Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conversation With S 2 - Thou Shall Not Kill

What were you thinking? He asked so loudly my ears ached. My right eardrum has lost some of its ability to vibrate to receive soundwaves (a polite way of saying I am rather deaf), thank goodness.

This time he was fully attired in long flowing robe. He had grown a beard too.

The last time he tormented me was when I was mending the fence under the seething mid-day tropical sun. He was not happy then that I was slugging it out, all alone.

What was I thinking? I asked myself this time. What is it all about now...

"What was I thinking?"  I asked him innocently.

"Yes, when you left the dogs without their supper"

So THAT is what this is all about. I think I can handle this.

"Oooh, that. But they had been naughty dogs. They didn't carry out their duty as guard dogs. They failed to chase those wild boars away remember?" I knew what was coming, so like any good defence attorney I started to build a case for the defendant.

"Anyway it was a small punishment compared to my losses" I went on. I was going to win this one.

"And when did all this happen?" He asked.

"Last week", was my prompt reply, thinking he needed evidence. "I was away then". I added, supposedly to make my case even stronger.

"And you punished them two days ago!" He exclaimed, weighing down on me, eyes blood shot red.

"Yes, what's wrong with that?"

"How long have you had these dogs?" He asked. I was beginning to dislike the line of questioning.

"Two years"

"You don't know much about dogs do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Any dog owner worth his salt should know that you have to reward or punish them instantly - immediately after the good or bad deed is performed. If you let even a few moments pass, let alone hours or days, the poor dogs won't have any clue as to what it is all about. Besides you were not around at the time, how do you know for sure that they have not made any effort to chase the animals away?"

Now Mr prosecutor is closing in on me...

"What about the wild boar?"

"What about them?"

 "Why are you assembling the whole SWAT team to go after them?"

 "Why not? After what they had done to my properties. I have every right to..."

He almost strangled me. Stopped me in my track.

" Have you forgotten your promise. To RESPECT and to BE with the elements. They didn't go to your place. YOU came here! You have come to live in this jungle. This is THEIR home. They have to eat to live. What right are you talking about??" A normal being talking would have uttered the swear word then.

If I were in a court room I would clearly see members of the jury nodding their heads in unison, repeatedly.

"And one more thing..." I felt like saying "Yes, my lord", but didn't.

"Don't you do anything while you are angry, ever again. Do you understand? Again, yes, my lord was very tempting.

"When you are angry, count to ten, before you even THINK of doing anything. If very angry, count to 100. Now if you have difficulty doing that, I suggest you ask one of your grandsons to do it for you".

Now I need to go dismantle the SWAT team and bring down the wanted and reward posters.

This post is inspired by NATURE GIRL . Thanks Anna.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rottweiler Scared of the Wild Boar!

The only conclusion I could make when I saw this:

Young banana tree dug out - completely uprooted!

Whole trunk crushed and mutilated!

Bite marks!

This is the culprit!!

Happier days....the way it used to be
Tissue-cultured Jelai Berangan - something like the Del Monte
variety from the Philippines
It was growing so well....sigh... this photo taken about two months
ago - so the actual size before she was ravaged
 is bigger than this - a foot or two taller

I left The Farm for a few days. After all it is off-season. I have a bit of time on my hands to run some errands and catch up with family and friends. When I got back to the farm this is what happened!

I am angry!
I am disappointed!

with these two:

I depended on them and they let me down!

I thought Rottweilers are fierce dogs. How come  she can't even chase away a wild boar - or, better still eat the damn thing up??!!

Rottweiler owners, and breeders, can you shed some light on this?

Hunters - come and shoot them (the wild boars, not the dogs). You don't have to pay me, I'll pay you. 50 ringgit per dead WB. And you can have them and eat them too. Interested? Leave your contacts on the comment form, or e-mail me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Boy, Do We Like to Eat

Let's go back to the business of Eating. 

Some readers of this blog couldn't quite believe in our daily routine when come to Eating.  That is before they find out that eating is the Asians' pastime. Yes, we eat ALL the time. Following the tradition of our ancestors for thousands of years, we go by the saying "We live to eat!"

We are basically very nice people, except on two occasions: when we are hungry, and when we are driving.

When we stop eating for a couple of hours, or when we are at the steering wheel competing with the motorbikes and other drivers to see who's better at weaving through the crawling traffic, we get very angry. My theory is there's some kind of chemical secretions (in the stomach and in the brain) during these times. We then undergo a transformation - from the smiling, good-natured Asian into a monster with a rage nearing that of the Incredible Hulk. Few Asians are left brain. Most are right brain. But when we are driving we are no brain.

