The Right Reasons

I will be off to Langkawi for the weekend.
For work. For pleasure. For food. For leisure.
For all sorts of reasons.
It’s incredible to escape to an island where the cows stare at you as you drive past in your car. Rented of course. The car, not the cows.
And as such, I won’t be blogging till I get back on Sunday.
And I will miss the Freedom Film Festival at Wawasan University this weekend. I hope u-jean will give her running commentary on what went on. Well, at least Vern and I hope she will…. haha. We’re evil gerbils.
And Margaret will be home alone for the next two days. It means she will wallop all her cat biscuits the moment we leave the apartment. She’ll try to kill my growing serai plant, thinking it’s her cat grass.
And my parents are coming to Penang.
And there’s Hari Raya holidays coming up.
And new website projects from new clients.
And my 5 items a day gratitude journal.
(Did I tell you that at the end of each day, I will write down 5 things I’m absolutely grateful for? It’s amazing how warm and fuzzy you feel once you start this exercise. Small details are no longer insignificant.)
And I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. It’s an intoxicating book about Elizabeth’s real journey to Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself. At it is, I’m one third through the book and I want to learn, no, speak Italian. I want to eat the best pizza in Naples. This book was given to me by Jana, my best pal. She knows I’m a sucker for these melodramatic, teary, infectious self journeys.
And I am now guiding and mentoring someone about blogging. We speak once a week and I am coming full circle. I am a teacher. The word sounds foreign to me. Yet that’s what I’m doing. And I am totally contented helping this young woman blog.
And I shall have lots to blog about when I get back.
You have a smashing weekend too.
As in Fabulous – as Kimora Lee Simmons always says. (I love this brash, mad, bling-frenzy woman. I love her show, KLS: Life in the Fab Lane. It’s a strange attraction!)

Bread & Ice Cream

I just managed to download some photos I took – a bit pleased at my bread baking adventure. This is coming from a person who has no baking skills whatsoever… except for my signature banana cake recipe.
Here’s how the bread turned out… from dough to bread.
Cleffairy, I’m going to try baking this bread again next week. To see if the recipe still holds true.

Mayakirana - homemade bread dough
Mayakirana - homemade bread dough

Baked bread
Baked bread

Bread in the pan, after baking
Bread in the pan, after baking

On another note, I’m so bummed that I have to throw away my Walls Moo Ice Cream. If you know me, I don’t really like ice cream that much but I finally found an ice cream I liked. And man, whaddayaknow, I flipped the package over and it’s made in China.
Walls Moo ice cream
Walls Moo ice cream

Damn. Damn. I now have to chuck the whole thing away.
But I had eaten another pack of it not too long ago.
Am I Melamined? Hell.

This is what happens when people cut corners and have no ethics in their lives! What I am super mad is, Walls didn’t make a peep. What bad crisis management.

A Lesson To Learn…The Hard Way
At least tell consumers that you’re either recalling the products or something. There’s a big PR mistake here, especially in Malaysia. Fonterra was smart – well, not so smart since they partnered with the Sanlu Group but they were speedy enough to take out ads to reassure consumers that their milk is not tainted with melamine.
But look at the other milk companies! Either your PR people are sleeping on the job, or you feel guilty or embarrassed at admitting your milk products are made in China or there’s this “let’s keep quiet coz we don’t want our sales to suffer!” Either way, am I glad I don’t drink milk.
In crisis management (which in layman terms means, say sorry if you fouled up or at least be man or woman enough to admit your shortcomings), the first thing is reassurance. Don’t hide. Don’t hide because it makes you look awfully guilty. Even if you’re clean and innocent like a cherubim.
Next, come out and explain what happened. If you don’t, you risk looking like some damn creepy corporate type which means, the consumers won’t ever trust you or your brand again.
As it is, being big and corporate is quite a liability these days. Remember the days of Enron? If you’re a big company, people automatically think you have something to hide. Even if you don’t.
So I’m surprised Walls kept quiet. I trust Walls. It’s a brand I know from young and I’m not very young now (I’m 34).
So where’s the corporate communications people? Where’s the PR people? (I did Journalism before, I did Corp Comms before. I did Investor Relations too. So I’m not barking up the wrong tree.)
I suspect no one knew this was coming and it hit them right between the eyes. Of course, once you get hit, you get up and think, OK, what’s my next line of defense?
But I don’t see that happening – except that today, there was an ad taken out by Nestle Malaysia to clarify their position on this fiasco. But speed is essential. Don’t sit and wait too long or consumers think you’re apathetic and you don’t care.
Which is a pity because milk companies and ice cream companies can benefit from the goodwill (from consumers) if they did the right thing. They can turn the crisis to their benefit but nope, nothing’s beeping at all.
And I have to junk my Walls Moo ice cream. Adoi…

