Sunday, March 30, 2008

The wheel that goes round and round

Nong Prem at the park is quite unusual. He is 3, a head shorter than Owen yet he cycles the neighbourhood alone. Never mind that the bicycle is missing one training wheel. He is quite capable of balancing the bike. If I could speak better Thai, I'd probably launch a dialogue with him about acrobats and circuses. After months of silent observation, I find him independent and smart. If he wanted something done, he'd not ask for help. He'd think of a way to do it, by hook or by crook. If the swing was too high for him to climb on, he'd lay his tummy on the swing, spreading his arms out as though they are wings of a bird or an aeroplane. If he fell from the bike, which is often, he shrugs and continues his journey. First I was impressed with his stamina and courage. Then I wondered, does anyone care about this kid? Is his dad in the army, training him to be some kind of fearless individual? Despite the tough exteriors (minus height), I noticed some sadness in his eyes.

Weeks ago, a new Prem emerged. A Prem who pees wherever he wants, whenever he wants. A Prem who yells when he is happy, sad, excited, tired, hungry. A Prem whose many kids begin to keep a distance. A Prem whose parents' worst nightmare has begun...

As a silent participant in an area buzzing with activities (due to my mono- sylabic Thai), I watch and observe the kids at the park. I suppose it's better than bird watching. Without digressing further, I note that when you are not too busy yakking, you see more. And I see Prem is acting obnoxious to get attention. Negative attention or otherwise, mai pen rai (never mind) as long as he gets some. As of now, parents have been reacting either with a stick to ward him off as though he is an irritating fly or they pretend not to see him. I beg to differ. I think he needs a simple, "are you ok?" when he falls. A daring hug when he cries. I have been thinking and have decided boldly to offer both when I see that he needs them.

I have faced many situations and heard many anecdotes where the chicken and egg analysis remains a mystery. My hypothesis pertaining to Prem is : bratty kid=attention seeker=bratty kid. My one million dollar question is does the poor chap lack attention and therefore he acts bratty OR he is bratty therefore he likes attention. Sigh! Either way, the characteristics form a vicious cycle. Just like the wheels on the bus, minus the happy tune, they turn round and round. Without intervention, they roll downhills, fast and out of control and then halt, a road pizza is in sight . He is a bright kid. What a waste it will be.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Achoo! Excuse me..

Gooly is currently home in Malaysia, waking up to the rambunctious cries and laughters of his baby cousin. He is usually happy and excited to have a playmate, even when the little tot remains garbo most of the time.

It does get a bit tricky when both of them want the same thing at the same time for the same reason, that is either to annoy each other or the mummies. I can't decide which.

This morning, Mahmee has decided to stop being the referee, just to see how the players fare. A couple of minutes of tugging and pulling proved to be unfruitful. Gooly started his modus operandi. While baby lost concentration for a nano second, Mr. Gooly grabbed the if-you-want-it, I-want-it Barney and ran a mile while proclaiming, "I'm allergic to babies. Don't come near me!"

Ding ding! Round 1...... This should get more exciting as they grow. Mahmee is anticipating more foul plays. Bring them on, boys!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The King and I

Many friends think I am pulling their legs when I told them that Monday is known as Yellow Monday in Thailand. This means that about 95% locals you see on the streets, shops, restaurants, offices wear yellow on that otherwise known as Monday Blues for people who dread working. Yep, you literally see walking bananas on this day. This is to honour the king whose birthday falls on a Monday some 80 years ago. According to the Buddhist calendar, each day is represented by a coloured silk. Sometime last year, the King fell sick and was admitted to the hospital. The Thais thronged the temples to pray for his health. Upon finding out that the color pink is auspicious for His Majesty, the colour pink quickly became a-must-have item in their closet. This is by far a very good news for metrosexuals and sweet-young darlings alike. As a non-Thai, I find all these very amusing and impressive. Such unity and profound love. Why is the King so revered?

Last year, I watched the celebration of the King's 60 years on throne with awed silence. Thousands of yellow-attired loyal citizens thronged the Royal Palace, shouting"Song Phra Charoen" - Long Live the King. When he appeared, his aura exuded charisma. People had tears in their eyes. When he spoke, they listened. Literally, the heart of Bangkok came to a halt at that moment. It's an extraordinary bond between people and monarch indeed.

Months earlier before the celebration, the whole nation was denied access to as there were insulting images of the King posted by somebody who obviously had too much time on his hand. For a few months, I missed out on my daily youtubing because of that. Alas the ban was lifted and I resume watching and making videos. Note that HM is protected by the lese majeste laws which allow critics to be jailed three to 15 years. The King however has stated that he was not above criticism in his 2005 birthday speech because he is only human and thus can do wrong. How do you not respect a man of such humbleness? Especially so when he is considered as a semi-divine figure by many. His pictures, posters, monuments adorn many homes, streets and buildings.

On lighter matters, the King has adopted a stray dog named Tong Daeng, meaning copper red. Tong Daeng even has a biography written by HM and of course, the book sold off even while still being baked in the oven. Describe to be a loyal and respectful dog, Tong Daeng has partly influenced my decision to adopt Limo (see previous blog). I am keeping my fingers crossed that the book will be translated into English, and I will be first in line to buy it. His Majesty is also known to be musically inclined, playing the saxophone and composing Jazz music. He is the reason the Hua Hin Jazz Festival is being held annually. I was also told that he speaks 4 languages, Latin included.

