Friday, August 31, 2007

Heart Burn

Last night we were at a Yamtuan’s bestfriend’s house.. The wife’s sister was there too. I never really liked this friend's wife. She was a bit too girlish for me. Very giggly and sickeningly-cute, I couldn’t stand her. But she was after all 10 years younger than me. She may annoy me, but she was a friend’s wife. And I was a guest in her house. So, I tolerated her the best I could. Her sister? She was 20. Looked exactly like her but the girlishness playmate characteristics all? Amplified.

The two of them, annoyed the crap out of me. But Yamtuan seemed smitten by them. Especially the kid sister. She wanted Yamtuan’s help with her resume, and then she was kind of hoping that Yamtuan could help her either get a job at his uni or get her a place as a student there. Any course. The one that Yamtuan taught would be better – of course. And so Yamtuan and her, kept having the need to find some quiet spot in the house to discuss how he could be of help to her.

I could tell Yamtuan was absolutely smitten. The way he floated and beamed, what wife wouldn’t know?

Just now in the car.

Dot was sitting in the back. I don’t know where Sun was.

You seem to like her very much, I said.
‘Yes,’, he answered. I have always known Yamtuan to be an honest guy. Painfully honest, sometimes.
What are you going to do about it? I asked.
‘I don’t know.’
You don’t know. Would you rather be with her than me?
‘Right now, yes.’
Why? Have I not been good enough to you, and for you?
‘at the moment, I don’t want to think beyond the fact that I want to be with her.’
Just like that. What have I done wrong?
‘Ever since the pregnancy, you’ve been cold and distant from me. We don’t even talk. You are always too tired to even sit down and watch tv with me. I am lonely.’
You are lonely. How pitiful. You think I am pregnant by myself? Didn’t you contribute at all? YOU made me pregnant and pregnancy makes me tired all the time. You think I will myself to be tired? If you care to remember, throughout all the previous ones, I was like this too. Couldn’t you bear with me?
‘like I said, I don’t want to think. I want to be with her. Are you going to be difficult?’
No I wont. Why don’t you stop the car here right now, let me out.
‘Okay’ and he stopped the car.
I climbed out from the car and looked at Dot.
‘Dot, come with me.’ I called out to her.
‘No, I want a new mummy’
And the door was slammed shut.

I swaggered off from the car. Funny, the car was a volkswagon. And I was infront of Harrod’s. When did we buy a volks? What were we doing in London?

I watched him sped off without even looking back at me. That was when it hit me hard.

The feeling was like a mammoth-sized ball, hitting me right smack on the chest and I was taken over, engulfed by such grief that I dint know how to even cry. I bent over in pain and how the pain smouldered me. All of our 5-year long marriage unfolded before my eyes, the laughter and happiness that we have shared, that magical day when we were married, memories of each childbirths where he stood strong by myside, the holidays we went together, the time when I was sick and he nursed me back to health day and night, .. funny how the sweetest memories turned out to be the memories that hurt you the most. I couldn’t remember the bad times. It was all good ones and they all hurt. They shattered into millions of tiny pieces that flew all about me and cut into my skin and my eyes.

And I fell to the ground , there on the wet pavement infront of Harrod’s. The tears finally arrived.

And someone shook my shoulder. It was Yamtuan.

‘Wake up! Wake up!’
I woke up but the tears wouldn’t stop.
‘Lain kali nak tidur baca-bacalah sikit.. Astafar!’
I tried. It calmed me down and then I stock-take the surrounding.

I wasn’t in London (drats!). No. I was on the bed with Yamtuan and the kids, here in Malaysia on its 50th national day. We were at Dataran Merdeka this morning for the Merdeka celebration, and the moment we reached home, we all took a nap. That friend’s manja-manja wife? She doesn’t even have sisters.

Phew, just a dream! But you see, this is something that happens to me always during all my pregnancies. The nightmares. There are only two themes; either Yamtuan leave me or there is an attack of baby ghosts. Either I would wake up sobbing or screaming. Sometimes Yamtuan would find me thrashing out in my sleep while reciting out loud verses from the Quran. Sometimes, even surahs that consciously I don’t memorise too.

The dreams are always too vivid. I would be affected for days!

Thus why, I decided to write about the dream I just had, right away. So it would be done and over with.

And Happy National Day, all!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Of Lions and Pigs

Last Tuesday we all went to Hospital Angkatan Tentera Terendak in Melaka. Mak had a doctor’s appointment. Because her appointment was at 9am, we went Melaka a day earlier and stayed at one of the villas in A’Famosa Resort.

That night we decided to have a Melaka-style dinner i.e ikan bakar. Umbai was too far and so upon recommendations from Yamtuan’s friend, we went to Pengkalan Balak. We had kembong, pari, siakap, sotong, kailan (that we could all swear was really sawi putih), soup, and eggs. Ok lah, can do. Fish not exactly fresh but can lah, we were ravishingly ravenous anyway.

The next day, the procedure was done okay, Mak had her ‘tapak’ for dialysis installed and we went separate ways after that. Me and family, back to KL. My bro to JB. My sis, Mak and her family to Kluang.

End of story.

Jut now over dinner at some warung at some traffic lights near our house, Buletin Utama was on.

Apparently Karam Singh has ‘rocked a few boats’ in Pengkalan Balak and ruffled the feathers of some politicians too. Karam Singh karam boats!

The issue? Pig farming.

They were too many of them, all of which too densely populated with pigs. It wouldn’t be so bad if the farms were in compliance with standards and regulations. But silly me, of course they are not when there was no apparent need to. No enforcement so why compromise on profits, right? And so all the farms violated every possible rule there was.

Pollution was at its peak (profit too, for that matter).

