Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Note: One of the Egroup members posted a newspaper article with the above title. A law was passed in some country imposing the death penalty on Muslims who do not perform the obligatory prayers. Then this member whom we shall call "J" (whose second name is Kaur & therefore we assume she is a Sikh) posted a comment that she is glad she is not a Muslim. This sparked off a spate of angry response from Muslim lawyers and there were some responses from Christian lawyers trying to be helpful but who were inadvertantly drawn into the fray. It was turning rather nasty so I thought I should intervene before it goes too far. That stupid girl "J" exascerbated the situation in her response to these postings by calling Malay Muslims "You people" and referring to them as "Bumiputras who behave like they have just come out of a dungeon when they are overseas". She further commented "Why is your religion so complicated that you have so many different interpretations" or something to that effect. Why oh why are people so ignorant & foolhardy to the point of recklessness that they make such flippant and blase remarks about other people's religion & culture? Below was my response posted on 12 July 2006:-
Dear J (& everyone who have posted comments on this issue)
I have been following the discussion by members of this group on the Lina Joy case and now this. And so.... our level of communication with each other has now come to this - affectionately calling each other "you
people" and fondly relating the escapades of "Bumiputras behaving like they have come out of a dungeon whilst abroad". Making sweeping statements "why is your religion so complicated that you have so many different interpretations" and soon another person will respond with "why do you people have so many Gods" not realising that not all Indians are Hindus or the difference between Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians....Whilst others recklessly make further sweeping statements, though well-intentioned and without malice, like "you should be thankful she is still praying to the same one God" or "Isn't Jesus also a prophet in Islam so what's the big deal, its the same teachings" or something to that effect.
Then there are those who are Holier Than Thou - comparing which practitioner of which religion has more faith and fervour for their respective religion and not being satisfied with just that comparison, they seek to then distinguish between those who do diligently practise the religion and those who choose to practise only some parts of the religious requirements. Comments like these coming from Joe Bloggs (or Mat Motor) off the street, I can understand. But comments such as these from lawyers trained to apply coherent thought processes and objectivity above personal feelings & emotions, I find difficult to digest or comprehend. Soon we will be calling each other "terrorist" and "infidel" and so the tenous grip we have on our respect and courtesy for each other crumbles as we join the masses in our mudslinging frenzy.
In the backdrop to this scenario we have religious leaders who seem afflicted with some curious malady propelling them to pass strange edicts proclaiming "Kongsi-Raya" as a non-kosher activity and our police chieftain waking up one morning struck by a sudden brainwave (or a message from God perhaps?) announcing that from that day henceforth all policewomen shall don the headscarf regardless of race & religion. You start wondering - is this a cheap publicity stunt to justify their existence or are they experiencing a surge of religious fervour?
And so... our people are flung into this whirlpool of confusion as fear
seeps in - it's us against them, Muslims vs non Muslims, Extremists vs Moderates, Bumis vs non Bumis. Should we visit each other for Hari Raya? Oh yes, why not? We can visit our friends for Chinese New Year but choose not to partake in their food and drinks as perchance these oranges, peanuts and coca cola they serve may not be halal. And perish the thought of allowing our children to visit their friends of another race/religion.
Let us not get caught up with this national obsession over haram & halal causing a rift between and disrespect amongst fellow human beings. Let's take a good look at our children these days. Are they mingling like we used to at school? Let's not put all the blame on the Government or the religious leaders. Let's take some responsibility ourselves. When we, as lawyers, supposedly the last bastion of objectivity (if not sanity) left in this country, decide to jump into the same bandwagon and start calling each other "you people" and making references to "Bumiputras behaving like people out of a dungeon", what hope is there for our children? Let us go beyond tolerating each other, let us respect each other. In respecting each other, perhaps we should first refrain from making sweeping statements about religious practices and beliefs which we are not familiar with. Every religion & race has its fair share of bigots. Let's not judge the rest of the people practising these religions by the actions of a handful of bigots. We can choose - to either get carried away by this tidal wave of national dementia with underlying threats of people running "amok" when provoked or we can step back, observe objectively and use our rational thought processes before we make any comments, issue any response or decide on how to behave.
Let our strength of faith not be measured by how much we are willing to die or to kill for our religion but how much we are willing to love & forgive for our God.
This Alice would like to return to her Wonderland where she opens her school textbook and reads :-
"Ah Chong, Ali dan Gopal adalah kawan baik dan mereka pergi memancing ikan bersama-sama setiap hari Sabtu" and not remain in this Hinterland where she opens her emails and reads "You people are the ones.....coming out of your dungeons....".
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Note: DA replied and this was my response to him. As you can see it was written before the Bench & Bar Games (see my earlier posting on the Bench & Bar Games 2006). After this response, DA & I sent some private emails to each other to clear any tension/misunderstanding. We are friends now (I hope) though we have not met & he seems a really decent chap doing his best to make this world a better place.
Caveat :This is an incredibly long email and of very low importance and it also contains quotations from a book/play - so please delete immediately if you have better things to do.
I apologise to everyone (especially DA) for posting my reply to DA here. A number of people from this Egroup (most of whom I don't know) have phoned and emailed asking me how DA responded to my emails particularly "In defence of the Single Professional Woman" and requested that I post it in this E-group as it was started here and according to them is a matter of "public interest". I even had irate husbands calling me, defending their "kupas mango" rights. DA, I didn't want to forward your emails and my response surreptitiously and have them ricochet to & fro within the legal fraternity without your knowledge. Anyway you have stated and defended your position very well and I feel its only fair that others should be aware of your stand instead of thinking that you are daft or have been dumped or "talking crap". So lets have it out in the open. I just spotted your email replying to "In defence of the Single Professional Woman" (I don't check my gmail regularly) - the gist of which is the same as "Malaysian women suffer apartheid" so my response to both emails is below. _____________________________________________________________________________________
My Dear DA,
There's no need to break out into a rash over this ( a dash of calamine lotion and a sip of chamomile tea might soothe you). Kindly dismount from your precarious perch atop you high horse before you fracture your collarbone. Ofcourse I read Marina's letter. The full text was emailed to me personally before the abridged version appeared in the BBC news. As I said in my email dated 10.3.06, I was not challenging what she said in her text.
As for reading other publications which you contribute to in order to ascertain where you are coming from and your stand on certain issues, I can't be expected to scour all available publications however obscure todiscover what your views are on these issues. For all I know, you might also be contributing articles to Nestle's Quarterly Review - commenting on how their New Improved Formula One Baby Milk Powder has caused the decline in the number of women breast feeding in this country! Do I need to develop a whole new science of interpretation on what Dev Anand means before I can comment on what you have written? As for referring to your contributions to Harakah, I'm afraid the "Harakah" is not on my "Preferred Reading List ". I'd rather not expose myself to Hadi Awang's (the Ayatollah of South East Asia) rhetoric and diatribe.
When you say you are "well married", I'm not sure what you mean by that. I can understand "happily married" but "well married"? When we say a person "married well" it suggests that the person married someone who is wealthy or of an important position (or both). Just thinking aloud, you don't have to answer that. I'm really not that interested in how well you are married. (Oh, I think you have explained it in your 2nd email).
By the way, do forgive me for not responding instantly to you emails. I was preoccupied with the manuscript for my new book entitled " Toad Exodus". No, I am not writing about your summer holidays with your fellow emasculated Malaysian men at Camp Bravo. Not everything is about you.
"SO DON'T THINK I DON'T KNOW ABOUT WOMEN". Well hurrah for you! Not many men dare make such a lofty claim. As for your declaration "I fear no one except God, I will continue to write and express without fear or favour", I really don't feel that whatever I wrote merits such an impassioned outburst. Stop being such a drama queen. Heavens, there's no need to drag God into this. He has better things to do than to get embroiled in our little tete-a-tete.