I may not be a Thai, but I do think the King is somewhat extraordinary. A man of few words but not without substance when he speaks. Perchance when we meet, I will give a respectful wai, which consists of a bow with the palms pressed together. Not diminishing the possibility of being awestruck by his presence, I may like the people of Thailand, prostrate myself on the ground, with genuine affection.

Monday, March 24, 2008


According to my trusted Wikipedia, serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate while looking for something else entirely. Say you are looking for the famous roti canai stall and got lost. Feeling too hungry to explore further, you decide to eat at the next stop and it turns out to be the best nasi kandar you have ever tasted. What a pleasant surprise. It is so pleasant that I think I should just psyche myself to stoicism, just so I become indifferent about everything only to be surprised later by new discoveries. To put it simply, I should head to Starbucks strictly for coffee, and (not) wait for serendipity to happen. Perchance another mummy will find me amusing and want to be friends. But then I read about Peter Mcwilliams who thinks," in reality serendipity accounts for one percent of blessings we received in life, work and love. The other 99% is due to our efforts. " So how, brown cow? I could be waiting forever for serendipity to happen. I should just smile and say hello, huh? And someone I know should really head down to THE GOOD GUYS. ; ) Efforts, my friend..

What the heck is Untaman?

Spiderman, Superman, Batman.. In Thailand, the kids are crazy about Untaman. Come again.. did I say Untaman? Yep.. Untaman is strong. Untaman is cool. Untaman is actually Ultraman. Everytime a nong says Untaman, I have the urge to shake his/her and shout, "Repeat after me....U-l-t-r-a-man." There is no Untaman unless you dress a man in a camel suit. To make it more appealing, he can resemble an unta (camel) who spits but only when his name is mispronounced. Pretty cool character, I must say. I should get it patented. Meanwhile, Owen is puzzled that Ultraman is Untaman is Ultraman. Should we capitulate?

Germinating the seeds of goodness

It's a known fact. It's not easy being a mama.

If I were to run a survey on how the mummies in the world want their kids to grow up to be, the answers will probably be universal; successful, happy, healthy,useful.

But before they become successful, happy, healthy and useful, they have to learn to love and respect, be clean, responsible, caring, diligent, smart, organised.. the list could really be a mile long.

To be truthful, I can't help but feel slightly overwhelmed. To date, gooly has jumped over the hurdles of walking, running, cycling, lettering and talking with ease.

I have injected humour in his life.

I have emphasized on manners.

I have stressed on language and knowledge.

The journey continues but not without surprises. From the day he could reach for his toys in the toybox, I have drilled him to put them back when he is done playing. He is ok with it. Sometimes he needs a little reminder. Occasionally, a sterner voice does the job.

Today, instead of asking him to pick up the small pieces of play dough, I thought, "What the heck, I'll do it."

While squatting down and thinking, "Aiyo, what if he expects me to clean up after him ALL the time?", a pleasant fella ran over and hugged me and said, "Thank you Mahmee for helping me clean up."

This is the part they call the joy of being a parent.

Of course there are difficult times when more vowed patience are needed. Like when he refused to sleep even after the hundredth yawn. Or when you have read the whole library, and he still wants one more story, and deliberately chooses the long version of The Three Little Pigs. This is the part they call sleepless nights in parenthood.

From the day he was conceived, I have prayed for wisdom to sow good seeds in my boy. Unbeknownst to many, first I was afraid, I was petrified..But yup, you guessed right.. I will survive.

I may only have a plastic watering can. But I have deposited the seeds with love and care. And now I pray for the best. ; )

Mahmee's Guide to Life, for gooly (Chill, it's only a guide)

1. when you fall, pick yourself up, brush off the dust and dirt and smile
2. when you fall and it hurt, cry for a while.. only a while
3. do not bring a stray home AGAIN, you are allergic to dogs but you can still be nice to them
4. always be polite even when you are smarter, richer, poorer than others
5. the teacher MAY not be right but you still need to respect her/him
6. you don't have to agree with people, but don't judge them
7. do something because it's fun, not because Mahmee told you to
8. read Benjamin Franklin's quotes (Mahmee's fav., "If you would be loved, love and be lovable")
9. when you are older, you will break girls' hearts. Do it gently
10. when they break yours, be strong. Don't beg and whine, though you may reach for the wine
11. be willing to learn. "Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn" - Benjamin Franklin
12. see the world, try different food, talk to people
13. marry for life
14. you don't have to be the best, but must give your best in everything you do
15. don't broadcast your own success. Let others do it for you
16. admit and learn from your failures and mistakes
17. love the man in the mirror. You are stuck with him for life
18. be passionate about human matters
19. dare to discipline your children
20. embrace cultural differences even when they baffle you
21. be thankful for what you have. Always think now is better than before and the grass appears greener the other side, though not neccesarily true
22. be humble when you strike success, be wise when you endure failures
23. if the first time you don't succeed, try and try again
24. there are three sides of a coin. Study and analyse both sides. The third is your own judgement, made with wisdom and not prejudice
25. think and decide with your brain, love and eat with your heart
26 expect the unexpected
27. learn to live with people and things you dislike. They are everywhere!
28. speak more languages, play music for fun, draw and paint even when you don't know how to
29. have loads of friends but a few buddies
30 come home when life spirals out of control .. you will be welcomed, loved and guided
31. not everybody will like you. Cest la guerre!
32. if somebody tells you, "You jump, I jump" get him/her to jump first while you find for the life jacket/parachute
33. give people the benefit of doubts but not blindly
34. nothing really matters but God and family

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sometimes angels don't have wings

We should believe in angels. With or without wings. When Gooly cried for the first time, I thought he sounded like an angel singing. And he was so fair that he was glowing and I remember thinking, "all that's missing are the wings", though I'd probably freak out if there were any.

