Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I recieved a text message first thing this morning from my cast mate Zimy, which read:


Within minutes, I had spread the word to my other castmates. I'm normally extremely apologetic when I wake people up from their slumber and beg them in a baby voice to try to go back to sleep after they hang up, but today I was a ruthless b*stard.

S'kali The Movie has hit the press for the first time today in The Star newspaper. It was supposed to adorn the front cover of the lifestyle pullout, but people who do silly card tricks on the street are apparently more important than THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE.

The article was well-written; it focused on our director, Arivind, the founding of Perantauan Pictures and the process of initiating its first business venture.

There was a little sub-story on the cast. The picture that came out was great... but I noticed that it went through some tweaking before it reached the ever-scrutinizing eyes of the public. This is the heavily edited picture of five decent-looking individuals doing the chummy-wummy pose.

But I present to you the whole truth, and oh, how the angels weep.

The teaser poster has just come out too. The marketing team came up with the ingenius idea of leaving my tragic mug out of the picture, unfortunately sacrificing the marketable faces of those blessed with illegally good genes.

Alas, the essence of mankind's survival is to choose the greater good.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Utterly Factual Obsession

My old schoolmate Kristin was hosting a little "Roll Your Own Sushi" party at her house. It was an evening of nostalgia as we tuned into Boyz II Men classics and laughed about imfamous classroom capers, as we stuffed our faces with Yee Sang and makeshift California Rolls.

At around midnight, we decided to call it a night and the five of us made our way out to Kristin's front gate.

Then one of my friends pointed something out in the sky.

I looked up at the abnormal constellation. The three miniscule orbs were of equal distance apart from each other, forming a perfect inverted triangle. They blinked red, then white, then red again...

These were stars.
Yeah, and my farts smell like roses.

My friends erupted into chipmunkish chatter. Meanwhile, the concept of speech and logic in general eluded me. I stood there, eyes widened to their limit, jaw loose and hanging. Cloak me in blood, dirt and Salvation Army rags and I would have easily passed off as a member of the undead gazing at sky flowers.

"Try taking pictures!" Ashvin called out to me.

Switching to paparazzi mode, I grabbed the gizmo hanging from my neck and started snapping.

Can you see it? CAN YOU SEE IT?!?!?!

(Don't worry, I can't either.)

I gave up shortly after realizing that the lights were too far away to capture on my lens, and slipped back into my undead state.

The orbs remained perfectly still, until the one on the right started shifting slowly to the left.

And then the left orb started shifting slowly to the right.

Until all three formed a perfect vertical line.

Half a minute later, they retreated behind the clouds, and dimmed out into nothingness.

It was the stuff Mulder's wet dreams were made of.

I called up my boyfriend on the spot, who didn't sound very amused with my incoherent babbling about the prospect of aliens taking over the planet.

"Are you sure it's not just a festival going on? Because I'm seeing fireworks going off all over town from my balcony..."

I refused to consider the possibility. After settling down slightly, we shared hugs and walked to our respective cars, feeling awkwardly lucky to bear witness to the thermospheric spectacle. I was hitching a ride with Helina, who was dropping Anastacia off home first. We drove deep into the Mont Kiara area, when we were met with the sight of the century.

Infiltrating the ozone were the lights again. They blinked red, then white, then red again...

The sky went 'War of the Worlds' all over our quivering @$$es.

The orbs were EVERYWHERE.

We pulled the car over and got out, the three of us cursing in hysteria.

And then Helina noticed something...

The lights were moving in the same direction the clouds were.

They were floating with the winds. And the inconsistent amber glow they possessed made it seem they were set alight from inside.

"... I think they're just lanterns, man!" Anastacia hollered, a mixed strain of relief and disappointment in her voice.

I checked the news the following morning, and sure enough, my boyfriend's suspicions were proven right. I'm not sure how the lanterns are made lighter than air and set aloft, or if what we saw was linked to the Hokkien festival, but it all made such boring sense. Damn that Jade Emperor. UFOs are way cooler.

Admittedly, I am still adamant about believing the alternate truth. For one, the orbs we saw were emanating light strong enough to pierce through the clouds. At some points they were completely stationary. And to further support our valid bemusement, one moved in the opposite direction of the winds. Lanterns just don't do that stuff.

Unless there were aliens *inside* the lanterns...

Now THAT would rock.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Celebrating Chinese New Year with my mother's side is unfortunately not as heartwarming an event as it could be. With visits from relatives being inconsistent each year, and English not being the shared language for conversation, it's been difficult to feel a bond with my aunts, uncles and cousins.

One person I've been feeling particularly sore about in this situation is my grandmother. She is a small woman with a big voice that she is not afraid to use. But during moments of precious family time, she is more often than not seen cradled delicately in her rocking chair in the middle of the living room, either watching television, or having her head tucked into her chest, caught up in an enviously engaging snooze.

Only recently have I realized that there's got to be more to her than that. How to get past it was the challenge.

So this year, after the climax of dinner, with only my mother and her mother left at the table, I look across the table and ask sheepishly, "Mom, did Poh Poh ever get the pressure of getting her feet bound when she was younger?"

"Ask her yourself, she's here in front of you! Practice your Malay."

Grandma slowly turns her weathered face to me, her curious eyes snatching mine and holding me still. I shoot a desperate glance at my mother who makes it clear that I’m on my own.

"Poh Poh? Uh... dulu... uh... aku… oh wait, is it kalau? KALAU! Ya. Okay. Kalau... mesti... crap, what is tie in Malay? Tali? Um, kaki is leg right? What's the word for foot? Or can kaki be used for both?... Oh gosh. Poh Poh? Dulu, kau, mesti, tali, kaki?"

Grandma can only frown at the desolate state of affairs.

Mom finally butts in out of compassion, and asks the same question in Hokkien.

Grandma props herself out of a hunch and says no. She did not grow up in that era.

And the topic ends. I comfort myself knowing that I made the effort to try.

Mom then says, "You know, you should be asking her about the Japanese occupation instead..."

Finally feeling a bit more merciful for her anguished daughter, she initiates the topic and takes on the role of avid interpreter. I fuel the conversation with incessant interrogation. From daughter, to mother, to mother; a reply back to daughter, and daughter again.

Grandma's face continues to brighten, her raspy voice continues to swell, a new energy surges through her. She narrates her experience of youth with inflections of excitement rolling off her tongue and across the table, over the remnants of homemade dishes of a wonderfully indistinguishable nature.

The only child to a single mother, Poh Poh remembers the both of them taking refuge in the jungles of Tampin away from the Japanese soldiers, with foliage so thick that she could never see the sun. How it struck her that during the day, the owls in the trees would stare at her with eyes the size of saucers and yet never fly away.

I then hear about Poh Poh and her mother being taken away by a good samaritan from an abusive man one night when she was seven years old. How when they were on the run, there was a trail of huge black ants which she was terrified of stepping over, and her mother coaxing her on.

Poh Poh poignantly recounts the time when one of the men who fell in love with her mother was accused of being a gangster from China; she overheard his last conversation with her the night before he was to be deported. How she knew that he was innocent and full of good intentions and crouched into to a corner of the house and cried.

Then Grandma suddenly stops herself. She confesses that she has never talked about her life like this until tonight. Mom jokes to her that all these stories can be compiled into a movie. Grandma laughs. And in this moment, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.