The saying The way to your husband's heart is through his tummy is so very true here, as many a housewife would soon find out after getting a husband.

Most of the Blogs I follow have one thing in common: they belong to fine ladies (God bless them) who turned their houses into homes, enjoy simple and frugal living, and cook delicious wholesome meals for the family. They grow what they eat, can them, pickle them, saving some for the rainy (or winter) days.

I am digressing...

Yes, we (meaning husband, wife, children, the in-laws, uncles, aunties) Asians just love to eat.

Breakfast is not limited to a couple of eggs and toast - yes we take them too, but it won't be complete without rice boiled in coconut milk, or with yellow or green curry topped with beef rendang, hard-boiled egg and some fried anchovies. Either that or a bowl of fish ball soup with noodles, or a bigger bowl of curry mee. Or a bowl of fish or chicken porridge. If you are not too hungry (which is a rarity) a piece or two pieces of Roti Canai would do. These are normally accompanied by coffee or tea with sugar and condensed milk added.

[Hotel managements in the region are very sensitive to and are well aware of this special need. That is why their breakfast buffet spread for "Asians" is commonly ten to twelve feet long, compared to just the sausage and toast, and orange juice at the little "Western" corner. So hoteliers in the West would do good to take note and remember to allocate a big section for Asian breakfast if they want to attract tourists or travellers from Asia].

That's just breakfast.

Then we are off - to our workplace, or the shopping malls or the hairdressing saloon for those who don't work. After a couple of hours at either of these places we feel hungry again. Not to worry, where ever you are there is always food. So 10 o'clock in the morning is our traditional coffee break. The govt department service counters will have the sign Keluar Minum (gone for a drink) displayed very prominently at the window. All commercial and govt office buildings have built-in canteens to cater for this.

But you can bet they don't just go for a drink - they eat too! This time we keep it simple - nothing fancy - just a plate of fried mee or a bowl of noodle will do, with tea, coffee or bottled drink. Oh, yes, this is also the time for chit chat - to catch up on what happens to Ms Ellie after JR left home, or the latest Kung Fu movie, or which politician is after which actress for his second or third or fourth wife - that sort of thing.

Because these are quite intricate and complex issues the coffee break can last up to an hour or two.

Then back to work. But before you know it it's lunch time. Yay! This time for most people it must be RICE , accompanied by the very popular fish head curry, or mutton curry, or Briyani rice , with assortments of side dishes to help you finish at least one if not two plates of rice.

The rice, etc for some reason don't seem to last for very long. The 3 o'clock afternoon coffee break takes care of this. The purpose here is to replenish our depleting sugar level which for some reason is in the habit of getting lower speedily. But that's ok, because just as the withdrawal symptoms hit you, and your hands begin to shiver, it's time for a top up. So up goes the sign, and off to the canteen or food stalls again, this time for various kinds of  kuihs (sweets made from rice (see? rice again) or tapioca flour), with coffe or tea with sugar and/or condensed milk.

Dinner (which can be as early as 6.30 pm for some) is very much like lunch. Except there's more variety and fanfare, with friends and families. It can be at the food stalls, or a seven or eight course dinner at a Chinese restaurant, especially if it's your mother-in-law's birthday. This is also when the seafood and the occasional steaks are devoured.

We are not quite done yet.

Supper can be anything from 10 pm to 5 in the morning (not later than this, remember, breakfast is coming). There are numerous stalls open to cater for those who are either back from somewhere, or are hungry enough to get out of the house for a bite (which in our case means another plate of chicken rice or bowl of noodle).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ten Ways to Eat Well and Stay Healthy

These tips are based on our experience in Krabi, Thailand , but I guess it can work anywhere.

It doesn't take a doctor or a home economist or a nutrionist to tell us that to stay healthy we need to eat and drink (yes, our body needs that!), stay physically active, and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

Elementary right? May be so, but this simple rule is quite easily forgotten, especially if :

  • we are a blogger (blink), and blogs incessantly
  • we are a workaholic
  • we spend a lot of time in the car, truck, etc
  • our idea of food is French fries (not sure if I should even put that in upper case - they are not from France, but the US, as you know) and drown jugs of Adnums (you may have to google that) in the neighbourhood pub
  • our definition of a long walk is from the TV couch to the fridge
  • we cannot think straight without alcohol in our brain, nicotine in our lungs and caffiene in our blood

In Thailand, and anywhere in South East Asia for that matter, sunshine and fresh air is FREE. All we have to do is go out and get them, as much as we like.

