Monday, December 18, 2006

Malay Romance

“What do you want for our anniversary?” asked a friend’s husband.

“I want…romance,” she had replied.

“How..? Just tell me la what you want..”

“I want romance. Pikir lah sendiri…!” (Think about it yourself!)

“Tak reti…” (Don’t know..)

Malay men…don’t they know the meaning of the word romance? I don’t think so. But then again, what does a Malay woman expect when she wants romance? If you’re a woman, ask yourself. Candle lit dinner at home, perhaps? Dining out, at a very nice and expensive place – without the kids tagging along? A romantic card attached to a box of chocolate hearts or better yet, a small velvety box? Or maybe canoodling in a 5 star hotel somewhere with one’s spouse, leaving the kids with the maid or the in laws?

I remember doing exactly that last one on one of my wedding anniversaries and telling a white lie to my in laws (we were living with them at the time in Seremban) that we had some dinner or other after work and that we decided to sleep over at my sister’s in Bukit Jelutong. The funny thing was, when we came back the next day, there was a big ‘Happy Anniversary’ card on our bedroom table! Imagine my embarrassment because obviously, they remembered that it was our anniversary and probably suspected that we went to a hotel somewhere for some extra 'sound proof' in the middle of the night. Not that the rooms in that hotel we stayed in were sound proof, of course, but I think the thick carpets and thick curtains probably absorb more sound than the rug and curtains at home, so…

Thank God, my in laws are pretty sporting people. Anyway, that’s not the point..

I was trying to identify and determine what actually constitutes romance for most of us Malay women, basically, women like me, the average perempuan melayu. I mean, frankly, the candle lit dinner just wouldn’t cut it for me without wonderful conversation and some other intangibles and I would probably start coughing from the smoke coming from the flames anyway (I’m asthmatic, as you might know). I just don’t fancy things like that – things that is so often used on TV to ‘describe’ romantic - just detest ‘commercial romantic’! Plus, that’s really NOT our culture, is it?

But what is supposed to be true Malay romance?

I mean, come on, think about it. If the people in the kampung want to be romantic, what is the first thing they think about? Everything is so commercialised and westernised nowadays and I am not well read when it comes to Malay books and culture - so it is really my ignorance that's to be blamed, really - but I would really like to find out the real romance for Malays.

Or is there no such thing?

Funnily enough, although I am an avid romance reader, I can’t think of much romantic stuff at the moment that could be construed as totally Malay. That’s probably because when I read, I can clearly see the people in the books – not so much in the details of their faces – just that it is always so very clear to me that they are mat saleh, NOT Malay. So even though I’ve read more than 80 romances this past year (yup, I counted!), I could never mistake the fact and however much I want to, could never imagine myself doing the romantic stuff they do in the books.

But thinking about it, I me, romance, if anything, must come from the heart.

As in a special dinner cooked just for you by your husband when he doesn’t really know how to cook but he tries anyway because he wants to show you how much he loves you and he wants to make it ‘special’.

Now, THAT would make me feel romanced, even when my kids are screaming at my side, vying for attention and my husband looks a mess with an apron and a spatula in hand.

You think I’m a bit weird?

But that's exactly what my husband did for our last anniversary.

You think he's romantic? He's not. Well........not really, anyway.

I asked him to cook for me for our anniversary. But not just that, I looked for a recipe that I wanted to try, bought all the stuff needed in order to cook it and asked him prettily to cook it for me! He agreed (but not without calling me every few minutes “babe, macam mana ni?” (babe, how do you do this?)). But I appreciated his efforts and I did, honestly, feel romanced because it wasn’t easy for him to do what he did. Although it would have been brilliant if he had thought to do it all by himself, of course.

So my conclusion is...

You want romance from your husband? Don't give him a hint. Don't ask for 'romance' coz chances are, you may never get it.

Tell him how to do it. Teach him and he will learn. Sow the seeds and you will reap the fruit.

