28 October 2009

Bullshit Protector

Many of us are in dire need of this. Wonder who's selling and where?


I got this picture, in an email, from my cousin. Can't give credit to the origin since I don't know.

22 October 2009

Beyond Beyoncé

pic from here

I’m going to join the many that have already touched on the cancellation of Beyoncé’s concert. Like those who have written, I’m not a particular fan of Beyoncé. If you asked me about her songs, I’d really have to think long and hard about it. Oh, okay, now I remember one of them, “Irreplaceable”.

The reason for this post is just to share a perspective about it.

I have three Muslim brothers. Two are married and one is single. Their ages range from early-thirties to mid-forties. As far as I can tell, neither of them would be affected by the singer because of her dressing. Not even if they were still young and impressionable, would I imagine them to be stimulated by her gyrations or scanty dressing.

Oh gosh, this type of publicity does little or nothing to help the image of Muslim men. Are they not able to face temptation (if any) and walk away? Why are they being portrayed as weak-willed and easily influenced (read aroused) by someone with a lovely body who can shake her booty?

What hope is there for Muslim men to find any partner, if women are being brainwashed into thinking that they would not be able to control their desires because someone is singing and dancing on stage? Sheesh!

So let’s get real. We see Beyoncé on MTV, in magazines and in movies. What makes a concert different? Why do we send out this message that the mindset of the male Muslim fraternity is so pathetic and has to be watched over so rigidly?

The authority that blows hot and cold over these tiny, irrelevant issues is mind boggling!

Exceptional! Yes. Unmatched! Yes. Unique! Yes. Only in Malaysia! Yes.

18 October 2009

DINK or SINK


You may or may not know that DINK is an acronym for “Double Income No Kids”. Apparently, the word came about in the 80s at the height of the “yuppie - Young, Urban Professionals” culture.
Most of us, married with children, would have begun our married lives (if both were working) as DINKs or perhaps we’d be known as DINKYs (Double Income No Kids Yet) then. The natural progression of which is to enjoy a childfree marriage and to be eventually ready to propagate humanity with mini versions of ourselves.
It’s my guess that confirmed DINKs deliberately chose not to have kids because they had no time, no inclination, or any interest in expanding their dynasty. It is commendable that those, who do not have strong paternal/maternal instincts, choose to remain childfree. We all see and hear enough of babies abandoned at birth, children left to fend for themselves, or even neglected. So perhaps it is some blessing in disguise that these people, although they can well meet the expense of looking after a child, decide not to have any because they know their own limitations. Finance is not the issue here but the emotional aspects of bringing up a kid from scratch. I guess it’s safe to say that if one is not capable of handling the emotional upheaval that comes with having a child then; it’s a good decision.
On the other extreme, there are those who can’t afford to have a child and yet have one after another. In this case, I believe it’s lack of family planning plus an attitude of “we’ll get by” somehow. Sadly, this is not the same world as when our parents or grandparents lived in. Back then, we used to hear of people having 10, 12 or even 14 children. Today, we hardly hear of this practice. I know of a young couple who have five children. They are so proud to be parents but they can barely feed themselves. How will they manage? Those kids are going to grow up directionless. I hope I am wrong.
We hear of women in war torn countries giving birth when there isn’t enough food to get through the day. I don’t understand this at all. There’s an imbalance in the way things should be. Those that can afford do not and those that cannot do.
In the case of DINKs, it’s possible that both are working and neither wants to give up their job to stay at home and take care of a child. Sometimes I think it’s also because both don’t have any desire for children. They don’t have the space and time for anybody else in their lives except for each other and that’s fair. There is no point in having a child and regretting it later. There is no turning back once that child is here.
However, I think that as careers take off and when retirement is on the horizon, life begins to slow down and somehow there’s a feeling of missing something. I am only guessing here, since I have a child.
However, I’ve seen a couple of my own family members who died alone; with no spouse, no children and I felt sad for them. I think of those without children who gloat because they didn't have to struggle through the difficult years. What will become of these people when they are old and have no one with them? I am sure that as they got on with their childfree lives, they saw the majority of their friends go through the phase of having babies, struggling with school-going kids, handling terrible teenagers and juggling all that goes hand-in-hand with being a parent. Perhaps during those moments, they would have felt relief at not having to deal with that roller-coaster ride we all take with our kids.
Nevertheless, at the end of it all, when one gets older, that cranky baby, that naughty child or that incorrigible teenager becomes an adult and goes off to find his or her own path. This is when all that went into the growing-up years begins to pay off. You find that your child is an extension of yourself. Certainly not exactly the same person as you are, but a nice replica. I’ve read somewhere that childbirth is the only time we can assist God in creating a miracle. I like that idea and the knowledge that my genes do not end with me, makes me smile. A not-too-distant future with grandchildren fills my heart with anticipated joy.
And what of the SINKs! I made that up! Single Income No Kids. Same as DINKs, only worse because one works and the other stays home and can afford the time for a child. No kids because well, because they don’t know, just like DINKs, that when they grow old and have only each other and when the other is gone, loneliness awaits.
I’m sure there isn’t any hard and fast rule about having or not having a child. Those that don’t, usually have their reasons and I respect that completely. Those that do, join the club because the future is just going to get better and better.
This post is just to put down in words some of my thoughts.
So, what say you?

