Saturday, December 29, 2007

knock, knock, knock… down comes the wall…

Today Wak came with his troupe. Four slim, small but strong Indonesian men. Their task today… to knock down the wall and start removing the toilet tiles. Before they can remove the wall, they had to remove a built-in wardrobe first. Rupa2nya ada lagi harta benda dalam tu… curtains, cushions and carpets. I thought we had packed the last of Mama’s pelbagai rupa curtains… Around the house, it looks like a large storeroom. Ada kain sana sini to cover the furniture, lampu etc.

I could not stay on to monitor their work (not that it requires close supervision pun) because nak pergi Marni’s kenduri. Decided to wear blue supaya sedondon with her family’s theme, albeit in a different tone.

Arrived in Kelana Jaya dah dekat pukul 1. Hari cerah and panas… perfect for kenduri but not good for someone yang wearing makeup, hehe… But despite the heat, Marni looked gorgeous and not a bead of sweat in sight. Mantze pun… have to ask them lah, whats’s the secret. Knowing that it would be panas, I’ve decided early on to wear something light.

Momz, Mymot, Skinner and Mantze dan sampai sejak awal lagi to help the family. I datang setakat tetamu je lah, hehe… Joined Ruby and Mantze untuk menikmati hidangan yang sangat lazat… especially the daging masak kicap. Yumm!! Langat Catering… I should remember that name. Manalah tahu, kalau2 nak buat kenduri…

Sambil tengah menghirup cendol, Zura et famille and Nina Che Rus joined us. Followed by Yanie, Syaz and Fazlin. Jun was also there but she came with her family and sat at another table. Ditto with Rose. Peah came a bit later… she got stuck in traffic. We conquered a table betul2 kat entrance gate… perfect view. Mazran’s gang from LaSalle sat at a nearby table. Ham and her family, including Faizal Tahir Jr, were also there. Sambil borak and makan, I sempat consult Yanie, our resident architect, about lighting and bathroom. Haha... itu lah gunanya kawan kan? ;) Selalu the doctors yg kena jawab macam2... this time the range has been expanded.

It was meriah and ceria kenduri. I like weddings at home because it’s more intimate and relaxed. Marni and Mazran were a vision of cool and calmness… always smiling and joking with each other and with people around them. Her family pun relaxed je… Aunty Naimah and Uncle Zainal are so lepak and so were her brother Boy and sisters Zemy and Watie. Bila family tak kecoh, everything (seems to) run smoothly.

Left the kenduri before 3pm because I wanted to visit some shops on Jalan Ipoh. When I got home, dinding dah gone! And habuk everywhere… Things are progressing fast. I can now see what I could previously only visualise in my head. The room isn’t as big as I had expected it to be. But large enough…

Later in the evening, I had to drive the workers back to Ampang because Wak got into an accident. Ina ikut sekali. On the way back we singgah Ampang Point. Hajatnya to hilangkan dahaga but we ended up having a shawarma pulak, hehe… Lepas dah minum ice lemon tea segelas, I was still parched. Singgah cari ice blended pulak.

On the drive home, Ina ajak pergi naik Eye of Malaysia … dah setahun benda tu ada kat tepi Tasik Titiwangsa, tapi sampai sekarang neither of us dah naik. I suppose since we’ve both been on the London Eye, it seemed less of an attraction. Tapi, nak lah merasa naik. Esok… on the last day.

NAMN had called earlier in the day to her house… BBQ dinner! She makes the best lamb and potato salad. But after a long day plus Mama can’t eat pun, I told her that we won’t be coming. Instead, we all satu family sat in front of the TV to watch Sehati Berdansa finale.

A quiet night at home with the family... bliss :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friends are like stars;
You can't always see them,
but you know that they're there,
and they shine the brightest
when all seems dark

To my dear friends... thank you for your presence, companionship and for including me in your life.

"saya terima nikah..."

Today is the day that Marni mendapat gelaran Puan Sri Marni. No... she did not marry a Tan Sri ;) Nama dia Sri Marni... so betullah that she is now Puan Sri Marni, hehe...

I took the morning off to attend her akad nikah in Kelana Jaya. Ingatkan nak pergi awal, tapi dum dam dum dam, sampai her house ngam2 as the ceremony was about to start. Both Marni and Mazran (or M&M as written on their invitation card) looked splendid in white. Dua2 were calm and siap bergelak2 bila the kadi buat jokes. No tension or gabra... so typical Marni :) She wouldn't be a Dr CSI, as we like to call her, otherwise...

Since I sampai lambat, kenalah duduk tepi dapur. Mantze was already there... Skinner and Mymot couldn't *cabut* from work, Momz arrived as Mazran was about to lafaz kabul. And Zura arrived later. Dengan sekali lafaz... Marni and Mazran selamat diijab kabul. One detox chick down... as Ruby aptly put it.

The family served the guests ikan masak asam pedas, masak lemak daging, sayur campur dan mcm2 lagi yang sangat sedap. Or maybe I was hungry since tak sempat breakfast? Tak... memang sedap coz the expecting Ham, her mom, sis and hubby concurred.

I'd like to stay on but kena balik office. But since it was still a bit early, I decided to go to Bukit Bintang to collect my watch. YES!!! My darling Tag is sihat semula. Welcome back old friend :D Felt so good to be wearing her again...

Lepas collect jam, singgah Pavillion sekejap. Saje.. buang masa, hehe. Ended up buying a bracelet... to wear to the reception on Sunday night. I've always wanted to have something like that, so very excited when I got it :) Walaupun terbang beberapa $$$...

Balik office a bit lambat and terus attend an interview. And then staff meeting. After all that baru sempat check my phone. A few messages regarding plans for dinner tonight. Semalam I ajak a few friends to have dinner together... a final gathering before the year ends. The plan was to go to The Loaf.

Mula2 HA and MrB said ok, SM nak check with hubby , Faz nak join tapi can't confirm because of no maid to jaga Amir, while Haz tak dapat dihubungi. But in the end, MrB pulled out utk sebab2 yang tidak diketahui, SM's mom-in-law dah masak2 so as menantu yg baik kena lah balik dinner dengan family, Faz cannot get baby sitter and rupa2nya Haz kat Bandung. So it was just HA et moi. Some people tak suka kalau keluar berdua je, but not HA and I. Apa lah salahnya if two friends go out for dinner kan? Just because one is XX and the other XY doesn't mean that there's anything going on... biarlah orang nak bercerita ke apa. I'd rather live my life than let kerisauan apa orang kata dictate my activities.

And it turned out to be a good evening. We tukar venue... sbb Loaf was having a special menu for the festive season. I memang nak bawa HA try Loaf tapi since I pun tak pernah try the special menu, tak nak lah let him be a guinea pig pulak. We went to Carlos Mexican Canteen instead. His seafood enchiladas was good but my beef fajita wasn't that great. We had a good chat about lots of things sambil dihiburkan oleh street performers. So happening lah that area... must go there again. Dah dekat pukul 11 baru balik.

I'm going to miss having these chats with HA bila dia pergi Australia nanti... which is going to be very soon. Lama pulak tu... kurang satu male confidant. I don't have many of such male friends. Girlfriends I have plenty but sometimes a male perspective is needed.

The other 2 men that I usually confide in are married... so cannot lah keluar dinner dengan they all pulak kan? I used to talk to another person about stuff but of late I feel like we're drifting apart. The bond is no longer what it used to be. Despite efforts, he seems to be pulling away. I'm saddened by that... Perhaps he has other priorities in life and I'm not amongst it in the whole scheme of things. What to do... relationships are a two-way road. It won't work without the willingness of the other.

We move on... walaupun berat untuk menerima.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

seeing people smile...

Dah dua hari tak pergi office, I really wasn't in the mood to do work. Tapi apakan daya... saya makan gaji. Was so nice to be at home or doing other things...

Awal2 pagi lagi NAMN had called to brief on what transpired during the two meetings held the previous day. Banyak betul masalah dengan this project. Dengan kekalutannya, dengan clash of personality nya, dengan orang yang kata A tapi buat Z nya... exhausting! Kita do our best and hope that all goes well je lah...

Also got memo about the annual publication... there's a lot that the dept has to do and boss asked me to coordinate for the dept for this edition. Deadlines to send to Mgmt is in Feb. That doesn't leave us with much time... considering the chapter and numerous box articles that we'll have to write. Hmmph... no chance lah to go away during CNY.

