Poslaju Joy

Nic had gone to the office for a bit and when he came home, he dug into his bag and handed me a Poslaju envelope.
“For you,” he said.
Was I surprised! A present? For me? But from whom?
One look at the address on the top left corner of the envelope and my heart did cartwheels.
Of course! I knew who the sender was.
And immediately felt guilty as hell.
Dotty, you shouldn’t have but you did. Dotty is one of my earliest friends from the early days of my blogging life. She loves stalking around my blog but she won’t start her own blog.
But Dotty has ALWAYS remembered my birthday and that’s both sweet and thoughtful. Yet it makes me feel so damn guilty all the time because I always forget hers! Oh dear. What an awful, awful friend I am.
And here she was, as timely as she always is – with her Poslaju packages. Each year. Without fail. Gosh, that woman must have a memory like an elephant. While mine is like a snail’s probably!
We both share a maddening interest in books and tea. All types of tea.
So this sweet woman had gone to Tokyo on a holiday with her husband and bought me Fukujuen green tea in gorgeous little packs!
I’ve got 4 types of green tea – Sencha, Hoji-cha, Gyokuro and Genmai-cha. I was prancing around like a little girl with my gift! It must have cost quite a bit, what with the yen rates these days.
But what I love most are Dotty’s beautifully handwritten notes and birthday card. She always outdoes herself, each year.
Each card is crazier than the one before, in true Dotty style. Her cards always make me laugh out loud.
And her notes. Telling me stories of her life in the past year. Those snippets of her life will remain a true secret between me and Dotty. Because you see, that’s what friends are for – they keep you in their thoughts despite the long silence. They tell you about big things and little things and yes, many things, despite the curve balls Life sometimes throw our way.
Dotty, thank you for remembering this silly friend of yours. I hope you will enjoy your surprise, just as you have surprised me countless times. And beyond that, stay strong and stay confident that life will always turn out right. And you’ve got friends – yes, even a highly forgetful friend like yours truly.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the friendship we share.
Arigato gozaimas! Even without drinking the Fukujuen tea, I already know it’s going to be good coz it’s full of love!
Here are more Dotty memories!
The year when Austen ruled and when velvet became me.

Making Them Able

I got this in my inbox just now and I know I won’t be able to physically support this charitable cause (as I am not in KL or Selangor) but I know I can rely on the goodwill of those of you who regularly read my blog to help spread the word. Plus, many of you are in KL and Selangor and if you are around the Mines Shopping Mall area, do drop by and check it out.
It came from this 31-year old guy called Tan Chuan Yen who suffers from cerebral palsy. He’s a student at the Mines ICT Able Training Institute and his institute is having a charity sale of branded t-shirts to raise funds.
Here’s what his email read:
Our institute is having MINES ICT Charity Sale Campaign at 1st Floor, Mines Shopping Fair (beside of the McDonald’s Restaurant) everyday from 11:00am to 10:00pm starting from 18th April 2007. We are selling branded clothing there at RM10 each.
The fund will be donated to our institute. Hope you can kindly support our institute and/or forward this news to your family, relatives & friends. Hope they can kindly support our institute too.
For further requires, please kindly contact Alison Wong at: 03-8948 8981.

Knowing me, I am rather skeptical these days (what with bogus Buddhist monks and fake non-profits and fake charity tickets!) so I decided to poke around their website at http://www.minesict.com
Datuk Fong Chan Onn is their president and you can find out more about the committee and team members.
What resonates with me is that this institute is helping the disabled using ICT, which is basically my field and industry! Their website says that their aim is to “equip the disabled with the skills and alternative options to pursue a fuller and more meaningful life.”
ICT is a fantastic way to equip the disabled because they can work from home and they can do something truly empowering for themselves and their community. All they need is an Internet-enabled PC and they can do wonders, without having to contend with unfriendly public transport such as buses (which is a big issue in Penang right now because the new batch of buses will not cater for the disabled first… reason being, the bus system needs to be tested before they can buy the more expensive, disabled-friendly type of bus.)
Anyway, Nic and I always believe that it’s often good to not only give fish but to teach those in need how to fish. That’s why one of our favourite charities is The Montfort Boys Town in Shah Alam. Teaching skills to those in need will last them a lifetime; the boys and girls (yes, Montfort now accepts girls) will have skill sets and knowledge which nothing can take away.
So if you are in KL or live near Mines, or just want to buy some t-shirts as gifts, do go and check it out.
And please help spread the word too!

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!