Heh..I have always been a practical person...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Older Movie Buff

I remember those days when I lived in Pantai Hill Park. When there was a maid and only one little toddler. And GSC at Mid Valley was less than 10 minutes away. We used to shop at Jaya Jusco for our groceries 30 minutes before it closes at night and we used to take a nap or lepak at home before gallivanting out just before midnight to catch a midnight show, most of the time at Mid Valley, sometimes at KLCC. We even knew which are the best parking spots to reach the cinema in minimal time and the best ones when we leave the cinema later, at 2 am.

Ah..that was the good life.

For now, I normally wait for DVDs to come out or watch movies on the free movie channel. Old movies. Movies that I never had the chance to see, even though I had wanted to. Movies that I’ve seen before, once, twice and many, many times.

Movies that I never ever wanted to watch.

Funny though how we have a different view and understanding of some of these movies when we were younger. When I first saw The Sound Of Music, that was when I was very, very young, I didn’t understand much of it. I thought the movie was kind of long and I lost interest halfway. Later on when I was a little older, I saw it again and thought, Ugh! What a corny movie, with all those singing happy kids in their big house in that beautiful place. And that nanny ended up with their father?? I didn’t like it at all.

And then I saw it a few weeks ago and I saw a completely different movie.
No, I didn’t cry when Maria had to run back to the convent. But yes, I didn’t think it was corny anymore. I thought the war issues were pretty serious and I was amazed that they can still go on with their lives when the future there looked so bleak for them.

And I thought the ending was so bloody horrible. Imagine having to cross the mountains on foot with all those children when in all probability there’s a truck full of Nazis fast on their heels? It would have been a terrible experience for them. The movie ended while they were all still looking very serious indeed on that mountain path and for all we know, they might not have made it across the border. In my old movie buff brain where sometimes I tend to mix reality with fantasy, I thought, the moment the director said ‘CUT!’, those Nazis would surely have jumped on them.
The movie started happily enough but overall, I thought that I certainly could not generalise it as a happy movie. A complete turn around from my younger perception of the movie.

Another movie that I come to perceive and understand differently is Ali Baba Bujang Lapok. I was scared when I watched this movie as a kid. With all those swords and evil baddies and killing, man, it certainly wasn’t suitable for my young age of 8 or so at the time. And I never really sat down to watch the whole movie after that until about 1 year ago and boy, how hilarious it turned out to be. I mean, that movie is really, really funny!

And then there were some other movies like The Last Of The Mohicans. I watched that movie a long, long time ago but I kid you not when I say that I still sigh (a very loooooong sigh) at the sight of Daniel Day-Lewis running. Run! Run! Run some more my good man!


I watched this movie recently and it was still as good as before. Everything was exactly as I understood it except for the love scene that suffice to say, previously, I thought was something else but at 30, I know is something different.


And then a few weeks ago I saw The Return Of The King (last instalment of The Lord Of The Rings) and it was still very, very good. Samwise Gamgee is still very much the hero, Viggo Mortensen is still damn bloody hemsem and the Lord of the Nazguls is still very, very scary. Nothing much has changed there. Then again, I only saw that movie a few years back so it’s not surprising that I’m still of the same opinion on the matter.

What I would love (or dread) to watch again though and see how my old age has changed in my tastes and perceptions is that movie Dirty Dancing. I used to think that movie was so cool but even thinking about it now makes me want to cast out my dinner, especially when I think about the main characters. I would have described the heroine as ‘that cute girl’ and Patrick Swayze as ‘that cool guy’ years ago but now I think I would probably be disgusted if I ever chance upon the movie on tv and cringe at the stupidity of ‘the good doctor’s little daughter’ and how ‘that seasoned and uneducated dancer’ used her..

Age changes how we view things in life. But it's really a pity when what was once cool is now fool. And try as I might, I really cannot change my mind on the matter...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Princess? Argh!!!

I freak out whenever I think about it.

A girl? My very own daughter? I just cannot imagine bringing one into this world. It just scares the hell out of me whenever I think about it. I am dead serious and by the way, in case you're wondering, I am not pregnant!

