Nano and Tokyo


nano-2017-participant-facebook-coverIt’s November, which means NaNoWriMo.

It’s Day 7, which means I should’ve written approximately 11, 667 words.

However…I’ve only managed a little under 3, 000 words so far, and I’m trying not to stress myself out due to my low word count.  In 2012 and 2013, I managed to hit the 50, 000-word mark by the end of November and since then haven’t been able to commit to the challenge. Throughout November during those years, I blogged nearly daily here in an effort to keep myself accountable and I have to say that it helped!

This year I’m visiting a story idea that’s been percolating within me, which is part-memoir, part-murder mystery, tentatively titled “The Way We Were”. Today’s NaNoWriMo pep talk is all about being okay with wherever you are, as long as you keep moving forward, which is timely advice indeed.


Also, I’ll be travelling in a couple of days to one of my favourite cities in the world – Tokyo. In order to keep up with NaNoWriMo (crossing my fingers) during my trip, my iPad is making the trip too, and for the first few days, I’ll have to use the touch screen keyboard (ugh) to write before I hunt down a bluetooth keyboard in Tokyo’s Electric Town Akihabara (still crossing my fingers). I also plan on blogging about my trip (something I’ve always wanted to do on my other trips!) and am contemplating setting up another blog which will house my Tokyo Travel-centric posts. Alternatively, I may post here initially and then migrate the posts to a separate blog.

Now, I’m off to write! And pack!



This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana


The Brits have their “Blimey!”

The Americans  have their “Oh my God/ goodness!”

Us Malaysians, we prefer “Alamak!”

Similar to Blimey and OMG!, Alamak is an expression of dismay, surprise or alarm. Although, it’s actually pretty versatile and can be used in a variety of situations other than when you’re in dismay, surprised or alarmed.

The origins of ‘alamak’ is sort of hazy. Some sources indicate that this expression is actually a combination of two words “alaa” (oh) and “mak” (mother). And there are other sources that say that it’s actually a Japanese word! Totally not buying that.

Anyway, when should you use ‘alamak’? Well, I’ll most likely use the expression in the following situations:

After a torrential rainfall, I’ll go out and discover that my garden is flooded and the cats have resorted to swimming to access their food in the non-flooded area. I’ll exclaim “Alamak!” In this instance, the expression is used to express shock.


After sending my dog to obedience school and I wake up in the morning to find that my precious shoes have been mutilated by the cute puppy I brought home, all I can say is “Alamak…” In this situation, this expression is used to express dismay and also regret at the amount of money spent on sending the cute puppy to obedience school.

So, next time, when you hear someone in your neck of the woods exclaim “Alamak!”, it’s entirely likely that you’re in the woods with a Malaysian 🙂

My April A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 2017


My theme this year came to me immediately after I was done with the challenge last year. In fact, I even started brainstorming some post ideas! So, this year, for 26 days, my posts will be centered on the theme


I’m excited to write about the food, culture and everything else about Malaysia. So far though, the posts I’ve drafted are food-related 😀 Which isn’t surprising because we Malaysians are food-obsessed! Can’t wait to start posting as well as reading everyone else’s posts!


Anticipating A to Z

2017 BadgeWe’re already in the second week of March. Where the heck did time go???

In a few short weeks, April will roll around and for some of us, we’ll be knee deep in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I’ve been doing the challenge since 2012 and always look forward to each challenge since.

This year though, it seems the organisers are doing things differently. There’s no sign-up list for the Theme Reveal on March 20th and also no sign-up list for the actual challenge. A departure from the norm indeed! My immediate thought was “How will I know who else is doing the challenge???!!!”

After I calmed down and continued reading the posts on the challenge site, I realised that perhaps I’d overreacted a wee bit. Hehe. This year, fellow A-to-Z-ers are encouraged to leave links to their posts as comments on the challenge Facebook page  or site. Those with twitter accounts are also encouraged to tweet their posts and use the #atozchallenge hashtag. Even without a linky list, the organisers have laid out all these avenues to find fellow A-to-Z-ers and read their posts!

So, what’s next in the lead up to April? The theme reveal, of course! I’ve had a theme idea since last year’s challenge ended and I can’t wait to get started writing! YAY!