16 October 2009

HAPPY FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS!

Warmest wishes for Shun, Esme, Shakun and Vayshna,
other family members, friends and all those who visit this space.

May this be the best Deepavali ever!

15 October 2009

People don't change! Or do they?


What do you think? Do people change? I sometimes think about these things when I am driving. I spend my hours stuck in traffic doing housekeeping with my thoughts. Weird huh!
Anyway, I wonder if people change with time. I’ll come back about me later because for now I’m going to list some real life anecdotes (all names withheld, for obvious reasons).
Story 1
A female specimen abandons her first husband to fly across the ocean to spend Christmas with a practical stranger. Someone she has never met before but whom she has gotten to know via emails, online chatting and maybe phone calls. The marriage ended soon after her brief holiday with another man. Ten years down the road and this same person, now remarried, decides to take a holiday, again at Christmas time. Is this normal behaviour? So some people don’t’ change.
Story 2
Someone of the male species marries at a very young age. Still a teenager, he becomes a father. The marriage suffers and ends in divorce. Who would have expected it to last when both parents were so young? Anyway, he meets someone new. He remarries and has another child and again the marriage breaks up. Therefore, some people don’t change.
Story 3
A man looks for a partner who can cook because he loves to eat. He finds her, marries her but do they live happily ever after? No! Good food is not enough to keep two people together. Now this man has remarried someone who can’t cook. Is it working out? Yes, it seems to be so! It’s love that keeps them together. Therefore, some people do change.
Story 4
A married acquaintance preaches about the dangers of pre-marital sex. Her husband goes out of the country to work. She ends up in a relationship with a close friend. The marriage breaks up. She now lives with that close friend in another state. She preaches differently now. Hence some people do change.
Story 5 (me)
Ahem! I’m sure you can’t wait for this.
I used to have the storybook life: police husband, teacher wife, two great kids, car, house, and enough food on the table, an ordinary life. It was all that I could ever want or need. Then the situation changed and me with it. I now know that it’s not enough to live a storybook life.
One doesn’t have to follow all the rules that society dictates. The only absolute law of life is to live it and to change accordingly.

02 October 2009

Love is complicated.

Stephen and I live apart.

As can be expected, almost everyone has something to say about it. Even people, who have nothing to do with us, raise their eyebrows and make a face. Some scoff at this arrangement and others just nod or shrug their shoulders because it is just beyond their comprehension that this arrangement is workable. Those that know us, worry that the separate lives we lead will take a toll on us.

It’s curious that if he were an astronaut, no one would think twice about his absence from home. It would be totally acceptable for him to be “away” for months. Since we are just ordinary people, it’s a bone of contention.

