Archive for the ‘Family Events’ Category

With my family by my side


Lots of things have happened since my last post but Mum has not been in the right frame of mind to write since my Nenek (Grandma) became very ill. Nenek has recovered, Thank God but is still a bit weak. We will be celebrating her 83rd birthday this weekend. Yay, you know how I love birthdays. In fact we celebrated my sister’s 14th birthday two weeks ago. Mum and sis spent the day together doing “girlie stuff” which I think meant shopping and that meant I couldn’t follow. I thought I could at least suggest my favorite restaurants for the birthday dinner venue….. TGIF, Chili’s, Swiss Marche. Apparently sis did not appreciate the “help”. Well, she sure took like forever to decide (which annoyed me) and I was relieved when she finally choose Italian. I was afraid she might pick Japanese food which I have not acquired a taste for.

I was again trying be of help when I suggested birthday gifts for her. She was horrified at my suggestion of a frock. Frock? WHO uses that word?? she demands. Ok, ok dress then!! I said. That did not help much cos it was definitely not what she wanted. Mum explained that little sis has grown up and the stuff that she now prefers have also changed. There we go again, that word “change”. Of course I have noticed the changes. I noticed the toys she has given away, the cartoons we don’t watch together anymore and how upset she gets when I forget to knock before I enter her room. I still cannot understand this thing called ‘change’ but it’s always followed by Mum telling me that its okay, everything will be alright.

Last week we gathered for a family barbeque in Nenek’s newly renovated gazebo. It’s been a long time since we had one and boy did we make up for it. Mum made lamb sausages smothered with a Greek yoghurt sauce which I cannot pronounce the name of, yummy scalloped potatoes and a rich chocolate trifle to add to the spread of satay, chicken, shrimp, squid, pasta, garlic bread and even grilled pumpkins. Everything was perfect except we missed brother who was away at campus. Lunch lasted for almost 4 hours!. Surprisingly, come dinner time we still found space for my aunt’s coriander rice, prawn sambal and a nice Malaysian salad. What a fun, gastronomical day but the most wonderful thing everyone agreed, was the lovely sight of Nenek sitting, laughing and eating with us….like her old self.

P.S We were so busy eating, we forgot to take photos of the fantastic BBQ! I do however, have a pic of sis at her birthday dinner. Sis was beaming with pleasure when Mum congratulated her choice of a superb, adult restaurant.

Sis really enjoyed that dessert

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. – Mother Teresa

It’s my birthday!


I love love love birthdays! Every October 9th I am THE MOST SPECIAL PERSON in the world. That’s how it feels. What’s so special? Well, for starters, I get to name WHATEVER restaurant I wish to have my birthday dinner. Nobody says ‘No’ to me. I get to eat sweet, sugary stuff. Of course there are the presents. I often get money as presents. Excuse me if I don’t seem delighted to receive money as a birthday present. I understand the general idea  of money… it buys you stuff etc but I haven’t quite grasped the different values of money. I mean I don’t know when to shout out with joy….when I receive a RM100 or a RM1 as a gift. That’s because I have no idea what RM100 can buy compared to RM1. Mum tried teaching me the value of money for years but in this one she has not succeeded.

I want to dress like that

I often misplaced money when I was young. This is what happened a number of times with my Hari Raya money so I was trained to surrender it to Mum for safe-keeping asap. The first time I earned my own money was when I got paid for working in the staff cafeteria of a hotel as part of an industrial placement scheme for children from Special Education stream. When Mum asked what I wanted to do with the salary I asked Mum to buy me a vest, a cowboy hat and boots. Mum was so puzzled until I explained that I wanted to be like Woody in Toy Story 2, my favorite movie at that time. She explained that people don’t dress that way in real life and I will look very odd indeed. Sometimes I think ‘real life’ is a very boring place.

Anyway, for today real life is not at all boring. I’m looking forward to the dinner. However this year I had to promise not to choose a Tex-Mex restaurant. Seems everyone but me is sick of it. Before dinner they promised to take me to a karaoke where I can sing my heart out. Today nobody can take the mike away from me unless I willingly give it up….which I won’t. The only thing I had to promise was to pick other songs besides Disney and oh yes, to use my own voice instead of mimicking others. I do a pretty mean version of  ‘Thriller’….dance steps and all (well it depends who you ask). I hope you will have as good a birthday as I’m gonna have today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!!

May you live all the days of your life. – Jonathan Swift

P.S I will post pics of my birthday later.