Yes, I could probably be high on whatever the anesthetician jabbed me on my back, three times. But it was a beautiful moment.

Papah was the only one who saw Gooly's blue eyes. Yes, newborns have blue eyes because melanin, the brown pigment molecule hadn't been deposited in the irises of the eyes then. I wish I hadn't missed that 10 seconds precious moment.

Papah was not delusional because the only jab he got was from Mahmee to wake him up. Neither was he anticipating blue-coloured eyes because he wasn't aware of the Melanin thingy, and of course both of us do not have cat-like eyes.

So picture this, fair-skin that glowed, cried as though singing, blue eyes.

An angel was born indeed to our blessed family.
However, when the eyes turned dark brown, his cries louder and more frequent, we changed our minds. : P Then he'd do something that would make us change our minds again. This little tyke likes playing who-is the-angel-now, probably because our brain waves look too linear to him. Thus, it is a pendulum opinion which sways between tyrant and angel. Most fortunately, today we have another angelic moment. While reading a story on farm animals, Mahmee mentioned about sheep shearing, of how a farmer would shear off the fleece to make wools. A concerned he asked, "Does it hurt? Is that a nice thing to do?" I checked. No wings sprouted but it's ok. He's still a kind and thoughtful angel to Mahmee..

There is no Y in happiness

In the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, the word happiness was deliberately spelt wrongly. At the daycare centre where the main character, Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) sent his son to, the word happyness was spray-painted on the wall. He told jr. that it was a spelling error and stressed there is no Y/Why in happiness.

It's a read -in- between -the- lines sorta thing that many viewers miss.

And so, there is no why in happiness. I am buiding a hypothesis here which is, no question is needed when one is in pursuit of happiness because everyone wants to be happy. NO?

Oh yeah.. there are people who through selective memory, wish to remember the worst of their childhood and remain miserable for the rest of their life. What seemed to be a smack at the rear bottom 20 years ago could be retold today as ," I was an unwanted child" and further exacerbated (with intoxication) by the final outcry "I was abused."

I do not fathom. Why choose to be unhappy? Why create a mole hill out of a speck of dirt, assuming that you are not a mole? Do you not remember the nights your mummy read you Sleepy Beauty again and again and then one more time? Do you not recall the times your father became the driver on countless occasions?

I am a mother. I love and so I discipline. I wonder if Gooly will grow up remembering the times when he was asked to stand at the corner. Will he also remember that he asked which corner and we ended up bursting into laughter?

I surely hope he remembers that we spent many nights telling each other Amazon stories, which always ended with Mahmee being eaten by the pirahnas.

Always choose to be happy, my boy. Always remember there is no WHY in happiness because you truly deserve it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When multiplicity doesn't involve numbers

I read that Multiple Personality Disorder is now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Neither term should be confused with scizophrenia. If you disagree, then we need more asylums cos indeed we all have multiple personalities.

I am going to use Mahmee as an example who through healthy multiplicity, lives a happy and productive life. She is a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, daughter in law, sister in law on a daily basis. She plays the domestic cleaner, customer, cook on most days. Occasionaly she is the driver. She is lucky that she needs not to be an employee at the moment. Looking through the list, she confirms that 'one size fits all' is not applicable here, where personality is concerned. In fact she needs to be able to switch from moody wife to loving mum in 5 seconds and then split to grouchy cleaner when the coast is clear. More confusing multiplicities in operation when she is NOT ovulating. She can be sarcastic and compliant, cheerful and bitter to the same person at the same. This is the time when she can describe herself in many oxymoron-ic ways. She likes referring herself as the third party in monologues which involve dissecting her personalities, and feels moronic.

And then she feels comforted that someone in wikipedia is wise enough to say "healthy multiplicity is not a disorder, but a natural variation of human consciousness" On that note, she ends her soliloquy and proceeds to rummage through the closet for the ill-fitting Wonderwoman costume.

Houstan, we need more neologists..

A neologist is someone who creates or coins new words. We certainly need more neologists in the world. In my not-so humble opinion, The Big Bang is simply too boring. We are talking about a cosmological model of the universe, and it's called The Big Bang? Heck, it sounds like a cowboy movie.

Thanks to Gooly, I have also come to realise that there are still un-named things here on earth. He wants to know what is the joint that connects the upper arm and lower arm called - you know, the line where the elbow bends and where you collect grime on a sweaty day.

I posted the question on Facebook and a few friends responded. One suggested 'fore armpit' while the other thought "arm cleavage" is more appropriate. You gotta love friends like this : )

As stated in previous post, Gooly has coined the word goolypop as substitution for belly button. At 18 months, he'd say sundeh when he had something to say. I am sure it meant something but most unfortunately he cannot remember now and couldn't explain then.