Much as I would like to pursue this intellectual discourse and take it to the next level, I fear I may need to conserve my energy to fend off an onslaught of hate mail from Hadi Awang supporters and Harakah subscribers. However, from the gist of our enthusiastic repartee, I feel that we are fast becoming great friends. Perhaps we can settle this over a game of darts at the upcoming Bar Games in Langkawi (April 28,29 &30th). I assure you that you will win as I haven't a clue how to play darts. (Its not on my " Preferred Activity List"). If you don't know what I look like then kindly log on to the Malaysian Bar website, under Annual Dinner 2006 photos, last page (page 8) last picture. I am the one in the black & white polka dot outfit avec ribbon on my hair (supposedly my Mary Quant 60s look which sadly failed to convince or impress anyone...). If you are not attending the Bar Games, then feel free to print this picture and throw darts at it at your leisurely pleasure in the comfort of your own home. (The Harakah may also wish to publish this picture so that their readers may enjoy the same privileges. I recommend an hour of vigorous and aggressive dart throwing before you send me any hate mail).
Carry on writing DA! If I make the occassional jibe, it is merely out of sport. I don't mean to scoff at or belittle what you have written nor to offend. My friends say I have a wicked sense of humour though I do try to curb it, I fail miserably at times and someone has to bear the brunt of it. I apologise. I don't think you are stupid. In fact, can you direct me to the nearest sperm bank? I think its an excellent suggestion to cut out the middle man. (Sorry, there I go again - being irreverent).
To all the men out there, the next time you feel the need to exert your masculinity, I suggest you dig out your turbo-charged Black & Decker series 8000 and drill some nails into the wall or assemble some IKEA kitchen cabinets. Hanging out with your chums drinking beer somehow does not have the same impact.
And to those of you who rushed out to buy copies of "Pride & Prejudice", I'm afraid I have a slight amendment to make on my criteria for my ideal man. He should be reading "The Importance of Being Earnest" instead as I much prefer Oscar Wilde to Jane Austen.
To DA and all those I have offended (or bored with this long email or whose server has crashed because of this very long email), please accept my apology:-
"If we shadows have offended
think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear;
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And as I am an honest puck,
If we have unearned luck,
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue
We will make amends ere long,
Else the puck a liar call
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends"
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
See you at the Bar Games
I know I haven't been writing anything much in this space for a while. I'm just drained out and hopefully I can take the whole of next week off. Some months ago our lawyers' informal Yahoo group was disbanded. I won't go into the whys etc. I posted some things there in response to other members' postings and I decided I will post them all here without the other members' postings as I don't have their permission to do so but you can basically get the gist of the whole thing.
I spotted this letter (below) in the NST on Friday 17 March 2006. I wonder if this is the same DA who posted that email in this E-group on 9 March 2006 which sparked off the "What a load of crap" emails?
If it is the same person, then it seems that our DA has taken his crusade against professional women beyond this E-group onto a national level. Those who read his email (Majid, surely you must remember it..) will recall his lamentations on the plight of his emasculated fellow Malaysian men.
Quote (from his email): "Sperm banks and casual sex will become a norm and men will inadvertently become the subservient sex...Malaysian women have proven that they only need men to provide the sperm and the initials and ofcourse if he is rich, their agenda will be to suck him dry and make him regret of ever being born in the first place."
Now in his letter to NST (if it is the same person), he says "the Malaysian
professional woman is, I think, a lonely, frustrated individual who only sees her rights as being supreme".
Just out of curiousity DA (if you are reading this), I would like to know - Who rained on your parade? Who dumped you recently to provoke such bitter tirades against professional women who prefer to remain single? Perhaps you have handled one too many divorce cases and the acrimony you witnessed has left an indelible bitter taste in your mouth.
In your letter to the NST (by now I am convinced you are the same person
who wrote the email) you said that in your experience as a divorce lawyer, a number of women initiated the divorce because "they just can't stand having a poor husband or an intellectually inferior one". This comment does not make much sense. If this is an important criteria for getting married, surely these women would be able to gauge the man's financial status (conduct a due diligence exercise!) and his intellectual capacity before embarking into a marriage with him?
I wonder if you were just repeating the estranged husbands' interpretation on why the marriage broke down. Perhaps, being a male lawyer, the women you represented (if any) were not candid enough to share with you the real reasons for the marital breakdown. A common complaint amongst my married friends (women) on why they are dissatisfied with their marriage is not that the husband is poor or intellectually inferior but his poor or inferior performance in the boudoir. Women are more discerning these days - though I'm sure you would use the word "demanding" instead. Successful professional women are financially independent and know that they have choices in life. They will not put up with shoddy treatment nor shoddy anything else. Gone are the days when the husband sits in front of the telly watching football expecting his wife to "kupas mango" for him.
My single professional female friends are a happy and confident lot who don't sit around whingeing about how lonely and frustrated they are, waiting for someone to come along to make them happy. It is my married
friends (some, not all) who complain that they are lonely and frustrated -
living lives of quiet desperation, trapped in a dull marriage but staying
on for various reasons. Being married to someone does not guarantee
happiness or even the end of loneliness. Any woman who has such
expectations that marriage, a husband and a bunch of kids will make her a complete person and give her a sense of identity and she will live happily ever after has, I'm afraid, grown up chomping through a steady diet of Barbara Cartland and Mills & Boons. Books for the consumption of teenage girls should be rewritten to alleviate future disappointment when they discover that marriage is hard work. Both parties must make the effort to ensure the marriage works.
Marriage provides an opportunity for these individuals to grow. Unfortunately they forget that they are individuals and lose their identity in a marriage. They should learn to "stand together yet not too near together:..for..the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow" (Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet"). If the marriage does not allow them to grow spiritually then they must know when to let go. There are many reasons couples divorce - infidelity, breach of trust, domestic violence, lack of communication and respect or they have simply fallen out of love with each other. If these professional women are leaving their husbands because of their lack of money or intelligence then perhaps these husbands are not adding value to the marriage in other aspects. The breakdown of the marriage cannot solely be due to his lack of money or intelligence.
However, I must admit there are exceptions. A very dear male friend of
mine (a lawyer) was dumped by his girlfriend due to the lack of fine dining in the course of their relationship. Anyway, he is now happily married to a gorgeous MTV VJ.
I have friends who are highly successful in their careers, extremely
wealthy and intelligent who waited for the right man and married at the
age of 40. These men are nowhere near as wealthy, successful or (arguably) intelligent as these friends are but they are very kind, loving and respectful husbands. We, single professional women are not the
embittered, lonely, frustrated spinsters you portray us to be. Each of us have different preferences and criteria for the "right man". Should a man
possessing impeccable manners, who does not make promises he cannot keep, come crashing through my office window whilst bungee jumping from the rooftop of our office building (preferably whilst reading Pride &
Prejudice) and lands on my lap, then I may consider marrying him.
Otherwise, I am quite happy to remain single.
There, have I succeeded in "corrupting the others who believe in the
institution of marriage"? These views are my personal views and not
reflective of the views of other professional women, single or married.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I was getting ready for work one morning recently and was half listening to the news on the radio. I heard bits and pieces (pardon the pun) on some Mongolian woman being bombed and I remember thinking to myself that it must be some other country. In fact my first thought was that it was some espionage matter and a spy was caught and blown up.
When I reached the office and looked at the papers, I was shocked - this woman was blown up in Malaysia!!! When did we become so dangerous?? And there I was complaining about these Bollywood movies depicting KLIA as some terrorist meeting point. And we are told that she was blown up for harrassing her ex boyfriend. And this ex boyfriend of hers... is a person I had seen on telly many times - a charming, eloquent & intelligent chap who doesn't look like he could hurt a fly. I know people say that it's the nice mild looking chaps who end up chopping their wives into pieces and shoving them down the incinerator but... this guy... I think not.
