Monday 30 May 2011

Fire of Love - Episode 3

For Anonymous May 18  3.44am.  I'm sorry you had to wait for the sequel to the cliffhanger.  So here goes a little more nonsense!

................... I suppose, after a few good years, most men approaching their 40s begin to suffer the pangs of the male menopause while the female gender just keep on revving!
He got this way because he hadn't discovered the magic elixir of macho Malay cuisine ... like sambal blacan cili padi, sambal pedas ikan bilis & petai and kuih naga sari !

The following drawings were the results of his daydream in the conservatory of his house.  And this ritual of an afternoon kip still works wonders up to today.

In fact Maizie was recovering from a 3-year teaching stint in Brunei.  As the intrepid female that she is, Maizie managed to do her Certificate in Linguistics at Essex University and gallivant in Wordsworth's lovely Lake District.

She came across this wishing well where she found a cute little frog.

Little did she know the portent of this encounter.

Oh why, oh why did she make this stopover in Leicester?

But one wish did come true.

p.s.  There are still more horrendous stories to tell.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Putting a Word in.

Words have always fascinated me - from the jaunty tum-tiddy-tum rhythm of .....

Jack be nimble.
Jack be quick.
Jack jump over
The candlestick.
....... to word meaning and interpretation.
Many, many years ago I dabbled in a little exercise of  comparing how words are selected to reflect the writer's or in this case the English newspapers' attitudes and interpretations.
Several thoughts came to me.

  1. Why did The Times, Financial Times, Daily Express and The Sun omit the word 'blacks' to refer to the victims  of the killing?  The Daily Mail in its intent to whitewash the white Apartheid regime resorted to the odd word 'African'!  It's a very imperialistic term to use - to lump the many-faceted groups in the continent of Africa into one basket.
  2. None except the Guardian recorded that the Police (mainly white) were responsible for the killings and deaths.  Why did The Sun describe it as a riot battle - as if to indicate that this was a confrontation between two groups with equal fire power?
  3. What is the difference between using the word 'shoot-out' and 'violence' ?
Well, except for the Guardian, all the other papers are sympathetic to the  White Apartheid Regime of South Africa or at the very least quite ambivalent about the struggle of the non-whites against apartheid.

Two recent headline events revived my old interest in language and meaning (in English).

Firstly there was the case of the now former Director of the IMF,  Dominique Strauss-Kahn, arrested for the sexual assault of a chambermaid of West African origin in a posh New York hotel.

We all know how Islam and Muslims are condemned by feminists, Judaeo-Christian and secularist critics for an inherent misogynistic attitude towards women.

However one should also realise that the English Language is no better as a  purveyor of classic Misogyny!  The comments in the various reports on DSK found great difficulty in attaching definitive words to describe this wealthy upper-class Jewish Frenchman's sexual proclivities.

There is no shortage of words to describe the 'loose' woman.  She will be labelled as a slut, prostitute, slag, harridan, cow, harlot, whore, tart, trollop, wench, nymphomaniac, hussy, strumpet etc. - words that are clearly condemning and hostile.

What words in English can you use for a man of 'easy virtue'?  There's rake, lady-killer, wolf, gigolo, roue, Don Juan, womaniser, playboy, Casanova - words that are not quite as judgemental as those reserved for women.  It's almost indulgent, like 'boys will be boys' - aaahh!!  The one strong word I can think of is 'lecher'.  When I was in University we girls describe such men as 'smellers'.

As for DSK, despite a record of a 'lack of sexual restraint' against women, French culture and the Gallic way of life tend to ignore and hide such 'ungentlemanly' behaviour.  He is regarded as a  'libertine', a very hurrah-word, a term allied to 'liberty' and freedom of expression and action.  No wonder the French are so offended by the hijab and the burqa.

Secondly, take this report of the tragic event of the landslide at Hulu Langat which killed 16 children and youngsters.
Read mhtml:file://C:\Users\user\Documents\Malaysian village mourns orphans 9use of words.mht 
This is an article in the asiaone news, a Singapore Press Holdings Portal.  It was extracted from the AFP or Agence French Presse.  Here's a quote from  one sentence.

Koranic verses blaring from an orphanage loudspeaker was a daily wake-up ritual for residents......

The word 'blaring' means 'to make a very loud, unpleasant noise'.  My Secondary Four students in the non-pukka Jurong Secondary School in Singapore would not use that word in this context.  It's an unsuitable choice of verb.  To a lay person like me this  word  reflects the writer's attitude towards 'Koranic verses' and indirectly to the victims of the  landslide.  What's his/her perception?  You don't need a Ph.D to tell.  And the AFP is no two-bit hick town agency!