Yesterday he told me, "Come on. let's mingamoon." It means you have to run and get the ball. He should really consider being a professional neologist.

Mai pen rai vs. Up to you

There are two phrases which haunt me in Thailand. Well, unless I choose to stay in solitude in the safe cocoon of my home. Otherwise mai pen rai and up to you are part of the daily conversations I have with the locals.

Thais have this 'tidak apa' or 'never mind' attitude when it comes to dealing with.. well, everything. Mai pen rai when used appropriately and mildly, brings warmth and sweetness. For example, when I told our somtum lady that I only had 20Baht, and solemnly promised to pay the additional 5Baht later, she smiled and said cheerfully, mai pen rai.

However mai pen rai when used loosely can reflect a really lackadaisical behavior. Say, Khun A has been waiting for Khun B for an hour. Khun B arrives and says, "Sorry." Mai pen rai is uttered. All is well. Fat hopes that Khun B will learn about punctuality.

When BBC reported about the military coup in 2006, people in other parts of the world showed concern and interest, except for the locals because "mai pen rai, we still have the King."

While mai pen rai is still acceptable, up to you is what makes my blood boil, from head to toe. To translate it loosely, it means 'whateva"- ghetto style. Say, you are not satisfied with the internet service in your area and you tell the customer service personnel that you have a complaint to make. Up to you, she (or he, one can't really be sure in Bangkok) will reply, as though double-daring you to do so.

I once read that a farang arrived at the Bangkok International Airport late at night. At the immigration counter, he was greeted by an octopus-like officer who took a photograph of the traveller, stamped his passport while yakking away on the mobile phone. Mai pen rai that she was rude and not ensuring that a paedophile doesn't enter the country. What was more appalling was the pleasant exchange afterward. Mr. Farang, oblivious to the cultures of the Land of Smiles (ya right..) proceeded by asking for the exit. Without looking up, hand and mouth still busy handling the mobile, Miss Octopus rudely gestured to the left impatiently and managed a 'duh, you are dumb" look. Mr Farang did not appreciate that and having not heard of mai pen rai before in his entire life, shot sarcastically, "Sorry that I have to interrupt you on your personal call while on duty."

"Up to you!" was the reply.

Welcome to Thailand. : )

(Note: Mai pen rai that she should used, "wateva" instead to make more sense)

Lastly, I have also learnt that when a customer wants to cancel an order worth 500000 Baht, the saleman will also say "up to you." Upon finding out about the cancellation, two things might happen: the boss says mai pen rai or he fires the salesman and gets the reply, up to you.

I should really start embracing Thai culture because it's really up to me that I survive in mai pen rai-land, without having to end up like dear old Miss Britney.

Hit me baby one more time!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tut! That dreaded day came too soon

At around the age of 8 months, babies come to realise that they are a separate entity from their mothers. At this stage they become more clingy than ever. I don't remember having to 'wear' Gooly, but he remains close to me until, well.. today!

It's a routine for us to cycle at 5pm everyday. He'd ride his bicycle while I tag along, throwing in the usual "watch out for the tree" and "a car is coming, move to the side" that sorta banalities.

Recently, he has found his own cycling buddies which I dubbed the "Le Tour de Langkawi" gang. It's quite a sight, the 6/7 of them circling the neighbourhood, like vultures but without a care in the world.

I have been extra careful not to be a shadow casting over my boy. And so I have been watching from a distance, appearing non-chalant while suppressing the need to bite my fingernails. As thought that is not enough, today he proclaimed full independence and freedom by a simple, yet firm request , "Mahmee, you stay here. Don't follow me, ya.. "

I agreed but I detested the idea. He is growing. He was a needy baby but not anymore. Happy graduation from babyhood, my boy. The next time you graduate from boyhood to manhood, Mahmee hopes she will cope better.

Code Adam and more

We are all aware of the rampant growth of abduction and murder cases in Malaysia. It pains to hear such morbid news. It's not surprising when all parents become paranoid about the kids' safety. But how much do we actually know about the basic principles of safety of our kids? It strikes at my primal fear that it doesn't take more than a minute to have a total stranger lure away a kid on the pretext of looking for a lost puppy.

I was also bewildered at the new safety rules offered by numerous websites. Prior to reading these safety measures, it had never occurred to me to teach Gooly to yell, "You are not my father/mother." when an attempt is made to snatch him away. I am sure we have eye-witnessed at least a scene of an impatient parent dragging away the feet-stomping child on a bad shopping day. And we watched in silence or looked away, embarrassed.

My point is we always assume that the parent has had a rough day and is taking the sobbing child home. But when the case is otherwise, a malice at its deepest, darkest core, how would we know unless the child tells us so? It's a simple thing that not many are aware of.

I also chanced upon Code Adam - a kid safety program in the US at Wikipedia. It is named in memory of Adam Walsh who was abducted and then murdered. Basically it has the following six steps:
1. when a child is reported missing at a mall, a detailed description is obtained while all exterior access to the building is locked and monitored
2. as designated employees monitor front entrance, the other employees begin looking for the child
3. if missing child is not found after 10 minutes, law enforcement is called
4. if found and seem unharmed, the child is reunited with family members
5. if the child is found, but not with the parent(s) or legal gurdian, reasonable efforts to delay their departure will be used without putting the child, staff or visitors at risk. Law enforcement will be notified
6. the code page will be cancelled after the child is found or law enforcement arrives

Even with such codes, innocent children are still missing everyday. But it is a measure that we need to have, to say the least. It's very primitive that the only safety tool our MEGA malls have in Malaysia is the CCTV with its blurry images.