It really does not make any sense at all. This is no stupid fella acting out of panic. Even though we are reminded daily that he is a "prominent political analyst" I must point out that many people including my colleagues have never heard of him. So what has he got to lose if his alleged "affair" is discovered? He is not a politician in a high position. Even if he is, I doubt if it would hurt his political career if it is discovered that he had an affair and a love child. Rare indeed is a male politician who is not committing adultery (my personal opinion) and even more rare is a person who will condemn him for committing adultery. It's just too much to swallow this absurd story that he blew up and/or hired someone to blow up his ex girlfriend. First the papers said that she has a child whom she claimed to be his. He very confidently said that it is impossible that that child is his. What makes a man so sure that a child borne by his "girlfriend" is not his? I can only think of the following:-
a. he is impotent;
b. he underwent some operation which made him unable to have children; or
c. (which is my theory) he never slept with her in the first place and that she is not his girlfriend.
Now if that is the case, why is she harrassing him. Who is her lover .. sorry "was" not "is"... Obviously she knew him and it appears that her family has met him too. They purportedly have pictures of them together and receipts of jewellery he has given her. Diamonds. How much does a political analyst running a research centre earn to enable him to shower diamonds on his girlfriend and take her on trips abroad? Am I in the wrong profession here?? Let me ask the obvious - is he the boyfriend or the go between for the boyfriend. Messenger Boy. On the otherhand, I thought to myself, I may be a trifle fanciful and it is a straightforward case of an affair gone wrong where perhaps an innocent request to some police officials to "help me deal with this problem" is interpreted as "help me get rid of this problem".
The papers came out with this "rm 30, 000 (or was it usd 30, 000?) payment to the police to deal with the woman" story. Is this plausible? rm 30,000 for police personnel from the highly trained Special Action Force team (one of whom is a chief inspector) to use C-4 plastic explosives (not hand grenades - as we were initially led to believe). There is also his background story. Not very colourful but there are some interesting points to note. Our political analyst was involved in a defence deal in 2002 where a company controlled by him and his associates brokered a submarine contract which earned them around 10% of the eventual cost of the submarines. Is this irrelevant information? By the way who is the Defence Minister? And by the way who does he report to? With all his political research? Hullo, does this ring any bells at all. So what other "deals" does he broker or is he a "middleman" to???
In addition to all that, this woman speaks Russian and was an interpreter. We have some defence deals with Russia where we purchase their defence equipment etc. Was she involved in any of these deals? As the interpreter perhaps .... Yes, yes, some will say it's all fanciful conspiracy theory ....
But then TODAY... in the newspapers, the chap's distraught wife makes these very telling statements that you don't even have to read between the lines:-
"My husband is innocent ... (ok this is a normal statement for a distraught wife) He has been framed (very brave statement)."
"My husband is not a politician (yes, my sentiments exactly). He is not the Prime Minister. Neither does he want to be the Prime Minister." Bingo. Big arrow pointing at ... hmmm...I wonder who....
I shall leave you all to connect the dots yourselves ....
I wrote the above piece much earlier but did not post it. Today in the papers Karpal Singh is quoted - asking similar questions .... in fact he is more direct. He asked:
- which high level Minister is involved in this;
- he asked about the defence deals;
- he asked what did the wife mean when she said "He is not the Prime Minister and neither does he want to be the Prime Minister".
I'm sure everyone is waiting anxiously for the case to come to trial. I hope the truth will be unveiled.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I suppose in a spate of anger over Singapore and all things Singaporean, I decided to cut off my only tie to Singapore.... yes, SL (Singapore Lawyer). I know this is irrational behaviour but hey, I'm a woman. I am entitled to be irrational. Especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Here is my email to him. Actually, the bit about me only just finding out his full name and that he may be married is just me being melodramatic. I knew his full name from the start and this thing about him being married is just my over zealous friend checking out on him and finding out about the wrong guy who is more than 10 years older than him...
Please don't think he is a cad. He is actually a lovely person. Just very absorbed in his work and, being Singaporean, making money....a national pastime I'm afraid...
It is with a heavy heart that I write this. Prudence compels me to end our brief relationship if at all I may call it that. I have known you for over 6 months now and yet I know very little about you. In fact it is only recently that I discovered your full name. Unless you are working for the Mossads, I see no reason for this secrecy or evasiveness and lack of communication. (However a friend informed me that you, or rather a Singaporean lawyer with your name, are married to a Chinese woman. I chose to ignore this piece of information or misinformation - especially when he described you as "balding", an affliction which obviously you are not suffering from. Moreover, I suspect the bearer of this news has ulterior motives. Unless ofcourse you choose to confirm this which would at least explain your behaviour).
To soften the harshness of my words, let me at least tell you that my instincts tell me that you are a decent person and did not mean to mess or fool around with me or my feelings. However, I am not willing to continue with our sporadic encounters and put up with this total lack of communication especially in view of today's efficient telecommunications and transportation services. Granted that plans for our scenic bridge have been scrapped but I'm sure, given some thought, you would have found some alternative way of reaching here.
I have thoroughly enjoyed your company during our brief encounters and find you a very charming and pleasant person to be with. You have excellent manners and one of things I found most endearing about you is your thoughtfulness especially the time when we were out for dinner one evening and you reached out to take my spoon and wiped it thoroughly with a napkin before giving it back to me. I must have fallen in love with you at that moment. That is why this is a painful decision to make. Distance is obviously an issue here. Although race is not an issue with me, religion may prove to be an issue in the future. That is why I don't see any sense in prolonging a relationship which seems doomed from the start.
I sincerely wish you all the best in your life and if one day you need any advice on relationships, I will be happy to talk to you about it. I think it would be better for you to seek advice from a woman than your male friends and you may be reluctant to consult your mother or your sister on these issues.
To be fair, I can only presume that your actions (or lack thereof) and behaviour are due to years of conditioning in your restrictive environment in Singapore coupled with the reputed aggressiveness of your women. I hope you don't mind me giving you some friendly advice which may prove to be helpful in your future pursuits:-
1. Don't be fobbed off by this day & age's concept of equality & women's independence - they still love to be courted and pursued.
2. One of the most effective ways of showing your interest and concern is by calling them regularly to find out how they are especially if you don't get a chance to see them often. Sending curt text messages full of abbreviations somehow does not count.
3. If you are really crazy over them or serious about them, then you may send them gifts occasionally. I strongly advise you not to send any red velvet love cushions unless the girl you are pursuing is below 18 years of age. If she is below 18 years old, then I suggest that you also seek therapy. Otherwise you should move to Malaysia where it is perfectly acceptable behaviour for men above 30 to pursue girls below 18. Do not give any serious jewellery unless you are planning to marry her. Exceptions can be made if she looks like Angelina Jolie.
4. NEVER ever make promises you cannot keep eg don't tell her you are going to call the next day and not call or tell her you will see her the next week and not show up. Major faux pas! Such behaviour will prompt her 20 friends (whom I assure you that she will consult) into convincing her that you are unreliable and untrustworthy & therefore will not make a good boyfriend let alone a good potential husband.
But if the woman you are pursuing is a Singaporean, then I'm afraid I can't help you there. Their behaviour is totally alien to me from what I observed at the recent Bar Games in Langkawi.
I am truly sorry this has not worked out. Six months is all I am willing to give to suss out your character and as you know, time is always of the essence.... I wish you every happiness in your life.
