Sunday, March 23, 2014

Be Wary of This Heart

Be wary of this heart,
For it’s been trampled and abused
Can you see the pitted scars of yester ache?
The lashes of whips left by broken promises
The vestige of an untarnished youth, crumbled.

Be wary of these hands,
For they have touched unbridled yearning,
Kissed by calluses and fleeting ecstasy
Hands that learned to write love and wipe tears,
Hands that learned to keep a loose grip.

Be wary of these eyes,
For they are witnesses to tragedies,
Beauty and misery pool within its inner sights,
While mist cloud the corners of its folds,
Giving life to the waterfall of torment.

Be wary of these feet,
For they’re searching for an escape,
From the entwinement of sorrow,
They’ll take us away,
My hurting heart,
My bruised hands,
My battered eyes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Father, in a nutshell.

This is my father. 

(We wore coats, and I didn't realize we wore the same damn cardigan underneath. He insisted we took a photo)

Mohd Nasir Abdullah. Business owner, professional cynic and Asian parent. Like so many of us, I owe my father almost everything. So here’s a little update of his life story, it’s pretty darn colourful, so bear with me.

My dad didn’t have a tertiary education. He did finish primary school in TBS Tampin where his reign of terror has started, ending only in high school, in the Royal Military College. After that, because of stellar results, he had opted for the army (… didn’t have much of a choice). I can honestly say my dad took a little time to grow up. But seriously, he is probably proof that you do not equate school with an education. With a little bit of confidence, a good command of English and a tall stature, you too can fool people into thinking you’re so much smarter than you are. Also, his words, not mine.

He was adopted, which I had always thought was a little odd because he never had this serious nerve wracking crisis that plagued so many people you see on tv. You know on tv, people have ‘unfulfilled lives’ and ‘voids’ when they realized they were adopted and set off on a whimsical journey of self discovery to find themselves. And then the Lifetime logo comes along and you’re reaching for a box of tissue to dry up your sentimental drivel. He seems pretty content with the MIA status of his biological parents. I asked once if he wanted to reconnect with his parents and he replied 

‘And have a bunch of strangers asking for money? No’. 

Did I mention my dad is Asian?

His adopted father (who married his adopted mother when he was 9-10 after his OTHER adopted father died. Migraine inducing stuff) was Sri Lankan. I know this sounds a little racist but that does explain his very ‘Indian’ demeanor. And the fact that he doesn’t mind me forging friendships with Indian boys (Yes, I mean you Dharma!). There was this one time when we went to this satay restaurant my dad has been frequenting since he was a kid and the old lady at the counter saw him, lit up and said

“Oh you kah anak Cina dengan bapak keling tu?” 
(Oh, you’re the Chinese kid with the Indian father?)

Gotta love Malaysian sensitivity, I tell ya. No one can ever accuse us of being too PC.

My father was a misbehaved child. Oh no, he won't take offence at the accusation. It’s true. I remember one time; I attended his primary school reunion is Seremban and three girls (who were, by now ladies in their 50s) refused to come because they knew that he was coming. Can you imagine the aggravated trauma they had gone through to still be carrying that burden after 40 odd years or so? One story my dad told me, that was validated by one of his schoolmates, was one time, there was a screening of a movie in school hall.hall, and him being the impish child that he was, dropped stink bombs along the corridor and waited outside, delighting in the hoards of people rushing out to escape the suffocating smell of rotten eggs. The school never found out it was him.

My relationship with my father, or my parents in general, is a very Asian one. Not in the sense of him constantly badgering me to get married and or major in both Engineering and Medicine from Harvard University of Oxford. More like, often I take offence in what he says and vice versa and rarely do we apologize for whate we say. Not a big fan of public displays of affection, really. My mother often comes in as the peacemaker, trying to diffuse whatever tension filled situation we were in. Oh no, just because I’m a girl, doesn’t mean him and I don’t log heads. I inherited his short temper and impatience and frequently this has been a source of strain.

But since I left home, I started to appreciate my parents a little more, and perhaps, them with me as well. I realized that pride would spell the deterioration of any relationship, and that the angsty, angry tortured little girl wasn’t gonna cut it anymore. I mean, I’ve lead a good life, and who am I, not to cut the people who have provided with so much, a little slack?