But why, you're asking. Why don't I like girls? It’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, I'm sure. But there it is. You see, It’s just because I’m scared. I’m just so very afraid that I would not be able to do it 'right'. To bring them up ‘right’, I mean. Because girls are just…ARGHHH…too much to handle!

I should know. I was once upon a time, a girl too, you know.

When I go to my friends’ daughters’ birthday parties and they start calling their little girls ‘princesses’ and going gaga over their sweet little smiles, I shudder. When I see those girls wearing ‘princessy’ dresses, all in pink, I feel nauseous. When these girls start to shriek and giggle, I just want to scream! Why can’t girls be sober and serious and intellectual–like from the age of zero?

And when I surfed through the internet, and looked at pics of girls and young women in Malaysia and how they dress, I start to get palpitations. All that make up, proud display of cleavage, nice and shiny black hair turned brown or even worse, blond, and all those 'oh-so normal’ hugging and kissing between ‘friends’ no matter from which species of the human race they come from. What has happened to those Islamic or at least Malay/Asian values that we were all once brought up with?

A friend who’s working in a large oil and gas company in Malaysia recently told me that the western culture of kissing and hugging one’s friends is pretty rampant amongst the younger executives who have just returned from 'over-seas'. And the company recently was also forced to distribute circulars of a dress ruling to its entire staff because many of these so called overseas educated young executives were wearing skimpy skirts and see-through blouses to the office.

Even the mat salehs here know how to wear decent clothes when going to the office! Only the slutty ones wear those types of clothes! And the question that keeps resurging in my mind is this; what if, what if, my very own daughter turns out to be someone like that..? A cleavage showing, blond bimbo who shrieks and giggles and kisses every 'friend' she meets! Arghhh!!! I may go into cardiac arrest whilst even wondering about it!

You know, when I was a girl, I used to be a bit of a tomboy. But that doesn’t mean that I want my girls to become tomboys. In fact, I dread that too. I just want them to be normal and sober girls who will not insist on pink dresses and tiaras and prefer books and family instead of friends and brand names. Not to mention eager to help me bake and cook in the kitchen, (actually, scrap that, they may leave me alone in my kitchen..) and at the same time, they score all As in their subjects in school and also never forget their prayers and their religion.

Is this possible? If it’s not, then I would rather have 3 more boys to fill the quota if the choice is between that and a girl.

Because I'm scared as hell of raising a daughter.

And that's the truth.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cherry Crumble

Made this today for an old friend who came to visit. Probably the easiest dessert I have made and it tastes great and looks great too. I substituted the oats with some mixed muesli cereal with the nuts and raisins included. Highly recommended!

  • 55g butter
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 400g cherry pie filling (or any other pie filling)


  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan. Remove pan from heat; stir in oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt until a dry, crumbly dough forms. Press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of 8 inch pan, making a firm even layer.
  3. Spread cherry pie filling in the crust, and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with cool custard.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bride Photocopies

Have you been to the many wedding-photographer websites lately and look at pictures of Malay weddings?

Is it me or do you agree that the brides are looking kind of the same of late? They have the same sorta made up face.

I look from picture to picture and I can’t tell a couple from another by looking at the bride – need to look at the groom to do that.

It’s really pathetic!

Let me try to explain it. It’s basically the plucked eyebrows that result in the same old thin and dark and long pair of brows that make every bride look well…mm…I dunno…very err...sophisticated, I suppose, but in a nasty sorta way (I’m sorry but this is how I feel!) Liquid eye liners that make a fairly thick dark line on each eye lid of the bride. Fake long and curly lashes that make one look none too different from those Bollywood actresses. And the rest, well, are the normal stuff i.e. foundation and powder – well how varied can that be? Lip stick – complaints there. Wait, come to think of it, their hair dos are pretty similar too.

They have the same mak andam, perhaps?

