Thursday, October 27, 2005

The March of the Penguins

I love this docu-movie. Warner Independent Pictures made a gem for 2005 - it has all the stops; haunting music, loving shots of parental penguin love, cute furry chicks and beautiful underwater shots. But don't be fooled - after this movie one can't help but be awed by the miracle that is the Emperor Penguins.
Aptenodytes forsteri
The largest penguin, the Emperor stands about 1.3 m (4 ft) and weighs between 20 and 45 kg (44 to 99 lb.). These birds live along the coasts and neighbouring seas of Antarctica. They are well adapted to the frigid climate. To further protect themselves against the cold, groups of adults and young huddle close to one another. They eat fish and squid that they catch in their sharp beaks while swimming under water.
When Emperor Penguins are courting they display brilliant orange ear patches. They breed during the long darkness of the Antarctic winter, gathering at rookeries during the months of April and May. They do not build nests or establish territories. Within a few hours after the female lays a single egg, the male positions the egg on top of his feet and covers it with a warm fold of abdominal skin. Shortly thereafter, the female travels over the ice to the open sea to feed, leaving the male to incubate the egg. About two months later she will return to feed and raise the newly-hatched chick.

"In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way". It’s funny – a reviewer groused on Amazon that this movie is ‘pro-life propaganda’. Nature IS pro-life – it is only man who behaves and thinks like an alien on this planet. I would like to come as an Emperor Penguin for the coming Halloween Party and I won’t be surprised if I see other ‘penguins’ too.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The week that was...

Here's a summary of exclamations, utterances, messages that made the week that was for me...:

"You're lazy." This comment hits me like a blow on the head. Maybe its a case of "Siapa yang termakan chili, terasa pedasnya" (Malay proverb literally translated says "Who eats the chilli, will feel the sting")

"Don't make me ineffective!" This comment makes me feel helpless. This is the problem of communication breakdown between two departments -why can't people accept the responsibility given to them? And what makes the person think that they themselves aren't very effective either?

"Have a good day" This exclamation is said every day. The person that said it made me realize that politeness pays (most of the time). It's rare to find well mannered people come to think of it.

"Let me send you to your place" This comment makes me retreasure the person who said it. Old good friends are harder to find.

"I've never felt so dissappointed in my life" I think I said this my self one time this week. But I'd rather think about getting myself together after the dissappointment than dwell on it.

" What is your nice unfair advantage?" A very useful reminder of re-evaluating your strengths and weaknesses.

"Everyone lives as if they'll never die." I mis-interpreted the person the first time I heard it by answering "But that's the way we should live?" What she meant was that people live their lives in a thoughtless manner. If we realized how limited our time were, we would most probably be living it differently.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Books of 2005

Closing post for the week, I just joined the British Council Library in Wisma Selangor Dredging (finally!) They have nice titles and Ms Komathi was really helpful and they close at 9pm - great! And so I make my count of the books I've read. One of these days I have to use Krishna Kumar's Star benchmarking system on rating book utility though. Special thanks also to Sharon, Fiction and Friends and the creative writers(you know who you are) for lending me some of your books.

Read so far:
1) His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman
2) The No. 1 Detective Ladies Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
3) He's Just Not That Into You - Greg Behrendt
4) The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
5) The Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
6) The Two Sisters - Tagore
7) The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
8) Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azhar Nafisi
9) Harmony Silk Factory - Tash Aw
10) The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
11) The Piano Teacher - Elfride Jelinek
12) A Year in The Merde - Stephen Clarke
13) A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami
14) My Uncle Oswald - Roald Dahl
15) Across The Red River (Into the Heart of Darkness -Rwanda, Burundi and Congo) - Christian Jennings
16) No Longer At Ease - Chinua Achebe
17) The Hours - Michael Cunningham
18) Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
19) Dance Dance Dance -Haruki Murakami
20) Lolita - Nabokov

Now Reading:
1) The Lexus and The Olive Tree - Thomas Friedman (Re-read)
2) Solaris - Stanislaw Lem

Have in hand but wanting to read:
1) Small Island - Andrea Levy
2) A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
3) Execution - Bossidy Charan and Burck
4) Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

Don't have but want to beg/steal/borrow:
1) Arthur and George - Julian Barnes
2) The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

Occasionally think about and want to read:
1) Underworld - Don Dellilo
2) The Death and Life of Dith Pran - Sydney Schonberg
3) Sightseeing - Rattawup Lapcharoensap

Monday, October 10, 2005

Over the weekend....