Lunch time got a call from ARG... ajak pergi MV dgn NSY, MM and MZ. Semua sumbat dlm kereta NSY... which is fortunately besar. Duduk berempat kat belakang including moi with extra large derriere was still comfortable. Lunch was at Little Penang. I've decided to have prawn meehoon early on, while the rest wanted to have char kuey teow. But since it lambat kalau nak char kuey teow, all 5 of us ended up having prawn mee... which was very yummy :)

Sambil tunggu order sampai, I sempat singgah kedai jual tudung kat tepi tu. Tak plan pun but got attracted to the anak tudung ada awning. I normally don't wear anak tudung but since there's a wedding to attend tomorrow and the weekend, wanted to try pakai selendang bling-bling ;) It won't look nice without. But I memang have no skill to pakai selendang, so kena lah minta tolong the adik shopkeeper ajarkan. Hajatnya nak beli anak tudung tu je tapi terjebak beli another selendang which will match a baju I have at home and this silk tudung yang warnanya sangat sweet. I should have heeded the age old saying... never shop when you're hungry ;)

Petang we had a small departmental celebration... award recognition for staff who has displayed certain qualities or attained certain achievement. I was asked to head the committee to decide on the category, criteria, quantum (yes... dpt duit!!), selection and judging. With the dept so kecik, we decided to make it an annual event je instead of quarterly basis. So we had a short gathering... beri sepatah dua kata and announced the winners, with boss sebagai pemberi hadiah. Tak ramai yang hadir because many were still on leave, but it was meriah jugak. Ada potluck pelbagai.

For leadership, the winner was boss. He was pleasantly surprised and very happy when we told him that he received nominations from several people. He was obviously moved by the justification yang the nominators wrote. Tapinya he then told us that as director, he cannot be a recipient of the recognition award. HR policy. So the money was given to the team winner but he kept the certificate. Afterwards he came to my room and asked to see what people had written about him. It's so nice to see him smile and feeling so happy. I could see the joy and pride that was oozing out of him. He deserved it... after all the challenges that he had to face this year. Walaupun kena bambu by mgmt, he never cascaded it to us... he would convey the message but never place the blame or marah like some other bosses. I count myself lucky to be working with someone like him. Simple and senang dibawa berbincang.

Petang had a small problem to manage regarding the IKEA delivery. Ada barang yang tertinggal. Ina was at home to check and receive the goods tapinya the buyer kena call the IKEA service centre sendiri. So in between clearing some work and meetings, I managed to call IKEA, get the things in order. Bila sampai rumah, the house bau macam IKEA... berkotak barang are now on the floor in what used to be our dining room. The rumah memang tengah tak rupa a home. Semua furniture dah tolak to one side and tutup dengan kain.

Soon... it will look like a home again. And I'll have my walk-in wardrobe :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

when you can't afford an interior designer, terpaksalah...

Today dari pagi sampai malam... all my activities revolved around the renovations. Pagi pergi Guocera showroom kat PJ, then balik rumah for appointments dengan Wak to explain about what I want to be done and with Mr Tingkap-Man who came to take measurements. Sementara tunggu Mr Tingkap-Man sampai, pergi tengok WC kat kedai nearby and get some quotations. A short break for facial... then off to IKEA to return some barang sebab I dah silap ukur tinggi ceiling and coz I had a change in mind about the sink.

Pukul 11PM baru sampai rumah. Mengalahkan Phua Chu Kang... sans yellow boots of course ;)

If I had the $$, I would have hired a professional contractor and ID consultant to pening2 fikir about design, hardware, measurements etc etc. Tapi I'm not a trust fund baby, so kena lah buat all these things... but I enjoy it actually :) As I said previously, I suka things involving architecture and designs. Maybe I'm channelling Brad Pitt, hehe...

Abg Man recently hired a professional ID to do up his home in Gombak. I can't believe the amount he paid for their services... boleh beli sebiji rumah! For the end result, I think it's waaaaaaay too expensive. But then again, my taste is different. But I still think that 1/3 of the price paid would be more reasonable...

It doesn't help that I'm so fickle minded... well, when you're spending so much $$, you want it to be the best possible result. Kesian the Home Delivery IKEA staff yang terpaksa bersusah payah mengangkat kotak yang I initially nak return tapi tak jadi in the end.

Balik lepas mandi, I was not done yet. Sat down to design the tiles arrangement and coordination pulak. Sebab since Wak is going to start work on Saturday, kena lah order tiles dah. And I've not ordered the WC yet... which needs to be done soon so that he can move the pipes accordingly. Nanti salah ukur naya je.

Banyak nya lagi kena buat...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

please, not yet...

Semalam dah plan dengan Mama... nak pergi kedai tiles and pergi order barang kat kedai tingkap - slider wardrobe - shower screen.

So pagi-pagi (erm... tak lah pagi sangat, hehe) pergi kedai tiles yang Mama selalu pergi. Kat situ ada macam2. Spent about an hour there tapi I still couldn't decide which particular model I nak. Sample cuma ada 1 model... lagi dua sekadar tengok gambar je. I don't know about others, but things like this, I like to see the actual sample rather than just relying on gambar. Sebab kadang2, gambar can be deceiving...

So we went home empty handed...

Balik rumah, masak lunch... dah lama tak ke dapur. As usual, I'm the kitchen helper je. Lepas makan, Papa and Ina pergi rumah Cheras to pasang curtain railings. Abang pagi2 lagi dah keluar... dia kena buat kerja katanya. Amt was still zzzzz... Solat zohor and then terus ajak Mama pergi USJ.

Being a cuti day, traffic was smooth. We reached there in less than 1/2 hour. Semalam dah call dah the shop... dia kata to come after 12 coz dia ada appointment pagi. In the end, dekat pukul 3 baru we all sampai sana. Told him what I wanted, discussed what could be done, minta rough estimate... and gulp! There goes another RMx,xxx... Itu baru rough estimate, dia kata... he can only quote and bagi discount after making a site visit and ukur betul2 tempat yang memerlukan barang2 from his shop. I'm really hoping for a big discount... coz otherwise, that will bust my budget. Arranged for an appointment for him to come over to the house besok. Nasib baik I memang dah plan bercuti on Wednesday...

En route nak balik, we singgah kat BV sekejap. Mama wanted to get something to eat because she couldn't eat lunch tadi. Her pain was becoming more frequent and as a result, she can't eat properly. Betul2 masa nak makan pulak tu, the pain hit. So I thought of Marco's... at least she could try eating lasagna. But seperti before, just as we got the food that we ordered, her pain came back. Makin teruk... I just ate 2-3 suap and terus asked the kedai to pack the food to go.

I'm worried for her... if things persist like this, kena pergi seek alternative treatment. Her pain management regime is obviously not working. It's getting worse... almost macam masa early of the year. Mama wants to try this doctor recommended by her friend who provides a soundwave based treatment dulu. I'm thinking of getting her to do the MRI and consult the neurologist again. Tapi let's try that doctor first.

Last Friday I met up with Peah over lunch... told her about Mama - her pain, what we've done, what the doctor kata. And she pun kata better to meet up with the neurologist jugak. Get the MRI done at a private hospital but get referral to go to HUKM or HKL for the neurologist, since the queue for MRI at public hospital tu panjang. I want to get to the root of the problem but at the same time scared of discovering a more sinister problem. What child wouldn't be... that's the scariest thing for me. I won't even write it down for fear that I might jinx the situation. Nauzubillah... I can't even bear thinking about the *what ifs*.

I often take things for granted. Never really thought about all that. I don't want to think about such a situation. That would be too painful. Even writing about this is making me well up. As each day, hour, minutes, seconds pass... the finality comes nearer. It's inevitable... I know. But I just don't know how I'd cope when it does happen. I really don't think I can...

Monday, December 24, 2007

MYRx,xxx out of pocket...

So takde mood at work today... so I left super early, almost a new record! The only time I leave this early is when a) I have an appointment or b)... erm, there's no b).

Just as I was about to leave, dengan cuaca mendung dan hujan di luar, I called Mama. "Ma... nak pergi IKEA tak tonight?" That's like asking whether orang lapar nak makan, hehe.

