Turning Life into Stories

If you’re a closet writer (like me lah) and want to learn from a real writer for free (and get to ask all those burning questions on writing short stories etc), do make yourself free for Robert Raymer is coming to Penang this Merdeka weekend.
He will be doing a whirlwind promo tour of Penang to promote his new book, Lovers & Strangers Revisited. (He lives in Kuching, by the way).
Tomorrow he will be at Institut Perguruan Persekutuan P.Pinang from 9 am to conduct a workshop on “Writing Narratives and ‘Neighbours’: Making Choices” This is open to the public.
You can also catch him at MPH Gurney Plaza at 3pm tomorrow where he’ll teach you how you can turn your ideas into short stories, using examples from Lovers and Strangers Revisited.
Finally, if you’re still keen to learn more from the man who recently won 4th place in the 2008 USA National Writers Association Novel Contest, you can still meet him on Sunday (Hari Merdeka) at the Little Penang Street Market. He’ll be selling books at one of the stalls and giving a reading at Segrafedo at 12 noon.
I’ll be there as a friend and supporter as well as pick up a few writing tips myself.
So if you love writing and want some tips to hone that craft of yours, make a date with Robert this weekend!

Missed Me? I Missed Me Too!

My blog title says it all. I missed my blog. I missed rambling like some old nenek. I have lots of stories to tell. In fact, sometimes I think I have so much to tell that I don’t know where to start.
This blog got cranky the past few days and I got booted out. Couldn’t log in. Couldn’t do a damn thing. Nic asked me if I had backed up the blog posts. Like yeah, maybe a month ago! Don’t do this to me, oh Blog. Don’t wipe out my entries. They’re hard work. But Nic’s my husband for a good reason – he can perform some IT miracles. Finally, my Baby (Blog) is back.

Yes, check out my ditzy hair do...
Yes, check out my ditzy hair do...

And now Maya can get down to updating all and sundry about her 2 weeks!
Well, first off, I didn’t win in my Science & Tech category that night at the MWW Gala Dinner. But chill people. When I SMSed a friend, she shot back: “Woman, you are among the 18 chosen women of Malaysia! That’s a big win.” Yes, my dear. You are so right!
Another friend told me she bought MWW and showed “me” off to everyone! Hey, thanks Dot for the life-affirming gesture. I’m proud that you’re so proud of me!
Jennifer, Ming Ming, me and Lisa...Lisa was my invited guest that night.
Jennifer, Ming Ming, me and Lisa...Lisa was my invited guest that night. We were post-makeup session but pre-dress rehearsal

Actually I’m not even disappointed (oh god, I must be aging gracefully! I was a competitive maniac when I was in school) – I was enjoying myself so much that I quite forgot that I didn’t manage to get that Royal Doulton vase (masquerading as a trophy). I invited Lisa along and she had a grand time, being made up by the Guerlain girls in black and having her hair styled.
That's me, Hoong Ling, Alecia, Ming Ming, Jennifer & Dr Tang during rehearsal!
Regina, Carol, Shanti, me, Hoong Ling, Alecia, Ming Ming, Jennifer & Dr Tang during rehearsal...we were taught how to walk with our male models

What I loved most was meeting Jun Lin (artistic director of the Rainforest World Music Festival), Alecia (of Gorgeous Geeks, what a name for a group of IT women, love the name!), Dr Tang (Malaysia’s only pediatric rheumatologist), Cynthia (a retail consultant for One Utama), Hoong Ling (exuberant gal with such a brilliant smile), Maple Loo-Asaro (the really beautiful owner of JapaMala Resort Tioman and Samadhi Retreats), Regina (love her elegant hair do), Prof Dr Halimaton (she won in my category by the way but we had a great time chatting during dinner… she looks so much like Marina Mahathir!) and Shanti Jayaram (who was the Most Inspiring Woman of the night – she told the story of how she was nominated by her boss at Zerin Properties – what a boss, right?).
Ning Baizura in her element
Ning Baizura in her element

I was there with these accomplished, beautiful and fabulous women. Looking at them all, I think Malaysia’s in no way short of talent or skills. We’re all doing something fantastic in our own ways, helping the community and in a way, helping ourselves to grow.
From left: Cynthia Lye, me, Shanti Jayaram, Yeoh Jun Lin & Alecia Heng
From left: Cynthia Lye, me, Shanti Jayaram, Yeoh Jun Lin & Alecia Heng

As we were all being fussed over by hair stylists and make-up girls in a private room which gave us a stupendous view of Pavillion KL across the road, I felt a bit like an awards winner! Everyone was truly down-to-earth, especially the women team of Malaysian Women’s Weekly: Tara Barker (the editor-in-chief), Elaine Kwong (MWW editor), Melati (MWW writer with a hidden talent for designing evening gowns), Rina, Geetha, even to that sole guy graphic designer who shyly asked us to pose for a photo!
Lina Teoh, our affable emcee
Lina Teoh, our affable emcee

Ning Baizura sang a few Whitney Houston songs as we dined on a 3-course dinner (no photos of the food due to the subdued lighting and I had to listen attentively to my dinner companions right? Would be kind of rude to whip out my camera every 5 seconds).
Dr Amran & Lisa, hamming it up for the camera
Dr Amar Amran & Lisa, hamming it up for the camera

My dinner companions that night included Dr Farrah-Hani Imran (remember the gymnast? She’s now a medical doc) and her cute brother, Dr Amran as they were seated at our table. Dr Amran looked like a spitting image of RPK with a deliciously wicked sense of humour.
Great Women of Our Time category winners (left): Cynthia, Dr Tang, Shanti, Dr Halimaton & Hoong Ling
Great Women of Our Time category winners (left): Cynthia, Dr Tang, Shanti, Dr Halimaton & Hoong Ling

Everyone had their five minutes of fame as we were announced by Lina Teoh (who did an amazing job emceeing that night – the right dose of wit!) to go onstage, accompanied by male models, to receive our orchid bouquet from Tara. Nominees in each category were next photographed together. Each nominee received a Guerlain Paris Orchidee Imperial, Patchi chocolates (divine!), an autographed copy of MWW by Ning, a certificate, Royal Albert silver spoons and a bouquet of white lilies and orchids.

