A Different Kind of Merdeka Countdown

On 30 August 2007, my ex-colleague/good friend's dad passed away. He had been ill for quite awhile, due to alcohol abuse. I was told in the last few months of his life, he switched from drinking Guinness to Chinese wine (2 bottles a day).

I was at the wake last night. My friend, who is usually a picture of calm and carefree ha-ha, was anything but.

Guilt. Having just started a business with her husband, work had been unrelenting. And for almost a month, she hadn't been able to squeeze in a visit to her dad.

Regret. Just the night before was her sister's birthday. They were out drinking and partying till 4am. She stopped by her parent's home, but didn't go in to see her dad. She told her mother she would visit the next day.

Grief. A few days before, she asked me about doctors who made house visits. Her dad refused to see a doctor, and the only way to get help was to bring a doctor to him. They thought they had time, and kept putting it off.

Her family is an incredible example of contradictions. Amidst anger, there is much love. Between the quarrels, there are joyous family celebrations. From being alone, to being together.

After her marriage in March, she spent almost every day with her dad - bringing him dinner, sitting down and making sure he ate, and most importantly, spending time talking to him. Up till a month before he passed away, when work took over.

Today is another day of prayers before the cremation tomorrow. They are thinking of taking his ashes to Penang to scatter them into the ocean.

He was from Penang. And he loved the sea.

Ok, time to say hi to my folks.


My 10km Run/Jog/Walk/

Firstly, congrats to Nut for finishing a 21km run!

After I-Can't-Remember how many runs I signed up and not turned up for, the PJ Half Marathon 10km run was my first run this year. Actually, it was my first run in 3 years. (Funnily enough, my last run was the PJ Half Marathon in 2004.)

10km is actually not that far a distance to cover manually. If you log in enough runs regularly, it's quite a nice, easy 1 hour plus run.

Problem was that (a) I had not logged in enough runs, (b) ok, let's not make general statements - I had not done any decent form of exercise in more than a week before the run, and (c) for some reason, the only memories I had of my last 10km run was of me panting miserably and questioning my sanity.

But what the hey. I paid hard-earned Ringgit to enter. So there I was, registering at 5.30am at the Kelana Jaya Stadium on a dark, humid Sunday morning.

I found Nut, and we sat down by the curb to wait for the run to begin. Meanwhile, some hard-core (read: crazy psycho) runners were warming up for their 21km by running laps up and down past us. Geez, show off some place else already.

About 10 minutes before we were flagged off, I drank/ate/swallowed my pack of Power Gel. I am now thankful I consumed that thing in the dark, because Nut later told me the colour of that stuff is as funky as it tastes. That's all I'm saying.

The 21km category was flagged off before the others. And us others were flagged off about 10 minutes after.

The first 3km of the run was quite nice. Easy, semi-flat road down the Federal Highway. And then I approached the first slope and walked. Why? Because Slopes=Death.

I kept up a moderate pace for the rest of the run, only stopping to take a drink or at Slopes=Death areas. Run, jog, run, jog. Before I knew it, a policeman (who was helping to direct traffic) told us it was just another 2km to go. Wah, so fast! And again, before I knew it, I was turning into the road leading to the stadium. And hey, there's the stadium! And hey, there's me running the 200m to the Finish Line! And hey, there are the crazy Kenyans who ran the 21km and finished it in 1 hour!

I apparently finished in 1hour 5mins. But I highly doubt the accuracy of whatever watch that timed me. Either the dude was snoozing. Or the route is shorter than 10km (my hunch). Based on my (un)fitness level, there is NO WAY I could have finished a 10km run in that time. Then again, I did take some funky tasting gel that contained 2x more caffeine than the average artificial energy.

I'm glad I brought my own bottle of Gatorade because the organizers kindly did not plan any drink stops along the route. During the run, I saw an old man who was clearly tired from lack of hydration. I offered him some of my drink, which he accepted.

Side effects from the run? Slightly sore legs (no thanks to my brilliant act of forgetting to stretch after the run) and a nauseous feeling (no thanks to funky Power Gel).

That said, would I take funky Power Gel again before a run? Hell, yeah!


I Don't Geddit

When I was small, I read Enid Blyton's "3 Golliwogs". I used Darkie toothpaste. I watched cartoons where Chinese people were drawn with slits for eyes and coloured with pasty yellow skin tones. I read Asterix comic books where the native Africans were drawn with chocolate skin and huge red lips.

Remember these stuff from our childhood? Of course, this largely depends on
which age group you currently fall in.

I remember back then that no one kicked up a fuss about the images being "racially sensitive".

So why the hoo-ha over Tin Tin being racist? His own country Belgium is now investigating the comic for racism after complaints by Congo students.

Mbutu Mondondo Bienvenu, a political science student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, has taken legal action claiming Hergé's controversial Tintin In The Congo "constitutes an insult for all the Congolese".

This follows the British controversy when British race watchdogs pulled the book from children's shelves and attacked the Tintin cartoons for making black Africans "look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles".


Moulinsart, Tintin's publisher, argues that the book "must be seen as a document of the time". "In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Hergé reflects the colonial attitudes of the time. He depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period".

There is a lot of stuff in the article about how Congo used to be a Belgium colony, and that modern Belgium is very sensitive about bringing up its colonial history.

Yes, that's why it is called history.

If we could read those books and see those cartoons years ago and not have feelings of "racial sensitivity" back then, what makes us different now?

I don't geddit.


My Neighbours: Part 1

Taking Bessy out on morning walks every day has elevated (or downgraded, however you choose to see it) me to Aunty levels of kepoh-ness. I know a bit more about my neighbours than I used to, sans dog.

Today, I will tell you about my neighbours who have done a good deed to the tummies of many Malaysians - my hawker neighbours.

Just as I am leading Bessy out from my house at approximately 6.45am, a man and his daughter are loading their car with trays of eggs. They stay a few doors away from my home. Now this is no ordinary man. He is none other than Robert, the semi-famous char kuay teow man who has a stall in what used to be Chow Yang kopitiam.

A few doors away from Robert's house is a corner lot undergoing massive renovation. One morning (yes, during one of Bessy's walks), the new owners were surveying its progress. And I recognised the pot-bellied man at once - the owner of Sun Hin Loong kopitiam.

In my next episode of neighbours, I shall share with you the mental case weirdos.

Till then!