I would prefer the word 'echo' or 'resonates'.   I suppose it is easier for the writer to choose an apt word if it was about church or temple bells and furthermore these do not require loudspeakers!!

But most cutting and damning was when TV3  on their 11pm news on Sunday  described the children at the
Rumah Anak-anak Yatim dan Anak-anak Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa  as "inmates" !!!

To the neanderthal at TV3 who chose that word ,  an "inmate" is  'someone who is being kept in a prison'.

This gross mistake has nothing to do with the problem of lacking  "the subtler details of .... meaning, thinking, feeling, reaching ...".   It's sheer ignorance and laziness. So there!!

Saturday 21 May 2011

Wicked Witch from the West (of Suez)

Been back for just a week and am now feeling a bit normal.  I do feel like a composite of the three wicked witches in Macbeth because since we've arrived in Malaysia we've brought in "thunder, lightning and ... rain".

On Thursday evening  the storm brought down the modem and the wireless - leaving us bereft of our toys.  With Faiz's  (our nephew-in-law) help, we managed to get it going last night.  But this afternoon it played up again and with guidance from streamyx staff I found out that the splitter had given up the ghost. HELP!!

Our return was marked by other interesting incidents.  Firstly one of the bedroom doors refused to open.  But Faiz set it right by doing exactly what the spouse had been doing - but I supposed he had a special twist of the wrist, being young and sturdy!  Then the toaster caught fire. The kettle refused to boil  due to damaged wiring.  What else??

Rusty our black male cat ...
was going about looking uptight and depressed.  He would not touch his food and was not as playful as he used to be.  Took him to the vet for two days running.  It was raining cats and dogs (ha ha) on the second visit.  His problem?  He had a problem with his KYBO - army parley for Keep Your Bowels Open!!

And now for the good news.  When we arrived on Friday the 13th at 8 pm,  we found ikan asam pedas  and sambal goreng tahu and tempeh in the fridge.  My sister was responsible for that.  Maria had cooked the rice. She also stocked us up with tea, coffee, milo, margarine, bread, eggs, tomatoes and salad!!

But there was more to come.

We found our bedroom cleared of 4 months' cobwebs and dust  - by courtesy of Hidayah.  We were bestowed with more meals on wheels from my sister for the rest of the week - yummies like masak lemak labu, mee siam, laksa, tahu masak taucheo, date cake, sambal ikan bilis & petai and pau daging.

How was I to know that this little girl would grow up to be the world's best sister and cook?  And how did I get to be the most thick-skinned moocher?

Absence makes the tummy very happy!!!

What a welcome home from the rest like Mus and Hannah, my sister's 7 KL grandchildren and today, the man from JB  (8 March 2011 posting).


Thank you all.  It's good to be home.

Soon I shall put the cliffhanger to rest and carry on with my role as the wicked witch of the east.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Hello Kuala Lumpur - Good-bye Leicester

By this time of year most migratory birds have already flown north for spring and summer.

Tomorrow these two geriatric cuckoos will fly south and should be in our abode, InsyaAllah on Friday the 13th!!!

It will be back to braving mad KL traffic for the spouse's twice weekly visits to Tung Shin Hospital (Chinese Traditional Medicine).

We shall re-commence our relationship with our crazy and stupid and stubborn cats - Comot, Rusty and Socks.  Hope they forgive us our absence,

We shall have our routine of  Mus popping in after work for a little chin-wag and  for his brother-in-law's teh tarik.  My sister can look forward to us waiting at her door,  mengendeng (mooching) for lunch.

We can look forward to academic and mind-boggling conversations and frolics with my sister's grand-children,  all 10 of them - but not all at the same time - oh no!!

Of  course we expect to be plagued by the second generation adults especially Maria, who uses the pretext of dealing with our administrative matters  just for a spot of Uncle Iain's KL-famous teh-tarik. There's also Hannah who drops in for a chit-chat about the trials and tribulations of doing law at UM.  But I also suspect (a prima facie case) that she loves her Uncle's version of cappucino coffee.

Then there will be the Rainbow Band kids  (they're all over 16 now)  from Singapore.  Lely and Ruqxana have  already made a booking for 4/5 June.  They're very considerate - giving us sufficient time to get over the jet lag.  (Oh no, not them again!!).  Din, the other one in KL, comes for cupboard love but he sometimes acts as a minder for the Dynamic Duo.

Good-bye No. 43 and Leicester.

My room will be bereft - of my mess!

Our dear, dear Jack and his seven cats.  Take care and do try to behave.

The most imaginative of Leicester's beggars.

The indefatigable dandelion - my role model.

Shy Ladybird - my best spring picture

Victoria Park.  How I will miss you!

