Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Varieties of Stupid

I have a bit of a language lesson today. We have been watching a Mandarin drama series these past few nights and there is a character in there called "Da Sha". A direct translation is "Big Stupid".

That name, "Big Stupid", reminded me of a term that was one of my favorites when I was trying to pick up Mandarin from my colleagues at work - "Sha Qua" meaning "Stupid Melon". No, I don't think they called me that (or maybe they did behind my back), but it was a term that one particular girl would throw out every hour or so. I don't know why, I just liked the sound of it.

So now, we have Big Stupid and Stupid Melon. Another very common one that I hear in Mandarin TV shows is "Ben Dan" meaning "Stupid Egg". Or sometimes, "Da Ben Dan". You guessed it, "Big Stupid Egg". Obviously, with the references to melons and eggs, these aren't really used for malicious name calling purposes. I wouldn't know how to give a lesson on that. Supposedly, the swearing that goes on in Mandarin or Cantonese can be extremely colorful but unfortunately, I don't understand one bit of it.

Off on a tangent but still on the topic of eggs: Richard, who is only allowed to speak Mandarin to Aaron, often says "Pu Yao Huai Dan", meaning "Don't be a rotten egg!"

I wonder what the history is behind using melons and eggs. I'll update this list if I come across more varieties of stupid.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The 101 Things To Do List

Last year, I came to know about the 101 things in 1001 days from zero_zero_one's blog. The idea immediately appealed to me and I started work on my list. Making the list was much harder than I thought it would be and I actually took a couple of months to complete it. It really made me think that all this staying at home had made me into a lazy bum for not having anything that I wanted to do. I felt good when it was done and I looked forward to crossing things off. Bad luck! Our hard disk crashed and I lost everything! I backed up things like photos but this list was on the desktop....and alone. Somehow, I just didn't have the motivation to make another list and I left it.

Recently I started reading "How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" by Jack Canfield. He's the guy that wrote the "Chicken Soup For The Soul" series (which I really really did not enjoy). Every so often, I enjoy reading one of those books that tells you about focusing and getting your life on track (and then I forget LOL!).

Anyway, once again, this book suggested a list of 101 things. This time, the time frame was much longer - you have until death to do them. So, I started working on that list last week. I'm only up to item 64!!! I'm starting to wonder whats wrong with me. The list has a lot of places that I want to visit, several things I want to learn how to do (including make shoes), a few materialistic things and a few of those ideas I had for helping the underprivileged. I didn't want to put down simply anything just to make up the list. For example, I had the fleeting thought of sky diving but then I thought about it again and I don't really want to do it. I also don't want to put down some of the "smaller" things like "read The Kite Runner", which I had on my 101 things in 1001 days list.

Have I become so unambitious? Am I so complacent in life that I can't even think of things that I want to do before I die? Or have I just become boring? Older? Unimaginative? Narrow minded? Maybe I've lost some brain cells and I just can't think anymore?

Anyway, this has been frustrating me today. I'm giving myself a couple more days and then I'm moving forward with the book. So be it if I only have a list of 64 things!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Sign From Palembang

First of all, the Annual Dinner I mentioned in the last post was as dull as dull can be. I don't have much to report from there. I made small talk with the big boss's wife. It wasn't too uncomfortable. Most of the time was spent telling her that first impressions of Palembang are deceiving and that its not just an overgrown village.

I left after the dinner but Richard had to stay back for a meeting with all the bosses. After that meeting, the big boss went off to bed but those middle bosses went for their usual drinking and karaoke-ing so Richard didn't get to come home to nearly 2am. That was expected I guess.

Anyway, at least they all left the next day and our lives are back to normal.

I came across an interesting sign today. It is not as "exhaustive" as the one at the Ipoh library but it was still interesting. This was hanging outside the entrance to the foot reflexology place I took my mother to this afternoon.

