A Familiar Place

This place never fails to remind me of the Midwest. There’s something about its vast barrenness that’s akin to an American landscape. I love coming up here, for the sake of nostalgia.

Fishing for Stories

I spent brunch and early dinner with my friend M. We met to discuss further on the project that we’re collaborating on. Truth to be told, we spent more time talking about feminism and sexual politics rather than brainstorming for ideas. We only did the latter during the last half-an-hour of our meeting. Some funny-looking fish and pizzas distracted us in between, by the way.

Snaking Through the City

The Lunar New Year is finally here. I woke up this morning to the sounds of firecrackers and cries of merriment from across the neighborhood. I reckon there will be lots of sweet mandarins, lion dancing, and little red packets awaiting. I’m just looking forward to toss and taste more yee sang (fish salad). Here’s a scene from my city just before the big day arrived. Those miniature lanterns are hanging everywhere across the city. Have a good celebration :)

Weekend on Rewind

This weekend, I shall do nothing but read this book from start till finish. It’s a brilliant reflection on revivals, bricolage, pastiche and other postmodernism manifestations in today’s pop cultural landscape. While I do read this for academic research, I also take the occasion to enjoy the interesting thoughts and trivia. Oh, the irony.
PS My playlist (of rainy day songs) for January that's meant to be shared.

The Sugar Thing

There are two types of people in this world: one who drinks coffee, and one who drinks tea. And maybe there’s another type who only drinks chocolate. I’m the latter. I prefer a steaming cup of melted chocolate over latte or chai anytime. But this morning, I ran out of cocoa for breakfast. After rummaging through everything in the kitchen, I found some teabags. They were organic bamboo tea. Better than nothing, I thought. I brewed my tea, poured into my favorite mug and mixed in a dollop of honey and a few stevia leaves. The stevia’s from my garden. Its leaves are nature’s own sugarcubes. You can even eat them on their own. This drink, in the end, tasted mildly sweet and comforting (making me thisclose to leaving good old chocolate for tea leaves).

Royal Cat Nap

The best things in life are free. My eyes can never agree more. Catnaps are there for the taking, and at this moment, my pillow appears as delicious as toasted marshmallows. The afternoon’s rays are practically illuminating the whole bedroom as I type this. Everything seems gentle and calm, and though a bit warm, the bed looks inviting. I’m going to leave you here for now. I’ll see you after a sweet doze underneath the blankets.

Stories About the Storyteller

My eyes laid on Yasmin, How You Know? at the bookstore. The meekness of the book caught my attention: the pages were loosely bound and it seemed to have a missing cover. Curious, I bought the book. I sat down that very morning and read it from cover-to-cover. The book is filled to the brim with sentiments on the late Yasmin Ahmad shared by those who knew her well. Her spirituality, for instance, seemed unsurpassed by others. She spoke fondly of praying, of doing things as God wanted her to, of sharing laughter with people of all creeds and colors, and of appreciating the little things life could offer— all without sounding the least bit didactic. I was astounded and moved by these pages. Prior to reading the book, I actually saw her films (Sepet, Mukhsin and Chocolate), read her blogs and overall, admired her minimalistic, Yasujiro Ozu-inspired approach to filmmaking. I can’t say I was truly a fan, but I acknowledged her subtle brilliance (which spoke volumes in comparison to other Malaysian filmmakers). But only after reading the book did I notice how her films really captured the essence of the type of woman she was— spiritual, hopeful, appreciative, creative and above all, humble.
May you rest in peace, Kak Min.  
PS When asked how would we know if we have found our true love, Yasmin answered, “The same way we know when our house is on fire. We just know.” Beautiful advice.

Seafood Chronicle

For an early celebration of the Lunar New Year, my half and I went for some Chinese food for dinner. We wanted to have yong tao foo (stuffed beancurd) with soup at first. By chance, we stumbled upon an old seafood restaurant instead. The place had a humbling and nostalgic ambience, much to my delight. Just a few steps from where we were seated stood many aquaria-like tanks with swimming fish, lobsters, king crabs and other sea goodness. I dared not stare into the eyes of those fish for too long as I might meet either one of them on my plate. Alas, we settled for a giant tilapia cooked in Peranakan-style kapitan sauce and some fried kangkung belacan (water spinach with shrimp paste). Honestly, it was the best kapitan sauce I’ve ever had. We washed everything down with freshly-brewed Chinese tea. After the meal, we headed out for a drive around town to find more films to watch. The Chinese lanterns were lit up everywhere, illuminating the roads we were on. The night felt magical; I could see hope for prosperity in this little place we call home.

Fiery Trees

There’s a lot of poetry outdoors. I noticed this as I was taking a brisk walk with my ma around her neighborhood one morning. We found many flamboyant trees at the park, which excited my ma. She called them semarak api, which beautifully translates into “heaps of fire.” I thought the name really suited them. The flowers were fierce in color— all scarlet with smatterings of blood-orange. When in full bloom, they’d appear on fire if seen from a distance. The trees brought her back to the time when she was a child growing up in the rubber estate. The buds contained mouthful of liquid before becoming flowers. With imagination, my ma and her childhood friends turned them into water guns. I thought the story was fascinating— children in the past (or living in the countryside) would cleverly hook nature into their little games. Perhaps one day, I hope to teach my children this simple game crafted by their grandmother.

An Academic Diet

Breakfasts in bed are dreamy in notion. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up from a dream, only to have your beloved presenting you with a tray of toasts, crispy bacon and freshly squeezed juice? Similarly, albeit a lot less romantic, I had my breakfast in bed with…a bunch of books. On top of my list right now are books on digital culture, which serves as the basis for the PhD project I intend to embark on. Like most academic books, they’re a bit on the dull side. But the developing theories on identities and bodies in cyberspace are nothing short of fascinating.

When Life Gives You Lemons

Earlier this morning, my half and I drove around the entire neighborhood in search of soda.  It was past midnight and the rest of the world seemed fast asleep. After driving through different sections, we finally came upon 7 Eleven and got ourselves what we wanted. Satisfied, we drank our ice-cold soda with sliced lemons. There's a story behind our sudden craving, though. A few hours before the search, we were amusing ourselves with some of the most controversial TV commercials found online. Our favorite was Sprite. The advert involved a man, a woman and unmentionable body fluids in the bedroom. We thought nobody of sound mind would be swayed to buy the drink! But after watching a few more naughty commercials and laughing so hard at each, we ended up bone-tired and thirsty. The first thing that landed in our minds was…you guessed it. The commercial worked like magic.
PS Our little late-night adventure reads a bit like Haruki Murakami’s short story.