Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Words

I couldn't sleep well last night. My nose felt blocked and I could breathe properly. I attributed it to the fact that I missed applying my prescribed nasal spray that morning. When he wrote the prescription, the doctor warned me seriously - that I will have to apply it every day, for a whole month; that I mustn't skip, nor stop, even if I thought I felt better. But that was the morning of the funeral. It was not that I purposely forgot about my nasal spray. It was the morning of the funeral.

Being the expected doesn't make it easier to accept, and definitely doesn't make it alright to be. In the end, it's just words. Words uttered because of their propriety at the time, words said because someone needed to speak, words said because someone was required to speak. They mostly became white noise. Already being acquainted with the Buddhism teaching of the impermanence of life and everything material in life, one would imagine, perhaps even expect in practice, the relative ease of letting go. It suffices to say that it wouldn't be without effort to convince oneself that it doesn't matter. Nothing is permanent. I know that. I think about it a lot. I think about once reading about why William Saroyan begun writing. He said that if he wrote something, that thing in itself would be itself, and would probably be itself forever, or "for what passes as forever". It would be a piece of him that would be, long after he himself were gone. Words. I would agree that, as paintings, sculptures, musical pieces - they are as permanent as livings things will never be. Even more so as the means and ease of duplication and dissemination are as they are now. Ever been told at work to always send wholesome words of gratitude and praise through emails, and harsh ones of reprimand or complaint through phone calls? In the end, we are all remembered, if we would indeed be remembered, by the words we have written. I do suppose so. I do not know why it matters at all - or perhaps it doesn't. Perhaps it is arrogant, self-serving ego, to want to be remembered. Or perhaps the fear of being forgotten is one as real as the fear of heights. Perhaps it is the desire to want to always remember a loved one gone, which instilled a fear of the unreliability of the human memory, leading to the presumption that those gone would fear they would be forgotten. Perhaps most are, in fact, simply indifferent. As of this point the reader may be wondering where I am heading with this post. Nowhere. The mind is overwhelmed and tired. I started writing this piece without ever meaning it to be understood. Recent predicaments had put me in such a mood.

I remembered to apply my nasal spray this morning. Perhaps I will be able to rest better tonight.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cameron Highlands

In stills...

It is really interesting to note that strawberries are sort of the mascot of Cameron Highlands. In addition to the really huge strawberry figure on top of the "Welcome" monument, every souvenir shop in the area sold strawberry keychains, pillows, stuffed toys, bags, and even strawberry-decorated clothing and umbrellas. It makes even less sense with the fact that everyone knows Cameron strawberries are tiny and sour. I mean, really sour. Ask anyone who'd had them before.

The last time I was there, it was the year 1992. I didn't even remember how the place looked like. There wasn't much for me to do there - sure, I bought loads of fresh vegetables and fruits, and some cute cacti - but there wasn't much to do at all. My main activity, other than buying the local produce, was taking photographs. That is why I though I ought to cut back on the words, and let the photos make this post.

The road going up was narrow and winding.

My BM isn't what it used to be, so I can't say what a better word than bengkang-bengkok would be - but bengkang-bengkok simply strikes me as being an extremely funny adjective to put on a road sign.

This is another sign I won't expect to see very often...

Other than strawberries, vegetables and flowers, this place is also famous for its tea plantations.

The hills covered in tea-plants do look lovely.

The symbol of Cameron Highlands... The Tiny and Sour -

The greatest thing about the cool climate is the extreme loveliness of the flowers that grow in it. I can't stand just looking at pretty things. I have to have them... in pixels, if not physically.

These little frilly white ones were wild, at the side of a road -

They all have such bright, vivid colours...

... they are exotic and elegant...

... and just so pretty -

This has got to be the finest Bird of Paradise I'd ever photographed, if not the finest I'd ever seen -

This was also the first time I'd ever photographed roses in different stages of bloom, all on the same plant -

There were other curious plants -

And there were loads and loads of cacti. Some are really cute -

Some are just... odd -

I also have to say how BIG everything there was! This one -

It was bigger than my head. It was perhaps twice the size of my head - and so much prettier, of course. Most of the Hibiscus blooms I saw were bigger than my hand -

Even the bugs were big -

There wasn't much for me to do at Cameron Highlands, only so much beauty to admire, so much to photograph.