Pure Organic Munching

I realize it’s been suddenly a deluge of food posts.
I don’t know why. Maybe too many projects are happening. I just got a blog consulting project running for the next few months so that’s one more to-do in my long list of to-do’s (I kind of thrive on work and like I said to Vern, the more one has to juggle, the better one juggles!).
Anyway, back to food.
I love my ladies group. Well for one, we always aim to meet each other for lunch and talk about business.
Last Friday, Jo and I ended up at SEED Cafe (again) on Nagore Road which is just around the corner from Jo’s shop on Lorong Selamat. Jo and I often meet to talk about our activities and events for WomenBizSense, and we do our best planning over lunch!
SEED Cafe is one place which makes me feel good about myself. It’s a pure organic vegetarian cafe that’s quite a hit with health-conscious Penang people. I’ve been there 3 times already and each time it is packed with customers (even though parking is horrendous. Parking in Penang is mostly horrendous but don’t even think about finding a parking spot on Nagore Road unless you double park.) They also sell organic stuff – organic miso, organic sauces etc.
SEED can seat customers upstairs too so we opted to go the first floor (where it’s quieter). I usually order this drink, Vitamin King, a blend of vegetables and fruits. It’s a green concoction with a hint of tartness. I believe my body is absorbing chlorophyll when I slurp this down.
My favourite dish seems to be the spaghetti with pine nuts with a creamy pesto made from vegetables. The pesto is rich with the fragrance of Thai basil (you will either love this herb or hate it to bits…it’s pungent and it’s definitely a taste to be reckoned with). Jo enjoys this dish too. But I always get hungry almost immediately – perhaps due to its meatlessness! I wanted to try the vege ham burger but the cafe had run out of this the day we were there.
Their salad is not bad – a simple mix of vegetables (turnip, carrot, purple cabbage) with raisins and a creamy dressing. Again it comes with Thai basil so be forewarned.
I’ve also tried their pumpkin soup (available on certain days) which is really robust and filling.
This is a place I can be quite happy eating in. I always get a burst of satisfaction if I eat right. I know I’m nutty like that.
Expect to pay an average of RM 20 per person if you dine here. Not exactly cheap but hey, at least you’re not stuffing your face with greasy, fried stuff. This is organic and this is healthy. And you feel absolutely light unlike those heavy, sleep-inducing lunches (read: heavy on rice and meat).

And We Shall Have Bread

I’m quite pleased with myself today. I managed to bake edible bread!
You see, I had always wanted to bake some bread – after all how hard can it be right?
Apparently, baking bread is hard.
Oh I don’t mean putting everything into a bread machine or bread maker and turning it on and going to bed and waking up to freshly baked bread. (Cheater’s way)
I mean, the real bread making. The kneading, the baking, the smell of fresh bread wafting all about the apartment.
That sort of thing. Going back to basics.
I know. I’m no Martha Stewart. I can make a mean crispy curry puff, I can bake the moistest banana cake, I can make fine Cantonese soups BUT I cannot make bread!
Like Su Ping says, How can? Or rather, where can?
My first 2 failed attempts at making bread was a few months ago. I was in Tesco Extra and saw this box of flour specifically for making bread. And it was only RM2.80. OK, even if I fail, it’s just RM2.80 down the drain.
I failed.
Despite my gungho attempts at kneading the bread dough.
You know why? Because the damn recipe was wrong! Usually breads need some fat, shortening or butter. Usually butter is about 20 to 30 gm. The recipe printed on the side of the box said: 200 gm of shortening. And me being the first time blur bread maker, I followed it to a tee. I kept kneading and kneading but it was too oily. The dough didn’t rise. Maybe the yeast was suffocated by too much fat.
When I finally threw it into the oven for a 30-minute bake, it came out looking brown and hard. It was just a lump! (Felt so horrible throwing food away. Guilt!)
So I pulled out all my recipe books, went through all the bread recipes.
Finally after much comparison (and also noted in Betty Yew’s book) I learnt lesson number 1, that fat or butter in bread usually was in small quantities. I wanted to write a complaint email to the flour manufacturer – how could there be a misprint of quantities – 20 gm and 200 gm makes a whole lot of difference!
But I don’t give up – persistence is my middle name.
Armed with new information, I went to Tesco Extra and bought the same box of bread flour. I put in only 20 gm of butter this time, kneaded the dough for almost 45 minutes and left it to rise. Problem was, it didn’t rise! And the bread turned out hard and unedible.
So now I’m thinking: is breadmaking that difficult? Or am I just doomed to eat Gardenia’s for the rest of my life? Or did something else go wrong?
After researching a bit, I thought, it could be that the yeast was dead. So I tested the yeast. You can learn from me and save yourself the heartache of not having your bread rise.

