30 January 2008


The newsbits that ran across my TV screen early this morning:
Wife laces curry with anti-freeze....
Police break up kidney snatching gang....

28 January 2008

an era that was

In the few hours after Suharto's passing there was an explosion of comments, praises, criticisms, and apologies on the late strongman. In my late teens, I would not have cared for what Suharto was doing or not doing, but because he was definitely one of the most debated and the topic of long exams in my freshman's "Politics and Governments of Southeast Asia", it was imperative that we studied him. It was a course that was a requirement for graduation even though you were an Art student and would not damn care about some turmoil in a neighboring country. I remember the hours of researching for his speeches and any material that would give us an idea of the realities of Indonesian politics in those days. Those days we did not have the internet; we only had the dusty nooks at the Archives section of the library we considered as sacred as the places of worship that I and classmates went to. In our young minds, we reckoned that Suharto like Marcos or any friend of the USA for that matter were evil despots.

Today, in my ripe age of 'discernment' I find myself slow to criticise the man who to many was the 'Father of Development'. In those days, the realities were different. There was the 'Cold War' and the password for longevity was 'deterrence' and only 'deterrence'. This era has passed and we in SEA have a totally different set of problems post 'Cold War'. And with this passing, we should pray for a peaceful Indonesia and for the rest of SEA.

27 January 2008

roti kosong

One of the challenges of aging is metabolic slow down. It means that no matter how less you eat, the weight never loses off. The renowned health institution, John Hopkins Medicine gives these tips:

To quicken metabolism - Eat more frequently. Does that mean we are at liberty to do midnight noshing? Does that mean we can sleep late ala ramadhan nights? Au contraire! John Hopkins says you must get enough sleep to bolster metabolic rate. Non-sleepers gain weight more than tight dreamers. Have enough sleep!! Don't eat after seven pm says Oprah and look at her, Ms Svelte.

John Hopkins also says, eat your breakfast. It quick starts metabolism after sleep. Skipping breakfast lets your body store energy in the form of fat. Eat lean meat. It gets you more mileage than eating carbs and fat. Move around a lot. Fidget if you must. One more tip: exercise frequently and do strength training. You build up muscles, you burn more calories. (Simply said than done, hee hee).

There is of course a warning: Don’t take supplements which tout weight loss (fact is they do but with side effects). They may contain caffeine and other stimulants. These are the things that may affect your heart rate (aside from caffeine): bitter orange, kola nut, coleus forskohlii, guarana, yerba mate, and yohimbine.

Of all the tips, the one that is most attractive is the 'eat frequently' part. For starters, roti kosong on a Sunday is just glorious!!

18 January 2008


I am saddened at the demise of cursive handwriting. It used to be that longhand was taught as an art form. Remember when we minded our curlicues, much more than the content of our writing. With the advent of word processors, e-mails and text messaging, we have forgotten the art of penmanship. It is not a surprise that most people can't read longhand. Some students I know would write their compositions in block letters. There is a danger that in the future, no one can read history written by hand. I say, bring back the curlicues.

09 January 2008

one true love

My alter-ego who is just across the room engrossed in his laptop sends me this e-mail he got from one of his friends in the States. I adore anecdotes like this:


It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, "And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?"

He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."

I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, "That is the kind of love I want in my life."

True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

With all the jokes and fun that are in e-mails, sometimes there is one that comes along that has an important message. I had to share it with you all.

Oh, by the way, peace is seeing a sunset and knowing who to thank. The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

02 January 2008

yasmin crowther's the saffron kitchen

The Saffron Kitchen is a heart rending story replete with lovable characters. It is set in Iran and in England, both countries given descriptions at its best. England is beautiful with its lush surroundings; Iran is described in the colours of earth and saffron. Yasmin Crowther writes simply and honestly, never apologetic. The reader is left to deal with his or her own biases and stereotypes.

The bonds that tie mother and daughter, husband and wife are threatened when Maryam Mazar, Iranian by birth, is heartbroken and inconsolable when she is physically violent to a young nephew. In a while, we would see that this angry outburst is something that was borne in Maryam’s adolescence when her autocratic father had harmed her physically because of a night of “indiscretion” with the real love of her life, Ali. She was eventually disowned by her father and Ali brutally scarred and banished to a harsh life. Maryam, self-exiled in England met Sara’s father and married him but was continually haunted by her past.

The part that would make me cry is Sara’s realization that for the sake of her mother’s coming to terms with herself, she has to let her go and reunite with Ali in Iran and allow her to face the demons of her youth. Sara's father is tremendously hurt but gathers up the courage and the wisdom to let Maryam go. Sara herself is angry with what happened to her mother decades ago and would not impose more guilt on her.

This is one book that gives me the catharsis. It may allow one to delve into the difficulties of mixed marriages and might also bring up the issue of Muslim women’s rights in a patriarchal setting. Not unlike Maryam, many of us can be frustrated at times with the system, though, in reality, it is not as bad as thought, as most Muslim women can have security and serenity in the same set-up. The book may inspire debate, yet, what is vital for me is the characters’ love for each other; there was unhappiness but there were no forms of betrayal – just letting go; setting a loved one free no matter how it hurts.