My mother and I had such an amazingly relaxing time there just now. I can't stop raving about it each time I have an afternoon like this come home to tell any of my friends that are online. Regular readers, you're all like friends to me too, if you somehow manage to find your way to Palembang, I'll definitely treat you to an afternoon of foot reflexology with the head/neck/shoulder massage. Anyone?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tidbits on Friday

Well, within 5 minutes of waking up this morning, I found out about Michael Jackson. And since then, reading and watching the news and then thinking about it has pretty much dominated my day. I'm not one of the crazy, fainting fans but my family has definitely followed his career closely. In fact, my mother is a bigger fan than me and was in tears as we watched the news reports. The first time I watched him was when my mother recorded the 1984 Grammy awards for us. My brother and I would watch him on that repeatedly. Its a sad day to hear that he passed away so suddenly. And, its tragic to hear that many people saw it coming but it still happened.

Anyway, here are the tidbits I had planned for today.

Earlier this week, Mike left a comment saying that he didn't know about our locked gates here in Palembang. Well, they are everywhere here. And all over Malaysia too. You won't be able to see from these photos but many of these gates, including ours, are padlocked all day long. Let me tell you, it is the most troublesome thing to have. Each time we go out, someone has to go unlock the gate, open it, stand there and wait till the car is out and then close and lock it back. And then when we get home, no matter if its raining or scorching hot, you've got to do the same thing again.

This photo is of the row of houses directly opposite us. All except the first one have gates. Perhaps this is because they are the only house without a car.

This is a view of all the houses on our road.

With the gates shown in these pictures, you still have a view into the garden. The really paranoid people build a brick wall and have a solid gate so that you have absolutely no view of the inside. They also have no view of the outside!

The other tiny tidbit I had for today is the way we buy towels (hand towels, bath towels, wash cloths, bathmats etc). There are places you can go to buy single towels but they are also sold by weight. I saw a cute Thomas & Friends hand towel yesterday but was told that it didn't meet the minimum weight requirements. I had to mix and match with other towels until I had at least 0.5kg worth! Needless to say, I didn't need so many towels.

Richard and I are going for the company's annual dinner tonight. All the bosses will be there. Remember these bosses? Well, their boss will be here too and he's supposedly a pastor on the weekends. Lets see how they behave today. Tell you about it tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dwarf Snapbeans Indeed!

After nearly 7 weeks away, I came back to a pretty decent garden. Shortly after I left, I told Richard to harvest the sweet potato leaves and eat them up. Instead, of "harvesting", he cleared them all. He just pulled them all out instead of just cutting the longer stalks off. Luckily, he proudly told me of his accomplishment that night and I got mad early enough for him to retrieve some stalks for replanting. By the time we came back, the sweet potato patch was full again.

My okra started flowering a few days before I left. At that time, they were only as tall as my knee. Right now, they're nearly 6 feet tall and full of okra. Another success!

Finally there is my Dwarf Snapbeans. I've been trying to grow them since last year but they kept dying or getting diseased. Before going back to Malaysia, the plants that I had there were alive but in no way flourishing. I really didn't expect anything from them and only hoped they wouldn't die again.

Surprise! Surprise! When I got back, the plant looked similar, perhaps with a few more leaves here and there. But, the underneath was full of skinny little beans. I was thrilled of course but when the pack said "Dwarf" I really didn't expect them to be this tiny!

This is what the photo on the packet looked like. Wouldn't you expect bigger beans too?

I took great pleasure in cooking up that handful last night. Unfortunately, they were already old and chewy. So, next time, I'm going to harvest them when they are even tinier.

The funny thing about growing my own vegetables is that no matter how they turn out, I'm always more than happy with them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Sincere Price

I had a post in early May about needing to call in people from the electricity company to see why we have power trips every night.

Well, the problem wasn't solved then and I called them back. They came yesterday to "assess" the situation again and today came to change the circuit breaker. At least I think its the circuit breaker. Anyway, the big greyish thing with the blue switch.

The man that came didn't ignore me this time and I was a lot more polite than the last time. Unfortunately, he gave me the same reasons/excuses and never really answered my question of why I seem to have less power at night even when I have the same appliance on. At least he went the extra step to see if changing the circuit breaker would help.

After he finished the job, he calls me to take a look. And, he says "OK. See here, I have tied it all back up and put these little clamps on the cables. This shows we have done a perfect job." Maybe the meaning was lost on me but the direct translation of the Indonesian word he used really is "perfect". I laughed inside but left it at that.

