web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: April 2007
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Saturday, April 21, 2007
Boy Briefs

Let me tell you what's up with my son Adam, a long-standing character in this blog. Those who know him might be surprised to see how much he has grown in a year. He does not have a proclivity for rude songs anymore, or any interest in collecting frogs from drains after rain. He would fake his own death if you hugged or kissed him in public. He lost weight, lots of weight.

His most treasured possession is something that might be described as "mercurial vaporapor, with superior 4mm contact foam for best grip in wet and dry conditions featuring Grip3 technology". In other words, a pair of really good, really gummy, goalkeeper gloves.

Football is becoming an obsession. He keeps for his school and at the moment the team is ranked second in its division, coming from behind after beating the top eleven in a surprising win. Last week, they trashed their opponents 10-0. This morning is his last match. If the team wins, they might win the division. The league, featuring international and national plus schools in Jakarta, is serious business. Some of the coaches have premier league club experience. Or else, F@ndi Ahmad. Several weeks ago some of the players were sent down to Singapore for studio interviews with Nokia Football Crazy on ESPN. Updates on matches are reported on javakini, the unofficial expat rag.

You can keep track of Adam's school team, PSKD M@ndiri, on jakartafootball.com. Pak Sofi and Pak Bismarck, who coach and supervise the team, are ordinary teachers whose main aim is to let everyone play and feel worthy. The fact that they have progressed so well is a much welcomed bonus.

Adam trains once a week, plays indoor soccer on Mondays and practices goalkeeping at home almost daily, with Kak Ti being the designated striker. Saiffuddin and I spend Saturday mornings with cups of coffee and raisin muffins on the sidelines, going through the drama of losses and wins. (Also, I look at other mum's handbags because some of them tote such divine stuff while I contend with my RM65 canvas carry-all, bought at WH in 2002)

To my utter dissapointment Adam throws his support behind M@nchester United. He worships Van der Sar.

Soccer also led him to his first double date. (Don't gasp, you aunties. I can see Che Teh covering her mouth). Two weeks ago, on Easter weekend, Adam and his team-mate Melvin brought two other girls, also soccer players for the school, to watch Bean on Holiday at the notoriously overpriced EX. There were no chaperones, everyone paid for themselves, went home on time and apparently had a racuously enjoyable afternoon.

Adam vehemently denied it was a date. Needless to say, I ribbed him about N@nis, the tall defender he brought out, but the teasing was half-hearted and just for one day. After that, I let him be.

He's a big boy now, I'd have to admit -- with some pride and not a small amount of bittersweet sadness.


Thursday, April 19, 2007
Words and Broken Bones

Much to my husband's exasperation and dismay, today I read three books at once : the prodigious Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman : A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. The last I finished within the day, starting at seven in the morning when the book was graciously loaned to me by my friend, Mbak Lela and devoured to the last page while I stayed in bed, sustained by coffee-chocolate Tim Tams; and Gordon Sumner and lutenist Edin Karamazov playing out Songs from the Labyrinth.

It rained in the afternoon and into the early evening. Saiffuddin tried to lure me into conversation, was ignored and so tried other, more basic methods.

The fact that he succeeded was the yardstick by which I judged this book. It was good, but not compelling enough to make one refuse sex.

I liked Mr Winchester's writing style, so witty that it did not bore me through his descriptions of the laborious process of producing a dictionary, yet still elegantly Anglophile that my husband feigned a British accent when he read a paragraph. It is a curious tale, well told beyond any doubt and lovingly so, but I didn't think it lived up to the gushing edict that it is "the linguistic detective story of the decade". Still, it was fascinating enough to keep me reading, even after the aforementioned interlude. It offered nuggets of trivia about the language and the people who presided over it and I was intent on knowing the denouement of such a sad man as W.C Minor (and let's just pretend my husband didn't make jokes about his name) and his diligent friend, the editor of the OED, Sir James Murray. It does make me think about the dictionary differently, about how painstakingly it must have been put together and how flippantly people like me sometimes take the reference for granted. (It also makes me think of my friend Sofwan, who in his early career at Dewan Bahasa, worked on the English-Bahasa Malaysia dictionary with the aunt of a certain delicately beautiful newscaster)

But most of all it made my husband -- a man of numbers, mathematical assumptions and no talent for spelling -- so happy to crow that he is right : English words, he said, do drive men insane.