Lesson number 2: Test the damn yeast before you bake bread.

Put 1 tsp of yeast into a half a cup of warm water. Stir in 1 tsp of sugar. Wait a few minutes. If your yeast is alive/active, you should see the mixture frothing, bubbles and all. And yes, you will smell a yeasty smell. It looks like the ‘head’ of a good beer. If nothing happens, you’ve got dead yeast. Throw it away and run out for another packet of yeast. Don’t worry – yeast is cheap. You can repeat this experiment until you are satisfied the yeast is partying hard.
And then I got smart. I watched AFC’s Chef At Home (Michael Smith) one night and he made bread and he made it by hand. Without using special bread flour. He just used all purpose flour which is really regular wheat flour.
So I jotted that recipe and after I tested my yeast, set about making that bread this afternoon. (I love Michael Smith for such a simple and easy way to make bread.)

Chef At Home’s Bread/Bun Recipe

All I needed was 3 cups plain flour, 1 cup oats and 2 teaspoons salt. Make a well in the centre. Add 1 tablespoon of instant yeast. Pour in warm water (1 cup warm water) and 1/4 cup honey. Mix into a pliable dough. Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Knead the dough well for 20 minutes. This gave me a good arm workout. Kneading dough is hard work! You can add some powdered milk and some orange zest but I had run out of milk powder and didn’t fancy zesting any orange!
Next, oil a bowl and put the dough into it. Cover with a wet cloth. I put this whole bowl, cloth and all into my oven. I figured the humid and enclosed condition of the oven would help the yeast do its work. It did! My dough rose after 30 minutes. I was doing a mental jig when I saw that. I took it out and ‘punched’ it down again. Rolled it out and made 7 lumps of round dough balls. Back they went into the bowl/oven for another ‘rising’ session.
Next I made some butterscotch by heating up 5 tablespoons of sugar with half a cup of water. Stir in some butter when the sugar’s melted. Keep stirring until the sugar turns brown. Turn off the fire and keep stirring this golden rich butterscotch (tastes heavenly!).
What you do is pour this cooled liquidy goodness into your baking pan (get a round pan). Arrange the rolled dough lumps and leave again to rise for another 20 minutes. I realised much of bread baking is about ‘resting and rising’ time. While you’re doing that, preheat your oven. Bread needs hot ovens so I set my oven to 220 Centigrade.
Finally, the bread/buns go into the oven for 30 minutes. The smell of baking bread is unbelievable.
I scorched my butterscotch but the bread/buns were edible! They turned out soft and chewy and I am imagining it with dollops of butter. Yummy!
I got it right on the 3rd try. And that pleased me to no end I tell ya. Already I am imagining all sorts of possibilities with this bread recipe. I could add raisins, nuts, chocolate…..

Whatever Happened to Clarity?