When I asked him how much I had to pay, he said "Its up to you." Immediately, I knew that this should have been free. I said I didn't know what the price was meant to be and he repeated "Its up to you. Just a sincere price". What the heck was a sincere price?? Yet another meaning that is lost in translation. So, since this was basically "coffee money", I gave him enough for lunch.

This "sincere pricing" doesn't happen all the time though. I've had many other people come to fix things in the house and when the job was too small or meant to be free anyway, they have honestly told me that there was no charge.

After the electricians left, I was walking around outside and look what I saw.

They just chucked the old shell into one of my plant drums! It happens to look empty because I just cleared it and put some new seeds in a couple of days ago. Still, I don't think it looks like a rubbish bin. If they couldn't see a bin to dispose it in, why couldn't they have just handed it to me? Or taken it with them?

Anyway, we'll see tonight if there is any change to our power situation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Aaron, The Palembang Boy

Aaron is definitely a Palembang boy. I think I can say that he sees this as home base and he misses it every time we leave it. We've been here since he was 7 months old so it looks like I have a little Indonesian son.

Prior to our return trip, he kept repeating "We're going back to Palembang on Friday." He told everyone! And each morning, he'd ask me if it was Friday yet.

As we approached Palembang, I told him I saw our house. I really did. He was bouncing up and down his seat, as far as his seatbelt would allow. And, he was yelling out LOUDLY "YAY! We're home. We're in Palembang." When the doors of the plane opened, he ran all the way to the immigration line.

For the first couple of days that we were back, Aaron wouldn't leave the house. He must have felt like he was in heaven and couldn't be torn away from all his toys. Actually, he still hasn't left the house, except to go to church on Sunday, and he's still as happy about it.

Yesterday, three of his little friends noticed he was back and came over to play already. They live across the street from us. A few minutes ago, I heard Aaron and the 3 year old girl, Vika, chatting from across the street to each other. It was all in Indonesian and so cute! I think this may be the start of Aaron's socializing, without me!

Vika : "Aaron!"

Aaron : "What?"

Vika : "Aaron"

Aaron : "What?"

Vika : "What are you doing?"

Aaron : "Nothing"

Vika : "What are you doing?"

Aaron : "Nothing"

Vika : "Come over"

Aaron : "I don't have the key. You come over"

Vika : "Come over"

Aaron : "I don't have the key. You come over"

Those aren't typos up there, they really repeated everything. I'm sure the both of them have perfect hearing but maybe they don't have perfect understanding of each other yet.

I didn't hear what went on after that but Aaron eventually came to ask me to open the gate so that Vika could come in. He must have misunderstood her because I saw that she was still safely locked behind her own gate and it looked like her mother was out because the car wasn't there.

Its amazing to watch how Aaron is growing. In a few short months, I can just imagine him arranging his own play dates and walking himself over there. He's growing up! I need to get used to that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lucky Us!

We're finally back in Palembang. Actually, we got back on Friday night but since then, I've just been getting things organized in the house and settling back into our routine.

Our trip back was definitely more eventful than usual. My mother traveled back with us and her shoes gave us the first laugh of the day.

We can often find very reasonably priced shoes here in Palembang and she had a plan to come over here, and buy herself a new pair of sneakers. So, she puts on her old, really old, pair for the journey, thinking that she'll just dump it here in Palembang. Well, it started falling apart at the first bathroom break of the bus journey down to Kuala Lumpur. I have no idea why a woman would carry sticky tape in her handbag but my mother happened to be doing just that. Lucky her!

Ipoh has a small airport but there aren't many flights out of it these days. People who need to get to the airports in Kuala Lumpur usually catch the taxi or one of the many airport express buses. We chose the bus. It takes 3.5hrs and is extremely comfortable. The downside is that these buses are notorious for breaking down along the highway. In fact, the bus that Richard was on broke down 30 mins into the journey and he barely made it to K.L. on time for his flight. We chose a bus that left us more time just in case. As we pulled into the airport, I thought to myself "Phew! At least we got a good bus!". About 10 meters short of reaching its parking bay at our K.L. airport, the bus broke down. The engine simply went dead and wouldn't start again. Lucky us!

