having my Cake, eating it – and not counting every last calorie

just moments away from 2007 December 31, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 4:58 pm
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only in Dubai could you be sucking shrimps out of their shells while gawking at a giant mocha mud pie at TGIF’s and watch people ski past you in the world’s biggest indoor ski park, Ski Dubai, at the Mall of the Emirates.

these would probably be the last few decent pictures my camera can take before it dies peacefully of old age. the colours have been out of whack for months, and the macro function has been mortifying me for weeks.

Fisherman’s Platter - TGIF’s

Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates

it’s 1650pm, and i’m late in soaking my feet in lavender, scrubbing them, getting dressed for 2007. we changed our minds, we’re not staying home, especially when both the stove and oven have short-circuited.

i wish you love, love, loooove, lots of it, immeasurable joy, innumerable delights and happy surprises, undisturbed health and fatter bank accounts for 2007.

over and out, see you in 2007, fellas.


Happy Eid ul-Adha December 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 9:50 am
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“I’ve made a mistake”, I sob to myself at the edge of the bed when I hear the amplified takbir raya from the mosque down the road. We had dozed off at four and I was awoken slightly confused by the incessant droning of a chant at seven, then I realized I had gotten the day wrong, “Eid ul-Adha’s today, not tomorrow.”

The imam was hardly motivating with a boring, low, monotonous takbir and the tuneless following of those at the mosque could be heard repeating after him, a collective bunch of sleepy Allahu Akhbars.

The guilt of getting the day wrong kept my eyes open, it was the least I could do on my part, staying awake to listen to the takbir out of respect and some bloody repentance at mixing up the days. As I sat up and got dressed, my emotions transitioned from a hint of guilt to absolute numbness, some kind of evolution trick that protects a species with strange cranial chemical and hormonal explosions – resulting in emotions – from walking off cliffs and buildings, wiping us out from the face of the planet one suicide at a time.

Natural curiosity got me peeking out the window to look at the mosque down the road. “I don’t even know the name of the mosque.” I perched my face on the sunny side of my palms and rested my elbows on the dusty windowsill, “God, I just cleaned that.”

I saw cars. Lots of them. From my restricted angle, at least 20 cars on the corner of the mosque, which meant there could have been at least 100 cars down the width of one side of the mosque. Still, I was numb and drowsy from a disturbed rest.

Then I saw two men crossing my street towards the mosque, one with a skullcap, and the other without. They work as guards at my apartment building, “I didn’t know they were Muslims.”

They had been working all night and were taking the time to go to the mosque whereas I am a Stay At Home (inactive) Mammary gland and got the days wrong, again, an unnatural side effect from an unusually high dosage of Internet, books on freakonomics, Sarah McLachlan and television.

Further down the road, two more men were walking towards the entrance of the mosque and suddenly, the Evolutionary Switch flipped the other way and I collapsed into myself and started sobbing uncontrollably.

“I have made a mistake.”

When I was a swinging single chick, I celebrated Eid ul-Adha exactly the way an unaffected teenager does, by waking up late and staying awake at the thought of the feast to come. My family was, by any measure, near the bottom of the scale of pious, traditional families.

My father is what we called a mixed mongrel, a pariah of racial mixes and my mother is an Indonesian Chinese, adopted by a childless couple. Having lost his father to a cardiac attack at a young age and his family to circumstances, my father spent a good portion of his young life finding his way about post-British Singapore, struggling to survive without his stolen inheritance and subsisting on James Dean inspired thrills with his friends. My mother was a hot 70s chick in miniskirts with a good education record who was looking for an escape, any escape, so she could finally breathe outside a home ruled by an overbearing and ambitious Indonesian mother who overcompensated for an absent husband sailing on the seas by choking the life out of her adopted toy. It was only natural that when my parents got married and made their own litter of mixed mongrel pups that they, like many new parents, found that they had no idea what they would do with my brother and I.