So went home, picked Mama up and we zoomed towards Mutiara Damansara via Penchala Link. Mama said that she's hungry. Wanted to go get some bubur but takde. So ended up having the nicest tow foo fah I've ever tasted. We liked it so much we bought four more... to tapau lah. Gila apa nak makan 4 tow foo fah at one sitting 8-o

The aim of going to IKEA tonight ada beberapa fold: beli isi perut wardrobe, shelves, sink... and Mama nak beli some kitchen cabinets. I dah tahu exactly apa and berapa yang perlu dibeli, but that didn't stop me from wondering around the home decor enthusiast haven. Although the displays aren't new... I still wanted to tengok2. Suka2 :)

But it was not all buang masa. Cari jugak other alternatives to the sink and my supposed to be *getting myself looking nice* counter. Ada other alternatives but none were cheaper than the original plan. Penat jugak lah pusing sana sini, kira itu ini... tapi last2 beli the original plan juga.

I'm a big fan of IKEA but sekadar tengok2 je lah. Tak selalu beli barang kat situ... usually just teman Mama cari barang or tengok2. And often, the first destination is the *As Is* corner. That's where she gets most of her stuff. But this time, I shopped BIG TIME. Bila time bayar, the total amount is about half my gross pay (to the person who's earning more or less sama mcm I... if you're reading this, you'll know how much that is). And itu baru kat IKEA! The amount spent is about 1/4 my total estimation for the renovation.

Kalau kirakan, boleh pergi 2-3 kali holiday di tempat jauh2... nak renovate ke nak holiday, nak renovate ke nak holiday... Nak dua-dua!! :-p

I've been spending many evenings scouring over websites like Guocera, MML, Whitehorse, Johnson Suisse... to get an idea of how the bathroom should look like. I already know the layout, now comes the mencantikkan part. So much to choose from! Tapi tengok gambar je tak serupa macam tengok the actual things... kena jugak lah pay a visit to the showroom.

I guess that's activity untuk esok ;)

dreaming of exotic sights, taste and smell...

AAA has *poisoned* me...

After that instant message querying whether I'd be interested to join him and wifey on a trip to Morocco, dreams of adventure in the land of kasbah, souks, dunes, and world heritage *pasar malam* have been occupying my mind. That, and plans for renovations, furniture, haberdashery, lightings...

On this slower than normal day at work (there are only 10 of us in the office today... from the normal size of 29) whereby most people around the world are either getting ready for yuletide or finishing off their annual leave, I find myself wondering to travel forums, travel blogs... all relating to la Maroc. [Those of you who work with me at the organisation, kindly keep this to yourself as such behaviour is so unbecoming of a DD, heheheh...]

I've checked airlines. So far, found out that Emirates and Etihad have flights to Casablanca via Dubai & Abu Dhabi respectively [hmm... flying thru Abu Dhabi ain't such a bad idea, since Alia is there, maybe I can do a pit stop ;) ]. During my previous flight research, discovered that there are several budget airlines flying into Fez and Marrakech from London, Amsterdam. But lately, I'm becoming more *concerned* about flying budget... unless if it's the likes of Easyjet, Ryanair, AirAsia. Reason: too many *accidents* involving those budget airlines of late. Takut jugak.

As usual, whenever I plan for these trips, I want to squeeze in as many sights as possible. Ye lah... who knows when the next chance to visit that country would be. Armed with various tour itineraries and reports on, I've identified several places that I'd like to *attempt* (key operative word here, hehe...) - Marrakech, Fez, edge of Sahara desert, Atlas mountain (tak kisah lah high ke, middle ke... asalkan can see mountains), Essaouira. Casablanca and Rabat are only *bonus* if boleh sumbat.

Other wishlists:
To stay at a riad in the old medinas of Marrakech and Fez. The idea alone is so romantic and so Indiana Jones...
To sleep in a tent in a desert, only to be awoken early in the morning for a camel ride to watch the sun rise from behind the sand dunes.
To be able to purchase and bring home (the latter is the bigger challenge I think) some handicrafts - those inlay tables, brass lamps, ceramics... ooooh, the options are endless!!

I'm already looking at the 2008 calendar... potential for long breaks around CNY and Labour Day. But alas... neither would work out. The former is too close to the production of the annual report and the latter too late to catch the melting snow - the whole reason why AAA wanted to go for that water rafting expedition in the first place.

Also another dilemma... I've promised Ina to go to Egypt next year. She wants to go *when it's not panas*. Which leaves me with Jan-April window... which will coincide with the Morocco trip. I don't know whether boss will let me go away for 2 two-weeks break in the span of 4 months. Maybe I shall try my luck with the CNY break for Egypt.

Ooohhh... the prospects are so enticing :) Kakijalan akan melangkah ke benua Afrika akhirnya!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

tongkang pecah...

I've neglected this blog for a few days now... basically because each night after my usual rounds of checking emails, facebook... rasa mengantuk sangat. Literally dozing off on the keyboard.

Not that much had happened these past few days pun. Mainly revolved around my quest for furniture, tiles, bathroom stuff. As well as sesi pindah, kemas barang and moving furniture in preparation of the actual work. Gosh... that was tiring!

I've found the perfect 2 seater sofa for the room... at the most unexpected place. The shop is not far from our house.. kat Jinjang. Those of you who are familiar with KL, would know that Jinjang is not exactly the desired postcode area. But much has changed since. The sofa looks expensive but it's not. A reasonable price and since the shop offered a good deal, am going to take the whole set... 3, 2 and 1 seater. The others will be placed at the TV lounge upstairs. Also found the colour of tiles for the bathroom. Have decided to go with cocoa and cream :) Cocoa sounds more posh than chocolate, hehe...

Petang Raya, Mama insisted that I follow her to this shop in Ampang Jaya yang tengah sale. To check out if the is a glass screen that I'd like. Walaupun sebenarnya mengantuk sangat petang tu, I just followed je lah to avoid pot-pet. Glad I did because the shop memang tengah sale best. But I did not commit to any purchases yet... nak get in touch balik with my window man in USJ.

My sesi berkemas and alih2 barang started Friday evening after work but was in full force Saturday morning. We moved cupboards, dismantled beds etc etc... the upper floor of the house now looks a bit like ribut baru melanda. Lots of things to sift through - between nak simpan or tong sampah. We also moved furniture and cleared the hall downstairs. Because we expect that there's going to be a lot of habuk, debu with the renovations work. So sekarang, the hall is so kosong, bila cakap bunyi bergema.

Meanwhile, I'm squatting in Ina's room. I hope that all these kerja2 ubah suai will go on smoothly and siap cepat. Tak seronok living dalam keadaan tunggang terbalik like this.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

of firsts and doing the unordinary...

Early morning today... with it being Hari Raya and all.

Solat sunat Aidil Adha was performed at the surau near our house. I was really sleepy and I struggled to stay awake during the khutbah :p There was a modest makan2 at the surau afterwards. Someone had generously prepared lemang and rendang for the jemaah. The lemang was perfectly soft and rendang tasty albeit a bit pedas, even pour moi who likes spicy food.

At home, Mama had prepared nasi lemak... with sambal udang and rendang daging. Yesterday she asked me as I was getting ready to go to work "Raya nak makan apa?"... and I told her nasi lemak. My wish came true! :) So second round of makan... all before 11am, hehe...

Tapi Mama couldn't eat... her pain is making it difficult for her to chew. So after makan, us four siblings went to the new Tesco Extra to find something for Mama. I was excited to go to Tesco because believe it or not, I've never stepped foot into any Tesco (well... I have, but that was in Dundee). That's the thing about staying at home... usually Mama would go do groceries during the week when we're all at work... when there's less crowd.

On the way, Ina and Amt gave me the 101 of the hypermarket... how it looks like, the layout etc. The Tesco Extra near our home sits on the spot where Makro used to be... about 5 mins away.

With it being Raya and relatively early in the day, there were very few people there. I had to curb my enthusiasm to jalan on each aisle - upstairs and downstairs - ye lah... checking out a new store ;) Bought some stuff including dumb bells for my aerobics class and stopped at King's Confectionery to get some fruit tarts... Mama's favourite. Not bad lah the place... ada Laksa Shack should the craving for laksa attacks. I was frustrated to discover that they've closed the shop in BV (now occupied by Marco's) 2 weeks ago. With this discovery, senang lah :)

Last night I did something which I don't normally do... tengok drama Melayu on TV. Mama is a big fan of Malay drama series... the more orang kaya internal conflict, posh large houses, nasib orang miskin yang selalu kena buli the better ;) I don't fancy those kind of dramas so I usually avoid them.