And then when we arrived in Palembang, my mother got pulled aside. I guess it wasn't her day. I handed all three passports to the immigration officer, he processed Aaron's and mine and then kept hers aside because she didn't have a return ticket with her. All he said was "Stand aside". She had entered many times previously with just the one way ticket because we never know how long she's going to stay. Anyway, this didn't get resolved until Richard, waiting outside, was called into a room together with the head immigration guy there. Richard must be getting good at negotiating the Indonesian way because my mother now has her 30 day visa ;)

Everything is good now. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened in our very routine household. And, its back to blogging as usual for me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I'm running a bit short of time today so I'm sharing a photo.

The lady on the right here is my great-grandmother and the other two are her sisters. The photo was taken around 1910 in Penang, Malaysia. Please click on it for a clearer look.

The women are dressed in the traditional Nyonya sarong and kebaya but the little boy (my grand uncle) has very Western looking clothing on. It appears that he even has a little pocket watch hanging there.

They are all married women and the lady on the left has obviously married a wealthier man than her sisters. Take a look at the gold bracelets, necklaces and anklets that she has on.

Remember my post about people commenting that I don't look like my parents. Well, I think if I did my hair and dressed like these ladies, I'd look like one of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We Can Get More Money From The ATM

I have been very careful not to purchase any books or toys for Aaron when he is around. I just didn't want him to get into any sort of tantrum habit of demanding us to buy him stuff. He has definitely asked me to get him things and he knows that things need to be bought with money but so far, my response is that we'll need to save our money first. The money in my purse is for buying important stuff, like food. He seems to accept it.

He also understands the simplistic concept that people, like his father, need to go to work in order to earn money.

Recently, I also taught him that if we sell things, we can also get some money. We sold an old pile of newspapers for RM 1.80. He's got that money in his money box at the moment.

We were playing with the RM 1.80 worth of coins today. Buying and selling his trains and trucks. As he was running low on coins, and couldn't "buy" anything else, he said something like 'Oh No, I'm wasting my money. There is none left'. I rejoiced for a moment, thinking he had started to understand the value of money. The moment was fleeting as his next move was to try to bargain with me to lower the price.

I tried to show him that if we spend all our money without thinking, we will have none left for when we really need it. And what do you think he says?

"I KNOW! We can just go to the ATM. They have money in there."

*sigh* I tried to explain to him that it wasn't so simple. He ran to get one of his Thomas & Friends collectible cards and he told me that he had a card to put into the ATM. I don't think he gets it yet.

Life sure is simple when you're Aaron's age.

I still haven't figured out a long term approach for how we'll teach Aaron the value of money and the responsibilities that will come with (or without) it. So far, all I know is that I don't think I want to teach him to earn through chores. I want him to know that chores in a house need to get done because thats how a household works and not because it will earn him some money.

So, we're back to finding other ways of growing his RM 1.80. I think I'll show him the tall stack of old newspapers at his great-grandmother's and see if any lightbulbs go off in his head.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Please Leave, You're Stressing My Supervisor

I never thought it would happen to a goody goody like me but we were kicked out of the Perak State Library. Yes. Aaron, my gray haired mother and I were all asked to leave.

I really didn't have high expectations of the place but we were looking for was the cool air conditioning.

We went to the children's library first in an adjacent building. It was more a store room with only half an air conditioner working there so we didn't stay long. The books were mostly old and in poor condition anyway.

The main building was spacious, neat and nearly cold inside. The books were old and both the Malay and English books were shelved together. I ended up settling down with a Reader's Digest and was very contented. Aaron was kept occupied with his coloring pencils and notebook. My mother browsed the shelves.

I was seated for barely 10mins before I saw one of the staff approaching us, slowly. The whole time, I thought she was going to say something about Aaron. Maybe he was too noisy or maybe kids aren't allowed there...or he wasn't supposed to use the chair as a little table.

Instead, she said "Excuse me. Actually, you aren't allowed to wear sleeveless shirts in here. Also, no shorts are allowed. If you want to wear a skirt, it will have to be below your knees."

