Thursday, April 29, 2010

Too much television will do this to you

"Did you study overseas? Your English is very good."

I get this a lot from people who met me for the first time. No, I'd gently correct them, I am a local product. No, I have never lived overseas in English-speaking countries. Short tour visits do not count, dammit.

Today, an American commented that I sounded, well, like an American.

This is particularly hilarious considering how I could barely read, much less speak English till I was 11. It helped to have a sadistic sister who took away all of my Malay storybooks one school holiday and made me read Nancy Drew in English. When she got tired of telling what the words mean (which was every five words and everything more than 4 alphabets), she tossed a dictionary in the general direction of my head and went into hiding.

My sister is this cute.

There were no shortcuts, no amazing linguistic talent, unlike said sadistic sister who learned English by watching Sesame Street. I would watch the same thing she did and anything that didn't have subtitles (e.g. Fawlty Towers) was of no interest to me. But force me to read she did and lo, and behold! After three books, I could hobble along well enough sans dictionary. I proceeded to devour every Carolyn Keen, Trixie Belden and Enid Blyton books in my school library, disdaining the translated version.

You may think; why would I slog through the Nancy Drew when I could just give it up? It was so hard (though nowhere near the pain of passing a gallstone). Truth is, I could give up reading the way a smoker/alcoholic/drug addict would foreswear their poison of choice. It is a compulsion, an addiction that has gotten me into trouble numerous times, but still, stop I cannot.

How badly am I hooked? The next time you're stuck in traffic in Klang Valley, if you see a demented woman in the next car who is angling her book to get maximum light for reading? That is probably me.

You might wish you have one of this during said possible encounter. *snerk*

But I digress.

Sounding American? That is a first for me. A close pal, whose first encounter with me was watching me give my honours thesis presentation, once said that her first impression of me was that I was a Singaporean; she wondered what was this Singaporean girl doing studying in Malaysia. Another schoolmate actually inquired if I was from Thailand; she said that I did not sound like a Malaysian when I speak Malay.

I will, reluctantly, acknowledge that I do have an accent; and it varies depending on how nervous I am. I could sound like I went to public school in England or like a German newscaster (beautifully accentless). What not many people know, is that the more nervous I am, the more foreign I sound. So yeah, that pseudo-Oxford whatsit? Usually comes out during interviews. :p

Really, if you have a small talent at mimicry, imitating people on tv shows aren't that hard. Especially when you know how the words are spelt.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Battle of the Bulge

I don't think I have ever met anyone, male or female, who is happy about their weight, regardless of their appearance. But for those who wants to lose weight and is a believer of better living through chemistry (i.e. drugs is the only way to go!), you gotta face up that the meds are just not gonna cut it.

Report of the the latest three weight loss drugs to hit the market seems to be on the ho hum side, irrespective of the so-called obesity epidemic. One drug makes you goofy and forgetful, while the other gives you a bad taste in the mouth. Literally.

Like as not, there are no shortcuts to weight loss.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

X & Y, sitting on a tree ... K-I-S-S-I-N-G ...

I remember once asking a friend on the eve of her wedding, "How did you know that this is the guy for you, for ever and always?"

Her tranquil answer was, "You gotta have faith when it all feels right."

I marvel at her faith and courage to take such a risk. Marriage is a long-term contract; in Islam, the solemnisation affair 'aqd literally means that, a contract. How do you make sure that the person you chose to wake up next to for the rest of your life is the right person?

Is there a happily ever after promised after the ring is on the finger? No. There is no guarantee that you will be happy with that person for the rest of your life, but there is a promise to try and make things work with that person. Surely the fact that you said yes, that person is important to you; important enough that you are willing to take the risk of it all blowing up in your face.

In this disposable world, many seem to think that if a spouse didn't work out, you can always throw that person away and get another model. Just look in the gossip rags; the blushing bride of the magnificent wedding a few weeks/months/years ago is now the virago ex-wife demanding her rights (and share) in the court. The groom who once professed undying love and devotion is now coldly enumerating her faults and failings as a wife and/or mother.

Why does this happen? Do people change that much once they said "I do"? Could it be that people have unrealistic expectations of their partner even before they committed to matrimony? Could it be because during courtship showing one's true colour is considered de trop and you only found out that your beloved refuse to shower on weekends or cook the dishes your mommy used to make when it's too late?

Being realistic about the candidates for one's hand is a must. We all have dreams of our ideal partners, but what are the likelihood of meeting the perfect someone who reads Sartre, enjoy long walks on the beach and can make a mean espresso? Lori Gottlieb pointed out that if he/she has annoying habits at the cinema or is hopeless at choosing the wine, said person should still be a viable contender.

Should we settle? Or is that settling?

I had thought that the culture of having your spouse chosen for you by your family member takes a lot of stress out of the whole selection process. Not so according to my friends whose families still use traditional matchmakers. There are all the angst of viewing the possible groom/bride and finding that person is still not right/not fair enough/not funny enough and just simply ... not enough.


