Who's Been Eating Off My Plate!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The 'i' generation

My early memories consisted of books. From ladybirds, sesame street encyclopedias and 'peter and jane' books, i graduated to enid blytons and sweet valley highs. I read alot. Most of my books were donated so i never had the luxury to pick and choose my book titles. But i always made do with whatever i had. I learnt that there is no such thing as a lousy book. Every book had an edge, a story to tell, and subliminal messages that you could interpret. Books led me into a world of fantasy n realms of imagination. If there was one thing my parents taught me about, is to love, respect and treasure those neverending words. As i grew older, bookstores were my solace. No matter how i felt for the day or week, bookstores never failed me because there was always a unread tale which was there to take me away to another world. As i walked through the mall and watched the younger generation with cell phones, psps' and ipads in their hands, precariously pressing the buttons and swiping the screens so vigorously as if their life depended on the scores of the games they were engrossed in, i wondered if i will emerge victorious against the battle of books vs technology. How would i inculcate the love for books in my kids in the future? It seems like a losing battle. Alphabets on pages vs cute, realistic graphics. The fight is going to be tough.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What my Momma gave me..

There is nothing worse than an abusive mother in this world.. Oh wait, maybe i take that back. There is nothing, definitely nothing worse than an over-indulgent mother in this world..

I grew up knowing my mom as the disciplinarian. She hardly ever cried in front of me, but i know that everytime she had to raise her hand on me, she always went into the room and silently wept. Obviously, she couldn't show me her emotions, lest i take advantage over her soft heartedness and continued misbehaving the way i did as a child. I was a fiesty one, still am perhaps. I've forgotten how many times i've used the word "hate" towards my mom. I couldn't understand why she had to be the rigid person she was with me. Why I had to sit still in church throughout the boring sermons, or why I shouldn't talk back, why it was important for me to say thank you or sorry, or roll my eyes when I was reprimanded. She expected perfection out of me. Not in terms of report card results or achievements in school, but more of in the character department. She would break my will until I said sorry for the things that i did wrong. And she never let me have my way by whining or crying. My mother was by no means indulgent towards my whim and fancies. She was loving yes, but at any point of time, when my tiny devil horns peeked out of my hair, she would go all military on me.

My mother taught me that a strong woman is a woman of character, not just by what people see on the outside. She taught me that by respecting others, I am therefore respecting myself. She was a disciplinarian oh yes, and i hated her on many occasions for that, but I have to say that my mother brought up one hell of a daughter and she can sit back now and be proud of it. If it wasn't for my mother, i wouldn't be the ounce of what I am today.

As my friends and family grow up and start their own family, I can't help but notice the things they are doing wrong in their relationship with their children. First borns are always special, so parents tend to over-indulge their children, and pretty much, give them a free reign. Church these days, are unlike how it used to be when I was a kid. You see special classes going on for hyperactive kids who can't sit still to save their lives, and parents standing outside the church to try distract their little ones from having a major intrusive tantrum meltdown. You see kids kicking and hitting their domestic workers who are trying to restrain them from running berserk, and parents fishing out toys and food to accommodate the restless ones. They have no respect for the sanctuary, and really, can you blame the kids? Well, I blame the parents 100%. It's what you call new age parenting style. Letting your child "discover their potential without tying them down to rules".

See, not many people have studied psychology. Many parents read dozens of books on parenting styles, but they don't understand the dynamics of using developmental psychology on their children. What these authors forget to mention, or conveniently don't tell you is that one parenting style doesn't fit it all. There's so many elements/variables that govern which style of parenting you should choose. The child's personality/ number of caregivers/ environment/ social status is all a variable. Bottom line, there's no ONE parenting style which works for all children. Some children are born more aggresive than others, and some are just more open to suggestions. It's innate and no matter how you want to believe that you can mold their personality, you can't. The only thing you can teach your child, is discipline.

Discipline, has gained a bad name and constantly associated with corporal punishment. But well, i don't have to list out the methods of inculcating discipline in someone's life, go figure, it's logic. What i am trying to say is, if you can't teach your child that there is a time and place for everything, and that some discipline is needed even if they don't like it, then you have failed big time as a parent. You can't tune down the brattiness or the hyperactivity of a child, but you can, and should teach your child how to control their personality, in order to mold a character, if like all parents, you want your child to be a functional adult.

The world is such where not only poor, uneducated, marginalized children end up as rapists, murderers, thieves or cheaters. In fact, it is safe to say that more educated kids from good and well to do parentage are into these serious crimes, compared to children who are raised in a background where they have limited resources.

This might seem like a weird way to tell my mom what an awesome mother she has been. But this is exactly how i would do it again, in the blink of an eye. The biggest gift my mom gave me, was discipline. Without discipline, you'd get no where in life. Love, marriage, work, relationships, all require a certain amount of discipline to make them work. Albeit i am not a mother yet, I assure you that over-indulgence is not something my kid will have the luxury of. I've seen too many brats in the making, to even go there.