Saturday 7 May 2011

Fire of Love - Episode 2

..........Episode 1 ended when Maizie joined and made a name for herself in the National Cadet Corps at Yusof Ishak Secondary School.

Most of the pictures in Episode 2 represent  figments of the author's imagination.  It's a malady you pick up when you spend too much time in academia in an English Uinversity. 

Maizie could not and would not cook.

 AsH now has to set the record straight - the sort of task that we former children of the British Empire have to do .....only too often.  Although today in my country there are too many who were not touched by the Colonial System and yet have turned out to be moonlight Westerners.

Instead of cooking Maizie would act out her life as a Malay Cleopatra in Kew Gardens.

In 1975, Maizie was confronted with the realities of working with the ruthlessly ambitious Nanyang Mafia in Jurong Secondary School.  She decided to cut her losses and begin a new adventure in Brunei.

Maizie's work room in her flat at Anggerek Desa

Maizie took her second-year teacher trainees to Berakas Beach to study the effects of marine erosion.  It was not all fun.  They had to complete a work sheet at the end of the day. 

Maizie also indulged in starting a hobby for which she had no talent at all!

And  Maizie spent six  years with these lovely ladies- very happy, fulfilling years.

And so to continue with where we left off .............


This will have to be a cliffhanger  .......

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Intermission In London

Millions went to London for the Royal Wedding.  But we went the day after to visit this young lad who I knew from 31 years ago.
We got to his abode (which he shared with Charlie) at Finsbury Park late afternoon and were taken into the front room ......

..and then proceeded to the kitchen-cum-dining area where this awaited us.  Naughty but nice!!!
This was a pre-cursor of more treats to come.

Yuwrajh (YD) prepared a pasta dinner for us with his own hands!

Firstly he removed the fresh pasta from the package and boiled it to a frothing temperature.  Then he heated the sauce which came from another package and mixed it with the pasta.  Hmmm - very interesting.  He set the table and we all tucked in.  Not bad.  I'll give him  7 /10 - that's more than he got for his English Composition at Jurong Secondary School.

But to be fair, YD gave us a choice of his home-made dhall and rice but we opted for Italian food prepared by a Maratha warrior.

Came Sunday, we went for a walk just for this fabulous Turkish breakfast!
The coffee  had a real kick - like kopi kampung but thicker and sweeter.  Such was the impact of this breakfast that I forgot to pick up my jacket when we left the restaurant.  Hassan and Yuwrajh had to retrieve it 6 hours later!

Then came a whopping surprise.  Just round the corner was - lo and behold  ........

Bless you Yuwrajh.  This was my first (and may be the last ) car boot  this year.  And so I wandered round like Minnie the Minx in a sweet shop while Iain and YD looked at flowers. How exciting!

But we also noticed YD  raiding his bank for more dosh  .........
That can only mean there will be more goodies to come.  Indeed there was.

For lunch, or rather a late lunch we had to escape the din in the main restaurant because the customers were yelling their heads off watching Arsenal vs Man United on the big screen.  (The Emirates Stadium was just a stone's throw away).  We were taken to a grotty looking back room into a cubicle decorated with plastic flowers and leaves.  YD was apprehensive because this place was new to him  and the ambience did not look too encouraging.  But his fears were unfounded.

The fish and the salad , in fact all our choice of dishes were scrumptious. This was our first time with Ethiopian food and we loved it.  For Yuwrajh it was especially exotic because the waitress did not have a London accent!
Before we left for Leicester on Monday afternoon our host went on his bicycle to get us lamachun  (a sort of soft Turkish pizza) for lunch - and he also packed us more Turkish bread with filling for our coach trip.

So here's my Report Card for Yuwrajh.
1. Food &  Beverage  -  Excellent
2. Accommodation  -  Very Good and Comfortable.  Only one flaw - there was no tea in bed.
3.Transport  -  Good. Although Hassan was an excellent driver, the squabbles about direction between him
 and YD had a negative effect on the ratings.
4. Entertainment - Zilch because too much time was taken up by eating and chin-wagging.
5. Activities - 5 Star Rating because we enjoyed the morning sun in the cosy back garden.  The lavender in
    the front garden was heavenly.  And this and the roses were all planted by Yuwrajh!

Yuwrajh and Hassan, thank you very much for giving us this fantabulous break.  We are very, very touched by the welcome given to us.
Well Yuwrajh, the boy from Jurong has done well.  You made it on your own steam , from teacher to nurse to speech therapist  and as your former teacher I am especially proud of you.  And by the way, we enjoy listening to stories of your travels and your insights into the world.

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done.   (Matthew Arnold  1822-88)