Monday, December 17, 2012

Overdue catch-up.

I've been missing from my own blog and world. I've started another blog- it's on my blogger profile and it's called Diary of an Expat Housewife in Singapore. 

East or West?... Tea or Coffee?

What is YOUR preference?
I'm not talking about food, I'm talking about your choice in partners/spouses/significant others etc. And WHY?

Are you an Asian who prefers their partners to be Western? (Yeah YOU asian girls!)

Are you an Asian who prefers their partners to be Asian? (Or within the same Asian ethnicity- eg. Japanese, Chinese, Filipino etc.?)

Are you of western (English, Australian, French, American etc.) background- and you love having Asian partners?

Are you only inclined to date within your own Western/Asian nationality?

Kim Kardashian is known as a girl who loves black men- Or does she take her pick from the hoardes of black men who love her (and her ass-ets)?

Are we all allowed to have our preferences, without being sneered at?
OR are these preferences none-of-your-fucking-business-thank-you-very-much.

So here it is.

I'm about to become a mother again for the 2nd time.

After having a child some years ago without any particular trouble, I struggled with miscarriages trying to conceive a 2nd. Then came the IVF. Then came the BFN's* and Chemical Pregnancies*. Nothing doing.

This has literally just dropped into my lap and I'm so grateful.
I've refused to believe it was happening but as Christmas approaches, I may allow my cynical heart, hardened by much heartbreak to believe in a miracle.

*IVF lingo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Sepet question: Malay x Chinese pairings. Do they work?

PREFACE: I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore- but if you live in KL, and you're in your 30's, you'll sort of know who's who here. You might even know me.

In this post, I want to explore relationships between Chinese and Malays within the framework of a love affair. the late great director Yasmin Ahmad started this dialogue with her movie Sepet. Yasmin Ahmad was malay and had a chinese husband. Permutations of the same theme appear in all her movies. We all know that she is Orked. And there are lots of malay-chinese couples in Malaysia:

So it DOES work, right?

In the past, I've been in relationships with 2 malay guys, both from what you'd call the "Malay Elite" but I didn't end up marrying any of them.

IN the early 90's- my high school boyfriend, J was one of the sons of a malay CEO (now retired) of a prominent BUMI Malaysian company that was right in Mahathir's palm. (One of Mahathir's pet project companies which promoted the name of Malaysia.) We both lived in Bukit Damansara, we went to (CBN and VI) He was malay and muslim. He and his family are highly educated and wealthy- they're all product of JPA and Petronas scholarships and his sisters are now prominent Doctors (head of a department in a major KL hospital), Lawyers and his brother is a CFO of one of the biggest developers in Malaysia.

Yes, these are real people and they're a product of the NEP: UMNO princes and princesses.

One of my parents has a well known chinese business family's surname. And my other parent is an other (dan lain-lain). BUT J's family saw me as chinese, simple as that- black or white. His mother wore a "tudung" (hijab) and so did one of his sisters. But they welcomed me in their family anyway (because I tried very hard to be what I thought they were). In contrast, I saw my parents being extremely unfriendly to J.

I went on holidays in the US and UK with his parents, his siblings and their partners. This was always a big "rombongan" just like a tour group. And although they were very wealthy, they always stayed in service apartments (because we were a big group) instead of The Ritz Carlton or Langham. And they always travelled with their own Brahim's curry sachets so they could cook their own meals in the apartments, as halal food wasn't always easy to come by. And there would be a "gotong-royong" atmosphere amongst the women in the kitchen during meal prep. They always rented a few cars and travelled in a group. This is what malay families do, I learned.

Sometimes I'd hear a remark about being chinese. I wasn't Puan Sri's favourite, but Tan Sri was just lovely. We played cards at family time and he always ribbed me about having "Ong" (luck in Malaysian hokkien dialect). I'm not very chinese but I just took it all in stride because that's their way of reaching out to me. It was well-meant. My relationship with J lasted through our high school and early years in university- J in the US and I in Australia. Eventually we fizzled, long distance got the better of us despite unlimited travel expenses and phone bill budgets. Puan Sri and I shared a teary good-bye, haha... if I did end up marrying him, she would make the best MIL.

