Wonderfully imperfect…

I came across this ad via a friend’s link sharing on Facebook. This comes after the recent death of creative master, Yasmin Ahmad. It is an ad that with done with meaning – Ahmad wanted to banish away the idea of the perfect spouse, the perfect marriage and the perfect relationship with this ad. And I must say she did it well.

Modern young men and women expect far too much from others and pressure themselves too much when it comes to searching for a life partner and marriage. Sometimes, it is not perfection that draws people together but imperfections. I mean, look at Nil and myself. We are very imperfect people – perfection, as they say, is just for God. He, like Mr Lee in the ad, snores himself to sleep, is a really grumpy pot when woken up too early and can sit in front of the computer just entertaining himself with rugby all day long and yet, those imperfections are what makes him special. Me? Right now, with my flabby post-c-sec belly (natural skin care, I hope, will help), mood swings and all am just about the same.

Yet, I cannot imagine going through the rest of my life not watching the grumpy pot trudge around the kitchen making his morning coffee. I wish all marriages out there were as wonderfully imperfect as the one in the commercial was/is.

To Yasmin Ahmad, one of the most talented M’sians out there, for coming up with this wonderful perfect ad.

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Reading material.

Books and magazines!

Sometimes when I look at the shelves of books and bandée dessines (BDs or French graphic novels) in my new home, I smile to myself and thank the Lord for bring me to a man who loves the written word just as much as I do. In fact, I sometimes think that he likes reading more than I do having grown up surrounded by nothing but books and more books. Of course, our taste differs to some varying degree.

Nil has his books mostly in French, and prefers fictional books and graphic novels based on actual and realistic historical content/accounts over other things. Me? I am more of a jack of all trades – I have no favourites and my list of genres go from chicklit to biopics and even serious stuff like reference books on sociology, religion, philosophy and so forth. When it comes to graphic novels, I’m more of the X-Men kind although I find myself gravitating towards Nil’s taste of lately. It doesn’t mean he has started picking up my chicklit or romance novels.

Being in Switzerland has posed to be somewhat of a problem for the both of us. Like everything else, books in Switzerland can be quite expensive – the same title can cost anywhere from 2 to 10 euroes more here than if we were to buy it in France. Plus the choices of English books in a small town is somewhat dismal, to say the least. I think Kinokuniya, Borders and MPH back at home have left me spoilt for choice. Lets not get to knitting-related books, be it from English or Japanese publishers!

After scouting around the Internet and looking at recommendations, I had two options – to get books from Amazon.de which offers free shipping to Switzerland OR Bookdepository.co.uk which offers free worldwide shipping (note to Malaysians – this offer applies to you too!). I decided to go with Bookdepository since I don’t understand a word of German and neither does Nil. Plus we’ve never tried getting our books with this company before so why not? The currencies available are either in euro, pound or dollar so after doing the math and all, we discovered that the books were at least 2 euroes cheaper than actually going to France to buy them AND their range of English material was…wonderful, to say the least.

So two weeks after placing an order for The Baby Book by William Sears, The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, all three books arrived on separate days (yes, they ship base on availability) and in great condition. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them again although we’d have to use a credit card but yes, the free worldwide shipping was definitely a bonus.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, those are some second hand knitting magazines that I got from Lilian‘s destash. I still have problems deciding if I want to subscribe to Interweave Knits so I’ll probably just buy them as they came out each quarter. I know, I know…I shouldn’t need a lot of convincing but I do. Oops. XD

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Penang Hokkien goodness!

Penang Hokkien Podcast

It has been a while since I last reviewed anything related to entertainment much or less talk about it. Sometimes it seems that my life only revolves around food or knitting…or worse, rants about Malaysian politicians and so forth. Kind of depressing or limited if you think about it.

So when I sat down in front of my lappie and decided to install iTunes, I hadn’t exactly thought about using it for anything else other than classes. Somehow I ended up subscribing to a variety of podcast services ranging from those relating to the study of language, documentaries and just cultural stuff. One in particular has always caught my attention – Penang Hokkien Podcast (note that the language and topic can be explicit in nature!).

I first heard about this podcast about two years ago, about a year or so after John Ong first came up with the concept of promoting Penang and especially, the Penang Hokkien dialect which is, in my opinion, a dialect that is fast disappearing from the Chinese communities. At that time, I hadn’t thought much about subscribing regularly because when you’re in Malaysia, surrounded by people who do speak Hokkien (not much though) and some (very minimal) Hokkien shows over the radio & TV, you don’t really care for anything related to your roots. It’s sad, I know…

Being half Penang Hokkien-half Hokkien, my Hokkien is perhaps slightly better than my French simply because I spoke the dialect to my grandmother until she died. After that, it was mostly Cantonese at home. Since my move to Switzerland and after spending one year surrounded by nothing by French, German or English speakers, I had really begun to miss things that reminded me of my roots and most of all, my family.

I have always felt that Hokkien is a down-to-earth language, informal and witty to listen to, not to mention earthy when spoken. Any cruder and you could say that it’s a marketplace language. Well, you won’t be far from the truth because if you look at the evolution or history of Penang Hokkien, it used to be the lingua franca in Penang and the surrounding northern states of Malaysia. According to Wikipedia’s entry on the Penang Hokkien dialect, Penang Hokkien is a local variant of the Minnan dialect.

