Bad Day

I think I’m having a bad day. The bad day being the day after my grandmother had been admitted to hospital for a mild heart attack. This is what we know now, that it was a heart attack. On Thursday, we did not know this – my grandmother was complaining she was feeling weak and wanted us to take her to the hospital.

Problem is, my grandmother was and remains a hypochondriac. Just a few months back she checked herself and my grandfather into DEMC, a posh private hospital in the centre of Shah Alam, to which the final bill after 4 days came up to a whopping RM 13,000. She was absolutely fine, mind you. Before she checked in and after she checked in. So when Thursday morning she complained she was feeling unwell and wanted to go to DEMC, everyone suggested perhaps we check her into a hotel instead.

Thankfully, both my aunt and my mum decided to take her to the Klinik Kesihatan (government clinic), just in case. They conducted an ECG on her and the results of the test concerned the doctors enough to refer the hospital in Klang. It took 2 hours to transfer and then there, my mum, aunt and grandmother waited for 8 hours to see the specialist. During which, my grandmother declared that she was fine – who wouldn’t be, after sitting next to a on orange-clad convict surrounded by coppers – “Why is his chained to the bed?” my grandmother queried that nice police officer keeping the convict company. “He’s epileptic,” the nice police officer replied. “It’s for his safety” – and burn victims with angry blisters all over their back.

My aunt and mum spent those 8 hours badgering junior doctors to release my grandmother (all of them refused) before the specialist made a grand entrance at 8pm with the head of ER. They explained that the blood test results showed she had a mild heart attack. Obviously, at this point both my aunt and mum probably looked and felt like douchebags for trying to discharge their 80-something year old mum from the ER when she had a heart scare.

As they say, when it rains it pours. The next day I had an appointment for tea tasting in Bandar Manjalara. For those of you who know Malay, it sounds like fancy area but for those of you who know KL; Bandar Manjalara is in near Kepong, a superbly dodgy part of KL. I was hoping that the client would cancel on me, I can’t possibly go to the other end of KL when everybody is fretting about my grandmother.

But he was keen and I should be a professional and so off I went on the most hectic day involved for everyone.

*

I got into an accident back on the way from conducting a tea-tasting session with a prospective client. We, being me and my staff Kid, were in Bandar Manjalara, a suburb very close to Kepong, renowned for its sprawling viaducts and overhead bridges. The roads in Kepong climbed and towered over each other like the overgrown lawn in my tiny garden outside my house, with weeds that is taller than my toddler. It was a hot day, the GPS in Kepong came on and off and Waze kept taking us around the scenic route of Kepong. By scenic I mean, there was a chance we would be made residents of Kepong and never leave because how-the-fuck-do-you-get-out-of-this-area? And then halfway through the tea tasting I received news that the doctors will not let my grandmother leave the hospital for at least 5 days.

I was tired, mostly emotionally spent and I wanted to go back home. I could already imagine the drive back and it felt liberating.

That is up until someone rear-ended my car.

I could hear the screeching of tyres before the awful sound of metal and metal smashing into each other. I jolted forward but by not that much. Not enough to give me a whiplash anyway and so the first thing I thought off was – “Hey, can’t be that bad. I can drive off can’t I? It’s not going to be considered a hit and run. I’m the one who was hit and then I ran off…”

Kak Lin!” Kid said. “You have to stop the car and check it out.”

The car that rear-ended me was a Proton Wira. The lights were smushed in, the bumper caved in and it was a miracle that its engine and compressor were still working. The Chevrolet was nowhere in a bad shape, just a broken bumper. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was my dad, who would not see it as just a broken bumper. This Chevrolet has been to the workshop more often than some young men going to Friday prayers in Malaysia. He was going to flip.

A tall, reed-like young man with bloodshot eyes came out of the car. It was a bright day, the sun was in our eyes and he blinked a few times. He slurred as he spoke. ‘Oh,’ he said when he saw his smushed up car.  And then he looked at us. ‘What do you want to do about this?’

“Why did you hit us!?” Kid demanded.

