Friday, August 29, 2008

Heroes

Well its time to give credit where credit is due. And that involved paying tribute to one Sam Allberry, our annual visitor at Smacc. His preaching and sense of humour is the best I've heard. And - let's face it - he's much better looking than Andrew Cheah.

Do check out his blog at www.allberry.blogspot.com

Starbucks: verb: as in "...to Starbucks"

The weight of air rubs heavy on my lids, at once bringing me back to winter in London and Prufrock's feline yellow fog. The clash and clamour of voices, once harsh with discord and dissention, fade together into a rhythmic rise and fall of notes and hums. My fingers rest in unison on a dog-eared, paperback copy of Jeremy Paxman somewhat uncertainly, as though rest might be taken from them at any given time. The digits unconsciously finger crumbs that have fallen a half-eaten almond biscotti, undecided. The burden of satisfying the senses hangs in tension even as Bacchus watches; eyes watch as cinnamon-cocoa liquid soaks in, creating dark waves tinged with an outline of double cream against the sandy treat, sending nostalgic memories through the olfactory glands and filling gaps left by the result of chemical bonding between flour (sifted twice) and unsalted butter. I allow myself to slide into that happy place where nestling into an olive green couch in the middle of a homogenous MNC arm is the safest place to be. The only missing piece in the perfect puzzle belongs to the deep pink, velvet, 'luxury Primark' socks Judith gave me for Christmas 5 years ago.

Just then, my head droops slightly as my neck flops forward and my knee jerks in spasmodic response, hitting the low edge of a scratched mahogany coffee table with a crack, sending both my weekly treat and tall, hazelnut, hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and generously dusted with every spice offered on the rack, toppling clumsily into my lap.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Perjanjian Baru

Nak cakap dalam Bahasa Melayu pun susah, apatah lagi nak tulis? Tapi, jika nak mahir dalam sesuatu, kenalah bersunggun-sungguh belajar, kan? Apalah... saya dengar diri sendiri cakap pun dengar macam suara Doraemon je. Untuk orang yang tidak tahu, Doraemon adalah kartun Jepun yang telah ditafsirkan dalam bahasa Melayu. Namun demikian - hah, pandai juga saya guna "namun demikian" - hahaha - bunyi macam Doraemon atau tidak, saya akan terus mempelajari bahasa yang sepatutnya saya tahu, untuk dan supaya saya dapat menggunakanya dalam negara ini. Jika nak buat Majistret dekat Malaysia Timur, bahasa Inggeris sudah memadai, tak perlu bermati-matian mempelajari bahasa baru, tapi jika nak pergi Pasir Gudang dekat Malaysia Barat, kenalah cakap bahasa Melayu ni dan kenalah fasihkan? Apalah, orang tak hormat jika bahasa Melayu sini sana pun tak tahu. Nanti kena bulilah. Haiya...

Untuk memperbaiki kelancaran and meningkatkan tatabahasa saya, telahlah saya pergi membeli senaskah Perjanjian Baru. Wah, susah-susah untuk baca!!! Perkataan-perkataan yang telah saya 'kumpulkan' untuk membawa makna yang sama apabila digunakan dalam bahasa Melayu seperti "berkat," "rahmat" dan "kesejahteraan", membawa makna berlainan pula dalam bahasa Inggeris!! Remeh betul! Tetapi, saya akan berusaha kerana memang saya mahu fasih bertutur dalam bahasa negara sendiri walaupun diri sendiri tak pasti samada nak terus tinggal di sini ataupun tidak. Tuhan akan pertikaikanlah. Saya buat je apa Dia suruh.

English (direct-ish) translation - this should be fun...

