All eleven of you who visit my blog, you may have noticed that I'm back to my evil ways : I haven't been updating. When I don't update, it means I'm super busy. If you know me though, being "super-busy" really means I have a couple of things to do but have failed to manage my time. My approach to deadlines is to lepak, sit on my butt, shop, drink coffee, gossip, whatever, until the deadline looms large and stares down at me, sweat dripping from its ugly forehead. Then I panic and get to work.
When this happens, I run around like a headless chicken for a while, but I usually do manage to complete my tasks, give or take a few days after its due. The relief of getting a job done would be almost post-coital, it puts me in a celebratory mood. And a celebration, is always a good excuse to eat.
For the past week, Suhaimi and I have been on this roller coaster of gluttony and guilt : eat, eat and eat, feel really shitty, vow to diet, and then say, starting tomorrow. Alas, tomorrow never arrives. Yesterday, I had pasta, a salad, an afogato with white chocolate ice-cream, and a slice of nutty cheesecake. Then Suhaimi decided it was a good idea to round that off with a medium sized pizza. Just a few days before, we went to Marche and ordered everything except the cow at the front door. And on Sunday, after an exhausting video shoot, the both of us went on a mad eating spree at a Japanese restaurant - give me the name of any marine animal, and we probably would have had it for dinner on that day.
Of course, all this orgiastic consumption will have to be paid for. When I take off my clothes, I already resemble a pale blimp with breasts. My thighs stick together, and the cellulite under my flabby arms have cellulite. As I was preparing to take a shower last night, Aiysha came in, saw my burgeoning belly with eyes as wide as saucers. "Oh Mummy", she gasped, " you're... fat!"
Trust your children to tell you the truth. My husband never would, either because he's so much in love, he sees me through rose tinted glasses, or because he's not usually suicidal.
Next Friday, I'm hosting TV3's live coverage of Budget 2006. There'll be a roundtable discussion with Datuk Dr Zainal Aznam, the astute economist; and Datuk Salleh Majid, the former head of KLSE who will not mince his words. On top of that, there will be a live audience - economic undergrads from three universities, plus their lecturers. It'll be a roomful of clever people, talking about serious things like the next engine of growth or the new buzzword, modal insan. I haven't read the daily newspapers, let alone do any research, so I have no idea what this year's Budget speech will be all about. It's possible that I'll make a total fool of myself by being absolutely clueless. But you know, that doesn't worry me as much as the thought of coming on air, looking like a blimp with breasts. I worry that it'll be my first appearance after so many years, and people would think I'm the newest member of the Weather Girls. I can just imagine what the make-up artists at TV3 would say when they see me : no Sultan of Brunei will marry you now.
I have to lose weight. I'll have to stop eating and start going back to gym. I must, I must, I must.
Here's a tip : if you want to keep your job or keep up any semblance of time management, never ever install Skype or any form of IM to communicate with your husband or boyfriend. Because it'll turn into such an annoyingly addictive thing. Because I swear, in offices across the country, perhaps the entire globe, the sand of time ticks away and gets sucked into this black hole called instant messaging.
How did a seemingly innocuous, and potentially useful application be so eeeevil? Did the programmers at AOL, who created this IM monster, go to the same bomoh as Led Zeppelin? (The reference will be lost on you young people. Let's just say, rumour was Robert Plant made a Faustian deal with Satan, macam cerita The Collector tu)
People, I have to confess. This is the real reason why I've neglected my blog -- I'm now a text junkie. While I'm trying to string sentences for this post, I am also Skyping my husband, Googling for images of "athletics" for a proposal, and of course, doing the proposal itself, apart from discussing the dream of cheap, mobile internet technology with a colleague. I think I'm multitasking, but the damn beeps of the Evil Skype Machine demands, and gets, my attention.