And then she added "You're stressing my supervisor."

Whats that last statement supposed to mean??

Anyway, as I walked to look for my mother, I saw that she was being told to leave too. We were both wearing sleeveless t-shirts and shorts that were just above the knees.

On the way out, we saw this huge noticeboard listing all the items you are not allowed to wear or bring in to the library. Its the longest list of prohibited items I've seen at the entry to anywhere! Click on the photo to have a closer look.

Thats one side of Malaysia for you. The side where middle ranking people with a little bit of power impose their unchecked views.

I suggested to my mother that we should go again. This time, we'll carry blankets in our bags to cover up if we're told that our arms and legs are stressing the supervisor. She thought we could try going with long see through sleeves and pant legs.

We'll see if we have time. This was the state library and I want to go check out the municipal library too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Knocked Out!

Aaron was such a terrible sleeper as a baby that until today, I am still amazed to watch him sleep. This is especially the case if he falls asleep outside his bed.

We took him to a huge indoor playground at a mall recently. That place was any child's heaven! There were ramps, tunnels, multiple ball pools and best of all, the slides looked like they were 3 floors tall.

Aaron was non-stop in there for nearly three hours. He really wasn't faking it when he told me that he couldn't walk out to the car. We no longer use a stroller with him and he's too heavy to be carried so the best I could offer was a shopping trolley.

Literally 2 minutes after I put him in there, this is what I see...

Oh, the pink striped socks? The playground insisted that all kids and parents wore socks so, they were the cheapest pair I could find in the nearby shops. He didn't seem to mind.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is She Really Your Mother?

My regular readers may remember me mentioning how straightforward the people of Palembang are. Well, my mother have met quite a few straightforward people over here in Malaysia too.

A family joke we have from when I was a child is that I was picked up from the rubbish bin. (No, this hasn't had any adverse effects on me.) I don't look very much like my parents at all. In fact, many people question if I am even the same race as them. I really don't mind this at all and have had lots of fun with it over the years. (Except for one Ramadan month in primary school when I was questioned for not fasting.)

Over the past week, my mother and I have been asked multiple times if we were related. Here are a couple of examples of what happens.

The first instance was at a hawker center. The lady who delivered our food looked at me and asked if I was my mother's daughter-in-law. When my mother said that I was her daughter, that lady actually spent a few minutes insisting that I couldn't possibly be because I didn't look anything like my mom.

Next was a shop assistant in a bookstore. After spending nearly 15 minutes helping us track down a book, the guy looks at us and says "How are you two related?" Once again, he's not satisfied with the answer and acts like we're pulling his leg.

So you see, people here in Malaysia are just as straightforward as those in Palembang. How could I have forgotten?

Anyway, the conversation that takes the cake for this sort of assumption and straight talk actually happened a few years ago.

My mother and her mother happened to drop me off at a cosmetics counter. I had purchased some product and the lady was giving me a free facial. So, as she worked on exfoliating and cleansing my face, she jumped straight into some sort of soliloquy of how it is a blessing to be adopted. I distinctly remember her telling me that it is because my mother loved me that she wanted to adopt me. She assured me that I shouldn't feel bad about this and told me that I should even appreciate them more.

Er....just because I purchased something from you doesn't make you my new BFF!

I know the lady only meant well and I wasn't offended at all. Just highly amused. She talked non stop so I didn't have a chance to correct her. At least she can feel that she perhaps did some sort of a good deed that day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

St Michael's Catholic Church, Ipoh - Young Families Beware

This is not a new topic for me but I just have to have a bit of a rant here. The "Cry Room" at St Michael's Church here in Ipoh is still one of my pet peeves of this city even though my last post on the topic was over a year ago.

I have avoided going there as much as possible but I always end up there at least once during each visit to Ipoh. And each time I go, the sight the cry room and attitudes of the wardens and parish priest disgust me so much that I leave Mass feeling angry, frustrated and slightly revengeful.

Since my last post, I have purposely not entered that room whenever I go to Mass at St Michael's. Each time, I have a similar conversation with the wardens:

Warden: We have a cry room.
Me: He's not crying.
Warden: But he might.
Me: But he's not.
Warden: Father says children have to go there.
Me: I'll sit out here.

