Friday, February 23, 2007

How To Make Your Friends' Parents Like You

Now, there are many ways to make your friend's parents like you. You can be polite to them, (mis)leading them to think that you're a nice young man/woman, whose parents did a good job of raising.

You can talk with them sociably, telling them with confidence about where you want to go in your life. For some reason, they like that. They may not always agree with the whole "I want to be a filmmaker thing" ("But, in Malaysia, very difficult you know..."), but on this level at least, they can respect the fact that you, as a person, as a man or a woman, have purpose. You know what you want, and you have an idea of how to get there.

You can try to learn some of a new language, though this is the optional option. If they have the same mother tongue as you, then it's not quite as impressive or cute to say, "I cannot eat pork."

Coming from a Malay guy, in the Chinese tongue, can be pretty powerful, melting even the coldest of aunties' hearts. Time it right, and the ang pao might just be heavier as well.

You can even tell a few jokes, half of them lame, half of them at yourself. In fact, the proportion need not be measured in equal quantity, though this comes with experience at the amount required.

Plus, you need a really, really thick face to land on when "I know Rain, but Rain doesn't know me lah. Haha" doesn't quite get the response you may desire.

But the most important attribute, the one which would overpower any of the above skills that I mentioned, can be summed up in two words: Frank Sinatra.

Or three, if one goes with his nickname instead. Never mind that his nick is longer than his actual name, or that it is grammatically incorrect, Ol' Blue Eyes illustrates perfectly the adage that music trascends barriers. Such is his power that even when he's dead, and even when the songs in question aren't his (so to speak, the classics from that era has been covered many times to the point of identity confusion), the walls are broken down quicker than a frightened cat streaking into the night.

And on a more general basis, he serves as the flag for a generation. Meaning to don't even have to know his songs. So long as you know a singer or a band from his generation (e.g. Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, etc).

"Very unusual lah, for young people to like that kind of music" was heard across the table as I first listened, confirmed, and then sang the lyrics to Strangers in the Night (you get bonus points if a song is especially obscure) playing in the background. In that instant, you no longer just their son or daughter's friend, no longer a stranger in any night.

You become one of them. And how to make your friends' parents like you.

How to make them keep liking you...well, that's a whole other post... :>

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Handover


I have finally turned over a new leaf, so to speak. My Blogger account has been moved over to that of its now parent company, Google. That means that every time I sign in, I have to do it using my Google account rather than my Blogger account.

In this case, it proved to be a very minor inconvenience, if at all. The main part of this is that I don't have to sign up for a new account, since I already have a Google account. But it is a trend that is spreading further and wider than just Blogger.

For my photo hosting fun, I use Flickr. For those not in the not, Flickr is now under the ownership of a certain Yahoo! For the time being at least, I am able to log in and upload my pictures using my Flickr account. But soon, very very soon, in order to keep this going, I'll have to log in using my Yahoo! account. Which is all fine and well.

Except that I don't have one.

Now, this is the part where a fair number of people get on their high horses and scooters to advise me on this particular dilemma: just sign up for a Yahoo! account lah! Free wat. A not invalid point, I hasten to add before condeming this further. But the cost of something, provided that I am capable of meeting it, has never been the major consideration for a lot of things that I do.

Even if it is free.

You see, I am perfectly happy with the number of online accounts and/or avatars that I already have. Two email addresses, a blogging account, a photo account, and one or two others that I consider to be essential to my personal and professional interests. In light of all this...I am extremely reluctant to add on more and more.

For the simple reason that I am extremely lazy to do so.

Forgive me for being rather traditional in this sense, but I don't like the idea of signing up for something without using it properly. When I do sign up for something, I'd like to know that I will be using it readily, actively, clicking on it every time I get online. I have deleted other accounts that I used to have for the simple reason that it is no longer active for me.

I also dislike the idea of having too much of me online. My personal information (though generally faked) is still my personal information, and the thought of it (real and/or fake) being available to some party, the concept of using something in exchange for the things that defines me...

...well, I am incredibly uncomfortable with that.

Not sure if any of you guys catch my drift. I feel that somehow I have failed to explain myself properly. In trying to match the words on screen to those that float inside my head and my heart...I feel that I have failed.

Ah well.

At least I go down in a blaze of glory.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Kitty Kat

"Meow," it purred softly as I stepped outside the door. I look in the direction of 'it', hidden somewhere in the darkness. 'It', of course, is a cat, or more specifically, my next door neighbour's cat.

My neighbour's cat has a tendency to visit us. Most of these visits were spent unconsciously, at least on his part. Many were the times when I'd look under my car before starting, making sure that it's not taking its cat nap underneath it. Even more were the times when it rests silently underneath the patio bench, its head slightly bent against its paws, one on top of the other.

"Meow," it beckoned me in the darkness. I went in closer, squatting down slightly in front of it. "Meow yourself," I said, stroking its head. He shut his eyes, clearly enjoying the attention.

"How come you're still here, little guy?" I asked him. "You don't like going home?" It purred its answer, an apparent negative given the above evidence.

Later, talking to my friend about it, I told her that the cat reminded me of Alang, my grandmother's cat. Seeing Alang used to be one of the highlights whenever I visit my grandma at her home. There would be a few others, but Alang, with its black and grey stripes, would somehow always get more of my attention than the others.

And then one day he wasn't there anymore. He had gone away, and never came back.

"Pets do that," said a friend of mine when I told her of the cat later that night. "They run away just before they die, because they don't want to die in front of their owners.

Looking back, I wonder whether my neighbour's cat has any such intentions.

But it can't die.

It's so cute.... :>

smile kitty2
*Picture courtesy of Suraya Jermadi.

Monday, February 12, 2007


In the anticipation of an upcoming interview, I went to the hairdresser's recently to sort out my Wolverine locks into the more socially acceptable Andy Lau style. But I didn't just go to any hairdresser, I went to Melissa, who my family and I have trusted with our heads for a long, long time.

Of course, with Melissa any session is never to be a quiet one. She talks a lot, in fluent Malay and even more fluent Chinese. Almost safe to say that almost anything and everything is discussed (even on tips and contacts to buy and sell second hand cars). Sometimes, I feel that my trips to her shop is not just one to trim my hair, but also a trip in the past.

This time, I would learn something revealing or insightful. "Come on, let me pay for that," I insisted, when she wanted to give me a bottle of hair lotion. "Aiyah, never mind lah," she replied in Malay. "This one I give to you." "But Melissa, you're running a business." "No, it's OK lah. Your family always come here, your mother (ma-der) help me a lot. Last time my child had stroke, your mother come help wan."

I was momentarily taken aback by this. My mother, for those not in the know, is a psychiatrist, and by that definition alone, helps a lot of people. But I didn't know that she did the same for Melissa. Even more so, I didn't know that Melissa's child had a stroke.

"Yah, a long time ago," she told me when I asked further. "Many years ago. My daughter had stroke, and we went to doctor. The doctor said, maybe she's not going to be well for another two years. We thought, how can like that. Two years cannot do anything. Then your mother helped loh. She came in, and looked at my daughter. Your mother said, no need two years. She diagnosed it correctly, and gave the proper medication and what not. I tell you ah, your mother was very helpful to me wan..."

Then I had a sense of...I don't know. You know, when you find out something about someone who is close to you, when you think that you know pretty much everything there is to know about them...and along comes something to elevate them even higher in your estimation.

On the drive home, I called my mother. Again, I am not sure why. I had called her the night before, so she was a little surprised as well. But I just feel compelled, somehow, to tell her about that.

I love you, Ibu. Thanks for the hair lotion :>