Long story short, while my father is stoic, a little apathic at times, mean, and not to mention knows how to bloody well push my buttons. I love him dearly and not because he spoils me unnecessarily, but because I see so much of me in him (the cynicism, the inability to mince my words, the lack of a verbal filter in general), just a weathered, wiser version (even the face, sadly, even the face). He is me in about 30 years. And like he said so many times, mistreating him would mean I would be cut from the will, and all the money would go to some rural orphanage somewhere. Thanks daddy, love you too. 


Happy father's day, daddy!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What Do You Think About Egypt?

I missed the train to Mansoura yesterday. After an amazingly relaxing weekend in Alexandria, the train I was suppose to be on went off at 2.10, five minutes earlier than the scheduled time of departure. The best bit was probably the high intensity chase in a futile attempt to catch up with the fleeting vehicle. It was like a scene from a movie, Luqman leading the way of the chase, while I trailed like the breathless cow that I am, running as fast as my chubby legs could carry me. At one point, he even tried grabbing my arm to coax me to run faster. Yeah, no. So there I was, with my terrible Usain Bolt impression and a stuffed backpack, just watched helplessly as the train chug away in all its rusty glory. And that was followed by a moment of dumbfounded silence as we tried to catch our breath as well as wait for the incoming surge of anger to reach it's boiling point. And then, in pure diva fashion, Luqman lost his shit at the station master's office, arguing in Arabic with the still defiant station master who was insistent that we were late. It was a very touching, Hallmark moment. I could cry just thinking about it now. 

In a last ditch effort, I took a car back to cosmopolitan Mansoura (which was actually a pound more expensive than the train ticket. I had to convert the amount in ringgit to avoid getting pissed again)  when I got to talking with this charmingly nervous officer in the Egyptian army who spoke in broken English, and expressive hand gestures. After I was interviewed with the standardized Egyptian set of questions (What's my name, what I was doing in Mansoura, why am I huge when the other Malaysians are tiny etc) , he brought up the most dreaded one, a question I have given varying answers to;

"What do you think of Egypt?"

Oh, not again. While I just smiled sheepishly,my head was screaming;

 'After being abandoned by my train just and being overcharged by ruthless drivers, this is not the best time to ask me that question'.

But he was nice. And I didn't feel like being a bitch.

Like I mentioned, answers have varied. There was this one time when a taxi driver asked me the same question after I came back from Dahab, drunk from the sun , and I sang praises like I was working for Egyptian Tourist Ministry. And there was a time where I came back from the supermarket, after being verbally harassed by a bunch of teenagers, the driver in the cab I was in (yes, big fan of the cabs alright) asked me the same thing. I hissed a choice of not so very nice words and asked him if the Biblical plague was coming back anytime soon. Mr Cab Driver, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.

Like everything in the world, Egypt is (obviously!) is both blessed with its Middle eastern charm and marred with flaws. In all honesty, when it comes to natural landscapes, I've never been so overwhelmed as I have since I've been here. As much as it pains me to admit it, this ismotherf&*$ing gorgeous country. The first time I saw beaches in Taba, I actually took a step back to just drink it in. I've never seen something so beautiful in my life. I was surrounded by such majesty, and thought how lucky I was to just be able to be there, to be engulfed by such a sight. 

And I know it can get repetitious (cause you know, every Egyptian has probably mentioned it) but seriously, 7000 years of history is pretty god damn impressive. From the Karnak temples to the pyramids of Giza, here lies a civilization that was capable of greatness and did exactly just that. They did nothing short of a miracle, settling down and building up an empire, an empire that pioneered things that were perfected only until recently. So fine, you have your bragging rights. This country has history that surpasses any other. 

And from my own personal book of experience, undoubtedly I have met a few gems that have soothed my less than thrilling horror of an adventure while being here. You might call then friends but I call them people who have stopped me from going on a murder rampage here in this god forsaken town. Semantics, you know. I have always been impressed by how much they care about their country, how much actual physical pain they endured when liberating it from their provincial oppressors. They're proud people, and they know it.

But that's also where the problem stems. Pride. I don't know if you've been living under a rock, but have you not noticed the xenophobic/sexist sentiments going around here? Particularly against us Asians. So being female and of Asian descent, I get the worst of the brunt. I have had people asking me if we still lived in trees in Malaysia. Or caves. And why our people were so unattractive (one boy said we looked like apes, it took all the strength in me not to f*cking chargeat him). And of course, at the end of their highly offensive spiel, they reassured me that Egypt was number-f*cking-one. 

