Monday, December 29, 2014

All Christmassed out!

Even here in Kuala Lumpur, Christmas is all about the glitz, the bling, the ring of the tills, overeating, drinking, spending lots of money etc. The malls are are all lit up and the same Christmas music is pumping out as they compete for the best Christmas decorations ever. Everybody seems to want photos on the "red thrones" adorned with lots of lights etc. be you Christian, Hindi, Muslim it's all about the festivities and not too much about the REAL story behind it all. But does this matter?

On Christmas Day Joshua woke us up excited to get to see what Santa had delivered. He is six years old and believes absolutely! This probably is the last year of total acceptance of the whole fantasy thing originating in the North Pole and of course the Tooth fairy. Some cynic will spill the beans for him in the future....but like us all he will hold onto the underlying desire to believe that the world is filled with good things, good people, presents and love.

My Christmas Day, after the opening of extremely generous gifts from everyone,in particular our son and his new wife Elaine, was pushed to another level. Nick and Elaine have only been in this house about two months. They haven't met their neighbours yet as they are busy working and getting on with their lives. I have been working in the tiny garden and have more time to wave and smile at neighbours. I had eyed a few empty plant pots outside the neighbour's house and a few days before Christmas I chatted to the daughter of the neighbour and was brave enough to ask if I could have the pots for the plants I needed to plant. Of course she agreed! Petra also told me she is a baker. On Christmas Morning the bell at the front gate rang and when I opened it, the "Aunty" from next door arrived dressed in her Muslim garb carrying a box of cookies. She handed them over and wished us all a Merry Christmas! Now THAT is the spirit of Christmas we all need to have. Spreading the cheer regardless of colour, race and creed! Gosh, that kind gesture just made me feel so good about life, so hopeful for the future.


In the same vein, we take the little dog for a walk several times a day and a few days ago Joshua(6) was with us and a bunch of children were playing in our street. Joshua looked longingly at them and Grandad asked the "gang" if Joshua could join in. These are scruffy street wise kids who run freely, crossing the road without fear, go to the local park without any supervision and just play. Our boy has someone with him all the time, has lots of rules to follow! "wash your hands!" "look left and right and left again!" "don't pat strange dogs etc." but when it came to play, the ground was pretty even as he ran and laughed and peek a booed! Unfortunately Joshua developed a bad cough and everyone advised that he shouldn't run around so he was not able to join the Gang. A couple of days later the leader of the gang (10) delivered a whole lot of handwritten notes to Joshua, wishing him Merry Christmas and asking what he wanted for Christmas! All of these children are from Malaysian Muslim homes.



Our last interaction with the locals took place last night. The owner of the house next door rang the bell and invited us to his home for dinner. In South African terms it was a REAL Braai. Lovely lamb chops and chicken. Warren, Joshua and I felt we should make an appearance....what esteemed company we ended up in. The Father is a PHD in history and works at the University, the Mother is the top Obstretician in K.L. Their daughter met her husband while studying medicine in Ireland. His Mother is a chemical Engineer etc.etc. they are a conservative Muslim family, generous, welcoming, modest, hospitable and just amazing.



All of these interactions with the locals just enhances our love for this amazing country. As Nick has married into a Chinese Malay family we have had lots of interactions with Chinese friends and family. There is HOPE people, Hope and that is what I am going to carry in my heart for 2015. It is easy to get dragged down by newspaper and Television headlines, especially in S.A.

For me, I want to enter 2015 with lots of positivity. Many of us have exciting things happening in our lives. It is a year of NEW BEGININGS. I wish you and yours a wonderful 2015. A year filled with good happenings.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wedding bells are ringing.

Here we are back in Malaysia, the third time this year to celebrate Nick and Elaine's weddings! Yes weddings!!

To re track, Nick a Chiropractor and business man, met Elaine, a Malaysian celebrity earlier this year. It was love at first sight! We met Elaine and her family during our last visit in June/July this year and it was on a week to the Seychelles they got engaged. Elaine Daly, has a Chinese Mom from the Malacca Straits and her Dad has a very mixed heritage including Dutch, Irish and Malaysian. His Mother was a Jansen. Elaine is an only child and was voted Miss Malaysia in 2008, is a T.V. Presenter, a model and a presenter amongst other interesting jobs she does. She also has a degree in law and has been presented to the bar.