The sad thing is, even though I'm surgically stitched to IM, most of the time I use it to talk to only one person : Saiffuddin. My husband is just in Changkat Raja Chulan, a twenty five minute train ride away. And it's not as if we don't get to talk. We call each other, have long chats over coffee at home and in Starbucks and in kopitiams and in mamak shops, we run through ideas during walks, and we discuss things in the dark as we lay in bed, post-coital or not. I should be sick of gabbing with my husband already. But somehow, conversations over Skype takes on a different tone, as if you're brand new personalities. It's like you don't know the person on the other end, but he's exactly what you want.
Just now, Saiffuddin wrote : "Save me from this evil that I have just began to enjoy so much". I asked him to explain, but he said never mind. I assume he was talking about texting me on Skype. But then, come to think of it, it could be something else, because in the previous messages the topic was fellatio.
Our conversations over IM can start innocently like "What time are you going home?" or "Have you had lunch?" or just stupid "Harloooo!"; or it can be really, really serious like financing options for his projects, or plans for that dreamy, cheap, mobile internet technology. But somewhere along the way, it would always degenerate into a flirt fest (hence fellatio), with each of us trying our darnedest to outdo each other in teasing. It's seduction, with safety nets. (You want to fall, anyway)
As I write this, I also Skyped him this : "What is the thing that makes this texting over Skype so compelling? I need your answer for my blog, which I'm writing now"
"It's fun", came his prompt answer, "You smile as you type away and anticipate the reply". Saiffuddin would never say this in person. Suddenly, it gives me a clearer idea of the nature of my addiction.
To my horror, I found that my jokey post on "Budak Koleq" was linked in an MCKK forum, and despite the lack of comments, many people actually read it -- including, of course, them Koleq Boys themselves, who didn't find it all too funny. Some complained to Suhaimi, who fortunately has a sense of humour. Boys, it was a joke, yes? Kill instead my husband, your friend, for thinking them up.
Adam, my ten year old, wants a moustache. He's been badgering me for the past two weeks to get him a moustache, as if it's something I could buy off-the-shelf at Guardian.
"Mummy, can I get a moustache over the weekend?"
"Aw, come on!"
"You won't be able to get a moustache in another 15 years, Adam", explained his father
"Awwww, but I want it now".
Adam's very specific about the kind of misai he wants. It has to be a thick handlebar.
"I can use hair gel to make it spiky if I have punk hair, or I can just make it look normal, when I have normal hair", he explained.
"Why are you so fixated on having a moustache, Adam?", I asked.
"Because it'll make me look good", he said simply, "because it'll make me look maaaaanly".
Oh dear. Too much Y chromosomes there.
To whoever it was who accused Saiffuddin of using " magic" to get me to marry him, all I can say is, perhaps he did. I'm at a loss to explain it, too. Haha. Mr Saiffuddin, please explain yourself.
The truth is, no one else would marry a large woman who won't even clip her own toenails. No magic there, just misfortune.
Yesterday, Kamarul, Ian and I were at a crowded cafe in KLCC. I bumped into my father's old friend; her daughter was a former colleague : ultra skinny, uber glam. (Don't think me bitchy : I like her very much, and in fact I admire her a lot for her new-found entreprenuerial spirit)
After enquiring after her (she's in London on a business trip), the benign father fixed me with a concerned look.
"You've put on a lot of weight", he said, frowning. "Cannot lah like this. Must take care of yourself".
Hur hur hur. I remind myself never again to be seen in public with rail-thin Kam unless he's wearing horizontal stripes.
"Alah, why you worry what people think?", scolded the ever-comforting Kam, who then proceeded not to eat anything, while I stuffed my face with a foccacia sandwich.
Later in the loo, I got more than just relief : there, on the back of the cubicle door, was a small poster of a voluptuous woman with the words : extra large, extra sexy. Hurray for Unilever. My extra large body shan't touch anything else but Dove.
I really like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, which seems to be their worldwide crusade. Oh I know, it could very well be a clever ploy to just make me buy their products (which I would buy regardless, because they smell so good) but I totally support what they're doing. It's about time a big ass FMCG company challenge the stereotypes of beauty. Never mind the raison d'etre : as far as I'm concerned, this branding exercise scored a complete buy-in from me.