“My Name is Khan”……… the movie


This is Haziq’s Mum, Shimah. Yesterday we watched a movie called “My name is Khan”. I am not a great fan of Bollywood’s love tragic drama, break-out-into-a-song routine kind of movies but this one was very different indeed. Incredibly it did not have even one sing-dance number. It did have the popular star, Shah Rukh Khan who I must admit is very pleasing to the eyes but the greatest motivating factor to watch this movie was because he played the character of an autistic man. Well, an extremely high-functioning man with Asperger’s Syndrome. I say that not because he  can invent a device to pump out water from a flooded compound or that he could tackle the complexities of public transportation but because he fell in love (recognized the emotion, love for the opposite sex), had the desire for marriage and became responsible for another human. True, my knowledge and familiarity with autism is limited to my own life experience and all that seems unlikely where my son Haziq is concerned. At 22 he is more interested in theme parks than the cutest girl in front of his very eyes.

Back to the movie, kudos to the actor who played the young Khan. He portrayed a very believable autistic boy. I actually had the movie for over a month but waited till I was ready because I knew it would bring back sad memories of my coping with his disability. Watching the part where the young Khan was bullied brought me back to the time when I furiously waded into a hotel swimming pool fully dressed, to confront 3 bullies who were having fun pulling down Haziq’s swimming trunks repeatedly. Three young boys who did not know each other but formed a kinship when they found a common subject to bully. The saddest thing was one of the fathers was right there in the pool, grinning at his son’s antics. After I said some sharp words to the 3 bullies, the father just gave me a bored look and swam away with his son. In my fit of anger I cursed him and wished upon him the reality of having his own child diagnosed as autistic one day. Moments later the regret sets in. It should never, ever, be something to wish upon another parent.

Still feasting


It feels like a non-stop buffet, these Hari Raya open house invitations. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to complain. I love to eat but I hear Mum and Dad exclaiming how they have put on more weight these last two weeks than any lost (if any) during a whole month of fasting. Mum says I’m lucky that I can stay slim when I have such a big appetite


"Frogs have it easy. They can eat what bugs them."

Frankly, I would take 3 helpings of Mum’s pasta if I was allowed to. She limits it to 2 maximum because she says anything more is simply greed. Thank God Mum makes an exception during festivities. During this time we eat till we’re stuffed. Since I relate well to animals, Mum <—- showed me this photo and said this is what we look like when we overeat.

The Open House invitations still keeps coming. There’s two tomorrow. I guess that’s to be expected coming from a large family on both sides of parents. I have 3 sets of cousins though whose fathers are non-Malays. They would often say how lucky we are to get duit Raya (money given as gifts given during the festival) from all our older cousins, uncles, aunties and granduncles on Dad’s side. Comes Christmas and we 3 siblings go green with envy looking at the gifts our cousins get from their uncles and aunties on their father’s side. But that’s what makes our Family so interesting and different from others. We present a diversity of nationalities, languages and skin colors! At first my 3 uncles could not understand how we Malays could eat non-stop throughout the day during the festivals. It took them a few years before they themselves got into the swing of things and can now keep up with us. My uncles said understanding our complex extended family tree was much harder to do. LOL.

Iwan, Johann, Andreas & Kak Lin...and there's alot more

Here’s a photo of some of my cousins doing their favorite thing… EATING

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are  doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~Luciano Pavarotti


Of festivals and feasting


SELAMAT HARI RAYA to all Malaysians and a Happy Eid Mubarak for the rest of the world. Another year of completion of the month of fasting.

I'm on the right in my usual stiff pose. Behind us is Granduncle's kampung (village) house.

Last week we went back to Linggi, our kampung (village, hometown) to celebrate Hari Raya with our huge extended family. How huge? Picture a football-sized field (almost) with dozens of parked cars and a sizeable canopy enough to shield close to a  hundred people from the sun while they enjoyed a hearty feast. I do not know half of the family and I don’t remember the names of the half that I do know. Festivals like these are more often for me just blurred memories filled with laughter (of other people), lots of food and relatives dressed in their best. The part I like best about going back to the kampung is the chance to pet and feed the baby goats that belong to grand-uncle.

It used to be a terrible, tormented time for me because I would keep my hands pressed on my ears to keep out the painful noise and when it got too much I would just sit and cry for hours. Mum refused to stay away or keep me secluded in a quiet room. She kept whispering “it’s alright, we will overcome” as she rocked me back and forth. And I did overcome. By the time I was 5 years old  I was able to join in the festivities without freaking out. The next thing I had to learn was to fight the temptation of  the sweet stuff. It was everywhere I looked, unlike at home where there wasn’t a trace of sugar due to my strict no-sugar diet. You can’t imagine what it’s like to see the spread of mouth-watering desserts and not being allowed to eat it. Of course, the ugly tantrums made its appearance. Relatives told Mum to relax, let the poor kid have some…after all it’s Hari Raya. Mum did not budge. The only exception she made was to allow me the colorful non-aerated drinks…….diluted so much that it tasted like plain water but I was none the wiser.

Road sign named after my great-grandfather

This road is named after my great-grandfather, Dato' Hj Mohd Yusof. A school behind me is also named after him.