I wonder if I would have the courage of Siti Khadijah and ask a man to marry me.


Not mine, but sharing

Office Buzz Words and Phrases for the 21st Century


Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.


A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.


An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.


An office filled with cubicles.


The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.


When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.


(Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage) What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.


A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.


A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.


An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.


People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. "We had three serious students in the class; the rest were just tourists."


Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.


Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.


Chips = hardware, Salsa = software. "Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa."


The fine art of whacking the heck out of an electronic device to get it to work again. (Try not to dent the case.)


The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.


(Career Limiting Move) Used among microserfs to describe ill- advised activity. Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.


The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.


To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character.

"I've been Dilberted again. The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week."

· 404

Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message

"404 Not Found," meaning that the requested document could not be located. "Don't bother asking him ... he's 404, man."

All courtesy of my friend, The Traveller.

Wallowing in auditory bliss

Many, many thanks to darling Suzi for her generosity and DD for her luggage space. I am now blissfully luxuriating in Nightwish.

Next: Rammstein!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Glove on!

It pays to have eyes behind your head.

Tick tock

Many people are surprised when I say that I don't hear my biological clock ticking. Just because I am a female above a certain age who is unmarried and obviously not going forth and multiplying. Does possession of mammary glands mean that one is destined to chase for motherhood at all cost?

Being married doesn't mean that one will be a parent. It can be a choice (yes, there are people who do not want children) or not. For the latter, well-meaning acquaintances (and family who should know better) often pour acid upon the gaping wound by asking (pointedly and otherwise), "When are you gonna have children?"

I have decided to never ask a married person that question; having known some couples who try so hard and still not blessed with rugrats. Having snide comments about your fertility and queries of family planning (what business is it of yours, seriously?) is very painful and embarrassing. So if you fall into the nosy and tactless category, please, rethink what you want to say and when you want to say it.

It seems easy to say adoption should be the way to go for those not blessed, but not very many people are willing and/or able to love children who is not their flesh and blood. It can boil down to an evolutionary imperative, but sometimes you just don't have that kind of love. It's not a bad thing, but we should be honest because adoption isn't like the mail; there is no return to sender.

A little non-sequitur, but ...

Why not adopt an embryo instead?

(Okay, fine ... I can't figure out a better segue, so sue me)

You can track down the family history of your child and even have an extended family for him/her if you want (Canada practices open adoption). Of course, it will open a whole can of worms later on (what if the adoptive parent(s) die? Must the biological parents take up responsibility?) but I think it can be a logical solution. The mother and father can bond over the child during the pregnancy and it is very clear that the child is not theirs genetically but can be theirs in every other way possible.

It is definitely a logical solution for unmarried Muslim women who wants to have children and also experience being pregnant. They can't go for the turkey baster method as it is haram (forbidden) to have children with men with whom they are not married (i.e. the sperm donor). However, here is a chance for you to adopt a child and enjoy the pregnancy experience to boot.

So, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You win the Internet

This is why a magnitude 8 earthquake in the Pacific can disrupt your FB moments.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

OCD, much?

I don't know if people have looked into obsessive compulsive behaviour and its relationship to religious rituals. I personally know a number of people who would restart their prayers several time (each prayer time, mind you) because they are worried that they missed a step.

Religious rituals like prayer often follow a set of procedures, usually clearly proscribed. For Muslims, ablutions, clean clothing is a must and the prayers follow a certain timeline daily. As a child, I was taught that there are many rules governing the prayer rituals and missing/screwing any will mean that I have to start from scratch.

It made me very anxious about prayers as a child; and I am sure there are many who had similar experience. For some, this anxiety spills over into adulthood, or rather, become transmogrified into obsessive compulsive disorder. OCD affects people across the board, regardless of faith (or lack of them) but I do wonder if emphasis on formalities and ritualistic behaviour has anything to do with the development of OCD.

You have people who wash their hands multiple times or wipe their feet or jiggle all doorknobs three times before entering and so on and so forth. If you ask them to reflect on when these behaviour pattern start to dominate their life, could they pinpoint it? Is it related to certain admonishments (wash your hands or you'll be eating germs!) or traumatic events (the passing of a loved one) or both?

For those who find difficulty in coping with a life bound by such compulsions, help is available. Counselling and help is offered by psychologists and psychiatrists. There is nothing to be ashamed of; we all have our quirks and escapes from the bell curve of normality.

For those who always find their thoughts dominted by was was or syak or uncertainty during prayer, do read what the lovely Dr Asri has to say about this. This is definitely one of the reasons he is my favourite religious scholar of this generation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

In praise of unfaithfulness

Monogamy is overrated.

In friendships, at least. *grin*

I am blessed that I have a friend for every activity I enjoy. I have my movie kaki, my TV geek kaki, my foodie kaki and so on. My friends are a wonderful and diverse bunch, very much a smorgasbord. As delightful as they are, they can't all share all of my interest so I have a special pal for every occasion. Aren't I lucky?

So here's to friends: long may they enrich your life!