Make Memories Forever

I’ve always thought of myself as the creative sort – I guess it came to me when I was 9 that I knew how to draw an OK picture of a vase of pathetic flowers. My Cikgu at that time was this sweet motherly woman who told, no, encouraged me to enter a drawing competition in school one day. I adored this Cikgu and wanting to please her, I said yes.

Only later did I realise that I had no idea what I had to do!

But that was my first flirtation with art.

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Dedicated to Adrieanna Vinnie

I did this on a whim today, just for fun!

This is a slide show on my very adorable niece, Vinnie. Photos were taken in many stages from one month old onwards. She will be one year old in August.

You can easily make slide shows on your own theme and based on your own photos. It’s very easy and uber cool. And you can even download it to your PC as a regular screensaver (yes, for all you proud parents out there).

As you can see, even as an aunt, I am so pleased with the slide show!

To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat Pig…

Did I tell you I enjoy poking around flea markets, charity fairs, bazaars and yes, even morning markets like Chowrasta? The sights and sounds (and the bargains) are amazing. Sometimes I get intrigued by the kinds of innovative consumer items and products on sale. And of course, at times, I am so tempted to buy them all.

I have not been to Lorong Kulit for the longest time now but Sundays are the best days to go. I wrote about it once last year or was it the year before last? Anyway, I don’t go to buy much except fresh fruits and maybe, a look-see around Tuan Haji’s gems stall. You can read the post and find out more about Lorong Kulit. Lorong Kulit is open seven days a week but the best day is of course Sunday when all the traders and vendors come out in full force. Parking can be tricky as this area is bonkers on a Sunday. Try parking behind the City Stadium. Go before 9am or you will be in for a sweltering time.

The next market I love is the wet market. Some may despise it for it stinks – well – of everything! Of fruits, of meat, of fish, of vegetables. Of wet slippery floors and loud brash people. But that aside, wet markets have other stuff too. Like the Lip Sin market. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can find racks and racks of blouses, skirts and jeans on sale. And trinkets. All shiny stuff that we women adore. I’ve even bought bags at this market. Clutch bags for dinner, and casual holdall bags, whatever shape or size. Of course, they’re so NOT branded lah. There’s even a magician who sells magic kits and performs the odd trick or two at this Lip Sin market on Sundays. His name’s David – this I know because Nic is a closet magician and he’s bought magic tricks from David.

The other market I like is the Little Penang Market which is at Upper Penang Road on the last Sunday of each month. It’s a crafts-and-food market showcasing the best of Penang’s artisans and craftsmen and craftswomen. These people are the true entrepreneurs of their wares – they make the products themselves. I’ve met Mr Khoo who sells potted plants such as rosemary, basil, and other herbs (actually I bought a pot of gorgeous-smelling rosemary from him). I’ve met Mr Cheong who handcrafts items like letter openers, swords, bread tongs and more from discarded wood.

I’ve also met utterly creative women like Chiat Peng who designs a 101 things – she makes bags, earrings, rings, and lots more. I’ve bought two pairs of earrings from her before and I thought her designs were good (especially when I went to her blog and saw her designs there). In fact, my good friend Karen was commenting on how pretty my earrings were! Thanks Chiat Peng!

I also love charity fairs and bazaars for their unique items – the American Women’s Association of Penang organise good Christmas bazaars in December. And of course, the Japanese community in Penang as well. All one has to do is to keep one’s ears and eyes open and there’s a bunch of good finds in Penang any time of the year.

Thai product fairs are also my fave haunts. I like the mesmerising bling-bling clothes and tacky, garish, plasticky jewellery. I sometimes find the best skirt or blouse at these places (and I practise my bargaining skills too with these Teochew-speaking Thais). In Penang, Thai fairs are often held in shopping malls. The one I went to recently is at Midlands One-stop Centre. After shopping, you can slurp down a bowl of khanom jeen or tomyam and have your dessert of pulut mango too. What a way to end a shopping experience! Or for Nic, it’s a place to enjoy a good reflexology massage.

And then there’s jumble sales and garage sales. If you like these sales, you might want to check out Shopping with Soul Doctor who lives in KL and noses out the best car sales, warehouse sales, flea markets and more. I wish I were in KL!

These days, one can do more than buy a fat pig at the market!

PS. And I love going to Chatuchak in Bangkok. Even non-shopaholics will be impressed. This place is nirvana for Sophie Kinsella fans – from pets to furniture, from bags to clothes, from snacks to full meals – I mean this place is the cat’s whiskers! I have not explored all of Chatuchak so that will be a reason why I must go to Bangkok sometime soon!

