On money…

Why is it so, when people have money, they become such different people? It doesn’t matter if its a bit or a lot of money, any money in hand changes a person. It’s worse if the scale of ‘enrichment’ is greater i.e.  completely broke to having RM100, instead of someone with RM1000 getting just RM100 more… You see, the difference lies in spending power. A person with RM 100 instead of zero now has tremendously more spending power, than when he/she was broke, compared to the chap with RM1000 who already has the spending power.

Over the weekend, I had the misfortune of being completely and utterly broke. Being broke means I have no moolah to pay for my own way, and have to depend on the sympathy of others to feed me… For one weekend only, I had no say in what to spend on…

And in that instant, my better/worse half changed. From a lamb to being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Over RM50, in one weekend, he changed. He became a completely different person… For now, all I will say is that the change was not necessarily for the better… I wondered all weekend, whether I deserved to be treated that way, as for many years, I paid for everything, even for him… Does one weekend of relying on others completely tilt the balances? What about what I’ve spent on over the years? Does it not count for something?

I wonder how I am like, when I come into money… I think that I do not change much, as I try to ‘spread the wealth’ with the people I love… Usually its a small makan-makan, or a small picnic, stocking up on groceries, paying the bills so we can keep having lights and air-conditioning, loading up the toll card, buying cat and dog food, putting aside some money for fuel and eating out…

I hardly ever spend on myself. It’s usually spent on the usual necessities, and paying off utilities I owe, the car and home costs, and occasionally some new underthings to wear, and maybe a pair of discounted shoes… With that said, it only means that my other half is not in any way, commited to any payments at all… It’s always been that way, I earn and pay for everything. If he earns something, it’s bonus, and this month we breathe easier…

I don’t know how long I can keep working my hair off like this. One of these days it would be nice to know that I can lay back and have someone else to depend on, as well. I’m really tired of being the main breadwinner, and I’m really really really tired of standing on my own two feet, with others leaning on me.

When I was younger, much much younger, I used to dream of the time when I’d be living my life with Prince Charming, who’s handsome and would come home promptly at 5pm, and into my waiting arms in a gorgeous home, with three beautiful kids in tow, several dogs and cats and other exotic pets, and me resplendent in a designer frock, spending my days taking care of the kids and home and whatever else that needed caring…

That dream died long ago, together with any dreams of Prince Charming. Reality ain’t so perfect…

I guess I’ve changed myself. Perhaps its the money, perhaps its the work, perhaps its being bitter and jaded after being unhappy for so long… Money does change everyone, after all… Even one who claims to be an unbiased observer…

Wishing on all wishes that one day I’ll be happy with my lot in life, as it’s already too late for dreams to come true – Jasmine.

On manouvering around red tape…

Just last week, my ever-trusted and battered passport finally heaved its last breath and expired. After being in service for exactly five years, and been to more places than my shoes have, it’s finally time to make a new one. In case you’re not a Malaysian, the ordeal most ordinary Malaysians face when dealing with red tape is simply mind boggling.

Usually, one has to be up at the crack of dawn, and make their way to the government office of choice. Once there, one has to wait with the patience of Job, and get a ‘number’…. Now, this number means that you might get to do what you set out to do. Operative word here is ‘might’… No guarantees the aunties just might decide on taking four coffee breaks and three smoking/praying/toilet/shopping breaks when its six numbers away from yours… If you do not have a number, go home. Try again tomorrow. There’s not even a chance of getting through the door. And usually, these numbers run out 2o minutes after the office of choice opens.

I heard through the grapevine that the Immigration Office, spankingly-new in Wangsa Maju, was implementing the ‘instant’ reward system for all Malaysian citizens intent on transacting with them. With this bit of information in hand, and forms and pictures all prepared, I set out to Wangsa Maju, ready to be sorely disappointed when told there’s no more numbers! You’re crazy to even try at 9 am! You don’t know ah, other people have been queuing since 6 in the morning?

Reaching their office, I found the place to be pleasantly un-sardine like. People actually had space to sit on. And I got a number! Miracle number one…

I sat down to wait a bit, since my turn was about 30-odd numbers away. Figured I’d see if its slow enough for me to escape to a nearby ‘mamak’ for breakfast. To my happy surprise, I didn’t have to wait long. Ten minutes in, and I’ve surrendered my passport and made payment. Miracle number two…

After the moolah bit, I was told to come back and collect my new passport in two hours. Really ah? Two hours?? So amazing?

To kill time, I finally went off to get my long-delayed breakfast. Eating maggi mee goreng doesn’t take too long, even if you eat it one string at a time… So, after about an hour, I walked back into the ‘waiting’ pen, and sat down. My number is about ten away, to my surprise… Getting my brand new passport in a heartbeat later, I thought it was simply amazing… Two hours from when I first stepped in, new passport is already in my hands! Miracle number three…

They say, in order to be canonized, one has to have three miracles. For me, this experience in Wangsa Maju was indeed ‘saintly’… I’ve never dealt with any other government entity who’s efficiency is miraculous. All I can say is, kudos guys! Congratulations for finally making at least one branch of the government efficient. Pak Lah, even with all your faults, you’re finally doing something right…

Looking forward to the day when Malaysia becomes a better place to live in – Jasmine

ps – Perhaps I’ll stay put after all… It’s not like we have another home in the South of France or anyhting….

On attracting opposites…

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time recently, with a couple uniquely different from the usual masses. You see, one half of the couple is a big, black Indian fella with chivalry and all ‘manly’ contrivances thrown in for good measure. The other half of the couple is a petite Indonesian girl, young and perhaps a little bit naive, and couldn’t be further on the opposite end of the spectrum from her significant other, in more ways than one.