While in Krabi we find the following is not a bad routine to stay happy and healthy:

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Eat (and drink, of course)
  3. Go shopping
  4. Eat
  5. Go for a swim
  6. Eat
  7. Go snorkeling
  8. Eat
  9. Go for a massage
  10. Sleep

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Survive for Ten days in Krabi, Thailand

As we arrive in Krabi and check into the hotel, the first thought that come to mind is where to eat?

When we travel in Australia or Europe or the US for holidays what we normally do is hire a car, drive around, and check into hotels/motels/apartments with cooking facilities. We remember fondly the time we drove from LA to San Francisco otw to Half Moon Bay where the Murphy's lived. We did that and even went fishing and brought back the fish to cook at the motel at places such as the lovely town of San Luis Obispo.  It was so much fun!

But in Krabi? No way! Besides we just wanted to really relax and not worry about cooking come meal time.

While breakfast is part of the package, so taken care of (the only thing we need to do is get up early enough to catch it!), there's lunch and dinner and supper to worry about.

Well, 'worry' is the wrong word. You can have any of these, all just next to the hotel:

But hey, we don't want to eat those (ok, may be the coffee). That would be like going to England to eat Chinese fried rice followed by iced longan (in winter), instead of a juicy 300g medium rare sirloin, or big slices of tender, smoking hot roast beef,  followed by Yorkshire pudding!

So let's go local. And I see just the place for that. Let's go!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Facing The Roadblog - A Reality Check

Let's face it - we blog to show off our prowess - how good we are at things we do: How well our trees grow; how big and healthy our vegies have become; how bountiful our harvests have been; how the chickens have grown, and our children somehow refuse to; how far and wide we have travelled; how we have mastered new strokes with our artwork, etc.

Or we simply enjoy telling a good story, real or fiction. And that's cool.

And we bloggers love to share. While it is not always possible to share our harvest with everybody across the globe, we can always share the joy, the trepidation, and the occasional heartaches of whatever we do.

Not all blogers (now, is that with one g or two?) will admit it, but the reality is we thrive on others in the blogsphere reading (every single word if possible) what we have written. It gives us so much pleasure, so much joy. So much so that it makes us stay up and do more posts.

I hit the ground running some six weeks ago starting this blog, and have not looked back and kept looking back. I read and reread every single post that I had painstakingly written, and wondered if you guys (feminine gender very much included here) really liked them. It is very sweet of some of you to have come out and said so.

So before continuing with my Krabi adventure I thought I pause for a while, 

and reflect on how I am doing in terms of getting you people's attention. Remember, I thrive on it, ok.

At first look, I am not doing too badly for a blog that is only as old as my banana.

A deeper analysis of my visitors reveals the following:

The US is fast catching up with, and will soon overtake the Malaysians, yes, people from my own country, with the most number of visitors to my blog. Hmmm... I wonder why. The only reason I can fathom is that Malaysians are busy reading socio-political blogs (Rocky, Harris Ibrahim, and Marina M come to mind) or writing one themselves! (Like Pisau dot net - for stabbing who, you know where...).

I can't say Malaysians do not like agriculture as we are supposed to be an agricultural country, and the govt is spending money like there's no to-morrow (or like water, some people might say) funding agriculture projects...tsk, tsk, tsk);

The only consolation is if we take into account the fact that the population of Malaysia is a tenth of that of the US.

Of course people might say that it is because I have friends and families in the US. But I have friends and families here too! Damn it! 

Ok guys, all together now...Malaysia Boleh!! (Meaning Malaysia can - yes, we can the pineapple, the longan, etc....kidding...)

Australians made up the second largest group. Yes, give yourself a pat on the back mate! I have always liked Australia. All our children are educated there. Number three may continue his studies there this summer (Australian summer, that is).

In terms of numbers there are not many visitors, but that is because there are far too few bloggers in Australia to start with, and from a population as small as ours. Too busy surfing, I guess.

I hope Great Britain, the country that we owe our administrative and language legacy to, will catch up. It is a great pity not to use such beautiful language, if you don't blog.

I may just give Martin, Bruce, John and a few others a call, just to speed things up a bit.

Canada is not doing too badly, very close behind the UK. And I really hope they will catch up too.

