Friday, 30 September 2011

Call Me!

My friend sent me a text:

"Call me when you get this..hehe"

I read it. Then I called.   

And a man answered. Which is strange, because she's not a man. 

Man: Hello.

Me: [confused]

Man: Hello?

It sounded a bit like her Dad…I suppose. But this was super confusing. Why would he answer her phone?

Me: Hello?

Man: Hello?

Me: Hi? Is that…? [still confused]… 

Man: Are you looking for Shakina? She's still at work. She must have left her phone at home. Shall I pass her a message?

Me: Um…yes, just tell her I called?

Man: Do you want her to call you back?

Me: [I don't know, I don't know why she wanted me to call??] Er….yes? I don't know. Just tell her I called her back?

Man: Ok, i'll let her know. 

Me: Ok, thank you. 

WHAT just happened? 

How can she have text me and ask me to call…and then not be able to answer her phone cos she left it at home?

Think about it. 

That makes absolutely no sense. 






Unless of course, I, like a genius, called her house phone instead of her mobile.


Her poor, confused father…

Monday, 26 September 2011

Extra Protein

At lunch, the mamak shop, my friend came over with his food and told me;

Friend: "Just now, there was a dead fly in the curry and I told the guy. And you know what he did? He just fished it out and carried on serving the other customer." 

And then he reenacted his pose - mouth slightly open, furrowed brow, questioning hand…a loaded pause like…is that it? Is that all?


But hey, what else do you expect? This event did not surprise me. But it did remind me of another…


I'd just finished work and I was feeling hungry and lazy. 

So I decided on a brief visit to the supermarket : sausage bun and curry puff, here I come. No need to cook, no need to wait, everything I need, in my hands. Yes. 

I bought my goodies back to the car (eating-whilst-driving: very bad-Malaysian-traffic-jam-habit…). 

Very excited. 

Very hungry. 

Very happy. 

I got on the road.

Picked up plastic with bun inside. 

Put on lap. 

Opened plastic.

Put hand in bag…missed cos I'm driving. 

Looked down to ensure bag-entry. 

Saw this:

[yes, that is a whole fly]


It's a miracle I didn't crash. For real.  

I actually wailed loudly in my car, SUCH was the horror and disappointment. 

How disgusting, a fly, baked into my bun. BAKED into it!! This is no mamak shop, this was an actual proper establishment. Supposedly.  

No bun for me. 


I imagine my dad would have said, "What's the problem, a bit of extra protein!"

And I did consider eating around it. But then I didn't. 

Cos the fly still had wings. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011


I like cicak. 

I actually do, I think they're cute and they eat flies and bugs, which is nice. 

But I just had a horrifying run-in with one, and our relationship has cooled somewhat…

[not my hand...]

I was about to take a shower. 

There was a cicak on the bathroom wall and it panicked when I came in. I always find that funny, when you get too close and they do their wiggly, panicky run.

Me: "I'm having a shower, cicak, I'm not trying kill you." 

It ran and hid under the sink. 

I hung my towels on the back of the door and continued…


…I got out of the shower, grabbed my towel and wrapped myself.

Then I did the re-wrap. You know the re-wrap? Securing the towel for walking through the house. 


As as I did this, I saw in the mirror - horror - the cicak! It was ON ME!!!!



I froze for about 1/2 a second…and then I SCREAMED and jumped around, which is rare, but on this occasion, unavoidable.

Problem was, cicak are used to climbing walls, aren't they?? So it didn't just fall off, it was STUCK to me!!!! Actually stuck!!




I actually had to FLICK it off.


And run from the bathroom. 


Always check your towels, friends!!!

Monday, 19 September 2011


I recently went with a friend to visit the doctors (everything is more fun in a pair, no?)

As I was in the waiting room, I was musing that the nice thing about seeing a doctor is that you can tell them anything and they're legally bound to keep your secrets. That's actually better than having friends!