He told Kid later that he got confused with the clutch, the accelerator and the brakes. “They all looked the same,” he whined.

I did a quick mental calculation to see if I could just pay off this bumper because I really did not want to go through the hassle of reporting the accident. But I really did not want to get this kid who was obviously high on drugs get away with it. I hinted that perhaps we could settle it outside. Kid thought he looked like the sort who would bail.

“Police report then,” I sighed.

I asked Kid on the drive to the police station later if she thought the kid was high. “I’m quite sure he is,” she said. “I’m gonna ask him.”

“Kid, you’re not going to ask someone if he’s on drugs in front of the police!”

“Of course I am. Watch me.”

Actually, one did not need to ask if he was high. His drive there was obviously so erratic, his behaviour in front of the police merely confirmed everyone’s suspicions, including the police that he was on drugs. The police snapped at him a few times and he was oblivious that he was annoying everyone there. When the police showed the write up of the report – a simple formality really – instead of just saying okay, he tried to embellish the report to make him look good.

“Wait, sir. As I drove into the lane, the bonnet of my car flew open, it blocked my view and I drove into her car.”

“It did?” the bored policeman asked, skeptical.

Funny thing was, it did happen. It actually happened after the accident when we were driving to the police station. It certainly did not cause the accident.

“Yeah, so I couldn’t see. It’s not really my fault,” he surmised.

“No. It’s still your fault.”

*

Two hours later, I was finally on my way to dropping Kid back at the shop. Kid was able to grill him what he was on and how much. He denied it at first but Kid called him out on it. “I can tell when someone is on.”

“I didn’t take it today,” he protested. “Just yesterday.”

Apparently he took batu. And at a empat dua kosong dosage. I nodded sagely before confessing, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

Batu is cocaine I think. Or heroine. I’m not sure. While I may be familiar with street drug terms in the West from, err my watching of The Wire, I’ve no clue what they are in Malaysia.

And empat dua kosong is 420 which I presume are milligrams.

“Is that like a lot, I’ve no idea really what a normal dosage is?”

Kid shrugged. “Depends really. Some people take 500, some people take less. Depends on the quality, how much money you have.”

*

On days like these, I sometimes say something a little blasphemous and that I should mandi bungaMandi bunga is an old animistic belief in Malay culture to rid yourself of bad luck. What you do is you take a bath with flowers. I’ve no idea why this rids you of any bad luck but at the very least you’ll smell good.

I joked with Eizwan that I should mandi bunga after today. And since I have a gorgeous tea blend with roses and tea, our Lady Grey, I joked that I should mandi Lady Grey.

Eizwan nodded. “Actually since you carry hibiscus tea, you should add them too.”

*

Advertisements

The Night We Eloped

Sometimes, you can be so stupid as to tempt the universe. As I lazily woke up on Friday, I thought, my life had been very quiet as of late. And then as I got ready, I thought to myself, ‘Gee, life has been very quiet lately. If only it were a bit more exciting.’

The Universe heard me and declared, ‘Challenge accepted’.

Which explains why, on Friday night, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the husband and I were stuck by the side of the highway, me in our pretty baju kurung and Eizwan in his baju Melayu complete with his sampin, waiting for Eizwan’s cousin to rescue us. The rain was getting heavier, and I was trying very hard not to feel low.

‘This is my fault, you know,’ I say to Eizwan. ‘I tempted the universe.’

‘You did what?’

‘I said my life was unnaturally quiet the past two weeks. The universe responded.’

‘You what? No-lah! These things happen. It’s not your fault.’

I pause, and thought about what he said.

‘You’re right, I said to Eizwan. It’s your cousin’s fault.’

‘Syeda? Syeda’s fault?’

Yes, the last time she got engaged, we got locked out of our house. Twice. Now, on the day she’s getting married, our car broke down in the middle of the highway, and we’re standing here with no way out.’

‘Hey, that’s not true. I mean, this is just a coincidence right?’

‘Maybe.’