It's another weekend gone and once again my financials spike ceiling-wards. I like to think of my expenditures as 'events' to categorize under. Damages are as follows:

Friday Oct 7
Entertainment: RM50.00 (Karaoke at Neway)
Transport: RM4.00 (Parking at Berjaya Times Square)

Saturday Oct 8
Food: RM30.01 (Chilli's at KLCC for friend's farewell, Starbucks in BTS and soya bean at Petaling St)
Transport: RM5.00 (Parking at BTS)
Clothes: RM13.00 (Yoga pants at Petaling St, really needed one and it's really cheap too)
Servicing:RM8.00 (I love this category - it's funny)

Sunday Oct 9
Transport: RM6.00 (Parking at KLCC)
Entertainment: RM10.00 (Watched Saint Ange at KLCC)
Food: RM11.00 (Cappucino and bread at Sun moulin)
Servicing:RM55.00 (Nice)
Books: RM98.23 (There goes my book quota at Kino last Sunday)
Food: RM16.80 (Stuff from the Bangsar Night Market)

Looking at it, averagely I would run around at least 3 places in a day on the weekend. That would make like 6 locations in a weekend. I can't seem to help it. It's in my nature - but of course there's the issue of spending. Would it be better to stay cooped up at home? I don't think so. I'm a retailer's dream come true methinks.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

First Time 7.42pm

This is one of the rare times I've been in the office later than past 5pm. I'm not bashful about going home on the dot. Think in this culture it's still considered 'taboo' to be timely about going home. Oh well, fortunately for me, moi doesn't think so. I wouldn't mind staying past the office hour - sometimes I feel like but then again, I would like a balance of both worlds too.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Last Weekend - Melaka Hunt and gym

Last Saturday, I went on a Treasure Hunt in Melaka with Anna (I call her my crazy Italian lady which I think she doesn't mind - she says if 'one cannot be crazy, one cannot be wise'). It was organized by her friend Marie-Francoise for the French Association. Things started well when I got lost to her finding her place (seems I discovered a quirk of mine - I can't follow instruction and directions very well) which kind of foretells how I would fare in a treasure hunt. Haha

3 cockerels, dead Francis Xavier missionaries, Tiger Gods, crypts, weddings, 'handless' statues, old Indian mosques, the Melaka tree, baba nyonya heritage, historians, herb gardens - it was the first time I 'discovered' Melaka after having visited it for the umpteenth time. The thing that left the deepest impression on me was Serge and Casey, the couple who passionately spent a year rebuilding a dilapidated rickety storehouse into a beautiful inn with a legacy and character. Thanks Anna and Marie Francoise for the trip!

Sunday was another eventful day - I spent it in the only way I think best suits a Sunday - working out and shopping. I did back-to-back classes of Bodystep, Bodypump and Bodybalance. I wanted to run another 1/2 hour after that but when I fell asleep in Bodybalance, I knew my body got the better of me. As Sarah, my friend couldn't make it, I was on my own and free to do what I want - rediscovered that I like shopping alone. As Fitness First was at the Curve, I spent the next few hours perusing the shops....and short-term gratifying myself with a few purchases. Aaah....what a weekend. So I'm a few pounds and ringgit lighter come Monday - gosh I don't want to look at my credit card statements this month end!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One less frustrated golfer...

I went to the driving range on my own last Monday. Supposed to meet up with Vincent but he couldn't leave early enough. So I whacked a few balls on my own. I haven't been practicing for ages and I wasn't surprised when my balls flew left, right, centre (most of the time hitting the low barrier with a really loud and embarrassing "Thump"!) I had a few winners though but they were few and far in between. The Indian golfer next to me must have either been a. Annoyed at the loud clangings or b. Worried that one of my balls would fly up and hit him. He sat down and observed what I was doing but didn't make any comment about my lousy golf shots. It was some time when I almost finished about 70-80% of my 100 balls when an old uncle who was just leaving with his bag in tow stood and looked at what I was doing. I wondered "Gosh, I must be either pretty good (as the only girl there) or extremely bad" - of course hoped for the former. I looked up at old uncle and jokingly said "How am I doing? Do you have a free tip for me?". Old uncle was only too happy to show me that my wrist work and club face angle was not good - and I was forcing the shot, not really letting it go naturally. He made me do a few shots in the correct way (it dribbled pathetically down the driveway) but nevertheless I thanked him for his time and teaching. He said "Well, I don't mind - if it means that there's at least one less frustated golfer among us. We should all be enjoying the game" Which I laughed and had to agree.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Troi couleur:Rouge

I meant to post something on this movie last Thursday. But me being unwise, I typed it directly onto the blog. And not surprisingly Internet explorer ‘hanged’ and I lost everything that was typed. Now I’m typing this on Word before transferring it on blog.

Red is the final part of Kieslowski’s brilliant Three Colour trilogy. This was the final movie he completed before his death and is acknowledged as THE Masterpiece amongst the three. Of all the interpretations, I liked most this one “if all three films are examined as a whole, the common unifying element is love” And Red being the colour of love, it closes the trilogy with this theme.

