Sunday, September 30, 2007


I have known Auntie Molly, for a long, long time and throughout these years, she has allowed me peeks and glimpses into her interesting life.

Now in her 80s, and widowed just about 3 years ago, she is still a sharp and sprightly lady blessed with good health. She enjoys food and she eats anything and everything; nothing is too ‘cooling’ or too ‘heaty’ or too fat and she does not bother too much about cholesterol or uric acid or whatevernots. Her motto, “Eat Also Die; Don’t Eat Also Die. So, Eat lar.”. I call her a ‘jet-setter’ - she travels frequently to visit her brood of 8, (one passed on last year) and her own brothers and sisters scattered all over the world. Auntie Molly is an accomplished musician too – she plays the electronic organ and the Chinese table harp, the guzheng. Besides, she also fills her days with church activities and her taichi classes.

Life was not always wine and roses for Auntie Molly. With her basic education at the local Chinese convent, she managed to secure a job as teacher in one of the small privately-funded Chinese primary school in her hometown.

Auntie Molly then met and fell in love with a fellow teacher and got married after a few years of courtship and soon the children arrived; first a set of twin girls, followed closely by five other sons and another daughter. She continued teaching for a short while more and when the brood grew too fast she had to give up her job to be a fulltime mother and housewife. It was tough, very, very tough…bringing up 8 children on one small salary but somehow, husband and wife pulled through very successfully and all the children have done well. Now, in her twilight years, Auntie Molly is enjoying life to the fullest, adored by her children and more than a dozen grandchildren and if any of her elder grandkids decide to get married and start family now, she will be a great-gramma many times over. Life is good and life is beautiful for Auntie Molly.

And I met with another old friend, Auntie Yin this morning. Auntie Yin is in her 70s, widowed much earlier when she was only in her early 40s and left with 8 hungry mouths, aged between 5 to 15. Being illiterate, she took on laundry jobs – she would go house to house to collect the soiled clothes and bring them home to wash and then send back the fresh laundry house by house on foot. She never learned to cycle and she walked to save on bus fare. When her ‘clients’ bought their own washing machines and some shifted further away, Auntie Yin saw her income dwindle. Auntie Yin then took on house-cleaning jobs and that was how I got to know her in the late 80s. Auntie Yin helped me with my cleaning for many years until I got a stay-in Filipino helper and I had to let her go. We kept and touch all these years and became good friends.

Now Auntie Yin is ‘retired’ from her cleaning/washing jobs and is a devoted grandma babysitting 3 grandchildren. But Auntie Yin is very unhappy, if what she confided in me is anything to go by. She is having financial difficulties having to pinch bit by bit from her own meager savings which is fast depleting. I asked if her kids (all working) are giving her some pocket money and almost instantly, I saw tears weld up in her eyes. Initially they gave her a little when they started work but slowly one by one claimed their own financial constraints and stopped giving her altogether; even the daughter whose kids she is helping to babysit. This daughter had pleaded with Auntie Yin to give up her office tea-lady job to help look after the grandkids, paid her erratically for a few months and then the money just stopped and Auntie Yin’s infrequent requests for money to spend is always met with a scowl. And whenever Auntie Yin needs to go somewhere and asks the kids to send her, they would yell at her, calling her a troublesome old woman. She would rather take the cab, she said, even though it can be costly and a rip-off at times. She told me that each time she had to go to the dentist (she had to go many trips to make her dentures), there would be a lot of unhappiness around – her son will ask the daughter and the daughter will ask another son and they will play merry-go-round and pass-the buck games; no one is willing to pick the tab. Auntie Yin is hurt….very, very hurt and her tears rolled as she poured her heart out to me. I truly feel sorry for her.