They did some things by the book, like sending us to madrasah, but they did not quite force it down our throats – and we did not exactly swallow either. My doting Kapitan grandfather who spoke and read Arabic fluently gladly did all my homework with perfect penmanship, I’d even scolded him that he was too neat and my teacher would know.

He could not have known that the times he taught me to read the Koran, that I was simply memorizing by ear and not learning how to read, just because it was quicker that way. More than anything, I enjoyed dressing for the sessions with a little tudung wrapped over my head. I treasured spending the time with my sweet, genial grandfather, he exuded a kind of love that I still aspire to give.

I dropped out of madrasah “because it’s so boring, Mummy!” and ended up going for classes with an ustazah who lived 2 storeys above us. Again, I memorized by ear the same surahs that I can regurgitate effortlessly today, instead of learning how to read. Soon after that, I quit that too because I found my Childcraft and Britannica encyclopaedias far more intriguing than learning from people who taught us to read a language blindly without learning the language itself and the history of Islam. The ustazah struck me as a very unhappy lady who concealed her sadness well, but in all fairness, she tried very hard, and very sincerely with difficult me.

Both my brother and I were sent to Catholic primary schools, made many Catholic and freethinking friends, a large portion of whom were also mixed mongrels and spoke predominantly English. On hindsight, I had spoken only English all my life. Growing up, I found myself to be part of the privileged bratpack in a good school full of girls waiting to come into their own skin and experimenting with many a liberal idea, including, horror of all horrors, enjoying statutory rape with ribbed condoms.

Coming from a school like that made me incredibly sure of myself, and terribly insecure. I exuded an arrogant sense of possibility and know-it-all that only teenagers can possess. I would go through a few more secular years with Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha representing little more than fasting and feasts to die for twice a year.

Meanwhile, my parents were growing older. Age has a way of throwing life, future and past, into your face and suddenly, I saw my parents praying, if not five times a day, then at least three. I threw their occasional nags behind me and thought “just because you found God, don’t rub him in my face.” They went for hajj and I celebrated by preying on newfound religious guilt by bringing home two kittens that I knew my father could not refuse despite his strict hand against pets, “because cats are God’s creatures, Daddy.”

After hajj, my parents turned into holy-hala-hula-masya-allahs and I found myself disoriented and in unfamiliar territory. Suddenly, I found myself shipped off to Indonesia to join a pesantren, religious bootcamp, where I learnt little more than eating good Indonesian village food and praying five times a day, if you consider regurgitating whole passages in Arabic which you do not understand as a direct passage to God. At fifteen, I was thrown from the thralls of secularism and the joy that is known as Take That and Gary Barlow, to spending whole days praying, reading the Koran and eating keropok.

Three years later, I met a man who introduced me to revolutionary ideas about Islam which could have earned him a global Kill Him O Ye Blind Muslims fatwa if he was not quite careful. As suspicious as everything was about that pesantren, which could now be mistaken as a hotbed for terrorists (especially since most of the men were ex-convicts), that and my chance meeting with this man were to shape my view of Islam today which is to say, five planes of dimensions away from everything they taught at that bootcamp, and not quite revolutionary enough to get me killed by Muslim lunatics.

I then joined a European company where dinners usually meant 10 rounds of scotch, 5 of the cheapest tequila on the shelf, some crazy dancing and at least one very satisfying drunken nap at the back of the boss’ car. Then I met a man who was defiantly atheist and agnostic at the same time. Against all odds and some family objections, I married this religiously confused man.

It is no mystery that some people go through their entire lives struggling to establish their identity. I am no different, and I’ll probably die still finding out new things about myself. One thing I’ve learnt today is that I have made a mistake.

Today, I sat at the corner of my bed sobbing not because I’m missing a feast. All those years of tradition, of large fanfare with ketupat, beef rendang, sambal prawns and kuah lemak had successfully instilled in me, more than just too many calories and clogged arteries – a private celebration of being a Muslim and celebrating with people I love. The first year I’m married, and two Eids have gone by without as much as a blink (I even got both days wrong) because I’m so used to my mother running the show and too afraid to overwhelm Ravi with anything Islamic in nature. I don’t believe in forcing God down someone’s throat.