Frankly the movie was pretty hard for me to digest – maybe I wasn’t in my best frame of mind to think. There were random, connective scenes which needed processing which I didn’t catch. For instance, the scene of the young man running to his exam and dropping the book on the road. Then Judge Kern relates the same experience as he was young. Then the visual of the broken glass mug at the bowling alley, and the other broken glass shot in the judge’s house. I thought “Could the times sequence of the movie have purposely been unrelayed?”. “Is Judge Kern a psychic or psycho?”. The scenes seemed unrelated and detached which confused me. However I must admit the final scene was magnificent where Valentine’s profile was captured in a momentous glance which appeared earlier on in the movie.

Still I prefer Blue.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Piano Girl

I'm really excited about my friend's piano. She ordered it last Saturday and it's finally coming! Angie will and always will be THE music girl in my mind - and also my best friend by the way. Days of us dressed in turqouise secondary school uniforms (hers seemed a different colour from the normal turquoise I remember) and going for choir practice every week after school come back to me everytime we sit at the piano on some evenings to make music. I don't have any pictures of us then - they are misty, watercolour images in my head; the school piano, the stage, the velvet curtains, the choir girls in uniform - but the feelings of the harmonies and the fun we had are still very much alive and everytime we sit at the piano it all comes back to me. Angie is always the organizer -she was the one leading the school choir and was president of the music society then. I remember a time in Form 4 when we had an inter-school choir competition and I was really nervous about fumbling as the piano accompaniment. We were in the midst of our exams but yet had to compete so I didn't really have much practice. It would have been really bad if the choir failed to do its best when the accompaniment spoilt it! She gave me encouragement and talked me out of it. Thankfully it went well.(we didn't win though, St John's Choir took the trophy I think)

Angie, here's to your new piano - the music's always there with you!

Monday, September 19, 2005


Stomp was amazing!

The Perfect Moment

The music rang clear as the pedals hit the strings and the moment is suddenly, unexpectedly perfect. Music filled the house - the tones played on the piano reverberated with the human voice.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


He sat up -concentrated very enthusiastically over his writing. I had timed him for 2 minutes to write as many Malay words as he could. Little boy in shorts, in a washed-too-many-times faded t-shirt, sitting at the plastic table and chair in his small apartment in Cheras. I was tutoring him in Malay language as one of my friends could not take him up as she tutored students mainly in PJ or TTDI. He was a bright student though slightly on the slow side. This was my 2nd month of tutoring him.

"Times up!" I said.

He let out an 'Aiya' of signals that showed he was more motivated than he wanted to convey. He was a funny chap. When faced with a difficult question he often said "I cannot do it", "I don't know how to do it", "Cannot cannot cannot", "I don't know how" a consistency that surprised me- sometimes he said it even before I even gave him any questions. It was as if he was trying to test me - "Do what you want, but I cannot do it" or "Don't expect anything out of me" - which was disturbing for me. How can one so young already be programmed to think that he will fail? For most of the lesson, I struggled to keep his attention on the lesson and his learning attitude in place.

However in this session tonight, for once he genuinely was interested in what he was doing and doing it with a fervour. This little spark I will keep nurturing (albeit with much patience though) until he makes it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I'm Back!

After 2 weeks of being away I'm finally blogging again. In between I visited Ipoh Taiping, was in company trainings, workshops, turned 27 years old and spent a very nice 5 days in Phuket. Thought I'd drop a message here before I go into 'blog oblivion' - that obscure place where you're a million miles from posting messages and your page gets stuck at the same place all the time. Good to be back!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hide and Seek

by Howard Jones

There was a time when there was nothing at al
Nothing at all, just a distant hum
There was a being and he lived on his own
He had no one to talk to, and nothing to do
He drew up the plans, learnt to work with his hands
A million years passed by and his work was done
And his words were these...

Hope you find it in everything, everything that you see
Hope you find it in everything, everything that you see
Hope you find it, hope you find it
Hope you find me in you

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fiona's Law

Murphy's Law:
If anything can go wrong, it will.

Fiona's Law:
(Murphy's Law x Careless) = (Aftermath)(power to gazillion times)

Here's how the above is demonstrated:

Phuket Trip:
I get ready to fly off to Phuket - everything packed and ready to go. Even the minutest detail taken care of - bottle of water, extra underwear, contact lenses, etc in the bag. Timed to leave the house at 9am for the flight check in at 10.45am. Mother (who was informed beforehand) is ready to take me to the KLIA Transit station. I open my passport and see that it's expired -Feb 2005. Great.

