Seriously, who the heck is Maya Kirana?

It’s my nom de plume, pen name, secret alter ago. It’s a name I used when I first got online and started blogging way back in year 2000 when I was still working in the corporate world. I didn’t want people to trace me – I felt that being unknown allowed me to voice my opinions freely and openly. 

incitement penang hin bus depot Here’s me speaking at Incitement Penang on 29 May 2015 at Hin Bus Depot, an arty-farty art gallery on Jalan Gurdwara. I shared about marketing oneself, which has helped me considerably in my own life journey thus far. 

Too bad that over the years, everyone I know stumbled on this blog. So much for anonymity! Sheesh!

So here’s who I am. My real name is Krista Goon and Maya Kirana is my alter ego.

I’m 42 (women should NEVER be ashamed of their age), a Piscean Tiger and married to a Sarawakian. We have been living on this charming little island called Penang since we both met in Universiti Sains Malaysia like 20 years ago.

Krista Goon and Nic Sim and Janarthani Arumugam
Nic, me and Jana. I’ve known Jana since I was in Standard 3. We’ve done school projects and school debates together. We did a photo narrative exhibition for International Women’s Day in 2015. By the way, if Jana looks familiar to you, it may be because she’s the president of EMPOWER. 

Nic and I are total opposites in personality but somehow we manage to get along well enough to run a business together. My chops in writing (specifically copywriting) and his forte in art and design make a potent combination. It’s quite karmic that we ended up married and in business.

We are the owners and partners of Redbox Studio, a web design & web marketing business which Nic founded in 1998. Our book on websites and marketing has been published in September 2016.

nic sim & krista goon redbox studio

We don’t have kids and we’re not sure if or when we’re having any. Heck, I tried but nothing happened but I am also Buddhist and I don’t believe in pushing my luck. If kids ain’t happening, they ain’t happening. Maybe I am destined for other things in life. Who knows? Some women would be utterly devastated about not having children but I am one of those weird women who think it’s great if you have kids but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

I had a fat, grumpy tabby called Margaret Montokong Mustafa (serious, that’s the name Nic gave her and she lived up to her Margaret-ness till she died of kidney failure on 8 April 2014). As with anyone who has had pets die on them, we were so depressed that we vowed not to have any more cats.

Ah, but sooner said than done, right? Eventually, another tabby came along and now we have a drop-in cat called Timah Boestaman. She comes for meals and belly rubs and hangs about till we shoo her out of the apartment. The cat was named by Nic. He calls himself the cat whisperer. Go figure.

Margaret our snobbish cat

Margaret is one regal cat. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything. Honest. 

Let’s Backtrack A Little, Shall We? 

I’ve been scribbling, dreaming of stories and giving into my imagination since young.

Since I read my first Tell Me Why book. Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about. When I was 6, I arduously copied the Tell Me Why questions and answers into an exercise book with a red pen!

Since my first Enid Blyton story book that my dad bought for a princely sum of RM9.90. Back then, RM9.90 was a big deal!

Since my first typewriter, a clunky pre-loved piece of equipment my Godmother bought me when I got first in class when I was in Standard 5. It was on this typewriter that I learnt to type and concoct stories and poems. I even typed out a poem in my rage against the injustice of Tiananmen Square. I was even a regular contributor to the Starchild section of The Star when I was 11.

So you see, I’ve been writing for a really long time. What Malcolm Gladwell says putting in at least 10,000 hours to be an expert is possibly true. I must’ve written thousands and thousands of words in my life since I was 6.

I discovered blogging one day in 2000. And I’ve stuck to it though sometimes it unnerves me that there are strangers who read my blog and build up pieces of me in their minds, especially those who have not met me in person.

But people who have read my blog says my writing is refreshing.

I like that.

I like being refreshing, funny and honest.

I like living each day as it comes and being happy.

As a Buddhist, I believe that living life well is the best gift to yourself. I love being inspired and I can’t stand people who complain all the time and yet never take action. I am often calm and some friends say they’ve never seen me upset or flustered. I admit I find it terribly unsophisticated to rail like a banshee but when I do rail, I rail like hell hath no fury like me scorned. Ahem. Sorry, but that’s the Tiger in me roaring.

A recent photo of Mayakirana

Writing Feeds My Curiosity 

Before I joined Nic in the business, I was happily ensconced in the corporate world for 7 years. I had a fantastic time because I did all sorts of stuff – advertising, web content management and corporate communications. Still, there is nothing like running your own business and being in charge of your own destiny!

I am a yoga fan, I crochet, I bake and cook, I am passionate about the environment, I adore reading, I love Traditional Chinese Medicine and soups (check out MY OTHER BLOG here), I love the smell of rain on a baking hot day. I love spending time with good friends and I treasure relationships like I treasure the moments I spend alone. I love journalling, I love reflection, and I love being patient, strong and courageous.

I also was one of the 18 women nominated for the Great Women of Our Time Awards in 2008 for co-founding WomenBizSENSE, an association for women entrepreneurs. I have been the president of this organisation since 2012.

Besides our own book, I am also co-writing a book on women leaders of Penang with two good friends under the aegis of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation. I am trying to say no to a lot of projects that people pitch me with because I value meaningful projects over mindless fluff.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew the woman I wanted to be.”
Diane Von Furstenberg

Writing for websites is different from writing for myself.

I like escaping to my blog and ranting though these days, as the business needs me more and more, I have very little time to escape here. Still, I could never give up my blog.

I couldn’t live without email, my iPod, iPhone, iPad (big time Apple fan I am) and my Mac. And let’s not even talk about Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Google+ and Linkedin. 

Partly I am on these platforms because I love connecting with people online. Mostly I am on these platforms doing research about what works, what doesn’t and relaying this knowledge to our clients who trust us to have their backs.

(If you want the full list of what I’ve done – speaking, writing, blogging, coaching and setting up a women entrepreneur network etc – take a look at this.) I am also now sharing what I know via mentoring after I took a programme organised by the Malaysian Institute of Management on women mentoring.

And if you feel you need to write to me, please do.

I love getting mail, I love hearing from strangers who in the end become my friends. Many have.

P.S. If you’re wondering how I got the name MayaKirana, fret not. Here’s the answer you’re dying to read…in this post.

No Advertisements Allowed 

As you would have noticed, I do not have ads on this blog. I chose to keep this an ad-free blog simply because I started this blog as a means to share my thoughts and feelings.

Over the years, many advertisers have contacted me but I have turned them all down. Maya Kirana is MY space – a little sacredness of space in a world overrun by ads, paid reviews, sponsored stuff and advertisers.

If you appreciate what I write, please leave a message or comment or email me. That would make my day!