Cat Sitting

Emi and Jaja were cat-sitting the kids over the weekend as we were away for a much-looked-for short trip down to Malacca.

As the two ladies are regulars at home, the kids were not skittish at all with them. Emi took the opportunity to do some practice cam shots with a few of them with wonderful results.

ArthurArthur looking stunned…hehehe…he looks adorable.

Arthur4Getting to that itchy spot!

Boris2The handsome Boris – the Russian Blue look-alike.

Guinevere bnwA lovely black and white image of Guinevere.

GuinevereGuinevere preening herself.

KucingWe simply adore this image of Uncle Kucing. Emi called it the Godfather look.

Kucing2Another shot of Uncle Kucing.

ShebaSheba drinking from the huge water bowl at the porch.

Thanks Emi and Jaja for cat sitting!

 

 

 

 

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The “Malays Married To Expats Group” Meets

A couple of weeks ago, a few members of the Malays Married To Expats Group decided to meet up at Mont Kiara. Venue? Where else but at the Starbucks….unfortunately, a few of us were still away for the long Chinese New Year holidays and so only three couples arrived for the coffee.

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George, moi, Alia, Richard, Andy and Azura

Discussions evolve around the differences of culture, food, religious support and all that. Sometimes there were stories about how the Malay spouses were treated unfairly at some establishments. Some of these retailers ought to teach their sales staff on how to treat mixed couples and not assume that just simply because we have a Mat Saleh walking next to us, doesnt mean that we want to buy that RM20,000 diamond ring, or that RM30,00 lounge chair.

Or how about this. One member of the group was thought to be a maid trailing with the “Mister”‘s sons not realizing that she was the Lady of the House. One spouse was ignored while the husband was swarmed by a team of sales staff trying to sell a massage chair.

I had personally received these kind of treatment before too. George was swarmed with some service staff at a restaurant while conveniently ignoring me. Had the same thing while entering a fancy boutique.

Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.

We are not sure how many Malays are there married to expats in Malaysia but we found out that there are quite a number. The group is still small and in its infancy. It was created as a support group to share information, network and ask questions about any aspect of life as a mixed couple.

This Is Malaysia

The first time George arrived in Kuala Lumpur, he was pleasantly surprised at how modern the airport was. Shiny, stainless steel and glass gleaming. The drive out from the airport towards home was a breeze considering that the KLIA Expressway was a 6-lane carriageway. Some parts of the highway is an 8-lane of dual carriageway too.  There were no donkey carts either…

Malaysians generally are foodie people. They greet people with, “Have you eaten?” and will fuss over whenever guests come to the house by serving whatever they have in the kitchen. The day starts off with a hearty breakfast of nasi lemak, laksa kari or roti canai, whatever that tickles your sleepy taste bud. Come 10 am, you will see half of the office has gone out for their coffee break (and some snacks). 1.00 pm is lunch. Again, there are gadzillion places for you to tuck in depending what you have in mind. Upscale western? Sure…Mid  cost, quick, Western? Yeah got that too? Mexican? Spanish? Japanese, Turkish, Moroccan, French, Italian, South African, South American, Korean, Indonesian, Thai….(I still can go on and on), and of course the local Malaysian food – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Punjab and those are just some of the main group of ethnic food. There are a lot more from the sub ethnic food from the various states.

There is dinner and late supper too. If anyone calls you out for a late kopi (coffee), I can assure you it will come with food as well. It can be another round of nasi lemak, roti canai, burger or a full meal of fried rice and the works. Kinda deceiving huh?

Some of the things that made any true blue Expats feeling jittery are these:

  1. can I get my kind of food? (chips, cheese, soft drinks, meat, vegetable etc etc). George found his Kraft cheese dinner, Nacho Cheese Doritos and Coke Zero easily here
  2. will I miss my Starbucks? (there are 130 Starbucks in Malaysia with 42 in Kuala Lumpur and 41 in Selangor alone)
  3. access to quality, efficient and cheap medical care?
  4. will I be travelling on bad roads? (most highways and expressways in Malaysia are two-lanes)
  5. shoes, under garments, socks…(Ok, we still cant figure out this one yet)
  6. decent public transport (…and this too…)

Being in a Muslim country, George could not believe it when he found out that alcohol are being sold openly. Just walk into any 24-hour convenient store, you can buy beer or wine. Or finding out that mobile phones are cheap as it comes. Or how about buying original DVDs selling at RM12.00 (USD4.50)

Kuala Lumpur is blessed with huge malls and in fact four of the largest malls in the world are right smack in the Klang Valley. You want malls? You got it!

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You wont miss any of your favourite chocolates here.

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Looking for the perfect chips for your BBQ?

Along the way, he picked up a taste for guava and pickled guava, banana leaf rice, tumeric fried chicken, satay and the thick, sweet ABC soya sauce.

