Monday, January 29, 2007


It seems I have lost my coherance and my ability to spell. I don't know what happened to me, somewhere between pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing I seem to have lost the ability to spell. Ocasionally when I do get to re-read my post I find countless spelling mistakes and even grammar mistakes! Have I lost some brain cells?

Perhaps I havent had time to read as much as I used to. I read AnaSalwa entries about the books she recently read and I am envious. My literary staple these days include blogs, magazines and the ocasional child development books. And a few children books of course. Nothing too complex, just books with a lot of pictures and minimal words. Is that why my spelling capability is dimisnishing? All the grrrr and the awwww and the meowwss and the mbeekkss? Perhaps my spelling brain cells have been replaced by animal sounds brain cells.

Or perhaps its my medication? It has made me lose a lot of hair! They seem to fall off in clumps. Does losing one's hair make one unable to spell or string gramatically coherant sentences?

Anyways I want to know if anyone else has a suggestion how I can regain these brain cells back!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My greatest weakness

There is one thing I cannot resist. As Awang Goneng aptly pointed out to me before, hogging is a sin ( ;)) but when it comes to shoes I have this weakness that I simply cannot overcome. Just recently on our holiday I acquired five pairs of shoes, three of them from my uncle Ferragamo. In my defence, I got them at very good prices, discounted no less, half off! At Bicester I bought 2 boots, one very practical black, flat shiny boots which were exceedingly comfortable. Now if you have big feet like me, comfortable shoes meant men shoes. But not since I was introduced to uncle Ferragamo! And the other is a very pretty 4cm heels. In Brussels, I got a pair of court shoes. Again I can never resist a good bargain.

The fourth was the classic Chanel ballerina pumps. Now I am compelled to buy from this one because for one, Chanel isn't available here. And two, when I wanted to buy them back in Singapore and/or Malaysia, they didn't have my size. Apparently, there don't bring in size 9s. Surely shoe sizes have changed back in Singapore/Malaysia but no they didn't bring in any. So of course I HAD to buy them! Its a necessity!

The fifth pair was a no brainer. It was a thirteen pound, fifteen pence Nine West shoes. We have Nine West here but the sort of shoes they bring in is so different from the ones available in the UK. Here they bring in the strappy sandals and the ornamental shoes while over there there bring in the sensible, very comfortable, walking shoes. I supposed people don't walk as much in their shoes here. With no public transport, its only 5 steps to the car and another 5 steps from the car to the door of the Mall. I was so chuffed when I found out that the origional price was fifty-five pounds, reduced twice before finally reduced to thirteen fifty. Almost bought another pair but I absolutely could not fit in another pair in my luggage. In fact, I could hardly zip up my luggage!

So I thought I had enough shoes for the year surely. As hubby dearest would say, I am all shoed out. Surprise, surprise! With little instigation yesterday, I bought another pair of white Ferragamo sandals. Of course its too cold to wear them now! But imagine wearing them in the Summer, when it gets really hot here. Surely I won't be able to wear the above boots and pumps! I will definitely need the open toed sandals!

My dearest wasn't too pleased. After all I, promised to save for the next holiday since we got back. But at three hundred eighty ringgit I could not resist!

When it comes to shoes. Especially comfortable ones and Ferragamo ones. I just cannot resist!

I've come a long way since my $20 budget on school shoes. At $20, it meant I had to wear canvas Bata, which had to be kapo-ed for most of my school going ife!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cultural Difference

I know a blogger who would be very interested in this topic but unfortunately she is too busy finishing her thesis at the moment.

I overheard this conversation on the bus recently. The background to this conversation is that a new playgroup has just been opened in our compound. The previous one was run by a British ladies and the current one is by a Canadian of Middle Eastern origin.

Some of the ladies were discussing if they would or would not send their child to the play group. One lady said that her child is only one and a half years old and therefore would not be able to learn anything. She said she would send her daughter when the daughter is three or four years old. "When we were young we didn't have all this but look at us now. We are OK. So why should we send our children to all this things? Why must we make them study early? They should just relax."

Another lady replied, "Well we want out children to be better than us."

I remember Atenah telling me about some cultures that don't stimulate their child before the age of two because they do not believe that the child would understand.

