Wednesday, April 27, 2005


when something out of the ordinary happens, you find out who your friends are.

i'd discovered that someone has been watching me in the shower. and boy, was i mad. really mad. but what made me madder was two friends who knew about it.

one - couldn't be more obvious he was more concerned about himself than i.

two - couldn't be more concerned/thoughtful that perhaps i didn't exactly want the world to know about it, but she told (1) her schoolmate who met me for the first time the previous night, (2) her boyfriend [which is to be expected, somehow] and (3) another friend of hers who just happened to be around her when i told her more details which were unearthed.

i was angrier at the second than the first.

juicy stories are good to tell.

i have not judged her, not any of the times she deemed it her right to publicise that her boyfriend is a porn addict, not any of the times she's shown insensitivity. hell, we're all vengeful sometimes. hell, we're all insensitive sometimes.

friends have mutual respect for one another, understanding/empathy.

where was her understanding that this is a private matter?

where the event i had told her, was private and told sub rosa to one friend - her. the other, was somewhat involved.

and she tells me that next time i relate a story to her, that i should first find out if there are people around her. like it's my fault she cannot draw boundaries, she is not able to differentiate between stories that are OK to tell, and stories that should remain private.

i should first find out if there are people around her.

that i ...

i ...

i ...

... should find out ... if there are people around her.

why is that the fucking point at all? how can her pride be more important than mutual respect/understanding in a friendship? even if there are people around her, how difficult would it be for her to say "no, nothing much" to someone who asks "why? what's up?" cos it's not her who's up?

where is her understanding of me?

where is her mutual respect for me?

i've dropped one yesterday.

ina, i love you. my true friend over all these years. who could understand me, who loves me, who chastises me when i should be corrected, who sees the boundaries as clear as the sky.

and who respects me.

as i respect her and treasure her secrets, away in my heart and in my drawer.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

the hobbyist

1. do not purchase anything when on the phone.
2. do not attempt to cook anything without first learning how to cook it.

i should have known better. there was something suspicious about the VCD/DVD/CD sale.

2 VCDs for $10/15/20?! 3 CDs for $10?! whoohooo!

was on the phone with Orni a.k.a. the yankee convert trying to calm her nerves pre-'date'-with'-redneck-Sven. called me at 0600am (eastern standard time) even before all the chickens were up and running. instead of heading straight to Watson's 'your personal store', i just had to lose focus (like every other moment of my life) and found myself smack in the middle of the mad rush over cheap VCDs/DVDs/CDs. as i chatted excitedly over the phone with Orni, i found myself browsing absent-mindly through all the VCDs/DVDs. found The Hours which i absolutely love. unfortunately, i just decided i had to get another one to enjoy the 2-for-$15 deal instead of just spending $9 for The Hours. there goes hours of bitching about other stupid singaporeans who buy into these marketing gimmicks.

ok, found meself two videos. i should have just paid and leave but noooooo .... with Orni still excitedly talking on the other line, i wandered off to the cheap(o) CD area. 3-for-$10?!!

dilly-dee-me: hey Orni, how come these CDs are only 10 bucks for three? they look really suspicious too, real inferior paper quality type.
Orni: haiyaaaa ... think made in China one.
dilly-dee-me: eeeks. think these are real?
Orni: usually they are, they just look worse and cheapo la whenever they are made in China.
dilly-dee-me: oh... wait, so today it's the museum, then next week it's the aquarium, right?

if i were not on the phone as excited as i was over Orni's first date in close to ten years, i would have read the fine print at the back of the three CDs i got. on normal days when i am not on the phone, i would have read the fine print.