‘…Or maybe she secretly does not like me very much. Maybe I’ve wronged her somehow and this is punishment.’ Eizwan replied miserably.

‘You know what this means, right? This means that the next time a major event happens in her life, like if she has her first baby or something we’re staying far, far away.’

***

Our car died the way the universe would, not with a bang but with a whimper. Well, actually, it died in a spectacularly creepy way – the lights started to flicker, the radio came on and off before it all started to dim down and faded away. Despite Eizwan’s insistence that he could coax the car forward and that we CAN get to the wedding on time, 100 metres before the toll on the AKLEH, it quietly said good night.

We handled the situation fairly well, you know, like motherfucking adults. We called the insurance company which then called up the tow truck company. And then we called Eizwan’s parents to come rescue us. The tow truck came after half an hour, and the super nice tow truck driver gave us a lift to the waiting area on the other side of the toll where it would be safer to wait. Eizwan’s parents said that his cousin was on the way, and that he would get there in about 20 minutes.

Of course, as everyone knows, the best-laid plans are always obstructed certain Mr. Murphy. We might be only 20 minutes away from Syeda’s home, but Eizwan’s cousin decided to play it safe and take a route that he was familiar with to where we were. Unfortunately for both him and us, that route was Jalan Ampang. On a Friday night.

He was joined by about a million other people on that 1km stretch.

But despite Eizwan and I being stranded by the roadside, Eizwan and I were in surprisingly good mood. I was determined not to feel low, a car breaking down was already stressful for Eizwan – no one wants to spend any more money on a car, and we were bound to miss Eizwan’s cousin’s solemnization – so I did not want to upset him any further.

We kept ourselves amused by identifying cars, talking about everything and nothing and taking random pictures with the camera.

‘I don’t get why people are staring at us,’ Eizwan said. ‘You see that guy there? And that other guy there? They’re all staring at us.’

‘Maybe they’re not used to someone as hot as me being stranded,’ I said, flicking my hair to the back.

‘Modest…. Hey, stop staring at my wife!’ Eizwan shouted.

I shrug. I really did not care if people were staring. But it really bothered Eizwan that everyone was staring. And it was kind of funny that they were. We were not the only ones stranded by the side of the road – but the ones gathering the most attention was us.

‘I suppose it’s because we’re dressed the way we are. You know, we look nice, we look like we’re going to a dinner or something.’

‘Yeah, I suppose.’

But after a while, even I could not keep my spirits high. I was starting to get hungry, the fumes from the cars whizzing by were horrible and my throat was starting to dry out. Eizwan noticed my shivering. It was getting cold from the rain and he pulled me closer. He pulled out my t-shirt from the rucksack that he was holding. And I covered myself in efforts to cover myself from the rain.

People finally stopped staring. I think they were starting to think we’re kinda creepy.

Eizwan and I finally got to the wedding 3 hours after the wedding was supposed to start. By the time we were picked up,  Syeda and her boy, were now man and wife.

Of course, nothing was more comforting than arriving at a wedding 3 hours late, looking like the cat dragged in than your relatives cracking up at you the moment you walk in. And Eizwan finally got his answer as to why people kept staring at the two of us.

‘Oh my God. Did you really stand by the roadside dressed up like that?’ Abang Khalid sputtered in between giggles.

Apparently, as Eizwan’s cousin pointed out, the two of us, in our themed baju kurung and baju Melayu, me in my pretty make up, Eizwan with his rucksack on his back and standing by the side of the road looked like we were about to run away and elope.

Sigh.

The KL Curse

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?

So about two weeks ago, a friend asked me out to dinner at a restaurant I was not familiar with.

If you know me well, you would know that new places and Adlina driving are generally two non-mixy things. I may wash my own car, will attempt at assembling my own furniture, drilling and other manly things – but when it comes to driving and getting lost, I’m a stereotypical woman.

I am so good at getting lost, my record for getting so spectacularly lost was on the way from KL, I ended up in Puchong, headed towards Cyberjaya.