And I have seen many Malay families here who do not see the importance of sending their children to kindergarten. Also Arab news published a statistic that less than 8% of children in this kingdom go to kindergarten at all.

Very different from the Europeans. They send their children to the playgroups as soon as the play group would take them. They feel that it is very important for their children to be socialized especially at a young age. My German neighbour insist on meeting twice a week if not more often so the children could play together.

And my view? I personally have seen how the Little One has benefit from the social interactions with other children and other adults. And her experiences and exposure she had when we went to vacation recently has made her more aware of her surroundings. But she is inherently a very curoius child who seek social interaction. She would wave or seek attention of other children who passes by, or have I taught her that way?

Nature or nurture?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Not so current affairs

Due to the time difference between here and the UK, I actually stayed up to find out who was to be evicted. Jade Goody or Shilpa Shetty.

For those of you who don't know who either one of them are, do not worry. They are just contestants of the Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 4. I was introduced to Jade (not personally) when she was a contestant in Big Brother many years ago which in turn made Jade (somewhat of) a household name in the UK. Jade, in my opinion, is one of those people who made people feel much better of themselves. Her famous quotes include "East Angular? Isn't that abroad?" and she even put "minging" in the English dictionary. [ East Anglia and minging supposed to mean nasty or ugly.]

Shilpa, well I am not familiar with her at all because I do not watch Bollywood movies but she is definitely famous in India and has many loyal fans. But from what I have seen of her on Big Brother, she is very beautiful, very sexy, has curves in the right places that women want, wears beautiful clothes and is very elegant. More importantly she was very graceful and very regal in face of Jade Goody when they were arguing about 3 chicken cubes.

But what's more intriguing for me was how the issue of bullying and racism on Big Brother gaines a lot of media attention, and worse still, it became "Breaking News" on both BBC and CNN when they announced that Jade Goody was evicted from the Big Brother House.

Is it because the girl who is bullied is a very pretty girl that got the media attention? Or perhaps it was because Gordon Brown chose the wrong time to visit India? Whatever it was, it was a change indeed to have a racism issue brought out under the spotlight by the media, especially so in Britian.

What will happen next to Big Brother? I won't know because I am back here. But I must say I was glad to have been able to watch Big Brother and the argument on TV.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Brought the rain back with us

The weather was horrendouesly cold. Even colder than London. It was 10 oC when we landed and it was 12oC in London. And it rained and rained from late night and almost the whole day.

It rained every single day in Brussels and almost everyday except two when we were in the UK. On one day we went to Leeds Castle and on the other day we went to Harrods I think.

Its funny how we call this place home. The Little One was so excited when she saw her toys again. Almost immediately she went to her walker (not that round thing she sits in but rather the thing that a baby pushes to aid her to walk) and pushed it round the living room. She sat happily on her high chair and surprise surprise she climbed the stairs all the way up all my herself. This is a huge milestone for her and for us as well. It meant that we had to fit in gates at the bottom and at the top of the stairs as well.

As for the flight home I must give top marks for Swiss Air. I can tell you that flying on Economy on Swiss Air is 10 times better than flying for Saudia Airlines. We flew on Saudia Airlines from here to KL on business because we thought we needed the extra space and comfort as it was The Little One's first flight. And what did we get? Not much extra space (in fact it was so cramped when the inconsiderate guy in front reclined his seat we hardly had any space) and absolutely no service! On Saudia when we asked the stewardess to help us she replied with "Sorry we are not allowed to help."

Now Swiss Air is a different class of airline altogether! We were the last ones into the aeroplane because (a) our flight was delayed for over an hour due to the terrible weather at Heathrow. We almost thought that we'd miss our conecting flight. (b) The pushchair came out late from the aircraft even though we were one of the first few who rushed out of the plane in anticipation of the 20 mins we have left before our connecting flight takes off and that it would take about 20 mins from terminal A to terminal E where the next plane would take off.

But as we got into the Swiss Air flight we were greeted with all smiles. Even the ground staff who found us at the top of the escalators after the security was sweet. He told us that we needn't rush and that it was OK. Immediately when we stepped into the aircraft we were greeted with smiles and told that one of the stewardesses will not only show us to our seats but also help us with our bags! And ontop of that they reserved one whole row of the middle section (4 seats!!!) at the bulkhead row for us! Boy it was roomy! My legs could stretch and The Little One didn't get claustoprobic at all! (On Saudia we didn't get a basinet or a child seat belt!! Seat Belt whats That?!) On Swiss air they even prepared a bib, a handpuppet, a sticker book and a Disney baby nappy on the seat with lots of pillows and a blanket. All for The Little One. And they were constantly playing with her, waving, smiling and asking if she wanted apple juice etc!

