Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Flaming Christmas

Setting Christmas Pudding on fire.

Doesn't seem sensible. 

But I don't suppose many traditions are, are they?

So on Christmas day, after eating so much food that you can't breathe, dessert comes out. 

Dad put the Christmas Pudding on the table. 

Sister: Are you going to light it?

Dad: No.

He walked off the kitchen and came back with a bottle of brandy and a box of matches, and dropped them in front of her. 

Dad: Not too much. 

Sister: Ooh!

I imagined my dear sister might take a spoon and pour out the brandy in measured quantities. She unscrewed the lid and tipped. 

Quite slowly, I'll admit. 

But for a long time.

Lets just say she made sure the whole pudding was covered.

And there was a little moat of alcohol around the pudding. 

[see the moat? i not lie]

Then she set it on fire.

Everyone marvelled and wowed happily.

Except our small visiting friend. 

Small Boy: I can't see anything.

Sister: Look here - the flames.

Admittedly it's a little hard to see small blue flames. 

He peered closer. 

And seemed unconvinced. 

Sister: Should I just pour some more on? [lifting the bottle, ready]



Me:  You'll set the whole bottle on fire?!

Sister: Oh. 

Did you really not know that?? That the flames will travel up the alcohol trail?

Me: I thought you were a doctor.

This concerns me slightly. 

So rather than pouring more, she tilted the plate for him, making the flames a bit bigger. He saw. A brief fire conversation ensued. 

Then several more minutes passed. 

And suddenly. 

Sister: IT'S COOKING!!

Yep, smells like burning!

The thing is still on fire and is cooking.

After a moment of frantic, failed flame blowing, my sister requests me to help from the other side of the table, which I do, and the flames die. 

Christmas Pudding rescued. 

Although with a ring of charcoal at the bottom. 



Friday, 23 December 2011

Massage Chairs

Flying was only half the story.

The second half I was too lazy to write…until now!


So that was the KL to Dubai leg.

I got off my plane in Dubai, very happy that I already had my next boarding pass and I'd gone in the right direction.

I found my gate…and then went for a duty-free stroll.

Perusing some Arabian all-sorts shop, I was between the metal Aladdin lamps and the dates when I heard a strange voice behind me.

Strange Voice: Helloooo.

And it was especially strange because it sounded like it knew me.

I turned around.

And there was my Dad!

Me: 0.o ?

Strange Dad: Hello! How are you?!

Me: Hi…what are you doing here?

Turns out that dear father was travelling for business and engineered his transit to co-ordinate with mine…and he was on the same flight home!

How fun.

Except that he was in business class.

And I was not.


And tragically failed to get me upgraded except for the final 30 minutes of the flight, where I had just enough time to MARVEL at the far more extensive menu, the massive TV screen and noise reduction headphones(?!) but too short a time to abuse the free champagne, request extra chair padding or make full, sleeping use of the glorious reclinable MASSAGE chair (who even knew they had that?!).

[yes, i tested them all.]

RUINED for economy class forever.

Literally, if there's one thing that's worth spending all your money on, it's travelling well.

For reals.


Once off the plane I spotted a middle aged man wearing a flat cap.

And a yellow neck tie.

With a salmon pink shirt.

And woodland-green cord trousers.

Royal green socks, pulled up to the knee.

Finished off with summer hiking sandals.

Ahh, I thought, welcome home, me.

Then I got into my chauffeur driven Mercedes.

They don't tell you about these corporate perks in school, when you're choosing to become an artist…

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


I'm in England!!

My annual, festive trip to the motherland.

How festive.

Tell you what though. It's ABSOLUTELY FREEZING.

Well…not literally. But it feels like it.

So as I sit here typing, with my cold, wooden fingers, let me tell you about my flight...


This year I flew Emirates, instead of Air Asia.

First thing I noticed - TV in the back of the seat!


Second thing - headphones and pillow and blanket.


Looks like I didn't need to bring all those extra jumpers…


Later in the flight I was given a menu.

Yes. A menu.

Where I selected my food. And it was delicious.

[mmm, pumpkins...]

Also on the menu I noticed this; "All drinks served are complimentary with the exception of champagne (8USD)."

And I was like…ok. So free drink with your meal.


Your meal already comes with a drink.

Two, in fact.

But the drinks cart also comes separately, before that!

And after.

And you can request drinks at any further point during the flight.

Wah, such luxury!

And I'm talking drinks.

Having flown AirAsia so exclusively over the past few years, I'd completely forgotten that that's what flying used to be all about - free booze!

Flight Attendant: Any drinks for you madam?

Me: Mango juice please.

