Tuesday, December 15, 2009

May your marriage and your life together...

be as beautiful as the love that brought you to this day.

This is something I wrote nearly two years ago... I probably didn't acknowledge it at that time, but it looks like I had a hidden agenda... :-)

*******

Hobby: Wedding Speeches!

13. I’ve spoken at 13 weddings.

It’s great when someone asks you to speak at their wedding. It’s something which I love doing. And my friends and family have given me the honour to do it that many times.

The preparation is exciting. I get to speak to the bride and the groom, sometimes together, sometimes separately. I get to ask all sorts of questions: how they met, what attracted them to each other, how they knew the other was the ‘one’…

“I really don’t know what attracted me to him… I just knew he was the one.”

“She doesn’t know this, but that one time, when she…”

“We’ve known each other for many years, but when he appeared on my doorstep that day, I knew this was the man I wanted to marry.”

And one couple, when I separately asked them to describe the other, they both used the exact description! :-)

Sometimes, I get to chat with the parents too! Their take on their children is amusing as well. A friend said that a parent’s greatest happiness is when they see their children happy. And at every wedding I attended, the parents were happy.

It’s amazing some of the things these people did, the time they were willing to wait, the ups and downs they experienced… but I guess certain things are that worth it.

Some of the stories are normal, some of the stories are amazing, and some of the stories can be made into movies…

All are wonderful though – coz it has led to a marriage.

Weddings itself are fun, although it can be stressful, what with wanting it to be perfect, and having so many people involved. But we gotta remember that behind every wedding, there’s some sort of magic that has brought two people and two families together…

As much as it’s for the guests to get to know the couple, when I speak at a wedding, I try to make it something special for the couple. A gentle recollection of how they came together and a sharing of their family and friends’ joy with their decision to take, god willing, the eternal promise. Something the couple can cherish… (hopefully!). And it’s usually easy to do when you’re talking about people who are close and important to you too.

I’ve got some good friends who are getting married in 2008, and it looks like I’m going to be missing most of their weddings.

It’s ok :-)

My wish, as always, is that their marriage and their life together will be as beautiful as the love that brought them to their wedding day.

To those who are creating their stories now, you may not know how it’s going to turn out, but one day, you too may get to share your stories with some of us, happy ending and all...

Happy 2008!

*******

The number has since increased to 14.

Whether I will be allowed to speak at what would be 15 and 16, is left to be seen.

All I have to say is, it feels good to finally share my own story :-)

Happy 2010!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Because I'm...

worth it.


As I walked into the convention centre, I tried to avoid eye-contact with anyone. I could imagine the questions that would be asked, but I hadn't thought of an answer that could explain the situation.

Avoiding people was quite impossible, and the questions rained in.

"Hey... you look like didn't sleep last night... you ok?"

"Yea, yea, late night..."

"Have you been crying?"

"Haha... of course not..."

"You ok?? Anything bothering you?"

Sigh. This is crazy.

You see, I've been shaving since I was, 18? Yea, therabouts. I therefore have a habit of lathering shaving cream all over my chin and face, and manouevering the blades, so on and so forth to get that close shave feeling.

This time, a close family friend gave me a cream that she said would do wonders for the dark circles that have been forming around my eyes.

You guessed it. I went to bed one night, having generously lathered the area around my eyes with this miraculous cream. I was a bit perplexed though that it came in such a tiny container, 3.5ml to be precise. Wouldn't last me three days, I thought to myself. Went to bed, happy that miracle cream was doing what it should.

Woke up the next morning, with the area around my eyes feeling supple. Hmmm...

Went to the mirror and oh my god my eyes were so puffed up it wasn't funny. I tried to depuff my eyes with my fingers, but it didn't work.

I stood there staring at my eyes... wondering what the heck was I thinking.

Maybe that's why the container was so small, you twit.

And I had to go to work in a short while. How could I possibly explain this?

Man... that's the problem. Being a man.

The good thing to come out of all this - the ephipany.

I now understand completely when ladies have those mornings. I never understood the 'bad hair day' phenomena, but now, I get it. It can happen to even the best of us. I emphatise with you, girlfriends.

To all the ladies out there, I have stopped laughing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The moment I wake up...

before I put on my make-up.