Access to medical is fairly easy. He was pleasantly surprise by the fact that it doesnt take long to see a doctor at the clinics. The plus side in addition to this is that the medicine is dispensed at the same clinic too. There was one time when we had to go to he hospital as George had fractured his ribs after tripping over at a slip at….(where else but) a Starbucks outlet…..He was seen by a doctor at the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). For the consultation and an X-ray it was RM50.00 (USD17). Additionally, a whole whack of high quality medicine was an additional RM60.00 (USD20)

Enter The Year Of The Snake

This is a kind of belated Chinese New Year post but I guess it is better be late than never.

The neighbourhood was relatively quiet for a Chinese New Year celebration unlike last year when there were several neighbours had their open houses with fire crackers blasting away. We had fire works as well started off from somewhere in the neighbourhood, although I have no idea where they got them from.

This year, the next door neighbours had a very quiet celebration. The great thing about having a neighbourly neighbour is that, you get goodies on festivals like this!

Photo1477The Wongs next door was kind enough to give us a goodie bag filled with Mandarin Oranges, pineapple tarts and packets of peanuts. Considering that our kids sometime would venture out a little bit too far onto their porch and scare the Lady Of The House, that was a very generous gesture of them.

The Resident Committee is also organizing an Open House sometime next week. For those who do not know what an Open House in Malaysia is, it is a practice by many Malaysians each time there is a festive season. Be in Chinese New Year, Eidil Fitri, Deepavali, Christmas, . Open House means an act of inviting and welcoming guests into one’s home and enjoying the host’s hospitality. Guests will be served with food (plenty of food…) and most of the times, a money packet. Depending on which festival you go for this Open House, you get “red packet” for Chinese New Year, “green packet” for Eidil Fitri and so on…traditionally started by the Chinese community in Malaysia. It also symbolizes good luck.

When I was young and back in the small town of Raub, I used to follow my parents to the family friends’ open houses. Being a family with so many Chinese friends, we usually ended up going to so many houses and I, of course being a child get the ang pow (red packet). Towards the end of the day, my pocket will be filled with ang pow packets. Usually, the amount in the packet will differ – the closer you are to the family, the more you get….

And so, closing off for this post, I would like to wish all of my Chinese friends and readers a prosperous Happy Chinese New Year!

Dude, You Can’t Even Spell It Right!

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I was checking my blog’s search words today and found these!

…”entering the vigina in a penis..”

Dude, let me get this straight. First, I CANNOT wrap my head around the idea of shoving a vigina (I was flipping the Oxford looking for “vigina”) in a penis…because…errr…it is just not a done thing.

Second, did some flower pots fall on your head or something? I mean, “vigina”? You can’t even spell it right. Now, what does THAT tell you?

You are seriously NOT ready for sex, dude. If you can’t spell vagina right, you’ve got no business anywhere near one.

Leave The Drama At The Door, Kids!

I wonder whether kids know how much parents really sacrificed in terms of money, from the day of conception to the day they turn 21. Let me count the ways:

  • Days after the conception, after one missed period: RM25.00 (pregnancy kit).
  • Visit to the doctor to reconfirm pregnancy: RM100.00
  • Expensive dinner for comfort food after finding out that you are pregnant: RM200.00 (maybe more if you love steak or seafood)
  • Maternity clothes: RM2,000.00 (average of 2 a month till you popped)
  • Medical check ups: RM2,700.00 for the next 9 months. Average of RM300.00 per visit. Not included emergencies.
  • Labour room, medical etc RM6,000.00

All these not including other expenses i.e. bottles, booties, etc etc etc. Do not forget the college fees too.

And then, there’s life’s little lessons along the way which are totally priceless, just like the Mastercard advertisement. My mind just raced back to maybe 22 years when real life was just a beginning for me. I thought people could survive on love but the daily reality check was difficult to accept. How naive and accepting I was then.

Bring forward to 2001. Building a business from scratch was not easy. Some got it right from birth. Unfortunately I was not born with a silver spoon, but years of hard work paid off with some relatively comfortable life.

Then, more dramas.

Some children think it is their birth right to run away from home to “think about their so-called crappy lives”. All these just to create unnecessary worry to their parents. And what about that crappy attitude when they talk to their parents. Amazingly, that crappy attitude just change like the swift move of Psy’s Gangnam dance when they talk to their friends. Funnily enough, they are even nicer to their friends’ parents! To add salt to the injury, they even hoped that their friends’ parents are their parents too. And they will tell this right to your face as you serve them dinner after braving the city’s traffic jam and slaving the entire day at work.

Nice.

Now, back to all these dramas. Trust me, it does not end there. It just gets worse. They also think that it is their birth right to air the laundry (of course all these are one sided story) in public so that their self pity, selfish behaviour will be comforted by some unknowing, sympathetic friends.

But God had other plans to test His subjects. He has a dry sense of humour sometimes – for instance, He will throw in the misery and painful break up of a marriage to only reward you with the most fulfilling partnership with your future soulmate whom you only ever had read somewhere in a fairy tale before.

One day He decided to open up the Gate Of Wealth and bestow you opportunities to make heaps upon heaps of money that you can literally waltz into a store and buy everything except the toilet sink. And yet, He tested you with the loneliness, sadness, anger emptiness when your partner left you for someone else younger.

The problem is, you can never buy happiness. And that, is a big problem.