"All tracks are re-recorded by various artistes in digital studio."

now i am stuck with a justin timberlake CD with some pre-pubescent voice straining his throat, TWO volumes of '48 Non-Stop Greatest Oldies" sung by the same guy throughout all 96 songs. i hope that at the end of his NON-STOP 96 songs, he dropped dead.

when i played these CDs, i was horrified. i felt like i was in This Fashion when it first opened up about ten years ago, playing all these fakies over similarly ching-chong speakers that were not well hidden. or some 'unisex' salons owned by those ching-chong aunties with permanent red perms and permanent surf-wave fringe at the front.

am now thinking of donating these to the uNisex salon i used to go to when i was 4.

though my friend Edna thinks i am a Domestic Goddess, i must immediately bring this story to her attention. i suck at curry cooking, OK? my spaghetti bolognese may be a killer, my pancakes may melt in your mouth, my fried ayam may be to-die-for, my telur-mata-lembu may be perfect circles and my english breakfasts may be to wake up for but i cannot cook curry to save my ass. OK, have never tried cooking the national dish of India and Britain before but i just had to be a hero(ine) and try to cook curry, very well knowing i do not know how to cook curry.

hey, only takes common sense, right?


i didn't even have all the ingredients. i now have a whole pot of curry that tastes more like powdery curry sauce. i have tried everything, adding more water, adding coconut milk, adding more water, adding sugar, adding everything i think the curry lacks. i have a can of tomato paste in the fridge that i think should go into the hell pot, but i think, hey ... while we're at it, let's throw in Carr's Table Water Crackers, Loacker's Quadratini's, pasta, Nutella, St Dalfour's Strawberry Jam, Balsamic Vinegar, everything on the kitchen top.

am off to Times to get meself the Kerala Cuisine recipe book.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

the magic number

incense stick of the month: blackberry & sage (it was a close fight with Thurga's Lotus Incense Sticks - although their factories are probably side-by-side in chennai/malaysia with the former using a more glam name like "The Scent People" while Thurga remains true to herself (himself?).

ice-cream flavour of the month: vanilla. it's back to basics for me.

album of the month: the buena vista social club presents ibrahim ferrer (how cool is that? ibrahim ferrer. why cant i have a name vaguely similar - i'd even accept dali ferret). this album just rekindles the days i go mad dancing. *shivers down spine*

infection of the month: this is a tough one. i cannot decide between the itch between my little toe and my wedding toe, and the major UTI i currently have which has earned me a hospitalisation leave of 6 days including the weekend. the first has been driving me nuts for two months - i cannot decide if it's a stubborn fungus or the skin is just bluddy dry and i've been maltreating it with anti-fungal cream instead of moisturiser. it's just weird cos if it's fungal - how come it hasn't spread?

and the latter? good lord. it's my third day on antibiotics and i still have the pain. i feel like a pufferfish from all the water and bloatedness. i cannot even put on my pants without wincing from the pain. i sit on the toiletbowl and cry god's name sacrilegiously with my pants down and tears running down my face. at least this time, i am not eating in the toilet like i did half a year ago when my urine was pink with blood. of all things to be born with - useless tumours and the super high likeliness of UTI since childhood. and of course the boss delivers the laptop to me (through the taxi company) - i have to work.

blessing of the month: my beloved brother, dannie. i cannot say it enough. he deserves more than what he has on his plate. was absolutely delirious when he smsed me today that he got the job he wanted badly as a training executive with a growing food & bev company that has a name everyone misspells. he has it, he just has it. again - i blame the parents for my brother's late development and misguided ideas as a young adult 10 years back. i was just lucky i met ravi, my father figure with the face of an altar boy.

annoyance of the month: shanghainese. if you're shanghainese, please do not get offended. my prejudice shifts everyday from colleague to colleague who persists to annoy me. one day it's the mexicans, the next it's the brazilians, the next the thais and everyday? everyday - got to be the singaporeans. "Why, ah?" "What, ah?" "Like that, lor."

physical state of the month: fat. no longer a need to elaborate on this point.

fluid of the month: water, to flush out the damn bacteria hanging on to my urethra.

yoghurt of the month: m.e.i.j.i. rocks.(strawberry/mixed berry)

emotion of the month (and jan-apr '05): insecurity. why do i keep thinking i am going to lose my job all the bluddy 'ell time? at this rate, i'll fulfill this fear myself.

conscience can be such a bitch. even when she doesn't need to come out and play.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


now that talk of a wedding swirls around our lives, i (not ravi) am stumped with the wedding ceremony.

when you grow up with an overbearing father who tries to instill "culture" into your lives when he himself does not quite hack it as well, it just falls through. i grew up thinking i was malay although people always asked if i were this/that, basically anything but malay.

then i found out my mother is chinese.