However, last night, sempena Aidil Adha, there were several made for TV movies on air. After dinner I joined Mama in front of the telly. Saje je... lepak with her. And I got glued watching "Janji Seorang Anak". The story started quite typical like other Malay dramas... orang miskin from kampung, one son attends university and promises to take care of the family bila dah berjaya, one son mat rempit, the husband a bit weng because of an accident several years back... hidup susah etc. You can imagine the jalan cerita already... Mama Ina and I were already reciting how the story would develop during the first 3 minutes of watching the show (and we weren't far off).

But somehow I stayed on with this one... because although the storyline wasn't something to shout about, the acting was brilliant. Most amazing was Abu Bakar Omar who played the role of the weng father... every movement, facial expression, right down to the mata juling and lidah terjulur was perfectly acted. I've always been impressed with his acting and to me he's one of *the* actors in the local scene. Fauziah Nawi played the role of the mother in her typical way... a bit over but serves the scenes well, especially one scene when she bergegas to go to the market to buy ikan keli to make masak lemak ikan keli for her favourite son. The veteran Mariani had a small role as the ailing nenek... small but effective. When I first saw their names, plus Ngasrial Ngasri... I knew that this would be something worthwhile watching.

But I had some reservations about the model-turned-actor Azizan who played the lead role, anak derhaka bernama Syamsul. My concerns were allayed... he acted as the anak kesayangan yang pandai mengambil hati mak(read: bodek) well. I wouldn't say that he's in the same league as Abu Bakar Omar or Rosyam Nor, but well enough. In fact, his actions reminded me and Ina of someone in the family and we both laughed with a knowing smile each time such scenes were acted, hehe... I was most amazed with his ulat keluar from mulut scene towards the end of the movie at which point all us ladies shrieked in disgust. OK... an actor who is willing to do that is worth his salt, IMHO.

Another star is a young starlet, whose name I tak tahu, who played the role of the youngest and only daughter. Mula2 her role was just as a naive sister... it was towards the end of the movie that she exhibited her true talent as a drama actor. You could feel the anguish and conflict within her... especially when the mother rejects her. A great talent in the making...

My entire family was amazed to see me sit down so absorbed with the movie. My dad, my brothers... semua made comments "Along tengok drama? Drama melayu? On normal channel?". It's not that I have anything against malay movies/dramas... it's just that so many turn me off... either due to the storyline or the acting. So often the plots are so silly and the acting so kayu... harap muka cantik je, or overacting. Ye lah... kalau masa nak tido pun makeup tebal seinci or si jelita yang miskin always look perfectly coiffred. And my pet peeves... kalau kat restaurant mesti order fresh orange, the obligatory disco scene to portray moral decay (unfortunately Janji Seorang Anak pun ada such scene but due to the strength in other aspects, that can be forgiven lah), some rich Dato or wannabes talk about *projek besar*... eaish, so typical. Takde idea lain ke...

And it's not just drama melayu... drama Indon pun sama. But once in a while, jewels like "Janji Seorang Anak" shows that there is still talent and hope for our local entertainment scene. I have watched several very good dramas (mostly on TV... box office fares are usually $$ driven so very few have quality in mind) but unfortunately they're so rare and only once in a blue moon baru lah ada yang timbul.

Malaysian TV/movie producers are not the only bad guys here... the American stations are equally guilty with such nonsensical reality show. When I was in the US, Linda introduced me to this show about guys and girls competing for the affection of a bisexual lady... she would be frolicking in a jacuzzi, with the competing male and female... smooching with the guys one minute and the ladies the next. I don't think that show will ever touch Malaysian shores, but what amazed me was that the show actually received strong ratings in the US. What??

Apa-apa lah...

I've just discovered that someone has uploaded Janji Seorang Anak on youtube. Those interested, pergi lah tonton at

jalan2 cari makan...

Has been a while since I last did a food review. Which should be good for DZ since I'm not making her drool, heheh...

I tried 2 new places recently: Marco in BV and Station Kopitiam in Cheras (although they have a chain in many other places).

Marco serves essentially Italian food... pasta, pizza. The two dishes that SM and I shared were yummy. I can't remember the exact name of her penne, but it had mushrooms, chicken and cooked with very tasty tomato sauce. I had the tsunami pizza (not authentic Italian as you can guess). The menu is extensive and I'm DEFINITELY going there again. And the price is reasonable too :)

Today on the way back from visiting our house in Cheras, Mama Papa & I stopped at Station Kopitiam. Mama was craving for the ice cream toast and hazelnut coffee. Actually Papa yang excited nak pergi situ. Both of them dah kemaruk white coffee ;) I had the obligatory white coffee and kaya & butter toast. The coffee was sedap. I can see myself hanging out more often there as opposed to going to Starbucks. Plus it only costs half of what they charge at Starbucks ;)


It's already Thursday... today is Hari Raya. Selamat Aidil Adha semua!! :-)

Aidil Adha... aka Hari Raya Qurban. I guess the time is ripe untuk membuat pengorbanan... to let go... and start fresh...

Despite desires to leave all behind, I find myself revisiting. And each time, repeatedly, the truth stares back at me... mocking me. Although it is not direct, it's the reality on the other site that pulls out the red flag telling me stop. But still I find myself there... why am I putting myself through all these? Today for example (and on several other occasions in days past)... the tales, the images... what more do I need? Why can't I just let it go?

I suppose having suppressed such things for a long time also makes it harder to let go. Which is why when I heard this song, I smiled cynically ( Ooh... how this perfectly describes the quandary that I find myself in. The last verse struck the chord... it's as if the song was written with me in mind...

But things are getting better. I've stopped entertaining the thought. Nonetheless, discovering a bloom also withers me. I'm being green over matters which I can't lay claim on. Despite unearthing all those hurtful reality, I continually find myself there. Someone... anyone... get me out of this limbo!!

I guess the answer lies with me... only I can get me out... one way is through pengorbanan. Dear Lord... give me the strength...

Over the weekend I did my spring cleaning and yesterday Bita came to collect her bounty... three bags full! I korbankan things which have been used as well as fresh new items. Time to stop hoarding... Something that has not been on me this past 12 months deserves a new owner.

I almost had to korbankan my cuti on boxing day and the penultimate work day of the year... for work. Fortunately, despite all the hoopla... the getting minds together to prepare for the visit, it's postponed to 2008. Date still unknown. That project itself is not without "tearing hair out" situations. Deceived... indah khabar dari rupa... talam dua muka... hoodwinked... all those would describe the state of affairs. Nak tak nak kena step into first step (how ironic?)... before things get worse.

Already some noises from the big kahuna (over a matter which could have easily been avoided had the smart aleck described things better) last Thursday. Tak pasal2 je kena... With these latest developments, we can't leave things to chances anymore. Boss is obviously disturbed by it all. I would be too if I were in his shoes. Kesian dia... Now BB expects more. The gap between expectations and reality is like langit dgn bumi. Silap2 ada yang terkorban...

it's not everday
that i find a person quite like you
perfect every way
i finally found the nerve to confess that it's you
that i want
i don't care if i act a fool
i would damn near beg for you
put aside, all my pride
so don't keep me hanging here
cause this girl is falling stupid for you..
stupid for you..

the proper thing to do
is for me to act like a lady and wait
for you to make the first move
but i don't think you're getting the point
that it's you
that i want
i don't care if i act a fool
i would damn near beg for you
put aside, all my pride
so don't keep me waiting here
cause this girl is falling stupid for you
oh, oh stupid for you

why's it always feel like i am
chasing love when nothing's there
and here i go just making the same mistake...
i've fallen stupid for you..

having a bad day??

Don't take it too hard... 8-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

tales of beedle the bard... part 3

Jo's amazing story telling never ceases to keep me in awe. Even as I read through another person's description of her tales, sangat terasa teruja...

Granted, I didn't find her final book that great, it was the story telling of the whole series that made the journey worthwhile.

Three stories here (there were 5, so far, that has been released)... each with their own lessons...

Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump

A large tree stump (with twenty growth rings—we counted) squats atop Rowling's fourth and longest fairy tale. Five tentacle-like roots spread from the base with grass and dandelion clocks sprouting out from beneath them. At the center of the base of the stump is a dark crack, with two white circles that look like tiny eyes peering out at the reader. Under the text is a small narrow paw print (with four toes). Not as horrific as the bloody, hairy heart of the last story (and this time we do see bright pixie dust on the facing page), but we don’t entirely like the looks of that stump.

"Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump" begins (as good fairy tales often do) long ago and in a faraway land. A greedy and "foolish king" decides that he wants to keep magic all to himself. But he has two problems: first, he needs to round up all the existing witches and wizards; second, he needs to actually learn magic. Just as he commands a "Brigade of Witch Hunters" armed with a pack of fierce black dogs, he also announces his need for an "Instructor in Magic" (not too bright, our king). Savvy wizards and witches go into hiding rather than heed his call, but a "cunning charlatan" with no magical ability at all bluffs his way into the role with a few simple tricks.

Once installed as the head sorcerer and private instructor to the King, the charlatan demands gold for magical supplies, rubies for creating charms, and silver cups for potions. The charlatan hoards these items in his own house before returning to the palace, but he does not realize the King's old "washer-woman," Babbitty, sees him. She watches him pull twigs from a tree that he then presents to the King as wands. Cunning as he is, the charlatan tells the King that his wand will not work until "your Majesty is worthy of it."

Every day the King and charlatan practice their "magic" (Rowling shines here, painting a portrait of the ridiculous King waving his twig and "shouting nonsense at the sky"), but one morning they hear laughter and see Babbitty watching from her cottage, laughing so hard she can hardly stand. The humiliated King is furious and impatient, and demands that they give a real demonstration of magic in front of his subjects the very next day. The desperate charlatan says it is impossible since he needs to leave the kingdom on a long journey, but the now suspicious King threatens to send the Brigade after him. Having worked himself into a fury, the King also commands that if "anybody laughs at me" the charlatan will be beheaded. And so, our foolish, greedy, magic-less King is also revealed to be both prideful and pitifully insecure--even in these short, simple tales, Rowling is able to create complex, interesting characters.

Looking to "vent" his frustration and anger, the cunning charlatan heads straight to the house of Babbitty. Peering in the window, he sees a "little old lady" sitting at her table cleaning her wand, as the sheets are "washing themselves" in a tub. Seeing her as a real witch, and both the source and solution of his problems, he demands her help, or he will turn her over to the Brigade. It is hard to fully describe this powerful turning point in the story (and any of these tales, really). Try to remember the richness and color of Rowling's novels and imagine how she might pack these bite-sized tales full of vivid imagery and subtle nuances of character.

Unruffled by his demands (she is a witch, after all), Babbitty smiles and agrees to do "anything in her power" to help (there’s a loophole if we’ve ever heard one). The charlatan tells her to hide inside a bush and perform all the spells for the King. Babbitty agrees, but wonders aloud what will happen if the King tries to perform an impossible spell. The charlatan, ever convinced of his own cleverness and the stupidity of others, laughs off her concerns, asserting that Babbitty's magic is certainly much more powerful than anything "that fool's imagination" could dream up.

The next morning, the members of the court gather together to witness the King's magic. From a stage, the King and charlatan perform their first magical act--making a woman's hat disappear. The crowd is amazed and astonished, never guessing that it is Babbitty, hiding in a bush, who performs the spell. For his next feat, the King points the "twig" (every reference of this cracks us up) at his horse, raising it high into the air. Looking around for an even better idea for the third spell, the King is interrupted by the Captain of the Brigade, who holds the body of one of the King's hounds (dead from a poisonous mushroom). He begs the King to bring the dog "back to life," but when the King points the twig at the dog, nothing happens. Babbitty smiles inside her hiding place, not even trying a spell, for she knows "no magic can raise the dead" (at least not in this story). The crowd begins to laugh, suspecting that the first two spells were just tricks. The King is furious, and when he demands to know why the spell failed, the cunning and deceitful charlatan points at Babbitty's hiding place and screams that a "wicked witch" is blocking the spells. Babbitty runs from the bush, and when the Witch Hunters send the hounds after her, she disappears, leaving the dogs "barking and scrabbling" at the base of an old tree. Desperate now, the charlatan shouts that the witch has turned herself "into a crab apple" (which even at this tense and dramatic point draws a snicker). Fearful that Babbitty may turn herself back into a woman and expose him, the charlatan demands the tree be cut down--because that is how you "treat evil witches." It is quite a powerful scene, not only for its "off with her head!" drama, but because the charlatan's ability to whip up the crowd is evocative of the all-too-real witch trials. As the drama builds, Rowling's handwriting appears slightly less polished--the spaces between letters of her words widens, creating the illusion that she's making the story up as she goes along, getting the words down on the page as fast as she can.

The tree is chopped down, but as the crowd cheers and heads back toward the palace, a "loud cackling" is heard, this time from within the stump. Babbitty, smart witch that she is, shouts that witches and wizards cannot be killed by being "cut in half," and to prove it, she suggests that they cut the King's instructor "in two." At this, the charlatan begs for mercy and confesses. He is dragged to the dungeon, but Babbitty is not finished with her foolish king. Her voice, still issuing from the stump, proclaims that his actions have invoked a curse on the kingdom, so that every time the King harms a witch or wizard he too will feel a pain so fierce he will wish to "die of it." The now desperate King falls to his knees and promises to protect all the wizards and witches in his lands, allowing them to perform magic without harm. Pleased, but not completely satisfied, the stump cackles again and demands a statue of Babbitty be placed upon it to remind the King of his "own foolishness." The "shamed King" promises to have a sculptor create a statue in gold, and he heads back to the palace with his court. At last, a "stout old rabbit" with a wand in its teeth hops out from hole beneath the stump (aha! The source of those tiny white eyes) and leaves the kingdom. The golden statue remained on the stump forever more, and witches and wizards were never be hunted in the kingdom again.

"Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump" highlights the winking ingenuity of the old witch--who should remind fans of a certain wise and resourceful wizard--and you can imagine how old Babbitty might become a folk hero to young wizards and witches. But more than just a story about the triumph of a clever witch, the tale warns against human weaknesses of greed, arrogance, selfishness and duplicity, and shows how these errant (but not evil) characters come to learn the error of their ways. The fact that the tale follows so soon after that of the mad warlock highlights the importance that Rowling has always placed on self-awareness: Babbitty reveals to the King his arrogance and greed, just as the Hopping Pot exposes the wizard's selfishness and the Fountain uncovers the hidden strength of the three witches and the knight. Of the first four of her tales, only the hairy-hearted warlock suffers a truly horrible fate, as his unforgiveable use of the Dark Arts and his unwillingness to know his true self exclude him from redemption.

The Wizard and the Hopping Pot

As in her Harry Potter series, garnishing the top of the first page of the first fairy tale, "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot," is a drawing--in this case, a round pot sitting atop a surprisingly well-drawn foot (with five toes, in case you were wondering, and we know some of you were). This tale begins merrily enough, with a "kindly old wizard" whom we meet only briefly, but who reminds us so much of our dear Dumbledore that we must pause and take a breath.

This "well-beloved man" uses his magic primarily for the benefit of his neighbors, creating potions and antidotes for them in what he calls his "lucky cooking pot." Much too soon after we meet this kind and generous man, he dies (after living to a "goodly age") and leaves everything to his only son. Unfortunately, the son is nothing like his father (and entirely too much like a Malfoy). Upon his father's death, he discovers the pot, and in it (quite mysteriously) a single slipper and a note from his father that reads, "In the fond hope, my son, that you will never need this." As in most fairy tales, this is the moment when things start to go wrong....

Bitter about not having anything but a pot to his name and completely uninterested in anyone who cannot do magic, the son turns his back on the town, closing his door to his neighbors. First comes the old woman whose granddaughter is plagued with warts. When the son slams the door in her face, he immediately hears a loud clanging in the kitchen. His father's old cooking pot has sprouted a foot as well as a serious case of warts. Funny, and yet gross. Vintage Rowling. None of his spells work, and he cannot escape the hopping, warty pot that follows him--even to his bedside. The next day, the son opens the door to an old man who is missing his donkey. Without its help to carry wares to town, his family will go hungry. The son (who clearly has never read a fairy tale) slams the door on the old man. Sure enough, here comes the warty, befooted clanging pot, now having captured both the sounds of a braying donkey as well as groans of hunger.

In true fairy tale fashion, the son is besieged with more visitors, and it takes a few tears, some vomit, and a whining dog before the wizard at last succumbs to his responsibility, and the true legacy of his father. Renouncing his selfish ways, he calls for all townspeople far and wide to come to him for help. One by one, he cures their ills and in doing so, empties the pot. At the very last, out pops the mysterious slipper--the one that perfectly fits the foot of the now-quiet pot--and together the two walk (and hop) off into the sunset.

