Thursday, January 28, 2010


The English language uses a play of words, the Chinese use a play of sounds. We take the sound of words very seriously as it could mean life or death, prosperity or bad luck.
We go to the extend of choosing our house, hand phone and car numbers based on sounds. Chinese love the number 8 the most, as "patt" (8 ) sounds like "fatt" which means prosperous. Three and nine are also favourites as "san" (3) sounds like "sang" which means birth; "gao" (9) sounds like "kho" which means high.
Car number plates with 3, 8, 9 or any of these combinations (88, 899, 388) are highly sort after and Chinese businessmen are willing to part with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to book these unique number plates. Even big money will sometimes not buy these number plates as there is only one such combination. Take 168 which translates to "all the way (road) to prosperity," as "lok" (6) and "lo" (road) sound similar.

A much sort after number plate is 138 which means "born to prosperity"

Sad to say with limited money, my car number plate is "none of the above" but it DOES NOT have the number 4 which is a taboo. "Sei" (4) has exactly the same sound as "death." Cars with 4 in their number plates have lower resale value when sold as second hand cars. Chinese would not buy cars with this number.

This car definitely does not belong to a Chinese

Even house numbers are changed to avoid the sound of DEATH. In Malaysia, houses are numbered with even numbers on one side and odd numbers on the opposite side. Thus, the first house No. 2 is followed by house No. 4, then No. 6... Here, house No. 4 has been changed to No. 2A. So the house numbers are No. 2, No 2A, No. 6, No.8... down the road.

House No. 44 hs been changed to No. 42A

We are definitly a superstitious lot - my friend's father forbade her to buy a Suzuki or Daihatsu, 2 car models that have small engines that are affordable. Why? "Su" means "to loose" in Chinese. It even went to the extend that we did not openly carry books around her house on days that her dad bought his lottery tickets (Chinese have an affinity for gambling too...) as the Chinese word for books is also prounced "su." But, he placed great emphasis on books and studies, is a fantastic dad, and gave us pocket money (when his lottery number wins a prize) for ice creams and junk food. We enjoyed hanging out in her place, just extra careful on lottery days.

House No. 34 has been changed to No. 32A

It may seem so illogical or weird for other cultures to understand this. But, some Westerners have accepted this, as when a certain automobile company launched their new car model in Hong Kong, the model XXX 164 was changed to XXX 168 for the Asian market. From "All the way to Death" to "All the way to Prosperity." What a difference ONE NUMBER makes!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I don't have a license to drive so I have to be driven to get around.

Balinese ladies sit side-saddle gracefully in their tight "sarongs"without tumbling off.
Pooch sits in the basket in the front of the motor bike, no license again. Gounded helicopter cum taxi in IndiaCommon mode of transport in Laos - the tuk-tuk.
Note how the tuk-tuk becomes lopsided when the passengers are too heavy.
I am coming home, mum - in Pakistan.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Pictures taken from the internet, many thanks to the photographer who posted them.
It is amazing that this young man would risk his life to rescue a dog that does not belong to him. He could have been washed out by the choppy waters or even caught pneumonia after. Judging by the coats and sweaters the other people were wearing, it looked like a cold and windy day. While everyone else was looking scared and sorry for the dog, he just nonchalantly stripped down and climbed over the rails. That was the picture I liked most in this series - it was as though saving the dog was something he had to do that day.
After seeing these pictures, I reflected on how much or often I had REALLY GONE OUT out of my way to help someone. I have out of reflex action, jump up from my seat on the bus or train to offer to an older person or one with children, help ladies carry heavy boxes to their cars, given money to strangers at the auto-pay stations when they had no small change to pay their parking tickets, taken strangers right to the correct clinics when they ask for directions in the hospital and carried a lost dog back to its owner when I found it lost and wandering away from home.
But these are the normal gestures that all of us will offer to strangers as we have been brought up to respect and help others.
But I had never risk my life for someone else or for an animal. I wonder if I would ever do it if such a situation arises?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have seen snow images but these photos of iced flowers taken in China are incredible. Mother Nature provides the best scenes and she did it with the unusual winter spell this season.Icy lacy petals
Iced chrysanthemums Like a popsicle in orange flavour
In lemon flavour?
Winter Olympics?
I feel so sorry for the flowers, I wonder if they do recover from being iced up.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I always thought I came with a pretty good brain - well good enough to sort through my daily mess and on some days, even think up some pretty good ideas. So it was with great arrogance that I accepted some brain twisters from my 13 year-old daughter. HAA... the little squirt wants to test my brillant mind with her puny teenage mind games. If I win, she has to do HER chores without any grumbling. If she wins, I have to do HER chores without any grumbling. Well... I will teach her a lesson for even thinking she can outwit her mummy.