Share Your World Week 35

I stumbled upon this ‘challenge’ over at That’s What Anxious Mom Said and thought it looked like a fun one to try. So, here goes!

041514-sywbannerList 2 things you have to be happy about? I’m beyond happy that it rained cats and dogs this morning. Yesterday was a hazy day; the air quality had reached unhealthy levels and you could smell smoke in the air. I was almost certain that the rest of the week would pass in a haze so when I heard heavy rainfall and howling winds early this morning (and also because I’m a pluviophile), I smiled all the way to work. I’m also happy because tomorrow is a public holiday to mark Malaysia’s 59th year of independence. Who doesn’t love a mid-week holiday!

If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world, what and where would it be? I’d love to go to Hawaii and photograph everything and everyone I can there 🙂

Should children be seen and not heard? In between.

List at least five of your favorite first names. Asher, Margaret, the French version of my name – Amelie, Samantha, Christopher.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? From last week, I’m grateful that I finally decided that I’m not happy in this job and cannot continue to be unhappy every single day. It was tough to get to that stage because it feels like I’ve given up but friends have assured me that getting out of a toxic workplace is not giving up 🙂 For the week ahead, I’m looking forward to starting an online creative writing class and (virtually) being among like-minded folks and sharing our little writing creations!


Shout out to Cee for coming up with the Share Your World questions!


#BEDM Day 31: It’s a Wrap!

Though I didn’t blog everyday in May (I missed 10 days), it feels like I’ve been blogging non-stop (well, since April) and I’m feeling a wee bit burnt out right now.


I’m looking forward to taking a bit of a break, reading other people’s blogs and discovering more new blogs.

I’m sure after a few days, I’ll miss posting on this blog since this is where my primary interaction with fellow bloggers happen. I mustn’t forget about my other blog though which is probably filled with cobwebs due to the inactivity. That’s the problem with having more than one blog. You think you’re being organised by compartmentalising the blogs, then you neglect them because it’s just one blog too many. At last count, I have 10 blogs. Yep, TEN.

Anyway, thanks to all my fellow bloggers/ readers/ lurkers for bearing with me for the past few months. Your comments have been such a joy to read and respond to. If there are any news of the writing kind happening with me, this is where I’ll post. Otherwise, I’m over at Stories from Sonobe. 🙂


#BEDM Day 30: The Bull Quote

Day 30: Favourite quote and why you love it


I collect quotes. I collect them from newspapers, magazines, novels, graffiti and I write them down in my “Quotations” notebooks. I’ve two thick notebooks filled with quotations. Most recently, I collect quotes via Pinterest. I have many favourite quotes but the one that I keep going back to is this:


I have no idea who said it though and I can’t remember where I originally got the quote from. Whenever I’m at a crossroad in life (which seems to be every other day, these days), this quote pushes me to face the fear that’s holding me back. And there’s always plenty of fear at that crossroad – fear of change, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, just a whole lot of undefined fear in general.

Since I’ve been fighting lots of bulls while in a state of constant fear, perhaps I’m ready to train with the matadors in Madrid 🙂


#BEDM Day 29: The Soundtrack to My Life

Day 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.


Shania Twain’s You’re Still The One
Once upon a long time ago, this was our song. We were in a music shop and I bought the CD with this single and gave it to him. He refused it at first. When things were good and whenever this song came on the radio, I couldn’t stop smiling. When things were bad, I’d change the channel so that I wouldn’t have to listen to it and for years I did that. Now though, I can listen to the entire song without wanting to break something and without tears forming in my eyes. Yay me 🙂

The entire Evanescence Fallen album
I was never one for goth rock music but this album was so angst-ridden that it spoke directly to my also so angst-ridden soul at one time. I remember buying it on a whim merely because I heard rave reviews about the single Bring Me To Life, that was featured on the Daredevil soundtrack. The first time I listened to the entire album was when it was raining oh-so-delightfully-heavily with lightning splitting the sky and I was inside looking out at that scene. Heavenly. Also, the album was the music that I hear in my head whenever I read the Anita Blake series and fans of the series concur.