I’ll let the photos do the talking… it was a perfect night where I felt like a princess! Thanks to a special friend who nominated me and gave me this chance to try something totally different from my usual Penang routine. Thanks to everyone who SMSed the votes. Thanks to everyone of you who believed in me. Robert even intoned me to visualise winning using the law of attraction! (We’re both serious junkies of The Secret!)
We had to snap a pic with Lina Teoh
We had to snap a pic with Lina Teoh

Related links:

Wish Me Luck!

I won’t be posting for a few days as I am off to KL for the MWW Gala Dinner tonight.
My invitation for the Gala Dinner
Shall be going with Lisa and we two are quite excited despite having to arrive at 3pm at The Westin for a rehearsal.
Yes, you read right. A rehearsal! *making me slightly nervous now*
Ning Baizura will be crooning some songs, Lina Teoh will be the emcee.
It came in via courier in a gold envelope...made me feel like a super star!
A few days ago I got the dinner programme from Rina, the deputy editor of MWW and it seems we’ll be made up by professional make up artists and hair stylists. Am I relieved I don’t have to lug my sister’s Philips hair styling tools to KL. As it is, there’s a lack of leg room on AirAsia planes. Am I relieved I don’t have to do my own make up!
This is what I've gotten into.... something worth remembering!
Anyway, thank you my dears for your SMSes and support and calls. You know who you all are.
I am so grateful to everyone who voted for me. I am going without any expectation of winning because I want to have a fabulous time and I want to meet the other amazing women too! If I win, that’s a bonus! And the Montfort Boys Town will probably be the recipient of the RM5,000 prize….already Nic’s adamant that this organisation should get it. I think so too.
Other than that, I shall have more news and more photos when I get back to Penang next Wednesday!
That's me in the middle...my dad says he doesn't recognise me!
Until then, wish me luck, my dears!
Ah yes, a closer look!

The Best of Us

It’s Olympic season…. which is a good thing in my books.
Thank God I don’t rely on RTM to get broadcasts. Who wants to hear some boring wawancara when you can enjoy the action live? Why can’t RTM get out of its RTM-ness (which basically means, humdrum, boring, old fart sort of stuff)? If you work for RTM and you are reading this, please go tell your boss that RTM, even after the so-called revamp, is not working! It’s not on the pulse of what people want to watch these days. But RTM never gets it. It reminds me of an old, obstinate company which won’t change because it’s too scary and too difficult to change.
Anyway, RTM rant aside, I love Astro this Olympic season. 8 channels of pure sports to indulge in. I had to of course upgrade my Astro subscription (which took 24 hours to activate) but for an extra RM20 each month, I now have the pleasure of watching world-class sports.
We’re planning to just subscribe to the Sports package just for this Olympic season but we’ll see what happens after that. Maybe we’ll stick to it though Nic isn’t a football fan.
The opening ceremony was amazing, don’t you think? We rushed home and sat glued to the TV for the whole night. There’s this thing about being Chinese – no losing face OK? – especially when Western eyes are watching, no, make that scrutinising every move. Well, the Chinese bested them in terms of firework display last Friday.
The other good thing as a result of hosting the Olympics is that the Chinese learn some manners and learn how to be eco friendly too. Not bad for a nation of spitters and rubbish-throwers. A friend who used to work in Shanghai said she hated walking in their streets, for fear some spit might land at her feet! A good suggestion is to carry an umbrella and keep it open always to prevent spit from soiling oneself.
The Olympics perhaps remind us that humans are superhuman particularly when I watched the puny Chinese gal lift double her weight! Or when the Koreans nearly had perfect tens in archery. It’s really about majestic humans on a world platform for the next 16 days.
Isn’t that about the best of us, like the ad says?

Spotting a 10 Million Dollar Fake in 2 Seconds

I bring at least 2 books whenever I go to Kuching. I know that I will have lots of time to read unlike the stolen minutes when I am in Penang.
This round, I picked up a non-fiction to read. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.
Blink wasn’t in my list of must-read books but something I picked up as Gladwell wrote The Tipping Point which was a major hoo-haa of a book last year. I hadn’t read The Tipping Point but after Blink, I now know I must backtrack and read that.
But I am planning to re-read Blink.
I don’t usually read the same book twice because I barely have time to read. But if a book warrants a second read, it is definitely worth my time. Ha!

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Prose and Poetry in Cat City

This is quite late a post but I have very limited Internet access in Kuching. Don’t ask me why. It’s either some bloody dial-up (which works not) or have to go to a cafe with wifi access. Going to Kuching can be quite trying for me, at times. I wrote this post on 3 Aug which was the day the event was held, so read on (I shall stop being so grumpy today).
Stories about Backstreet Boys, a sea witch who seeks to break her own spell, corny love poems, Freddy and his 3-horned, 8-legged monster of a cow, the anguish of waiting for a love that never comes and the story of a wild boar piglet called Pumba reared in suburban Kuching – these and more were the creative expressions of a bunch of Kuchingites who shared on a Sunday afternoon at Bing, a coffee place in the heart of Kuching’s Chinatown (also known as Padungan).

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