So happy mother's day Mami! You have brought me up well and I love you to bits and pieces. I am everything I am today, because of all that you have sacrificed for me. All the heartache and perseverence you put into making me a better person, has paid off.... You can now proudly say, you have a strong, independent, and sensible daughter!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Of Love and Liberty

On the last episode of Glee last week, besides singing along to all those catchy tunes, the main highlight of the show was the long awaited question of whether Blaine would eventually fall in love with Kurt. In case you're living simply out of this planet, Blaine and Kurt are two "out of the closet" high school guys who have been acquainted, became best of friends and eventually fell in love.

So yes, to spoil the fun for many of you ethical fellas who omit the urge to download free episodes from BitTorrent and wait patiently for the episodes to air on tv,  there was magic, there was sparkle, there was a "moment", there was romance and there was "the kiss". So what's wrong with the picture here? There were many reviews on this episode. Some called it " explicitly suggestive" and some called it "ethically immoral and should be given a PG18 rating". We openly embrace the magic of romance between man and women. Even the grungiest movies to do with war, fighting, horror has at least some elements of romance or sex, laced with promiscuousity or lust and we go "awww" at those moments depicted by butt naked men and women But somehow we live in a society that cannot seem to accept that love and liberty goes hand in hand. So what's wrong with a little boy on boy innocent romance that makes your heart silently weep and wish that you had that moment, or remisnisce young pure love and acceptance? Why does everything have to be determined by labels.

This brings me back to a conversation i had with a colleague where she criticised the cable TV for airing such a program that could "encourage the young ones" to turn gay. I personally found it offensive that she made the word "gay" sound like a disease. I am not pro-homo or pro-hetro. I am pro-choice. Being "gay" is not a new fad of this millenium. Coming out of the closet perhaps is, but people have always been either gay or straight. I choose to believe that it's not something that is entirely cultivated by the media. It is how you are born. It's the same as being a vege lover or a vege hater. Some friends i know have grown up on a vegetarian diet all their lives, but still LOVE beef the moment they tasted it. Some people associate the word gay with all that is promiscuous and damaged. But come on people, just because a person has feelings towards someone of the same sex means that they have been exposed to all that is dirty and explicit.

Personally, i think Glee is awesome. It has depicted "most accurately" high school pains in every aspect mortally possible. It isn't about sex, fame and living "THE" life. It's about choices and looking beyond all things plastic and self discovery. But enough about my personal opinions or preference. So here the part where i start being "rude, opiniated, and completely inappropriate"..

To all you hypocrites out there who think you're "safe" simply because you are not homosexual, I am not the few who are tolerant towards homosexuality simply because i have many gay friends. I just think that you are all hypocrites for judging the gay community. Why? because if you have not had explicit fantasies about the opposite sex, had random sex, or had more than one sexual partner, watches explicit scenes from movies and coo at it, you sure as hell don't have the right to judge. What makes your lives so different from those who are gay? Let's see, for one, they are honest and courageous enough to put themselves out there to be judge, simply for the fact of staying true to themselves. You? You hide your dirty laundry in your cupboard and yap your mouth away about other people's relationship or sex lives, but have no balls to talk about your dirty habits in the open. You talk about God, and say how this is a sin? If you have received oral sex or given oral sex, or had or are intending to have sex altogether for recreation purposes, then technically, you are just as much as a sinner. If you are going to take your holy book literally, then sex is for procreation, not recreation. Then also, let's not forget that you would have sinned also in the same magnitude for gossiping, bearing false witness against another person, wasting food, having pre-marital sex, having indecent thoughts of another individual, or pleasuring yourself or even refusing to help another who is in need.

So there you have it.. Why pile on more "sins" unto your pile.. it's the 21st century, it's time you live in it..

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Of whips and cracks

"There's something strange about growing up, you simply see and accept things  the way they clearly are.." Anonymous

I've been called many things. Hater, pessimist, critical, judgmental.. the list goes on.. simply for stating that some obvious traits yields obvious results. While i do admit that in the "world's" terms, I am all of those words above, i also know that i see things the way the are, and am this way because i believe it is silly, to expect unrealistic outcomes from the same way of doing things. It's like the lottery. You keep buying and buying it, and hoping to strike rich, even though it's unrealistic and clearly, a one out of million chance. It's the same thing with relationships.. If you keep dating the same breed, chances are, the progression of the relationship will be exactly the way the previous one was.. It's science.. The results don't change if the constant remains the same..