Rowling has always made her stories as funny as they are clever, and "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" is no exception; the image of a one-footed cooking pot plagued with all the "warty" ills of the village, hopping after a selfish young wizard, is a good example. But the real magic of this book and this particular tale lies not just in her turns of phrase but in the way she underlines the "clang, clang, clang" of the pot for emphasis, and how her handwriting gets messier when the story picks up speed, like she's hurrying along with the reader. These touches make the story uniquely her own and this volume of stories particularly special.

The Tale of the Three Brothers

If, like us, you raced through your first reading of "The Tale of the Three Brothers" on your way to the finale of all finales, then you missed quite a tale (one that we think can stand among the best of Aesop). Lucky for you, you can open your copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to Chapter Twenty-One and read it any time you like.

A trio of toothy skulls stare out at the reader at the top of the last of the five tales (oh how we wish there were dozens more). The skull in the middle has a symbol carved into its forehead--a straight vertical line in a circle, enclosed by a triangle. Underneath the text is a pile of fabric, upon which lies a wand (spouting a swirling stream of sparkles), and what looks like a small stone.

This spooky tale about three brothers, three choices, and three distinct fates begs to be read aloud--in fact, the first time we meet the three brothers is when Hermione reads the tale to Harry and Ron (and Xenophilius). Three brothers traveling along a deserted road at "twilight" (midnight, according to Mrs. Weasley's version of the story) come to a "treacherous" river they cannot cross. Well versed in magic, they create a bridge with a wave of their wands. Halfway across they are halted by a "hooded figure." Death is angry, and tells the brothers (in a funny moment from Hallows, Harry interrupts the story here "Sorry, but Death spoke to them?") that they have cheated him out of "new victims" since people usually drown when they try to cross the river. But, Death is shrewd and offers a reward to each of them for being smart enough to "escape" him. Our favorite fairy tales have this same kind of "choose your fate" plot--you can learn so much about a character from a single choice, and the best stories, like this one, lead you away from where you think it's going toward an ending you never expected.

The oldest brother, a "combative man" asks for the mightiest wand ever created--a wand that will win every duel for its owner, one befitting a wizard who "conquered Death." So Death creates the (fateful) wand from an "Elder tree" (capitalized in our copy) and gives it to the quarrelsome, boastful brother. The second brother, an "arrogant man" who is determined to demean Death further, asks for the power to summon others back from Death. Picking up a stone from the ground, Death tells the brother that it holds the power to bring back the dead. The youngest brother, the most humble and wise of the three, did not "trust Death" so he asks for something to allow him to leave without being "followed by Death." Knowing he may have been outsmarted, Death, hands over "his own" invisibility cloak with a "very bad grace". Each brother's choice reveals so much about his motivations: the oldest brother wants the Elder wand to make him powerful over all others; the second brother wants to have power over Death; and the youngest brother wants to leave Death safely behind him.

Eventually the brothers take their gifts and go their separate ways, toward very different fates. The first travels to a "certain village" and tracks down a wizard with whom he had fought to challenge him to a duel he "could not fail to win." After killing his enemy, he retires to an inn where he brags about the Elder wand, how he won it from "Death himself," and how it makes him all-powerful. That night, a wizard sneaks up on the oldest brother and steals the wand, slitting the brother's throat "for good measure." The haunting refrain, in which Rowling describes Death as taking the brother "for his own," helps both anchor the story as a cautionary tale as well as teach a lesson about the inevitability of death. One of the most important messages from this tale, and from this particular brother, is the notion of using power for good (advice Rowling clearly takes to heart).

The second brother arrives at his empty home, where he turns the stone "over thrice in his hand", using it to "recall the Dead" (capitalized in our copy). He is thrilled to witness the return of the girl he once wanted to marry, however she is "silent and cold" and suffering because she no longer belongs in the "mortal world." Desperate and filled with "hopeless longing" the second brother kills himself so that he can join her, allowing Death to win back his second victim.

The youngest brother uses the "Cloak of Invisibility" to hide from Death, until at "very old age" he takes it off and gives it to his son. Then, he greets Death "gladly" and "as an old friend" and departs from "this life." Such a satisfying close to this tale--it still packs a punch even after a second reading. Simple, powerful, and poignant, "The Tale of the Three Brothers" introduces theories about the use and abuse of power (also strong in the series) and shares important messages about life and death. There are many ways in which this tale informs and enhances Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the curious should reread Chapter Thirty-Five, "King’s Cross" and discuss), but our favorite is highlighted by the message that Dumbledore himself imparts to Harry about accepting Death and embracing life: "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who live without love." The youngest brother did not try to cheat Death or harm others with his power; instead, he used his gift to live simply and without fear of Death, so that at the end of a long and happy life, he was able to go willingly from this world.

It is a true testament to Rowling’s talent that her fairy tales carry such a strong message, but never appear preachy or overtly didactic (this goes double for her books, and is in part why they are so special). The Tales of Beedle the Bard imparts several of the same lessons as the Harry Potter series, and the stories reverberate with Dumbledore's warning about choosing "what is right and what is easy." Whether she is warning against arrogance and greed, revealing the responsibilities that come with immense power, or extolling the importance of love and faith in oneself, Rowling's boundless imagination and masterful storytelling keep her loyal fans (young and old) coming back for more, ever eager for the next lesson.

tales of beedle the bard... part 2

This is my personal favourite :)
Like the previous tale, this one reminds me of myself and many others...

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

Featured at the top of what may be one of our favorite fairy tales ever is a picture of a sparkling, flowing fountain. Now that we're thirty pages into the book, it has become clear that Rowling enjoys (and is quite good at) drawing stars and sparkles. The beginning and ending of almost every tale appears sprinkled with pixie dust (à la Peter Pan--fans know that Rowling's pixies are less likely to leave such a pretty trail). This first page of the story also features a small rose bush below the text. It is quite lovely, and as anyone who has tried to draw a rose knows, not that easy to pull off--a fact that makes it less likely that Rowling did it to cover up a mistake (the way some of us might). It is a gorgeous way to start, and it gives "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" a lot to live up to. Perhaps this is why the story begins so grandly and with such a perfectly lush and mysterious fairy tale setting: an enchanted and enclosed garden that is protected by "strong magic." Once a year, an "unfortunate" is allowed the opportunity to find their way to the Fountain, to bathe in the water, and win "fair fortune forever more." Ahhhh, such is the stuff of Harry Potter fans' dreams. In fact, this tale stands out as a favorite partly because it follows the quest arc that fans fell in love with in her novels—the kind we still crave.

Knowing that this may be the only chance to truly turn their lives around, people (with magical powers and without) travel from the far reaches of the kingdom to try and gain entrance to the garden. It is here that three witches meet and share their tales of woe. First is Asha, sick of "a malady no Healer could cure," who hopes the Fountain can restore her health. The second is Altheda, who was robbed and humiliated by a sorcerer. She hopes the Fountain will relieve her feelings of helplessness and her poverty. The third witch, Amata, was deserted by her beloved, and hopes the Fountain will help cure her "grief and longing." In just a few pages, Rowling has not only created terrific fairy tale drama, but an interesting conflict--readers young and old can relate to at least one the woes of Asha, Altheda, and Amata (and can we talk about how great those names are?), so how can you choose which one should win? The witches (much like the characters from our favorite series) decide that three heads are better than one, and they pool their efforts to reach the Fountain together. At first light, a crack in the wall appears and "Creepers" from the garden reach through and wrap themselves around Asha, the first witch. She grabs Altheda, who takes hold of Amata. But Amata gets tangled in the armor of a knight, and as the vines pull Asha in, all three witches along with the knight get pulled through the wall and into the garden.

Since only one of them will be permitted to bathe in the Fountain, the first two witches are upset that Amata inadvertently invited another competitor. Because he has no magical power, recognizes the women as witches, and is well-suited to his name, "Sir Luckless," the knight announces his intention to abandon the quest. Amata promptly chides him for giving up and asks him to join their group. It is heartening to see Rowling continuing to embrace the themes of friendship and camaraderie so prevalent in her series, not to mention her ability to draw strong, intelligent, female characters. We spent seven books watching Harry learn that it is okay to need the help and support of his friends, and that same notion of sharing responsibility and burden is strong in this tale.