then i found out my father himself isn't quite malay with a practically portuguese father from a predominantly portuguese-majority area of malacca, and punjabi mother.

where does that put my brother and i?

what are we?

my identity card states "malay" (for some political reason) and the "binte" in my name reflects the history of the malays who found it easier to adopt the arabic culture than to keep their own - like as though arabising one's self made one more muslim than one is in one's heart.

truth be told, i feel more like a "binte" than a "malay" regardless of my current racial ambiguity which clearly shows we are not malays. i am more muslim in some aspects than i am anything else. but i cannot be pretentious. the only reason i feel more muslim than anything else is because my body submits to the law and order ordained by He who created it all. and as islam means submission to God (and literally peace) and my engineered heart ticks according to the blueprint designed by He, then i am a muslim.

but religion is not what i wish to talk about today.

one thing is for sure - we will go through the nikah, a marriage contract signed and 'recognised' by God, whatever that means.

then - i am lost.

i am absolutely lost.

when ravi used to tease that our kids must go for tamil dance classes and learn tamil because i was cultureless - i realise now that there's some truth in that.

he is right.

i am cultureless.

i'd spent years dismissing malay culture (even when i thought i was a malay), ridiculing beliefs that seemed contradictory to the basic doctrines of islam but passed off as islamic beliefs - i rejected a lot of it though i respected some aspects of malayanism.

my father saw signs of this even when i was studying at the convent as a pre-pubescent child. but you cannot teach a child what you yourself do not possess. a child learns more from watching than nagging.

as i grew older, it only got worse. suddenly most of what the malays believed e.g. plucking your eyebrows would send you straight to hell was just fucking stupid to me. why in the world would a being as great, as infinite as God give two shits about anyone plucking their eyebrows? worse - why is this in the same class as murdering an unarmed man who is not dangerous to you?

before i knew it, i was barely 18 and had already rejected this subculture like as though it wasn't worthy of great, big Me.

and now, i find myself, rootless.

what am i? portuguese? chinese? indian?

what wedding ceremony do i hold? portuguese/chinese/indian? malay?

is it wrong to adopt a culture although technically, it isn't yours?

which culture in the world today isn't actually a subculture of the world culture? everything is adopted. even the malay culture of "hantaran"s and henna-painting were adopted from the indians/moroccans/etc.

but still, i cannot swallow wearing malay costumes, sitting on a dias and looking pretty for 4 hours while trying not to break out into beads of perspiration that would stain my pretty little malay costume that's too small, hard and uncomfortable anyway.

and instead, what do i think of?
1. a nikah and kenduri for family and closest friends only
2. a wild reception complete with hors d'oeuvres , wine, herradura tequila, happy music, dancing and laughter for friends only. i could never be this free with my parents or the out-laws around (or drink like a whore).

see, the first is out of respect for my parents and whichever family member who might feel offended they were never invited to a wedding dinner.

and the second is something i would actually like to have. i cannot imagine an un-fun dinner where i, as the bride, am the most uncomfortable person at my own wedding just because i am worried everyone else is not having fun.

the wedding planner has been anointed, the date more-or-less set - now the only thing left is to decide the singaporean wedding ceremony.

and i am stumped.

old love letters - the electronic way

From : Dali
Sent : Thursday, August 07, 2003 6:06:29 PM
To : Ravi
Subject : coup de foudre part one

| | | Inbox

not exactly in a romantic mood, but i'd say i'm in a rather amorous and generous one. if that means anything different at all. although you insist that know it already, i am confident i have not confessed that *sigh*, i've fallen madly in love with you. yes, it's true. i can no longer drop my knickers and salivate un-gaga-controllably over a cute fella on the streets - i only desire after his desire. fine, i'm a lascivious lembu gila. but even a married woman would be pleased to know that at least one man wishes that she was not. that's probably the reason why i feel more elevated with you around - it's called 'unattainability', the enigma surrounding a woman inflates exponentially in comparison to the reality of the truth, which also equals to delusional lembu gila. i dont want to dive into a philosophical monologue right now, just not in the mood to be annoyingly highly intelligent or arrogant. would just like to be silly. and only silly today. i just feel like pouring all my soul out to you via courrier electronique because sometimes i feel like i'm held incommunicado by the pseudo indifference you present to me. perhaps your pseudo indifference arises from some kind of embarrassment or overdose of affection from me, the latter of which is tragic and terribly upsetting if true. or just plain ol' pantang/fear. i miss you all the time you're not with me. but it isnt as though i have to be with you all the time. i just feel like something's missing when you aren't with me. at the risk of sounding tacky/corny/lame/spastic/air-supplyish, gotta say that you've become the air i breathe. does that scare you? i dont know. and now, when i finally get the time to write something, my mood evaporates and i've lost my muse.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