To speak in Malay is hard, what more to write in it? However, if I want to be good at something, I had better learn it with due diligence, should I not? Oh dear... hearing myself speak is just like hearing the voice of Doraemon. For those not in the know, Doraemon is a Japanese cartoon dubbed into Malay. Nevertheless - hah, I'm so clever, I can even use words such as "nevertheless" - hahaha - whether I sound like Doraemon or not, I will continue learning this language that I should know anyway, for and so that I can use it in this country. If I want to be a Magistrate in East Malaysia, speaking English will be sufficient and I won't have to sweat blood trying to learn a new language however, if I want to be a Magistrate in Pasir Gudang in West Malaysia I will have to speak in Malay and shouldn't I then be fluent? People wouldn't respect you if you don't know this and that in Malay. You might get bullied. Oh man....

To improve my fluency and to increase my vocabulary, I went and bought a copy of the New Testament. Oh my goodness, it is so hard to read!!! The words that I have categorised to mean the same thing in Malay such as "grace," "mercy" and "peace" mean different things in English!! How troublesome. But I will keep striving because I do want to be fluent in the language of my own country even though I am yet unsure as to whether I wish to continue living here or not. It'll be up to God to consider it. I'll just do as I'm told.

She says... she means

Situation - They have just had a disagreement over his dog's involvement in the relationship and he is trying to coax her out of her dumbfounding sulkiness.

She says: No
She means: It's so obviously "yes" that I shouldn't even have to answer that question.

She says: Nothing
She means: Yes, it is a stonking big deal you oaf!!

She says: Yes
She means: The answer is so obviously "no" that if you really think it's "yes," I need to rethink our relationship status

She keeps silent
She means: Leave me alone. I need my space. But I want you to keep asking so that I feel like you need me.

BUT when he keeps silent, she thinks: He's being selfish and self-absorbed.

********
Presents - He asks "What do you want for Christmas?"

She says: Nothing
She means: I want you to read my mind and give me what I refuse to tell you because if I told you what I wanted it wouldn't be special anymore and if you get me the wrong gift it means you don't really know me.

********
Clothing

She says: I have nothing to wear!!!
She means: I can't wear that green dress to Natalie's party because Sasha will be there... because I met Sasha last Tuesday for tea.. because I don't want Sasha to think I only have one dress... because then I'll be known as the girl who only has one dress... and you don't want to be known as the guy who is going out with the girl with only one dress, do you?

She says: Do I look fat in this?
She means: Do you still find me attractive, a set of triplets, 300 stretch marks and 1kg of cheese later?

*********
Social

She says: Do you want to grab a coffee?
She means: Do you want to grab a coffee and NOT

"I want to have your babies"
"I love you" or
"Will you marry me?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chucky's bride



So, these are my 'jellyfish scars.' I bought Bio Oil (one of those televised magic potions that supposedly solve every problem) today out of sheer desperation. On the bright side, what with wearing jeans all day, my skin will retun to their normal Snow White colour, although having said that, having 'pink and white' legs and toasted coloured arms are a tad uneven. But never mind, Bio Oil promises to smooth over uneven skin tone as well.

I received a present that came at a most opportune time recently. I'll blog about it later when I get more details from the crew 'behind-the-scenes.' Sometimes a hot bath solves every problem. Maybe it is because, just as my cashmere sweater shrunk in a hot cycle, so problems fade with the vapour that disappear into mist as you sink into the tub and give a sigh of unaffected satisfaction. "Ahhhhh..."

Binging on doldums

I may not be clinically depressed or certified bi-polar but I did live in my pyjamas (read: slept) from last Wednesday until Sunday afternoon with 2 brief intervals for instant noodles, a cup of coffee and one toilet break. I can tell you that it was certainly NOT restful by any standards; I was almost literally, dead bored. My creative gene had faded, my sense of adventure had dulled and I wished that the "Cat in the Hat" would come and rescue me but friends were busy and acquaintances, even busier. Cest la vie. It was constantly bucketing down, which only served to mock the state of my dry bank account and come Saturday, I hated everything about KL, and I mean everything.

