Thursday, 28 February 2008

28th February

Today, 28th February 2008 is not just another Thursday. It was to be Jeannie's and my 22nd wedding anniversary.

I had spent about 7 hours at Starbucks in Mid Valley Gardens the day before and apart from clearing up some backlogged paper work it was also a time to reflect and decide on numerous personal issues. Many had to do with us without Jeannie, since 28th February was looming; practical matters like moving house, the kids' education and future, my own future and mindset, etc........

Yahoo alerted me about today and seeing the words "Wedding Anniversary (repeats once a year)" in my mailbox two days ago stirred up emotions. The fact that I am now a widower finally sank in with the realization that there are no more wedding anniversaries with Jeannie. I was immediately reminded of our 17th wedding anniversary that we celebrated in COBRA Club and my letter to Jeannie that she read out to our guests. The words still rankle as the memory of the moment remains etched in my psyche. This is the part of the letter that was prophetic and virtually our plea to the Universe for more.....

"..........Ours has always been one of a countdown rather than of notching the years. A conscious decision we made to cherish and relish our remaining years together has enhanced our relationship and defined our marriage. Every anniversary we share reduces the number of anniversaries we have left; yet we are happy. We are happy to have found each other, we are happy to be together, we are happy to walk together.

My darling, you are to me more precious than life. If given a choice between immortality without you, and counting down years together with you. I would choose the finite.

May the years we have left be more than the 17 wonderful years we have shared as "US"......."

Jeannie and I reached that moment in our lives together on the 12th of July, 2007 when the countdown stopped. Today there is no anniversary but just a date.....28th February.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

"Gilding the Lily" - Launching

Was invited to the launch of Suet Fun and Sekhar's book last Tuesday, 19th February.

Book recognising Malaysian women
2o February, 2008

A great book: (From left) Author Liew Suet Fun, Women, Family and Community Development secretary-general Datuk Faizah Mohd Tahir Faizah, Shahrizat and the book’s photographer S.C. Shekar looking at the book after its launch in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Gilding the Lily, a coffee-table book that recognises the place of Malaysian women, has been published by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry. Its publication is inspired by the minister, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

"This is a book that recognises a woman's choice which is largely shaped by her individual ethnic, cultural and religious background, as well as the fabric of the Malaysian society," she said.

She added that the expression "gilding the lily" referred to something which was complete which did not need further adornment.

"In this context, the reference is to Malaysian women and how, with their tenacity, strength and enduring qualities, they are complete regardless of their circumstance," she said after launching the book at the Bangsar Shopping Centre here yesterday.

The book not only provides profound insights of a woman's life but that of some men, too, by shining new light on how significant their minds and vision really work.

It delves into 65 real-life escapades of women with mixed-bag stories.

Each story is supported by numerous illustrations and a series of photographs that reflect the person and its tale.

The 224-page book is authored by Liew Suet Fun and photographer S.C. Shekar.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Another Friday Evening At Sid's Pub (17th February, 2008)

Having missed the pre-CNY gathering at Suet Fun's place, Capt Azmi suggested this post-CNY piss up at Sid's Pub again. Elizebeth organized it yet showed up late and conveniently blamed Alzheimer's for almost forgetting the date. On the other hand, Mike (who also missed the pre-CNY) really outdid himself this time.

We have moved from sambal belacan to caviar and "foie gras" in just one session at Sid's. Progress or regression I wonder?

The following posts in the Old Edwardians eGroup by Mike and Harjit tell the story; the phonecam photos are expectedly grainy.

Mike Naser said:

Dear friends,

I arrived at Sid's at 1930 hrs sharp. There was Ah Kooi who has bought a bunch of vadeh for all of us. Really, only a Tepin boy will do it. Shortly after the eloquent bon vivant and raconteur extraordinaire, Azmi Radzi, arrived in a tattered Padi Planter's hat. Almost immediately, he denied that not all airline pilots carried pedophile porno in their laptops. He carried Quranic verses in his. We thought that was really dangerous as he could be locked up in NY or LA as an Al-Qaeda member.

He asked me, "Mike, what do you carry in yours?" Answer. "The psalms of Nabi Daud. For Instance. Drinketh thou plentyth wine, thou shall not suffer infirmities".

Quiet Jetey and the ebullient Ah Swee arrived. Ah Swee had just had a hair-cut at a Hindraf Barber shop and smelling of Bayrum. He announced with pride that he had lost weight over the CNY by 0.13 kg. Not bad.

Then, the evergreen Liz turned up and sat beside me. That turned me on so I said, "You look terrific and I love your Opium." Answer, " Don't BS Mike, its Chanel Numero Cinq". Even I can make mistakes.

Shahrin and his wife Elita arrived. Shahrin was peering through his bottle-top specs at Ah Swee whose face, by then, had the pigmentation of a roasted prawn and my beady eyes were reminiscent of my Chink background. Azmi continued as a dazzling raconteur.

Much to my pleasure, I discovered that Elita was the daughter of Col Eddie Elias, RMC grad, PhD Informatics and commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. He was my squash, rugby and diving mate. A good soldier and scholar. His daughter, Elita, is beautiful with hidung mancung. Great to meet her.

Finally, Miss St. Mary's, Susan, came in breathtakingly exotic. She was late. Apparently, she went quietly for a bowl of Bah-kut-teh somewhere. Her darling husband does not eat porko. But, inexplicably, I was confidentially told that he osculated her with ferocity on the lips after she had taken two bowls of Bah-kut-teh. Like all men with machismo, at this moment critique, haram/halal masuk lungkang.

It was a good night imbibing over tiger/tigress frivolities and Ah Swee controlling events. It is from these small meetings that we develop a bigger thing for the semangat of the harimau. We must carry on.