And pride also stokes the fire that brews sexism among the people. You have these chauvinistic men who think that us women are mere objects to toy with, to gawk at, and even physically harass against our will. And good luck trying to say no. It's like, if you're nice to them, they'll badger you, and if you're not, they'll think 'Wait a minute, she doesn't like me enough' and try harder, successfully pissing you off further. And the cycle repeats. Well, until some Asian girl loses her shit and kills everyone. 

But my biggest gripe about Egypt is probably, the difference in social strata and their disgusting attitude towards it. "Looking poor" is a legitimate insult. I had a friend who was told her jacket made her look 'common' and that she should stop wearing it. I've seen my own friends making fun of a man picking up garbage by the sidewalk. There is minimum charge in restaurants because they want to separate those who have money to throw and those who can barely afford it. The poor are criminalized and all compassion is gone, just because they don't dress or act in a decorum these so called richer, luckier people are used to. Of course, it's not an attitude every person exhibits, but it's something I've witnessed too many times to still be hiding the shade of denial.

So if you ask me again Mr Nice-Officer-in-Training-in-the-Car-from-Alexandria what I think about Egypt; Egypt is beautiful, it's boasts a culture so rich, encompassing thousands of years, it has built a nation so old, reminders of its history still stands til this day. I love Egypt.

But I can't wait to get the hell out

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Don't Tell Me To Keep Calm.

Don’t tell me to keep calm,
As your deceit seeps into my nation,
As your lies dance around like ember flame,
As your morality withers into nothing,
As you thrash my country’s good name.

Don’t tell me to keep calm,
As you whisper broken promises into our ears,
And oppress our minds into submission,
As you sit on your high and mighty throne,
And plot your next move of deception.

Don’t tell me to keep calm,
As you assemble your army of fraudsters,
And live like false prophets and kings,
As you deny the dreams of the people,
As you brutally clip their soaring wings.

Don’t tell me to keep calm,
As long as my mouth don’t fail me,
I shall scream and shout,
As long as my limbs can carry me,
I shall kick up a fuss,
For I see the faults between the cracks,
For this 2013, I am taking my Malaysia back.

Don't forget to vote. Enough of this bullshit.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Only Child Syndrome

Have you ever had someone come up to you and ask you questions that you absolutely cannot relate to? And the disbelief on their faces when you expressed your inability to connect the dots. An example? When people find out that I'm the only child and go

'So how does it feel to be an only child?'

Part of me just smiles and laugh at what I think is a ridiculously stupid question, but another part just goes 'oh, not again'

It's basically asking how does it feel to be me. And really, I do not want to get into some philosophical, existential debate. Am I suppose to feel different? Am I supposed to fall into deep spiraling depression because I don't have someone barging into my room every 5 seconds wanting to borrow my iPod?

It's like going up to a congenitally blind person and asking if he ever gets tired of not seeing shit. Or better yet, asking a black person if how does it feel to not be white.

News alert, they wouldn't know! 

Why you ask? Well, for one, a blind person who's been blind since birth does not know a life of vision so living life in darkness is what they are used to. So no, I do not how it feels to not have siblings. Because out of my 22 years, there hasn't been a time when I had a sibling and they were forcibly taken away from me for me to actually miss them.

But this fascination with my siblingless status can get pretty annoying. I've probably heard it all. every ignorance infused comment and quip.

'Oh you must be so spoiled'

'My parents must really love you' (Cause you know, it's unnatural for a parent to love their child)

'Oh, you probably have a hard time making friends'

Well, I'm here to debunk some of these stereotypes because frankly, us only children are getting a whole lot of flack for no good reason. Is it our fault that our parents got it right the first time and decided not to have anymore? I kid. I kid. So here I go, for every oppressed only child sitting on their throne at home.

#1 Only children are spoiled rotten.

There is some truth to this. Well, if you take two doting parents and have them love a child with all their heart, a child is bound to be a little spoiled. And I'm not even talking materialistically. An only child could be spoiled with just love and affection from two parents who are fond of them without turning out to be a material hungry whoremonger. I didn't have much growing up. But I sure was hell happy cause I was constantly surrounded by a loving family. And another thing worthy of a mention is that, why do you care? Not every only child gets what they want, and if they do, what is it to you?

