25 August, 2009


So far I have bought a pair of Mizuho running shoes for GBP15, a spare set of glasses plus the lenses for GBP60, three trashy novels for GBP7, 2 Izod running tops for GBP10, and on Saturday I am going to have my hair highlighted for GBP25. Lunch for the five of us today cost GBP12 and that was expensive. I love my country. Sayangilah Malaysia!

23 August, 2009

Food glorious food!

I swore that during these 2 weeks in Malaysia, not a morsel of food was going to pass my lips that I could get in the UK. I have never eaten so much food in my life. I swear my stomach capacity has increased in the 1 week that we have been back. Last night I ate 5/8ths of a mooncake by myself, without even noticing it.

Tonight we went to have Teochew porridge in SS2. I think my parents are taking advantage of the fact that there are so many of us here to order everything they want to eat. They just eat a tiny portion of it and I have to eat the rest. And then as we were driving back, we saw them stopping off at the corner all-you-can-eat durian place to buy yet more food! They KNOW I can't resist durians.

Yesterday Big Squish roped me in on a mahjong playing session. The rules are manifold and curious and they all play like lightning and can stack the tiles (even Dad with his Parkinsons) faster than I can, while I play like a doped snail. All I can say is, the civilisation that came up with the rules of mahjong clearly had too much time and ingenuity on its hands.

I've finally finished watching Battlestar Galactica. I think I would have made a good crewmember aboard the Galactica. Or a good Cylon. Or a good Cylon Galactica crewmember.

What should I watch next?


We went through Stansted on the way out to KL this year. We were walking to board the plane and I was sorting out the passports when I dropped one of them and barked imperiously to my little train of minions, Someone pick that up!

Unnoticed by me, some humble Eastern European airport worker, who was standing in the corridor minding his own business, leaped to attention and hurriedly scrabbled to pick the passport up.

I, in the meantime, was marching on, wondering why it was taking so long for the passport to make it back to me.

And give it to me! I commanded. The airport guy hastened to pass it to Mo who passed it to me, and I sailed on, unaware that any of this had even happened. I only found out about it when LSS told me later on. I am clearly turning into Margo Leadbetter. I only hope the airport guy does not go back to Krakow or wherever thinking that everybody in the UK behaves like that.

The Dedicated Postman

Big Squish raises one of life's little mysteries. When we left KL for HK some years ago, we didn't bother to give the post office a forwarding address, since we never get any mail. We forgot however that we do get bank statements. But instead of the bank statements being returned to the bank or being opened and abused by the new tenants of the house, they started mysteriously turning up at my parents' house. How can this be? They were still addressed to our old house. We can only conclude that not only did the postman know that we were no longer living in the house, he had also worked out that there was some enduring connection between the people who had lived in that house (us) and the people who were still living in my mum's house, three streets down. How did he know? What a soothing vision this is of a society and time that is so peaceful and civilised that the postman can notice something like that and silently deliver the mail to the right address, without a word, without a fuss, not just for a few weeks, but for months, which is how long it took me to realise that I was paying monthly service charges for a bank account I no longer used, and close it down.

It's not the same postman anymore. But wherever the old postman is, I raise my hat now to that unsung hero.

Another postal mystery relates to Big Squish's free subscription to the Max Planck Institute's monthly journal, which she contacted them to cancel when she was moving back from Berlin to KL. Not only did they fail to cancel it, from then on, the journal has been arriving promptly at her address here, even though she obviously did not give them her KL address. On the one hand you condemn their incompetence in not discontinuing the subscription. On the other hand you applaud their ingenuity in finding out her Malaysian address. I suppose people who can unravel the mysteries of the universe's laws can easily handle tracking someone down to the ends of the earth.

Tea v Coffee

Just reading a thing by David Mitchell in the Guardian about how he always wanted to drink coffee because drinking coffee is cool. No, no, no! Drinking coffee is not cool. The minute so many Tom, Dick and Harry's are jumping onto the coffee bandwagon that there is a Starbucks or a Caffe Nero on every corner, coffee has clearly lost any cool cache that it ever had.

I'm a confirmed tea drinker myself. The other day at work we were in another of an interminable series of meetings. There were about 10 people there, with the usual polyglot mongrel range of nationalities, English, Indian, Malaysian (me!) and ze French. Someone volunteered to do a tea run - all round the table he went: tea, peppermint tea, a nice hot cup of tea, oh tea please - even the Frenchman asked for tea. It was like an episode of Family at War, if anyone remembers that ancient telly series.