With affection always,
I wish to add more advice on the purchase of gifts for the benefit of any men reading this. If you wish to be more adventurous than the usual flowers & chocolates, let's say you wish to buy her a handbag..., please, please consult the latest Vogue magazine. Do not rely on your own taste as men are known to have atrocious taste in women's apparel & accessories. Should you be on intimate terms with your girlfriend, you may wish to buy some lingerie. Polyester is a big no no. Buy silk, lace and/or satin. You can't go wrong with known brands like Victoria's Secret, La Perla, Aubade, Simone Pirelle, Chantelle...sigh... It's best to know her size first. Lingerie shops are very reluctant to exchange any goods sold due to hygiene reasons. Asking her directly for her size may not be a good idea and will spoil the surprise. You could check her undergarments whilst she is asleep. Sending roses is quite boring. Try some exotic selection of flowers. Let the florist decide. Some eucalyptus leaves added to the bouquet would be a nice touch. Should you find yourself wanting to keep the bouquet for yourself, then I advise you to check your internal gaydar. For those who are not quite "with it", a gaydar is the radar to spot gay tendencies...
Ok, are you still there...stay with the programme please guys, stay with the programme. It's not that difficult to please a woman. Just concentrate a bit more here and put down that TV remote control - there will be sports shown on telly all day (you subscribed for that particular channel remember).
Whatever you do, do not, do not buy her any fake designer stuff. You will be instantly lumped under the "Utter Pillock" category. Even if she is already in love with you, she will be forced to give you up so as not to lose face with her friends who will no doubt give her that "you poor thing, having to put up with that pillock" look whenever she sees them. Furthermore, you don't want her arrested at l'aeroport in Paris for carrying a fake Louis Vuitton bag.
Sigh, I'm already bored writing this. Anyone who wants more advice on this please email me at
Caveat: women needing advice on how to find the right guy, well, I'm not the right person to ask. Go find someone else to advise you - and if you find this person, please be kind enough to forward me his/her email address. Men needing shopping advice - yes, I am the right person to ask ie if you are shopping for a prezzie for your girlfriend. If you are a cross dresser, you are still most welcome to email me for advice.
In the meantime, let me go wallow in my sorrow for a while. Au revoir my little red dot....
Sunday, October 08, 2006
A Malaysian lawyer (S. Tan) has posted a reply to my posting - asking whether I actually READ the annex to Lee Kuan Yew's letter before I made my comments ... He tries to draw me into discussion on the MERITS of LKY's comments. This is my reply:-
My Dear ST,
Thank you for your concern that I may have overlooked the venerable Lee Kuan Yew's annex to his letter of "apology" (not his speech unless you are referring to some speech he made which I did not have the pleasure of hearing or reading). Rest assured that I did read it. It would be rather remiss of me to ignore this masterpiece which he has painstakenly compiled and collated for our enlightenment. One can expect nothing less from a person who has throughout his political career shown great passion in his campaign/fight to champion democracy, freedom of speech and equality in the country which he founded.
I am sure his efforts to enlighten us dullards in Malaysia is based on his genuine concern over the plight of the Chinese living in Malaysia and Indonesia (his immediate neighbours). I am not under Lee Kuan Yew's category of "successful ...hard working" persons so I am sure you will forgive me if I doubt his sincerity in both his apology to our Prime Minister and his concern over the Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia. If you notice, in the incidences he quoted in his annex, the remarks made by our politicians were mainly made to a Malay audience which from my interpretation boils down to basic "scare tactics" by saying "you better buck up or you will end up like the Malays in Singapore" and "you are lucky that you didn't suffer the same fate as the Malays in Singapore". Had Lee Kuan Yew made his speech to a group of Chinese Singaporeans in some Chinese Assembly Hall in Singapore, then yes, I will accept it as "quid pro quo" and let the matter rest. BUT he delivered his speech to an international audience - "in a free flowing dialogue session with former US secretary of treasury ... before many foreign delegates attending the International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting . Ignoring for now, my reference to his "senile moment" which was made in jest, to me, these remarks were made with mischievous intent and are deliberately provocative. Lee Kuan Yew, whilst masquerading his attacks on Malaysia as concern on the plight of the Chinese, has served a blow on Malaysia on an international level which we cannot choose to ignore. And why did he do this? At this particular forum which he strategically chose? A person will attack when he is feeling insecure. And why is he insecure of his neighbours. The reason can only be economics ... ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.
Yes, we can play into his hands and talk about the MERITS of what he said. By all means, lets do that in our own time. But lets not do it just because he provoked us into it. Let us not give him that satisfaction. He has a different agenda and believe me, the Chinese in Indonesia & Malaysia are the least of his concerns. Is he really setting himself up as the champion of all Chinese outside of China? I'm sure he would like that if they would pay him the slightest bit of attention. Maybe, if it was Nelson Mandela who made those remarks, I would find it more palatable. And you will challenge me - what does it matter who the messenger is, it is the message that is important. To me it is most audacious for the founder of an authoritarian country which demands abject obeisance from its subjects to lecture us on equality and freedom.
Well, ST, I understand your desire to have an open discussion on the issues Lee Kuan Yew raised. I, on the otherhand, am not politically savvy nor do I have any interest in politics so I hope there are others who are willing to be drawn into this discussion. My posting was mainly on the "apology" sent by Lee Kuan Yew not on the merits of his remarks. If you can find a solution to these issues without any bloodshed, then I will be the first to support you. To me, if these issues were raised by Karpal Singh or Lim Kit Siang, then I have no problem with that. But when we are being attacked by an outsider (who can only stand to gain by our downfall) then, as Malaysians, we must close ranks and defend our country.
KESETIAAN KEPADA RAJA DAN NEGARA.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Yesterday (3 Oct 2006), The STAR carried the headline "No intention to meddle" and starts boldly with "REGRET " whilst The New Straits Times proudly displayed in its front page "Lee Says Sorry" - thus trumpeting our triumph loudly, making us believe that we have extracted an apology from Lee Kuan Yew.
Puhleez, Lee Kuan Yew has done everything BUT apologise to Malaysia and our Prime Minister for his remarks, so stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes and make us the laughing stock in Singapore. He has not shown any regret nor remorse for what he has said! We must be very daft and gullible indeed to believe that this letter even remotely resembles an apology. Anyone who reads this letter and comes to that conclusion needs to go for some English classes. There is a vast difference between saying "I'm sorry for what I said" and "I'm sorry that what I said caused you discomfort." In the first instance you are apologising for making those comments and in the second you are apologising for the consequences of your comments. IT IS NOT THE SAME THING. Read the whole letter. The Minister Mentor has the gall to justify his comments in his unconvincing attempt to "apologise".
Lee Kuan Yew could be taking his cue from Pope Benedict who recently "apologised" by saying "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address... which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims." Here the Pope thinks that Muslims cannot speak or understand English very well. He is not sorry for what he said (or rather what he quoted somone else to have said) BUT that he is sorry for the reactions it caused. Perhaps the Pope and Lee Kuan Yew employed the services of the same consultants to concoct their "apology" address/letter. Does the United Nations provide a standard precedent/template for world leaders to dish out everytime they offend a group of people - entitled " How to Say Sorry Without Actually Saying Sorry for What You Said"? If so President Bush (Friend of Singapore) should be given a copy. He doesn't even bother to apologise for anything and whilst we are at it, send one to Israel also (another Friend of Singapore).
Here are some excerpts from Lee Kuan Yew's letter which is supposed to convince us that this is an apology:-
"... you need a strong government who'll be able to, not only have the gumption, but the skill to say "No" in a very quiet, polite way that doesn't provoke them into doing something silly ". How arrogant and condescending can you get? Stop patronising us Kuan Yew! It is times like this that I miss the acerbic wit of our previous Prime Minister ,Tun Dr Mahathir (who wouldn't suffer fools like Lee Kuan Yew gladly) and I value the wisdom and foresight of Tunku Abdul Rahman in booting Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore out of Malaysia.