Meanwhile, dear parents, read up and protect our children the way we are mandated to do. There are endless webpages which offer safety advice and tips. And there are all a click away. Lastly, my prayers to all the missing angels..

Shoes and bags maketh this woman

Over the years living in Bangkok , Mahmee's shoes and bags collections have extended from the conventional blacks to the myriad colours of the ICI paints. No, she is not remotely close to resembling an octopus or a certain thousand-hand goddess. And yet, she buys and buys and buys.. shoes and bags, and then bags and shoes.

She discovered a little shoe-haven along the busy streets of Ramkamhaeng a while ago. For bags - clutches, hobos, slings, totes she goes to Yaowarat. She doesn't pay more than RM20 for each item. On days when she is felling a little bluish, looking thru her collections is very therapeutic. An immense odd feeling of satisfaction spreads from the tip of her messy hair to the last cell of her uncut toenails. No wonder she feels blue and odd. Maybe she should have her pedicure done and hair styled instead. Then there will be no space issue in the closet.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another kitschy-art day

To be frank, Mahmee is not the most artistic person. She was wrongly accused of drawing a spider web when she tried drawing a streetscape in 2-point perspective in Primary 6.

Nonetheless,that doesn't stop her from being an art enthusiast. She enjoys looking at paintings but never buying them. One of her dreams would be going to Musee du Louvre just so she could smile and stand in awed silence before the famous painting . She is also inspired by Phil Hansen's and Akiane's work of arts.

Geniuses aside.... Gooly enjoys art sessions with Mahmee. He doesnt like getting too dirty though. So, a smock is a must. A bright yellow one which by the way is SO not his colour. Due to Mahmee's lack of artistic cells/genes, they have limited their activities to finger painting, brush painting, collages making. On more adventurous days, they do potato stamping, sponge stamping, leaf stamping and okra stamping.

The house is laden with kitschy art pieces. We did a okra stamping today. Someone lucky will be getting it soon in the mailbox. : )

Monday, March 17, 2008

Having fun shouldn't be hard

Gooly is spunky. He wakes with a zesty, "What should we do next?"

When the sun is burning my derriere and the early birds have collected their now-dead worms, it's kinda cute. Otherwise, Mahmee mutters, "We should go back to sleep next.." sarcastically albeit silently.

And so Gooly wakes and gets busy. He fingerpaints, footpaints, brushpaints.

He cooks, cleans and dirties.

He plays the American football, soccer, golf, volleyball.

He asks to visit the park, twice a day.

Basically he does what he does all in the name of fun. When you are 3, having fun is a serious business. And you better be really good at it since it's what you do 24/7. (Don't ask me how good I am as a stay home mom since I am one 24/7. That would be going off the tangent.)

I am a firm believer that a parent is the best toy a child could have. All you need is to get your creativity juice flowing. We have made binoculars using paper cups, telescopes with toilet rolls and whatnots with other recycled materials. And today we discovered a new activity which will guarantee squeals of laughter - plastic-kite flying.

Tie a string to the handles of a plastic bag and fly away, my boy. I can still hear his laughter and smell his sweet sweat post running.

Having fun shouldn't be hard. Being happy couldn't be easier. Maybe we should all go 'fly kite' once in a while and don't get offended when one has the courtesy to extend such invitation to us.

Note: Activity carried out under strict supervision. Bag and string have been discarded to avoid risks of strangulation and suffocation.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My soul song

Once in a taxi to town, the Virgin Radio was tuned in airing some English language hits instead of the usual Thai "I love you, you love me" sombre music. A rare occasion indeed. I perked up my ears like a bunny would on easter. Then came a song, with its haunting tune and sorrowful words.

Oh simple thing (sympathy) where have you gone
I'm getting old and i need something to rely on
So tell me when you are gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and i need somewhere to begin
Why don't we go.. somewhere only we know

I was 31, getting old and tired. Was that the reason the song etched in my memory and heart? Because it was SO singing about me? I remember feeling old as I sighted a few strands of white hair earlier but what I was tired of, I cannot remember (maybe, the thai love songs). I do remember missing home and wanting to call Bangkok my home but just couldn't. Anyways, I tried looking up the title of the song based on the few key words i made sure I memorised but to no avail. For one whole year I tried. Finally Blake chose to sing it on American Idol. Yahoo! That was the one mega lead I needed to search for the long-awaited song. Now all I gotta do was to google what-blake-sang-yesterday. Ohhh.. it was Somewhere Only We Know by Keane. I noticed it was even aptly titled to suit my mood. Further search revealed its lyrics to me. I thereby pronounced it MY SOUL SONG:

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Chorus (as above)

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me
Is this the place we used to love
Is this the place I've been dreaming of

If you have a minute, why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know..

I think the 'somewhere' could be home.

Perhaps on a rainy day, I'd declare Rihanna's song as my other soul song.