Brain teaser 1:

You are running in a race. If you overtake the last person, what position are you?

My answer came quickly: Second last, of course. But really, if you think about it, How can you overtake the last person in a race? BLEAAT...

Brain teaser 2:

You are a bus driver and there are 10 passengers on the bus. At the first stop, 5 passengers get off and 7 passengers get on. At the next stop, 2 passengers get off and 15 passengers get on and at the next stop, 5 passengers get off and 8 get on. What is the colour of the bus driver's eyes?

Stress out with all the Maths like I was, and then get confused at the last sentence. As you are the bus driver, what colour are your eyes? BLEEAT again...

Brain teaser 3:

Mei's father has 4 children. The eldest he named Ini, the second was Mini and the third was Maini. What was the name of the 4th child?

Moe was my answer and it came out too easily. If Mei's father has 4 children, the fourth child must be named Mei!!

Brain teaser 4:

Name the wife of Orpheus whom he tried to save from the underworld?

I told MartianGirl that this was a really unfair question as I did not study Literature. She said, "What is literature? My friends can answer this question and we have not heard of Literature before in school."

Her and her friends' answer: Mrs Orpheus.

Brain teaser 5:

Where was the American Declaration of Independence signed?

Another unfair question as we in Malaysia do not study American history. Apparently, it appears you do not need American history to anser this.
The answer: At the bottom of the Declaration.

MarianGirl: 5; Mummy: 0

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I know most of you are having too much snow this winter. I have been reading all your posts on schools being closed, scrapping off snow and ice, being stuck indoors and driving on dangerous icy roads. I hope the winter eases off and some sunshine arrives. I can't offer any advice cos I have only seen snow once (for 4 hours in the mountains) and have never even seen falling snow. Do take care and bundle up really well so you will not get frost bitten and drive extra carefully. These pictures are of the Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada .

I wish I could bottle up some sunshine for you all as we have lots to spare over here. But since I can't, I hope these pictures will bring a smile and lots of warmth into your homes until spring comes along.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Law of the Garbage Truck

Work has always been generally fun and I am one of those lucky people who enjoys the job. The alarm rings at 6 am and after a few stretches I am up and running around getting MartianGirl ready for school. She follows her father when it comes to waking up - a lot of proding and a tiny voice from under the sheets, "5 minutes more, Mum." I am in the office by 7.30am multi tasking or things never get settled - talking on a hands-free phone, reading something on the computer and while data is loading, signing documents. Meetings, dead lines, proposals and research have always been handled with little frustration but sometimes "people" can really make me "vomit blood" (a Chinese expression, "aw heet").

Some people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of frustration, full of anger and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally.

Just smile, wave, wish them well and move on.

Don't take their garbage and spread to other people at work, at home or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.

So here's what I do to destress:

Work in my vegetable plot

Visit the Forest (Rimba) of Knowledge (Ilmu) Check out the ferns
Join the bird watching group
And the ultimate destresser is telling it all to Demon K9
I didn't write the enlightening phrases, they are from the internet. I have had this Law stuck on my fridge door for almost 2 years now. I'll be honest and say I do not smile, wave and wish them well, I am not a Saint and full of forgiveness.

Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.

Friday, January 1, 2010


These photos are some Christmas scenes in Malaysia and at home together with some thoughts to ponder
A Chrismas tree made and painted in polystrene by MartianGirl when she was 7
There is no good or bad in life, it is all about choices...

A centre court decoration in the shopping mallMuch of our growth as a person comes through hardships and challenges as these will make us better, stronger and wiser

Christmas cake baked and sent over by my neighbour Jeanny There are no conincidences and accidents in life. Everything big or small is for a reason

Some presents under our Christmas treeGod puts us all in each others lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others

An outdoor decoration in the shopping mall Never underestimate the power of your actions.. With one small gesture you can change a person's life. For better or for worse

Daemon K9 enjoying his New Year car ride Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly

Christmas decorations saved from our first Christmas tree when I was 6 years oldI don't make many New Year resolutions, always only one so I can remain true and keep it. So for 2010, my simple wish is:

Each day, each hour, each minute, is special. Live for today, for tomorrow is promised to no-one.