On Sunday, after a hectic weekend in Kuala Lumpur and a 2 hour car ride back to Ipoh, I felt that I just wasn't up to the stress of joining the general congregation. You can't imagine the pressure I feel each time I sit on the "outside" with Aaron.

So, I walked guiltily into the "Cry Room". I felt that I was betraying myself and all the rants I've had about this horrid room. But I was tired and thought it might be the solution.

I was shocked to find that the already too small room was half its original size. I don't know what the history is there but it was cramped yesterday. And, here is the view from where we sat.

Look at the reflections on the glass obscuring the view of the outside. Also, from this angle, we have no view of the alter at all. We also could not see the projection of the hymns and prayers.

Tell me, how are parents supposed to participate? How will kids learn about the mass?

Also, the parish priest may not know about kids but he must have "people" that can tell him. Children put together in a small, confined space WILL interact. They look at each other, they know they can make some noise in there. They will try to play. Noise levels will rise. Parents will try to control this. Kids will rebel.

Tell me, how will children know that Mass is not a place to seek out playmates when there is a room full of them?

During the homily, a two year old fell down and hit her head on the pew. Of course, she screamed. On the outside, and without any knowledge of what happened, the parish priest gave a look to one of the wardens to evict the girl. He also remarked that during his time, no child would dare to throw a tantrum like that. And that today, the louder he talks, the louder she screams.

Tell me, how would you feel if you were the parents? (Hopefully infuriated)

Children are the future of the church. During Baptism, their parents swore to bring them up to be believers. It is also the responsibility of the church to nurture both parents and children. Not make them feel alienated. The family yesterday ended up spending the remainder of Mass outside.

Tell me, wouldn't the thought cross their minds to just give up on Mass until the child is older?

The "Cry Room" is alienating and ineffective. It is plain stoopid since it isn't even sound proof! Noise levels rise. The priest will look over. Some of the general congregation will look. And, the Cry Room has failed in its No.1 Mission - To avoid distraction of the general congregation.

My suggestion - get rid of it! They didn't have it during Jesus' time. They didn't have it when this Parish Priest was a two year old. We don't need it now!

Aaron is proof that children can be no more distracting that other members of the congregation if given the chance. I was weak yesterday and went in the room but he was a perfect angel in there. I could have stayed out. He knew that it wasn't right to be playing and talking during Mass.

IF the St Michael's parish really have a problem with families with young children during mass, then why not dedicate one of the masses just for that crowd. Everyone can sit outside, participate, learn about the mass and enjoy community prayer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Absolute Favourite Food

For this week's Photostory Friday, I'm featuring my favourite food - Steamed Freshwater Prawns. These are steamed with Chinese cooking wine and a little bit of egg.

I like these so much that I always finish my rice first so that I can concentrate solely on them. I use my fingers to peel the shells off even when they are still hot. And then, after savoring all the prawns, I just let my fingers air dry. Yes, it may sounds gross but I like the smell of the prawns on my fingers for a little while after the meal. Anyway, I don't touch anyone and I usually wash my hands by the time I get home.

The prawns in the above photo are on the small side but its all thats available these days. We used to get them as big as my palm but I guess I'm not the only one who loves them so much.

The bigger restaurants in the cities have large ones but these are all farmed and full of antibiotics. I don't go for those. We had these in a small town, Gopeng, outside Ipoh where the people still go to the rivers to catch the prawns.

The restaurant is part of a bus station. Its an extremely humble establishment but the food there is amazing (of course!). The prices were incredibly reasonable too.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

p.s. I'll be going to Kuala Lumpur for the next three days so my next post will be on Monday. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Miss The Everyday Things

It used to be that we couldn't wait to get out of Palembang, but starting sometime in the middle of last year, it really started to feel like home. I don't think Richard feels this way about the place but Aaron and I certainly do. In fact, its probably Aaron's only home because that is where he does most of his growing up.

The strange thing is that its all the little things that we miss. Things like...

...Our daily routine of waking up at 5am. We get so much done before 8am over there. I feel efficient!

