Dau

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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Among all the pictures I took during the two years at college, there’s a picture of Dau ironing a long, pleated, brown skirt she planned to wear to class the following day. I also have a picture of her holding the skirt in front of her, and striking a pose. She was quite a character. I can’t quite remember why I had my camera out and how I managed to get the picture. I do remember however that after I took that candid shot, I ended up chatting with her till quite late into the night, snacking on the cake I’d brought.

I met Dau during my first week at college. We were in the same team of juniors on a treasure hunt, one of the activities that the college had organised for incoming students during Induction Week. From the moment the teams were handed the clues for the treasure hunt, Dau took charge. Our team eventually finished in the top three. That first time I met her, I was totally in awe and extremely intimidated. She was tall, lithe, athletic and had a gravitas about her. She also totally rocked a pixie cut.

She was one of the popular juniors, most of the seniors knew her and she had more than her share of secret admirers. It wasn’t enough that she was statuesque but she was also adept at Taekwondo. She was friends with most everyone and always had a smile on her face. It would’ve been easy enough to hate her except that Dau, infuriatingly,  was one of those girls that guys wanted to be with, and girls wanted to be. More than once, I wished I could be her.

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Curfew

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It’s 11.10 pm. Twenty more minutes to curfew.

My roommates and I had just returned from the mamak, a roadside stall, about a slow 10 minute walk away. I had my regular supper of maggi goreng (fried instant noodles) and iced coffee.

11.15 pm.

We were milling around near the guardhouse, which was at the entrance of the small gate we entered that led to our hostel block. Other students were at the phone booths, making calls to family or loved ones. There were more students queuing up behind them, clutching coins or a fully loaded phone card. I would normally call my folks on Thursday nights, to tell them what time I would be home the following day.

11.25 pm.

Some students were already trekking back to their rooms, some nodding at the guard, Pak Guard, we called him, who was standing at the gate ready to usher the rest of us stragglers in before curfew.

My roommates and I were one of the last to go through the gate that night. As we climbed up the ramp to our floor, we heard the gate clanked shut. We were locked in for the night.

 

Birthdays

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It was May Leen’s birthday.

Like most birthdays we’ve celebrated here in college, among the new friends from far-flung states that we’ve made, there were:

  1. A big makan-makan (dinner) with the gang
  2. A public display of embarrassment affection when the gang erupts into a raucous, slightly out of tune birthday song (on purpose)
  3.  A birthday gift and card shared by at least 15 people (we were students with a student loan, so most gifts were shared)

We were in our room, she was getting read to open her gift from the guys. It was a cassette. She loaded it into the player of Felicia’s red radio, and pressed play. Then voices came on and we heard the guys wishing her a happy birthday, followed by the sounds the strumming of a guitar. Not many of the guys knew how to play the radio so we were trying to guess who were the guitar players. Probably Pey Haw or Cheese. Then they started singing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight and us girls sighed in almost-unison.

May Leen looked to be in tears, it was such a thoughtful gift. The fact that the guys got together and probably practiced the song before recording it, we were nothing short of amazed.

I looked at my desk and saw my birthday gift among my textbooks, a book from the Chicken Soup from the Soul series signed by maybe ten people, remembered the card that came with it, a Get Well Soon card, and wished someone recorded a song for me on a cassette.

Nano and Tokyo

Nano

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.

Tokyo

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!

Alamak!

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

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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.

Or…

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

thmrevel

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

Malaysiana

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!

thmrevel

 

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!

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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.

2012-04-22-burnt-out

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

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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:

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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 🙂