Monday, July 29, 2013

Birthday time.

We had no sooner got here and we had Joshua's birthday party to look forward to. Unfortunately he had the pox!! This also meant that he had to miss the last weekly school and this was the end of his first year before changing into the primary school. He missed his little concert too! Ah well we had fun keeping him busy. His party had to be changed from the Friday to the Sunday which meant less children and more Dads!

Moira and I popped off to the novelty shops down town and bought all manner of things to do with the chosen theme.."Angry Birds"! We wanted goodies to fill a goody bag for each of the children. We also needed prizes for the various games we planned. Oh my what a selection, we were spoilt for choice. What fun we had!


The party was to be held in the gardens at the poolside in Moira's condo.there was a little worry that it may rain but fortunately that did ot happen.

It is traditional that in addition to the food we supplied for the children we needed to have a proper meal ready for the adults. Fortunately Lorna the maid/assistant is a very good cook and she knew just what to do.

The children loved the games. They played 'pin the beak' which Ganga painted, had an egg and spoon race and pass the parcel.

After blowing candles out the children couldn't wait to jump into the pool to cool down. Well done Moira and Nick. What a fine little five year old you have produced!!




Sunday, July 28, 2013

Snippets from life in K.L.


"Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky tacky

Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes all the same.

There's a green one, and a pink one

And a blue one and a yellow one

And they're all made of tricky tacky

And they all look just the same."

This protest song was written in 1962 by Malvinia Reynolds, a social activist. When I look out my window from the twenty second floor here in Mont Kiara, Kula Lumpur , this song rings true. There are high rise building after high rise building! From my vantage view I can also see that most blocks use either their roof or some other part of their building for a swimming pool which is absolutely essential in this heat.



There is nothing I love more at night than opening the lovely big sliding doors of the lounge and to try and take in the magnificent sight of all the twinkling lights coming from the various "little boxes". My mind then begins to wander and I start thinking about the people who live in all these thousands of little boxes!


The view is different from my bedroom which is at the 'back' of the apartment. This apartment block is the last building before we arrive at the Kampung or rather what is left it.



Originally K.L. Was a collection of Kampung which is a Malaysian village or hamlet. Most of them have been lost to development and I am pretty sure this last bastion of traditional life for Malaysians in the city won't last too many more years. While watching, one can see that the kampung is pretty much self contained with little shops and eating houses. As it is the month of Ramadan all Muslims fast during the day so many of the temporary eating places only set up in the evenings.


Umbrellas go up, tables are unfolded and the Mamas start cooking. Many years ago when I first came here I asked a shop keeper if she knew of any quilting guilds and her answer was that Malaysia is a nation of eaters not sewers! She has proved to be so right. One can eat on any corner, down lanes, nooks and crannys.



Delicious food is obtainable for a few ringgit all over the place. This month of fasting must be very difficult for Malaysians and a real sacrifice. The second interesting face that I read is that in a survey done, eighty per cent of Malaysians said their most favorite thing to do for their holidays is shop.



I don't think it means spending vast amounts of money but going to the malls is so popular. Saturday's and Sundays it is so difficult to find parking in the various malls as every one is taking full advantage of these air conditioned havens. I LOVE to walk around the malls too and to people watch.





Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Off to Malaysia!

This was the first time we were flying using Qatar airlines. It is an eight hour trip to Doha and an hour to get off the plane and onto our link to K.L. for another eight hours! We had an allowance of 23 kilos and when we get to the check in counter I always have to hold my breath as I worry about our luggage being overweight, it's not because I have packed too much but because a certain person keeps adding bottles and other goodies he thinks we can't live without! I remember eleven years ago when we flew to Australia for Chris and Diana's wedding and I unpacked my suitcase on arrival and between us there were seven bottles!! That is without the duty free stuff! Nothing has changed. The routine now is...I pack my case and if it is interfered with, it is without my knowledge!! On arrival in addition to the bottles we had a couple of fillet steaks and blocks of cheese! Next will be the kitchen sink!