My family has a nickname for my disability – they call it the KL curse i.e. if Adlina is in the car when we’re driving to KL, rest assured even if you LIVE in KL, you’re bound to get lost when I’m in the car with you.

I refused to give in to this curse of mine when my friend asked me to dinner. Though she offered to pick me up, the husband offered to come back all the way to KL and then send me to dinner – I was adamant. I spent a good one hour before leaving memorizing the way there – I studied Google Map, wrote down the instructions in my trusty notebook before heading off. My friend kept calling me to make sure – seriously, I’m that notorious. Like getting lost from Mont Kiara to One Utama notorious.

But surprisingly, I DID NOT GET LOST. WAHEY! I may have driven like a turtle, annoyed all the cars behind me but I arrived on time! Said friend was well impressed.

Dinner was good, the company as always was lovely. After a long conversation, we hugged each other goodbye.

Of course, so gung-ho was I on studying the path to get there, I did not actually find a path to get my way home. Was I nervous? Yeah, sure I was, but come on. If I could get there, surely I could get back.

At the first wrong turn, I did what most idiots do when they get lost. Panic. And keep driving. Keep driving straight until I reach somewhere familiar. Hopefully. And of course, as all idiots do, I won’t stop to ask for directions. That’s the manly part of me. Asking for directions are for sissies.

The first 10 minutes was okay. I was blasting Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd on repeat and feeling quite a lot like a reckless renegade, driving free and easy. The next 20 minutes however, I was getting rather grumpy. And edgy. Did not help that the tank was empty and the light was flashing. And I wanted to be home with the husband and even poor Lynyrd Skynyrd’s voice was starting to annoy me. I could change music but the only music I had in my car was a mix from 2005 and seriously, what on earth was I thinking back then, listening to “Because of You” by NeYo. I should be ashamed of myself.

It was in the midst of potentially stalling my car in a dark creepy alley in the middle of the night in an area I was not familiar with, I decided to do some things that was unlike myself. I stopped to fill up my car, as opposed to hoping I could find my way home with a minute amount of gas (I hate filling up at non-familiar stations) and secondly…I asked for directions.

The dude at the station looked at me with surprise. ‘Long way from home!’ he said.

‘Well, yeah. Not used to this place,’ was my miserable answer.

He gave the directions and then offered to fill up the tank for me. He also insisted that I fill up the competition form to win RM 30,000 (my friends in Shell, I’m still waiting for your ahem, inside help here).

Mana tau? Boleh menang! Banyak duit!’ he said to me. (Who knows? You might win! Lots of money)

I’ve given up on these competitions because, heck I never win anything. But I thought so far tonight, I’ve done some things that are unlike me. Firstly, I studied google map like I was studying for an IB exam. And I did not get lost to the restaurant. Secondly, I asked for directions. Who knows? Perhaps this new change in attitude would lead to me miraculously winning RM 30k. I filled up the form gladly and almost, smugly.

I left the petrol station, feeling rejuvenated. My spirits were soaring and I thought. Yeah. That is what has been wrong with me. My attitude. Eizwan was right. Unlike the rest of my family, he never believed in the KL curse. He always believed that it was in my mind – that things can always change, that things can get better, if only I wasn’t so insecure of myself.

So true, I thought as I drove down the road. With newfound confidence, I found my way through a series of complicated roads back onto the Federal Highway. I put on Free Bird at very high volumes that my car shook. I Looked like a teen on crack. But it doesn’t matter. Because I am Free Bird. Won’t you fly high free bird, yeeaaaaah!

But of course, in true Adlina fashion, I took the wrong turn as I was getting onto the Federal Highway and got lost again….

Lord help me, I can’t chaaaaange.

Looking for a Patron

A few weeks ago, one of my dear sponsors called and asked me for a wish list on what I would like and they’d get back to us. But of course, since then, they’ve disappeared of the face of the planet and our kooky production team of five has been struggling blindly in the dark and surprisingly, hey, we haven’t fallen into a river yet and drowned. So there is some hope for all of us yet!