I am a little disappointed with our neighbours Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. Singapore I can understand, there are only a couple of million people there, and they are all busy making money. But Indonesia has a population of 200 million and Thailand 40 - so what gives??

I am encouraged by visitors from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Italy - and hope to receive and entertain many more.

My greatest disappointment is France - the country of fine wine and cheese - one that I enjoyed pilgrimage to once or twice a year for many years, to give an account of how the business was doing in the Pacific Rim. I remember fondly the long lunches we had with those calling the shots, in Chazay, Lyon.

It makes me wonder now - aren't there any blogger in France?

[With apologies to my Thai friends, somebody just called me up to say that the Thais are busy planning another coup de tat. Come to think of it the Thais do change their govt once or twice annually]

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our "Nana" Has Transformed!

One afternoon a few months ago I was looking after Zaqwan (he was just over a year and a half then). We were passing by the kitchen area when suddenly he cried: "Nana, nana..."

"Uh oh"...I said to myself, this may spell trouble. You see, Zaqwan's mom is known to us as Nana. 

Zaqwan must have suddenly missed his mother and wanted me to send him to her!

"Mummy's at work" I said trying to pacify him. "We'll see her in the evening, ok".

"Nana, nana..." Zaqwan persisted

 I was trying hard to avoid having to send him to his mom. It wouldn't have worked anyway. First I didn't have his car seat with me. Secondly I didn't think Nana fancied (to put it mildly) the idea of a baby and a white-haired oldy suddenly appearing at her office! No can do.

"Nana, nana" Zaqwan went on,

this time his finger pointed to a bunch of bananas hanging on the wall.

"Oh, I see..."  "Phew...!"

This post is about our banana tree. (I would of course need a permission, probably in writing, before I even think about writing something on Nana, the mother ;)

You may recall this photo of the banana tree we have at The Farm. Looks healthy, right.

This is the rastali variety. The mother (or rather baby) tree was given to us by Aunt Sophie some three to four months ago. She gave us a seedling of less than a foot tall. She must be proud to learn how her little baby has grown into a fine young lady.

Aunt Sophie lives in an apartment a few storeys above ground level. But her love for gardening didn't stop her from looking after some banana trees at ground level. Until one day the management told her that the bananas had to go. Residents had been complaining.

Aunt Sophie came to us and ask if we were willing to adopt one of the bananas. We were glad to. So we transported the seedling to The Farm with Aunt Sophie tagging along. She even chose the spot where she (the banana) should be planted.

The tree had shown good progress in the first few months. Until recently, that is. I noticed her new frond had shrunk to a third its usual length - just over a foot, from the usual 6-8 feet (I'm old school, still stuck with the Imperial - that would be about 2 to two and a half metres).

New frond in the middle

The young lady had stopped growing! Vegetatively, that is. She is now transforming herself, getting ready for motherhood.

The next day I noticed her jantung or 'the heart' protruding from where new fronds would normally emerge. I watched with complete awe another wonder of nature. "Here is another fruit of my labour" I thought, quite pleased with myself. My tender loving care had not gone unrewarded after all.

She continued with her transformation, the heart becoming longer and had bent down slightly due to its weight.

The 'Heart' squeezing itself out pushing
aside the new frond

Then,..... KKKK...RRRRR...EEEE..OOOOKKK, tub..tub..tub.. it burst open

I can't wait to tell Aunt Sophie the good news.

To be continued....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I am a Star?

Hi everyone, my intended post has been passed over for a fantastic piece of news which I just received:

Star Blogger Theres Just Life wants me to join her in Bloggers' Hall of Fame!

She had been bestowed the award by Denise at L'Aussie Writing. What I'll have to do though is write about my writing style and habit, and pass the star to some other bloggers.

Thanks for having me in mind, PJ. It is my pleasure to do both, with or without the award.

I first signed up with Blogger three years ago when living in Perth, Western Australia. I thought being retired I would have plenty of time to write. Well, I thought wrong. I had plenty of time alright, but apart from cooking and looking after son number three (yes the one with the orange hair!)  the rest of my time was spent cycling (and fishing) around Perth and enjoying the whole of Western Australia and other territories.

Needless to say the blog never took off. It remained dormant. When I returned to Malaysia and rehabilitated the farm land that I had bought some eight years ago (it had turned into a secondary jungle then), it occured to me that I now would have more time on my hands in between farm jobs to do some writing. This time I was right.