Nicks favorite!

I try not to be too negative about the long journey and the first thing I do is suss out the movies on the entertainment channel. I was desperate to see "Quartet" but could see "A Late Quartet" advertised so I thought maybe I had got the name wrong. I settled down to watch this movie and was not disappointed! It was really good. The main plot was about four musicians three men and a woman who have been playing together in a string quartet for twenty four years. While two of the members are married with a daughter, the woman has a different relationship with each of the other players. As the Quartet approaches their twenty fifth anniversary concert one of the ensemble reveals that he has a debilating illness and will have to step down. This was indeed a lovely movie to watch accompanied by beautiful chamber music. Highly recommended.


I still wasn't sure that this was the movie that had been recommended and on arrival in K.L. Nick was proud to demonstrate his new T.V. And music centre and he loaded up the real thing I was looking forward to and I was able to sort some of my jet lag out by watching Quartet. This movie is set in an old age home. This home surpasses any Old Age home I have ever seen....a beautiful building set in magnificent surrounds. In fact the film was made in its entirety at Headsor House in Buckinhamshire. The home is used exclusively for retired musicians and the story centres around organizing a concert to raise funds to keep the home open. It has a magnificent cast of Bob Comolly, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins amongst others and is directed by Dustin Hoffman. A truly lovely experience.

These two movies plus The Best Exotic Marigold hotel have to be the best three movies I have seen for a long time. The common theme and thread running through them all is that they are about "older" people and two of them are specifically about retirees!! Is this why they are so appealing? Or do young people also enjoy them?

Not to be too single minded I also watched "Safe Haven". The movie is an American romance based on a book by Nicholas Sparks. The critics have given the film between on and three stars I do think it will appeal more to the feminine sect! While talking about movies last night we watched "Broken" which also gets about a three star rating. Warren was so upset that he wanted us to switch off. The story is set in North London where several broken and dysfunctional families live in close proximity to each other. A young girl witnesses a violent fight between a neighbour and a retarded young man who is blamed for raping his promiscuous daughter. It is all very possible and upsetting. As Nick says who wants to bring kids up in England?

At this rate I may just get through "The Thousand movies to see before you die."

It is great being back here and seeing Nicks new apartment, having lots of time with Joshua and spending

time with Moira.



I am back swimming.....the first after nearly a year. Maybe I will get rid of some of those kilos I have piled on!


Keeping Busy.



After a week at home with Oscar we are back in the Golden City. Oscar is back at school and we are getting ready to fly to Malaysia. It was fun having the little fellow with us but it does mean that one has to put most projects aside and just be there for him. 


Fortunately I have this lovely friend Bridget, who has Jonathan who is two turning three and Bridget pointed me in the right direction for holiday activities for little ones.It was fun being part of the Yummy Mummy brigade and being reminded about those early years of bringing up children!



We baked, dressed up, read, and went out and about as much as possible. We even went to a book launch with Tina Scotford at the Book Boutique.


I purchased "Saving the Rhino in the Land of Kachoo". I am so glad I bought this book. I brought it to Malaysia for Joshua who is turning five and he LOVES it. In three days he has heard the story five times! He loves it and has learnt lots of new words too! It was lovely chatting to Tina about writing, I have googled her and she started off as a nutritionist!


The weather in Johannesburg was rather chilly especially in the morning and evening. Sarah's flat faces north and has huge big windows where the sun shines in and one can almost catch a tan! The north side where Oscars bedroom is is FREEZING! I bought a new water bottle for the little fellow and made winter sheets for him which I hope makes Winter a little less chilly for him. But I have decided that nothing is going to change Oscar from waking up and crawling into bed with whoever! I usually woke up with a little hand tucked around my throat, the body cuddled in and the little fellow fellow saying "Gan, Gan I Love You" aren't I fortunate to have this great little fellow who is so loving?

And now for Malaysia......!