Fools Garden – Lemon Tree, Mariah Carey & Boyz 2 Men – One Sweet Day
These songs remind me of that tumultuous and absolutely crazy two years when I was between the ages of 18 – 20 years old, also otherwise known as the A-Levels. I was living in a hostel then and hostel living was such that you could hear what the occupants of the neighbouring room talked about and also what music they were listening to. So, for those two years I heard both those songs too many times a day. At first, it was novel then it became `SHADDUP!!!!’ Now though, when I hear those songs, I’m transported back to those amazing and significant few years when everyday was a lesson in discovery of oneself and others.

Jose Mari Chan – Beautiful Girl, NKOTB – any song
Circa early 90s, I was between the ages 12 – 14 years old and ballads ruled. Almost everyone had an NKOTB t-shirt (I’m going to confess that I had several NKOTB t-shirts, the operative word being HAD). Beautiful Girl was the accepted `I like you, do you like me?’ music during the time and girls pretty much just swooned whenever any NKOTB song came on the air. More confession: I have (and may still have – eeek!) several of NKOTB’s live concerts on videotape.

But that age was truly the beginning of the Age of Confusion – no one had any wooing technique, you didn’t know how to tell the other person that you liked them and in the instance when you’ve both agreed that you sort of liked one another, you still didn’t dare to use the phrase `He/She’s my boy/girlfriend’. We were truly a bunch of fools then. So songs from this era – including Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan (when they were still with Stock, Aitken and Waterman) makes me laugh and remember the times when the most trying moments in school was wondering whether the person you liked, likes you back or not.

Enya – Tea House Moon
Before hearing this piece of instrumental music, I had no clue who Enya was and I had no what kind of music she made. Then, I was roped in to perform a Chinese Tea Light dance along with several others during a festive celebration at my college and Tea House Moon was the music we danced to. During those few weeks of rehearsal, I was exposed to this music – every note and every pause. I swear, if I listen to this song now, my arms, hands and feet can and would involuntarily make the dance movements to match the particular portion of music. I haven’t tested this theory but I’m sure I’m right 🙂 This was a sufficient exposure to Enya to secure me as a fan. It was either a fan or `I-hate-Enya-and-never-want-to-hear-Gaelic-music-again!’ I have several of her albums now.


Note: Soundtracks to my Life was my April A to Z 2015 theme and it started out great but I didn’t finish the challenge and my last post was ironically, Janet Jackson’s Escapade.  It was obviously a sign LOL



#BEDM Day 28: Chest Nuts


So, this is where I get my regular fix of chestnuts. Or “chest nuts” as the sign says. This fellow is parked in front of my local supermarket most evenings and when I’m in the mood for chestnuts, I drop by and get a bag. These days, he’s diversified to steamed peanuts and also sweet potatoes. I’ve yet to try either.

Here, the chestnuts are being “dry-fried” in a wok with pebbles stained with black soot. There’s lots of popping and I stand back a little. Once done, he removes all of the chestnuts using a slotted ladle and places them in the blue  box behind the wok and stuffs a pillow into the box to keep the heat in and chestnuts warm.

Not quite “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” but when I crave for chestnuts, this will more than satisfy the craving.


#BEDM Day 27: Pride

Today’s topic is from the Found Love Now What blog – What are you most proud of?


I don’t think I can name just one, so I’m going to do a list. I’m proud…

  • …of the fact that I still have the stuffed rabbit my mum made for me when I was 4 years old. It’s more than 30 years old!
  • …that I still have my baby blanket. Which is also more than 30 years old!
  • …that I did excellent in my final Master’s degree defense despite the fact that I’d just gotten my heart broken, learnt that my sister was in an accident and had not ate or slept properly in the weeks before while I was writing my thesis and preparing for the defense.
  • …that I chose the road less traveled even though sometimes I look back and wonder if I can change my mind.
  • …of my stamp collection which, yes, you guessed it, is more than 30 years old! I’m certain one of those stamps will make me a millionaire one day. I’m sure of it 😀
  • …of my younger brother and sister, for the life they’ve carved out of themselves, despite the hardship they faced.
  • …that I can tell people my age without cringing.
  • …that I didn’t break down, cry, scream and punched the tattoo artist when I got a tattoo on my left ankle and I could feel the needle against my shin.
  • …that I messaged that guy who owns the coffee shop downstairs from my office and asked him out for lunch.
  • …that I’ve bitten my tongue whenever I felt like cussing out my incompetent bosses. So proud 🙂