There are though, moments of darkness that passes through my soul occassionally and this morning I got up, feeling wistful and a little sad about some of the things that we’ve had to do. We’ve done plays in the UK and I think in terms of difficulty, I think Malaysia ranks as one of the most difficult for independent productions.

MORE DIFFICULT THAN INDIA.

Ahem.

Anyway, so this morning, I was sitting down and watching Sabrina, the one with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn (yes, ENVY ME PEOPLE, I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH MY OWN TIME AND I BOW TO NO OFFICE TIME, MUAHAHAHAHAHA…ahem) and I was thinking, how incredibly, incredibly wonderful if I had a Linus Larabee who could easily lend his name to our production to make it more “credible”. Ah, well. Shame on me for not kissing ass, sucking up, make nice to all the big-wigs in the country earlier. Do I sound bitter? No, no, not at all. Not bitter at all.

I suppose if you could look at it from differing points of view, I am inevitably, arrogant and full of pride. I’m like Darcy from Pride and Prejudice…save for the wealth and not being a man and not bearing any resemblance to Colin Firth at all. I should have been able to consort (or at least scrabbled my way and tried) with the upper echelons of society and therefore making it very easy on me to be “known”.

On the other hand, considering that I did not choose my parents very well, and that they are merely hardworking yet very unknown business people, I’m still back to square one. I’ve nothing to offer them and therefore, they have nothing to offer me. Actually, now that I put that way, my greatest error is dating Eizwan who is also from a family of hardworking yet very unknown business people. See, I can’t choose my parents but I can choose who I choose to date. Damn me for falling in love with a good yet unknown person.

So this morning, I started day-dreaming about the various people in Malaysia and otherwise that I admire ridiculously who I think I’d collapse from joy if they decide to “endorse” me. So on with the list:

1. David Tennant

Because he’s Doctor Who. If Doctor Who endorses me, I don’t care if the play doesn’t do well. Because dammit, I’ve been endorsed by the Doctor himself. I consider myself having been made.

2. Russell T Davies

I stopped writing creatively for ages until I started watching Doctor Who. And suddenly, it came back and I really have to say, it’s all due to this man. I admire Russell T Davies greatly. For those of you who aren’t familiar with his writing, he is the executive producer of Doctor Who and he wrote the critically acclaimed series: Queer as Folk.

3. Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham

Because I think these two come as a pair. Or at least I hope they do because they’re incredible together. Ashley Pharoah graduated from the school that I can only dare to dream about: NFTS. The two of them created and wrote Life on Mars and my current favourite: Ashes to Ashes, worked with the team at Kudos who created Spooks and Hustle.

Alexander McCall Smith

For writing the Number One Ladies’ Detective series.

Looking through my list, it looks awfully pretentious. It isn’t really. They’re all British. Unless liking British thing is all pretentious. And they’re all TV related. Would it be a horrible thing now to confess that I don’t really read that many plays? Yes, it would be. I’ll shut up now.

Ah well.

Anyway, I’m still looking for a patron. So, if you’re a great writer (playwright is a terrible bonus, actually writing skills isn’t that necesarry), terribly good looking (because I am terribly shallow) or you’re just famous for no apparent reason (this like Keanu Reeves, heck, if you’re Keanu Reeves, BE MY PATRON NOW!), please message me and I’ll make you my patron. You’re not going to make much money out of me but at least you’ll feel really good about yourself, helping a struggling theatre company in a third world country do well (alongside with your other various charity commitments). Now, imagine how good that sounds to your friends? I help poverty and art in the third world.

The Art of Seduction

“Don’t you want me, baby? Don’t you want me, ooooooh!?”

I think Human League got it spot on when it comes to the theatre industry. We’re almost there with the venue end but so far, it’s been, well an, hmm, interesting journey to say the least.

Whilst you sell your soul in finance, in arts, it’s all about prostitution. Is there no noble career out there?

My little theatre company is obviously not the standard of Spitzer’s call girl from the Empress club. I’d like to think we’re slightly better than walking the streets type of prozzies but at times, I do feel that I might have to force our production crew to the real streets to get enough funding.