I have since decided that its not about the class you travel in but the Airline whom you travel with. Service on Saudia is nonexistence but on Swiss Air the service felt very genuine. Top marks to the Swiss Air staff on LX228! I might even write a letter to them commending them on their wonderful service!

We almost thought that our baggage didn't make it with us because of the short connection but horay horaay our bags did surface on top of the conveyor belt. But our Quinny Zapp didn't. I had an inkling that it might happen and even suggested to my beloved to bring the buggy in with us but because we rushed in the staff told him to leave the Quinny Zapp outside. The thing with the Quinny Zapp is, its so small when its folded and comes in a nifty back that those not familiar with it won't know that its a buggy. We shall wait and see when the Quinny show up.

And before we reached home we asked the driver to stop at the nearby Kabsah place to buy a chicken and some rice which we enjoyed for both last night dinner and today's lunch.

I have to say that the trip was expensive because of the current horrendous exchange. I came back with 5 pairs of shoes (wanted to buy more but no more baggage space), a blue Storksak bag, lots of shopping bags as gifts and boxes of Pierre Marcolini chocolates. I left quite a lot behind because we didn't have the space or the weight allowance. I purposely used two of our smaller bags rather than the big bag because we knew Swiss Air is rather strict with excess baggage. I knew we were allowed 23kg each and the baby 10 kg and guess what our scale read during check-in? 55.4kg! Hah! Perhaps I could have fitted in another book or two but I could hardly zipp up all three bags!

The trip has made me feel energized. With batteries charged I hope they will be better days to come.

And The Little One? I think the trip has done her a world of good! In just three weeks we has grown so much! She is suddenly babbling more. She is very smiley and can make animal sounds. She really did sound like a hungry lion when she wanted some chicken for dinner last night. She asked to be read to a lot. Was it the fresh air? Was it the exposure? Was it the people or the location or the food she tasted? Whatever or whichever it was the trip has given her a lot of good! And most of all she doesn't cry as much when we put her in her car seat!

Isn't this a good excuse to go on more trips?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Of my Ecco shoes and Leeds Castle

I opened the shoe cupboard and smiled when I saw my old pair of Ecco shoes. Nice sturdy walking shoes. I bought them at one of the discount factory outlets of course. I don't believe in paying retail prices for anything. These shoes, I wore them last on my backpacking trip. My situation has changed. My role has changed. My body has changed. But the shoes are still there and they feel very much the same. I had almost bought a new pair of walking shoes to come back here, now I'm glad I didn't. I'm glad I kept the pair and didn't send them to the charity shop or the shoe bank.

London however is changing. One of the things that was most noticeable for me was how much more expensive everything is. The cost of travel cards have gone up. Your money doesn't really go very far here, especially not with the current exchange rate.

Today was the first day we saw any sunlight. I almost spent the day at home watching the re-runs of celebrity Big Brother. I haven't seen Big Brother for a long time you know! And guess what Jade is back in the house doing her old thing. But luckily he dragged us out to Leeds Castle. I had thought that Leeds Castle would be in Leeds. But no, its in Kent, good, old green Kent.

I don't know what it is but the sight of green grass all round and the smell of fresh air was just making me heady. The headache I had in the car ride simply disappeared when we stepped into the grounds of Leeds Castle. What is there to do there you wonder? Well I like feeding the ducks and the swans. I could just watch them for hours and hours feeding on every bit and morsel of stale bread I brought. Now I remember what I missed so much about being here, being amongst the greenery.

We did have tea with scones and clotted cream. Yums! I had wanted to get some fish and chips but they ran out of those. Just tea and puddings. I like it at their restaurant, the staff friendly and cheerful, and the patrons relaxed and often smiling.

I know I am odd. But I actually adore the cold, love the grey and happy in the rain. The grey and the wet don't bother me as much. Perhaps thats why the people are so grumpy over there, the heat just melt your brain! But it was sunny today and the view was breathtaking. Even though the branches were bare but the trees are all still there, standing proudly in the sun.