The only other people in the waiting room were 2 young couples…I spent a while trying to guess where they were from. They were Asian. Not local. A bit poor looking (I feel like that's slightly offensive…but it's not meant to be, just an observation…). The nurse was explaining something to them in another language…not Thai…and I probably wouldn't recognise anything else… :P

Then they left. 

The nurse watched them fondly, then looked at me.

Nurse: "Those are my refugees."

Ah-ha! My chance...

Me: "Where are they from?"

Nurse: "Myanmar. They're only here for contraception."


AH?! What? When did I ask that, I didn't ask that?? And I'm quite sure you're not supposed to tell me, even if I did…??

Nurses take the oath too, right...right?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Malaysian English

In the past week or so, I have caught myself at the end of two completely ridiculous sentences (and I don't doubt there were more…):

"…although we are have a day of nothing…"


"…he had so much no money…"

Is English my second language?


So what's my excuse, what language was that?

I swear, even last year, I would have stopped mid-sentence, each time, and re-phrased the sentence. What has happened to me, that I don't bother anymore..?

Actually I know the answer. 


Malaysia is what has happened - sorry - but this nation is disabling my ability for proper speech!

Because when words like "alphabets" and "outstation", or literal translations such as, "can you off the lights",  are in regular circulation, of course my English gets messed up! They're not real words or sentences! :P

But I am proud to say that I now understand your "language". When anyone from the motherland graces me with their presence here, I am reminded just how much of a skill this truly is. I literally become a translator. From English to English. Case in point, when frequently mentioned English friend was here recently, the following conversation took place:

Malaysian Friend: "It's not random, it's just like…how I think."

…slight pause…

English Friend: "...What?"

Malaysian Friend: "What?"

English Friend: "A zombie relay?"

Malaysian Friend: "What??"

English Friend: "Did you just say, 'That's just like me, I'm running a zombie relay?' "

Malaysian Friend: "Whaaaat, no?!"

That actually happened. 

So I understand your "Malaysian English". I am slightly less proud to have started speaking it...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

"The Face" : Balut Test

Balut. Have you heard of this? Allegedly a Filippino delicacy. It's basically a fertilised egg, which is then steamed or boiled. And eaten. In this case, they're baby chickens. But baby ducks are also available.

It already sounds disgusting and is one of those things that make you think…how and why did people ever start eating this?? 

…although maybe it happened during typhoon season, when someone was stuck in their house, all roads and shops closed…and there really was nothing else to eat in the house…or garden…except…your pet chicken's…baby…eggs, anyway it's weird. 

Luckily I was not forced into a cultural situation that required me to eat this or, joy of joys, attempt "the face" to avoid offending people (see"Boiled Squid"), as I would have failed. Horribly. 

But two of my companions voluntarily(?!) decided to have a go…

Note: This is 2:42 of graphic grossness. Please don't throw up.

[Is a transcript necessary, or can you catch it..??]

Friday, 9 September 2011

Shopping in Prison

So one day in the Philippines, we went to visit a prison. 

An actual working prison, full of real inmates…so I say visit in the chaplaincy sense, rather than as a guided tour… :P

Anyway, so I gave a testimony, like, this is what has been happening in my life…learn a lesson from it. 

They were a good crowd.

My opening line - "I'm going to tell you about a fight I had" - received a hearty roar of approval, hahaha.

But alas for you, this is not the tale I'm going to tell. 

Instead, it is this:

In the prison, so the inmates have something to do and have a way to earn money*, they weave. Ok, it's not quite weaving…it's like decorative wall hangings made from coloured brush…things…I clearly can't describe properly, look at the picture:

 [ooh, niiice...]

And instead of simply saying, "we support you", we decided to demonstrate this sentiment, by browsing and buying some of their work, which was hanging outside their cells. At first it was a little intimidating, I don't lie, but the following conversation indicates it didn't stay that way for long:

Friend: Let me see your picture frame. Oh wow, yours has writing on. 

Me: Yeah, nice right? They did for me.

Friend: What? Who did? Just now?

Me: The guy who made it. He asked if I wanted my name on it, but I asked for Benguet instead [name of the province].

