiring the Christmas-card effect.

M and I use the transport chaos to work from home. At about 11ish, we get into a snow fight while making an out-of-shape snowman.

Then, I hear the laughter of children. A car or two zooms by.

It's one of those God's in His heaven, all's right with the world day.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Red, Red Rose

For Burns Night

O, my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair as thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will love thess till, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run:

And fare thee well, my only luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No Method in Madness

Aye. It continues.

It's been sometime now since bloggers have launched a campaign against books that have been banned in Malaysia. The whole saga is a bit complex (there appears to be a few lists floating with different requirements) and it appears that Spongebob Squarepants, Vagina Monologues and Midnight's Children will cause mental depravation (and other various moral problems) to polite Malaysian society.

My friend Toro has quite another opinion about this whole thingamajig.

'Really no need for outragelah. The government-fella is really being clever. Now everbody is going to beg, borrow or steal a copy of any Salman Rushdie book. Maybe they will even start reading something like Things Fall Apart.'

'Don't you see?' continues Toro. 'It's the best reading campaign run by the government. Ever.'

Hmmm...does make sense in a way.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Things Fall Apart

as Malaysia turns 50 in 2007. Instead of sitting and celebrating like a regal doyen, there's an increasingly farcical accumulation of drama.
Bloggers being sued poses questions of constitutional freedom of speech and larger question of independence of the media. From what I gather, the New Straits Times (NST) is suing 3 political bloggers for defamation. What baffles me is that the NST is media. Old media suing new media.

I think a lot of us Malaysians have already resorted to reading news online because the print one has just become a political mouth piece. It saddens me because I grew up reading the NST everyday. I feel so cheated that a once august institution has to resort to such cheap tactics.

Of course, this doesn't mean that bloggers are not bound by the law. Surely bloggers cannot use the anonymity offered by the internet to write anything they want. The constitution protects fundamental liberties within reasonable limits. There are boundaries. But within these boundaries lies the future of the country. Freedom of press and speech is suspect in Malaysia. This is no secret. Political blogging and the internet has been a natural spill over in this climate, an attempt to bridge the need for information.

Until there's political will to change, the boundaries by which Malaysia's future resides will be very bleak indeed.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

Two books arrived on a crisp morning in a brown package. My New Year cum Birthday gift to myself. Utterly perfect.

In Feast, Nigella says this:
Feast is not just about the way we cook and eat at the great religious festivals or big-deal special occasions, but about how food is the vital way we celebrate anything that matters-a birthday, a job, an anniversary; it's how we mark the connections between us, how we celebrate life.

Nigel Slater makes food, the buying, cooking and eating a homage to earth and to life:
There is a single rose out in the garden, a faded bundle of cream and magenta petals struggling against grey boards. A handful of snowdrops peeps out from the ivy that has taken hold amongst the fruit trees. The raspberry canes are bare save the odd dried berry I have left for the birds, and the bean stems stand brown and dry around thier frames. A withered verbena's lemon-scented leaves stand crisp against a clear, grey sky. January 1st is the day I prune the tangle of dried sticks in the kitchen garden, chuck out everything over its sell by date from the cupboards, flick through seed catalogues and make lists of what I want to grow and eat in the year to come. I have always loved the first day of the year. A day ringing with promise.

I bought these two books to remind myself that in 2007, I want to celebrate life every day. So often, I am caught up with the whole grind of living and working that I end up forgetting to LIVE. Forget all this c'est la vie business. The journey, as they, say is the best part after all. That's kind of resolution cum birthday dictum for the year.

So, I turned 31 quietly. Feels awfully grown up. I made 31 wishes and sent them out to the universe. At the end of the day, life is about balance and I do think everything has a way of finding its own rhythm. So, there's also a sense of letting go because you always get what you deserve.

I think each of us have our own word for the principle behind this, whether we call it serendipity, karma, justice, kismet. Same thing to me.