Friday, March 23, 2007

Faraway Land


I made a resolution this year that each year, I would travel to somewhere new. It's so easy to fall into the Air Asia deal cycle and end up at the predictable destinations of Bangkok, Siem Reap, Bali, Shenzen or whatever. Whilst I am sure those places are great places to holiday, I refuse to allow my travel experiences be dictated solely by price and good deals.
The project this year is Rajasthan, in the northwest of India. I have always wanted to visit India, especially the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, whihc has been to me, the epitome of mystery, romance, epic history and drama, an India I have always imagined and wanted to see.


The more I read up about Rajasthan, the more I am convinced it is exactly what I need to have in my portfolio of travel. It's the one place that can save me from the self imposed rut of mall-shopping wherever I go without depriving me of the need to spend in return for pretty things.

Rajasthan, with its desert, culture, architecture and history, for me, strikes the perfect balance between exoticsm, adventure, sightseeing and shopping that I wish.

So the wheel begins to turn. In 7 months' time, I'll be on a camel safari - actually sitting on a stinking, spitting, hissing animal, bound like a mummy from the shifting sands and sleeping out in the open desert. Sheeit!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Literally!

If you were to write something that is presumably going to be read by a large chunk of the literate nation, you would of course, apart from making sure it's damn well written, ensure you get your facts right, right?

I belong to a climbing group called F8 - a bunch of fellow climbers who literally hang outdoors once a month. A reporter from The Star came along last Sunday to climb with us as part of a feature she was writing for her publication.

Her article, as endearing as it is, is peppered with misinformation.

Let me attempt to clarify.

Firstly, F8 is not a club, but a group. We're not clubby, we're not in the least official (except for paying money to a treasurer to ensure our equipment doesn't fail us), we don't do club member stuff. We don't have logos/banners/a constitution/an HQ and other such clubby things. In fact, apart from our knots, we're loose - and constantly climb with just about anyone who will climb with us - be it indoors or outdoors.

Secondly, F8 does not maintain the Nyamuk Walls of Batu Caves. Maybe apart from Jon who owns some 'bolting equipment' , I don't think any of us even know how to put in a bolt let alone maintain one. People like me have a phobia of snakes, wildlife in close proximity and take a good ten minutes to clean an anchor, so maintainence is beyond my gene capabilities. I believe I am not alone. More importantly, nobody maintains the Nyamuk Walls.

Thirdly, Orange Juice is not a top rope route, nor are the other routes in Nyamuk necessarily only lead routes. What makes a route a top rope one or a lead one is whether there is a rope threaded through the anchor. If there is, then you can top rope it. If it isn't, you have to lead it. So basically, one can top rope a lead route - as I often do in Nyamuk.

If one had spent the last 6 weeks taking intensive climbing lessons, as the reporter claims she has, I would have thought this would have been made obvious.

I don't mean to gripe, but feel I must. Mis-reporting mis-informs and creates mis-conceptions of what climbing is. Yes, it is intimidating and daunting to those who are approching it for the first time. Especially if you have a fear of heights. Unfortunately, there is a fine line between encouraging people to try and completely putting them off. And something like rock climbing really doesn't need the bad rep.

I know reporters, I have friends who are, and I deal with them on a regular basis. Yes, they are the jaded bunch they are reputed to be. Articles, badly written or not, are not for me to correct in a public forum, but please, at least get your facts right, because as I said, as great as an article may turn out to be, it is rendered a little silly with a lack of meticulous fact checking.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So No Life Pt 2

So I steal things from other people's blogs. So what? Here's another:

() Stolen a car
(x) Been in love - Ouch
(x) Been dumped - Double Ouch
(x) Shoplifted
() Been in a fist fight
(x) Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back
() Been arrested
() Made out with a stranger
() Done more with a stranger
() Had a crush on a teacher
( ) Seen someone die
(x) Been on a plane
() Met someone in person from the Internet - Many persons!
( ) Been moshing at a concert
(x) Been in an abusive relationship
(x) Love someone or miss someone right now
(x) Laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by
(x) Made a snow angel
(x) Had a tea party
(x) Flown a kite
(x) Built a sand castle
(x) Gone puddle jumping
(x) Played dress up
(x) Jumped into a pile of leaves
(x) Gone sledding
(x) Cheated while playing a game
(x) Been lonely
(x) Fallen asleep at work/school - Please tell me who hasn't
(x) Used a fake id
(x) Watched the sunset - I'm still waiting
( ) Felt an earthquake
() Touched a snake
(x) Slept beneath the stars
(x) Been tickled
(x) Been robbed
(x) Been misunderstood
() Petted a reindeer/goat - ??
(x) Won a contest
( ) Been in a car accident
() Had braces
(x) Felt like an outcast
(x) Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night
(x) Had deja vu
( ) Danced in the moonlight
(x) Hated the way you look
( ) Witnessed a crime
( ) Pole danced
(x) Questioned your heart
(x) Been obsessed with post-it notes
(x) Squished barefoot through the mud
(x) Been lost
(x) Been to the opposite side of the WORLD
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Felt like dying
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers
(x) Recently colored with crayons/colored pencils/markers
(x) Sung karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with only coins
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
(x) Made prank phone calls
(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(x) Danced in the rain
(x) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(x) Been kissed under a mistletoe - Now that would be nice
(x) Watched the sun rise with someone you care about - Read 'sunset'
(x) Blown bubbles
( ) Made a bonfire on the beach
(x) Crashed a party
(x) Gone rollerskating
(x) Had a wish come true
( ) Humped a monkey - What the ?!@%$#?
( ) Ate dog/cat food - Again, what the %@?!#&?
(x) Told a complete stranger you loved them
(x) Kissed a mirror
(x) Sang in the shower
(x) Have a little black dress
(x) Had a dream that you married someone
(x) Glued your hand to something
( ) Got your tongue stuck to a flag pole
( ) Kissed a fish
(x) Worn the opposite sexes clothes
( ) Been a cheerleader
(x) Sat on a roof top
(x) Screamed at the top of your lungs
( ) Done a one-handed cartwheel
( ) Talked on the phone for more than 6 hours in a row
(x) Stayed up all night
( ) Didn't take a shower for a week
() Pick and ate an apple right off the tree
(x) Climbed a tree
( ) Had a tree house
(x) Are scared to watch scary movies alone
( ) Believe in ghosts
(x) Have more then 30 pairs of shoes
(x) Worn a really ugly outfit just to see what others say
( ) Gone streaking
( ) Played ding-dong-ditch
( ) Played chicken
(x) Got pushed into a pool with all your clothes on
( ) Broken a bone
(x) Been easily amused
( ) Caught a fish then ate it
() Made porn
( ) Caught a butterfly
(x) Laughed so hard you cried
(x) Cried so hard you laughed
(x) :P mooned/flashed someone
(x) Had someone moon/flash you
(x) Cheated on a test
() Have a Britney Spears CD
(x) Forgotten someone's name
(x) Slept naked
(x) French braided someone's hair
() Gone skinny dipping in a pool
(x ) Been kicked out of your house

Monday, March 19, 2007

So No Life

One of your scars, how did you get it?
The one on my right knee. In primary school, as I was walking to asssembly which was held on an untarred stretch of road. Some kid ran past and pushed me causing me to fall over and bleed to near death – well, almost.

What music do you like to listen to?

I like the sound of male bands. Duranduran (the early years), The Killers, U2, Suede, Pink Floyd, the like.

Do you know what time you were born?
About 7 in the evening when the tigers come out to hunt.

What do you want more than anything right now?
Equilibrium.

What is your most prized possession?
My son.

Do you get scared in the dark?
Not if I’m PMSing, no, ‘cos then I’m the monster lurking in the dark. Normally, a little. Especially if I’ve just accidentally watched a horror movie trailer.

What kind of hair do you like on the opposite sex?
Mmmm…not long as in Fabio, not mullet as in German rockstar, not bald or too closely cropped, not bobbed. Anything else is fine.

