Tuesday, July 27, 2021



A lot apparently, especially if you are stuck with an UNUSUAL one. When Savvy Girl was seven, she came home and announced excitedly, “Mie, the girl sitting next to be is called Beat Rice.” We Chinese do have unusual Chinese names but “Beat Rice” takes the cake (sorry for the weak pun.) “Beat rice” turned out to be Beatrice of course and in Asia, this is a rare name and she pronounce it as how it was spelt.
Director of Mulan: Legendary Warrior - JINGLE Ma.

During my years growing up, I have had friends with surprising names. Their parents probably named them without realising that the combination of a Christian name with a Chinese surname can sound like an English word. Like my friend Diana. Lo and behold, her surname was the common Chinese surname “Soh.” She was Diana Soh.

 We called her “Dinosaur” all through school. She was very proud being related to beasts of the past.

 A Chinese combination is Ngor (surname) Ti Juan (Chinese name), so he became Naughty Juan. He did live up to his name and gave the teachers and the girls “hell” in school! But on the last day of school just before the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR at 12 years-old) results were released, he actually knelt down and apologised to the teachers and girls. Another Chinese name is Pua Lay See. Sometimes the parents do not realise that the two names amount to an English word.

Some parents give names for their children to live up to. I met Atomic L in Uni. He was my senior doing his PhD in Science. After getting to know him well, I asked the question that was on my lips since the day we met, “Is your father a scientist?” “No, but he wanted my brothers and I to be scientists,” said he. “Your brothers’ names?” asked I. “Nuclear and Hydrogen!” He was not kidding as I did meet Nuclear.

When I became a teacher, I shouted out “Khor Chicken” on a roll call.

Ayam Serama - Bantam chicken breed.

 A huge roar of laughter followed and poor Khor Chee Ken stood up bashfully. With 50 names to call out, I was excused for my mistake. Chee Ken completed his Science degree and became a singer! Another time when I did not wear my glasses I called out, “Ahmad Superman,” instead of “Supraman,” a common Malay surname. Ahmad did not perform like Superman, 

but he was called Superman throughout his undergraduate studies, thanks to a very long-sighted teacher.

Some parents give names to their kids cos they think it is cute but it can be hard on the child. There is a “Tinkerbell Leee” and "Little Flower" in Malaysia. Others named them on the months so I have acquaintances named April, Mei, my niece June and a guy friend Julai. Princess Beatrice has named her son August. January Low is a beautiful Malaysian Chinese who is an accomplished Indian classical dancer. I saved the best for last.  When I worked at the Institute for Medical Research, many of the staff were of Malay ethnic origin. As a term of endearment, the Malays often add the prefix “Si-” before the first name: Si-Putih (white) for a cat, Si-Belang (a cat with strips), Si-Comel (a cute child). Our research assistant was called Phyllis Lam. 

Phyllis was the sweetest and gentlest girl in the lab and the boys adored her. So naturally,  the medical lab assistants endearingly called her Si-PhyllisPhyllis and my mum

Imagine being called Syphilis by the guys at work! Even the Head Division raised his eye brows. I was asked to kindly explain to the boys to drop their term of endearment.

Thory (named after the Norse God of Thunder) celebrates 21 human years today. We haven't had cake for 2 1/2 months of partial lock down. So I baked and iced one. 

 The dogs got one slice each, the humans will share the rest!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021



“Nobody waters these plants, God waters them.” My mother-in-law would enlighten us whenever she saw plants in full bloom along public roads and highways. 

We readily nod in agreement although, sometimes the public works department (PWD) in their water trucks carry out “God’s job.” But one never argues with one’s mother-in-law!

Spider lily

I sometimes do wonder if my mother-in-law was indeed passing on pearls of wisdom. The PWD only waters those plants on the main roads and highways. 

Plants along roads inside housing estates are left to survive on their own. And yet, they bloom amazingly well. So I took a walk and found some "weeds” that ONLY GOD WATERS.

Allamanda wild beside a back lane
Allamandas are bushy shrubs 

but this one is sprouting quite happily up a tree branch.

I don't know what this lonely flower is called! Daisy?
"Bunga telang" or butterfly pea grows wild climbing fences.

Fragile like silk but I don't know the plant's name!
Jacaranda tree with mauve flowers and buds.
Bougainvillea grows into a large tree if planted in the ground. This brilliant tree was pictured by Choo KL on her walks.
God's left-over water after the rains.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021



TIME magazine's first "Person of the Year" was aviator Charles Lindbergh, year 1927. Ninety-two years hence and this honour has been updated to profile a group, idea or even object. Any issue that has changed or influenced events during a year - "for better or worse" - is scrutinised for inclusion. Frontline health care workers and Dr. Anthony Fauci were named 2020 Guardian of the year, a deserving tribute.