On their journey to the Fountain, the motley band faces three challenges. We're in familiar fairy tale territory here, but it is the strong, simple imagery (a "monstrous white worm, bloated and blind") and way the characters work together to triumph over adversity that makes this story such a rich read, and pure Rowling. First, they face the worm who demands "proof of your pain." After several fruitless attempts to attack it with magic and other means, Asha's tears of frustration finally satisfy the worm, and the four are allowed to pass. Next, they face a steep slope and are asked to pay the "fruit of their labors." They try and try to make it up the hill but spend hours climbing to no avail. Finally, the hard-won effort of Altheda as she cheers her friends on (specifically the sweat from her brow) gets them past the challenge. At last, they face a stream in their path and are asked to pay "the treasure of your past." Attempts to float or leap across fail, until Amata thinks to use her wand to withdraw the memories of the lover who abandoned her, and drop them into the water (hello, Pensieve!). Stepping stones appear in the water, and the four are able to cross to the Fountain, where they must decide who gets to bathe.

Asha collapses from exhaustion and is near death. She is in such pain that she cannot make it to the Fountain, and she begs her three friends not to move her. Altheda quickly mixes a powerful potion in an attempt to revive her, and the concoction actually cures her malady, so she no longer needs the Fountain's waters. (Some of you see where this is going, but stay tuned--Rowling has more surprises in store.) By curing Asha, Altheda realizes that she has the power to cure others and a means to earn money. She no longer needs the waters of the Fountain to cure her "powerlessness and poverty." The third witch, Amata realizes that once she washed away her regret for her lover, she was able to see him for what he really was ("cruel and faithless"), and she no longer needs the Fountain. She turns to Sir Luckless and offers him his turn at the Fountain as a reward for his bravery. The knight, amazed at his luck, bathes in the Fountain and flings himself "in his rusted armour" (this is the genius of Rowling--the addition of one word gives us the hilarious image of the knight bathing in full body armor in the Fountain) at the feet of Amata and begs for her "hand and her heart." Each witch achieves their dreams for a cure, a hapless knight wins knowledge of his bravery, and Amata, the one witch who had faith in him, realizes that she has found a "man worthy of her." A great "happily ever after" for our merry band, who set off "arm-in-arm" (it’s particularly nice the way this is handwritten, with the hyphens supporting a visual of linked arms). But the story wouldn’t be Rowling's without a kicker at the end: we learn that the four friends live long, never realizing that the Fountain's waters "carried no enchantment at all." Best. Ending. Ever.

As in her novels, Rowling emphasizes that the true power lies within, not merely in a wand and in a mind, but in a heart. Faith, trust, love give her characters the strength to meet the challenges before them. She doesn't preach to her readers, but the message is definitely there: if you allow yourself the chance to trust and love others, you can harness the power that you already have. What a great message for kids (and adults) to learn, and oh, what a lovely and memorable package.

tales of beedle the bard... part 1

Those of you who have read the Deathly Hallows would be familiar with the Tales of Beedle the Bard. We were enticed with excerpts from the Tales in DH, but the full story resides in the magical mind of Jo.

Amazon bought the handwritten, complete with illustration, the only one available to the public at a record price... and has kindly enough provided a synopsis and review of the stories that are contained in the leather bound, jewel encrusted book.

I've read 3 of such synopses thus far, but this particular tale reminds me of persons...

The Warlock's Hairy Heart

At the start we meet a handsome, skilled, and rich young warlock who is embarrassed by the foolishness of his friends in love (Rowling uses the word "gambolling" here--a perfect example of how she never talks down to her readers). So sure is he of his desire never to reveal such "weakness" that the young warlock uses "Dark Arts" to prevent himself from ever falling in love.

Unaware that the warlock has gone to such lengths to protect himself, his family laughs off his attempts to avoid love, thinking that the right girl will change his mind. But the warlock grows proud, convinced of his cleverness and impressed with his power to achieve total indifference. Even as time passes and the warlock watches his peers marry and have families of their own, he remains quite pleased with himself and his decision, considering himself lucky to be free of the emotional burdens that he believes shrivel up and hollow out the hearts of others. When the warlock's older parents die, he does not mourn, but instead feels "blessed" by their deaths. At this point in the text, Rowling’s handwriting changes a bit and the ink on the page appears slightly darker. Perhaps she is pressing harder--is she as frightened of and frustrated by her young warlock as we are? Almost all of the sentences on the left page nearly run into the fold of the book, as we read about how the warlock makes himself quite comfortable in his dead parents' home, transferring his "greatest treasure" to their dungeon. On the facing page, when we learn that the warlock believes himself to be envied for his "splendid" and perfect solitude, we see the first stutter in Rowling’s writing. It is as if she cannot bear to write the word "splendid" since it is so clearly not true. The warlock is deluded, making him all the more upset when he hears two servants gossiping--one taking pity on him, and the other making fun of him for not having a wife. He decides at once to "take a wife," presumably the most beautiful, wealthy, and talented woman, to make him the "envy of all."

As luck would have it, the very next day the warlock meets a beautiful, skillful, wealthy witch. Seeing her as his "prize," the warlock pursues her, convincing those who know him that he is a changed man. But the young witch--who is both "fascinated and repelled" by him--still senses his remoteness, even as she agrees to attend a feast at his castle. At the party, amidst the riches of his table and as minstrels play, the warlock woos the witch. Finally, she confronts him, suggesting that she would trust his lovely words if only she thought he "had a heart." [Spoiler alert!] Smiling (and still proud), the warlock leads the young maid to the dungeon, where he reveals a magic "crystal casket," in which lies his own "beating heart."

The witch is horrified at the sight of the heart, which has turned shrunken and hairy in its exile from the body, and she begs the warlock to "put it back." Because he knows it would further endear him to her, the warlock "slices open" his chest with his wand and places the "hairy heart" within. Thrilled that the warlock may now feel love, the young witch embraces him (surprising, since we're clearly yelling "Get away from him!" by now), and the horrible heart is "pierced" by the beauty of her skin and the scent of her hair. "Grown strange" from being disconnected from his body for so long, the now "blind" and "perverse" heart takes savage action. Would that we could end here, and allow you to just wonder about the fates of the young witch and the hairy-hearted warlock, but Rowling marches the story on, as the guests at the feast wonder about their host. Hours later, they search the castle and find them in the dungeon. On the ground lies the dead maiden with her chest cut open. Crouched beside her is the "mad warlock," caressing and licking her "shining scarlet heart" and planning to switch it for his own. His heart is strong though, and it refuses to leave his body. The warlock, swearing never to be "mastered" by his heart, seizes a dagger and cuts it from his chest, leaving him briefly victorious, a heart in "each bloody hand" before he falls over the maiden and dies.

Rowling, like most of the really great fairy tale writers, has no pity for the wicked. Acting out of pride and selfishness from the start of the story, isolating and hardening himself against all feeling, the warlock opened himself up to madness, subsequently taking an innocent life, and destroying his own in the process (sound like any other villain you've met?). As with the other tales we've read, the secret lies in the imagery, both real and imagined (particularly once you see the drawings from the first page). The disturbing and indelible vision of the crazy warlock licking the bloody heart rivals the darkest of the Grimm brothers. Given that this story (and the entire text, after all) is meant to be a book of fables for young wizards and witches, it's fitting that Rowling would make a tale about the misuse of the Dark Arts the most horrible and least redemptive of them all. The Dark Arts, as we fans well know, are not to be toyed with--ever.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

decisions... decisions...

Pejam celik... pejam celik... the weekend is almost over. And so is the year. I think this year passed by on warp speed! But unlike previous years... I felt like I did a whole lot more this year. A posting on what/how my year has been is in the offing...

Woke up early Saturday morning to send my car for the routine service. Arrive at the Jalan Ipoh Honda dealership cum workshop before 8am but I was already customer #11. What time did customers #1-10 arrive here? Agaknya subuh buta dah sampai kut... Waited for about an hour before my number was called. Luckily I came prepared... the day's newspaper and 3 biji kuih kept me from dozing off.

"This is your last free service. And today we're going to do a lot of parts changes" the service rep told me. He also explained about doing an air-con servicing which was not covered by the "free" service and how it needs to be done in order to maintain my warranty. I just angguk je lah... whatever you need to do to keep my baby healthy. Called home to ask for someone to pick me up since it would take a while before the car is ready.