I hate that since I came to KL, I don't have a home and people to come home to, I hate that I can't have a cat, dog or goldfish. I hate that there's no oven, microwave or even freakin' washing machine in the apartment because the landlady doesn't want one. I hate that accessibility seems to be a concept no one gets and I hate that I don't have a car. I hate that my room is so uncomfortably hot all the time and that for the first time in my life, cobwebs are actually a reality. I hate that my 'Facebook' friends are not really my friends at all and that when push comes to shove, most of them wouldn't give two hoots about me and frankly, I don't need friends like that. I mean, who needs friends when you have such a hoard of disdain for every other creature on this planet right?

I got angrier and angrier with each thought and as I started letting the hate simmer and brew, I started 'killing off' people I knew in my dreams. To me they weren't people anymore. Void of emotion and of feeling, each person I dreamt of was merely a fragment of my past whom I could slice and dice with a mace or sabre without thought or care of redemption.

I hate that I hated all these things that I hated and I told God. I wasn't waiting for answer. I wasn't expecting one. It happens often enough. Sometimes I get scared; like if I even open my mouth and dare talk to God after all the most morbid thoughts have taken hold, that God will just strike me dead if I had the audacity to then claim to be His child. There just comes a point in life when I get sick and tired of pretending to be someone nice and charming and helpful and I just want to snap, "Shit, I hate all this. Life sucks," without then having to deal with explaining why I think life is awful.

But that was last week. Today is the start of a new week. I have things to do.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Going bananas


The photo shows 3 banana tree 'hearts' on a 5-foot way, waiting to be sold in a Philippino market at Kota Kinabalu. I always hold that hearts are precious things; they have such capacity to give yet the warmer the heart, the more it gives, somehow, the more vulnerable it becomes. The more it desires to share, the less is shared with it or perhaps the more it expects others to share with it...

My dad asked me the other day what my plans were for the future and though ostensibly vague, I gave him the best answer I could, "I'm praying about it." I know he's praying too. After all, I would be rather anxious if my eldest had no idea what she wanted to do with her life besides a statement that answers nothing.

My mind flutters from one idea to another, flirting with possibilities and desires, trying to balance between the 'can be' and 'has to be' whilst all along time is ticking.

I get bored easily and I can tell you that it's a horrible feeling. Boredom is neither contentment nor rest. Rather, it is the opposite, agitated, wild-eyed and often incoherent, jaded by luxury and lethargic in spirit. Perhaps it is a mere short circuit between neurons that I can find joy in the simplest things and am bored by things that bring supposed potential the world cannot get enough of. Yet at the same time, I want a slice of that pie, even if the pie may be floating somewhere in the sky.

There is a need to be creative and to exude that creativity. To curb it would be destructive and to ignore it, insanity, although to the everyday person, having one's bread and butter on the table is more important than dispersing, defining and redefining 'bread and butter' into as many concepts as possible.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mountain gazing

No, it's not this one. This is Bukit Kamunsa, which we climbed 2 days before the biggie. We literally ran stomping through it, after Maladdin told us that there were leeches about.


This is more like it...



By the way, we didn't quite make to to the peak. At 3.40am, with approximately another 1.5km to go, Angie and I decided to call it a day and before sunrise, we were nestled in our bunks like little animals, dreaming of catching squirrels (or at least, I was) instead of possibly being dashed to pieces on some rocky crag below (or enjoying the scenic beauty from the top). 87 out of 211 climbers made it to the peak that day. Angie wants to go back some time in the future to conquer the mountain. I'm more interested in whether the mountain guide will hold my hand again :p

Sea life

Sabah is known for its wonderful coasts, beautiful corals and fish that send a myriad of colours rippling across the shores. Besides the jellyfish that STUNG me and a dark green fish with a white spot on its back that kept BITING me, I saw...


It's called a clown fish, not a Nemo fish.


Swordfish looking rather uncomfortable.


People have often said that when there are dolphins around, sharks keep away.


Speaking of sharks, the next time you dip into sharks' fin soup, think of this.


However, the alternative of sea cucumber (sea slugs), whilst the cheaper and more eco-friendly version, looks far less appetising before succumbing to the wonderful skill of the iron chef.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Influenced

I saw lots of tattoo parlours in Kota Kinabalu....



So naturally I decided to play lemming and get myself one...