best words of the month

1. "you're doing a good job, dali."

just when i was about to rip a handful of hair out of my scalp, my boss came over to my desk to ask me if i had heard the hilarious "Ned's Gay & Lesbian Channel" [go to Audio then "Ned's Gay Channel Prank Call] he had sent over. delighted i got a funny forward (these days, i need all the funnies i can get), i immediately clicked on "Get Messages" on lousy netscape 7 times. meanwhile, the following conversation ensued.

boss : so are you now comfortable in your (new) job?
dali : er ... yeah ... just that i feel like killing someone every other day.
boss : ooooooh, be careful there, dali. i can make enemies, but you can't! i've already received the first complaint about you.
dali : oh, really? (heart starts palpitating at abnormal speeds here due to conscience overdrive. 'did i answer that email?', 'was too slow answering that asshole', 'i took too long to do that, but i really could not find the time!', 'has to be bluddy south america with their unreasonable demands for rates 1000 lower than market levels.') from where? south america?
boss : er ... no.
dali : then who? (i was persistent to add someone to my blacklist)
boss : froggie.
dali : (mentally typed in froggie's name in my blacklist) huh? what does he have to complain about me? oooh, yes, that, i spoke with the managing director (froggie's boss. i spoke with froggie's boss cos i was sick and tired of dealing with froggie's incompetent department.)
boss : yes, that was good actually, talking with the m.d.
dali : so, it wasn't a complaint, at least not in our books.
boss : no, it wasnt. was good. you're doing a good job, dali. you are.
dali : (shoots venomous, suspicious look at boss)

ok, maybe i suffer from extremus paranoia. i thought of the following in the respective order:
a)oh fuck, oh fuck. he's going to fire my ass off.
b)oh fuck, oh fuck. he thinks i am turning complacent.
c)oh fuck, oh fuck. he thinks i am demotivated and is trying to motivate me.

and five minutes later,
d)oh wait, or am i really doing a good job?

yes, it's confirmed. ravi was right all along, and i was just in denial. i am an anal pessimist. all the while, i thought i was a realist and was so damn 'ell prouda it.

but hey, i needed it. whether or not my boss saw me laughing and smiling less and thought i needed the encouragement - it does not matter. i did need it. and if he knew it, he's a good boss, well, somehow. i needed it. i almost had a nervous breakdown last sunday night. going to work the next day became unbearably painful and scary. i felt i wasn't good enough for the job, for myself.

like my good friend, michelle says, have faith in yourself.

it's funny - all my life, others have had more faith in me than i have had in myself. must be papa - always making us feel inadequate.

2."next month."

finally, after three excruciating months with 20 year old brat at home, she's leaving the house. with all the work stress, i could not afford to go mad at home. whenever i snap unnecessarily at ravi, i recognise it's got to be a culmination of work stress and home stress. and immediately, i'd hug and lie with ravi on our fatboys. it isn't his fault, he's my baby/cushion/rock.

why i am excited she's leaving next month:

a) bluddy 'ell talks too much. i take cooking as a meditative process. i like cooking in silence. i bluddy switch off when i cook, and that's what i need. to bluddy switch off. thinking is my death. she sits on my bar counter and recounts all her problems with ex-boyfriends etc etc bla bla ... zone out ... zone out ... and she takes up space on the bar counter which i need for all my ingredients. also, when i am watching 23 episodes of CSI consecutively over one weekend to switch off, i do not need someone sitting beside me going on and on about how her cousins she was living with was bitching about her. for god's sake, i could have contracted arthritis in my fingers from all that rewinding.