Then there is this part where he tries to "ampu" our Prime Minister where he says "Since you took over as Prime Minister..., relations between our two countries have much improved. Singaporeans... appreciate this..... I am so sorry ... (blah blah) after a decade of troubled relations with your predecessor, it is the last thing I wanted." Yeah sure, we were born yesterday Kuan Yew.
Our gentle, peace loving, non controversial Prime Minister has "taken note" of Lee Kuan Yew's "apology". Perhaps we should be magnanimous enough to forgive Lee Kuan Yew, bearing in mind his advanced age, he may have been having a "senile moment" when he made those comments. He should be referred to as Minister Mental instead. We should allow him to live his twilight years immersed in his fantasy that what he says has some impact on the rest of the world ... this founder of an insignificant dot on the world map he calls a country.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Tomorrow nite is the Firm's Sports Club dinner. I am one of those stubborn people who didn't join the Sports Club. It's not about the RM5 we have to contribute every month, it's just that I don't want to join in any activities as I don't play any of the games they have in the Sports Club. Ok ok, I am anti social... Anyway the theme is Retro Nite ie 60s, 70s fashion.
I don't feel left out that I can't attend this dinner becoz I'm not a member but since last week, my colleagues especially the secretaries have been hounding me to join the Sports Club so that I can attend. Today, I can't even go to the loo or pantry in peace - every corner I turn there will be a secretary literally begging/harrassing (in a very cute way) me to attend the party. I am now feeling very guilty & awful that I am spoiling their fun. They are saying that the party won't be fun if I don't attend. It's not that I'm such a party animal - I don't even drink alcohol (not sure if I can even spell it properly) so I won't be jumping about screaming like a loony. It's just becoz its Retro Nite and there is a Best Dressed competition. One secretary said "We all have come to the conclusion that this party will not be complete if you don't attend as you are our fashion icon. Come lah, I will pay for your Sports Club contribution..." I was so stunned. I thought they were just teasing me or joking but they were serious. Another secretary said "Actually, quite a lot of people are happy you are not coming.... (I didn't realise I was so unpopular...) now we have a chance of winning the Best Dressed if you are not there...".
Today they are resorting to emotional blackmail - "You don't want to mix with us, we are just the staff and you don't bother to join us in this party..." Five minutes ago 1 of the secretaries came in with a Sports Club membership form, telling me that she will just leave it on my desk to think about it.... Half an hour ago another secretary came in, interrupted my conversation with Bespectacled and pleaded with me to go "come lah...please, its no fun if you don't go..." Bespectacled said to me after she left "They want the Devil to go becoz then they can get away with anything becoz the Devil will get all the blame." Then he chided me "Why can't you join us at this party and not be so imperious & join us common folk ... " Sigh, what do I do? It's too late to change my mind. I haven't psyched myself up to going to this party. For me to attend any large gathering or even a dinner for 5, I need to psyche myself up at least 2 weeks before - that's how anti-social I am. I know it sounds ridiculous but part of the reason I didn't join the Sports Club & now do not want to go to this party is becoz I feel awkward- I don't fit in. I'm a maverick of sorts and stick out like a sore thumb. What I didn't realise is that just by attending this party, I would make some people happy and these are members of the staff. They told me that not many lawyers treat them like people and that I am one of the few lawyers who is courteous to them. That's really strange - I thought that the reason you have the Sports Club is to break the barriers & mingle and not differentiate between partners, lawyers & staff. Obviously they have not achieved this.
Anyway I haven't recovered from my trip to Johor Bharu with my Clients. I had to attend a negotiation in JB and went down in my Client's car with my colleague. I sat at the back leaving the 2 men to chat in front. Guess what... my client (the Director) has a red velvet Love Cushion at the back seat.... When I saw it I could literally hear God laughing at me. That nite in JB we all had dinner/meeting to discuss strategy. The 3 Malay men (which includes my colleague) were puffing away at their cigarettes. The 2 French men refrained from smoking. I was choking away. I told them earlier that I'm asthmatic and I can't take cigarette smoke - but do they care.... well, I didn't expect them to - being Malaysian men. Anyway, that nite I had difficulty sleeping as I started wheezing and I didn't bring my inhaler. So the next morning I woke up really early to have breakfast. I didn't want to sit with them in case I'm caught up in all that smoke haze again so I went down really early to eat by myself. At the coffee house I told the waitress specifically "No smoking area please". She pointed me to the general direction of the non smoking area. I plonked myself at this small table (for 2 persons) thus, further circumventing anyone else from joining me. There I was, chomping through my eggs on toast whilst reading thru the Concession Agreement in peace... There was this Malay man sitting at a table next to me. He looked familiar but I didn't want to say so in case I'm mistaken & I have not met him before & he thinks I'm a solicitor of the old fashioned kind (oldest profession in the world if you get my drift...) doing a spot of "marketing" early in the morning.... Then I noticed the guy sitting at the table next to him was smoking. My neighbour then took out a cigarette and was about to light it. I looked at him in alarm... checked his table and saw an ashtray there. Darn! I was sitting at a SMOKING area!! Damn that waitress! Next thing I know, this very kind gentleman who noticed my alarm, put away his cigarette. Just by that act, he redeemed all Malay men for me. Here I was thinking all Malay men are inconsiderate louts.
The Government building we went to for our meeting was very beautiful - very colonial, majestic, imposing, impressive.... from the outside. As we stepped in, I felt like I was in a train station in Pakistan. The meeting went well. Our clients took us to this really yummy restaurant (coffee shop) run by a bald Chinese man and his family to eat "Ikan Asam pedas". Superb food!!!
I took a lift from one of our partners who attended the meeting - it's his file ie he is the partner in charge of this project. He had driven down that morning to attend this meeting. There was no Love Cushion in his car but I had to put up with at least 4 continuous hours of depressing Malay songs and him (and my colleague) chomping thru 2 big packets of Keropok Udang in his BMW. Now you know why I haven't recovered yet from the trip. I now feel qualified to compose my own depressing Malay song. Bespectacled said the word "depressing" is redundant (ie all Malay songs are depressing). Here goes...
Aku ditimpa cinta yang tragis
Seperti di sengat serpen (this is my malay version of "serpent")
Di telan oleh Raksaksa Bumi dan di luahkan kedalam api membara
Aduh pedihnya sakitnya aku diseksa begini
Aku cuba merangkak dari tangkapan hatiku yang membara, berlumuran dengan lumpur cintaku
Berdaki dengan titisan air mataku
Hancur diriku yang telah dicincang dengan kejamnya
Menyimpan harapan dengan pilu agar kau akan bertemu engan aku sekali lagi
....dengarlah tangisanku yang penuh tragis
dan kepahitan cintaku untuk mu bagaikan tertelan seratus biji panadol...oooh...ohhh...ooooohhh....
There - enough to make you lie down on the tracks of the bullet train to Singapore!
My mum will have a fit if she reads this. I have never used the words "aku" "kau" "awak" "engkau" before in my life. We were not allowed to by my mum. She says its rude to use those words. I once had someone refer to me as "awak" and I remember how that really jarred on my nerves. Anyway, I have to use these words in this song becoz it's commonly used in the Malay songs. What happened to the Hang Tuah & P.Ramlee days when people were more courteous and refined in their language? People referred to each other as "Tuan hamba" not "awak". Where did this "awak" come from?????
