Thursday, July 28, 2005

Change for the better

I've been feeling very low lately - low energy, tired, not feeling like doing very much. Generally not interested in anything lah. I am sick of my "baby fat", feeling like a tub of lard, my love handles and not being able to buy clothes off the rack. Ironically, I am not THAT fat! Ya lah, need to lose about 15kg. I weigh in at 69kg now and I am only 153cm tall. Been hearing once too often comments like, "If only you're not so fat, you will look quite cute", "You have beautiful features but need to lose weight lah", "Wah, your butt so big lah". Nope, my weight gain is not from having two kids. I have always been chubby throughout my adolescence years. I lost quite a bit of weight and was at my ideal weight when in my early 20's. I gained weight consistently over several years being in a very happy relationship. When I got pregnant, I weighed about 64kg and went up to about 78kg just before I gave birth to Laura in 2000. Lost all those weight and got back to about 64kg and got pregnant with Adam. I was at my heaviest at 81kg whilst pregnant with Adam. Thanks to breastfeeding, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight very quickly. Now I've gained more! I need to get back to my pre-Patrick weight!

Ironically, I know what to do. Just do not have the discipline to follow through and stick to healthy living. I know I need to reduce my food portion and watch what I eat. I know I need to eat more fruit and veg and less meat and rice. I know I need to cut out refined-carbo. I know I need to cut out snacking while watching TV at night. I know I need to get off my butt and exercise. My most recent healthy living spurt was going on a "Fit For Life" diet which was not combining protein and carbo. Stuck to that for about 30 days and lost 5kg. If that was the rate of weight loss, I just need to revamp my eating habit, combine that with exercise, I should be able to shed 15kg within 6 months! Why didn't I? Because the fried fish is so yummy with rice! Because, that dhall curry and chapati is sooooo good! Because my kids want my attention, so I can't possibly go for my walk now. Because I slept late last night, so I want to sleep in. So many excuses and so little weight loss and more weight gain... Is it my imagination or is it more difficult to get back on revamping my lifestyle after having lapse once?

When will I change my eating habit? When will I start exercising? How long will I stick to eating healthy and exercising? Fruit juice in the morning, eat sensibly the rest of the day and exercise. Not difficult right? Then why can't I do it?? Alright, starting from 1 August 2005 then! Stick to it for three months until November 2005. I shall check back then to see how I've progressed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Burying a childhood ghost...

This blog has been on my mind for weeks now but not an easy one to write. How to write down feelings from 30 years of not-so-happy relationship with my mother? First, I must say that my mother was not a bad mother. She was a good mother who took care of her family and our home. She cooked and cleaned and did more than what some mothers do. However, she and I never got along. My mother had a fiery temper and when she shouted, she could be heard from several houses away. Unfortunately, I have inherited her temper.

My mother had always favoured my brothers. They could get away with murder while I always got the brunt of her scolding. The boys did not have to clean their school shoes whilst I had to clean my own and for them. Why? Because I was the eldest and I am a girl. When I finally decided I wasn't going to clean my brothers' school shoes 'coz they were big enough to clean their own, my mother took over. Writing all this down now sound so petty somehow. I shall try to remember good memories of my mother:

Good memories...

My mother used to bring my brothers and I to the cinema with her. My father worked hard and we had only one car, so my mother would hitch a ride with our school bus to go out. She brought us to watch sappy love stories from Taiwan or Korean movies dubbed in Mandarin. She would have packed our lunch in a tupperware and a change of clothes for us. There were 4 of us (3 kids and my mother) but she always buys only 2 tickets at 80 sen per ticket. My (then) youngest bro, Chun, sat on her lap whilst my younger brother, Yen and I shared one seat. We got to know Chen Chen, Lin Fong Jiao, Chin Han, Ker Jin Shiong, Tien Niu, Ah Bi (Kenny Bee), etc.

My mother also showed us some childhood games she played as a kid. She made dolls with ice cream sticks, showed us how to tear a leaf a certain way so it becomes a musical instrument or cut a drinking straw a certain way and it would make a sound when we blow into it. My mother used to bring us to her hometown, Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan). My grandfather's house is a modest wooden house with an outhouse but the house was on a huge piece of land. I made friends with the neighbours' children and we played from morning till night. We played "masak masak" with sand and whatever container we could find. We also caught bugs and worms to "cook".

My mom was a decent cook who used to like to experiment with different types of cooking and she was adventerous with food. I learned through her to try everything at least once and I've learned to appreciate different types of food. She was lousy at baking. My dad used to name the cakes she made "3-layer cake" - bottom burnt, middle still wet and the top usually done well.