#2 Only children are selfish

This is a little tough to call. Of course an only child is selfish! What do they know about sharing when they don't have anyone else to share with. I personally do not like sharing. Surprise surprise eh? But I do like making other people happy, even if it means sharing. I'm getting a little better, I especially enjoy cooking and feeding those around me. I'll attach an excerpt from an article from a site called the Only Child Project which I think cements the fact that we, only children are perfectly functional human beings (maybe even... superior? I kid again)

One does not need a sibling to know how to share and care. A mother of an only child reports to have inculcated the habit of sharing in her daughter by daily offering a portion of food from her own plate to the child. And while doing so, the mother reinforced the fact that she was only sharing her food and not giving it all away. This practice allowed the child a glimpse into the act of sharing without having to be deprived of one’s rightful share.
There are other factors that also come into play. Consider this: Unlike in the multi-child family, the only child does not have to fight for toys, space and attention. He is more willing to share because: 1) he hasn’t had to fight for the things that are shared, and 2) he feels secure in sharing because he know it is all his in the end- to him, sharing does not mean giving away.

 #3 Only children are immature and self absorbed

I remember when I was a little younger, I had asked my mom for the last piece of chicken from her plate at KFC (Damn you finger licking good chicken!). I could see the slight flash of disappointment in her eyes before handing me the drumstick. Yeah yeah, mother's love and all that. But now come to think of it, I think she was just trying to keep me fat. But in all seriousness, would you trust an 8 year old to pick up on these things? New studies have suggested that only children mature faster than peers their age because well, they grow up with adults so staying a child wasn't really an option. And only children are burdened with the expectations of their parents and are under the glare of their scrutiny so this strives them to be the best they can be.

Yes, I do realize we're talking about other only children here. Not me

#4 Only children are lonely

Yes, I don't have a brother to watch football with. Or a sister to gossip about boys with. And no, I don't appreciate you rubbing it in my face. But you know what, I'll live. I have never dependent on someone for my happiness and I'm not gonna start now. I can be shop alone, go out alone and eat alone because the matter of the fact it, I'm okay with being alone. Hell, I enjoy it sometimes. Just because I'm alone doesn't mean I'm lonely. So yes, I'm okay. I'm good.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The 'Lelaki Melayu' Dilemma

I’m sure everyone knows that girl who goes around claiming they’re too ‘westernized’ or have different ‘mentality’ to date the Malaysian average Joe. They snigger at the very though of stooping that low on the social ladder, instead choosing to devote their time and attention to secure ‘mat salehs’ the ultimate jackpot of the local dating scene. The very thought of being with le whitey is still a hype that titillates our starry eyed local girls.  

Can our Malay boys stand a chance?

There’s obviously nothing glamorous about a date with Udin, or commonly known as Dean, at Pelita Nasi Kandar, where a perfect dinner consists of oversweetened ‘teh tarik’ and ‘mee goreng mamak pedas’ and ultimately, going dutch on the RM10.50 bill. 

Where as Richard will take you dancing and drink cocktails in some swanky Bangsar bar where you can wear your skimpiest black dress, fake an American accent but still manage to slip in a couple of ‘lahs’ and ‘ahs’ at the end of a sentence when emotions run a little high, or sobriety’s running a little low. You know what they say, you can take a girl out of Malaysia, but you can never take the Malaysia out of the girl.

I used to be one of those girls. Well, not the douchey Sarong Party Girl type, just the general ‘avoid them Malay boys like the bubonic plague’ kind. There were countless times my friends and I would decide a guy wasn’t good enough just because he was ‘too Malay’. Oh, being too ‘Malay’ in my school was a slap in the face. It was probably because you couldn’t pronounce your words without having the thickest accent drawled throughout your sentence. Or having grammar so terrible that it could incite world war 3. Those were the rather trivial deal breakers. It was a rather elitist school, I have to say. It was common knowledge that Malay men would were a bunch of  MCPs (male chauvinist… pigeons) and sexists. The Malay man would tie down his high flyer wife just because he can, despite her pleas and protests. The Malay man would buy a Mercedes first than sending his children to good schools. The Malay man would accessorize himself with expensive watches and clothes while still living in a low cost flat. The horror stories were endless.

But wait a minute, all these terrible things that the enigmatic ‘Malay man’ does; isn’t that just people in general?  Don’t these bad traits exist in every society, from people of every walks of life? Just recently I read about an American teacher (sorry, I meant pedophile) abandoning his wife and three children to be with an 18-year-old girl (sorry, did I say girl? I meant slut) from his class, the same class his 17 year old son attends. Or what about the Austrian man who kept his daughter in captivity in his basement, raping her and fathering 4 of her children, while keeping the whole incestuous relationship a secret from his wife by reporting his daughter missing? Basically, there are bad men, selfish men out there. And these bad, selfish men are not exclusive to the Malay race. 