Two of my old friends …..One living it all out and welcoming all the tomorrows; and the other just wished tomorrow never comes…….

posted by nyonyapenang at 9:05 PM, | 29 comments
Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Those days when the boys were in primary and secondary schools are all long gone. Those days when I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 5.00am to prepare breakfast and get them ready for school…I don’t miss them days at all. 5.00am is the time when I find it best to curl and snuggle under the cosy comforter dreaming the sweetest of dreams and on mornings when it rains, ahhh….it makes it all the more difficult to get out of bed.

I am not a morning person but rather, a night-owl. Rise and Shine, they say. Sure, I will Rise and I will Shine, albeit a just a wee bit later and I shine best when I awake at 8.30am or after. Of course, there are days whereby I have no choice but to wake up much, much earlier…even before the cock crows, say, when I have a plane to catch or have some extra-early morning meetings, but then, these are far in between, so its fine with me and I would normally get to catch up with the sleep deficit later in the day. I need my sleep to stay sweet and pleasant and coherent.

And whenever I hear someone telling me that he has not slept the past 48hours or more or that for the past 2 weeks, he had been only able to catch 2 to 3 hours sleep per day, my heart goes out to him. Aiyoh...I’ll never be able to survive this torture. Sleep is very important to me. Period.

I have many friends whom I know are habitual early risers and they cannot sleep a minute too late. Bless them. They wake up like clockwork at the same unearthly hour each morning, nevermind if they had crawled in to bed only a couple of hours earlier and are none the worse for it - they would be wide awake and alert and as chirpy as a bird that had found a big fat worm….Amazing! And these perpetual cheerful souls have no qualms about calling you on the phone at 6.30am,.. gawd…. in their most bright and cheery voice, “You’re still sleeping ar?”
As if it’s the most unnatural thing to do. Geezzzz….

Sleeping-in a while longer is a little luxury I shamelessly indulge in and on days that I don’t go to work, I’ll wake unfashionably late. A friend once commented, “How can you sleep so late? As we grow older, we need less sleep one lar.”

A quick retort from me, "Hey, puleeezzz speak for yourself. Thank you."

See, when I am not sleep-deprived, I am sharp as a needle. Okie, I go

posted by nyonyapenang at 12:02 AM, | 38 comments
Thursday, September 20, 2007


I was at the mall with no.2 just now to get some greeting cards and then decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants. The waiter brought the ala carte menu as well as the set dinner menu. Famished, both of us just picked from the set menu, aptly named ‘Buka Puasa Set’ which comes with iced-lemon tea, a small square of brownie for dessert and also with complimentary dried dates. The drinks came first and while waiting for the main dish, I asked the waiter if he could bring us the dates. He nodded but he came back shortly with the menu in his hand, pointed to some wordings on it and said, “Sorry, the dates are ONLY for those who buka puasa. So we are not giving you.”

I was like,‘Huh? Okie….” and had wanted to ask for the supervisor or something but then, what the heck, nevermind, I think I should feel sorry them. I dunno if you think this is the proper way to treat a customer.


I was with a friend at Guardian Pharmacy just now and when my friend paid for her purchase, she was given a miniature gift box...very cute and inside, were some dried dates. See, how people do business? Just purchase RM20 and above and you get a small gift, irrespective of whether you are breaking fast or not. It's a kind gesture and given in the spirit of the season.

posted by nyonyapenang at 11:55 PM, | 62 comments
Monday, September 17, 2007

Man Are Born Good

I had just alighted from my car and was walking towards the parking ticket machine when I saw this man, gingerly pushing his trusty bicycle with a plastic pail of clean water on the metal carrier and another 2 smaller pails hanging on either side. In front, was a basketful of assorted plastic bottles of car shampoos, cleaners and whatnots. He approached me and asked if I would like to have my car washed. I asked how much and he replied RM5. I glanced at my car…it sure could do with a good wash. I then dug into my purse and paid him the RM5 and told him I had just put the parking ticket for an hour and that he should get the job done by then.