Cheers and thanks. Lovely night.


Harjit Singh (Jetey) said:


It was a good night. You fed all of us with caviar, black and orange, liver pate of geese and a host of delicacies from Tehpeng (or its suburban areas like Pinang). You were a gentleman explaining why you wouldn't drink a beer at 5AM before slugging miserable boars who turned up early as if they were Obamas ready for glory. I respect that.

Nevermind if your pate was mislabelled so long as Capt Azmi and Elita found it to be the best bite they ever had; really, there's vely little difference between a pig and a duck in the year of the RAT.

Never mind if Liz turned up late and left early as long as she brought her own half bottle of wine she had difficulty in ploughing through.

Never mind Capt Azmi's randy hands ploughing all over Susan's you-know-what, but I suppose thats what it takes to keep the aircraft steady.

Never mind Patmanathan's early exit on the pretext of answering a phone call as if he was scheduled for another MIC rally.

Never mind the fact that MAS pilots left the cockpit attended to by Mat Rempits (who were given a better performing machine to keep them out of mischief) so long as they were praying for you.

Never mind if the monkeys in Kinabatangan thought that Bung Mokhtar was their saviour and gave him his mercedes on my tax money.

Never mind. I'll be there the next time we plan to meet again. This time Jetey won't be so quiet.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Into The New Lunar Year

My cousin Cheng sent me this sms on the 9th of January and I found it as I was just clearing my phone "inbox":

"A belated Happy New Year. Now that you have clocked 9 days, of which I hope have been meaningful, just want to offer 1 bit of advice; don't try too hard-sometimes it is not the destination but the journey. Go on and enjoy yrself b4 you become a crotchety old man."

Writing this post now on Chinese New Year today, we are one month and a week into 2008 and perhaps I am one month and a week nearer to becoming a crotchety old man! Whatever else happens this year, it is going to be a year of numerous "firsts". So far, it has been the first time in 23 years I did not usher in the new year with Jeannie, first time in 22 years I did not celebrate my birthday with her and today is the first time in 22 years we will not have her with us on Chinese New Year. Indeed the Reunion Dinner last night lost its flavour because CNY had always been so Mummy! We were in Genting since JJ is working there temporarily.

My first CNY with Jeannie was in 1986 and being the more traditional, she made all the decisions on the do's and don'ts. I was more than willing to follow. This CNY I am in a dilemma; who do I follow? Of course I know some of the prequisites but who is going to make the decisions within the decisions? Who else will it be indeed.

This is Krystyn Cheah's first Chinese New Year in charge. As expected, she has done an admirable job so far. My only contributions were money which was not the important part and advice that she should be able to tell between tradition, superstition, and religion; we are more into traditions.

Not only did Krystyn do the shopping for everybody, she also did her fact finding about how we should, or should not be doing things this Chinese New Year in view of Mummy's passing less than a year ago. For instance, the superstitious will not want us to visit them during CNY for fear that we bring bad joss. Similarly, I should not be giving out ang pows to non-family members but we can receive. Basically, it appears we should not even be celebrating CNY.

Seeing Krystyn at the helm, I watched as she recalled what Mummy used to do and not do, she consulted friends' parents and scoured the WWW when she sought common practices and rationale, she used her judgement with matters in the grey area and she made decisions with the confidence that belied her years and experience. I take comfort that from here on, traditions in our household will live on and though CNY now is without Jeannie, her beliefs will live on as part of Krystyn's own. It is Krystyn's watch now.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

An Evening At Club Suet

It started with Captain Azmi's pre-Christmas drinks at Sid's Pub and for pre-CNY we gathered at Suet Fun's place, now dubbed "Club Suet" by CK Loh.

Being a BYO occasion, I told SF that I would get some fresh sausages and wine. Since Club Suet is located off Jalan Gasing in PJ, I planned to get the stuff from the Jaya Supermart in Section 14. After getting through the traffic jam and running late, I got to Section 14 only to find that the supermarket was under refurbishment. Weighing options, the general map of the area came to mind; PJ New Town? Old Town? SEA Park? SS2? Damansara Jaya? Damansara Utama? or 1 Utama/TESCO/Curve?

Of course the 1 Utama/TESCO/Curve was the best place to get what I wanted but that was quite a distance away and it would take me at least 45 minutes to an hour. I decided to try Atria at Damansara Jaya although I had not been there for a couple of years at least. It turned out to be a fateful decision. Going in through the Esquire Kitchen restaurant end I could not see any supermart so I left. At the parking payment booth the attendant told me Giant Supermart was located at the opposite end so I drove out and back in.

The last time I met this relative was at Jeannie's wake. Before that we had not seen him for years. He was close to Jeannie when they were younger but in the end, turned out to be a major disappointment for her. To me, the guy was a self-centred man who self-justified everything so long as it benefitted himself; a weak man who thinks he is the pillar of strength amongst his siblings.

Nevertheless, I could understand the nature of this beast and why he became the pompous ass that he is today. This guy lives a charmed life and he owes much of what he has to many people in his life who give him things; from his wedding expenses to his career and many more in between. I suppose it is easy to presume capability and superiority when one stands head and shoulders above his brothers who by and large have screwed up their own lives-the proverbial kingdom of the blind.

I did not see him but he called me. I had bought the bratwurst and was at the wines section trying to pick out a couple of bottles. At first, I felt it right to be civil or pleasant even; as one thing led to another in the conversation, he could not resist trying his "holier than thou" pontification on me. I told him to go fuck himself and with that, severed this tie in my life forever. Good riddance to bad rubbish and a good way to end a shitty lunar year!

Coming back to Club Suet. It was a very good evening with great company, good food and wine. Once again, my late father was right when he said, "you may not be able to choose your relatives but thank goodness you can choose your friends".