Water pollution? Check!
Untreated effluent went right into rivers to flow straight into the sea.

Air pollution? Check!
The stench was awful, or so the people claimed. In one interview, a student was recorded saying that they all carried ‘minyak angin’ to class to ward off the smell.

Solid waste? Check!
Antibiotics-medicine-what-not bottles were strewn everywhere.

Esthetics? Are you kidding me? We are not talking peacock farm here. Puh-leeese.

End of story. Really. Violations of the law, lack of enforcement and sudden highlights on certain flavoured topics of the month are nothing new. At my age (ehem), more and more things are getting palatable. More often than not, i find them amusing.

And then TV3 interview the ruffled politicians.

First that guy who at one time had some slingshot exchange with the custom department over some purchases of Mercedes. Remember him? At one time, not so very long ago, he was the flavour of the month. There were cries for him to step down as the exchange between him and the custom was getting too embarrassing. Oh, remember the sms-es? So fuh-nee he…

He ranted on and on about the bad bad farmers. I thought to myself, but YB, I am sure with each number of pig farmer there is out there, there should be at least one enforcement officer that is just as bad.

The pig farmer is probably doing a wonderful job as a farmer considering the amount of profit that he rakes in. Looking after the environment is not top of his list. His main purpose, main Job Description is to breed pigs and net a neat income. He’s doing a great job at that what…

What is the excuse of our enforcement officers then? What is in their JD? Isnt it first and foremost to enforce regulations and ensure that they are complied with? And uh, i didnt know that you were still in office, i thought you have resigned. It was only dignified to do so, no?

Then TV3 interviewed the shooting star of our all-time favorite political party. Here my jaw dropped all the way to the floor. Behold his wisdom!

The pollution and the terrible living condition of the folks of Pengkalan Balak are all the fault of Singapore. Yes. He said so. Singapore. Can you absolutely believe that? Blimey, I wouldn’t have known! Thank God for the brilliance of certain politicians. What would we do without them?

Why you wonder.

Allow him to explain. Because he said, Singapore refused to allow pig farming on its soil. Yet they want to eat the meat. So they ask Malaysia to export to them.

You see how absolutely evil this is? How could they make us export to them? Oooooh! Willing buyer but not-very-willing seller? Yes? (never mind the 'kachink kachink' sound you hear at the cash register) And when our pig farms are violating each of the rules in the book, of course it is not our fault. It is THEM, Singapore. Blame thy neighbour. Always.

Yamtuan and me, exchanged baffled looks. We picked our lower jaw back from the floor, attach it back to its socket then resume eating.

I thought of the pari, kembong, kerapu and sotong that we had. Probably laden with heavy metals. Singapore to be blamed. The price of dinner that night was preposterous too. Who to blame? Singapore lah.

And I am tired and nauseous almost all the time. Yes, Baby the Third is on its way. Singapore doing, I swear.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Food My Foot

I had breakfast at one of the cafes in KLIA yesterday morning. Fried yellow noodles (RM8.00) with fried egg on top (RM2.00), plus a mug of cappuccino (RM4.90).

The blooming noodles were too dry. Did I order noodles or plastic strings? Tasteless, boring and as empty as the kind I once sold at the canteen of Sekolah Rendah Laksamana in Kota Tinggi for thirty cents per bowl full. At least mine was generous with siew pak choy and bean sprouts (the kids hated vege though..). Just like the type sold at school canteens, what I had just now was probably fried with garlic, soy sauce and pretty much nothing else. Not even some imagination.

The cappuccino? Horrible! It tasted like my kid’s milk with maybe just a baby-pinch of coffee. The taste of coffee was very instant and distant. Like a yummy dream that evaporated away the moment you wake up and realise you are not Angelina Jolie and Yamtuan is after all Yamtuan (not that I am complaining).

My grouch is not the price.

I understand that we customers are to help the shop pay for its rental, taxes and other overheads. So, overpricing the food, to a certain degree is understandable. I am not exactly delighted, but ok lah, can lah.

But the lack of quality I find absolutely unacceptable.

Here you are, making efforts so tourists come in droves. Here you are, listing our variety of food as one of the attractions. And there it is, the café at KLIA, no less, the very entry/exit point of the country. Wouldn’t it be nice if the food served at KLIA is so awesome good that people would drive down to the airport just for say… its famous unrivalled fried noodles? Wouldn’t it be even wonderfully good that tourists could have one last fling with our foodilicious delicacies just before they leave the country? And how they crave for more and kick themselves for not having chosen MAS to fly home with because MAS might serve more of that yummy Malaysian food too?

I don’t know how much a kg of mee kuning would cost. I know mee hoon would be RM1.50 per kg. Say you want to fry 10 kg. So 10 bags would be RM15.00. If you throw in a kg of prawns it would be an additional RM15.00. Chicken would be about RM15 per bird, and that’s a lot of chicken, I am telling you. Bean sprouts RM2.00 would be a basketful already. Kuchai RM2.00 will get you a whole field. Total cost = RM49 for 10kg of mee hoon fried with loads of condiments equivalent to maybe 100 bowls? Then you maintain your price of RM8.00 per bowl. Your Return on Investment is in the 7th bowl already. By the 20th bowl, you can pay your staff bonuses i tell you. By the 80th bowl, my man, you can go do the hajj. So why compromise on the quality?

In the food industry, I believe you are only bartering the forms of rezeki. The food you sell becomes rezeki to those who eat it, and the money they pay you is your rezeki. Don’t lah play-play with matters of rezeki…

(Disclaimer: I know the pasta, sandwiches, cakes and pastries sold at KLIA are not bad at all, but halloo… I am talking local food. Spaghetti may be local food to us Johoreans, but to the ehem… common people of Malaysian, it is foreign, so doesn’t count.)