I hurried off …walked across the road to my client’s place another block away. From across the road, I turned back to look at him and saw him pushing his bicycle down the corner, away from where my car was parked. Aiksss…..What was he up to? Have I been taken for a ride? Did he take my money and then trying to scoot away without doing his work? I was so tempted to turn back and run after him but then, I told myself, Nah…have some faith. Expect him to be honest and know to keep to his side of the deal and to deliver what he had promised.”

Then another voice…a cynical one, reminded me, “Hey…how many times have you been conned into parting with your money under similar instances? And each time, you said that will be the last, and you will trust no one, remember? Will you ever learn?”

Oh, at that very moment, I felt so gullible and kinda upset with myself and I could almost feel my temperature rising already and really, I just wanted to turn on my heels and go get that fella. BUT I chose to HAVE FAITH, and to TRUST HIM. Ahhh....a good feeling came over me and I went on my merry way.

After my appointment and as I was walking back to my car, I told myself to expect to see a clean car and I was not disappointed. He did a much better job than I could do myself….the car was gleaming under the sun. I trusted him and he did not fail me. And to have even entertained the thought that he might have scuttled off with my money, I felt so small…I felt so ashamed.

It was a good day – my faith restored ...
'Man Are Born Good.only challenging circumstances made him otherwise..’

posted by nyonyapenang at 12:30 AM, | 54 comments
Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I don’t cook everyday. My irregular work hours and activities see to it that my home kitchen opens only 2 days or the most 3 days out of a 5-day workweek. So on the days that the kitchen is closed, we eat out. It’s easy – go sit down and order and the dishes would be served in a jiffy but of course, at times, we gotta wait quite a while. Simple and easy….no need to worry about buying the foodstuffs…clean-clean and cut-cut and chop-chop and cook-cook and then the thing I dislike most…wash-wash all the utensils and pots and pans and plates and bowls and forks and spoons and then mop-mop the floor. **pheewww....** BIG SWEAT!

BUT the problem is this…after eating out for a few days straight, I get weary and tired of the outside food and I crave for my simple stir-fries and home-boiled soups. I am a lousy cook but somehow a plain fried egg with a sprinkle of pepper and a dash of soya sauce on hot rice tastes yummy; add a dollop of sambal belacan and it’s heavenly. Greens? Just freshly sliced crunchy cucumbers or some seeds of petai. No lar….I don’t eat like this all the time…..lidat, the bank account will be healthy but I will be not-too-healthy.

And when I am home early and in the mood to cook, then I’ll go get the ingredients. I only buy as and when I want to cook. Been throwing away potatoes and shallots that had sprouted. So just now, my appointment finished early and I decided to go get some big prawns, fish balls and mushrooms for tomyam. Fried some SPAM turkey ham dipped in beaten egg; made an onion omelette and stir-fried some french beans and tofu. Simple, short-cut dishes but we wolfed them all down. **burrrppp…**

Simple dishes but it is not much cheaper than eating out at the ‘tai chow’ shops serving Chinese food. I totalled up the cost of ingredients I bought earlier and it came to about RM40. Well, the good-sized prawns itself cost RM22 and the can of SPAM, if I remember right, cost something like RM12 or was it RM10? A ‘normal’ no-frills meal at the ‘tai chow’ averages RM40 or so, too. So sometimes, I do my maths and I will justify not opening my home kitchen. Just take a drive to the shop or restaurant we fancy, place our order, mum-mum, pay up and go home. No messing up the kitchen and no cleaning up needed…NO SWEAT!

BUT, being caught in the traffic crawl is another matter all together..…this one, I SWEAT BEADS. Geezzzzz…..

posted by nyonyapenang at 8:33 PM, | 53 comments
Sunday, September 09, 2007

Write Right

Through blogging, I have the good fortune of making many, many great friends…a few I have met and had the pleasure of enjoying ice-creams, kopi-oh and yummylicious food and of course, good company. A few more, I have spoken to, but never met and many others, never spoken and never met but we ‘connect’ in our blogs…..just like some old friends. I always look forward to read their updates (and then will try to give my 5 sens worth of comments) as much as I look forward to their comments in mine.