Then, in my 20's after a disastrous year or so with a cheating expat, I had several flings with older men when I was in my 20's while on an angry rampage to get even. (that was juvenile, I know that now).
The men I chose were either Malays or Chinese Malaysians, always older than me (from 7 years older to 20 years older), all seriously successful and good looking.
One of them was a divorced chinese Malaysian lawyer with his own law firm. He had 3 Great Danes that were his pride and joy. He was in his 40's but was really fit- loves all outdoor/adventure/extreme sports.
One of them was a malay (he was married! Then divorced! Now remarried!) director in a well known architecture firm. He loves his sports cars and Italian suits. He was in great shape because he visited the gym often enough. In his 40's back then, he treated me like his little girl. (eeek)
One of them was a divorced chinese Malaysian, was Head of Futures in a bank during the Asian Financial Crisis (he was very down on his luck). He is intelligent and extremely funny. He was not gorgeous but looked like what an average looking guy in his 20's would look like. He introduced me to his friends, who were CEOs and GMs. We are still friends today. He's Head of something else now in a Securities firm and married to a girl in her 20's!

THEN, there was H, whom I wish I didn't meet during this time in my life. I really liked him- he was the type of man you'd want to marry and have children with. H was 30, came from a good malay family. His father was high up in the civil service. His mother is from of one of the malay royal families. His siblings are all successful professionals- back then, he was a young architect in a prominent architectural firm who was put in charge of a major building in the heart of KL (now built, it's part of the skyline). He's a 6 footer, nicely built, wears architect glasses, Ralph Lauren polo shirts, Gucci moccasins (you know, what Royalty wear!).... . He was the serious type, always into his work. H was soft spoken and gentlemanly, always patient with crazy 23-year old me.

We were dating on-and-off but, like a child, I tested his boundaries constantly. (making him take me to his rather religious parents' home, calling his colleagues using his phone, making him meet my friends- among them was another guy I mentioned above. I know. Sick juvenile stuff.)

He put up with all that until it all ended between us.

I wanted him to be the man for me from the very beginning when we started sleeping together. I manipulated him, trying to get what I wanted from him- a commitment, a deep love, a proper relationship. He put up with it because he wanted to just wanted to continue the er, current arrangement.

And it ended simply because I realized we were never going to be what I wanted us to be. I pushed him to admit that we were never going to be married and have kids together. I guess the aggressive behaviour didn't help either.

He just didn't see past the *ahem* with me.

I kept asking myself WHY afterwards: I had the big Cindy Crawford hair, the hot body, pan-asian face. I was 23 and looked great. I was someone that a guy like him would WANT! (Royals always marry the halfies, right?) BUT I wasn't the kind of person he'd WANT TO MARRY.

So, thanks to Google, I see that H married someone who's malay.
How much of his reluctance to be with me was because I was half chinese?

15 years later, Malaysian Chinese and Malays are more polarized than ever. My interpretation of Yasmin Ahmad's message is that we need to have LOVE to overcome those barriers.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Death of a friend

Have you ever searched for a long lost friend on Facebook? On Google?
A friend who may have been an important part of your life during a phase?

I have. I last spoke to him in 2004(?) he had just changed companies, and was very happy in his new position. I looked for him on Facebook for the past few years and couldn't find him. I called his former office when I was in KL last, I heard he had left the company.

More Google searches later, I find out that he died in an automobile accident in 2006. I find a few memorials posted by people who knew him. I zoom into the photos: yep, that's him. He is smiling and surrounded by friends, exuberant and smiling, like my memory of him.

Did I know him well? Yes, I'd say I did. I've known him since I was a student intern. For 2 years, he would have been one of a handful of people who knew me best. He was a colleague and friend of the older man I used to date when I was in my 20's. I used to make teary late night phone calls to him (that would last for hours) whenever the older man and I broke up. And he would cheer me up and tell me off. I took it for granted and never told him how grateful I was for his advice and his humour.

I am in some shock. Taken from us too soon, I pray he did not suffer too much.
You touched many people's lives while you were still alive. I hope it's still not too late to thank you. Best wishes to you on the other side from an old friend.

In the hands of God, may you rest in peace.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My father-complex

Do I hero-worship my father so much to believe all these years that his success in Malaysia was due to luck and acute business acumen? I think I wanted to believe it so much because I wanted this one man in my life to be on a pedestal.

But the truth is: He has many offshore accounts that his less-than-perfect dealings in Malaysia go into. His "golden handshakes".
I don't blame him. (After all, I have useless male and female siblings in Malaysia who live off the fat of the land, so to speak. Someone's gotta feed them and put their kids and spouses through university, innit?)

But I am disgusted.

So - I avoided KL like the plague and spent most of my time in Singapore where some of my husband's family is.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Life Cycle of a Blog

Reference: A typical Sigmoid curve.

  • The Genesis- You develop your raison d'etre for blogging.
  • A time of discovery, mostly introspective.

  • Building momentum- Fueled by your convictions, you blog straight from your heart.
  • The blog begins to creep into your life.
  • You start to make connections and form a network.