On Monday, my client - the Director - called me. He told me that during the weekend he had to attend a company function and he sat next to his Big Boss - who is the main shareholder of the company. Actually they are new clients and have, since we took on the first project recently, given us another project of another company they own. So I'm now handling 2 of their projects. At this function his Big Boss told him "you know that lawyer you hired....she was sitting next to me at breakfast in Johor that morning and she didn't even recognise me (I met him once at a meeting). Then I saw that this guy next to me is smoking so I thought of having a cigarette too. I noticed that she looked at me and checked my table whether there is an ashtray... I felt so bad, I had to put away my cigarette!!" Omigod!! That was my client!!!! Apparently he was there for some other mission and went down early for breakfast becoz he didn't want anyone to see him either. The Director told me not to worry becoz the Big Boss was rather amused by the whole incident. Groan....maybe I should start smoking to get over this aversion to cigarette smoke and smokers.
It's now Friday - tonite is the Sports Club dinner. I'm not going - as I have explained before...But gosh it's really tough to walk around the office this morning. I went to the pantry to get my Milo and my boss' secretary came and put her arm around me, walking me all the way back to my room asking me to go tonite. Then I went to a colleague's room to get something. When I left, 2 secretaries flanked me on each side, linking their arms to mine & walked along with me "come lah...come lahh tonite...its no fun without you...look you are even dressed for it..." I am wearing my Versace geometric design pants and Chloe top (1st line). At one narrow part of the corridor we got stuck and a lawyer was trying to pass from the opposite direction ... & we all got stuck at that corridor laughing away. People trying to pass by asked "what's going on here". So I replied "I'm being ambushed by these people". Sigh, I feel really bad for not going. I know I'm being anal about this. If they had asked non members to pay for a ticket to attend the dinner then I would go. But to force people to join the Sports Club... I just don't agree with this. This is the Sports Club dinner & not the Firm's Annual Dinner (which we are not having anyway... I don't think we had one since er...I can't really remember when - maybe 3 years ago or more).
Anyway next week there will be several dinners to attend. My ZICO alumni (unofficial) dinner get together. It's just a small group of us who were at ZICO at the same time - those who used to hang out together for lunch. There's Sulip, Anita, June, Farah, Amir.. have I missed anyone out? Yes Khemo..(Khem actually). Is Andrew joining us this time round? Has anyone invited Andrew... June, I know you read this Blog sometimes. June has moved on to greener pastures, earning mega bucks (according to Sulip) in the oil&gas industry. Sulip is COO & acting CEO of a listed company. Amir is the legal eagle of our budget airline so it's hard to get him for dinner as he hardly ever in KL. Andrew & "P" (another ex ZICO) I hear now own a power plant - am I correct in saying this guys?? We call him Androo....Anita is busy buying houses to decorate (she's very talented). That's scheduled for Wednesday. Thursday (21st sept) is my birthday and my friend Terrie has been busy trying to organise a "surprise" party. Finally she told me the original plan was to go out to some remote area (countryside) to some lovely kampung style house/restaurant (by appointment only) where this lady will cook some authentic Malay dishes. But she requires a minimum of 10 persons. So when Terrie told me this, my first response was "I have 10 friends aa??" It's true but not (to me) sad. I don't have that many close friends. Shila lives in Australia, Gigi lives in New Zealand, Olivia is in Sabah, my ex Zico friends I'm already seeing on Wednesday, and my other friends either don't know each other or can barely tolerate each other.... I'm not going to make them sit thru dinner with each other. So, as predicted, Terrie could not find 10 people to come for this dinner on Saturday. We are going to this restaurant called Precious China (or something like that) in Central Market on Friday nite instead. Even then, I hear there's some dispute - some of them want to go to a Brazilian restaurant....sigh, we'll see what happens next week. I hope I can make the ZICO dinner. My client threatens to arrange a meeting in JB again next week for Wed/Thurs....I think I should go buy myself an ipod thingy or portable CD player... Can't take another 8 hours of depressing Malay songs....
Have a Great Weekend!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Its almost 8pm and tomorrow is Merdeka Day!!! Am still in the office waiting for my friend Zoe to pick me up for dinner. She wants to eat middle eastern food - lamb. She also wants me to take her to a place where she can "cuci mata". It literally means "wash eyes". It's a Malay saying for looking at something pleasing ie the opposite sex... no, I'm not being politically correct... whatever sex turns you on then...not necessarily the opposite sex. Friends nowadays are not easy to please. Not only am I buying her dinner and entertaining her with my anecdotes, now I have to find a place where she can feast her eyes on some hunky men. Zoe likes men in uniform. We might as well fly to New York & check out NYPD. Seriously, another friend of mine (senior single female lawyer) went to New York for a holiday and she too likes men in uniform - she told me she actually dropped by NYPD (New York Police Department) and was drooling at the police officers there! I asked her sarcastically whether she made it to the Fire Department and she said with deep regret "No unfortunately I didn't have enough time".
Bespectacled dropped by my room earlier. My room must be the warmest room on this floor as I have 2 huge windows which I keep open all the time. Its been raining A LOT lately and the office is like a Siberian gulag. First thing he said as he opened my door is "Wow, I have just landed in Hawaii after taking a flight from Boston!". Another colleague Catherine popped by after he left to thaw out in my room for a few minutes. Bespectacled came in to complain about his sister-in-law's loser husband who is cheating on her. She discovered the affair after reading a text message on his phone "I want to bite - suck you tonight". Sigh, Malay couples are really surprising me these days... I asked him "is he good looking?" So Bespectacled said "If you see the ugliest looking labourer on your way back, he is negative 100% below that." This loser husband is also a sponger. His overseas education was paid for by his rich father-in-law. His wife had to pawn her jewellery to pay for the household bills because she is too embarrassed to tell her family.
Yeah, so the guy's a bastard but... who allowed him to be that way? Why, why, why do women do this to themselves? Act the martyr?? Her excuse is because they have young children. Why do women love to be victims all the time in an abusive relationship?? I don't have the answer to that. Anyway, Bespectacled has kindly told me that no Malay man would want to go out with me because I'm too fierce for them.... Yes,... and I want to go out with them ....???? The feeling is mutual - I'm not their cup of tea and neither are they mine.
Whilst I'm on this topic, I must confess that I have met up with SL (Singapore Lawyer) twice since the Bench & Bar Games. He came up to KL once and I went over to Singapore recently. I find him very endearing. My female Indian friends (all lawyers) are full of doom & gloom over this...quote "you are going out with an Indian man?? they make lousy boyfriends. They never call you and don't know how to manja you (actually, I can live with that - this whole manja-manja thing makes my skin crawl...). They really don't know how to woo a woman. And on top of that he is Singaporean! That's even worse!!!" I thought I should get a second or rather fifth opinion so I asked my male Indian friend (also a lawyer). He said "You know why we don't date an Indian woman - or call her after the first date? If we go on a second date, her family will start printing the wedding cards already... Don't listen to this stupid advice - there's nothing wrong with Indian men....God, if you listen to them then I will never have a chance with you, what's this rubbish about not calling after the first date? You want me to call you, sure, I can make phone calls after that..." Sigh, so much for unbiased opinion from a good friend! Another Indian girlfriend said "Hullo, he is Hindu right & you are Muslim.... no way his Amma & Appa are going to allow this..." Hullo! I only met him twice after Langkawi. I'll worry about Amma & Appa later if this goes anywhere. Poor chap is being disected, scrutinised and taken to pieces before it can get anywhere....ooops Zoe is here. Got to go. Happy Merdeka Day everyone!!!