On the way home, Dad stopped by a road sign and told me that the school and road was named after my great-grandfather, Haji Mohd Yusof. Wow, I think its cool to have a school AND road named after you don’t you think? Never mind if it’s just a small road in the village. It means my great-grandfather must have played an important role in the community and this is the way he is honored and remembered by the said community. He was known to be a serious, highly respected man whose occupation was then known as  ‘visiting school inspector’. Mum said I may never have a road named after me but hey, I have a blog in my name. That’s pretty cool too.

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” –

Calvin Coolidge, American 30th President of the U.S.A

“You never monkey with the truth” – Ben Bradlee


Shodo Shima, Japan - Huddled for warmth, macaques press their bodies into a vast ball of fur. The monkeys' relaxed social hierarchy allows high- and low-ranking individuals to share the same tight space. (Yushiro Fukuda)

These macaques keep warm by pressing their bodies into a big ball of fur.

I like this photo lots. I have never seen anything like it. I’ve seen plenty of monkeys (these are macaques actually) but not with funny red faces. What I don’t understand is how they can all press closely together like a big ball of fur. They actually seem to enjoy it!. Mum explains that macaques do that to keep warm because the climate there in Shodo Shima, Japan is very, very cold. I’m glad I’m not a macaque because I would not be able to handle that much of body contact. I guess some of you may know that autistic people  have different levels of tolerance to touch. I enjoy a hug or two even though myposture is a bit stiff. I had to get used to it cos Dad always kids around with me, giving me claps on the back and big bear hugs.

But till today, in about a minute I’m squirming to get away. However, on the morning of Hari Raya (Eid, celebration of completion of the fasting month) I accept the hugs willingly. It feels right. I don’t winch.

A bear hug from Dad

Why?. Maybe it’ s because of the joy in the air and some part of my brain tells me its okay, relax….. today is after all, a special day.

You would think that a guy who doesn’t do hugs all that well would clearly understand the concept of “personal space”. Well it doesn’t work that way. For a very long time Mum had to train me not to stand too close to another person (especially female). It makes that person very uncomfortable or even angry she says. Something about it ‘not being right’. Duh, SOMEBODY TELL THAT TO THESE MONKEYS!!

* Haziq’s Mum here. I try to end each post with a meaningful or humorous quote. Surprisingly I could find only 2 quotes on the subject of personal space. One was more like a cheesy pick-up line than a quote and the other?? Are you ready?  Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant! – May barbarians invade your personal space! ….. Now if that’s not a bone-chilling Latin curse; I don’t know what is.

Footnote: For the rest of us, evolution seems to have programmed this discomfort via a brain structure called the amygdalae, a pair of almond-shaped brain regions deep within each temporal lobe that control fear and the processing of emotion. It’s your amygdalae that keep you from getting so close to another person that he could easily reach out, gouge an eye, and then drag you off by your hair. Be convinced at http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1919910,00.html

Mum’s birthday


Happy Birthday Mum. I wish her joyously the moment I wake up. She really laughed when I told her what I wanted to buy as a present. What’s so funny about stilettos? Mum says that’s the last thing she needs! I thought all women would want those? I guess not. Next “how about a necklace?”. Mum says no, she can make one herself if she wanted. That’s true. Our dining table is full of her jewelry stuff like pliers, wire, beads, crystals. She says she needs a studio for her hobby but I don’t know where to buy a studio. I suggested ” an evening gown?” Mum says she’s got nowhere to go that requires an evening gown. Boy, this is harder than I thought. After 10 minutes of hard thinking and lots of suggestions, she at last agreed on a lipstick and hair clip. Phew I’m relieved.

Then I realized she did not say where we’d be going for her birthday dinner. We go to a nice restaurant every year so why is Mum quiet about it? Perhaps she needs suggestions? I rattle off a number of my favorite restaurants …TGIF, American Chili’s, Bubba Gump? Everything was met with a No. She wants to go to nenek’s (grandma) house and have a nice tea party with family. I try to suggest more ‘grown-up’ restaurants like Tony Roma’s and Marche. It’s still No and she’s getting a bit annoyed. O.K here it comes….the..LECTURE. Listen Haziq,  just because we do the same thing every year it doesn’t mean we can’t change it. Change is good. I nod my head. Not so much in agreement but in resignation.

So off to nenek’s house. Maybe my aunty Cik Gee will bring that chicken fajita in pita bread that I love so much. Or Uncle Martin’s salad with the special sauce -his own recipe. Kids don’t usually like vegetables but we 3 children love vegetables since young (used to make other mothers wonder). We’ll put up photos tomorrow. I’ll include one of my nenek who is a healthy 83 but looks younger than her age. Nenek has a special bond with me. She tells Mum that I am anak syurga, a child from Heaven and to remember that whenever Mum feels down. Thank God for grandmothers.