Living and Dying

This won’t be morbid and I won’t make it depressing.
I was home in Banting early this month – it was an early morning phone call which woke me up and I knew it wasn’t good news. No one calls at 7am on a Saturday.
It was my Sis.
She couldn’t reach me via my mobile (I switch it off each night because there are crackpots who think nothing of dialling a wrong number at 3am and I do so value my beauty sleep) and called my landline.
“Mom wants us back home. Grandma’s is the hospital. Mom thinks she may go any moment….”
I never think of death and dying much although as a Buddhist, I am constantly reminded of it. Dying is inevitable.
Yet, we always think Dying (with a capital D) happens to other people. And like most Chinese, talking about Death warrants a loud, unbemused “choi”! Particularly if I am speaking to my aunts who get highly superstitious at any mention of unmentionables.
Yet, Grandma was 88 years old. She had lived a long life. Was it a good life? I hoped so. I hoped she enjoyed the last few decades – despite the hardships and difficulties early in her life.
What I remember most about her was her constant struggle with pain and aches though. Mom used to repeat the story of why Grandma had such a pronounced limp.
Grandma was a working woman back in the 1960s. She used to wash and clean huge ships which moored off the port in Penang. She took on this job as my Grandfather who was a goldsmith, had been laid off from work.
One day, as she was getting ready to go home after a particularly tiring night of cleaning and mopping, she mistook a step while she was getting into the boat. The boat ferried these working women from the port to the ship in the middle of the straits. The next thing she knew, she slipped and fell and fractured her hip!
She never quite recovered despite the hospitalisation and subsequent check-ups and she often walked with a limp. In her later years, she used a walking stick because her legs were not strong enough to hold her body weight.
As such, she lived on medicine. She was at her happiest when she had her store of Panadol and rheumatism pills. Her other vice was buying numbers from the “kedai nombor empat ekor”. And like a true blue Cantonese, she enjoyed mahjong too. She would usually be more alert if she is sitting and watching a boisterous mahjong game.
As sickly as Grandma was, ironically it was Grandfather who passed away first. I will forever remember that time as it was during the finals of the 2002 World Cup. Not that I am a football fan. Sometimes things like that stick in one’s mind.
Grandfather, the hale and healthy one, the one who never had a single white hair on his head, even though he was in his 90s, just passed away suddenly without any sickness or long-suffering pain.
But it’s not easy to watch your loved one go before you do.
At that time, Grandma was quite composed when she pressed the button and stared unflinchingly as the coffin with her husband’s body disappeared into the cremator. Grandfather had firm instructions that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes strewn into the sea.
And this time, in similar fashion, Mom would press the button.
We saw the coffin moving into the inner hall, where two crematorium staff then loaded the entire coffin into the cremator which had its door open and ready. The cremator is a large furnace which burns the body to ashes. Grandma’s ashes would be collected a day later and strewn into the sea. Just like her husband’s.
It was very poignant – those few solemn moments when the cremator door shut and the sounds of the furnace being started were heard – that signalled the last time we would ever see Grandma again.
Mental note to self: Let us appreciate what we have right here, right now so that when we go (yes, we all go some day) we go with a peaceful heart and no regrets or fears. And of course, appreciate and treat well those around us so that we know we’ve been the best we could be, to them.

This One First…

I’m back! Thanks for everyone’s kind thoughts and comments when I was away for my Porpor’s funeral. I am so blessed to have friends online and offline!
Anyway, I’ve much to do now that I am back. Lots of stories to tell, lots of photos too as I had come back from Langkawi (yes, again! It’s probably Langkawi My Second Home!) a day before I got news that my Porpor had passed away.
But this one first…
Remember the last time I wrote about Island Glades’ curry mee? (If you can’t remember, then backtrack and read this post.)Well, apparently, you guys were not satisfied that the blog post DID NOT come with photos. Or at least, clearer photos.
Well, I was at Auntie’s a couple of weeks back. I had a tremendously satisfying bowl of superlicious Penang curry mee and I brought along my camera. Yeah, yeah, I won’t be bad and use my mobile phone camera. It’s too blur to see the real thing.
So I brought along a real camera this time and we sort of took pictures of Auntie when she was preparing the curry mee. She was shy! We told her we were going to write about her and put it online. Hard to explain what a blog was!
And yes, for the first time ever in blogosphere, MayaKirana decides to reveal herself tucking into an unhealthy bowl of Penang curry mee.
And on a Sunday morning! With clothes which look like ‘kiam chye’ (by that I mean, my tatty t-shirt looks like something Margaret would turn up her snotty feline nose at!). But hey, this is who I am. On (ahem) regular workdays, I look better-lah!
And if you are ever around Island Glades on a sunny morning, go look for Auntie. Her house is easy to spot. You will see an umbrella open, as well as two Malaysian flags on her roof – one a Penang flag and the other, a Malaysia flag.

Shall Be Away

I just came home from Langkawi yesterday but I will be going away for two days. I just got news from my sister that my maternal grandmother had passed away this afternoon. She was 87.
I will be going home to Selangor tonight. Her funeral and cremation is tomorrow.
I am OK, no worries.
I am thankful that my Porpor had a long life. She lived with us for as long as I could remember.
She is at peace now and that’s all that matters.
Over and out.