It did not take Elaine and Nicholas long to decide to get married and this would take place early December. After a short time back in South Africa we found ourselves traveling back for the wedding celebrations. Elaine and Nick had decided to have two wedding celebrations. The first was held in K.L. At a lovely restaurant and this included the civil service of the actual marriage. It was a very grand affair and the press and work colleagues were invited to this affair plus we also had the chance to meet Elaine's Chinese Aunties and Uncles. One of the most amazing features is how long the family all live. I wonder what their secret is. We need to find out! Our son Christopher from Australia had some of the "aunties" and uncle (90) dancing around on the dance floor!

Our grandson Joshua was the ring bearer and he was oh so handsome!

Uncle Chris and Joshua!

The second celebration was held out in the country near the Genting Highlands and we all went up the night before the actual event and had time to get to know each other and have a good chat and laugh. It was much cooler up in the hills and in fact it rained most of the time and then voila! The sun came through in time to prepare properly for the beautiful wedding. In addition to the welcome sun, a rainbow appeared which got everyone very excited! It was amazing how the organizers transformed this patch of grass into a fairy tale venue.

This was a much more relaxed affair including a tea ceremony where the Bride and Groom present tea to their parents and family in exchange for advice and red envelopes(and pau) filled with money. Elaine wore her Mother's wedding dress to this ceremony. There were lots of other traditional Malaysian fun and games (Rite of Passage)before the actual formal activities began.


Elaine wore five designer gowns over the two nights and looked amazing. I was in a total state as to what to wear to these functions and only made my final final decision at the last minute!! I think my outfit worked. This is what I wore to the second event but have not seen any photos of the first event so holding my breath as to whether that one worked or not. We were absolutely spoilt as the make up artist came to our home to prepare us for this special occasion. "Us" included the groom, Christopher and Warren.....they just had their hair done! Imagine Warrens face as he only has a few hairs left on his head! The rolling of the eyes....!

The attention to detail was simply amazing! Everything was wonderful. Elaine and Nicholas used wedding planners and the team worked extremely hard.



Cutting of the cake!


The tea ceremony.


Warren and I had a wonderful time meeting new folk, renewing some old friendships, enjoying the festivities, seeing our sons and grandson and of course dancing the night away. Thank you Elaine and Nicholas for two wonderful celebrations. We wish you a long and happy marriage!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On the move.

So there we were just enjoying the bush and chilling with Mother Nature (and special friends) when my D.B. (Dearly Beloved) announces that he has asked our friend Gavin to find us a house in White River. Now, is that the way to announce what obviously has been spinning around in his head?? To say that I was surprised is rather an under statement however it is a great surprise as I love the Lowveld and was very sad to leave it eleven years ago! Anyway, at my age and stage does anything shock or really surprise is??

I never said much for 24 hours waiting to see if this was just a pipe dream or so e fantasy which could have been induced by the good company of our Lowveld friends, the beautiful sun set, the elephant in our Garden etc. but NO. The next day my DB decided that it was time for action and that we need to do some house searching! True to his word Gavin had contacted several agents and he and my lovely friend Mary hosted us for the weekend as we house searched. This whole experience took me back to when I sold property all of twenty something years ago. It is interesting to see how others live. The one little home was all orange and glitter which the owner had taken great care to prepare for viewing but as we stepped inside we could not breathe. She obviously was a chain smoker....we just couldn't wait to get out! Then there is the house where the dogs had pooped all over the verandah and garden....I know we need extra security but for heaven sake remove the bombs before viewers arrive! And so it goes.

We eventually found something and somewhere we could make a home and to cut a looooong story short we put in an offer which has been accepted. Now to sell our home.

On return to Toti I had intentions of beginning my packing and sorting things out with just a little sewing and seeing all my buddies before we leave for Malaysia. Then I get this frantic call from our daughter...."mom do you think you and Aunty Rob could make twenty tote bags for my company?" Aunty Rob is very busy making my wedding outfit and is studying for end of year Grade five exams with Dylan, so she is not one bit interested. I am so bad at saying no and in any case a little spending money would be great as I want to get garden furniture for our new home....okay, I will do it! "But Mom, it's not twenty, it's twenty five but we will settle for thirty tote bags and they all need to be lined using your African fabrics!!"

This all needed to be done in just over a week. So to the grindstone I went. My shoulders ached, my back ached, but I was determined that I could do this. During my "breaks" I was shoving stuff in cupboards, under beds etc. so that the flats could be viewed in our absence, in the hope of a quick sale while we are in Malaysia.Ssoon we were off to JHB. where I needed to complete my bags once they had been printed on.

Sarah wanted to use the completed tote bags as corporate gifts.


Mission completed, last minute Christmas shopping done, our first Christmas family dinner under the belt we were ready for our next adventure in Malaysia.