Celebrating Halloween in the office with your colleagues on a Friday: Cool

Shaving only the left-half your face to become Two-face (sort of), with an old, loud checked shirt instead of an office shirt and a belt with a massive buckle and large initials; and not having to go rent a costume for the celebration: Brilliant

Being summoned to meet the CEO on the same day, and not being able to remove your costume like your other colleagues: Say a little prayer for me…

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The conversations...

people have.


Guest: Hi, I don't think we've met.

Me: I don't think I've met you before either...

*******

A girl was celebrating having gotten her driver's licence by bringing her friends for a joy ride. She was turning into a car park from the main road, and oncoming traffic seemed clear.

She didn't reckon with our pizza delivery guys. As she turned into the carpark, a pizza delivery guy on a motorbike promptly appeared out of nowhere and smashed into her car.

A doctor I knew happened to be at the scene of the accident. Although there was some blood, the guy was not badly injured. The guy also had a colleague of his (having appeared on a motorbike out of nowhere, naturally) tending to him. After calming the near-hysterical girls down, the doctor went to stabilise the guy who was still on the road. Oddly, he noticed that the guy's colleague had disappeared.

Doc:
Mana kawan adik?

Pizza delivery guy:
... aduh... dia.... aduh... ambik pizza saya... kena deliver....

*******

Interviewer: So what course would like to do?

Me: Medicine.

Interviewer: Oh. Unfortunately we don't offer scholarships for medicine.

Me: Oh. I don't mind engineering either...

*******

Germany, 1973

My Dad: Can I have some water please?

The German waiter, after finally understanding what my dad wanted, pointed to the river outside the restaurant.

Apparently, drinking water was not common in German restaurants then. You drank beer for everything.

******

I was in the neighbourhood grocery store, and called home to find out if anything was needed for the family. Cappucino was our then cat.

Mum: For Cappucino, two cans tuna flavoured, two cans chicken flavoured.

Me: Ok...

Mum: Get the biscuits for him also, any flavour. Two boxes.

Me: Ok...

Mum: Why not buy a few more cans, we can keep it. Get the smaller cans, he may not finish the big ones, and it may spoil if we keep it too long.

Me: Ok. Anything for us?

Mum: ... hmm... a loaf of bread.

Me: That's it???

Mum: Yes. Thanks.


Cappucino oh Cappucino. How I miss you.

Hehehe...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Listen...

to them.


I didn't know her well at all. In fact, the first time I sat across the table from her, it did occur to me that I'd seen her somewhere before... but I couldn't place her.

Only later that day, I realised that she was the then to be legendary, and now the late, Yasmin Ahmad.

Two things about this woman struck me.

One, she always talked about her parents.

And two, she was always willing to hear ideas and willing people to share their ideas. Nothing was too silly for her. Perhaps Yasmin's advertisements and movies were not only a reflection of her brilliance and ability to seem to have her finger on our pulses, but her brilliance and ability to get the best out of the people around her and produce masterpieces.

A trait that more of us could display. Too many people think they know what’s best for everyone. Or don’t have the patience to listen to a young mind fleshing out ideas.

Have patience, and listen, people!

Sure as hell going to miss those ads on tv...

Rest in peace, dear Yasmin. May Allah bless your soul always.

Monday, June 29, 2009

11,443...

days later.


I've learnt that...
I should never recommend my dad watch a pirated Hollywood DVD before I've watched it first.

I've learnt that...
if water coming out of the water-cooler smells like durian, it's probably not the water.

I've learnt that...
respect must be earned. And kept.

I've learnt that...
if you're looking for something, it helps to know what it looks like. Or at least what it should look like.

I've learnt that...
contrary to popular belief, there are some things lawyers can't do.

I've learnt that...
it really is mind over matter.

I've learnt that...
there are some things that will only make sense when you go through it yourself.

I've learnt that...
women's lack of a sense of direction is not a myth.

I've learnt that...
speaking clearly and to the point is becoming a lost art.

I've learnt that...
too many people I know want things they know they will most likely not get.

I've learnt that...
many happy people I know did not have things going the fairy tale way.

I've learnt that...
I should not question the plots in Hindi movies.

I've learnt that...
dates and anniversaries (save a few) are not as important as they are made out to be.

I've learnt that...
for some of us, time is running out :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Seventeenth...

at.


I hadn’t noticed it before, but there’s an abandoned house that comes into view first.

Apartments that are too expensive follow.

I never realised that the city was quite this green. There are lots of trees, forming what seems to be a forest, dotted by buildings.