Had lunch with a friend today at Edelweiss.
I consider it a good lunch if we can just catch up with each other.
One of those topics we broached was business since she runs her own business too. As a copywriter, she helps clients produce clear content either through writing, editing, proofreading or translation into European languages.
Whether it is in design or writing, clarity is never to be underestimated. And we both felt that today’s communication isn’t doing its job because a good piece of design or writing should immediately let the consumer know what’s needed and what’s the next step.
It is a bad piece if I pick up a flyer and don’t know what to make of it. What does this business sell? What is it trying to tell me, assuming there’s something to be told?
She recounted how she saw a flyer which incidentally advertised a friend’s business. The flyer wasn’t clear enough and she thought she would do her friend a favour and let him know what could be improved.
All she got was a curt thanks.
He never appreciated her advice and thought she was trying to ‘sell’ him her copywriting service.
Which is a pity because if only he acted on her advice, he would be connecting better with his prospects.
When I get junk mail/ junk flyers in my postbox, I give them a perfunctory glance and chuck them aside to be recycled.
I don’t bother.
Unless the flyer is so good and compelling.
Which most times aren’t.
All I see these days are flyers crammed full of colours, shapes, photos but paltry text. Not a shred of information.
Yes, yes, it’s good for the creatives but tell me, what is your product and why should I even care?
Far too many creative types think creating/designing a flyer with the colours of the rainbow is what consumers want to see.
What happened to real communication, the basis of design?
What happened to clarity?
What is the flyer/brochure trying to sell?
Once, Nic’s friend asked,” Why is it that you English-ed types like to have things plain and white?”
(This guy likes his brochure splashed with colours that boggle the mind. Bright pink, yellow, green. It’s like a candy store.)
I wonder if the type of schooling affects how we design or how we appreciate design.
You know, white space for most people is a waste of space.
Every inch of the flyer MUST be covered in colour or design. Otherwise, wasted lah all that money I pay to the designer.
I call these Jinjang Joe design.
Just because you know all the Photoshop tricks doesn’t mean you have to use everything!
And on top of that, the flyer has no worthy content! That’s the worst crime of all.
If there’s content, be afraid. Be very afraid because somehow there’s bound to be some weird sentences. Weird because they’re translated literally from Mandarin or BM or Tamil. Or spelling so bad it’s hilarious.
I am not trying to be mean or nasty but designers should always understand what they’re trying to do with their design.
So this friend of mine is considering using a blog to help people along to see how bad copy can be improved.
Yes, do that, I tell her. Most people don’t know what rubbish is like.
By highlighting such ‘junk’ on her blog, maybe people will sit up and take content seriously, instead of it now being a stepchild to design. And maybe, her friend won’t be so supercilious. Oh and I advised her to charge for her advice too. Free advice is often sneered at and undervalued.
Design and copy must go together. Good design is enhanced by good copy.
What do you think? Do you cringe when people write badly? Would you correct them or would you let them be?

Full Moon Vigil at Dewan Sri Pinang

This year has been quite interesting!
On my birthday this year, I was at one of the biggest opposition rallies at Han Chiang College. I sat on the wet ground with an ever ready poncho and umbrella in case the rain came. It did but I still didn’t leave.
And yesterday, while we were supposed to celebrate Mid Autumn Festival with mooncakes and lanterns, it turned out to be another interesting night.

Michelle had sms-ed me the night before that a candle light vigil would be held at Dewan Sri Pinang to support the immediate release of the ISA detainees.

Malam Anti ISA
Malam Anti ISA

Of course we went.
There was no hesitating.

Nic told me specifically to wear sandals and not my usual heels “in case we have to run from the police.”
Ha ha. Nice one.
I wouldn’t be silly to wear heels to such an event. Yes, I did think of it – maybe they might spray water at us or something awful and then I would have to run for my life. So I wore my most practical footwear – rubber sandals!
But then again, this is the Penang Government run by the Pakatan Rakyat. Lim Guan Eng was once on the OTHER side and nah, I went with full confidence that we were going to a candle light vigil and we would be OK.
Like the March 8 episode (where those in the know wore red shirts and red baju and red scarves), those who came out last night wore black t-shirts in a show of solidarity. Last night was a show of true Malaysia Boleh. We were like a Yasmin Ahmad-Petronas ad – people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds. Malay girls with black sequinned head scarves, NGO people, church people, Chinese aunties, Indian uncles. Every facet of Malaysian race was represented.
And we came together for a reason – to call for the release of civilians who were detained.
No one believes the crappy reasons that 3 Malaysians were detained for their own safety. If that’s the case then why the trip to Taiwan for some people? Might as well put them under ISA because it’s for their own safety ya?
Lame excuses.
And here's Nic in black...Here’s Nic in his fave colour
Anyway, I didn’t go with any candles being a virgin at this sort of event (my first time ok?). Nic did tell me that we should bring some but I thought someone would pass candles around.
Okaaayyy…. nope. They passed flyers about but no candles.
When we arrived (we’d walked from Leith Street where we had dinner) at Dewan Sri Pinang, a large crowd had gathered. Most wore black, most held candles. What a carnival atmosphere though we saw many policemen milling about.