I like that they agree that it's the beauty companies that are making us all so screwy. Particularly insiduous are those TV commercials which depict women pitting against each other (the "teknik rebonding" ad, for one), pounding you with the message that if you use our product, you'll get a leg-up on the competition. Why should we think of other women as the enemy? Even if it is a race, why make a yardstick out of a quality that is largely borne out of a stroke of luck and the right gene-pool? If I can stop judging myself and others based on looks, then I'm not going to worry about prettier, younger girls. (If you're my husband and you're reading this, two words : Shut Up)
But listen, we're made to feel insecure. They want us to feel bad about our hair, our skin, our hips, our boobs, our teeth, so that we'd be desperate enough to shell out 300 bucks for a jar of moisturizer that looks like goat semen. (Not that I know what that looks like) A billion dollar world-wide industry is hinged upon the fact that women would never be happy with themselves.
This is why I'm so glad for the Dove campaign. It's honest. It doesn't say, look, you, too can have Sammi Cheng's flawless skin if you use this stuff they make sake with. Please lah. Sammi Cheng was born with that skin. I can ply my face with the best goat semen, and I'd still look like me. Now, Dove says that it's ok to look like me, but maybe just better. Have you seen their print ads in American magazines? One of my favourites features Marge Simpson, before and after Dove Conditioner. How cool is that? Another has a matrix of women, young and old, fat and thin, dark and light, and it says : "None of these women are hair models. After all, neither are you." Sweet! I wish the campaign has more prominence here in Malaysia becaue I think there is so much we can do.(I'm talking to you, you bright women at Unilever Branding, you know who you are)
For example, I especially like the idea of the Dove Self Esteem Fund, which aims to help young girls come to terms with , and love their own bodies. I feel sorry for the girls of today : they're constantly bombarded with impossible standards of beauty. Impossible because the hot, sexy images we see are usually not for real : it's a clever combination of make-up and lighting and touch-up technology. Remember what Cindy Crawford said about herself? "In real life, even I don't look like Cindy Crawford".
Go visit the Dove site -- it's not really meant to make you change your brand of shampoo or facewash, it means to change how you see yourself. It'll make you go : Yeah, damn right! I am beautiful, right here, right now, and there's nothing you can do to change it.
By the way, people at Unilever, my blog is available for advertising. Hee.
Okay, okay must get into this habit of blogging again. I'll do a rotidua and just write whatever that comes to mind. (You know that's what you do, Nina)
First an announcement : My two girls want to learn traditional Malay dance, ever since they saw Didda Malik during a rehearsal for an Avon perfume launch. My husband thinks I'm putting that idea into Aiysha and Aliya's heads, which may be true, but who cares. I'm not letting my kids grow up as plebeians. If I don't force culture into their throats, they may grow up thinking "Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea" was a traditional ditty.
So last Sunday, I brought the girls for their first lesson at Dida's sprawling bungalow in Taman Duta. The class was more of a great female get-together : good-humoured, interesting women and their charges learning Zapin, amid lots of laughter and the smell of sambal tumis wafting from the kitchen. I so wished I could join them, but they were, like Aiysha said, "the expert" class; and these mummies and their children had been coming for lessons for quite some time. Aiysha couldn't get her steps right and cried. Aliya, despite looking adorable in her kain susun kipas and her brass tali pinggang, refused to even join lessons.
I wasn't about to be defeated and allow my husband the smugness of victory. Didda said the girls need to join a beginner's class, but the problem is, she doesn't have any. Now, I need to create one. So my announcement is : would there be any mummies out there who might want to send their daughters to learn Malay classical dance? The girls would essentially be trained in gamelan. (Don't worry, no hantu this one) Didda charges only (only!!) 80 ringgit per month, for weekly lessons, and I need just another four girls, preferably between 5 to 8 years old, to make up a class. Why would you want to? One, you're ensuring the survival of such an important facet of classical Malay culture. Two, you'd get to know Didda, who must be the most gracious and most gregarious person this side of Batu Pahat. And three (most importantly), you'll help me win this argument with my husband. (I promise I'll help you when you have one with yours) Please email your interest to : email@example.com.