I have 3 more days to wear the shoes before I leave them here again. I don't have the inclination nor the luggage space to bring the shoes back with me. I made lots of good memories with those shoes, and I hope I get to come back to them more often.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lost and found


1.A child's navy blue scarf. Bought before the trip from a man who tried to get me to introduce some Mal@ysian or Ind0nesian woman to him. I don't understand much Ar@bic but I understood what he was saying. Don't think I'll go back there to buy back the scarf.

2. A very nice right hand side leather glove, bought while backpacking in Florence. Lost it someplace between the bus stop square and/or the bus back to the main train station in Brugge. Between pacifying a crying baby and feeding her apple compote.
Would love to go back to that shop in Florence but I don't think they'd have my glove at the same price again.

3. All sense of style. With biscuit crumbs on my jacket, in my pocket and on my scarve. I look like a bag lady with a bag filled with all sort of things I need to potter about when travelling with a 1 year old.

4.A Humprey Corner's stripy hat. Lost it in London somewhere. Was very sure it was in my coat jacket. Actually I even suspect that it could have been pickpocketed. I am not even sure if we took any pictures of The Little One wearing it. Already bought a replacement pink hat with strings to tie it under her chin.


1. Smiles on peoples' faces when The Little One waves to them or when she smiles at them. People are constantly trying to amuse her either by playing peek-a-bo or waving to her.

2.The London zoo after walking over an hour around Regents Park. We decided to stop at Bakerloo Street Station and walk to the zoo, but kept on going in circles before finding the zoo!

3.Kakteh, ArtFadzil and MelayudiLondon at Mawar. Actually we arranged to meet Kakteh there. We chatted over kuay teow goreng, gula melaka, roti canai, cucur udang, teh tarik and carrotapple juice. The music was fabulous as well.

4. That life has really and truly changed since we have The Little One.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Brrrrrr and Uhuk-uhuk

Brussels was much colder than London. Thank god we got her a snowsuit to wear but the little one as usual, hates being covered up. She refused to wear her hat and we lost her new scarf on the plane. The rain followed us everywhere we went. Even to Belgium!

As we walked up the street towards our hotel, we were stopped by an old lady. Once again, I didn't understand what she meant except I think she was scolding me in French for not keeping my baby warm enough! She tried in vain to put The Little One's mitts on, she tried in vain to zip The Little One up.

"Ooo La La........." followed by words I didn't understand and then "Uhuk uhuk!" as she feigned a fake cough.

I showed her The Little One's hat and even put it on The Little One's head only to be quickly taken off by The Little One. She realised that this little missy born in the middle east out of belacan eating parents didn't like hats, mitts or scarves of any sort.

The kindly old lady gave The Little One a kiss on her cheek and we said good bye.

My Dear Little One, life is so different travelling with you. The same roads we used to roam are no longer the same with you in our arms. In some cases, the roads became better! You brought smiles to the faces of strangers, smiles which I may not have been able to see have you not been with us.

May you lead a life full of smiles and be surrounded with people who love you always.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Something New and something Old

Its good to feel back at home again. I realised that I had left behind more than I thought I did. I thought time would have brought distance between me and this place, but everything came flooding back pretty quickly.

One of the first things I did? Walked right into M&S and bought myself 3 salads. Yes 3! Not 1 or 2 but 3! My favourite new potato salad, salad nicoise and some salad with cherry tomatoes. I realised how much of a foody I am as I plonked 2 tubs of soup (spicy parsnip and brocolli with blue stilton) and 2 dishes of pre-prepared fish, one salmon and the other trout. I could not wait to get home. My comfort food. I have been so deprived in the vegetable and fish front.

And the rain well, I should have known better. But the rain didn't bother me although the cold did. Dispite wearing thermals and socks my toes were quickly bitten by the cold.

The walk to the high street was much harder than before. I'm just so out of practice. I got winded in no time at all.

And the little one? Those eyes were taking everything in. It must be different to see people wearing colourful clothes and smiling faces engaging her. She got so used to getting attention that she even calls out to passer-bys with her, "Ehh! Ehh!"

Happy Birthday little one. May you lead an enchanted life, full of pleasant surprises, abundance and great wealth. May you always be happy and be loved by all around you.