Next, a building where a friend of mine used to work in. Haven’t heard from her for a while now.

I can see the intersection of two of the busiest roads in Kuala Lumpur from up here, Raja Laut and Sultan Ismail. Who were these two men anyway? In the mornings, it’s actually quite scenic to see the traffic snarl, it’s as therapeutic as watching a river flowing slowly. And in the late evenings, the never-ending streams of car lamps help illuminate the city roads. When these streams of light begin to quiver, it’s time to go home.

If I look straight down, I can see one of the reasons Malaysians are the way we are now. Three primary schools, side by side. I didn’t realize they were so close together. Learning pretty much the same thing, but in different languages. Walls separate their school compounds today, walls that we’ll try to bring down tomorrow. Bird’s eye view of the future I have of these children.

Looking up, sometimes I get to see a storm coming. Quite a show - the buildup of the clouds, the graying of the sky, sometimes aging the day by numerous hours in a matter of a few minutes. The rain pelts the window, but never indicating the havoc it will cause all the way down there. Gridlocks result.

I can see the Gombak river. The colour of the river seems healthier these days. A relentless heavy downpour still makes it break its banks though, and flood the minor roads behind this building, submerging the cars parked illegally and the Tiong Nam households. The metro heaves on above the river, on its tracks that snake with the flow.

I can also see the world’s fifth highest telecommunications tower. It gives the city skyline character, regardless looking like a massive baby rattle or not.

There is a somewhat resident eagle that flies the skies around my building. I haven’t seen him in the one week that I’ve moved to this floor.

Only after watching the movie ‘Cinta’ did I appreciate what a charming city KL was. Now, I am charmed by the city every working day.

I really like my new room, and certainly don’t mind spending hours working from here, with a splendid view like this. And with my cup of Ipoh old town coffee.

I turn back to my desk.

Two laptops stare back at me.

Now, if only either one was in good working condition…

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hello...

is it me you're looking for?


I was wearing a crisp white shirt, and a well-ironed pair of black trousers. Very lawyer-like. No tie though, as it was past 8 o'clock and I was at the restaurant just to order some take-away dinner before heading home.

A guy walks into the restaurant, and asks me where the reunion is.

I say I don't know. He asks could it be upstairs. I say I really don't know, coz I don't work there. He leaves me, not embarrassed by his gaffe, but confused.

I look around the restaurant.

It was empty.

Except for me waiting for my takeaway order, and 3 waiters hanging around, in their crisp white shirts and well-ironed pair of black trousers.

*******

In university, we're assigned a tutor each. They take care of our academic welfare, and we see them periodicaly over every academic year.

I went to meet my tutor.

"So, how has your first year been?"

"Sir, I just completed my final year exams."

*******

I was waiting on the kerb with a friend, while our husband-and-wife friends were going into their sixth handbag shop.

"Can you take me?"

The both of us looked at the lady who asked the question.

"Sorry ma'am, we're on a break" I answered.

She left. I told my friend that we better move away from standing by the two London Black Cabs parked at the kerb, lest we get more queries like that.

*****

"Were you the one who bled?"

"No."

"Then you must be the one who crashed the car!"

*******

At a wedding, where I had given the wedding speech, the reception had ended and I was talking to the best man.

As the guests were filing out, an elderly uncle walked up to the best man and said:

"Well done!"

"Thank you uncle..." the best man says.

"Didn't realise you had that talent..."

"Err... thanks again..." the slightly perplexed best man said.

I was wondering too - standing by the groom and fanning him doesn't require exceptional talent... or does it??

"So, how long did it take to write the speech?"

Uncle... uncle... :-)

*******

Seeing a lady I knew, I went up to her and said...

"Hello aunty, how are you??"

From her reaction, without a doubt, she had no idea who I was.

After asking my name, and then my father's name, she suddenly sparkled as she seemed to remember who I was.

"Ah, I remember now, I attended your wedding last year!"

Funny...

I don't remember being there at my wedding.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Speak when you are angry...

and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.


Have you ever had people leave anonymous messages for you?

It's nice, isn't it? (except if you're being stalked... but I don't have that problem.)

Perhaps someone is noticing you.

Perhaps someone wants to speak to you, but doesn't get the opportunity to do so.

Or can't summon the courage to do so.

I've had a very small number of such messages left for me, but there's one I'll never forget.