Farewell, see you again.

Selamat Datang - Welcome
Jalan Bengkang-Bengkok - Winding Road
Kawasan Batu/Tanah Runtuh - Area of Rock/Land Slides
Pokok Halau Nyamuk - Mosquito-repellent Tree (=plant)
Selamat Jalan - Safe Journey

Note the sign in the last photo - Selamat Jalan isn't Please Come Again. This shows that we cannot take for granted that if a sign is written in 2 languages, both mean the same thing. Weird.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


"I parked quite far away so you'll have to carry me to my car", she said.

By carry, she meant to give her a lift in my car, of course. Just as we reached her parked car, as she was getting ready to get out of mine, by some weird, crazy, unexplained force I was driven to burst into the high-pitched, nasal refrain that we were singing earlier:

"Nyaaa... nya-nya-nya... nya-nya-nya.... nya-nya-nya-nya-nyaaaaa..."

"Stop, it!" she cried, "What are you, a mosquito?"

That reminded me of the time we went for a 3-day camp at FRIM.

On the first morning, right after we arrived, we were placed into groups of 9 or 10 persons, and were asked to choose a name for our respective groups. We must name our group after an animal, said the camp facilitator. Some idiot (I think it was me) came up with Mosquito, and everyone else agreed. In fact, we were very proud that our group was named so differently from the usual Cats, Dogs, Tigers and Elephants.

For the first activity, the facilitator announced, everyone except the group leaders would be blindfolded and spread around in a large area a certain distance away. Each group's leader, at one end of the clearing, must then gather all the group's members together again. This would be achieved by the group leader making the sound of the animal the group was named after, really loudly - the facilitator emphasized - so the members could hear and could follow the sound back to their leaders.

My friends and I stared at each other, and then at the facilitator - but we're Mosquito! I can't remember what his reaction to our dismay was, but it was probably a sneer or a smirk. So, okay, mosquitos do make noises - they make that irritating high-pitched "eeeeeeee.............."

And with that irritating high-pitched "eeeeeeee.............." which struggled really hard past the high-decibel meowing, barking, roaring and trumpeting to the ears of the Mosquitos, we managed to gather ourselves back into a group. Now, the next time someone said to name the group after an animal, choose an animal! Mosquito is an insect - know the difference, please!

But what a lovely camp that was! :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Another Post for a Friday

Over lunch, my pretty friend and I talked about the horrid thing that is the Friday afternoon class.

Well, I said, I'd prefer it if I didn't have to do anything (work-related) at all on Friday!

That isn't unreasonable, she said, because I am busy all the other days of the week.

Truth be told, my schedule is sort of packed from Mondays to Thursdays, but I won't say it is reasonable to use that as justification for "not doing anything" on Fridays. Still, it was so sweet of her to think it :)

Furthermore, she continued, I have to blog on Fridays (and she LAUGHED!)


I don't blog on Fridays! Perhaps I should though...

* * * * *

It was like two minutes after stepping into my office, after lunch, that my phone rang. It was a really cute fella. He asked,

"May I know where you are now, Miss?"

I answered,

"You called my office phone and I answered, so obviously I am in my office."

See what I mean when I called the fella a cute fella?

The whole episode reminded me of the time, a long time ago, my Mom called my Papa.

"Where are you now?!"
"(With a smile in his voice, I'm sure) Which number did you call?"
"Your office number."
"So that's where I am now."

* * * * *

I was looking at Snoflek's blog a little while ago, and she'd written a very nice post about someone else's blog. I visited that, and found that I like it very much as well! Take a look, if you will, at this very creative person's very pretty creations:

5th July edit:

Since I was on the (sort of) topic of interesting blogs, here another:

Most people I know don't know I have a guitar. Yes, I own a guitar I can't play, and I've owned it since almost a decade ago. I bought it with money I earned from writing fairy-tales, and I bought it because my Mom sold my piano though I didn't want her to. Yes, she sold the piano I can't play. So, in retaliation, I bought a guitar I can't play...