One morning many years ago, I woke up with a bad case of migraine realizing that I had nothing else in my life – no spouse, no wealth, run-out savings, no relatives, lost many friends, no home and no business. Divorce is a messy thing. It saps out the life out of you like the Kalahari during summer time. Not that I have ever been there but I read that the dessert’s temperature could go as high as  50C (122F). The only thing left was a Teenager, the cats and my self determination to rise up again.

So, technically, you need to find that elusive oasis pronto to survive or you are a dead meat. Sometimes, you will see only the mirage…..

Yet, worked I did. Worked so hard so that I can put food on the table, buy clothes, pay the house, save for college, little trips and presents; and all the things as how a single parent should be doing for her little family. 

Children of divorced parents have no effing idea what kind of sacrifices their parents have made. Many, unselfishly sacrificed their own happiness and comfort for the children’s sake. Do you know how many times they forgo their own meals so that you can eat? What about festive seasons when they insist to buy your clothes and not theirs? Or when they have to ask for pay advances so that they can pay for your tuition classes because the ex doesnt believe in paying anything? Does anyone else care that the rice in the can has reached to the bottom that all I could see was the measuring cup?

And yet all these children see is food on their plate, new clothes in the wardrobe, Astro paid, the car moves, the fridge laden with food, phone credits topped up and their pocket money paid. Off they skip happily with friends.

So, what are they after really, for parents like me for instance? Well, I am not asking much. Buy me a simple Ramly burger with your first salary would be nice although a dinner at Lafite would be more fitting. Or, a simple respect by asking how am I.

I am tired of dramas from children of post divorce. Many are ungrateful bunch and selfish. They think that the world will revolve around them forever and a day without an inkling how hurtful or painful their actions and behaviour can be. Some are such suckers for pain that they will stick like a a Super Glue to other people who abuse them verbally. And yet, I really do not understand why the respect and care are not given to those who have sacrificed and protected them.

Conclusion? Perhaps, you have to be cruel to be kind. 

Remember, parents are human too and they will want to feel happiness in their lives minus all the diva-ish dramas. Cause life is too short for dramas.

And I want to live my live for me too. Some decisions such as new location for home, new cat, new sofa, fittings, flower pots, a step dad or step mom are to be made sometime in this life. Some, such as the badly scratched furniture need to be replaced. But not step dad or step mom.

Not happy with that decision?

Too bad.

A Lesson From Building A House

Being a business owner for SME is tricky.

The production line needs to move so that it will churn out products. Your employees keep on quitting on you and you just cannot seem to find anyone to come and work for your company.  After all, you do provide the basics – basic pay, basic annual and SOCSO. The average line managers’ salary is RM2,500.00. You do take in the occasional Management Trainee so that there is someone at the reception table to answer phone calls and do all the other administrative works. The factory is located far away from the main road but it is cheap rental. So far none of the employees have complaint about having to travel the distance.

You want to expand your business but it takes too much time to call those people at the ministries, relevant departments and even to go for any networking sessions with the peers in the industry.

All you want to do is to produce more, sell more and earn more profits. Most of the time you find yourself doing all the fire fighting and ended up dejected. You are always “too busy” to take a look around the company and try to improvise.

And you still wonder why your staff turnover is at an all time high of 50% and no one wants to work for you?

As the title suggests, let’s take a look at what kind of lessons we can learn from building a house.

It is likened to building a house from scratch where you first need to think of what kind of a house are you going to build. Next comes to the type of material, who are your contractors, how long will the house be ready for, location, costs to build this house and so forth. Once the house is ready, you will want to decorate it with all the furnishings, furniture and fittings so that the house will be a home.

A business is like a house where you need to put up the basic structure or otherwise your contractor will not be able to “read” your mind. His understanding of the size of the dream pool you have in mind may not even come close. The 4-seater dining table will serve its purpose – a dining table- but will not look good in a space suitable for 12.

Simple as that. Start with the structure. Sure, you will not see the immediate need as to why you need to lay down a foundation before slapping the mud to build the wall.  But try it when the raining season comes and you will see the mud slides down and you are left with nothing.

Ok, so I am talking about a mud house but this concept is so primitive that even Mr Arg Arg from the Cave Era understood the basics so I really do not understand why a brilliant, post university businessman in this 21st century has a zero understanding of this concept.

Look dude, if you are always too busy, then maybe running a business is not suitable for you. Can’t have a reactive leader up there when there are so many things are at stake. Oh, besides that, do not be too cheap skate as to back peddle on what you have instructed your contractor to do cause nothing is free in this world.

My Blog Dwindles

….and my husband has a theory for that.

Now that I have remarried and life is no longer so lonely. Life is great that theres really nothing to bitch about except for the occasional frustration about some maniac drivers or dirty toilets or some enlightening food experience.

Ok, maybe there were some things that I really blog about which are among other things the attitude of youngsters today about work but that means having me writing 24/7.

There is no longer so much of anger to speak off that I just have this mental block (?) to write anymore. Can it be?

I looked at my previous postings and saw that they were mostly active between the year 2008 to 2010. Then I got married to George.

Hmmmm….could it be?