  • Climaxing & Crescendo- At the height of your popularity, you gain a following. You have a community.
  • Your life becomes one with the life you live online. Reality and blogosphere is blurred.
  • It's quite a ride. (Vive la roi etc etc ad nauseum)
  • You might even make a small living out of it.
  • Eventually, your blog takes over. It becomes the driver for how you live your life.

  • Ennui- Disillusionment will set in.
  • You whore yourself and become yet another ubiquitous celeb blogger.
  • You blog for the audience, for the $$$ and no longer for yourself. Tsk bloody tsk.
  • If you've got more going for you in your real life, you might take a "hiatus" from your blog.

The second coming- You pick up your blog again or a different incarnation of your blog for new reasons. The cycle starts all over again.

Is there a limit on how many times you reinvent yourself? Like Apple inc., you CAN learn from each product life cycle (think early Macs in the 90's) AND use it to grow stronger in your next (think Macbooks, iPod, iPhone). OR, like Madonna, each subsequent reincarnation is never as strong as its predecessor.

This is the easy part: the formula of success. The tricky part of course is realizing and recognizing where you are on this curve.

Know yourself, your business, your organization.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Malays = Malaysians?

Australians tend to think Malaysians are all Malays. Even Chinese Malaysians and Indian Malaysians are Malays. And all those "other" races are also Malays. It's naive but it's a nice notion...

Girls from Tourism Ads wearing costumes of the main races in Malaysia:
The girl in the middle is Malay, she is flanked on either side by an Indian and Chinese girl.
While the two girls on the far left and right are from indigenous tribes (Iban and Kadazan).
The Malay girl is symbolically always in the middle. Always. And the Iban and Kadazans are sometimes left out, too.

I've always struggled to explain who the real Malays are to my Australian friends.
Malays in Malaysia are called "bumiputera"- Literal translation: "bumi" = soil, earth; "putera"= prince. But are they indigenous? Not really. As our Malaysian history books (Sejarah Malaysia) tell us, the Malay race is descended from the Javanese Hindu Prince Parameswara from Temasek (modern day Singapore). He founded the spice trading port of Malacca in 1402. It is sometime during his reign that he converted to Islam, so all his subjects followed suit, so Malays in Malaysia today practice Islam.

Do ALL Malays practice Islam today? YES. This is protected by law. "Marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims is forbidden under Malaysian law. Under the Shariah/Islamic Jurisprudence; the non-Muslim is required to convert to Islam under Malaysian law."- Wikipedia. No Malay is allowed to embrace another religion unless the courts grant them permission.

"Bumiputera" status entitles Malays to have access to government contracts, company and land ownership, scholarships, loans... etc. entitlement to nearly everything under the sun in Malaysia. This affirmative action written into the constitution nearly 40 years ago to help Malay race economically. Until about 15 years ago, indigenous tribes of Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) who mostly practiced Christianity were NOT entitled to the same"bumiputera" status of Malays.

Go figure. Why indeed?
It is these same indigenous people in Sarawak who are protesting against their homes and land being torn down in the name of building progress. And NOT real progress either: it's the building of a huge dam (the Bakun Dam) that will ultimately benefit Malay politicians and their Chinese businessman cronies. If there is any trickle-down benefit to the people, it will be the people living in already developed urban locations around Kuala Lumpur. The indigeous tribes will not see an iota of return in exchange for their homes and land being destroyed. Read more about it here and here.

A documentary about the Bakun Dam (in Malay) that was aired on Malaysian TV.
Watch it here.

The Malaysian government forced its TV network to get this documentary off the air in April 2010. Write to Amnesty International. The situation in Malaysia is not all about tall glossy skyscrapers, land of smiles and multiculturalism. It is NOT "truly Asia".

I have mixed feelings. The result of mixed blood. Hahahaha...

Will debunk the myth of "TRUE MALAY" in a future blog post.
Preview: "Malays don't eat pork, right? WRONG!!!!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

1 million Malaysians reject the proposed 100-storey Merdeka Tower.

Any Malaysian with a facebook account has probably come across this Facebook page with the same title.

Malaysia was once a young, new nation eager to prove its worth. Malaysia gains respect in the international arena in the 80's, buoyed by an economic boom, under its ambitious leader Dr. Mahathir. He urged Malaysians to "Look East" (post-war rise of Japan as an example to follow) and oppose western-style globalization. The leader embarks on mega projects-at first, infrastructure developments, then commercial developments. In the 90's, it became obvious some projects moved from ambitious to ridiculous. Many of these projects were handed over to companies owned by political cronies. But that's another story.