Parking Ticket:
Pissed off that I had to reschedule the trip, I go off to Mid Valley with Philippe who wanted to do some grocery shopping. Realizing that I would be RM800 poorer due to the change in airticket AND renewal of passport, I vowed not spend a cent on anything in Mid Valley. Parking is free so don't have to pay anything. Lunch, can eat at home. Just the petrol and the occasional phone call to AirAsia to settle the details. In Carrefour, I pass the food aisle, resist the urge to pick up useless food items. Resist the urge to eat lunch in Mid Valley itself. Checking out time, time to pay the parking. Where's the ticket? Not in my bag though I swore I saw it drop in my sack during the entry. It must have dropped out when my bag tilted or when I took out my hp to answer a call. Run around Carrefour retracing my steps. Ask the info counter and security counters. No one has seen it. After 1/2 an hour I give up. Pay the RM20 for the lost ticket. Great.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Happy Merdeka Day

Selamat Hari Merdeka
Hari ini kena jadi drebar pendekar
Terlupa hari ini jalan tertutup
Jln Tun Razak, Jln Ampang terbuntut
Kereta terpasang jalur gemilang
Semangat keMalaysiaan berkobar-kobar
sewaktu kemelesetan ekonomi yang menular
Harga petrol sudah naik
Nak meraih pun rasa perit
Saya tetap juga nak pergi
Menonton bunga api di KLCC
bersama Indon, Bangla sekali

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Three Colours: White

I found this movie lighter than the first, 'Blue'. While 'Blue' was tragically liberating, I found 'White', tragically comic. I couldn't make an immediate connection between the first and the second as they were entirely independent in style and structure.

An interesting observation by Dave Kehr:

"The structure of the trilogy follows the traditional pattern of a three-act play: an opening statement of the themes and images (Blue), a reversal of those themes (White), and finally a synthesis and resolution (Red) that moves the themes to a different level"

Ahhh....a very clever view point and adds more bits to the puzzle.

White begins in Paris- Karol Karol a Polish hairdresser is being divorced by his French wife, Dominique on the basis that the marriage wasn't consumnated. Having lost his self-respect, humiliated cruelly by his wife, he smuggles himself back to Poland in a suitcase. In Poland, he slowly gains his lost pride which ultimately leads him to exact 'equality' on his cold-blooded wife. The twist to the story happens at the very end where he sees his wife in prison and realizes that she still loves him and he still loves her. Equally ironic.

I liked the film - but thought that 'Blue' was more powerful in delivery. On the side, the funny bit about the screening at AEI was the genius 'pre-empting' of the host on the steamy scenes of the movie. Such is the case if we have to placate purists coming to such screenings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Staging an Act

It's in a buzz. Head slightly light after a double-dose of coffee. Somehow it can't seem to focus its mind. There are days when it did too many things at once, and had too many things to do. Today is one of them . There were also days it stared at the digital dial on its desktop, time dripped slowly as if through a decanter. It was a first class act. It could change its skin like a chameleon and take on many roles. Some roles required its heaviest concentration of skill and some roles it played with such ease, it didn't require thinking - effortless and subconsciously. The following are the roles it has played this week:

Fire Fighter
Office worker
Phone 'porridge cooker' (Chinese expression of someone who talks too long on the phone)
Rude person
Sex worker
...and the list goes on.

It sits now at its table, wondering what role would come next. Or is it already assuming one at the moment?...Yes, without it realizing, it is now playing the role of 'schemer'. That is why it cannot focus its mind. It is not a natural manipulator of resources and planning. This requires much amount of work and effort to learn and it has not much time. Now that it has realized what it has become, the learning process begins....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Falling Off the Face of The Earth

The following was sparked by Murakami.

Phone rings
I let it go unanswered

SMS comes
I ignore it

Email drops in
I don't reply

Job postings in inbox
I put it in the trash

Enquiries from customers come in
I cancel the phone calls

Mother Father calls me/sms me. Worried about me
I am not there

Lover calls me/emails me/sms me. Feeling ignored
I disappear, unresolved.

Friends miss calls me, sends me a message. What happened to you?
I am non existent, no response

I sit at home
Feeling nothing, doing nothing
Falling out of the face of society
People stop enquiring
It takes only 90 days to erase a human memory
To be a nothing, wait 90 days
To stay a nothing, do nothing

Monday, August 22, 2005

An Afternoon of Discourse

Last Saturday at La Bodega's was a pretty interesting afternoon indeed. Some of us have met before and some for the first time. And so the 7 of us 'congregated' at La Bodega's Lounge in Bangsar Baru for the first time to talk on....'tan tan ta ra'! ...books! (and also a myriad of related topics....movies, what we do, where we came from, authors, genres etc.) It was also amazing as none of us were from similar backgrounds: some coming from different countries, some locals, some on holiday, some working, some owning their own businesses - everyone's geniality, openness and friendliness amazed me. Thus, I believe that's the magic of book clubs - it takes just the love of books to get people started on sharing. I just love it!