Did I tell you that we bought a second hand Renault Megane? We had no idea that in French, Megane means "Put Your Money into a Hole in The Ground and Take the Public Transport". The car has broken down so many times, it needs Prozac. My husband needs Prozac, too -- everytime something goes wrong, the kids get a lesson in the human reproductive system, as well as learn about parts of the anatomy essential in the digestive process. Unfortunately, it's not very scientific. Adam has since asked about the significance of someone's mother's errm, vagina.
This morning, after putting up my Post of the Month (that's how long I take between entries) I thought I should really see what's up with other bloggers. I've been really bad, I don't even pop in to visit my family regularly. Every one had such wonderful, well-thought out, funny entries. Like Suhaimi (yes, he's family) who ranted about Merdeka and then about the inadequacies of the Bush Administration in the face of Katrina. Or my father who wrote such a touching piece on his birthday and then that naughty bit about penises. And my sister in law who told us about her heirloom baju kasa and my brother whose crabby about a nicotine patch. And Elisa, who posted the evidence of Ihsan's eye for photography, and then complained about having a sister with a familiar name (I'm not that famous-lah).
In comparison, my entries are so self-absorbed. When you're short on time, you just write about what's in front of you. Besides, a blog is like a mental barf bag, said a more famous blogger. So I'm so sorry you have to read my spew.
* Despite claiming that I don't have the time, I can't help but give in to what my husband thinks is my bad habit of getting lost in a book. Currently, it is Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red. It's been out a few years already ( I buy from Bargain Bins, remember?), so I'm wondering if there's anyone else who's read this enchanting, but rather tedious book?
My husband Saiffuddin, and my accomplice, Suhaimi, went to the same school in Kuala Kangsar. Suhaimi is thinking of doing something for his Old Boys Association by way of a snazzy, funky, multiplatform website. We bounced this off with Hasnul, newly elected to the Association's "management committee"; and he was excited enough to set up a meeting with the powers that be, this very Thursday.
For some reason, my husband dwelled upon this idea during our daily walk, this morning.
"You have to make the site sticky", he said, ruminating.
In the real world, most people don't go to that august school in Kuala Kangsar. In the real world, most people regard a "Budak Koleq" with something more than just suspicion and weariness. Making the website popular will be quite a task.
But that morning, my husband was seized by an evil spirit, perhaps a ghost who went to Clifford.
"You could", he suddenly said, "put a shoot-em-up on the site. Like Celebrity Death Match or something, but we call it Kill All Dem CEO's. We'll put animations of all the famous Captains of Industries who went to the school, and people get points if they manage to blow their brains off."
"Ooooo", I said, eyes gleaming, "Ooooo, that'll work! You get different points for different CEO's, like you get high marks if you gun down, say (this Tan Sri who no longer heads this huge construction conglomerate) . Hahaha. The jackpot has to be (this other Tan Sri who currently heads this huge construction conglomerate, but a different one) "
"Yeah! Oh, I know a lot of his employees who want to kill that one. But of course, there has to be a certain level of difficulty. If these CEO's get you instead, you lose the game, and you'll hear him say : You're Broke!"
"Or You're Fired!", I added," and if the player's a woman, you'll get : You're Divorced!"
"Or depending on the CEO : I Slept with Another Sl*t!", said my husband, helpfully.
And so that was how we amused ourselves during the drudgery of our morning walk, while breathing in fumes from cars and garbage trucks.
"Well, not everyone will want to play a shoot-em-up", I reminded him, "after all, this is your school, not everyone is alpha-male aggressive".
"For those people, we can have those meme quizzes. Like Answer Five Questions to Know Your Sexual Orientation, or Which Desperate Housewife Are You?"
" Can, can", I smiled as I mentally composed this blog entry. Please don't kill me, all you old boys from Kuala Kangsar. Please don't hang me from the Big Tree in front of your Big School. I didn't come up with these, my husband did, and you won't slaughter one of your own thoroughbreds, would you?
For something really sticky, click on the image for a larger view. Philately enthusiasts, you can learn more about these by clicking here.