Under my umbrella, ella, ella

; )

Buy this, free that

I love waking up on Sunday mornings. It means a hearty breakfast followed by the usual Jatujak browsing cum shopping spree. A trip to the weekend market never fails to introduce more surprising, if not amusing Thai cultures to us. So to speak, we were bemused again today.

Once we stepped foot into 'Busyland' we saw that a crowd has gathered. There were cartons and cartons of toys, which i do not doubt the proprietor intended to sell off in ONE DAY in this shopping haven. Huh? Is it a possibility to strike gold in one day? Mr. ToyBoy may not seemed like he attended business school, but he sure has the basic principles of marketing right. Maybe he has a copy of Seth Godin's Purple Cow for Christmas last year.

Anyways, the location was perfecto. It was smack right in the middle of the walkway . Eat at the famous ramen stall, you hear him. Head to the toilet, you see him. (Note: There is no correlation between the variables. So 'famous ramen stall next to the toilet along the walkway in Jatujak, I don't anticipate seeing you in court)). Secondly, the weather was right for business. In the intense heat, kids (like mine) get really unreasonable and would stomp their feet for toys when they detected one, using their infamous inconspicuous antennas. It's Sunday. You don't want to deal with whiny and cranky children. Give them what they want and nobody gets hurt. Finally, the sale pitch gotta make NO sense. "Buy this push along mini cooper for 200baht and you get this gargantuan battery-operated dinosaur which roars, walks and grunts for FREE."

You thought you heard wrongly. Then he confused you more by adding the detail of how much the clamorous extinct reptile would cost on OTHER day.. a hefty 1750 baht. Wtf..

Now, how about telling the innocent crowd that the dinosaur is on sale today and you are throwing in the mini cooper as a BONUS. Sure, follow my suggestion and you will lugging the boxes back to the sorry ass of your van at the end of the day. Meanwhile, Mr.Toyboy is laughing all the way to the bank. Hey, gimme back my money!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

When a fish becomes feet..

Back home in Malaysia, it is not uncommon to find yourself caught in a conversation in English. You may be talking with the English professor from university or discussing something as mundane as what to bring for Letter- A day with the kindergarten teacher who likes to omit the letter 's' just so she could put it elsewhere where it is not needed. Both conversations could cause serious mental harm.

While you could pretend to understand the professor's much accented Cockney English with the occasional nod (try throwing in the "Really?" to be more convincing), the latter dialogue proves to be more, what can i say.. mind boggling/challenging. Throughout the entire 5 minutes exchange of words, your poor brain has to work hard to:
1. correct the so-called teacher's grammar (silently)
2. wonder if you have made the right choice sending your kid to this school
3. remember that "Next Tuesdays is Letters A day.. You can brings thing like apple or aprons" (One can only assume that the teacher thinks letter A should be pluralised, because there are the upper case and lower case A. Duh!)

It's challenging when you try not to laugh out loud, correct her grammar out loud and ask her to go back to school out loud. (More on this 'mai pen rai' - nevermind attitude in later posts)

Fast forward to life in Thailand. I devour everything written/spoken in English. Prior to owning a laptop which serves as the window to the world (cliched but true to its core), I read the Carrefour weekly catalogues and held monologues with gooly.

A weekly visit to the famous Chatujak does give me the opportunity to hear the language being spoken. Then again, we may as well consider it another language. Allow me to explain. You find a nice restaurant to have lunch, and you want to order fish. So, you wave the chap over and say, "fry fish" (don't bother saying Fried Fish to avoid confusion). "Fly feet?" he asks for confirmation. Don't worry, fish is what you will get.. and it shall be fried. : )

Then you proceed to shop. You will have a problem when you want an XL shirt and you don't know how it's done in Thailand. It's EK EL.. there is no XL. Don't bother asking for a discount when the lady tells you, "FAKE PLY" (fixed price). Turn to the next 'soi', a girl chants, "mani-q. pedi-q". Go ahead, get your manicure and pedicure done since they are cheap.

At present I am getting proficient in Thai English. When I wish, I wit. Thus, I wit I can have feet tomorrow. : )

The Simple Things I love About Gooly

After spending 1200 odd days with Gooly, I am listing the simple things i love about him..He..