So instead of nitpicking the flaws our men have, do know that these imperfections are everywhere, and not just in our highly misunderstood men. Sure, the average Malay man is not the type to whisper sweet nothings into your ear or come barging through your door with a flowers and suit of armour but surely there’s something commendable about them. I have seen some pretty laudable behaviour in some of the Malaysian guys here in Egypt, having proven themselves as responsible leaders and adequate caregivers. Don't believe in all the notoriety of 'Malay men'. 

They’re not perfect. And that’s okay.

So yeah, give them a break. Remember that we’ve come this far as a nation, thanks to the efforts of a few good Malay men. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

No, I'm Not Making Excuses Why I'm Such a B*tch

Let me tell you something about me. Well a couple of things really. Growing up wasn't really easy. I was shy, painfully most times. I mumbled through conversations, hardly mingled with anyone, sat behind during classes (well, that's mainly because of my early growth spurt, I was a whopping 5'5 at 13).

I can honestly say I did not have many friends until I was about 10. I remember cause that was the year I discovered I was good in science and everyone was at awe at how out of nowhere, I was topping the class in something. And in something worthwhile at that. It was also the year that I realized that I'm probably never gonna win a beauty contest anytime soon (well, not in this life at least. Not that I believe in reincarnation... before anyone starts throwing rocks to my head) I was gonna win people through brains and personality. Then I discovered I had a knack for writing and I could express myself best when I had a pen and paper and some quiet alone time. 
Some things still have not changed, as you can see.

As for having a personality, well, years of having not-so-nice things being said to you, you tend develop a defense mechanism. And humor is a defense mechanism. 
Damn, I should've learned kung fu instead.

I'm 21 now, (begrudgingly) turning 22 this August and even after I left those awkward, approval seeking adolescent years, I can't help but sometimes feel like I'm thrusted back to those days of horrid bitching, backstabbing and distrust that plagued me. To say that I came out unscathed would be untrue, I still have the self esteem of a leper. But hey, that's basically the life story of anyone who's been through high school.

But what still leaves me swimming in disbelief is how even after I thought I've seen everything, every terrible trait a person could possibly have, I'm blown away with yet another undiscovered rancid human attribute. I thought the universe worked in two ways; good begets good while bad gets the living crap kicked out of them. So basically, I was taught that if you were nice to people, helped them out in a time of need, you'll live and die happy. Oh boy, how screwed up was that life lesson.

No actually. Good does not begets more good. What it does is basically brand you with a smoldering mark that says;

Please come take advantage of me. 
I have a head you can walk on, a back you can stab and a face you can spit on. 

The couple few with some shred of compassion won't abide to this sign and would actually reciprocate any kind gestures you might show. They're called 'friends' or 'people whom you would skip in case of a killing spree' However there are those marginally few people, who even despite you've dutifully showed a world of kindness to, will take a gun and shoot your faith in humanity point blank, leaving it to die. 

At 21 (going on 22, god damn it) I'm not exactly a person you would picture on a rocking chair on a porch, moaning about the good old days and giving words of advice to passing children. But if I may, I want to say this: 

Learn to say no. Remember when to put your foot down. And the two best words you'll ever learn are 'f*ck off' 

Nothing good can come from being 'too' anything. Too much sugar, diabetes. Too much salt, hypertension. Too much cocaine, overdose (well, a little cocaine is bad as well. Just scratch that cocaine bit) 

We just have to accept that there are people out there will only be around when it's convenient for them and when you actually need help, they're nowhere to be found. We call them 'fair weather friends'. Well, they call it that, I much prefer the terse and sweet term 'assholes' Some even might suffer extreme amnesia, forgetting all the things you've done for them, the moment the opportunity for their own happiness comes around. Which makes sense if you ask me, why give a shit when you don't have to?

I know people like that. They're everywhere. Some closer than others. 

So we can either be the bigger person and let it slide, letting them have the satisfaction of being petty. Or we can let it affect us, allowing them to drag us down, so that they can won't feel so lonely in the bottom pile. 

Or you could just resort to violence.

I guess I can 'accidentally' knock someone over with a car, 'accidentally' back up 3-4 times and 'accidentally' making sure their faces are absolutely unrecognizable. 
Yes, that sounds like a plan.

*A shout out to the girl on Facebook who sent me a lovely email telling me she loves reading my blog. Honestly, I forgot how much I loved writing. So thank you for giving the push. This one is dedicated to you :)*