...Watering my garden. Its in no way a special or even a flourishing garden but I enjoy taking care of it. Richard told me that the Okra I planted before leaving Palembang are now producing fruit....I wish I was there.

...Tempeh. Simple, pan-fried tempeh.

...My routine with Aaron - Breakfast, gardening, drawing, legos, writing, reading, napping etc. We also have many more play stations within the house there. More toys of course, but also more books.

Over the past 10 years, I have moved from Brisbane, to Penang, to Klang and finally to Palembang. They all have the population of cities (with Palembang being the most populous) but you may notice that each subsequent place is seemingly less developed.

Just take the shower situation for example. Brisbane has the usual "Western" shower in shower stall setup. Penang was a notch down from that with no real shower stall but still a shower curtain. Klang was a shower in a cramped bathroom with no partition for showering area so everything got wet. Now in Palembang, I just throw a bucket of water over myself. Thankfully, its still within the confines of a bathroom and not out by the river!

Anyway, my point here is that I find that I have more of an affinity to each place I move to than the last place. Even I find this a little odd because each place has less to offer than the last in terms of weekend activities, entertainment and even everyday conveniences.

Palembang is (by far) the most simple of all the places. I'm ashamed to admit that during my first year there, I would have called it the most boring place on Earth. I told everyone not to visit me because there was nothing there. Perhaps it was because I disliked the place so much and stripped my expectations of the place down to zero that I ended up enjoying its simplicity.

Its funny how a place can secretly grow on you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Aaron Sleeps Through But I Don't !

My sleep patterns have been completely out of synch lately. And this time, I can't blame Aaron. He sleeps through 10 or more hours every night now!

On the other hand, I'm either taking about 2 hours to fall asleep OR waking up at about 2am and staying awake till nearly 4am. It is so annoying. I'm tired, I'm even sleepy, but I just won't fall asleep.

When Aaron was the lousy sleeper, I used to nurse him back to sleep. The upside of always needing to do that was the nursing hormones. They not only put him to sleep but me as well! I've always taken a long time to fall asleep but when we were still nursing, it was a piece of cake.

These days, I'm back to the old routine of taking forever to get to dreamland. And on top of that, when I do fall asleep, I wake up again in a couple of hours and have to repeat the whole process again.

Its not as if I have a big problem to stress over that I'm being kept awake. In fact, the most trivial of thoughts come to mind as I lay awake. Take last night for example: I kept wondering about how I would get my Rubik's Cube back from a neighbor in Palembang. He's an 8 year old boy and I let him borrow it for the duration of my stay here in Ipoh. But I've extended my stay. Maybe he'll think its his permanently. Maybe, he has tossed it out. Maybe, maybe, maybe....Its just a stoopid Rubik's Cube. GO TO SLEEP!

Oh yes, the other thing I tend to think about when I can't sleep is food. This is something I haven't had in a while so, I think about it quite a bit - Curry Noodles with Chinese Roast Pork.

I've tried exercising, not exercising, having a warm drink, not having a drink, repetitive prayer, emptying my mind (this one is hard), whatever!

Its a vicious cycle because by 1pm the next day, I'm sleepy and I have to put Aaron down for his nap. Very often, I end up falling asleep very easily at that time but I'm stopping that now. Its not going to help my night sleeping. So here I am, new blogging time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sand - A Solution To The Te*r*ble Twos

My title has the two asterisks there because Aaron's second year has been pretty good, and, I didn't want to call it "te*r*ble". Of course, I totally understand why two year olds have been given that label and the past year has certainly been challenging but it wasn't all that bad.

Anyway, over the weekend, we went to Penang. This is an island city about 1.5hrs drive from Ipoh. The sole purpose of going there was to let Aaron play on the beach.

As I sat there with him from 8am to 12noon on Sunday, I noticed that I didn't really need to do anything. Mostly, I just sat there, enjoying the view. Occasionally, Aaron would say something to me and I'd answer him. He wasn't all that interested in swimming in the sea so I didn't have to worry about that. It was the easiest 4 hours I've ever spent with him.

If I had known this earlier, I would have planned many more trips to the beach over the past year. Or maybe a sand pit at home!