Bad memories...

My mom favoured my brothers and showed it. They were not required to do any housework, not even cleaning up after themselves. They were free to go out with their friends and stayed over, if they wanted. If I suggested the same thing, I was a slut. Going out with my friends was not allowed until I started work at 19. Even then, I had to be back before midnight. My father didn't want to say much 'coz if he had said anything, I would have gotten a shelling from her again. I was my father's pet. Unfortunately, he worked long hours and in the weekends, he loved his naps. Sometimes, I wish I'd known my father better before he died. Even though he didn't spend as much time with us, I do miss him. I miss my father more than I miss my mother.

My mother fell ill in 1997. She suffered from intestinal adhesion and had to be operated on a few times. Her body was not able to assimilate the food she ate, so she wasted away. She wilted from 60+kg to about 35kg when she died. I was in the hospital every day, most times bringing her her meals 'coz she was sick of hospital food. I took care of my mom whilst pregnant with my first child and soon after she was born. When she was not in the hospital, my mother stayed with me when she was ill. Together with my maid, I took care of her and constantly fighting with her 'coz she was so indisciplined. She was advised by her doctor to watch what she ate but she would not listen. We had a big fight over her diet, she called my brother to take her home to stay with them. Soon after, she was hospitalised.

My mother passed away in UH on 31 January 2001. Somehow, I could sense something was not right when I woke up that day. Patrick's company had their annual CNY party that day. I had planned to visit my mother at the hospital after the party but kept delaying my visit. My mother passed away at 11pm, just as her favourite son walked in the door. Strangely, I had a sudden stomach ache and had to use the toilet. So, when the hospital staff was getting ready to bring my mother to the morgue, I was in the toilet. Later, at the mortuary, the same thing happened. As soon as the undertaker's van arrived, I had a bad stomach ache again. So when her body was being transported home, I was in the toilet. My mother didn't want me there??

My father was very fair. He divided his assets equally amongst the four of us (my mother, my brothers and I). With the money withdrawn from my father's EPF account, my mother bought a house. When she died, she left my brothers everything. I was not even mentioned in her will. I am rambling away as the memory of my mom is too painful. Thirty years of pain have to be buried and I need to move on. For my children's sake, I need to learn from my mother's mistake and move on.

My brothers and I have decided to sell my parents's house. I thought of buying over the house but too much unhappy memories attached to the house. Goodbye, mother, thank you for all you have done. Thank you for being who you were so I learn from your mistakes and what you have done right. Goodbye...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Malaysian Oxymoron Part 2

Malaysian service: The Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board tries to sell the idea that one can get excellent service in Malaysia. Tourists will be greeted at their hotels by staff with a palm on their chest. Strangely enough, that greeting isn't used anywhere else except in the hotels. The Thai people greet each other with their palms together, so it is only natural that the same greeting is used with visitors as well.

Last month, my family and I went to Genting Highlands on a weekend. Since PT and I do not work regular office hours, we forgot that it was the Agung's Birthday weekend. We left for GH on a Friday, having made a room booking at the 1st World Hotel for Friday night. We arrived at about 3pm and waited 1 1/2 hours before we could check in to our rooms. We finally checked in. The kids were raring to go explore the theme parks but the adults were exhausted! Our room was TINY and we had the deluxe room! There was about 1ft of space on either side of the king size bed. There was a corner shelf for a 14" TV. Next to the bed, against the wall was a small plank as a writing desk and next to that, above the shelf for the bags is a short rod with hangers to hang up clothes. We had a good view of another room. Fortunatley, we had two rooms, so with the adjoining doors opened, the room didn't feel so claustrophobic.

Each room had two towels. We had our children, a friend with her son and our maid with us, so naturally, we need more than two towels per room. I saw the housekeeping cart outside, so popped out to ask the housekeeping staff for two more towels. He told me to call the housekeeping line. What does that mean? I call the housekeeping line to ask for two towels, then the housekeeping staff near my room will hand me the towels? Just to find out what would happen, I call the housekeeping line.

Me: "Hello, housekeeping? May I have two additional towels please for Room XXX"

Housekeeping: "No, cannot."

Me: "Pardon? Your housekeeping cart is outside. I can just go and get it myself."
Thinking that maybe they are so busy, they can't spare the staff.

Housekeeping: "No, cannot! Each room only get 2 towels. Cannot ask for more" Puts down the phone.

Huh??? For a minute, I thought we'd checked into the a detention camp by mistake!