Truth be told, there aren’t any questions left that we have not, ourselves, asked of each other. There aren’t any alternatives that we have not analysed and scrutinised.

Truth be told, we don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Nevertheless, I do feel a need to touch on it. In the chance, that someone out there might benefit from knowing about our situation and to give hope to those who don’t or cannot live together yet!

At the outset, I should clarify that the distance between us is not of our own choice. The main and principal reason is Stephen’s mom.

To cut a long story short, in early 2006, she lapsed into a coma and almost died. Doctors told us she would not make it through the week and said we should prepare for the worst. Prior to this, MIL (mother-in-law) lived on her own and relied on her whims and fancies when it came to her pill prescription and nutrition. Having three heart blocks, diabetes and high blood pressure, she didn’t really understand the consequence of not eating healthy food nor of adhering to the medication she needed. When the inevitable happened, after an eating binge, it was no longer feasible for her to live alone. Stephen and his sister decided that she would be better cared for in a nursing home. That she is there is another long story, for another blog.

In any case, it is now 2009 and MIL is alive and doing rather well. Despite the fact that it has been an uphill battle with other interfering family members, that decision to put her there seems to have been the only reason for why she is still living today. Had she been allowed to go home, without a proper dietician to watch her food or a nurse to give her two insulin jabs a day, I sincerely doubt that she would have lived beyond a year, on her own. Whatever is said and done, it is the result that counts. She’s alive and no amount of condemnation from anybody can dispute that.

In this regard, the main and principal reason for us to be apart is my MIL. I write this with no malice at all.

I truly understand that Stephen needs to be near his mom. There is no other sibling around. All the other three are in the US. They are just too far away to be of any significant help for anything or anyone. If Stephen comes to KL, he’d have to shuttle back and forth. Besides, in any emergency, it would take him about 3 to 5 hours to get to her.

Stephen, on the other hand, understands me and of my commitments here. To be brutally frank, we had not anticipated that it would be more than 4 years of this. If he was eventually going to come to KL to retire, there wasn’t a real urgency for me to give up my job and move to Singapore. Of course, that’s all water under the bridge now.

In any case, the last 4 years have not been a total write-off. We’ve been commuting. I am there in Singapore, more than he comes to KL only because there is a need for me to visit with my MIL. If he came here more often, then she would have less of him and me. Since I’m not there, Stephen visits her frequently.

With all the modern technology, we don’t really feel the absence so badly. We “skype” everyday. For those moments, we are seated across each other, at our laptops, and we give each other undivided attention. Sometimes, I’ll have my dinner while he has his or I’m folding the clothes and we talk. I think there are married couples who don’t even talk the way we do. They go about their own ways and only share the same roof.

It’s not the best way for a marriage to be but neither is it the worst. We have many weekends together and every time we are together, it’s just glorious. We carry on from where we last left off and nothing seems untoward or out of place. Maybe it’s just us and our ability to make the most of our situation. Perhaps our personalities allow us to enjoy this kind of arrangement. I don’t say that there aren’t times when the absence can be unbearable. I don’t say, either, that there aren’t times when we wished we didn’t have to say goodbye so often. Yet, many other married people who have ‘normal’ married lives don’t seem to be as happy as we are. People who know Stephen will probably hear the same thing from him as those who know me here. We genuinely are all right with this. We know that it’s not going to be forever. Eventually, we will be together and that hope keeps us going.

There won’t be any regrets on his side if anything should happen to his mom. He is sacrificing his time with Jared and me in order to be as close to her as possible. Jared and I, in our own way also see it as a sacrifice or sorts. At the end of it all, we’ll be able to say we did what we believed was best and made the most of it.

This is the reason why I have loved this mini poster when I first saw it. I feel it totally encapsulates all that I want to say. Very often, I open the file to look at it and it reminds me of what LOVE should be. It also tells me that Stephen is capable of this kind of love. It tells me that it isn’t always easy to love because it’s complicated. It also tells me that when you do know of this kind of love, then your life has been worthwhile.

This post is dedicated to Antares, Hussein and Patricia.