I've probably never said it out aloud before, but I am thankful that I was once a victim of domestic violence. I come from an extremely loving family, but somehow plunged into a scary relationship where it involved the other party pulling me by the hair up the stairs, punishing me through all forms of violence, and brainwashing me that love equals to possessiveness. Perhaps, it is this reason why, i never could understand all the other women who (in my opinion) self destruct themselves by dating worthless/abusive men over and over and OVER again. But that's the thing, everyone has had bad/disasterous relationships once or twice before. But you need to be in a relationship where you are fighting to survive literally to reach that realization, that self worth can only be earned if you take the time to value yourself.

That's the ironic beauty about being a victim of violence, you see things clear, simple and as it is once you're out of it. You learn and stand firm that "once is enough". You learn that denial, is worse than indulging in cocaine. You do not turn into a feminist or man-hater, but can clearly recognize abuse even if it didn't come in a physical form. So yes, I might sound like a "hater" to you, but I truly believe that I am not. I am just anti-denial.

Today, I work with countless of women who are in abusive relationships. From a simple conversation, I have that knack to deduce if they are going to be lifelong victims. It's a sad and emotional thing for me, because if i had it my way, I would love to shove their heads into a bucket of ice and force them to see the damage they are doing to their lives and their loved ones. But from experience, I also know that if it is not their choice to get out of it, no amount of therapy, counseling, or forcing will do the trick. By experience, I also know that women who continually hop into 2 or more abusive relationships, will most probably end up being in the same kind of relationship, for the rest of their lives. They will fall back on the bandwagon again and again, and pass the trait on to the next generation and among their peers. The only thing i can do, is to share my experience with them, and hope that they have the courage and strength i fought so hard to discover.

People always say that there is tomorrow. In this case, if you don't get out of an abusive relationship now, you will probably never get out of it ever, even if you have 10 partners down the road..

Friday, February 4, 2011

Guarding Heirloom recipes

Picture taken from: 

Just try. GO ahead and ask any old aunties or grannies that you know of, who are good at making a particular dish to impart their secrets to you. They WILL say yes and smile their sweetest smile. And it's either they won't tell you when they are intending to teach you, or prepare the ingredients partially before you arrive so that you can't gauge that secret ingredient that makes the dish wa-wa-woom! So who do you learn from? Your mom because she's the one who's most likely to share her deepest secrets of your family's heirloom recipes with you, well some moms can be weird too..

SO what is my favorite Nyonya dish? There's TONNES to choose from but there's one thing i hold very very dear to my heart. Those sun shinny pudding-like orange parcels with a robust whiff of spices and herbs that punch you in the nose the moment you open a real banana leaf parcel of otak otak!!!! And NO, if you think you know what i'm talking bout, you probably don't. Because being a food voyager myself, I have yet to come across otak otaks outside which taste anything close to the ones made in the nyonya kitchens.

Today, after 3 days of talking my mom into making otak otak for me, I woke up with a shock ( at 11am) thinking that Oh no, my mom's forgotten our "otak-otak classes". But lo and behold, she had sneakily started off without me. I ran and confronted her "Ahak" and stood there learning every thing that she did. The ingredients are not all that complex, but i have learnt that the little touches of preparation can make a vast difference in the taste of the dish. For instance,

1.Fresh Fresh Fresh
I was hyperventilating scourging the fridge. "Mommy!!! you didn't buy the herbs??" She just waved her hand in annoyance towards me like waving off a fly. Without a word, she took her scissors and walks into the garden. The bush of weeds i which was a sore eye to me all these while, were luscious aromatic herbs grown in my very own garden! She then progressed to the back of the house and starting cutting off some "Daun Kaduk". We had a HUGE patch of these rare herb in our garden too. So Mommy says, freshness cannot be compromised. You pluck a herb, and package it and wait to sell it, by the time you buy it, it is no longer as aromatic as it should have been.

2. Do it yourself.
Herbs, check! Fish, Check! Banana leaf, I watch dad walking over to my neighbour's house and cutting a big leaf, so errr, check! Then i realised, where the hell is the grated coconut in the fridge. SO i proceed to tell mom she forgot to buy coconut, and she says, "Ahh, dun worry lah, we got plenty behind". Apparently, my parents grate their own coconut. Some old people swear that coconuts  taste and yield better amount of milk when you grate it with a semi sharp grater, rather than machine grate it.

3. Can we start filling the parcels now?
Not yet, we have to soak the fish. WHAT?? Yes, at least 2 hours of soaking the fish and rempah together to ensure it comes together as "ONE" dish.

4. I caught mom burning banana leaves over the stove.
Apparently, if you heat the leaves up on the burning flame top of your stove, it will soften the leaves and prevent breakages. And the whole time, dad is annoying me with him "ubiquitous" knowledge on the history of how Nyonya food came about. *rolls eyes*

SO now to wait, while i go out to town, get myself a cuppa and come home in time to wrap em parcels!