It was a number of years ago at the Bangsar Shopping Centre in KL. I had gone to the mall with a friend, and had swung down to the lower basement to park. I parked near the lifts, as it would be easier to get to the car when we were ready to leave.

A couple of hours later, we were back at the car park.

As I was about to get into the driver's seat, I noticed a neatly folded piece of paper under the wiper on my windscreen.

Hmm.

Suddenly, I twinkled.

I looked around, and there was no one scurrying away, or trying to escape my gaze…

My heart was pounding already. Who could it be... this stranger leaving a note for me, putting it on my windscreen knowing full well I will not miss it...

I took the note, and opened it with bated breath.

And there it was. The message for me, written so crisply such that its meaning could not be any clearer...


Thank you for parking here. You block everyone. Assholes like you should take the bus instead.”


Damn...

Tight slap on the face it was like...

*******

I didn't park in a parking spot I admit, but I didn't block everyone.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Class of 2008

My brothers and sisters of the class of 2008,

Be humble

You reap what you sow

In a new place
Get familiar with the surroundings
Get familiar with the people

You never know who can help you put up a great show
You never know who can help your dreams grow

Don't forget to brush your teeth
However it is you do it

Create an identity
That you can take pride in

Be prepared to meet all sorts of people, in all sorts of places

Learn from the experiences of others
Especially when they are willing to share

Write

Help all creatures of god
You'll be a better person for it

Surround yourself with inspiring characters
They may just inspire you

Have fun in whatever you do
Don't get sidetracked too much
But allow your creativity to flow...

Communicate
Not eveyone can see you
Not everyone can hear you
Especially when you're up there

Fight for your rights
Fight for what you believe is right
You can't make everyone happy
But try understand what's it like being in their shoes

Remember the masks people wear
Remember the masks you wear

Take a stand
But don't be afraid to stand corrected
Get you voice heard
But don't forget to listen

Appreciate the value of others
and the value of yourself

Survive

Give
Unconditionally

Don't be careless

Go outside sometimes
And do battle with the elements

Partake in the simple joys of others
It may make you smile too

Catch fish with your hands
Once you have learnt how to

Practice

Go to the beach
And listen
to the sand

Climb... mountains if you could
The view is always fantastic

Practice, many more times

Roll on the ground
Under the stars
You may have never done it this way before
But why not

Perform
like it really matters

Be prepared
for
suprises
along the way

But
nail
the
performance
nevertheless

Don't underestimate
what you can learn from others
Don't underestimate
what others can learn from you

Wave with both hands when you say goodbye

It's not too long
It's not too short
a time
It's what you do with time

Remember
Treasure
As you move along

But always
be
humble.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ladies & gentlemen...

announcing the arrival of...

me.

*******

Friday 24 April 2009 I am going to remember for a long time.

It was an unremarkable day as usual.

And then the sun set!

I had been asked to attend a dinner, as a representative. When you have been asked, it's not polite to decline, even though it's Friday night and...

I had no other plans anyway.

As I made my way past the main doors of the hall and headed for the entrance to the dining room, someone intercepted me and ushered me to the VIP holding room instead.

Didn't expect that.

Lush red carpet, massive sofas with funny looking floral patterns, and kopi-o and muffins as snack. And then a few people came in to keep me company.

Soon enough, another VIP (me being the first one, remember...) joined us in the room. And that was when I discovered that the two of us were it. The main guests for the dinner.

We were both ushered out of the VIP holding room with a small entourage following and walked across the hall to the dining room. There was a guard of honour formed, consisting of about a hundred people. They smiled at us, and we back. I even waved a little, as it felt awkward just walking past.

We passed the doors to the dining room, and that was when I realised that it wasn't a room, it was a MASSIVE dining hall with hundreds and hundreds of people sitting around dinner tables.

Didn't expect that either.

Then the emcees announced our arrival, with my name being one of the three mentioned. And we got thunderous applause!

Absolutely amazing.

These people seemed genuinely happy to see us.

The walk from the doors to the main table is something that will stick with me for a long time. What a feeling. It was like taking a lap of honour after winning the final of the Malaysia Cup. Everyone was smiling and clapping and there was even a photographer taking pictures. The scenery was beautiful. Those 30 seconds went past too soon.

My seat at the main table even had my name on it. The long version!