So last month I started this blog. Frankly I was worried that it'll suffer the same fate as the first one - still born - or I would be hit by the writers' block and would stop writing after a couple of entries. As it turned out, I wrote and wrote and surprised myself with seventeen entries in the first month!

I was of course encouraged by those visiting my blog and gave what I thought were their true and honest feelings about what I wrote.

What I write about: In my case I was very clear of what I will NOT write about, and that is socio-political issues. The reason being I am apolitical, and if I were to do a socio-political blog I would have to pass judgement and be critical of certain individuals, or the government, etc. I am just not into that kind of thing.

If there's an advice that I am to give would-be bloggers, it is this: blog what you are passionate about. Something that you will never get tired of writing, discussing and sharing. In this way you won't really be concerned about whether people read your blog or not. After all it is simply a matter of keeping a diary of your daily activities, which some of us do anyway, even without putting it into a blog.

But the blogsphere is a wonderful place. You will soon realise that there are indeed people with the same interests as you, and they will pay you visits and make a comment or two. And this, as I said earlier, is great encouragement.

My writing habit and style: I write spontaneously. As I like anybody or anything with a sense of humour, I tend to inject some in my writing. They are sprinkled with a little drama, even out of the most mundane of topics and situations!

In most cases the subject matter just hit me out of nowhere (often while I am in the middle of doing some work totally unrelated to writing itself). I would then capture not only the ideas but right down to the actual phrases that I was going to use, and kept them in my head. Of course some of them would be lost as it normally took me a few days between being hit (or inspired, as some would call it) and the actual writing, but so far I have been able to retain most of them.

Once I get access to a computer and the internet I just start writing on that topic. No drafting, no jotting down anything. I edit as I go along. I must admit I am a stickler for grammer and spelling!

What I write about: My first love is my family. But I am passionate about growing trees and rearing animals. So rather than writing about agriculture or agronomy per se, which can be rather boring, I find myself linking the two. And because I am so very fond of children and feel very connected to them, you will find children featuring prominently in my writing. That perhaps also explain the Aesop fable approach in some.

Now for the difficult but pleasurable task of listing blogs that I follow. Before that I must state here that since I am new at blogging where I started browsing for blogs I like not so long ago, I am sure there are many many more wonderful blogs with similar interest out there which I had not got the pleasure and fortune of discovering.

Also, I follow a great number of blogs, including by Artists, as Art is another subject which I am attracted to.

For this purpose however I shall limit myself to blogs with farming and nature theme. So here goes:

(I sincerely hope the following will accept the award, tell us about their writing style/habit, and in turn nominate blogs of their choice - thanks!)

http://bimbimbie.blogspot.com/  You'll find her nestled amongst tall Gum and flowering Banksia trees. Great photos of birds

http://kellesneverdonefarm.blogspot.com/  for the simple and frugal life - the way I like it!

http://thechicken-wrangler.blogspot.com/ where you'll get to learn all about chicken rearing

http://operationhomestead.blogspot.com/  for more farm stories involving goats, ducks and yes, chickens!

http://adventuresinthegoodland.blogspot.com/ more adventures and nice scenery here!

http://akelamalu.blogspot.com/ Head to Lancashire U.K for some delightful fictions

There you have it, PJ. Here's to you...

Saturday, September 4, 2010


When I bought my Canon I was determined to keep track of Zaqwan growing up on a weekly basis, or monthly at the very least, knowing how fast kids grow and the behavioral changes that come with it. I have not been able to do that with Irfan as I don't see him often enough. Besides, Irfan's mama had already chronicled his development on an almost daily basis since his birth, in her blog, so I can always go back to that.

Zaqwan has been ok with the camera as you may have noticed from earlier photoshoots. But this has changed lately.

He seems to be extremely camera shy. He resents the camera being pointed at him and would make his displeasure quite clear for everyone to see.

One evening at break fast (as opposed to one morning at breakfast), he sat on his baby chair at the dining table with us. While waiting for his food to be served he put his right hand to his chin in a termenung  (deep thought) pose, but with a smile on his face.

On seeing this Grandma got excited and went: " the camera! the camera! quickly!"

By the time I came down with the camera Zaqwan's deep and pleasant thoughts had changed to - how to describe it - bored and lazy thoughts may be . And he didn't like the presence of the camera at all:

OK that's enough!