Where can you see yourself being proposed to at?
Near water – beach/lakeside/snow/pier.

Coffee or energy drinks?
Neither but a kopi tambah manis is great when I’m in the mood.

Favorite pizza topping?
Everything on it.

If you can eat anything right now, what would it be?
Zinger or Chicken McDeluxe. Or a really huge prime rib straight off the Vegas strip with some New Orleans onion rings to go with it.

Who's the last person you made mad?
The person I once had the misfortune of marrying.

Do you speak other languages?
For laughs, Malay and Cantonese. For hysterics, French and Mandarin.

Would you fall in love knowing that the person is leaving?
Do you ever have a choice?

What's the best way to tell someone how much they mean to you?
Haha… write them a letter and watch it all crumble before your eyes.

Blondes or brunettes?
Lately, blondes.

What annoys you most?
Locally produced advertisements.

Your weaknesses?
Men, shoes, clothes, emotions.

Where were you born?
Bangsar.

First job?
Perfume pusher.

What were you doing before filling out this survey?
Surfing Oprah.

If you could get plastic surgery, what would it be?
Lipo on my arms, back, thighs, tummy, face; nose job, boob job, butt lift.

What do you get complimented about most?Hair, when it was long. Tan, when I had one. Skin, when it was flawless. Legs, pre-cellulite. Figure, pre-kid.

What do you want for your birthday?
An all expense trip to far, far away.

How many kids do you want?
3.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Since when has it been a crime to want more?

Two weekends ago, I spent a sweltering Saturday night out in one of the hottest spots of KL's night life. As I walked passed ISKL teenagers downing tequila shots, the latest Dior bags wearing their wearers and supposed 'It' girls sashaying out of BMWs (a sight to behold I warn you), I realised it was a scene I did not miss. On the unfashionable end of the Asian Heritage Row, in a trendy restaurant bathed in the neon glow of the mamak shop across the street, an old friend and I dined on the garlickiest fettucine and the cheesiest risotto on the strip.

Princess and I have known each other for a good ten years. I used to go out with her brother, so we were forced from the start, to like one another. But then, she is not difficult to like and over the years, as romance faded from the relationship that brought us together, our friendship has managed to withstand the superficiality of KL friendships - we swear to 'do lunch' and end up actually 'doing' dinners instead, rare as they may be.

Princess is extremely eligible. If she was a horse, many would say she is of good breeding but then, she is not. She comes from a perfectly respectable family, is well educated, works hard at her career, is well dressed, pretty, fashionable and above all, mature and intelligent. The problem she faces is that everyone - especially her mother, reckons she is a bit odd.

You see, Princess has remained single ever since she returned from the UK - a good 5 years ago at least. Even more mind boggling to many, is that she has chosen to remain single.

Her mother is at a loss of words and is on the verge of a crisis. Her friends have run out of male friends to introduce her too and guys whom she wants to be 'just friends' with think she's playing them. And poor Princess is just sick and tired of everyone around her asking "who?", "when", "why", "how" and "what?"

"Who are are you waiting for?"
"When will you find a boyfriend and get married?"
"Why won't you go out with so and so?"
And etc etc...

Why is it a crime to want more? Why is it a crime to expect more out of life? Why on earth should she just date someone just 'cos its expected? Many of you single women out there would agree with me in saying that as it is, talent is lean in this town. Mind you, that's not say that Malaysian men are of a lesser breed. No not that at all. Only that we - the women who expect more - connect lesser with them.

We want to be with the one who takes our inquisitive minds to places its never imagined, make our hearts sing in tune for once, make us laugh like hyenas, makes us feel like Elizabeth Taylor and make our bodies sizzle like sausages on a hot grill! The one that rocks our world, shakes our foundations. The one that makes it all worth the while. Is that asking too much?

I have blogged enough about this, dating someone you are SO not into, is not only unfair to the guy (especially if he is into you), it's downright tedious. Staying at home watching reruns of CSI is far more appealing.