I mean seriously, do they have the same mak andam or is it just how the mak andams (or make-up artist?) in Malaysia are trained nowadays? There is absolutely no uniqueness or natural look to it. They all look the same!

Shouldn't these mak andams be enhancing the natural beauty of one's face, NOT doing the normal 'routine' to every face they get no matter what type of face it is and what natural beauty that face has?

And don’t these brides want to look natural any more? I remember when I was married, I kept asking my mak andam to make my make-up NATURAL. Coz to me, otherwise it would be pretentious.

Honestly, people, just be yourself.. especially when you are getting married to someone who's supposed to love YOU as you are.

p/s: by the way, the pic I chose above, is of a friend's wedding whose make up was completely natural and simple...but had to blur it for privacy's sake - you do understand? Thanks for the above pic, my dear!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Just With The Girls

We had it all planned.

First the girls, then the men.

The girls go first and leave the kids to the men. And then the men go and leave the girls, or should I say the ladies, back in their 'natural environment' with the kids.

Everything was prepared and readied beforehand due the awkward timing for prayers at this time of the year – zuhur and asar comes early and are very near each other so one needs to settle those first before going out.

At the last minutes, lunch plans were cancelled due to the above prayer time inconveniences but finally at 2 o’clock, right on time, I was there in front of the building.

Ahh..the cinema.

It has been more than a year. I had wanted to plan something like this when I really, really wanted to watch Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire which is at the moment my favourite book in the series but the others weren’t really interested in watching that particular movie so I had to wait 6 months later to watch it on DVD. But everyone, especially the ladies, wanted to watch Casino Royale because of the rave reviews and oh-that-to-die-for piece of flesh that goes by the name of Daniel Craig. And so we planned and I finally made it to the cinema after more than 1 year of not going due to the children.

And boy was it a most welcomed return.

I read that book by Ian Fleming ages ago while in secondary school – an old and yellow copy owned by my mother – she has Casino Royale, Goldfinger and Dr. No from her years at college or uni - but I didn’t really understand the card games scenes in the book – and I still don’t, because I don't know the rules of the game – but I remember thinking that the Bond in that book was a bit of a softie, because he fell in love in that book.

The movie had stuck to its original book elements and to me, it worked. It’s much better than those satellites and ‘tank in the middle of the city’ movies anyway, which to me, were not too memorable and definitely crossing into ridiculous. But do not doubt that this movie is action packed – for it is, but only the more realistic and believable kind of action, I feel. I have never been too interested in all those tech stuffs and ‘shooting from a distance’ anyway – to me, it really takes away the romance and honour in any spy or war films. It’s the hand to hand combat and 'the infantry' that has always interest me in these types of films.

And this Bond is not infallible like the others. My favourite scenes were in fact, the ones that showed that Bond is indeed, a mere mortal e.g. after he drank the poisoned cocktail and that touching scene in the shower. From start to finish, it has its thrilling moments, its touching moments and quite a few funny moments as well - as all Bond films must have. But it’s that scene at the beach with Vesper Lynd that stole the cake for me. That scene was so good that it is even now clearly imprinted in my brain and it nearly spoiled my bedroom activities during that weekend!

He is one definitely delicious, DELICIOUS looking man.

But the movie was not without its negative points. Well, at least, to the men it definitely had some (Obviously because they were a little jaki of Daniel Craig’s muscled body and after all, he ‘got’ the girl and my husband had ‘fallen’ for Eva Green ever since that other movie with Orlando Bloom.) But seriously, I have to concede that my husband was right when he said that the movie had no climax. It was thrill, thrill and thrill and the pressure was building and building but then suddenly, it all simply turned into steam and NOTHING (if you get what I mean).

But that’s the only thing - quite a major thing, but still, the only thing.

Overall, the ladies had a great time and the guys had an ‘okay’ time but honestly, I thought the movie was great and I can’t wait to see more of Daniel Craig and his blue eyes next in one of my favourite fantasy books that is currently being made into a movie; 'The Golden Compass', the first of the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Phillip Pullman.

Can’t wait.