I am no writer and I have to confess that doing essays was not one of my favourite subjects in school. Gimme my folk dancing class and I’ll be more than happy to be hopping and kicking and twirling around with my dance partner in the school hall. But writing essays? Oh gawd…help me! Teacher would write a title on the blackboard and I would be stumped….head bent down, pen in the hand…doodles and more doodles and before I knew it, class was over.

Thank God, I had good and dedicated teachers then. Teacher repeated a thousand times… and read and read summore. Books, magazines, newspapers…just grab something. Read for content, read for structure and read for styles and always keep it simple and sweet. The easiest to ‘grab’ then, was the daily newspapers and I found a column that I like very much and I read without fail – a dose by the late S.H. Tan. This prolific writer….. his keen observations…his wicked sense of humour…his quick-witted repartee - one of his favourites was “include me out” hahahah….his hilarious takes and fluid style, all make for good light-hearted reading. He wrote about simple everyday things/events that we could relate to and he was good in his words what our present Datuk Lat is good in his sketches.

S.H. Tan had a few books published but I have none in my collection and for the past couple of years I have been looking for his books. Imagine my elation when a very kind friend recently sent me a copy. So I have been indulging myself these past few evenings thumbing through the book and enjoying S.H. Tan’s writings once again…savouring his every word and letting out a few hearty chuckles and hope that it may help to jolt, inspire and motivate me to write a little better.

And of course, I am learning lots too, from my more experienced blog friends here. What will I be without all of you guiding and helping me along? Just keep them coming, ya! I may be slow but I am learning...okie, I promise to be a good student and I wanna WRITE RIGHT.

posted by nyonyapenang at 1:43 AM, | 41 comments
Monday, September 03, 2007

Say Nothin'

Someone commented that of late, I am kinda missing-in-action…have been inconsistent and erratic in my updates and almost non-existent comments from me over at other blogs.

My a million apologies.

On the first part of inconsistent and erratic updates, I plead guilty. The first excuse would be work and more work, and with my less than perfect time-management skills, I slack in my updates. The second poor excuse of an excuse would be that the computer is less than co-operative at times. And the third, a thin-veil of an excuse is that sometimes, I do not have topics which I would feel good to write about and also worth your time to read. I hold by this rule – If I Have Nothing to Say, then, I Say Nothin'.

Going on to the second part of almost non-existent comments from me over at other blogs…..I recycle the above 3 excuses. But another fellow commented too, that commenting at other peoples’ blogs cannot be that time consuming, right? After all, it’s just 2 lines and not that you need to write an essay for a comment.

I agree, yes, a 2-line comment is as much a comment as a 3-paragraph comment BUT I beg to differ thenceforth. Past months, I have learned through personal observations of how people comment and respond and I have the good fortune to read some very sincere, honest-to-goodness-from-the-heart and thought-provoking comments and replies. Those were truly engaging, to say the least. And of course, there are those 'courtesy' and 'show-of-support' comments too, not any less appreciated though.

I have picked up valuable pointers from more experienced bloggers on commenting etiquette – do not comment for the sake of commenting and please, to shut the gap if there is nothing good to say; follow that golden rule – If I Have Nothing To Say, then, I Say Nothin'.

When time permits, I do blog-hop but I do not always leave my comments. For me, I’d like to give it some thought and I will try to give a meaningful and topic-related comment and sometimes, I have to admit that the subject matter really makes me scratch my head a little and often times too, I am lost for words. The words chosen, the sentence construction, the punctuation marks, the cheeky symbols (frownies and smileys) and the ‘tone’ of the words, etc….makes or breaks the comment. Even commenting on a hilarious and funny posting requires some thought to come up with a witty remark and come to think of it, it is not any easier because, ‘WIT’, like ‘STYLE’, you either have it or you don’t. Push the envelope and it may just reflect poor taste.

Have A Great Week Ahead!

posted by nyonyapenang at 1:35 AM, | 50 comments