And many knew each other – just shows how small Penang is or rather how many NGO folks are on this island. Either way, there was much camaraderie amongst everyone and they greeted each other with pleasure (and of course with outright complaints about how unfair it all was!)
Mustafa Kamal (my lecturer when I was studying Mass Comm in USM) and ALIRAN exco gave a short speech, so did the Penang Deputy Chief Minister I, Dr Ramasamy. And everyone thronged forward and cheered when Tan Hoon Cheng appeared. Fabian who had reached earlier said a few songs were sung too.
Carry a lantern if you don't have a candle! Carry a lantern if you don’t have a candle..this is what the woman is doing! Clever!
Cars honked in support as they passed by and by 9.45pm, we were told to disperse peacefully. Still many lingered on and waved to passing cars and showed their placards.
Fabian (a friend and a Catholic priest) said he was conducting a special morning mass this morning (8am) at his church – the Holy Spirit – to pray for the detainees.
Tried taking pictures with my Canon but full moon or not, it was a bit too dark to get good stuff. I did go home and ate some mooncake but I thought this gathering signaled that we Malaysians or at least Penangites want justice and we can be quite adamant when it comes to our rights as citizens.

Any Vigils Here?

It’s a horrible day when you wake up to news about 3 people being detained under this stupid ISA (and 2 of them are ex-USMers! This is certainly the week for USM to be in the news both positively and negatively!)
It’s unfair that the whistle-blower gets ISA while the perpetrator gets a slap on the wrist and he gets to go on a roadshow!
What is freaking wrong with Malaysia?
So does this mean that I can say whatever I want and I can get away with it? That seems to be the precedent. If you report it, you get thrown into jail. If I were a journo, I would mogok and not cover any event at all. How sure am I that I wouldn’t be thrown into jail for reporting the event?
This is sick!
I’m usually not the sort to resort to expletives but this makes me want start cursing at the bloody unfairness of it all and yes, go out and do something, anything.
A candle light virgil is good. Anyone knows any happening in Penang?
I thought Myanmar was bad enough. But that’s like Third World and controlled by military junta.
But hey, look at us in Malaysia now.
We’re back to competing with Myanmar!

A Burst of Sunshine

I got a call from M, a friend I hadn’t spoken to for a long time. She called to say thanks for thinking of her and by that she meant the postcard I sent. She’d received it and felt appreciated and thought of our friendship.
Throughout our 20-minute phone call, she kept saying how thankful she is, that I didn’t ‘give up’ on her. You see, we belong to the same group – actually a business networking group which a friend and I started two years ago. M was one of the earliest friends I met at our networking teas but she kind of drifted off and never attended our gatherings after that one time.
I had lunch with her one day where she told me her story, how she came to inherit a business she didn’t want, how she had bouts of depression. That was maybe a year ago.
I had heard from another friend that M was suffering severe depression and had a husband who didn’t treat her with much kindness. The last I heard, M had gone off to KL for a month, to think things through about her family and her business.
It’s tough when you hear such stories about friends.
But the call yesterday was surprising and refreshing. She sounded much calmer and dare I say it, happier. Her voice tinkled.
She kept saying thank you to me and how I didn’t ‘forget’ her even though she has hardly been coming to our WomenBizSense meetings.
“You are so positive and encouraging! Most people are not this way. Especially my family.”
I can still recall that burst of gratitude from M as she said this over the phone.
When the call ended, I thought to myself – why aren’t people more supportive and encouraging towards each other?
Especially family.
I am an optimist. This I know for sure. I can be down in the dumps for all of 10 minutes before I start berating myself about it and end up bouncy and soon I’ll be in a better state of mind. I like a good cry and I like getting all weepy and sentimental but that’s like a passing cloud. Once the cloud leaves I’ll be right as rain.
It’s easier being an optimist and people love being around you because you are a burst of sunshine. Far too many people wallow deep in negativity. They like shooting down other people’s dreams. It’s easier to live life this way – you don’t get your hopes too high because what if you don’t get what you want?
Ya and go through life being a wet blanket! Duh!
I have always felt that it’s good to encourage friends’ endeavours particularly if they’re practical and meaningful. I always say, go for it. I never discourage. I think life’s more fun when you think you can reach for the stars.
But maybe I’ve had the good fortune to be brought up by parents who believed in me from very young.