b) finished my entire supply of bailey's within two weeks of moving in. who in their bluddy shameless minds will do something like that? she bought another bottle - but not to replenish the one she finished. she got it to continue drinking herself and perhaps share a glass or two with me.

c) brought friends home within a week of promising she wouldn't and acted the perfect hostess with my supplies. i felt like a prisoner in my home with my privacy confiscated by an authority that hardly existed. waking up to five foreign pairs of shoes at your front door isn't exactly like hearing the birds chirping outside your window. i went mad, berserk, screamed at ravi and my lovely brother dannie every other day.

d) to wash dishes means to clean/rid dishes of debris. she bluddy 'ell leaves debris on plates and glasses. i absolutely hate drinking from a glass when i can guess what it contained the night before. or the saliva smell. i hate passing by my dishrack and smelling rotten eggs. eating off plates with yesterday's meal still on it is not my idea of a culinary delight.

e) left an iron mark on the $65 ironing board within a month of moving in. h.a.t.e. spoilt brats.

f) broke water spray - and kept silent about it. now, whenever i water my plant or spray clothes while ironing, i leave the floor wetter.

g) still using my towel. we were never close, so she can forget about intimate.

h) leaves the kettle/toaster switches on. now, why would anyone do this on a regular basis? leaving the risk of burning the house down on a daily basis? ok, i confess, i do it once in a while, but i kick myself over it.

i) the fragrance hotel. her boyfriend started staying over, started lying on my fatboys with her in the living room watching tv/videos when she said "yeah, i think my boyfriend will come over only once in a while, but he'll be in the room." once again, found that my need to switch off in front of tv watching amazing race was not possible with couple cuddling all over my fatboys watching my tv.

j)there were four things i specifically mentioned the first night she was here. (i) do not bring friends over, (ii) OK to bring boyfriend over once in a while, into room, must go home, (iii) keep house/room clean, sloth-like behaviour not acceptable and, (iv) no smoking in room. now, how difficult could it be? first two were violated within days. and the third no longer exists - she doesnt even bother to sweep the house. and the fourth - now, why would she think i haven't a clue she smokes in her room? we have a balcony huge enough to fit three buffalos and herself in the corner smoking a cigarette but she does it in the room. i, the asthmatic who grew up with a chain-smoking father cannot smell a cigarette for miles? you can forget about it. i hate mothering a girl only 3 years younger than i. i have other things to worry about, like how to convince ravi we should keep a pet.

k) lack of consideration for others in the house. how did she expect me to hang ravi's and my clothes at the backyard when she conveniently takes half the hangers from the backyard into her cupboard? now, what i do not get is how a student who receives $900/month spends all her money and goes into deficits when the only bill she pays is her mobile phone bill? there are families whose household income barely meets the $900 mark who are able to pay for the roofs over their heads, food for the children and electricity. and she cannot spend $5 on hangers? you see, it's never about the money - it's about the (here's where i sound anal) principle of it, dammit.

l) why would a nurse chuck lessons of hygiene at home? who the hell dips her hands into an air-tight cereal container without washing her hands? up till today, i have not touched that cereal container.

m) bringing boyfriend and sister home at 0400am and denying that boyfriend was in the house. ravi and i retired to the bedroom at 0345 when i heard the front door softly click open-and-close while reading disordered minds. then i heard a distinctly male voice puking in the house. then the sound of the mopstick falling in the backyard. ravi refused to let me out and start a screaming match (a monologue screaming match, that is). the next day, she wakes up at 1500pm and tells me

she : "oh, by the way (by the way), my sister slept here last night. i forgot (forgot) to tell you."
me : (you didn't forget, you just didn't think it prudent to tell us first) and who else was here last night?
she : "no one."
me : (liar) then who was puking?
she : "me."
me : (liar) hmph.

an hour later, she sends me an sms saying she was sorry she said it was her who was puking vomitus all over the place (please allow me to exaggerate, i am about to explode here) but it was not her, it was her boyfriend.

i wasted 10 minutes of my precious life reeling.

last week, sent a message to her brother "when you said she was going to stay with us temporarily, how temporary did you mean?"

and the reply that came back brought a sigh of relief to me, "next month."

next month.