That, is my mistake.

It is now my turn to run the show and I cannot pretend that Eid is little more than just a full stomach five times over an entire day, twice a year. Now it’s up to me, to start our own family tradition, first by appreciating the history behind this day, then next year, a full feast to celebrate and donating a slaughtered animal to the poor. Eid may not be as commercialized as Christmas is, or as fun with gifts and lousy regifted presents, but it is part of a long history that I am now responsible for passing down.

And I will not repeat this mistake.


because it does disturb me and i do not know what i can do about it December 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 3:20 am
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things one should not think about at 0300am:

  • who coined the word “Islamist”, and why are psychos with IQs lower than the size of my waist charading as Muslims, branded Islamists by people who find themselves lack of better words, like hmmm, perhaps, militia?
  • why is the media calling the most unIslamic of all – militia groups and self-serving warlords – Islamists when i’d assume an Islamist to be one who truly understands what Islam‘s about? wouldn’t this subconsciously ingrain in an ignoramus’ mind that Islam is simply brimming with men who think the length of their bullet strap belts/Macho Sashes are symbolic of the lengths of their manhoods and the girth of their visceral strengths? can one not differentiate between a ridiculous travesty of Islam and Islam itself?
  • why did my chocolate cake rise so much in the middle?

it’s hip to be a hippie December 27, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 2:35 am
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you know you are one step closer to Alzheimer’s when you duck from the chemical smell of Benzoyl Peroxide, and then you realise you can’t run away from it cos you have used your own fingers to apply it onto the minuscule bump on your own nose. immediately i rummage through my mental inventory of our kitchen cookware to throw out any aluminium pots and pans and realised with relief that like yesterday, and the day before, and months before that, that we mostly own cheap non-stick cookware from Ikea with scratches.

i’ve procrastinated switching to cast iron pans because believe it or not, i have not found a single cast iron cookware in Dubai. Ravi’s also been complaining about how quickly i throw things out when they are imperfected by scratches, blaming it on one of my Special Traits once more, but … but … these are scratches on non-stick pans, surely we do not want non-stick chemicals coursing through our veins unless they can help flush out unwanted toxins and flabberdeedudahday.

his eyes will widen (from vision of bank balance emptying out) when i show him Mario Batali’s beautiful cookware collection but i promise, it’s cast iron, i’ll keep ’em long enough to pass ’em along to our greatgrandkids (and no, we’re not naming our daughter Mary, sayang, unless you agree we name the boys Tilapia or Muhammad) after a long and illustrious life made possible by switching to enamel/cast iron cookware.

there are pros and cons to living in Dubai, a con would be that we do not have our very own Crate & Barrel or Sur La Table to shop online from. a con of shopping on foreign websites is that cheap bamboo utensils are marked up by 300% (after factoring in costs) just because they can, and because usually freaks like me would purchase them in order to sleep well at night – because bamboo is ecologically friendly, anti-bacterial and odour-free, among other freak-comforting reasons.

i’d successfully reached my 24th birthday because i know some of my thought trains head straight to Psycho Valley, so i am not going to buy that USD7 bamboo ladle.

but those enamel/cast iron pots and pans are a sure thing because they are too pretty to pass up and are representative of strength, dependability and durability – three sexy characteristics of a man you just cannot turn away from, not even for that cheap, non-stick(y), sexy fling with a scar(/scars) above his brow.

and if like me, your Activist gene has suddenly awoken from a jurassic lifetime of slumber, try a year of living generously. or help a few flocks of sheep cross the road to the needier side so poor people can farm/live/eat. or if it’s too revolutionary yet to give up taking carrier bags from Costco or Carrefour, or buy a t-shirt, how about just clicking on a button so someone does not go to sleep hungry tonight?

i leave you now with a picture that warmed my heart and terrorised Ravi for an entire night when i begged, again, so i can bring a stray cat home. this clawless tabbycat frightened this bear so much, he climbed a tree. Jack the cat is my 2006 hero.