They never told me I couldn’t do anything.
If I said I wanted to be Supergirl, they’d probably say, OK, go for it. In fact they always supported me in whatever mad things I wanted to do but most times they listened to a young gangly girl of 8 – listening to me as I begged to be sent to boarding school (I can’t believe I wanted that and that’s mainly due to my best pal’s mom who wanted to send HER off to one), how I wanted to start a pet centre right in school, how I wanted to learn gymnastics so I could be like Nadia Comaneci. I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 16. I told Mom and she nodded. Not a word of discouragement. The list went on.
But that didn’t mean my parents were indulgent. No, far from it. I got my share of rotan when I was young, mainly because I refused to go to school and I was chased by Mom right into my favourite hiding place till the coast was clear – the bathroom! I still got nagged like crazy when I was in Form 6 because I missed curfew – my Cinderella hour was famous among my friends. If I got home past midnight, man, I’d get it from Mom immediately.
Mom was strict but my parents never said no, you cannot do it.
No such negativity escaped their lips.
I was always told to try out for things I wanted (joined storytelling contests even though I sucked in telling stories!).
I was always given the freedom to choose what I wanted (from switching to Arts Stream in Form 6 after 2 years in the Science Stream, taking English Lit when no one taught the subject, made up my mind to enter USM when I was 16 etc).
I was always taught to make decisions on my own and stand by them.
And if things didn’t go right, figure out why and keep getting better. (It helps that missy here loves a fine challenge. I hate being challenged but when I am challenged, I am in my ‘in the zone’ mode.)
But seriously, challenges aside, most of us always think that we have to do big, impactful stuff to make our mark in this world.
It’s not necessary.
You just need to reach out and impact others positively and soon you will see big impact as this effect ripples.
Being an honest and encouraging/positive friend, reaching out, being there can be just as impactful as any other meaningful stuff.
The world is better off anyway if it’s full of positive folks!

I'm a Moderate Greenie. You?