They are a fascinating pair, and keeping them company is a gorgeous Siberian husky by the name of Maya, said by some to be a cross between a husky and a GSD, simply because she doesn’t behave like any other husky we’ve met before. Their main mode of locomotion is Belle, a gorgeous orange-colored VW Beetle, lovingly and painstakingly restored to almost mint condition. Again, in more ways than one, this couple is unique – in the demographia of their relationship, in their choice of a pet, in their mode of transportation and how they interact with others around them.

You see, they too have one of the more common excuses other couples use to explain away their differences – age. The age disparity between the two spans over a decade. They were born in different eras, listen to different music, and brought up with different values and social norms, and to further compound matters, they didn’t even grow up in the same country!

The question that begs answering, for me at least, is how do two very very incredibly different people get together and have a relatively happy life? They have their ups and downs, like any other couple… And yes, sometimes they cuss and curse at each other like drunken sailors, but at the end of the day, they love each other.

From my short observation of them, I would imagine their biggest challenge would be people around them, and how they look upon this very unconventional pair of people, driving along on a Sunday afternoon in their orange VW, with their husky giving other motorists the evil eye… How people talk about them behind their backs, how their aunties or other ‘kaypochies’ say “What a scandal!”, and whisper away their gossiping minds…

What I strive to learn from this pair of very fascinating people, is how one learns tolerance and unconditional love, how to be perfectly mannered and polite in the face of people who look to put you down any chance they get, and how, despite all odds, managed, no…. successfully manouvered a relationship over the years through turbulent times, emerging intact and in love with each other more than ever…

Perhaps, I too will learn to emulate these fascinating people… After all, now all I wish for is a simple and uncomplicated life, with the ones I love… To be free of the nagging thoughts of others, and how they think of me and my simple and uncomplicated life…

Looking forward to having dinner with you tonight, my love – Jasmine.

ps – My many thanks to Kash and Helen, for waking me up, and making me realize what I take for granted everyday, is what you fight for, tooth and nail…

On life in the fast lane…

Over the past weekend, our whole division (if you still didn’t notice we’re part of Malaysia’s only Fortune 500 company’s motorsports stable :P) was involved in an F1 demo, in the middle of nowhere. Now, some may beg to differ – after all, Melaka (oops, I don’t normally kiss and tell, do I?) does have its share of touristy things and hotels and the such, and hence should be ‘somewhere’, right?

WRONG!

The venue chosen was of the utmost importance, as any event organizer worth his or her salt would attest. Location and timing is everything. This is where they went oh, so wrong… First, it was planned to be held at one of Malaysia’s many many many white elephants – this means, yet another one of the government’s complexes that are only populated three days a year. As a direct result, this would only entail one thing – non existent crowds… Tell me, how does one stage a successful event without the people? It is after all, a PR exercise. How to PR to the birds and the bees, the plants and the trees?

Second factor, timing – it was planned for mid-afternoon. Did we forget something here? Perhaps the fact that Malaysia is with tropical weather, and such weather would only mean scorching afternoon heat? Or did we conveniently forget that we’re also very humid, with everyone involved sweating buckets, except for the hotshots sitting in the VIP section, everyone was in mortal danger of death by dehydration, via sweating… Even the F1 drivers were dying, especially so in their Nomex suits…

Anywho, the demo went well, and as to be expected in a Malaysian crowd, the star attraction were not the F1 drivers or their cars, not the touring BMWs or the Formula 3000 vehicles, but the ‘kapchai’ boys and their toys. Granted, they’re a talented lot, racing like mat rempits under the auspices of ‘motorsports’… but Malaysians will be Malaysians, and it’s always the raw, unadulterated thrills that get us going.

That night, post-demo, the whole motorsports division was in for a treat. A fancy party, organized by our sponsors was to be held at the only 5-star hotel in Melaka town. All white was the dress code. It was nary a day for me too, for I hate white, you know it only makes me look even fatter, if its even possible.

It was the perfect quintessential party – with hostesses in white, and the decor theme was dark Gothic, with fairy lights in dark drapes… Waiters flitting around with drinks and little pretty patches of delicious mouthful morsels of food. I had a smashing time, enjoying the food and drinks of course. Entertainment was a live jazz band, with Tompi singing songs mostly from Stevie Wonder and the like.

In its totality, the life of the F1 team for me was beyond comprehension. They travel around the world, in their funky sponsored clothes and shoes, putting on a show at demos and PR stints. On the weekend, its team work and precision at its best, as they move as one organism during the races. They work hard, and they party harder. Everything is decided for them, from what to wear to what to eat to what time they sleep, what time they wake up and what colored socks they’ll be clad in…

Being the simple city girl that I am, I wonder if this is how life in the fast lane is really like… Endless jetsetting, gorgeous people in gorgeous clothes, fantastic pay, good food, good company, parties and more parties, speed and performance and exhilaration in the races…

I wonder if its worth leaving all that you love behind – family and friends, familiar places and faces… What about the simple choice of what to wear this morning? Perhaps meeting some friends for a spot of tea later? How about the thought of sleeping in this weekend? Or the simple pleasures of spending some time with a beloved pet, pigging out on Pringles while watching reruns of the Simpsons? Somehow, when deciding to join the world of glitz and glamour, they have also, inadvertently, chosen to leave all the little things that makes each individual unique and special…

Call me simple, but the I would prefer to keep my simple, if not exciting life… I don’t think I can live so regimentally, where even the color of my socks is dictated by those little people who pay for my extravagant, but orchestrated simulation of life…

Thinking of you baby, and appreciating our haphazard and cozy way of life – Jasmine.