Another incident about Malaysian service. Recently, I applied for broadband service for my office. When I was putting in my application, I asked about broadband service in Bukit Antarabangsa. I was told by the counter staff there is already wireless service in BA. I got really excited, then I remember that PT had already written in to request for a notification when BA gets broadband service. I asked her why hadn't TM contacted us when there is already broadband service in BA.

TM staff: "You asked for broadband or for wireless?"

Me: "Broadband."

TM staff: "Oh.... you didn't ask for wireless, you ask for broadband. Broadband don't have yet."

Me: "Broadband or wireless, doesn't matter lah. As long as it's high speed internet connection"
At this point, thinking, how am I suppose to know to ask for a service I didn't know was available.

TM staff: "If you ask to be notified for broadband, when available we will contact you. Wireless is different".

Me: "How to know about the wireless service? I didn't read in the newspaper or anything like that. So what do I do to apply now?"

TM staff: "The wireless service in Bukit Antarabangsa full already."

WHAT??? Then why bother telling me about it???

Maintenance in Malaysia: Look around you. Look at the playgrounds, public parks, public toilets, beaches, hotels... In fact, any public area. How well is the maintenance? How many Intrakota buses have you spotted broken down on the road? How many inter-state buses have you passed which emit thick black smoke? How many taxis have you been in which emit a horrible smell and the aircon doesn't work? I could go on...

Malaysian traffic police: There's been so many times when I have been stuck in traffic and don't see any sign of traffic police out policing the traffic. Or even to ensure that motorists abide by the law. Lately, I noticed that not a day pass when I do not see a motorcyclist riding against traffic flow or running red light. In fact, I saw a police car run two red lights yesterday. The same police patrol car ran the red light at a pedestrian crossing and at a busy intersection. Understandable if the police car had its siren on and was off to stop a traffic offender or criminal. It was not. Who are the police policing? I see lots of traffic police around whenever there are any international conferences. One gets stuck in bad traffic because of road closure for the conference at major roads during peak hours, then you hear police siren clearing the traffic for some VIPs who really should experience traffic jam once in a while.

OK, enough about oxymoron in Malaysia!


Here is a photo of Laura and Adam with their birthday cake. Laura with her jewellery box cake and Adam with his construction site cake

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Malaysian Oxymoron

What has become oxymoron in Malaysia?

Malaysian standard: That is so unfortunate. If you want to get quality products, you need to get export quality products. That's because products made in Malaysia for the local market isn't good enough anymore. Why? Because Malaysians will not complain if they get substandard quality. I shop regularly in Giant for my groceries when I do not have time to go to the wet market. I get very upset when I have to buy vegetable at the supermarket. Price is always higher than at a wet market and quality is bad. Yes, I'm guilty of being apathetic as well. Alright, I will write a letter to the Giant head office to lodge a complaint.

Furniture available in the "kedai perabut" are quite apalling. Definitely furniture which will not withstand the test of time and use. These furniture are not cheap too.

Even our made-in-Malaysia car, Proton. About a month after the Gen2 was launched (the first time), I visited a showroom in PJ to look at the car. The power window on the showroom model was not working properly and the handle was loose! The excuse the sales rep gave was that lots of people have been looking at the car and been testing out the door and windows. What does that mean? If I buy the car, I should expect it to start falling apart after a year? Perhaps it is an isolated case with that particular car. Then I hear of another showroom model in Penang which was falling apart as well.

Then, there are the houses made for Malaysian families. Are they really designed for an average Malaysian family? The average Malaysian families I know are made up of husband and wife, 2 kids (more if you're Malay) and a maid. They own 2 cars. The average Malaysian link house measures 20ft x 70ft (24ft x 75ft I'm told is a super link!). The house will have on average 2 + 1 bedrooms, 3 baths and enough space to park 1 car. Let's see... Mom and dad in master bedroom, kids in another room, a tiny room downstairs for the maid. One car parked inside, and another parked outside. Most of these houses are built so close to each other and the road so narrow, that by the time everyone parks their 2nd car outside, there is only enough space for 1 car to squeeze through at a time. Alternatively, tile up your postage size garden so you can park the other car inside if you own 2 Kancil. Where are the children supposed to play? My brother's living room is so small, there is only enough space to put a 2-seater sofa and a TV cabinet. Not exactly a place to socialise, is it?

Other oxymoron is Poslaju. I was going to send a parcel to Singapore for my nephew who was turning 1. I assumed the parcel will arrive the next day. Silly me to assume something like that. I was told to expect the parcel to arrive in 2 - 3 days! That's Pos-not-so-laju, isn't it?

To be continued....