Saturday, February 26, 2005

Things of the past

I write this so that it will not fade away. My childhood and my past that many can't associate and imagine now. Life was much different then. I was a kid growing up in the village and rubber estate. My grandfather was a rubber estate manager. Not a very big estate, but big enough to have a hundred or so workers. I grew up amongst the two-jobs villagers. In the morning they would go tap rubber and in the afternoon go and tend to their rice fields. I played with their kids and ate at their house. I don't know what happened to them now, but I would always remember that every end of Ramadan, my grandfather would load us all kids ( those who happened to be playing with me at the time) in his black Morris Minor to town to get new dresses and had our hair done (karan/permed). Some parents did not like their girls came home with a new hairstyle and a new dress (gown hehehe). However, my friends liked them. I think those girls are grandmothers now. I always wonder if they remember those good times we shared.
I only remember all the good times I had with my grandparents. I don't really remember where my parents were, but I learnt later that my father was working somewhere else and since my mother was still young, and could not cope with two babies, they left me with my grandparents. Much later, my parents came back and lived nearby and I enjoyed having my sister around.
I must have been a spoilt child because I owned a lot of toys compared to my other friends. I had beautiful lacy gowns and a few pairs of shoes. Once I thought I was rich because I found a few suit cases of duit jepun or duit pokok pisang in a store room. I was disappointed when I took to the kedai, that it was tak laku. I must be 5 or 6 yrs old. So my sister and I played kedai-kedai with the money.
Life in the estate can be quite fun. I remember, when a plot of rubber trees were being replanted, it was like a pesta.The villagers would ask permission to grow vegetables and such. There would be water melons patch, chillies, ubi kemili (ubi keling) and all sort of vegetables were grown by the villagers. I guess those cash crops brought side income. When harvesting water melons, it was like a village party. We would all go there and ate what water melons we can get our hands on. Another good time was when it was time to harvest ubi kemili. We are paid 20 sen per gantang to "korek ubi". We made some pocket money. I wonder if the same thing is still going on in rubber estates. My grandmother grew some real big pumpkins and I love sayur lemak labu merah. I love it cooked with shrimps until today. My grandmother sold some of them too.
Those were the days

Friday, February 25, 2005

hmmm shower

This evening my husband and I took a shower together. But the shower stopped in the midst of it. Someone would have to go and check the switch at the well pump. The alternate power switch at the well pump had been palying out a bit lately and needed to be changed. Mind you this is in the middle of a winter day. And the water pump is out in the yard. Guess who had to go? My poor husband had to go and turned the switch on again. Poor man, had to put on all the clothes and the coat with soap suds and shampoo and ran out of the house. The moral is when the switsh is acting up, better not shower together.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Roo is a special female Anatolian shepherd. She got the name Roo because I thought she was an Australian shepherd, thus Roo, short for kangaroo. She is a real blonde. Very unpredictable and very lovable. She may look very pretty for a shepherd, but she can be very protective towards whom she is protecting.
One morning she brought home a screaming deer bigger than her. On other occassions she brought home a quail, numerous rabbits, a squirrel, a possum and other critters. Rats and mice and gophers are not safe too. Roo would dig a trench just to get to a gopher. She is my girl. I love her very much. She was picked for me by my husband from a big litter. She was the smallest and timid one in the litter. She was a Xmas puppy and we brought her home on a cold snowy morning. She was so timid that she did not move in her box for the whole night. She did not cry and refused milk. We had to put her next to Bubba to give her some company and not to feel lonely. A few days after that she started to relax but still would not get into her house.
Now Roo is a grown dog of 4 years old, very maternal and very protective of her domain. She would protect Max from the roosters and any other harm. She would keep the chicken in the yard and would make sure they do not stray outside the gate. She knows how many chicken we have and would make sure that they are all in the coop at the end of the day. If one is missing, she would go around the yard looking for it until she is satisfied that all are in for the night.
Once I had a fall in the back garden, she immediately came to my side, sniffed me and sat beside me for a while. Then I asked her to go get my husband, she ran to the house and barked on the deck and ran back to me. She did that a few times, but my husband did not know what was happening. Later, I got up and held on to her and managed to walk home. I told my husband that the next time Roo come running home barking, something is not right.
That is my dog Roo. My friend and protector.

Friday, February 18, 2005

What is in a name?

