Premonition

I’m not a big believer in anything superstitious. I try not to be. My western education in India, especially my science teachers did an exceptionally good job in beating the superstitions out of me that I rarely believe in any of the occult. I do sometimes profess in believing in the paranormal but I do that mostly to fit in here. I mean, nothing is a bigger killjoy when families and friends start swapping ghost stories and the occult and then you proceed to lecture then in science. So when it comes to gatherings, I tend to nod and smile but for the most part – I no longer believe in the paranormal.

Except.

I do believe in signs though. I try not to. What could be perceived as a sign could just be an event of pure coincidence so taking it as a sign is just illogical. So when I dropped chicken in soy sauce on my favourite scarf at my cousin’s baby shower, my spidey senses began to tingle. This was a sign. Something bad was going to happen to my favourite silk scarf.

As it turns out, the something bad was War Horse.

Coming back from the course in London has turned me into a pretentious, wannabe film-maker. I hear what you’re saying. You were already pretentious before you came back to Malaysia, so how is this any different? Aha. Let me explain. While before I would grit my teeth and have no say in a purely democratic vote to watch a crap movie (see: Bride Wars), now, having gained street cred as a director (ahem), I have the final say on what movie to watch. So when the choice for our monthly movie meet came up between The Phantom Menace 3D and War Horse, the pretentious film-maker in me insisted that we had to watch War Horse, despite the geek inside me sobbing at the lost opportunity of re-watching Star Wars for the fifth time.

But you know, it’s a Spielberg movie…and, you know, it was nominated for an Oscar…and stuff.

Never mind it’s about horses fighting in one of the worst wars ever to grace our planet.

As it turns out, my earlier premonition about the scarf was right. My spidey tingly senses sensed that the scarf was not safe that something bad was going to happen to the scarf. And the something bad was me. The thing is, my mother brought me up an animal lover. I love animals and an entire movie of a horse separating from it’s owner, before plenty of horses running straight into machine guns, and horses starving to death, pushed to work till they die from exhaustion. Add to me feeling particularly hormonal, you know, that time of the month left me more than pushed to the brink of tears.Let’s just say, I was sobbing. Not the Hollywood style of crying, a single teardrop rolling down my cheek. No, we’re talking the Korean drama style of sobbing, where my eyes were read, and my nose was stuffed. The only way to hide my face and quell the sounds of sniffling was unfortunately, my beautiful scarf which, I really had to try my hardest to stop using it as a large handkerchief to wipe my eyes.

I rarely cry during movies, the only time I did cry properly was when Rose was separated from the Doctor in Season 2, Doctor Who. The rest of the time, it’s just sniffles and pretending that I’m too macho for these sort of thing. I was after all, a child of the finance industry. As the events of 2008 has show, financiers lack a beating heart. Don’t believe me, run an investment banker down – cut into their chest cavity. You’re going to find nothing in there.

My other two movie partners are both children of the finance industry and they took to my outward display of emotions the best they could. One just pretended it never happened. The other, awkwardly patted me on the back and asked me if I were okay and changed the topic before even hearing my response.

It’s okay though. I’m alright. The scarf on the other hand…

Clean All the Things!

As it happens after a very long weekend in Malaysia, the first day of work would be completely unproductive. And since I had a very productive weekend, I suppose I did not feel too bad that I somewhat collapsed in the afternoon. One minute I was watching a bit of Cooking for Real, and the next minute, Giada was on TV.

This happens quite a lot to me lately, one minute I would be awake and the next I could have sworn that I had only been out for a minute but an hour or two had past. It’s disorienting but most of all, it is deeply unsatisfying. I love my sleep – I want to savour it. Deep sleep, even though it may be good for my body, does not feel like sleep. I like the feeling of unable to wake up, the eyes being unable to open and the lethargy that sets in your bones before feeling sprightly and properly awake later on.

Eizwan reckons it happens to me more often since I am rather busy lately. I am quite. Work is incredibly busy and as it is, I’m usually running around. Free time involves me jotting down bits of writing and then, my new ‘I-Need-A-New-Hobby’ hobby is….*drumroll* cleaning.

Yes, Adlina, the one who refuses to be domestic has suddenly found cleaning, her new hobby. But here me out before you delete my phone number from your Iphones. The thing is, cleaning can be kinda fun in a cheapskate, ‘look-at-me-getting-fitter-without-going-to-the-gym’ and mad scientist ‘look-at-me-combining-household-items-into-a-cleaner,-wait-what-is-that-smell,-wait-did-I-just-make-something-toxic’ kinda of way.

Great cleaning recipe by the way: 1 part vinegar, 2 part water and a squidge of dish soap in a spray bottle gives you a great all-purpose cleaner. 

And I justify my sudden attachment to homeliness by saying that if 3M, one of the most innovative companies in the world (next to Apple) can spend time making funky products for cleaning your house (favourite items, the rayon mop), clearly they are onto something. Angry Birds watch out, the future is in scrubbing your grout clean.

I kid. Sort of. But there is something deeply satisfying when the little house we rented have started turning into a home. It makes me excited. And a little sad because that it’s not really my home, and I can’t do super fun things like renovating the kitchen, the bathroom, or pulling the half the kitchen down to make a proper garden, and getting rid of some of the wasted space.