Monday, August 28, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
This is our team's project in The Firm. The lawyers were split into about 4 teams (or is it 5?) to come up with a team project. One of the teams held a charity movie nite "Pirates of the Caribbean" and that was great fun. They collected several thousands for charity. Another team organised a blood donation drive in our building. I knew that my blood would be rejected as I was in the UK throughout the 80s so when the lawyers & staff asked me to go with them for the blood donation, I replied "I can't donate blood - I am gay and promiscuous!" You should have seen the stunned looks on the secretaries & junior lawyers faces....A senior lawyer said to me later on "I think you rather shocked them - they are not used to your warped sense of humour like we are..."
Our team is called the Gamma Team. We decided to Save the Turtles by raising money to adopt a turtle & its nest under the World Wild Life Fund project. And how did we plan to raise money? By selling breakfast to the staff, lawyers & partners of The Firm. There are around 11 lawyers in each team. Our team consisted mainly of junior lawyers. I was the odd one out. My friends, the senior lawyers were all in the same team. Each team is headed by a partner (but ofcourse...). My friends came to the conclusion that their team leader couldn't stomach having me in their team so I was lumped into the other team. Which turned out to be great fun for me. I got to know people whom I wouldn't normally hang out with & discovered how cool they really are. Five years in The Firm and I am still learning new things about myself. Being here made me give other people a chance and not stereotype people as boring, losers, dullards, irritating etc....
For the whole week we, the lawyers took breakfast orders from everyone in The Firm, discussed menu, where to get supplies, paper cups etc. I didn't realise that you had to buy the lids to the cups separately. Our partner instructed one of our lawyers to hang out at MacDonalds and retrieve discarded paper cup lids!!! You should have seen his face!! Luckily I had the foresight to ask the secretaries where we could purchase these lids & cups. Lawyers should be the last people to consult on such things. Sure enough, one of the secretaries volunteered to buy the cups & lids at the pasar malam (night market). This secretary not only went out of her way to buy 300 paper cups & lids but donated it to us as her contribution to our Turtle Fund. She refused to take any money from us & it must have cost her about RM60. We were very touched by the gesture.
Lucky I objected to the idea of us making our own sandwiches. I told them that even I would not buy this breakfast if we made these sandwiches. We finally decided to order kuih, nasi lemak & mee goreng from a nearby supplier. On the 1st day, the 2 lawyers in charge of making drinks were the 2 male lawyers from the Construction Department. 1 of them had to tell the client that he had "urgent" matters to attend to at the office and another lawyer had to have his case adjourned in order to come in to do his rounds of serving breakfast...and the next day whilst he is in court with the judge shouting at the other lawyers, he is answering our frantic phone calls of "we are short of one nasi lemak!!!" I was in Singapore on the 1st day (Monday). By the time I came in the next day, the staff all came up to me saying "Ohmy God, you were not here...we had constipation & could not sleep all night...the 2 male lawyers made such thick coffee....by this morning, when we overheard them in the pantry asking "should we put 5 teabags or 2 teabags in the pot?" we cannot tahan anymore...we decided to go in and help them before we all suffer from constipation again today!"
Wednesday was my first day of serving breakfast & making drinks. By then the tea lady was fed up of us making a mess of the pantry and made the coffee & tea for us! When I went around to serve everyone, balancing this tray of drinks, the staff said "this must be the most expensive cup of coffee ever...we get S.. to serve us coffee.."
All in all it was great fun. Everyone enjoyed the food and the thrill of having the lawyers serve them. It promoted camaraderie and we made enough to adopt 6 turtles and a nest. Well, we haven't really decided how many turtles & how many nests yet. Our profit margin was very low as we wanted as many people to enjoy the breakfast as we could. Some of the partners & lawyers sponsored their secretaries' breakfast for the whole week. One of the senior partners interrogated me "why are you saving the turtles??" So I said "well, an elephant is more expensive to save..." and he retorted "Are you insulting me???" (he is on the large side...). Then he asked if we took any insurance to cover us against any liability...sigh...caveat emptor. "Eat at your own risk" I said. So far no one has died this week from our breakfast & drinks. Anyway, we are now setting our sights at the Elephant Sanctuary as our next project...
Sigh, I am going to miss the breakfast next week. We were all enjoying the food and the excitement in the morning. We had to cover 3 floors. We had around 70 sets of breakfasts to distribute daily and timed ourselves. Today, the last day, was the best time. First day was the worst ofcourse with all the teething problems. Staff & lawyers are begging us to extend to end of the month but our team is flat out exhausted! We may sell cup cakes towards the end of the month.
So please remember everyone - stop eating turtle eggs! Stop throwing rubbish at our beaches and into the sea. And Don't Buy artifacts, curios & food made from TURTLES.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Ajit Bhaskaran Dass
Ajit is one of my favourite persons...that's one thing Ajit & I share in common as he is his own favourite person....He is the one I refer to as "Miss Diva", a nickname My Cousin & I coined during the time he generously performed for My Cousin's foundation in aid of destitute single mothers. He never fails to take my breath away when I watch him dance.
I first saw Ajit dance in Saayudja, his solo bharatanatyam performance in KL. From the moment I saw him dance, my soul was greatly moved. For no apparent reason at all I started weeping and that was only at the beginning of the dance when nothing remotely tragic was being enacted on stage. My friend who accompanied me was rather puzzled & concerned - thinking that I had obviously missed the plot and was reading things into the dance which was not there. I must have wept from beginning to the end. He is a wonderful dancer but something about him - that je ne sais quoi - struck deep into my soul evoking strong emotions which only surfaces when I am in deep contemplation of my true Beloved. I couldn't believe I could reach that level when I am in a public place, surrounded by people. Sometimes it takes me days of silent contemplation to reach that level. I have watched other Bharatanatyam performances and Odissi, Kuchipudi etc but none of them have evoked this deep spiritual connection that I felt that evening - when I fell in complete trance watching this person I have never met before.
Through the years Ajit & I became friends. Then the Tsunami struck our Northern States and I helped My Cousin on New Year's day (or was it New Year's Eve?) to sort out all the donations people sent to her Foundation. It was after that that I felt I wanted to do something more for the Foundation and sometime that week Ajit was performing in KL. I asked him if he would do a charity show and he said yes. That was the beginning of Echoing Anklets. My Cousin was keen on the idea. Little did I know what I got myself into. I used up all my annual leave and weekends (in 2005) to help the Foundation produce this show. At the end of the day, My Cousin and I felt that it was worth it. It was a magical show - especially the one held in Alor Star. Ajit was brilliant in it, the music hauntingly beautiful and his dancers impeccable. Ajit was nominated for the Boh Cameronian Awards 2005 for Best Costume and Best Choreographer. He didn't win either category but to us who watched him, he is the best.
Why am I writing about him now? Well, I am going to Singapore next week to watch Ajit perform before he goes off on his annual US tour. It is actually Veshnu's show called Tantrashakti. Veshnu did the nattuvangam for Ajit's Echoing Anklets. He has invited Ajit & some of his dancers to perform with him on 4 & 5th August 2006 at the Alliance Francaise de Singapour, 1 Sarkies Road, Singapore. (Any of you who are interested should call the Ticket Hotline 91017476 or google Alliance Francaise Singapore.)
I hope this will lift me from the doldrums I've fallen into recently. I've been really bogged down with work but that's not what put me in this doldrums. It's the total despair & helplessness I feel when I watch the Israelis try to crush Lebanon in their sheer arrogance and to top it off, here in Malaysia, just when I thought our society is maturing to accept open dialogue as a way forward, our Prime Minister has decided to clamp down on the Article 11 forums. I really don't know where we are heading.