Don and Mylene had invited us to their ‘filming’ on Sunday afternoon.
I say ‘filming’ because they were going to be the stars of an eco short film to be made by Ong of PenangWatch with a grant from USM. The venue was at a three-storey building along Weld Quay.
When we arrived, the filming was in process so we quietly slipped into the audience, most of which, according to Ong are friends and ‘cast’ from his other short films. (Ong’s film on the Chew Jetty was one of the winners at last year’s Freedom Film Festival organised by KOMAS.)
Don and Mylene are firm friends of ours, despite the age gap. I enjoy their no-nonsense approach to greening the environment and their philosophy is, start with yourself and your home.
A good idea because far too many people want to hug trees, wear eco t-shirts and plant trees once a year but it’s actually simpler and easier to do it slowly, do it consistently and do it proudly in your home.
This couple got our attention so much so that we decided to sponsor them a website so they could do their eco-work and activities more efficiently.
After all, their premise is simple: they can teach you and your taman how to recycle and how to raise funds for charity at the same time. You turn trash into cash for charity.
A delightful 2-in-1 approach. You help Mother Nature, you help the underprivileged.
Anyway, they’ve been doing this for 12 years now. They give free talks if you invite them (although they don’t say it outright, it’s nice if your taman or group or factory can reimburse their petrol or toll lah, after all they don’t charge a single sen for teaching you their method which saves space, saves headache and won’t turn your garden into a dumpster!).
The filming will be edited down into a 15-minute segment and submitted to an eco film festival, according to Ong.
While we have listened to Don and Mylene’s passionate talks for a while now (and now that we’ve become more green and eco-friendly), it’s always great as a refresher!
But what really spoiled my day was meeting an overzealous lady who was part of the audience. She just came up to us without as much as a hello (because I didn’t know who she was!) and started unzipping a little black pouch to show us her steel chopsticks, her cutlery, her plastic packs, etc.
She completely bulldozed her way into the conversation (we were having a break between filming) telling us what SHE does in Japanese restaurants (“I don’t use the disposable chopsticks” – excuse me lady, I didn’t ask!) and that she does this and that.
She asked Nic, “So what do you use when you go to Japanese restaurants?”
Nic’s retort was priceless. “We don’t go to Japanese restaurants… we eat at home.”
That shut her up completely. I bet you she was waiting to pounce on us once we said we ate Japanese.
I spot a wannabe martyr immediately.
There’s persuasion and then there’s stubbornness. For her, it was the latter trait which I dislike completely. Oh and add lots of high and mightiness.
Sometimes, the message is clearer if we don’t push too hard. Push too hard and people go ‘bleah’ and refuse to budge.
That’s what I often see. When people start getting their socks in a knot about their newfound passion in life, they get overzealous and start being preachy to everyone. Like they’re the only ones who’ve seen the light. Like if they don’t keep bugging us, they’ll get no brownie points.
I mean, come on. Did she ask if we’re recycling? (That afternoon, we lugged a bunch of recyclables to the recycling centre in Tmn Sri Nibong.) Did she ask what sort of lifestyle we led BEFORE dumping her philosophy on us?
This very LOUD woman stood up to declare she rummages through the rubbish in her apartment complex to separate out trash and recyclables. Good for you, I say, but that’s how you choose to be a martyr. (I kind of suspected she wanted her 5 minutes of fame during the filming too! She complimented the speakers, Don and Mylene for their eco efforts but I dare say much of the rhetoric that afternoon was purely about her and how she’s helping save the world.)
I help spread the awareness by doing other things – sponsoring a website, saying Tak Nak to plastic bags offered at cashier counters, bringing my own bag when shopping and buying less consumer products.
What would you do if you met such people in your life?
OK, besides sighing with exasperation!

What would you do? What would you say?

Animal Farm

I could rave and rant all day but this tale sums up a lot of stuff that’s going on in our Malaysia now.
A lot of people, good meaningful friends included, always tell Nic and me to migrate when we still are young and have lots to offer.
I think I’m stubborn. I also think I’m not an immigrant. This is my home, this is my land as much as it is theirs. Come to think of it, why should I leave and play into their scheme?
I have brilliant Malay friends but I have never looked at them as “Malays”. They’re friends. Period.
I have friends who are Muslim converts.
In fact, my youngest sis is a Muslim convert. And my parents, though initially upset, have gotten over it. I was far more upset in the first place! But see, even me, stubborn old sis, has come to grips with the idea. It’s her life. Let her live it her way.
Perhaps someone should ask us Chinese, what makes us cringe? What are the policies that make us so mad? What is it that can’t get through to their heads? What? Is it that we are pork-eaters? Is it that we make more money? What? What is it?
We cannot live together until we get that resentment out of the system.
What’s good these days (post 8 March, post 26 August) is that the worms are crawling out of the woodwork – worms which have been dormant too long. Once the worms are purged, perhaps there is hope for a better Malaysia.
I say a better Malaysia because we live in an abundant land, we speak a multitude of languages, we are far more competent that we let on. We have skills. We have resources. We have diversity.
And we certainly have more than that little island down south. (But that little island down south has exceptional marketing. They can turn anything into something. This happens when they use their brains for real stuff, not for fighting each other. That’s the difference.)
But why oh why aren’t we using what we have to go further?
Why are we still battling each other, 51 years after Merdeka?
Roz wished me Happy Merdeka when I met her last Sunday.
We aren’t really in the Merdeka state of mind if we still have pettiness in our hearts.