The transformation of nana.....next

Friday, September 3, 2010

A 'Papan' A Day

One 'Papan'
First let me clear the term 'papan': It is an article (penjodoh bilangan in Malay) - like a herd of cattle, a cup of coffee, a flock of chickens - you get my drift (in Malay e.g se ekor lembu, sehelai kain, sebiji mangga - faham la tu) to describe one string of this bean called Petai- only this bean, no other beans carry the article 'papan'. Don't ask me why this is so. May be the DBP -'Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka' - our linguistic authority can explain.

Anyway, deep in the jungles surrounding The Farm you'll find Petai trees growing, matured trees some 30 metres tall. So it is quite tough to get to the fruits. Climbers have died from falling down the petai trees.

Botanists and plant scientists would know petai as Parkia speciosa, a leguminous plant. They are also known, in various countries in the Far East, as bitter bean, sataw, twisted cluster bean, yongchaa, yongchaak, zawngtah or stink bean.


In the centre of these photos, extending high beyond the bamboo and other
tall trees, you can see the light green branches of the Petai tree

A young Petai tree - not unlike The Flame of the Forest

Petai seedling just planted

'Orang Asli' or the indeginous people selling Petai

They are sold in a bunch of 100  'papan'

Petai is very popular amongst Asians. Only the bean inside is eaten, either raw, or  pickled, or cooked into a 'sambal' - by frying with a paste consisting of blended or pestel and mortar-pounded shallots, garlic, dried chillies and tamarind juice (salt and sugar to taste).

The petai beans

What is left of the skin after the
beans have been taken out

Sambal Petai

Apart from being a fantastic appetizer due to its exotic taste and crunchiness, and the added heat if turned into a sambal, petai is known as a cure for and prevention of diabetes.

That's what I thought, until I discovered a university professor's research findings. Professor Madia Dr.Aminuddin AHK of the Dept.of Physiology Medical faculty of UKM (University Kebangsaan Malaysia) conducted various studies and his research has proven petai's effectiveness as a cure for many other human ailments such as depression and PMS.

You can read his entire findings here. You will be amazed.

Dr Aminuddin compared apple and petai and concluded that eating a papan a day is better at keeping the doctor away.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Conversation With S

It was a very hot day. I was squatting down mending the fence. A section had been torn by some wild  animals, I suspect the wild boar. Ideally I should concrete the whole stretch, holding the wire mesh down. But I have no energy to do the sand-cement mix and to wheel-barrow the whole mixture down, or up in this case. It needs somebody half my age to do it.

As a temporary measure I use logs to put accross the length of the hole and nail down the end of the wire fencing into it. It works, until the wood rots or some strong beast rip it apart.

Now that the fruit season is over I am not so worried about animals coming in. I am more worried about Ella (the Rottweiler) going out and terrorize the villagers.

"It's a hot day, isn't it?"  he appeared out of nowhere, as usual, breathing down my neck (literally and figuratively). "Yes, it is very hot"  I responded, not bothering to look back, continuing with my pulling the wire and hammering, sweat dripping down my face and neck, my skinny and almost black arm swinging the hammer as hard as I could.

"Why are you doing this alone?" he continued, in a kay-poh-chi (busybody) way.

"Why not?" I asked back.

"Why not ask your children to help, so you can finish this whole place in double quick time". 

"Triple quick"  I found myself reluctantly entertaining him.

"How's that?"

"I have three boys"

"There you go. Why not ask them to come and lend their poor father a hand"

"I'm not poor"

"You know what I mean"

"They are all busy"

"Even on week-ends?"

"Look, they have got families, ok. They have other things to do", I shot back, becoming irritated now.

"Defending them now, issit?"

"Why are you talking like a Malaysian, now?"

"I am Malaysian. And I read Patrick Teoh's blog a lot. Anyway, you are defending them, aren't you?"

"Of course. They are not here to defend themselves"

"What about number 3?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Your third son, the tall one, the one with the orange hair"


"Sometimes orange, sometimes green".

"What about him?"

"Why is he not helping you?" 

"Why don't you ask him" I thought that would be the easiest way out. I refused to offer any more excuses.

"Now it's one o'clock"


"You must be hungry from all this laborious work. What about your makan minum (meals), who takes care of that?"

"Don't go there"

"Why not?"

"DON'T!"  I decided to do a Homer Simpson, hoping that he'll go away.

"Mano tuko??"

I looked up and there was Aziz, my younger brother and week-end helper staring down at me, asking for the hammer.

By the look on his face  he knew that he must have startled the whit out of me.