Be still my beating heart



Sunset from Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Photos are courtesy of Angie and her trusty Nikon D40. You can catch more of her work on Flicker.

The unsung


To some, the heroes of Mount Kinabalu are those who succeed in making it to the peak, braving winds and conditions of all sorts in order to catch a lifetime experience of watching the sun rise from the highest peak in South East Asia.

To others, the honour belongs to the participants (and winners) of the Skyrunner World Series; Kinabalu International Climbathon, where the best of the best make it to the peak in under 3 hours in little more than running shoes, shorts and a tee (forget the 7 layers of clothing the rest of us normals have to don) for a chance at an approximate USD33,000 prize (RM100,000).

I salute both in their courage, stamina and strength of body and spirit, but to me, the true heroes of the world's youngest non-volcanic mountain are the porters, carriers and guides who traverse the mountain paths almost daily in order to cater to the needs of those who want to record an experience to tell.

Where are the days where mountain climbing meant carrying our own bags and eating tinned food outdoors, whatever the weather? These days we wake up to a cooked morning breakfast, not simply cold beans and bread but an array of choice sausages, french toast, muffins and fried noodles, carried up by people we hardly acknowledge as they silently pass us by, their brows furrowed in concentration as they carry their 40kg load which comprises anything from eggs, water, dry noodles and even beer (!!) and full tanks of cooking gas up the mountain.

When the lodges at more than 3,000 metres above sea level need repair work, helicopters are not used as the windy conditions are too hazardous. Instead, planks of wood of up to 3 metres in length are slowly carried up. Admittedly it is very cold on the mountain (especially when you stay in an unheated cabin) but however cold our circumstances as lodgers may be, the guides, porters and carriers have far less yet remain more cheerful than many of us.

For those who don't want the burden of carrying their own luggage, mountain "bell boys" can even be hired to carry them up for you...

I also pay tribute to everyone involved who laid down the groundwork of the mountain path and silently recognise lives possibly lost in the process. However natural it looks, trees had to be felled, gravel laid, wood, rope and iron rings added and shelters built to make our passage safer than those who have gone before us, than those who first discovered the beauty that Kinabalu has to offer.

This is Abbie. I met him as I was climbing up as well as the following day when I was on my way down and he was climbing up with a load of eggs and dry noodles.


Definitely looking more relaxed than I looked at the time and carrying a tank of gas on his back, amongst other things, Blaasoos still left me catching my breath far behind.


Our guide: Hanson was everything I could ask for in a guide. He encouraged me to go on and to rest, to eat and to continue. In the dark, when I was cold, tired, and 'jellified' as I made my descent, he was there to hold my hand without me even asking :)


Hanson catching 40 winks at about 2,500 metres. Don't be fooled by the sun; by this stage I was already wearing three(3) T-shirts, snow cap and gloves, I was in shorts though.

There is so much to tell but for now, even as I am rested and back in the sights and sounds of a familiar city, I remember the people who are still climbing that mountain today.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mountain gear

My trusted fleece hoodie to keep my hands warm and my comfort levels high.


Rainbow monkey cap to keep my ears nice and toasty. Also so that low flying planes can see me and wouldn't knock me off the mountain.

These awesome socks are going to bring me up safely. How beautiful the feet are of those who bring good news...



Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Underwater

Do you realise how sharks never appear when annoying kiddies play in the water? I chanced upon this nugget of information really early on so always try to go swimming when there are annoying kiddies around even though their boisterous cannonballs send water into my nose and the inevitable stream of chrome liquid challenges my determination and motivation to swim 20 laps.

However, yesterday, there were no kiddies in the pool as the waters eerily lapped the sides of potential fungal inducing tiles. I verily believed that the minute I opened my eyes underwater, Jaws would maul me in his deadly kiss and I would die before having even warmed up. Thoughts of elderly grandparents overtaking me en route to the peak of Mount Kinabalu spurred me on to forsake my convictions as I plunged into the always chilling waters of the 1.2m deep (shallow) swimming pool.

The sharks never came.