Three speeches later and dinner began. Dinner was good, and I was beginning to get comfortable at the table. It was at times a bit unnerving though, with a couple of cameramen trying to get a good shot of me lifting my spoon to my mouth, at the point just before chewing...

I couldn't resist and had to ask how many people were having dinner.

About 1000.

At the end of dinner, I was called on stage to receive a couple of tokens of appreciation. Things got better when I didn't have to take the tokens with me, as someone took it from me on stage and would hold it for me whilst I finish dessert... :-)

Thank you for dinner IIUM. Good luck to the 800 school children from 96 secondary schools across Malaysia at the inter-shcool debating competition - I hear you're going to get into the Malaysia Book of Records for making this the biggest event of its kind. All the best to the 400 odd undergrads and alumni involved in the organising of the competition. For what it's worth, you have my support.

And thank you Jane for sending me to dinner!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

First to Bata...

then to school.

It was like the first tag-line in my life, ever. I grew up with that embedded in my soul.

Fast forward to 2008...

I was walking in Berne. It was in the midst of Euro 2008, and I was in this city with 17 other people, mates from my High School MBA class.

My eye suddenly caught a Bata outlet.

My good friend Riel was walking by me and I said to him,

"You know bro, for a very long time, I thought Bata was Malaysian."

"Haha... well you were wrong, coz it's Indonesian."

"Where got... no lah..."

"It is man..."

Suddenly, our three Indian friends come bounding along, and I tell them...

"Riel thinks Bata is Indonesian!"

"Hahaha.... of course not, it's Indian!"

And I stopped all of them.

"It is not Indian either!"

"Yep it is! You can find Bata in every city in every state in India..."

"In Indonesia too..."

And the debate went on and on and on...

"I swear Bata is an Indian name!"

Thank god the other 13 didn't join in. Otherwise, Finland, Costa Rica, England, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Italy would be claiming Bata as well.

For the record, Mr. Bata is Czech.

*******

It's unfortunate, but my more recent memories of Bata in Malaysia, from a few years ago, has been the line "Sorry, no stock."

Perhaps I will walk into the next Bata outlet I come across. For old times' sake, to relive my childhood...

then I will make a trip to my school!

Monday, March 2, 2009

..............................

.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Every step I take away from you...

I'll be two steps closer to your embrace.


Or something like that.

Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical was supposed to start at 8.30pm. But for me, the drama started at 8.04pm.

As I drove into the grounds of the theatre, I was pleasantly surprised to see the traffic controllers move away and ask me to drive right through what seemed to me to be the VIP path. The cars in front of me had been ushered to take the less privileged route, to park in the boondocks I believe.

I was driving a borrowed car, which was slightly bigger and more imposing compared to the standard car... well, if it came with certain privileges, why not bask in it? It looked like my colleague and I were meant to arrive in style for this musical!

I soon realised that the path led to the lower lobby of the theatre. I saw a couple of doormen waiting, and I thought I'd ask them where in the lower lobby I should park. As I slowed the car to a halt, one of them opened the passenger door to let my colleague out, and the one on my side, wait a minute... was going to open the back door... but why?? No one at the back woi...

Cheh... they thought I was chauffer-driving the car!

10 minutes later, the both of us were making our way to the theatre, having parked in the boondocks.

The play was… nice. A little less rousing than I expected… but I’m glad I caught it just days before it was never to be staged again.

I was intrigued by the Micheal Jackson ‘Thriller’ sequence - when the nenek kebayans were facing off with the 7 warriors in the jungles of Gunung Ledang...

Some of the lines were quite corny… when translated into English. In Malay, they sounded poetically mesmerising…

Talking about lines, during the break, I saw the longest line to the ladies toilet I've ever seen in my life. So the horror stories floating around KL about these toilets were indeed true. And just before the start of the second half, I overheard a guy, coming back into the theatre, asking the lady sitting behind me, "Hi…. How’re you? Hmm... How's the view from here?” Sigh... I pity the guy. Small talk is not easy.

Sultan Mahmud of Melaka was one of the characters in the play. This Sultan Mahmud must have been one helluva guy – every time I see this character portrayed in a play, he’s always gatal.

I too once played the role of Sultan Mahmud in a stage play. Naturally, had to be gatal. The scriptwriters (Naz and Haz) gave me some pretty awesome lines to use to court the Princess:

Princess wanted seven trays of mosquito hearts:

Haha! Seven trays?! Why not eight?
This is going to be easy,
To prove my love to you Princess,
I will keep my servants busy.