NG - Cat Chases Bear Up A Tree

kudos to National Geographic for the above shot.


merry christmas y’all December 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 4:57 pm
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24th December, and suddenly i feel an overwhelming urge to complete a big project, any project before the year dissolves into 2007.

i had the most expensive plate of char kway teow two nights ago, easily ten times more expensive than a plate from a hawker centre or one of those fabulous eateries on the top floor in Far East Plaza. but it was delicious, absolutely delicious, and surprisingly, could put a few Singaporean hawker centres to shame. i turned to take a look at the chefs toiling behind the glass window and i said, “aaah.” no wonder, S-E-Asian cooks. suddenly, i felt right at home. i think The Noodle House is easily one of my favourite restaurants here. they won me over with their Sumatra Chocolate & Coconut Pot, nevermind the fact i’d never heard of cocoa growing in Sumatra. apparently, they do! lifting from here, Sumatra chocolate is described as:

strong dark milk chocolate … from Asfarth in the northwest end of the Indonesian island of Sumatra with notes of wild honey and Madiera wine …

i think they meant Madeira wine.

here we are, looking contented after siew mai, beef char kway teow, chilli crab fried rice, Sumatra chocolate & coconut pot, mango pudding & vanilla ice-cream (with real vanilla, had to restrain self from licking plate).

Us at Jumeirah Bar

there are a few huge parties for New Year’s Eve in Dubai, but we were wondering if it would be cosier to celebrate with a home-burnt dinner and fruit juice or milk. the homebody Taurus feels like staying home, and i’m pretty confident Ravi would appreciate a quiet celebration at home than jostling with a few thousand people, then fighting over cabbies.

there are Christmas decorations in the malls, but we don’t hear Jingle Bells or Silent Night anywhere.

we’d like to wish you a very, very, very Merry Christmas, may all your wishes, no matter how naughty, come true.

Us at home


bargain in the hole! December 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 5:34 pm

there are two types of people in the world with regards to finding a good bargain, the first pretend they didn’t buy it at a slashed price and walk around all smug like as though they belong to the upper (burnt) crust of society, and the other shout it out loud, boast of how much money they’d saved, take pictures and send it to each other over the Internet and spend 15 minutes going “can you believe how little this cost?”, “noooo … “, “no fuckin’ way!”, “hell, yeah!”, “whoohooo! that’s insane!”, “i know“, “oh my god, you know what this means, right? you can buy one more in a different colour” like you want to have 7 toiletbrushes in 7 different technicolour shades of the rainbow.

of course i belong to the second group. there’s no fun walking around all pretentious and shit about how rich you look and secretly wondering if people have noticed your expensive polka dotted dress is missing a whole dot and that’s why it was at the bottom of a heap of other ostracised pieces of wearable clothing at the Rejects store.

i also know of wealthy people who love their Roleks.

i present to you, my USD1.25 kitchen scale *shines proud Carebear beam into sky*

Kitchen scale

we also got a beautiful teak, i think, Indonesian table for a steal so that i no longer have to slouch over the screen on the floor like the Hunchback of Desert Sands.

that’s what’s great about some of these industry exhibitions, exhibitors from all over the world converge to display their products for potential buyers (large-scale), and would prefer to sell their displays/samples off than spend the extra money to ship these goods back to their countries.

there was one purchase i wasn’t too pleased about, i got suckered into buying these shoes despite the screaming nooooooooooo welling up from deep within my cavernous soul. they were USD9 and i’m never gonna use it. there was something sooooo sad about the lady’s face that pushed me to buy it, and now i’m going, wtf, dali, wtf. on the other hand, there aren’t too many carved, sequined wooden shoes in Dubai. at least when i’m stranded on a sand dune somewhere and freezing my ass off at night, i can use it for firewood, right? right. the curse of buyer’s remorse, justifying the purchase, then denial, then anger, then acceptance. and for you fashionistas shaking your heads in disgust, those sequins are motherofpearlish, not green/purple.

why, dali, why?