Minnan is one of the sub-languages of the Chinese language and is mainly spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan, Hainan and parts of Guangdong, with the main standard dialects being Hokkien, Teochew and Hainanese. Within Hokkien, the Amoy dialect is the prestige dialect. It is also spoken by many overseas Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Penang Hokkien is based on the dialect of Hokkien spoken in the Zhangzhou (?? Hokkien: Chiang1-chiu1) prefecture of Fujian. It is said that it most closely resembles the dialect spoken in the district of Haicang (??) in Longhai (?? Hokkien: Liong5-hai2) county and in the districts of Jiaomei (??) and Xinglin (??) in neighbouring Xiamen prefecture. In Southeast Asia, similar dialects are spoken in the states bordering Penang, and in Medan. In contrast, in southern Malaysia and Singapore, most Hokkien speakers speak a dialect based on the Amoy standard.

Listening to John and his guests going on and on in Penang Hokkien brings back fond memories of home, of my family and well, of the closeness I have and feel with them. You could say that it’s a way of connecting with something that I have left behind a long time ago; I feel nostalgic, giggly and strangely…complete. As I’m writing this out, I have come to understand why John started this podcast.

Nil, on the other hand, doesn’t know any Hokkien at all. In fact, he’s tone deaf so Chinese dialects – Cantonese and all that – are totally out of his league. So he can’t understand what’s so hilarious or interesting about these fellas. I have given up explaining because when you translate what these folks are talking about, it just loses its uniqueness.

But I’ll say this – if you understand Hokkien, particularly Penang Hokkien and am in the mood for something casual (mind you, these folks are not into serious stuff – it’s all about having fun!), do check John out over at Penang Hokkien Podcast k?

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Review: Persepolis

Persepolis I

I recently managed to finish the four-book bande dessine (BD) (French comic) entitled Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic novelist who grew up in Tehran admist the Iranian revolution and eventually moved to Austria before settling down in France. Persepolis is about her, her journey, her experiences as a girl and then a woman growing up in two different worlds. What first brought me to this BD was in fact an animated film by the same title which was nominated at the 2007 Academy Awards and the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes in 2007.

Bear in mind that everything is in French – the BD, the film…it took me about two months, the longest ever, to finish the book and even then, I would gladly re-read it again!

The story first begins with a 10 year old Marjane growing up admist increasing calls for the removal of the US-backed Shah of Iran. We see Marjane as a child with dreams unlike those of her age. She wishes to be the future prophetess and desires good actions, words and thoughts from people. Bad things are simply forbidden, she says. Her family dreams of a better Iran; one without political prisoners and with more freedom.

But they are all thoroughly disappointed when the Islamic Fundamentalists win by a landslide and installs an Islamic regime, which is shown predominantly through its religious guards, religious leaders, religious chants and nearly-kamikaze attitudes. The arrest and subsequent execution of Marjane’s uncle leads her to reject God and she (and her family) reluctantly embrace a repressive lifestyle. Their lives become increasingly dangerous and even crazy during the Iraq-Iran war, where no one was allowed to leave because passports were deemed “unnecessary”. “If it is God’s will, you will be given a passport” says the hospital administrator, former window cleaner, to the wife of a dying man.

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The face.

Sans rouge a levre et apres sept heures.
Without lipstick and after seven hours.

mask_a mask_b

C’est le visage!
It’s the face!

mask_c

ps: There is glitter but it’s not exactly obvious in the pics. Looks better IRL, actually.

pps: I tried to upload this early (when I first got back from the dinner) but something was wrong with the site/wp/server/database/whatever so I left it as it was. Don’t ask what I’m doing up at an ungodly hour of the wee morning. =.= Bottomline is this: I’m too awake to go back to bed. Heh.

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I live for pain.

Background story: Company’s having a Christmas party tonight and the theme is Winter Masquerade. Come in something semi-formal and bring a mask.

I did it again to myself.

You see, I had the brilliant idea of painting my face since I was too lazy to get a mask from anywhere and too much of a cheapskate to fork out moolah for something which I could make or do without. I was only going to use it once so why bother getting something really really fancy?

So about three hours before the event actually starts, I plodded to the upstairs bathroom/shower to get ready. I reckoned it would take me about a good two hours to get things down to pat – face and all. By the time I was done, I had spent only one hour in the blasted oven (no aircon, no ventilation but two windows – go figure!).

What can I do?

I jolly well can’t step out in public with a half-butterfly on my right eye and glitter all over the top of my face. My skin just isn’t thick enough for that kind of action. So I reckoned I had little choice but to brave my trip to the office (it’s just one floor, after all) and run all the way to my workstation, which is, of course, conveniently located right at the end of the corridor, furthest away from the door. Bah.

Just imagine me in a getting-tight cheongsam (ohgawd!), with heels and two bags making my way to my desk.

If it’s any consolation, I didn’t hide my face nor did I run. ^.^

Luckily for me, almost everyone had gone off to primp and powder themselves.

Note to self: Allow self to be late ocassionally (especially in events where one will look embarassed if early) and remember to bring the camera next time.

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Dinner parties are fun!

What you do when you're bored - take pics of useless stuff

Finally something about work that isn’t related to work!

Badminton girls with one with a possible beheading to come!

In all honesty, I had a great company dinner yesterday – it wasn’t exactly all song and dance like my previous office but there were at least heaps of laughs.

Half of my team...

I ought to kill someone but then again, if I hadn’t looked under her seat, I wouldn’t have to do that “catwalk challenge” thing, end up hiking my skirt and looking outrageously flirty AND winning at that. Hmphr.

I seriously don't know what I was thinking then!

I could put up more pics but the rest of basically with nearly the same people and of…well, useless stuff. That’s what you do when you feel bored. You start snapping away. Gah.

Someone has really itchy fingers!

The view was great – PM’s office next to the lake not to mention that great looking mosque. I should go there again with Nil to take “better” pics.

Ending on a thoughtful note

On the side, no more hiking up skirts in front of fifty plus people. It feels weird the next day.

@.@

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