 Here are our Malaysian pharmacists together with doctors in the outreach team carting vaccines safely to reach villagers in Tanjung Embang at the mouth of the Sarawak river. The trip started at 7am as vaccines, syringes, cotton and other equipment had to be physically carried across the river, followed by a 20min road trip to reach the 498 villagers. I remember my grandpa once said to my brother, “If the mountain cannot come to Muhamad, Muhamad must go to the mountain.” He probably said this in a local context! This is exactly what our Malaysian front liners are doing. 

Police and health workers conduct Covid 19 screening in Labuan.Faizah Hamezah, mother of five, has the task of preparing the remains of Muslim females for Covid-19 funerals. She considers her role as fardhu kifayah (compulsory communal obligation), preparing as many as up to 18 bodies a day.

With 6,000 plus deaths due to Covid-19 alone, these men ensure that Muslims are buried according to their religious rites. As they recite Al-Fatihah and prayers, they take over the duties of family members who can only follow the hearse but not allowed near the cemeteries.

      The pandemic has produced a generation of lost children in countries where lock downs have closed schools. Sure, there were online and zoom lessons, but not every child here had the privilege of internet access. Nasir Mohamed teaches Science and Health Education in his wooden boat as he rows up and down Sungai (River) Kinabatangan. "We remind the pupils of the importance of education and for them to further their studies and bring changes to their communities."  Their communities are remote and his boat is his classroom. 

The Malaysian government  have failed us on many issues. Our situation is tense both politically with power struggles and economically as citizens face poverty with loss of jobs. 


On an international level, house-to-house vaccination for bedridden citizens in Valenzuela City, Metro Manila.

: Covid-19 swab testing along canals for patients in home isolation in isolated villages. Image credit: Reuters.

"Up for Thai" was set up in memory of "Up" Kunlasub who passed away while in home-isolation for five days awaiting an ambulance. 

To remember "Up," Thai film and TV director Chalermchatri and volunteers prepare 3000 meals per day for distribution. 

"We think that if we let the government do everything on their own, they will be overburdened." "So, why not we, as Thai citizens lend a helping hand to help tackle some challenges."

In lesser words but with the same potent message, we sometimes have to ask ourselves during times of crisis - "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" - JFK.                Lake Tyres, Victoria, Australia. Image credit: Skippy 

    Bagan Sungei Burung, Perak, Malaysia. Image credit: Lim ME    

EVERY SUNSET BRINGS PROMISE OF A NEW DAWN - Ralph Waldo Emerson.Kota Damansara, Selangor, Malaysia

Petaling Jaya. Image credit: CJW

Dedicated to Ordinary citizens who have stepped up to be EXTRAORDINARY.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


 Nope, this is NOT a HORROR house. The house at the end of my street is a city house built in a “kampong-style” (traditional Malay) architecture.

 It is really the last house

 with a rubber plantation behind. 
The main part of the house is built from bricks with a wooden fence to give it that rustic "kampung" feel and

it has this beautiful quaint wooden carved “kampong” balcony with
wind chimes.GOOD MORNING
someone has had their morning shower!
The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden with pops of many colours.  
This mauve Ipomoea or commonly morning glory brazenly climbs over the fence like it owns the place.

A wooden side gate with an over-hanging crop of orange and yellow blooms. 
This is the Phanera kockiana, a legume named after H.D. de Kock, the Vice Governor General of the Dutch East Indies. Hence, the common name - Kock's Bauhina.

But, in sad contrast to this living "kampung" house, the pandemic has resulted in many properties up "for sale" or "to let." 
Recently, we have houses whose occupants have put up white flags
as a sign that HELP is needed. It is not a government initiative. It started on social media and went "viral" overnight. "Fly the white flag" tag spread faster than covid-19. 
Thoughtful Malaysians responded immediately.  
This is very sad. Lockdown is staying home. But a lockdown for some means no wages and food. 
Responsible Malaysians do their bit.

Some set up "cupboards of blessing" outside their homes, 
food banks and free cooked packed meals.

🥰 Sometimes adversity brings out the worse in people as we compete for limited resources where demand exceeds supply But, this Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the good in mankind. Reader's Digest (India) highlighted the contribution of Sikh volunteers by featuring them on their June 2021 cover page 😍.