My landlady is quite relaxed about doing things like painting and installing hooks, minor cosmetic changes, nothing involving breaking down the hideous tiles in the kitchen before reinstalling them myself – so I have suggested to Eizwan that the least we could you know, sand down the kitchen cabinets and paint it over. I just love DIY.

At this point, he usually hugs me and tells me that to go to sleep and that tomorrow is a new day. And that tomorrow, he tells me, I’ll find another obsession, hopefully one that does not involving sanding down the kitchen.

Day 3: The Madness That is India

So today was the day, if everything could go wrong. It would.

Well, that’s not true. The day started off well. Breakfast was actually tasty for once and I was very much looking forward to work. Today is the day I meet my suppliers for the vague business I had been mentioning about.

The first sessions went very well. All the prep we had done paid off and I am very excited about the kinds of products we will be introducing to Malaysia.

After three hours of tea tasting, we headed off to see our second supplier. And this was when everything that could go wrong, well, did.

To save a bit of cash, we opted to take the taxi in Calcutta. I’ve taken taxis in Delhi before – how much more different could it be in Calcutta. We hoped into one of these yellow Ambassadors with the address in hand.

Taxi fares in Calcutta is easy to navigate. Double the rate on the meter and add 2 rupees, or if you are feeling generous, another 5 or 10 Rs. While figuring out the rate may be easy, the real problem comes in communicating to the taxi driver. Despite West Bengal’s policy of making English compulsory – it seems that no one here really speaks English. Communication has to be done in the form of waves and gestures and speaking English as loudly as possible. It is a well-known fact that the louder you shout at someone in a language they don’t comprehend, the more likely they will be able to understand it.

Second problem: no one in Calcutta seems to know how to get around in the city. The first driver we had when we came over last year, had plenty of problems of finding an area that we spent more time going around in circles than getting to the places we intended to.

Third problem, both my mum and my phone had no international roaming. I had a camera in the shape of an Iphone 4s, but not really a phone.

Knowing these three problems – I’m not so sure what possessed the two of us to take a taxi anyway to see our second supplier. The taxi driver did not speak any English, and when our supplier told him where the area we needed to be – he seemed as confused as ever. Not so sure why he opted to be a taxi driver as his chosen profession.

Our taxi driver – as expected, got lost and when he asked for directions from a passerby. Based on the tone and gestures of the interaction, said passerby presumably began to mock him for being such a hopeless taxi driver and getting lost. In the taxi driver’s indignation, he dropped the two of us by the side of the road telling us that he can’t help us anymore.

To be honest, at this point I was quite terrified. I’m not familiar with Calcutta. Drop me in any part of Delhi and I’ll be fine but this was a different city, with different rules and heck, a different language. We don’t have a phone.

But my mum was very insistent that we walked to find the area. I think we asked no less than 10 different people how to get to our second supplier. And I kid you not, all ten people gave different directions. We walked around the block three times, trying to find the address. We bickered with each other, threatening to call off our partnership (kinda difficult when she’s your mother).

As a rule of thumb in India, you ought to be careful if you are two foreign women walking about in unfamiliar territory. Although men who were thinking of teasing us were terrified of us since we had our bitchface on.

We finally found the address we were looking for, an unfamiliar office, very different to the one we went to. It was at this point we realized we went to the wrong address than the one we intended.

Doubt

“The fundamental cause of trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt”

– Betrand Russell

I actually have about 4 more days in Calcutta to post – if I could get around to posting it. I know some people thoroughly enjoy writing about their holidays, but even as I wrote it, I found it a rather dull experience. But since I’ve been challenging myself fo a while to write about my holidays, I might as well continue on to post the damn thing online. One thing for sure is, travel writer I am not.

Otherwise, I have been extremely busy these past few weeks since I got back from Cal. As some of you may know from my vague tweets that I have been focusing on working on a vague business of mine for a while now. The next post on Calcutta will actually explain that business that I’ve been working on and off for the past year. Let’s just say it was an idea that came in a whim in January 2011 and as a result of that crazy idea, booked a flight and hotels in India and just headed there to pursue said crazy idea.

Last year was spent laying the ground work for the business as well as working on the last vestige of my consulting. I also spent a lot more time last year working as a creative writer. But a business can’t just remain on the ground. This year though, as with my resolution of finishing my work, I really wanted to get that business up and running. And as a result – I’ve been running around looking for shoplots, working on trying to find a place to sell my products, discussing packaging and finding equipment.

All good but all the running around meant I had less time for my writing. And I should be doing what I used to do last year which is to wake up around 5am and write. But what with all the traveling and running around, I am so exhausted that I can’t wake up around 5. As it is, I am already feeling the beginnings of the flu.

I do believe it is not just the running around that is causing the flu. As with everything that truly matters, it fills me up with a lot of self-doubt and trepidation. I want this business to do well, to succeed very much but the risks and stakes, as with any hero’s journey (see The Writer’s Journey, am really not calling myself a hero) is very high.

I would like to think that I am the intelligent and hence the self-doubt, but there are times I would like to be the fool and be cocksure (and not matter that I’ll be heading into trouble). I would love to be cocksure of the business I am working on, and I would love to be cocksure about my writing. As it is, with all this business work, I’ve been neglecting my writing. As much as I imagined myself to be rather corporate before, I have a writer’s soul and not writing is causing me to feel like a shadow of myself.

There are times where I wonder if I have to choose, am I just a writer or am I just a business person? Do I have to give up one facet of me to fulfill the other to the end? Can’t I just have the whole cake and eat it?