People get me wrong and call me a snob, just like they call Princess a snob. But in this day and age where we are striving for more as women - better pay, more senior positions at work, voting rights at outdated country clubs we belong to, why, oh why then, is society telling us to settle for less?

And you know what? Let's leave society out of it for the moment. It's women themselves judging other women by indirectly telling them that they are worth less walking into a party on their own instead of off the arm of a distinguished man. Women are the ones reminding us that our shelf life is running out when they constantly moan about the importance of really knowing a man before marrying them. Mothers are the ones rushing their daughters into marriages when many of them bitterly regret theirs. And so on so forth. Oh, the irony of it all.

And the men? Well, they never go into too much detail. They just think we're a bunch of lezzas.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Yeesh, Love Again

How many times have you sat there with your girl friends asking yourselves what love is. And you rake through your resume of boyfriends and assess each relationship only to gaze back at each other with a resounding no. No. We do not know what love is. We do not know what love is because we have never loved.

See, I have been in such a situation before. I have sat there countless times, and had this same conversation, with the same people. And each time, despite having had amazing relationships, and sometimes during an amazing relationship, we each concluded that we do not know what love is.

Funny that thing called love. You just can’t write about without sounding like a catalogue of old songs. Its very nature is clichĂ©d.

My theory is this. That being in love is one thing. But knowing what love is quite another. You see, of course people find love. The love that everyone talks about. The love that makes the world go round. The one that everyone wants. That rare elixir of life that nourishes the being. Mostly people do recognize it and are grateful for being blessed. And they go on and live happily ever after until one dies and the other one dies soon after from suffocation (‘cos when you love deeply and a lover goes, you can’t breathe).

But then there are other people who are not so switched on. Those who maybe don’t know themselves so well. Or others who are so entangled with issues that they cannot grasp the notion without tripping and falling flat on their faces. Others are maybe a combination of the two. They just don’t see the trees from the woods and are unable to identify that love has hit them in full force.

I am one such person. I found love and it was a lightning bolt. Not a loud one. But there was certainly a jolt that came from within that electrified me into noticing that this person was worth more than just a glance. That was finding love. Finding love is loud. It’s exciting, mind-boggling, heart-racing, pulse-hyperdrive, sensational and irrational kind of stuff. It’s vivacious and bursting with flavour. It makes you happy, it makes you suicidal, it makes you feel alive.

That’s all well and good, but finding love is one thing. But knowing it, is quite another. You could very well have found the love yet be completely oblivious to it. And then you sit in that cafĂ© with your girls and talk about how great this guy is but, heck, you don’t know what love is ‘cos we expect more, more, more.

I know that there are things that you are just born knowing. But if you are say, too young or too tanked up with issues, or maybe even too afraid, how do you identify one happiness from another? What separates one good boyfriend from another? You can’t and therefore, you think you haven’t found true love, because you think true love is an aggressive creature and it’s supposed to hit you in the face until your black and blue because it will not be ignored.

What we expect of love is what we see in the movies. But we forget that movies are a condensed version of life. Yes, some things are portrayed realistically and some things aren’t – but they all have to fit into a 3-hour slot or else people wouldn’t come and watch. So we always expect and wait for a clear and unmistakable sign or act and ignore the slow realizations - the ones staring at you in the face. We wait and wait for the clouds to part and for love to shine on to us, but has anyone ever told you that’s not how it happens in real life?

Alas, really knowing true love is subtle and quiet and has none of the showiness that first attracted you to it. For some people, it could take years to realize that they truly loved and were loved in return. Knowing love is like the silent dawn. The one where you are convinced it’s the dead of night and suddenly when you least expect it, there’s a glimmer of light in the horizon. It’s as unstoppable as the sunrise but just as sure. And before you know it, you just know it and its broad daylight. A new day has dawned, and it’s dawned upon you and finally and quite simply, you know.

For some, like me, the dawn comes late. Sometimes the lover has fled the scene and you are enjoying the sunrise alone. Now, that is a sorry situation to be in. What can I say? Well, on the bright side, you are no longer in the dark.