Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to tell if you're ill, not awesome

First off, I should known something had gone horribly wrong when, to the great bemusement of Enfant Terrible, I chortled my way through Vampires Suck. The movie didn't have much to offer other than the cast's spot-on parodies of the characters from Twilight and clever jokes were thin on the ground.

This is just a guess, but I think the excitement of coming back from China combined with squid on the wrong side of fresh means that you'll visit the loo again and again. And again as your insides keep disagreeing with whatever's inside them.

Next, you'll go to bed, only to wake up a few hours later for yet another visit, and this is where the fun begins. Signs that something is terribly wrong with you include:

- cold sweat
- a face that feels simultaneously flushed and chilled
- the urge to drool uncontrollably
- a swift loss of sensation in your extremities
- swimming/blurred/sparkling vision
- a roaring sound in your ears that deafens you to everything else
- the feeling of receding from the world as the darkness closes in around you

If you're anything like me, you lurch off the commode in a bid to prevent tomorrow's excruciating headline ("Diarrhea fatality found in em-bare-ass-ing position"), and somehow make it to the bottle of rehydration solution you cleverly prepared earlier but stupidly neglected to sip.

The excitement continues as you reel back in the direction you came, only to have a doorframe stand in the way of your face before you do your best impression of a bull in a china shop. Fortunately, your memory is dead-on and the porcelain throne is exactly where you left it.

Madly chugging the solution as though your life depends on it (and it probably did), you feel consciousness fight its way through the fog and slowly win. Your brothers will get involved here as they're still awake despite the odd hour, and provide you with the means to carry out a task that should only be confined to a Jackass production.

I think I'll watch some tennis now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

On the importance of paying attention

It must be me, because I can't imagine why anyone isn't tickled by the religious incongruity this month:

Hungry Ghost festival (Buddhist/Taoist/ancestor worship) - spirits of the dead, who didn't receive a proper send-off, offerings or misbehaved when they were alive, are set free to roam the earth. The living burn offerings and whatnot to appease said spirits.

Ramadhan - demons are chained up during the fasting month. I presume this is to ensure mankind is only tormented by temptations of its own doing?

I don't visit the park expressly to eavesdrop, but it's hard not to listen in on someone's conversation when they're talking so loudly that even monkeys on the other side of the hill flee in surprise.

After squealing over a meter-long snake that threatened to chase them (it was still shaking off the cold, mind), Miss UK began honking on about movies and whatnot and her two local friends* tried to keep up in terms of enthusiasm and volume.

Miss UK: What's a movie you've seen recently that really made you think?
Friend 1: Inception was cool.
Miss UK: OMG YES WASN'T THAT AN AMAZING MOVIE??? Which bit did you like best?
Friend 2: Oh, ya, I liked that show, especially the part where the Chinese guy went in to limbo...

I'm sure it was an easy mistake to make, given that SAITO was travelling in a BULLET TRAIN headed to KYOTO.

* It's funny how locals tend to shape their accents to complement that of Westerners. It never sounds natural, but it's such a compulsion that resistance is futile.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Instructional: How to handle a dead body

The same way it doesn't make a jaunt through the pasar ramadhan more romantic, attending a wake on a rainy evening does not make the event more poignant.

This is because:

a) It's not a bloody movie
b) It's bloody reality (which means there isn't anyone like Arthur!Inception around to give you a saucy "kick")

If anything, it annoys you because you have to contend with the cold rain trickling down your neck, fogged glasses and worry that you will disrespectfully trek mud up and down your aunt's porch as you pay your respects to her deceased husband.

My uncle, who was the fifth of my mother's six brothers (true story), died after being struck by a second heart attack, the first of which took place maybe 2 hours prior. At least, that's what I gathered from my aunt's recollection. 

Aside from deciding that mourners gathering around to express their condolences to my bleary-eyed aunt and cousins was a horrible spectacle akin to rubbernecking at an automobile accident, I also learnt how much it costs to organise a funeral. 

A minimum of RM18,000* will ensure that Nirvana Memorial Services (NMS) handles everything from notifications to peanuts to purification rituals. RM20,000 more will get you a better hearse and cort├Ęge arrangement and 200 SMS notifications instead of 100. Also: more chairs.

My role at the funeral was to observe quietly and marvel at how NMS have refined the postmortem ritual down to a well-oiled operation. Points of interest included:

- Everyone younger than the deceased has to wear a white sash, knotted on the left and accessorised with a red ribbon to ward off bad energy.
- Uncle #2 kicking up a prolonged fuss when he discovered that my grandfather's name was written on the banner instead of his brother's, not because he cares, but because he's a bitchy old man whose sole purpose in life appears to be kicking up a fuss.
- Turning away when the coffin was brought out to ward off bad energy.
- Uncle #2 being led away to prevent emission of more bad energy (kidding).
- If you don't know when to bow, take your cue from the monk/nun at the altar.
- The monk/nun announces the departure of the deceased, presumably to the Emperor of Heaven (or Hell), chanting out his name, dates of birth and death, and, um, his address.
- They do love them marching bands at Chinese funerals, don't they?