Friend: Oh cool, do you think he can write on mine too?

Me: Yeah. 

Friend: Really? Oh...which shop did you go to? Take me to that shop?

Me: … do you mean which cell..?

Take you to that shop??? Hahaha, such a nice mall we found….I wonder if the shopkeeper is inside for rape or murder…? 

[at the "shop"...]


* You, like I did, may wonder why one needs to earn money in prison…simple answer is that many still need to support their families on the outside, so send the money home, others save it so they have something to survive on when they get out. Although I don't deny there may be cigarettes in the meantime… :P

Also a side note, some of the inmates may well be proven not-guilty for their crimes, as many of them wait years, serving time, whilst their cases sit in the paperwork pile, until a court date is found for the hearing…boo. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I'm back!

10 days in the Philippines and 3 days to recover. 

This was an insane trip for the simple reason that everything that was planned, aside from one event, was completely re-arranged. Inexplicably and at the last possible second. 

This was a case of Mat Salleh permanently Keliru. I entered a whole new state of being. Like a saint, nothing can disturb the internal peace I have created in order to survive the chaos swirling around me. 

Here is my favourite example:

On Saturday morning we (friends x7) were supposed to go up to some remote mountain villages, but changed our plans after a Category 2 Typhoon hit the city, killing 8 people in the immediate area and causing a landslide on the road we would have used. If we had gone up, I'd probably still be stuck on a mountainside somewhere, crying about how much I smell and don't want to eat anymore dog. 


[where are we..?]

But as I say, we changed our plans. So at a loose end on Sunday morning our new friend, Pastor Joel, invited us to church. The arrangement was to get a ride with him, so meet at the basketball court, 9am. 


In the morning, whilst we're all still in bed, there's a phone call. Group leader goes to the hallway phone…muffled conversation…comes back. 

Leader: That was Ps. Joel, there's been a change of plan. We're meeting at the house at 7.30am.

Friend: What time is it now?

Other friend: [checks watch] 7.15am

All: What?!?!?

Having previously been warned that Filippinos are not time-conscious, but event-conscious and that we must be "flexible", we interpreted this as a unreasonable but very plausible change of plans.

No shower then. 

We managed to pull ourselves together in 15 minutes and go to the new venue, at the new time. Ps. Joel is nowhere in sight…but I guess we're meeting him there, so we climb aboard the mini-bus and off we go. 

We arrive at a church and wait for him to arrive.

9am comes around. No sign. 

Another Pastor appears.

Other Pastor: So you are ready?

Leader: Ready?

Other Pastor: Yes, I pick you up for church.

Leader: Oh, Ps. Joel sent you?

Other Pastor: No, Ps. Denys.


This coincides with a message from Ps. Joel:

"Where are you? I am waiting at the basketball court."  



Until this point I have also neglected to mention that these Pastors are not simply inviting us to join their church…but to run the whole service. So now we are hugely confused about what is going on and slightly concerned that we're meant to be running 2 church services at the same time.

Us: "Are you sure it was Ps. Joel who called?"

Leader: "Yes, it was. Very sure. He said, 'this is Pastor Joel' "

It is also now that we establish the only possible explanation: the Ps. Joel on the phone was an impostor!! 

Someone called up, claiming to be Ps. Joel, and diverted us to another church! We've been kidnapped! 

…by a jealous missionary? …to run a church service? But…that doesn't...really make sense…does it..? 


A wild theory. 

Which turned out to be semi-true. 

In fact it was another well-wishing person, concerned for our cancelled trip and oblivious to our new plans, who made arrangements for us (and considered it unnecessary to inform us more than 15 minutes in advance…?). Then the middleman, responsible for the early morning phone call, was in fact not Filippino Ps. Joel, but Taiwanese Ps. Joe

SUCH confusion. 

[the real Pastor Joel, using a phone]


The next time we made arrangements with Ps. Joel, he left us with these words…

"Remember, if someone will call you, that is not me!!"