Our actors would get more money if they walked the streets but then we’d have nobody to act.

But anyway, so far we’ve been outright lied to: “Gosh! I’m so sorry, we don’t have a venue free that night,” (found out later, there’s plenty) to my personal favourite rejection: “I’m sorry. We don’t support newly independent theatre.” Read: I wouldn’t dare tarnish my shiny premises with you filthy ragamuffins. Now run along now, children, you’re in my breathing space.

My patience has increased tenfold since this entire escapade, and I find rejections far more amusing than I should. As I told a friend of mine, just you wait Mr. Shiny Premises. One day, when I’m rich and famous, I’m going to buy up your premises and make it into skanky and smarmy brothel. Just you wait, “Mwahahahahahahaha!”

Continuing the trend of prostitution, I’ve sent my director to schmooze to a Very Important Chairperson who could make life so much easier for all of us, even sent a very schmoozy letter for him to use. The director can be very charming if he wants to be so let’s see how his talents are put to use.

As the accountant suggested, perhaps it IS easier to just get funding and build our own premises. Presenting “Coming Out of the Closet” in our newly built, multi-purpose auditorium! Coming soon, in the year 2020.

***

Had to share it with you guys this one. Was talking to my friend Xav about my foray into the performing arts:

“I’m glad to hear that you’re doing creative things now.”

“Thanks, it took me a while. I was too scared at first to do creative things.”

“Well, it does take some time to develop that confidence. Being Francais, I already have that confidence. Or arrogant streak, rather.”

“See, I’m Asian. When I was growing up, I was told to do accounting. I rebelled and did economics instead.”

Operation Pester Chinese Boys

So today was the first rounds of auditions. I say auditions with the plural tense because we’re still missing out on two Malay male characters and one Chinese male, a very big prominent part.

The title was said that way because it just sounds so much better that way. It’s like that infamous penguin forward that went around for a bit where you keep poking and poking and poking…

But I digress. Auditions today were very good. The energy around the room was fantastic and we found two very talented actors. We did raise our eyebrows a bit, wondering if people are willing to do this as a “labour of love” since well, these kids were really good and almost professional!

I love our script and I’m cracking up at the actor’s interpretation of the characters. Even as I’m giggling away, I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit narcissistic of me to be laughing away at our own script. Then again, you can’t be in show biz without being slightly narcissistic.

Oooh! Oooh! Guess what! We have our very own company logo now. Wanna see?

Livewire company logo

It’s beddy time for me. I’m hoping I’m going to dream about the 80s again. 80s stuff is making me very happy. And think about Gene Hunt. Whoa, can’t believe I said that but after Episode 6 of Ashes to Ashes, I can’t help thinking, phwoar! This man is a hero!

Bizarre dreams of being a Thatcherite

Yeah, you read that right.

I dreamt I was a Thatcherite, of all bizarre dreams to have. And I woke up feeling cheered. Which troubles me since it may suggest, underneath it all, I have the cold, unbeating heart of a Conservative.

So after finding it difficult to get some male actors, Louisa posted an audition notice on Kakiseni. I’ve been rather reluctant to do so, since that would mean putting us up on the bigger radar screen (considering there’s just so many things are up in the air right now) but with less than fantastic response for male actors, we needed to. Response so far has been great but, to be honest, I’m dead, dead nervous about it!

Yesterday, worked on a rough timeline, all in all, everything will be rather tight since we need to find a venue, which shockingly, we don’t actually have one yet and even a little bit of funding to make it a little easier on our pockets to make this play work. The adrenaline isn’t pumping through my veins yet, I’m just very cautious about what’s going to happen. It DOES feel like we’re jumping off a cliff, head on.

Tomorrow, tomorrow. We’ll have tomorrow. I have an accountant already asking me very difficult questions, and now I have to identify all our possible sponsors. Need to raise approximately RM 3000. Shouldn’t be to hard, eh?

*Shivers slightly*