Then Princess wanted seven pitchers of maidens’ tears:

Again you’re extremely kind Puteri,
A simple task for me no doubt,
Every maiden in the land will hear of my marriage,
They will soon be crying their eyes out!


Then she went infrastructure, wanting a bridge of gold and a bridge of silver linking Melaka to Gunung Ledang for eternity...:

Hmm… I will have to consult my Bendahara,
This would cause a huge dent in my treasure,
But not as big as the hole in my heart,
Should I fail under pressure!


And Sultan Mahmud’s immortal words before Princess’ final request…:

Render me poor for all I care,
Failure to have you is something I cannot bear!


And then she asks for my young son’s blood, a bowlful of.

Waduh...


I wonder if these lines would work in real life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I feel I just graduated from...

High School!


"Redundancy..."

I slowly opened my eyes, wondering why in the world I said that.

As the grogginess disappeared, I could make out.... Prof Bart!

Shucks. I was in an Operations Management lecture.

"What?..."

"Redundancy..." I muttered under my breath, still not sure why the heck I was saying that.

"Sorry, didn't get that..."

You're not the only one prof, I don't get it either.

"He said 'redundancy'...." a classmate offered. He, like the other 30-odd people in the class... having no idea what was going on.

A few eyes were transfixed on me, waiting for an explanation.

"Transportation", someone else answered.

"Aha that's right..." Prof Bart finally giving out that super big grin of his, glad that he could understand someone now.

There is an art when one wants to fall asleep in lectures. I had it mastered pretty well, most of the time I looked like I was in deep thought, as opposed to in deep slumber.

There are two dangers though. The first is the one like above. One's own mouth.

The second one? Friends. (How do I know I look like I'm in deep thought while sleeping? Friends with camera phones in lectures. And I thought phones were not allowed in lectures.)

I was in one of my slumbers towards the end of the first half of a Management Information Systems lecture. I got up due to the normal commotion caused by people getting up for the break.

20 minutes later, back in the lecture theatre, I realised that we were given a group assignment cum presentation for the break. As I had nipped off for coffee during the break, in addition to the fact I was not awake in the lecture, I didn't know much at all about this presentation.

"Who's presenting for this group?"

And in one of those moments that will be greatly difficult to forget, my four soon-to-be-ex-friends-for-the-day, unanimously, pointed at me.

"Me?"

They had been plotting the whole time!

I was sucker-punched!

I pride myself in being the master of practical jokes and gotchas. This was difficult, but I managed to weasel my way out. Ask a question about the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service project, and Prof went on about it for about 15 minutes.

Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat, akhirnya jatuh ke tanah. I know.

There are many people out to get me, but until that happens, I will continue with my practical jokes and gotchas :-)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trip over love, you can get up.

Fall in love and you fall forever.


No idea who said that, but it was obvious these two were on a date.

And I was quite sure they were on their first date.

They were seated on the table next to mine, so I could not help but... notice :-)

The boy was what I would call a wreck.

He was seated, yes, but in a very uncomfortable position. After helping the girl sit, he sat down, but did not pull up his chair to the table quite close enough. In fact, his chair was at an angle to the table... and instead of correcting the position of the chair, he sat crookedly for the rest of the meal, unable to rest properly on the back of the chair.

What was his opening line?

"So... err... why did you choose Madam Kwan's?"

Alaa...

Bro, if the girl chooses the place, just bring her there, don't ask why. Yet.

Anyway, the date thus began.

He had this permanent grin on his face. The whole meal, that smile of his never vanished, and everytime she looked at him, she would see his row of pearly white teeth.

It was there all the time, that even I got irritated.

It did mask one thing though - he was very nervous as I could gather from the constant shaking of his leg.

I really wanted to go up to him and just push his chair in a little - I was sure if he was seated comfortably, things would be much better. For the both of them... and for me. You see, good posture is important for many things - driving, at your desk, sleeping, when you're in a spaceship and when you're on dates.

They got to the end of their meal...

"Would you like a Mentos?"

Huh? I could swear I didn't see that on the menu.

I looked over stealthily, and I saw the girl offering the guy a mentos from the pill bottle-like container. Goodness, where in the world did she hide that?