Flight Attendant: Would you like ice?

Me: …yes :)


Flight Attendant: Sir, for you?

Fellow Passenger: Hennessy.

Me: 0.0

Flight Attendant: With ice?

Fellow Passenger: Yes. [pause] And tomato juice.


Aside from that seeming to me a rather odd combination of drinks, I was amazed. He just got major booze for free.

And then he topped up with a small bottle of wine with dinner.


Amazed and somehow too shy to ask for any myself…

...maybe on the way back...

Friday, 16 December 2011

English Indecision

I have a chronic inability to make decisions. 


Actually, mainly when it comes to shopping. 

I just a very sensible shopper!

Unless I instantly love something, I will spend a long time deciding if it's worth buying, if I really want it, do I need this, should I really be spending this much money, I just bought that the other day etc, etc.

Recently I was browsing for shoes. 

Seller: Look, real leather (sets lighter to shoe)

Me: Oh…ok….(Necessary?)

After some browsing, I had a selection of 4 NICE shoes. And that meant decisions had to be made.

Thoughtful pause. 

Friend: Just get them!

Me: What?

Friend: Get them.

Me: What, all?

Friend: Yah, they're so nice!

Me: Cannot! I can't buy 4 shoes!?

Friend: Why not? They're all different! And so cheap. 

Me: :S

This simply does not compute - who needs 4 new pairs of shoes at the same time?

There's 2 sandals and 2 slippers. 

The smart thing to do is pick one of each. Right?

But it's really hard…because they're all so prettyyyyy…..sighhhh….

Much time passes. 

I can't decide.

Advice from nice Pakistani man selling shoes:

Seller: Not think too much. Not good for health.

Of course you'd say that. 

["lady! just buy the shoes!!']

Seller: Where are you from?

Me: ...England.

Seller: (knowing look) Ooh. That is why. England people think too much. 


Is that a fact.

If so, hurrah. It's not my fault after all!


Monday, 12 December 2011


I very recently complained about my translucent skin.

Well this weekend I got on the extreme machine. 

And got me some serious sunburn. 

- Never a happy-medium - 

I was foolishly surprised about it too. 

Because it's a rare occasion - despite the eternal summer, a functional existence here involves running from a/c building to a/c car to a/c building. 

But Saturday was Rock the World, my own personal rock renaissance, which involved spending the day outside in a field. 

[no, i did not involve myself with any walls of death...]

And only in the car on the way home did the damage reveal itself….

Me: On no, look - I'm burnt.

Friend: It's ok, it's not that bad. Look at me! I've gone black!

Me: Huh..?

Friend: Oh it's so terrible, I'm like charcoal… :(

Me: Not really…

Friend: No, look at this (pulls back sleeve to reveal fairer skin), sooooo bad!

Me: Ok maybe a bit…but it's better than being red!

Friend: No, it's not. Red is interesting. 

Me: …what? No, isn't?!

Friend: It is, white people have such interesting skin, always changing colour…

Me: That's not a good thing?! This is not a normal skin colour!!!!!

Friend: Yeah, but it will fade really fast. I'll stay black for ages! And people look at me and think it's my natural colour. At least people know it's not your real colour. 



Fair point, I suppose…for the Asian fair-skin obsession, I see how this is a big deal. 

As for the other point, in countries with a lot of mat salleh, the burnt look is never good. Could it be true that Asian's judge it differently…as interesting…or in a more favourable light somehow..?


Later in the day...

Other friend: Claire, what happened? You look like a prawn!

[me? :( ]


No, then. 

I guess not. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Big-Size Daughter

I almost called this "Small Asians Part 2". 

Because this is a story about a girl who is not your typical "small asian". 

But I've had rather too many sequels recently…(a trend in the themes of life…interesting…)

Anyway, this post is a slight flashback. 

When funny stuff happens I either blog it…or write it down somewhere and lose it. 

Today, I discovered a lost gem!

It takes me back a few months to my friend's end-of-Raya open house…

[always about the food...]


At this kind of event the tables are so large, even with several friends, you're bound to wind up sitting with randoms. 

I was with only one friend. 

Randoms confirmed. 

It was a family. 

The mum and her smallish-boy were whispering and smiling from across the table (wants to say hi…but malu lah), the daughter was silent and embarrassed (you know the age…too young to be left behind, too old to wanna hang with the fam).

And then Dad, who made up for all the silence by talking about anything and everything with anyone. 

You know the type?

Just throws out any topic to engage you. 

We were the anyone. 

So at one point, his daughter went off to get more food. As she walked away:

Dad: My daughter - she is 14. Only 14 years old, you know? 