The 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers had supposedly "put Malaysia on the map" in the mid 90's, just before the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. Malaysia had the tallest building in the world- lasted all of a year before the next few buildings like Taipei 101 and Shanghai World Trade Centre took over.... etc- you get the picture.

Nations in economic boom tend to produce phallic symbols of their supremacy in the form of these skyscrapers. This is true for China and Dubai UAE, both nations which experienced huge amounts of growth in every sector in every financial quarter in the last few years.

Now, just as the Burj al Khalifa in Dubai has finished, Malaysia announces in a fit of kiasu-ness plans to commence building the 100 storey Merdeka Tower next year. Read more about it here and here.
This tower will cost RM $ 5 billion or roughly just over US $ 1.6 billion. Who ultimately pays for it? The problem is: Malaysia is NOT experiencing growth rates like that of China or the United Arab Emirates.

A popular hypothesis is that skyscrapers are often seen as economic indicators for a financial downturn-
"Of course economic booms tend to coincide with real estate booms, if not bubbles. I think that the moment project developers start planning a new "tallest skyscraper" the beginning of the end is at least not far. It means that hubris has become a factor again and that money has become too easy."Ivar Hagendoorn writes about the correlation between architecture and finance here.

And, looking at the price tag, it's enough to send Malaysia into recession.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel. (1563)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"All you Asians look the same."

Here we go again- yet another experience at the front door this morning.

Some background:
A new Asian neighbour is moving in and in the process of renovating in the last few days.
Their house is number "X" on our street- two houses away. Our house is number "Y".
My husband is in London. I am alone with a child.

Before 7am this morning, two burly guys show up downstairs at the door.
I answer the door, still half asleep.

Burly guys: We're a couple of carpenters- we're here to do the skirting.

Me: You've got the wrong house.

Burly guys: (Pointing at the name on our doorbell) It says "ABCDE" (insert Asian surname) doesn't it? Is this house "X"?

Me: (Points to the big number "Y" on our house) That says "Y". *slams door in their face*

I know, I know, I know........ AGAIN!!!
Confusing one Asian with another?
I am half Asian, so I look Asian but don't have what looks like an Asian surname to the average Australian. BUT my husband has an Asian surname and it's on our doorbell.

Get used to it, Australians. At this rate, we'll REALLY be everywhere in 10 years' time.

What will you do then?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yet another frou-frou hair post

Tired of my big 90's hair, I walked into a Korean salon in Chatswood and described an "Otome" (means young girl or virgin, neither of which I am) haircut in my best Japanese (two different and mutually exclusive languages, note to self).
An otome haircut:


And I end up with a bishounen haircut. What's that, you ask?
It's the haircut of choice for Japanese MALE actors/popstars/idols.
A bishounen haircut:


*time out*

I got rid of the blondie streaks so I don't look like a teenage asian boy (read: Ah Beng if you're from Singapore or Malaysia) who's into racing cars and manga.
No chance of looking like a sarong party girl (at least) now since my hair's too short and too damn layered!!! Grrrr.

This always happens to me at the hairdressers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tom Ford

Tom Ford is born with the maximum amount of design talent in a beautiful package.
His most memorable collection, to many was A/W Gucci 96:

I was obsessed with my long velvet jacket with wide lapels in the 90's. Dark maroon. I think I took a photo of myself for a blog post in that jacket last year. Yes, I'm still wearing it. I still have big hair. I love heels to death.

I am still faithful to the Tom Ford silhouette today, despite the assault of skinny jeans, harem pants, ballet flats and baggy tops. I'd have to be dead before I wear harem pants.

Women in the 90's were arguably split in two fashion camps:

Glamourpuss Gucci girls. Powerful girls and androgynous boys.

Arty farty Prada girls. Androgynous girls AND boys.

Tom Ford heavily objectifies women. But in this world, let's be honest- women WANT to be objectified.

In his campaigns: Images that make women and men BUY his products, into his philosophy, into his image of us. In his world, women are beautiful, luxe sexual objets d'art. And we BUY into it, big time.

He has been with his partner, Richard Buckley (former editor of Vogue Hommes) for 23 years.

Question: How does he see the men he designs for?

He designs for men only these days..... and recently showed his first line of womenswear since his Gucci days in a secret show for womenswear.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Furusato, 2424 Kalakaua Ave, Waikiki

A view of Kalakaua Avenue (the main drag) from the corner table at Furusato.

Around Christmas last year, we were in Hawaii. In the artificially tailored for tourism (Japanese tourism to be exact) world of Waikiki. We kept going to a little sushi joint called Furusato.

The days were muggy and hot at best- sushi and sashimi were best washed down with Sapporo beer and grape soda.
Memorable days.

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