Now, no matter how disastrous or uneventful a meal may have been, it is always useful to have a good closing. Lets see how our man performs.

He asks for the bill.

Good.

The girl offers to pay. He politely says that it's on him, and the girl happily relents.

Better.

The bill comes, and he cooly takes out his credit card and gives it to the waitress, acknowledging the waitress with a smile.

Steady.

It comes back, a cursory glance to ensure everything's in order, signs the chit, and the deed is done.

Pass.

And we're all happy.

*******

I have a feeling that, despite a few misses here and there, he will get another date on Valentine's Day if he asks her out.

But that grin...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

If you have been there in recent years...

chances are that you will never forget the reality that is Saigon.


How true.

It was quite hot. I had started the day before sunrise, barely slept during the flight, and had battled through heavy traffic to get to the hotel. It was 5pm going on to 6pm, and having just checked-in, our meetings were to start at dinner. This was the blind-spot of times, where there was nothing much that could be done.

I thought I'd take a shower then. It was a very nice looking hotel room, and I knew I'd be very busy for the rest of my time in Vietnam, so I thought now was the time to have a leisurely shower or maybe even a bath.

I got ready for the shower, as one would. The towels in these hotels are usually big and fluffy and comfy, and I made my way to the bathroom to get them.

As I walked the short distance, there was a sweet knock on the door.

"Turn-down sir?!" The voice from the outside said.

"What?"

Then the door began to open. I realised I hadn't latched the chain!

Shucks. Does 'what' mean 'yes' in Vietnamese???

I turned around, dived across the bed, taking the comforter with me as I flew over, landing on the floor on the other side of the room, with a 'kedabup'.

Phew.

I peeked my head over the bed, and one of the room-service ladies was standing there, in my room, smiling.

"Turn-down sir?"

What the bloody hell is 'turn-down'?

"No, thank you."

And she left.

That was a close-call.

As I sat there contemplating how disastrous my opening evening in the glorious former Saigon could have been, and debating with myself the concept of privacy in communism, I got a phone call.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing really."

"Ok, lets do some quick shopping before dinner."

Looks like I was never meant to take this shower.

I got dressed and went down to the lobby, after making sure my door was locked.

*******

Turn-down, I figured out the next evening, is when the hotel prepares the bed for sleep, where they remove the comforter and fold over part of the duvet etc., and sometimes leave some chocolates on the pillow. Good stuff. Usually.

Monday, January 26, 2009

People who say they sleep like a baby...

usually don't have one.


The bane of parents around the world is finding reliable babysitters.

Whereas, the bane of babysitters around the world is finding reliable babies.

I honestly don't get all this fussing about baby-sitting.

How hard can it be?

Like, let the child within you go free, and there you have it - babysitting will flow from your fingertips.

And I'm not simply talking. I have baby-sat, a little.

I also have great ideas to keep children occupied, as can be seen from the picture below. I am constantly innovating in this area as well.





So, my friends, anyone looking for a reliable baby-sitter?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pain is inevitable...

suffering is optional.

An ancient method of hair removal which originated in India.

Which to me should be confined to the dungeons of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not musuem.

The very image conjured up sent shivers down my spine.

Threading.

Where, nowadays, one pays someone to use a thread to pull out hair from the face... and until very recently I thought only girls used this sado-masochistic procedure.

I was at a wedding and was quite intrigued at the very fine line of beard that ran from the groom's sideburns to his chin. I've seen this type of beards of course, but only that particular day I began to wonder how it's done. I've tried using my Gillette Mach 3, but to no avail. Maybe I need to upgrade to the Mach 3 Turbo?

Trust the ladies to know how it's done.

"Threading laa..."

Oh...

Ouch.

Hmm.

This got me thinking.

I can actually do so many things then with this threading procedure, pain notwithstanding .

I should really try this out! Threading!

I picture myself coming home with a nifty thin line of facial hair running from side-to-side, a spiral here, a zig-zag there... :-)

I wonder what my dad would say. I imagine the conversation at home would go something like this:

Dad: So, what did you do today, son?

Me: I went to the threading saloon.

Dad: Ha? What for? Your company looking into the threading business? Hahaha!

Me: Hahaha, no. I actually went to thread my face. See my beard? It's now very narrow and fine and it's looks...

Dad: What? What??

Me: Well you see, I just discovered that threading is not only for girls and their eyebrows...