Indon shoes

which brings me to the next Topic of Pride i need to talk about, the picture above was taken by my very, very, very beautiful Nokia N73 in silver/plum no less. i’d share more pictures but the only other pictures in my phone at the moment are of Ravi passed out like a hibernating grizzly whose last meal was ham wrapped in marijuana leaves on the sofa while watching Keeping Up Appearances. makes losing my Motorola V3 to a dishonest cabbie all the more worthwhile, even after the tiring 2m sprint after the cab.

the phone however, was not bought on a bargain and Ravi has threatened to cut my allowance for the next six months which he will not do if he wants to sleep in peace and wake up with his testicles still attached to his body. have made a promise to self that when in a fit of rage, that i would throw Ravi’s Dopod 838 on the wall instead of my little metallic delight, like i’d done with all my previous phones and a pair of $200 Jill Stuart glasses after conversations with The Patriarch. i’d find any excuse to destroy the phone which shocks me out of dreamland at least 20 times every morning. flying to 10 different countries to assassinate idiots who don’t understand the concept of time difference and how we are still asleep you muthafuckas is far costlier and riskier. Ravi not switching his phone off is a totally different story altogether, because if they can’t get in touch with him, they will, by default, screw something up.

we are having issues with alarm clocks. i cannot have a clock that ticks because some dormant, violent monster within me awakes when i try to sleep with tick-tick-tick-tick-tick within earshot. Ravi however, suffers from Motherclock Complex and loves the tick-tick-tick-tick-tick of alarm clocks and falls asleep within seconds. the fact that he falls asleep within seconds anywhere without giant tick-tocks is irrelevant to him. i fear, my friends, this is a struggle for power over the bedside tables. but i think the message was clear one night when i got up, reached across, grabbed his clock and threw it on the floor and screamed, “DIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEE!” i think i have the perfect solution, we will get this digital clock and record the sound of Ravi’s phone vibrating 20x so we can wake up to the familiar sound of global stupidity and indifference to time zones.

Ventriloque clock

meanwhile, you know that ’60s theory that everyone on the planet is connected by a mere 6° of separation? all of us, yes, you and i, can finally participate in an experiment that does not require the removal of a healthy kidney. all you have to do is sign up here with Columbia and find a way to close the chain to the target person assigned to you. apparently my target is about 256° away because none of the links i’ve provided so far have reached her.

none of my friends are in secondary school anymore, but back then, i’d say we wished we had these to hide our pagers and CD players in. of course when the book beeps in front of the discipline mistress like mine did, your cover’s totally blown and good luck explaining why in the world your book beeps. the question now is, will this deter would-be iPod thieves?

iPod case

on news closer to home, it seems global warming’s wreaked havoc on weather everywhere, including Dubai and Singapore. it should rain only 2/3x a year here in Dubai, but it’s been raining every 2nd day and suddenly everyone needs to own a really huge plastic sheet or an umbrella. in Singapore, a friend brought my attention to this article and i wonder if my favourite shophouse is now debris all over Tong Watt Road. we used to live but a few metres away from this row of derelict, abandoned and mysteriously beautiful shophouses and this particular shophouse was my favourite.

Tong Watt mansion of past

i miss the musky smell of mouldy shophouses and Spize’s mee goreng pattaya (i didn’t take this mee goreng shot, kudos to she who did).


a minor setback

Filed under: Uncategorized — c*devotchka @ 2:44 am

i am having major issues with connecting to the Internet after updating my mac with the AirPort security whatchamacallits, would stay to drop a note, but i’m starting to see stars and need to sleep before i pass out in the freezer getting ice-cream out. stay tuned 🙂