1. says thank you
2. insists that u say thank you
3. says the cutest things ie. don't eat me, eat rice and vegetables
4. says sorry, mummy, i wont do that never again
5. smiles and has rainbow eyes
6. says i am a silly mummy
7. knows science facts i.e there is no gravity in Moon
8. asks difficult questions i.e why do things fall when i throw them up
9. makes simple logic i.e the plants grows DOWN at night
10. makes good sense i.e the SUN is made of egg yolk
11. is a reader for words like Pooh, his own name, Dog, Cat
12. is a logo scout i.e 7-eleven, toys r us, Lotto, Air Asia
13. says I love U mummy all the time
14. gives me flowers (picked from ground)
15. can memorise stories (curious george)
16. likes to be read to every night
17. plays Bunnytown online
18. counts to 12
19. knows the names for all family members
20. does the cutest 'wai'
21. coins the word goolypop
22. kungfu fights
23. is independent
24. is dependent
25. lines up for things
26. loves little babies
27. doesnt push or shove
28. holds my hand
29. sings out of tune
30. poses like a pro for Mummy's camera
31. eats brocolli and carrots
32. knows what is good for his health and what is bad
33. knows internal body parts i.e lungs, heart, bladder, rectum, intestines, brain
34. swims and cycles
35. can laugh easily
36. can cry easily
37. takes care of mummy.. finding my spectacles
38. is an animal lover
39. takes naps so Mummy has time to do other things (ie. writing this)
40. wants to work but can't cos he doesnt have a bow tie
41. hates it when the drinking cup is wet
42. does the jiggy
43. is brave enough to order his own food or ask for a small bowl
44. is shy enough not to touch people's things
45. has good vocab ie. exhausted, extinct, hibernate
46. gives the best hugs
47. looks cute in dungarees
48. is expressive
49. is dramatic
50. wants to buy Mummy a bracelet because i don't have one
51. doesnt share his ice cream because he thinks I should have coffee instead
52. cleans up most of the time
53. is a cheeky monkey
54. asks which corner, when asked to stand in a corner
55. is genuinely sad when being reprimanded
55. is genuinely happy when being cuddled and loved
56. stands at the gate and waves good bye to Papah every morning
57. says Sweet Dreams every night
58. doesnt ask for toys at toy stores
59. fights for our pillows and bolsters every night
60. drinks water, "no ice please"
61. mispronounces saloon (shalom) and Yoyo Land (YoyoLamb)
62. recognises 40 over world flags
63. is neat and tidy
64. is the Park Warden, making sure other kids behave
65. is not easily influenced
66. has a faint dimple on his left cheek
67. is persistent
68. wakes with a zesty, what should i do now
69. is original
70. is not very stubborn
71. knows when to use the hazard light
72. brushes his teeth and then spits
73. speaks very little Thai, and when he does, it's awfully cute
74. speaks very little Cantonese and Hokkien, and when he does, he sounds like an Ang Mor
75. reasons very well
76. takes care of his toys
77. frowns
78. runs and brings the potty to poopoo
79. flushes after weewee
80. lift the toilet seat up and then down when he is done
81. winks
82. tries hard not to cry
83. yawns and tries to hide them so that he doesnt have to go to bed yet
84. is a busy photographer
85. is a busy handyman (or tries to be)
86. thinks Mummy should go to school because i do not speak thai and do not know how the microwave works
87. is innocent enough to want to convince the teacher to allow Mummy to stay in class despite the age limit
88. gave KILLER raspberry kisses at 13 mths
89. said "sundeh" for whatever at 18 mths
90. will ask is this it? when he can read this ( i predict)
91. imitates well (breakdance, Ultraman, Superman, BMX stunts)
92. chats up a storm with people he is comfortable with (as long as you speak English)
93. sings I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane.. Dunno when i come back again..
94. sings John Lennon's Beautiful Boy.. Before you go to sleep, go wee wee
95. comforts Mummy "Dont worry, Mummy"
96. shows concern when Mummy climbs "Be careful, Mummy"
97. says thank you when being fed medicine instead of kicking a fuss
98. doesnt know the meaning of 'respect' but will still use the word occasionaly
99. farts and annouces it (in hokkien)
100. burps and says excuse me
101. turns away when sneezes
102 covers the mouth when coughs
103. pegs the laundry (all over the same clothing item, usually papah's underwear)
104. asks for a YES/NO argument just for the heck of it
105. runs around in circles till he gets dizzy
106. wants to be a clown, acrobat, mechanic in future BUT NEVER A DOCTOR OR ASTRONAUT..
107. burps and says I am so full
108. wants to visit the STATUE OF LITTLE BEE (LIBERTY) but has no money
109. owns a leash before he owns a dog
110. treasures his 1st VALENTINE CARD and proudly shows it to anyone willing to see
111. wants the hear his valentine message over and over again
112. when asked what is in Italy, he says Pizza
113. automatically says Hong Kong cd when someone mentions the country
114. points out the sushi counter during grocery cos he knows Mummy loves them
115. is a painter. One of his materpieces is called, The Sky is Gone. It was painted in black. The blackest of black

This list should get longer in time. Is there anything you would like to add? : )

A Story by Gooly

This story was narrated by Gooly and I played the secretary, typing it out for him. I thought it's pretty cool considering that there was a beginning, a climax, an ending and most of all, i got to be THE SUPER HERO (heroine doesnt sound so cool) . Enjoy! : )

Once upon a time, Owen saw a crocodile, an anaconda and an araipaina at the zoo. The anaconda squeeezed Owen and Mummy came to rescue him. But first Mummy has to fight the anaconda. The crocodile came to bite Owen as well. And Mummy had to rescue him again. Then the araipaina came to bite Owen. So Papah came to rescue everybody. Papa is James, by the way. And then Owen is safe. The end.

City of Angels

.. and so Limo ran away after papah shouted at him at 3 am on that fateful day. So wat do we do.. Leave him out or go look for him. At this moment of doubt and remorse, he was carried home by the guard. Khap khun ka, pi.. : )

Amidst the chaotic and loud LIMOSINE.. DON"T RUN AWAY AGAIN.. yada yada yada, the nice uncle quietly set off to work.. blocking the gate with little pieces of wood. Talk about taking actions against all talk no action.. I am guilty for the latter. Beads of sweat dripped from his wrinkled face as he worked on the project. Moments later.. i gave a smile and an appreciative 'wai'. I hope he understood my gratitude.