For a very long time since I came back from my studies in England, I have never felt like I belong anywhere....with this country, with its people, with the legal fraternity...I have never bothered to hang out with lawyers (in fact I avoided them at all cost) or attend anything organised by the Bar Council (except to sign my name during AGMs). I just felt so isolated, wrapped (or lost) in my own world. The only people I hung out with are my horsey friends as we share a common obsession. We all spend our entire weekends at the riding club. We would be there at the crack of dawn, ride our horses, muck around at the stables, have breakfast, then lunch then ride again in the late afternoon then proceed for dinner....And we wonder why we are exhausted on Monday! Actually Monday morning is our only "lying in" day as we don't wake up until about 8am to go to work. Other mornings we are up before 5 am so that we could ride our horses before work.
Then, one day, during the Raya break, I was back in Alor Star visiting my mum. This was the year Tsunami struck us. I was wandering around my mum's family's burial grounds, placing flowers on my grandparents' graves when I felt this sudden stillness, a beautiful sense of peace as the sunlight streamed through the leaves of the chempaka trees and the fragrant scent of the frangipanis enveloped me. My soul stirred and at that moment, in the beautiful morning stillness, I felt ,at last....I belong. This is where my home is. (Ok ok you must all think I'm some kind of pontianak to feel at home in a cemetary.) No, really I'm not kidding. At that moment, to me, its the most beautiful place in Malaysia. My bond to the land was sealed then. It is Kedah which I feel that I belong to. From that time onwards, my feelings towards Malaysia, its people and even the legal fraternity changed. I became more involved. Slowly coming out of my reclusive shell. Shortly thereafter, I took a week off to spend in Langkawi to meditate by myself. From then on, whenever I am at a loss or in need of strength, I go back to Langkawi or the family mausoleum.
This bond started off my interest in the history of Kedah or Kadaram as it was known in the old days. Which brought me back to search for the history of Merong Mahawangsa and led me to the makam of Sultan Muzaffar Shah and to the temple ruins of Lembah Bujang. More about this another time. Am still doing my research. Sigh, its time to go back to the family mausoleum for rejuvenation and/or Langkawi. Am tempted to give Singapore a miss and head for Kedah instead but Miss Diva will not forgive me....
Monday, June 26, 2006
Friday evening (23 June) turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I had planned an evening out with my friend May who had invited me to a Bharatanatyam Charity Dinner Dance Performance. It was a very intimate and cosy setting with only 8 tables seating 10 persons each. May's sister April and her friend June were also there. There were some local celebrities, quite a number from the press and most people knew each other.
2 very interesting Englishmen were seated next to us - Sir [*] and his friend/financial consultant Mr C. They were very amusing and May & I talked about our days as students in England and our boarding school (May and I did not attend the same school). Then I noticed someone who looked so familiar at the next table. She looked like my old school friend Kimmie. After a while I caught her staring at me. She came over to our table whilst the lady from Christie's was in the midst of auctioning some item "Are you S...?" So I said "Kimmie...is that you??" Then as we realised we had found our long lost old school friend we hugged each other and we jumping up & down in excitement, confusing our lady from Christie's...are these women bidding or what?? she wondered..."Is that a bid?" she called out. We quickly sat down. I introduced Kimmie to the Englishmen as it turns out that Kimmie already knew May. "This is my friend from boarding school - we were in the same dorm! We haven't seen each other in over 10 years!" Kimmie, in her excitement, announced to them "We used to sleep together!" Aah, you should have seen the Englishmen's faces - jaws dropped open. May was cracking up laughing. Kimmie, bless her, tried to clear the confusion but made it worse by quipping "Yes, it was soo... cold at night, we used to crawl into each other's bed and hug each other to sleep!" Hmm, I had forgotten all that but am now beginning to recall our cold winter nights. Kimmie was our supplier of maggie mee. She would come back from Easter holidays with a suitcase full of maggie mee of all flavours. As our House Matron, Madame Currie and the school resident nurse considered instant noodles unhealthy, we had to hide under the bed to eat it whilst others kept a lookout for matron and the nurse. It's really strange - before I went to England and boarding school, I had never eaten maggie (actually, is this how you spell it or is it "maggi"?) mee. Kimmie was the one who introduced it to me and I developed a habit of eating it raw - yes, like a bag of crisps, crunchy & raw.
Later that evening, in the crowded lift, Kimmie announces loudly to her husband "This is S...my friend from boarding school. We used to sleep together!" I'm sure the husband is thrilled to hear this revelation in a lift full of their mutual friends. And I thought I had managed at last to dispel these rumours that I am gay...I mean for a long time there were these rumours floating around that I preferred members of my own sex. Even my closest friends harboured these suspicions. I didn't realise I was exuding some strong gay vibes. Once, this man asked my father for my phone number and asked permission to take me out. He told me that my father replied "You can try but I don't think she likes men..." So he asked asked me "Why does your father think you are gay?" I like the way my father calmly tells people that his daughter is gay. In hindsight I can't blame him. I have never introduced him to any boyfriends - perhaps because I rarely have boyfriends and I am always coming home with one girl friend or another who are usually Chinese - so he must think I have a thing for Chinese girls. And these girls are neither married nor do they have boyfriends....It's quite disturbing to realise that my poor father had to go through this agony of thinking that his daughter is gay all these years quite unnecessarily. I mean the irony is that I am not gay and there he was - resigned to "accepting" this fact that one of his children is gay. I absolutely have nothing against gay people - after all it's just a sexual preference. Some people are asexual and nobody says anything against them! I just wonder why people assume that I am though. I remember, my previous boss MSM (Datuk now) hauled me up one day in the office and said "I've come to the conclusion that this Italian boyfriend you say you are dating doesn't exist and that you just made it all up. Why is it we have never seen him after all these years??" he demanded to know. I had to tell him I have a boyfriend because he was trying to matchmake me with one of his friends whom he thought was a good catch. His attempts to get us together was so amusing. Once I was rushing off after work and my boss asked me where I was off to. I told him I was going to my hairdresser's and he asked me where it was. I was wondering why he was interested in where I was going. An hour or so later, as my stylist's assistant was blow drying my hair, my stylist came up to me from the reception area and said "Your father is here to see you." I was so puzzled. My father didn't even know where I was at that time. So I went to the reception area ....and there...was my boss' friend waiting for me ... informing me that my boss had called him up and asked him to pick me up at this place & take me out for dinner!!
Even recently at the Bench & Bar Games, ML (whilst walking me back) asked me if I'm gay. When I asked him why he thought I was, he said it's because I was sharing a room with Roomie. Is he implying that Roomie is gay and hence so am I & that we are a couple? So I told him I'm not and he asked "Are you sure you are not gay?" So I told him that I was in boarding school with some of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen and if I was in any way inclined that way, I would have realised it by then! I told Roomie what he said and she just dismissed it casually "Oh men and their fantasies - just ignore them."
I see I have diverted from what I wanted to write about - meeting up with old & new friends. These past few months have been rather strange. I've bumped into friends I have not seen in over 10 years - people whom I don't expect to bump into. At the Bench & Bar Games I met my old friend from SOAS. I haven't seen her in gosh, over 10 years I guess. Then 2 days ago, I was having lunch alone and my first boss ZI (Dato' now) walks into the restaurant...and seeing that I was eating alone, he joined me. I've bumped into him several times these past few years & we said hello etc but to actually sit down like the old days and chat with him...not since I left the firm 11 years ago. I was struck by this morbid thought.... am I going to die soon? Why am I bumping into my past and some of whom I have to make amends with? A close friend from boarding school, a close friend from university and now my first boss. This has to be one of my favourite bosses, he and the matchmaker. The matchmaker and my first boss were partners. The matchmaker formed another firm with some other partners - the breakaway group. I joined them much later on. Now here, in The Firm, I have met some of the most wonderful friends (most of them have left The Firm) whom I hope I will remain friends with for the rest of my life.
I am truly very blessed in my life to have wonderful friends and those bosses I mentioned were great mentors.