Waiting to See Ah Steve

I’ve been his closet fan for years now, starting with his first play – Stories for Amah – back in 2002. Stories for Amah was both poignant and funny and somehow when Mark was introduced before the play began, he seemed so young!

Over the next couple of years, I forgot much about it until one day I saw this write-up in The Star about my good friend, Jana who was acting in a play with Mark. They both co-wrote the play which they did in their spare time hamming around during their lecturing days in a local college here in Penang.

Somehow, they managed to put up the two-person skit at their college during a dinner/showcase for teaching staff that they decided to go one step further – produce a REAL play. That was how Cheet Chat the play came about. Incidentally Cheet Chat made its rounds in The Actors Studio Greenhall Penang and all the way down to The Actors Studio Bangsar.

I met Mark during one of those ‘after show’ moments – Jana gushed about his talent and knack for writing up a play in supersonic speed! By the way, Jana is also quite a whiz at play-writing and directing. She’s now continuing her studies in Universiti Malaya, doing her Masters in Performing Arts. Though I miss her desperately (and miss our raucous makan sessions at Sri Ananda Bhawans) I know she’s living the life she always wanted – to act, to entertain, to provoke!

In the end, we all became good friends, and he has come over to our apartment for some Ti Kuan Yin tea and of course, a good reading of the tarot! For fun of course. (People get upset and all tensed when you mention tarot… why is it anyway? Tarot’s a fun way to break the ice in any group gathering and allows you to talk more about yourself.)

We’ve also hung around Sri Ananda Bhawans too many a time for lunch, tea, dinner and supper so much so we joke to the maitre’ d (or head of the serve staff, in regular lingo) should give us all some discount or membership card.

Sri Ananda Bhawans is this totally Indian banana leaf rice restaurant in Little India, Penang. I’ve happily promoted this place to friends and family and wrote about it in a piece I did for the print edition of The Western Australian News, Perth. Man, DO I love this noisy restaurant!

Anyway, Mark’s family still lives in Penang. For the love of acting and writing, he has moved to KL. Yes, that baby-faced boy does work too (even playwrights need to eat and live) and he is quite the teacher at a private education institution in KL. I last saw him when he trooped home to the island for the Raya holidays.

And I will be seeing that madhatter again this Friday. He’ll be here at The Actors Studio Greenhall Penang to present his new play, Ah Steve, for the weekend.

So yes, I will be there, all rah-rah (minus the pom-poms) to revel in Mark’s storytelling again. His stories are deliciously wicked, makes humorous jabs at prudes and religion and allows us to relax and laugh at our sheer Malaysianness! He is authentically Malaysian and you’ll love his Hokkien – he uses this loud language in most of his plays though English or Manglish is his favourite medium of communication.

So do book your tickets quick and go catch Ah Steve in action!

Note: The show will be staged at The Actors Studio in Greenhall, Penang from March 9 till 11 at 3pm and 8.30pm. For details, log on to www.theactorsstudio.com.my or call 04 263 5400.

Learn more about Ah Steve in The Star…

Mondrians and Dalis

The stereotype of the Artist is difficult to shake off – it is mostly negative anyway. The poor struggling artist. The one who finds it difficult to pay bills. One who paints the day away. Always furiously mixing colours and pigments, immersing himself in Art. Selling one or two pieces if he is able to. Finding no understanding or solace in others as the Public remains skeptical that Art can sustain a Living. Or in many cases, the Artist is likely to be eccentric, sometimes overly dramatic, possibly an eremite, often eschewing crowds.

Which was why I found myself in the USM Museum and Gallery yesterday afternoon, after gulping down a late lunch of fried rice. Nic and I had heard it was hosting a three-speaker forum/talk on “Art Makes Business Makes Art”.

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Can You Write?

I came across this article today and thought I’d share it with everyone. I’ve been on Malaysian forums whereby women (yes, homemakers are mostly women) ask about work-at-home job opportunities. They ask for jobs. But the way I see it, if the job is not forthcoming, there is no reason why you can’t go out and get something done.

For instance, writing. Good writers are HARD to come by. Good writers know their craft and they know how to turn boring into beautiful. If you have writing skills, use them to give yourself a job instead of waiting for one. It is not right for educated women to ask for jobs stuffing envelopes – my god, did we all go to uni just so we could stay home and stuff freaking envelopes?

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