Last night I talked to a young lady on an mirc channel where many of its members are Malaysians. After chatting for a while I asked for her name and she asked for mine. I introduced myself as so and so with my husband name attached. She commented that my name is pelik. I asked her what she meant by pelik. She answered that, it is an unbecoming trend for orang melayu to use their husband's name instead of the father's. She started to 'lecture' me of being ungrateful and discarding my father's name in order to be 'trendy or glamourous'. like I forget my culture and being Melayu.
I was not mad but I pity her for her small mindedness. Most Melayu women attached their husband's name to theirs for various reasons. Living in a country which is not familiar with the uniqueness of malay names, one has to adapt or adjust. I have to go on a lengthy explanation as to why I carry my husband's name to her. Official dealings made easier when my husband and me have the same name. For example I do not need to carry a sworn testimony as a proof of my marital status when claiming the health insurance, the military benefits, the current account etc. I once was refused medical insurance because I used my maiden name in the claim form.
This lady was not interested in listening to my explanation but was more on judging me. To her I was betraying my asal usul. Then she said, if I use my name that way for valid reasons? then it is ok as long as ; This is her exact words" tak apa lah kalau masih ikut landas2 islam" What's wrong with this small minded people? Do they equate that by having a hypen to my name I also do not practice my religion. I asked her what was she insinuating. She said "Tak lah, macam puasa tu buat kah? ". I wonder whether she knows that islam is practised worldwide not only confined to malaysia. She thinks those who choose to live outside malaysia automatically forget their background and religion. I can't understand an 'educated' person (she is working in an office) can have so much prejudices and negative assumptions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My dogs

Every morning be it snowy or sunny except when it rains, my dogs and I will go for a walk in the woods. They keep me company as well as they amuse me. We would walk for an hour or so, and of course, the dogs don't really walk, they ran all over the place, hunting, chasing rabbits or other critters in the woods. Right now I have three dogs, used to be four, but Bubba died in December, 2004 of old age. Each of them has its character. Now there are Roo, Dumdum and Max. My dogs are supposed to be guard dogs, and yes they are. We have to put a sign on the gate to warn people that we have guard dogs on duty. There is one sign that people have to pay attention which says "My dogs can get to the gate in three seconds, can you?" people think that the sign is funny, until one guy walked up to the house and later found himself on a tree. My dogs have a reputation for being very good guard dogs. Of all, Bubba was the most respected dog in the neighbourhood. I missed that old dog.
Bubba, a Mastif Boxer, had a mean looking face. When he stared at you with his golden eyes , you would either fall inlove with him or know that he meant business. He gave the impression that he was watching you and your movement.
Well, I can go on and on talking about Bubba, but for now, I will take a break.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Being single : the good, the bad and the ugly

Been there, done that and even bought a t-shirt. It is either by choice or by circumstances that a woman remain single. In my case, it was by choice. I was too busy and focussed on my education and career that I put aside finding a partner. When I was at the University, the normal practice was to get a boyfriend. I did not get one in particular, but many whom until today still remain fast friends.

The Good
Being single and have a career was the best thing that happened to me. Have money, car, house and being able to travel and do whatever things I wanted to do with little hindrance. There was no guilty trips to deal with. No hassle of leaving behind a loving husband or babies behind when I decided to continue my education or to take an overseas assignment or to just go gallavanting all over the world. At home I did not need to stock my refrigerator thus no need to do the weekly trip to the wet market (Malaysians call it marketing). I did not cook, I bought food from the restaurants or gerai. The only cooking I did was zapping in the microwave.
I could go to the gym after work, I could play tennis in the morning before work and in the evening after work (that was during my love affair with tennis). I could choose whom I wanted to go out with or keep company and be by myself if i chose to.

The Bad
At times, I did feel lonely even amongst family and friends. This happens especially during the festivities particularly when my parents are no longer with us. All my siblings have their own families to mess with and I do not have anybody. That is the bad part. Other than that, live is fine.

The Ugly
The general idea of many people in our society is that when one is single, one is tak laku. So, many married women are weary of single career women. Look out, so and so is still single and talking to your husband, no matter if the husband happens to be a colleague. Another ugly side is being branded andartu, etc.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The merantau bug

Young and invincible and bitten by the merantau bug. That was me before I decided to retire. Three years after my first trip to the UK for my first post-graduate degree, I got the itch to be going somewhere again. Managed to secure a Macee-Fulbright award, I packed again to go Hawaii. Was there 1981-1982. Made many friends there, but sadly only kept in touch with a few. They were big names and no names, (who made names later) that passed the East-West Center in Honolulu. A great place to work.
Let me get organize alittle bit. I am lost after the above paragraph. I am trying to condense all my travels and sojourn into one piece of neatly packaged write up.
I have travelled all over the globe to satiate my craving for different places and cultures. I ventured out to places that not many people wanted to be in many circumstances. I went to Berlin just after the the Berlin wall came down with some still intact in many places. I went to Uzbekistan, just after it broke away from USSR. Call it naive or plain stupid, but i got the itch to go to these places before they change.
That is not bad huh for a girl came from a kampung. Thanks to my grandfather who had the vision to send me away to a boarding school way down south. Since then, there was no turning back.
Now, see where I ended the boonies in the of southern plains in a town population 265.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Faraway land

When I begun secondary school, my grandfather gave me a geometry box, a metal one. It was like something one must have to battle mathematics in secondary school. I can't recall what instruments were in the box, but I distinctively remember the picture on the lid of of the box. My best friend and I dreamed to go and study there one day. It was none other than the impressive building of Oxford University in UK. We did not get to go there, instead we went to University of Malaya to obtain our first degrees.
However, I did get to go to the UK for my post graduate degree after graduating from University of Malaya. I have forgotten about the picture on the geometry box until I came across it while cleaning my room prior to the trip to UK. I had to smile. I was going there after all. That was in the year of 1976.