Dad: Never! Never has an Ismail man had anything other than sharp razor blades put to his face and neck! And you had thread??? Have you lost it??

Me: Wait, it was actually quite painful...

Dad: No! What has become of you?!? Can you imagine if people find out you did this?

Me: Well yes, that's why I was not planning to tell anyone coz they may not understand the intricacies of...

Dad: This is totally unacceptable! You must leave and not be seen around the house until hair starts growing from those threaded pores again!

Me: Sigh. Ok, see you tomorrow morning then.


It's tough being a man. I need to sleep on this threading idea.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'll be ready...

never you fear.


"It's the block of offices after Baywatch..."

This was not sun-drenched Miami, or wherever it was that the Baywatch we all know was supposed to have been set, but rain-drenched Kelana Jaya.

"Did you just say Baywatch??"

Apparently, this Baywatch is a food court. I was going to meet a friend at his office one evening after work and that was the landmark.

*******

I was walking back to my car that was parked along the road outside the block. As I was walking, I saw that a minor accident had happened. I figured out from the scene that the BMW was waiting to make a u-turn, and the souped up 20-year old Mitsubishi clipped the BMW when the driver tried to overtake the BMW at the u-turn.

Very stupid.

The passengers from both cars were already outside and there was a shouting match going on, but it was mostly in Mandarin. The BMW driver was a 30-something guy, and he seemed to have a 58-year old uncle as his passenger. The Mitsubishi had four boys, all in their late-teens. I walked past the commotion towards my car.

I got into my car (Proton Satria 1.3GLS, manual tranmission, manual windows as well). Swung it around, and would have to pass the accident scene before I reached the junction to the main road.

As I drove past the scene, I was bloody shocked to see what was going on...

Uncle was holding one of the young boys, the driver presumably, by his throat! The boy's feet were nearly off the ground... and his friends seemed rooted by fear where they were. The BMW driver was screaming at uncle to stop (or egging him on, not sure)... but uncle was beating up the boy.

This called for some intervention! I ground my car to a halt, just outside Baywatch, and jumped out. The screaming that was going-on attracted some of the Baywatch life-guards... eh I mean waiters, to come out and see what was going on.

"Come-on!!!" I screamed at them before running to intervene.

As we got closer and closer, I was thinking what we should do... we can't simply barge in and starting beating up uncle, can we?

The best is just get in between uncle and the poor boy who was still being held by his neck.

"Hoi!!!" I screamed while still running, to get uncle's attention. "Stop! Hoi! Stop!"

Ok better tell the others that there's no turning back and we should just jump in ....

Turned to face the Baywatch dudes just behind me...

... and I saw nothing...

... not a single person ...

... oh wait, I can make them out, there they are... still just outside Baywatch eagerly waiting to see what I would do.

Turned to the front again, and there was uncle, having let go of the boy, looking at me.

He moved forward. I began to retreat.

Then uncle gave a couple of flying kicks to the Mitsubishi (could have been my face).

Then he cursed at the boys, before getting into the BMW. The driver got in as well, and they drove off.

The four boys looked very relieved that uncle had gone away... last I remember they were looking for a lost slipper.

I went back to my car, ignoring the Baywatch onlookers. As I drove back, I was thinking.

It's not easy being a David Hasselhoff.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Take me home...

country roads.


It's a minor miracle I am here writing this.

It was dark, and it was pouring. And it was an unfamiliar town. It was past mid-night. The roads were long and straight, and it would take you quite a while to realise that you may actually be going in the wrong direction. It kinda reminded me of the Australian outback... one wrong turn and you may not find civilisation for days.

"Go straight down, turn right... follow sign boards... you'll be ok" - that was basically the gist of the instructions that my three lady friends gave me.

I got into my car, and it was still pouring.

Right, straight down and to the right I turned.

What a weird town. I was now going down a three-lane road, there was a divider to my left, and there were another three lanes going the same way.

Hmm... maybe we'll merge after the traffic lights...

But then, why are the traffic lights facing the other way?

Err... why are the arrows painted on the road pointing this way??

Oh my god.

Why are there headlights heading straight for me???

2009 is only a day old!!!

And then, ala the Fast & Furious and Impak Maksima, I did a 180-degree swing on the wet and slippery road.

Phew.

Now that I'm facing the right way, I guess I need to look for a u-turn somewhere down the road then.

Talk about leaving out some minor details! Ladies!