Yesterday, disaster struck again. I am exaggerating.. but for one who doesnt speak thai.. it is a disaster when something needs fixing in the hse and you can't just call Ah Ming plumber to come fix it, pronto.. The pipe outside was leaking. It wasn't dripdripdripping.. it was spewing as tho the water meter doesnt work and there is no draught in other parts of the world. "Hello.. the pipe is leaking.. i need a plumber.. a plumber.. A PLUMBER.." Lots of translations and frustrations, i forecasted. Maybe i should attempt fixing it myself.. since i could fix the light bulb (with gooly holding the chair). I took a cloth.. (err.. to wrap/shoo mozzie/wateva) and set off to be a DIY-er. Lo and behold.. someone had already fixed the darn thing.

Sure.. there are the evil tuk tuk-man who lurks around the city and irritating auntie who seems to think that i am a mistress to a mysterious man.. and the opposite auntie who likes to rant on in thai on godknowswhat. Despite it all, angels do live here.. in Samutprakarn.

Khap Khun Kha..and sawadeeka..

Limosine aka Lam Mo San

Limo is a dog.. well, he wasnt Limo when he was staying under the bridge near my hse. Now he has a surname, Lim just like Gooly. We shall call him Momo and LIMOSINE when he needs some serious scolding.

The name process - I think it is significant for a dog to have the same surname to be a part of the family. Back home in Msia, we have Quahli (and if there is another, it will be Quahchi) . And thus, i came up with Limo, Limbo, Lima (hubby is Lim ) and the final decision was made by Gooly.. LIMO. A Gud choice, cos it sounds gud in Cantonese (see title)

I stayed with Limo the first nite.. it was quite smooth sailing despite the occasional whimpering. The soft whimper went to head-splitting howls the 2nd nite when we left him out. The QUIET LIMO worked miraculously at 3am.. Much to our chagrin, we found out he had ran away from home at about that time..

He's settling in for now.. no more howlings or runaways.. Doesnt bite or chew that much. And so the neighbours do not hear much of the stern LIMOSINE...yet : )

An Ode to Mothers and Grandmothers

This is an article extracted from the BAMBI magazine here in Bangkok. The author(s) remain(s) unknown but the piece truly reflects the feelings/turmoils/joy all mothers and grammas alike go thru. Enjoy and do bring the kleenex out : )

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf, saying "it's okay, Mommy's here"
Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in thier purse
For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes
And all the mothers who DON'T

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see
And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors
And for all the mothers who overheat on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from their air conditioned cars, so that when thier kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?" they could say, "Of course, I would not have missed it for the world," and mean it

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner
And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realise how child abuse happens

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained about making babies
And for all the (grand) mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words
This is for all the mothers who go hungry so their children can eat
For all the mothers who read Goodnight Moon twice a night for a year
And then read it again "just one more time."

This is for the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school A nod for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and thier daughters to sink a jump shot

This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls, "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home - or even away at college

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there
Only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. RIGHT AWAY

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them

This is for all the step-mothers who raised another woman's child or children, and gave their time, attention and love, sometimes totally unappreciated!

For all the mothers who bite thier lips until they bleed when thier 14 year olds dye thier hair green

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting
For the mothers of survivors and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful and now pray they come home safely from a war

What makes a good mother anyway?
Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips?
The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner and sew a button on a shirt
All at the same time?Or is it in her heart?
Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter dissapear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?
The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 AM to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?
The panic, years later that comes again at 2 AM when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home?
Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for the young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation..
And mature mothers learning to let go
For working mothers and stay at home mothers
Single mothers and married mothers
Mothers with money, mothers without
This is for all of you
For all of us
Hang in there
In the end we can only do the best we can
Tell them everyday that we love them
And pray.

What is a goolypop?

Every child who has just learned to talk knows no fullstops. Ok, i am a chirpy bird today so i will not dwell on the topic of how a yakking child gives you a headache. Instead, let's focus on something more worth remembering, which is.. they yak but the interesting news is they could be a neologist/word smith. And that's how the word 'goolypop' was coined... by a 2 year old... who obviously thought it was way cooler than the banal and common 'navel' or 'belly button'. And mahmee couldnt agree more! :D

The art of making milk

I am not sure if this would happen to all households once the baby has arrived, but it was evidently an issue in my home; the arguement of how much to feed the bugger.

Newborns need to be fed frequently, and since the stomach is probably the size of a pea (need verification here), the quantity is a much worried figure.. Feed too much, stomach aches, feed too little, poor baby in hunger (need more verification here).

If i remembered correctly, gooly liked to be fed 2 ounces/20ml every copla hours. And the instruction on the milk can says for every one ounce, you mix in one scoop of powder. How hard is that to comprehand? Well... mahmee and papah came out with two methods.
1. Mahmee mixes cold and hot water-a very delicate job. She double checks. Yup, water level at 20ml. She adds in two scoops of 'wondermilk' and proudly presents it to hubby. Hubby scrutinises specimen. "Now it's not 20ml.. It's more than that lah.. too much already." -_-
2. Papah mixes cold and hot water, making sure it's hotter than how Mahmee would mix it, at apprx. 15ml.. adds in the DHA-laden powder, and voila! A numerically-precised concoction.

Thus ,was gooly being underfed or overfed really depended on who was mixing the formula. Seriously, Mahmee wasn't too worried. She was too busy hoping that he will go back to sleep..


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