After paying our respects at the home, mourners proceeded to the NMS crematorium across town. More observation ensued:

- If only places for living people were as peaceful and inviting as the memorial park.
- Buddhist funeral chanting, dry ice and a benevolent image of Buddha from whose third eye a green laser emits to play across the coffin as it slowly rolls in to the cremation chamber makes for major eye-rolling.
- Being a stone-cold killer scribe counts for nothing as the finality of death virtually hits you across the face with a two-handed backhand of horror thanks to the protracted farewell that eventually takes its toll on your battle-hardened self (so that's why it goes on so long!).

A great way to end the afternoon was to have everyone reminisce about the deceased over a catered lunch (we did, sorta). Unfortunately, death is serious business, and an offer to tour the memorial grounds soon became a sales pitch for those who were interested in "investing in the future". I would say something clever here but I'm much too hungry right now.

* this price excludes the cost of a cremation urn and a "unit" in their columbarium

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Separated at Birth Fail

So I watched a bit of  the World Cup and was struck by the resemblance between footballer Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez (Mexico) and one Jensen Ackles (actor, Texas). I wanted to do a side by side comparison but couldn't find a good shot of Hernandez. This will have to do: 

Bless his eyebrows

Is one of them a cross-border brother from another mother or are they just two dudes who look uncannily like one another? Either way, they're a big timely reminder from this lovely universe that honest to god bishies have a place in every country and society.

The good thing about knowing nothing about a person is that you can project anything you want on them. They both look like the stoic, muy macho type who keeps everything inside, but just as you're about to break up with him for being so secretive, he mutters, “Te amo,” and stalks off.

Bless his, er, oh god, where do I start?

I'm also bracing myself for the onslaught of breathless badfic that is sure to result when slashers realise that Hernandez joining the BPL* (from C.D. Guadalajara; the first Mexican player evar!) will set the stage for a cross-continental encounter of the Iberian kind:

“The one they called 'Little Pea' stood uncertainly in the doorway, wishing he could flee the carnage before him. It was what BPL execs called a 'welcoming party', only no one had thought to furnish him with a translator. Chicharito's textbook English was never going to cut it here**; his thoughts were already back in Mexico, pining for the almost forgotten warmth and raucousness of his own family.

Just as the unhappy Mexican newcomer was about to slap himself on the forehead, mentally berating himself for making such a hasty decision, a voice like warm honey melted through the swirling torrent of homesickness and regret.

'Hola,' said Fernando Torres. Receiving no answer, he cocked his head quizzically at the young man, who was staring at him with the brightest, most beautiful green eyes he had ever seen. He tried again. 'You speak English, no?'

'Si!' Hernandez answered hurriedly. 'I mean, yes. Yes, I speak English.' Why was he so flustered? Maybe it had something, or everything, to do with the handsome Spaniard looking at him, a friendly smile playing on his lips. He couldn't help but admire the casual, loving manner the Spanish player's shirt draped his broad shoulders, its bright red colour the perfect complement to a shock of golden hair that fell carelessly over clear brown eyes...”

* He'll probably move his family there, away from the Mexi drug cartels, at the first chance he gets! /stereotyping 

** not true, really 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Strategising on Saturday

these are my notes from yesterday’s rehearsal session for my graduation ceremony on Tuesday:

8.50 a.m. - skip breakfast and ignore road etiquette to get to UM on time for the rehearsal session.

9 a.m.  - pray fervently that Malaysian timing comes into play.

9.20 a.m. - prayers answered (not proud of it).
 - the hall is barely full. these are the thousands of graduates due to receive their scrolls next week?

 - curse under my breath as the announcer announces that the post-grad briefing will only take place at 11 a.m.

 - decide to listen to the undergrads’ briefing anyway.
10 a.m.  - bursting for a pee. the toilets are still clean. great!
10.30 a.m. - everyone laughs at the undergrad who presents a deep, 90-degree bow during the practice session.
11 a.m.  - post-grad briefing begins. it’s a rehash of what was presented earlier, but with a facilitator from the institute of post-grad studies instead of the exam unit and no practice.
 - the guide on how to put on academic dress is in video format.
 - refrain from growling “I’m the Batman!” when the model lifts one arm, then the other to show how the sleeves should fall correctly.
11.30 a.m. - realise that even though the facilitator promised to speak in English and BM, his English is actually less fluent than that of the facilitator from the exam unit.
 - excitement ripples through the audience when it is announced that we will be receiving our scrolls from the Pro-Chancellor of UM @ his royal handsomeness the crown prince of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah. FFS he’s 53 this year!
12.15 p.m. - leave. the sun is too bright.

I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to do already.