Me: [raised eyebrows, to convey surprise - "oh really?"]

Dad: But she is very big size. So she must marry a foreigner. 

Me: [my "listening nod" pauses halfway...also appropriate to keep eyebrows raised]

Dad: I hope English. They are so polite - [add attempt at English accent] "beg your pardon", "thank you very much"

Me: [frozen in wonder]

Very good then...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Translucent Skin Part Two

I recently met up with a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a while. 

These were the opening comments:

Friend 1: Oh, you look pale. Doesn't she? Paler than before? What happened?

Friend 2: Ya, are you sick?


Always nice to hear that.

Especially considering, as previously mentioned, I am here for the sun (and by association, the tan). 

Unfortunately, I looked at a photo from earlier in the year and I think they're right…

Also earlier in the year, did I ever tell you about the time I was in class, teaching, and suddenly one of my students paused in wide-eyed wonder and said;

Student: Miss…your arm-hair is golden…

No? Well it's not golden anymore!!


As I sat in my car, driving to work, I pondered upon this conundrum….


Why am I suddenly pale??

Because I haven't changed anything in my life…

Have I..?

But I must solve this, because I don wan pale!


The sun was blazing through my window. 

I congratulated myself for not reaching for my shades - well done me, this window tinting thingy works, money well spent!


And suddenly the answer was blindingly obvious. 

[not my actual window...]

Window tinting. 

I just got all the windows in my car tinted!

And what was the promo line? Something like, "Cuts out "78% of harmful UVA/UVB rays"

At the time;

Me: Ooh, I know about that from the sun screen bottles. Sun screen is good for health. Stops you getting cancer. This must be good too. What excellent technology.


Me: Holy cow, those are the tanning rays!?! I have lost my daily 2 hour tanning session. What was I thinking?!?!

Biggest mistake of my life...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Satu Malaysia

I had a magical 1Malaysia experience last night. 

My friend had her engagement ceremony at an Indian Temple. 

…many an Indian experience in recent weeks (deepavali fair & shopping, tamil school prize giving - don't ask - and this), such fun.

Especially the dressing up.

And the eating -  after the ceremony it was time for the number one Malaysian ritual - makan. 

The food was delish. 

As usual. 

And once no longer starving, I made an observation. 

I was seated at a full table of 8. 

The two guys to my right were chatting in Tamil. 

To my left, a Chinese couple were talking (erm…Mandarin? …Cantonese? One or the other :P )

And across the table, two other friends having a conversation in Bahasa Melayu. 

Which as I paused and watched the scene, like a movie, it warmed my heart. 

I mean, how many countries can you go to and not understand 3 whole conversations at once?!?!

Haha, for real, I love Malaysia!


Although this did leave me, failing to properly communicate in any of these languages, to have a silent, actions-only conversation with the final guest at the table. 

The 3 year old. 

Sounds about normal to me...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Muff Jets. Part 2.


This is the sequel to Muff Jets

You think it can't get worse?

It can always get worse. 


Again, I was out for dinner and after lots of coke, it was time to use the facilities. 

There was only one toilet. 

And it was a squatty. 

Though I have to say, I don't mind them so much. 

They are arguably cleaner than the regular ones.

Especially if an auntie has just come and squatted her muddy feet on the seat. 


But I have observed one thing - I can't squat in the simple, effortless way that seems inherent to Asians. 

[seriously. how?]

Asians (as a general rule) can just squat down and your feet are flat to the ground and you're perfectly balanced. I see it all the time, it's like a comfortable thing. 

My legs don't work that way. 

They're like…wrongly proportioned or something. 

My feet will not sit flat and I can't balance?!

It's a seriously study-able phenomenon.


Anyway, so my solution is to hold onto something.

In this case I leaned slightly forward to rest my arm on the muff jet tap. 

Which was clearly not a good idea, but that didn't occur to me at the time. 

Instantly I heard that dreaded sound again - extreme, rushing water.

And as before, I panicked!!


WATER spitting all over the room!

Me getting wet!!


Can't see!! I didn't touch any handle?!?


Tak tauuuuu?!?!?!?!

By this point, unlike before, I was wet. 

My feet, my shirt, my hair…not cool. 

Why, you ask?

Squatting is rather disabling for a quick exit. 

Especially in jeans.

At last I realised that as I had leaned forward, arm on muff jet, it had turned on. Twisting forwards = on. So once again, I had unwillingly created a fountain.

Only this time I couldn't escape so fast and didn't figure out the turning off very quickly. 


It took a seriously strategic exit plan - think handbags and swift turns -  to leave without anyone seeing the wet patches this time.