I thought of catching up on some sleep while waiting but ended up watching TV. Mama and Papa went to Cheras to send some tiles to Wak who is repairing our house there. Both Ina and Abg were away outstation and Amt was sound asleep. Watched this show on Discovery Living and Health called "What I Hate About You". Doesn't sound so *welcoming* but it was actually quite interesting. It's a reality documentary/show where a couple tapes each other's annoying behaviours with the aim of highlighting it to the other person, and a jury to decide who is most annoying. The *victor* gets to demand the other person to work on the annoying habit and wins a prize. Sounds like a recipe for disaster isn't it? Au contraire... the couple that was on air were very open and recognised their *misdoings*. Perhaps this is only true for this couple, because they're both cool people. Tapi towards the end, sleep did overcome me and I dozed off on the sofa ;)

In the afternoon, while playing around with Facebook, I found a long lost friend. HH is a friend from Melbourne days. He now goes by the name HY... I don't know why. Maybe Y is his middle name? Whatever the reason, I was amused when I read a comment made by one of his mat salleh friends... "You changed your last name. Is that a muslim religious thing?"

Anyway... based on his profile photo and album, HH looks like he hasn't aged a day. HH has a rather demeaning nickname back then... Spaz, short for spastic. I could never bring myself to calling him that coz he's such a nice and berbudi bahasa person. As far as I know, only the guys call him that. The reason for such nickname? You see, HH was shipped off to Australia at a very young age to attend one of the most prestigious boarding schools in ozzie. So when he befriended us Malaysian students at uni, he struggled to speak Malay. I thought it was great of him to get back to his roots... but the guys often took a mickey out of him for the way he pronounced certain words and how he structured his sentences. Determined, HH was able to converse as well as (if you can say speaking rojak Malay the way we do *speaking well*) the rest of us within the span of 2-3 months. He even took a liking to eating mee maggi ;)

HH is always a gentleman. Coming from a privileged family and half blue blood to boot, one can easily assume that he's uppity. But HH displays no such traits. Always genial and respectful, one feels comfortable being around him. I can't say that I was very close to HH, just a casual friend. Last I heard someone talk about him was when he took charge at the helm of the family business upon the passing of his father at the age of 30. Being da boss of a multi million business at such a young age is no doubt overwhelming, but HH seems to be doing ok. If anything, based on his photos, he's enjoying life as well. Good for him :)

The rest of the day and for the most part of Sunday, I was kept occupied being a wannabe interior designer. Was supposed to go see the tingkap - slider wardrobe - shower glass screen man to place an order, but decided to stay at home to rethink about the floorplan and layout of the room. No point placing a custom-made order when I was not sure how I wanted the room to look like. Reason for the change in concept: I was enticed by the walk-in wardrobe at Abg Mur's newly renovated home and Mama's suggestion to change the entrance to the room. My recent visit to Farisa's gorgeous home also put in a lot of ideas into my already crammed head.

My mind just went on an overdrive mode... Armed with those contractor-type measuring tape and IKEA product specs for the wardrobe and shelving units, I spent hours toying with various permutations. No part of the room was left un-measured ;) For the original design, I only played around with the image of how the room would look like in my head. Imagining where the bed would be, the wardrobe, the sofa... But this time round, I decided to be more precise. To make sure that there's a proper flow and layout.

So in the end, I came up with several options...

Option 1 - walk-in wardrobe which is attached to the bathroom, with lots of storage space (actually all floorplans were deliberately designed to provide ample storage space). But this requires a new entrance and new wiring for the switches. I also played around on where the loose pieces of furniture would be placed. All items and room layout are to scale (right down to the exact inch, hehe... I'm a perfectionist who is obsessed!)

Option 2 - also with walk-in wardrobe, but not attached to the bathroom. This one doesn't require light switch wiring changes and will retain the original entrance to the room.

Option 3 - A somewhat walk-in wardrobe which also serves to reduce the size of the room.

Options 4 and 5 - no walk-in wardrobe but aims to provide a separate sitting area.

I need to decide on the design of choice sometime this week because Wak is coming to start work next week. Of course, he can start with the ketuk, pecah, dismantle first but I need to place those custom-made orders in order to receive them in time.

I have a personal favourite but being the *designer* for all, I suka je semua... all have their merits. So regular readers... which one would you choose?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

um be rel la...

Everyone... go google Marie (pronounced ma-ri-ay) Digby. You won't regret it. I'm already a big fan 8-)

Like what Carson Daly said... who needs the likes of American Idol when you can find talents like this on the internet :-)

Heard this version on the way to work a few days back and I went whoa!! When Rihanna sang it, the song just masuk telinga kiri keluar telinga kanan. Marie's rendition is just so beautiful... made me sit up and listen to the lyrics. Very bermakna...

So to all my darling friends... I dedicate this song to you :-)

You had my heart
And we'll never be worlds apart
Maybe in magazines
But you'll still be my star
Baby cause in the dark
You can't see shiny cars
And that's when you need me there
With you I'll always share
[ Chorus ]
When the sun shine, we shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath I'ma stick it out till the end
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)
These fancy things, will never come in between
You're part of my entity, here for infinity
When the world has took it's part
When the world has dealt it's cards
If the hand is hard, together we'll mend your heart
[ Chorus ]
You can run into my arms
It's okay don't be alarmed
Come into me
So go on and let the rain pour
I'll be all you need and more
[ Chorus ]
It's raining, raining
Ooh baby it's raining, raining
Baby come into me
Come into me
It's raining, raining
Ooh baby it's raining, raining
Come into me
Come into me...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

of restraint, action and letting go...

True love begins when nothing is looked for in return
Antoine De Saint-Exupery

It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits
Charles A. Jaffe

Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true
Napoleon Hill

For one reason or another, all three quotes strike a cord with me today...

Let's start with the easiest, quote #2.

After all that spending orgy in the US, I feel *poor*. The cheque I sent to the bank cleared yesterday and I'm huit mille quatre cents down. What's the date today? And when is gaji? I haven't been in this situation for a long while... it's just that there has been a lot of expenditure lately. Car roadtax had to be renewed, hence kena buy insurance cover. The bill from some indulgent expenditure last month also datang. That's what happens when you don't plan properly.

Admittedly, I have not been very prudent with my expenditure these past year or two. Had I exercised more restraint, a lot more could have been saved. If I had been more careful with my purchases since I started earning my living, I could have savings close to a six-digit figure. But as they say... besar periuk, besarlah kerak. And memang banyak betul kerak yang sia-sia... sangat banyak. This weekend when I do my spring cleaning, I'll have the ball park figure. Let's hope that it won't make me knock my head on the wall...

But on a positive note, I received my MIA membership letter today :) Which means that I'll be entitled for double increment... woohoo!! OK... the entire additional amount will be put aside and not touched... no matter what. Percentage wise, my increment and bonus this year won't be as good as previous years. Tapi alhamdulillah... whatever the amount might be.

Moving on to quote #3...

I've been thinking about what I want to do in life... so that years down the road, when I look back, it can be something that I'm proud of. But thus far, it hasn't been something that I have been actively doing... at least not in a direct manner. So far, it has been a dream... and that was about it.

Faz wrote to me recently stating that she has similar desires. Bagai pucuk dicita ulam mendatang, today my organisation announced its staff movement initiative. The time has come to act... Gave my name to the committee members (TT said that I was the first to come forward)... it's time walk the talk.

Also today, I had expressed to boss of the area of work that I'd like to be involved in the bigger scheme of things. His immediate statement, "are you rich?" Huh? what kind of response was that? Then he elaborated and told a story about someone he knows that left a permanent job to work with an NGO. Ooohhh... nope. I'm not rich. I still need to earn a living. So I guess for now, we start by doing volunteer work and start putting in efforts towards being in a job that involves predominantly helping people...

And finally #1...

Other than the love of my family and friends, I can't say that I've ever been in love with someone. I have loved... but have I ever experienced true love as per definition above?

what i can remember
is alot like water
trickling down a page
of the most beautiful colors
i can't quite put my
finger down on the moment
that i became like ... this

you see, i'm the bravest girl
you will ever come to meet
and yet i shrink down to nothing
at the thought of someone
really seeing me
i think my heart is wrapped around
and tangled up in winding weeds

but i don't wanna go on living
being so afraid of showing
someone else my.. imperfections
even though my feet are trembling
and every word i say comes stumbling
i will bare it all.. watch me unfold

these hands that i hold
behind my back are
bound and broken by my own doing
and i can't feel
anything, anymore
i need a touch to remind me
i'm still real..

my soul
it's dying to be free
i can't live the rest of my life
so guarded
it's up to me to choose..
what kind of life i lead.

cause i don't wanna go on living
being so afraid of showing
someone else my.. imperfections
even though my feet are trembling
and every word i say comes stumbling
i will bare it all.. watch me unfold

i will allow someone to love me
i will allow someone to love me...

love me.. love me...