My Valentine’s Day

I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. There is this assumption that if you are a couple, or in a relationship that you would automatically be happy on Valentine’s Day. Or at the very least, that you would appreciate a day dedicated to lovers.

Honestly though, I can’t think of a worst holiday – intended to put pressure on couples already in a relationship, a day making singles feel worse than ever. I suppose there is only one type of couple who would enjoy Valentine’s Day, the same kind of couple who would enjoy endless attention on their wedding day, the sort that invite the press and the Tattler to cover the minute details and attention that they put into their wedding: ‘Oh, see those roses over there? Yes, I had it brought in from Cameron Highlands. They were picked at the peak of their blossom as the sun began to emerge over the horizon. Oh, but why talk about the roses when you can talk about my shoes? See these? These were designed by Dato’ Jimmy Choo. Yes, I know he had retired, I forced him out of his retirement for my wedding. I’m that important.”

I met up with my friend, N yesterday for Valentine’s Day. And I brought my husband along – I don’t want him to feel left out on such a special day. We were going on a date, N and I. We were going to eat burgers and then we were going to watch a romantic movie starring Bruce Willis. With lots of guns and bombs.

We were late to meeting her as it was particularly crowded at Midvalley yesterday. We had to maneuver around a number of couples, diligently holding hands because that is what is expected of them for the day, a number holding lifeless bouquets of roses and all of them, looking more bewildered and stressed out rather than genuinely in love. I suppose it’s difficult feeling like the feeling when you have to battle a swarm of forlorn couples, figuring out what to do. One couple began to quarrel almost immediately after the man gave his woman a bouquet of flowers. There was a long queue outside TGIF, couples holding hands waiting for their turn to eat at at the restaurant. I wonder how many of these couples will head home tonight, or to a hotel and make love, even though they don’t want to but because they are expected to.

I told N this and she had a good laugh. N said that we were cynics. I don’t know what gave her that idea.

My distaste for Valentine’s Day began early – it began in Malaysia where the government school I attended, a rather conservative secondary school I might add, sold roses to young lustful boys by enterprising students who would then distribute the flowers to their high school crushes during class. They made a grand show out of it even, coming into a class with armfuls of roses and announcing the name aloud: “Farah!” “Yee Ling!” and the girls would get up, and saunter as gracefully as a fourteen year old could to the front of the class to receive their roses like it’s the bloody Oscars or something.

And then for the rest of us, the not-so-popular and the not-so-pretty, we squirm in our hard seats, hearts pounding fast as we give a quick prayer to God: ‘Dear God, please, please, please let me have someone send me a flower. I know I’m technically not supposed to pray for someone to send me a flower because it might lead me to think about lustful thoughts and to lustful situations that I’m not supposed to be in, but please, please, please God, I’m not so sure if I can handle the humiliation of not getting any roses when two-thirds of the class have received flowers.’

I think the trauma of Valentine’s Day in High School is enough to put anyone off Valentine’s Day for life.

I have to be honest though. When I finally did meet that special someone, I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I really did. I wanted to see what’s all the fuss that Hollywood was talking about. But my special someone happened to be Eizwan. Eizwan is the best man for me, who else would patiently help me roll out sheets and sheets of pasta when I went through ‘I-want-to-make-my-own-pasta’ phase or watch a crappy Korean drama without judging me. You can’t have everything though, because Eizwan is not particularly romantic. I mean he has ideas on romance, just sometimes, he falters on execution.

Like the year when I hinted I want a Valentine’s Day celebration. It coincided with a busy period for him – but he tried. Apparently, he had this grand ideas of creating a paper tree made of hearts, with each heart containing a poem on how much he loved me. On Valentine’s Day, I was waiting for roses, or a nice night out but nothing happened. Every restaurant was booked and the ones that were not, were places like TGIF where you pay a whopping RM 90 per person for a set that you would usually pay RM 30 for on any other weekday.

And of course, nothing says romance more than celebrating Valentine’s Day in a restaurant where they make you stand on a chair as the waiters sing and stomp their feet for your birthday.

We ended up in KFC that night.

I was getting very agitated and upset, like if you love me, why don’t you do something for me? Finally, I confronted him about it and Eizwan broke into cold sweat and said, ‘I did! I tried! See, I wanted to make these paper hearts but I discovered, I’m not very good at arts and craft and every heart I made was ruined, so I bought more paper and I’m trying to cut them at traffic lights.’ He showed me the half-cut cards at the back of his car, together with sticky tape and scissors and the instructions he printed off the net on how to make them as proof that he tried.

The ever reasonable girlfriend, I burst into tears and refused to speak to him.

Clearly, it worked out okay, or we wouldn’t be here today, but we never bothered to celebrate Valentine’s Day since. After getting that moment of madness out of me, I’m done with Valentine’s Day.

I had been done with Valentine’s Day for years since. Last year Eizwan got me a small teddy bear for Valentine’s Day and I looked at him and asked ‘What is it for?’ and then he sulked because I had forgotten Valentine’s Day.

As we had our burgers, I thought about the couples who had made so much effort for this evening, walking around Midvalley aimlessly, hoping to find a restaurant that could fit them in. When they do actually find one, they would be seated a little closely to another couple, as restaurants try to pack in as many lovebirds on their biggest money making evening of the year. And then, said couple would inevitably overhear conversations about love from the couples surrounding them and feel pressured to outdo the couple next to them, to proclaim that, no, they love their partners more.

And suddenly I felt this burst of euphoria and superiority. I am superior, I wanted to shout aloud. I am superior over all of you. I have not been conned by this madness, I have not been conned by this capitalist holiday of making you spend and celebrate love even when you don’t want to. I am not a sheep! I am free to make my own choice, to celebrate love when I want to celebrate.

Of course, that feeling of superiority ended when I watched ‘A Good Day to Die Hard.’ In what is possibly the most cynical attempt at milking the Die Hard series, I felt like a real sheep herded into the movie theatre by a Hollywood producer shepherd. As it turns out, my date with John McClane turned out to be a real dud.

How did you celebrate your Valentine’s Day?

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Eizwan tells me that I have a poor habit of looking back to yesterday and then moaning about how much I have not done for the year. Or I could look back at the past years and only focus on the bad and the terrible and not see the good stuff I had done.

2012 as some of you may or may not know – had been a very difficult year for me. Mostly emotionally it was very poor and a chunk of the gains I had made in 2011 – like weight loss, my health – I had let it slide. I spent a lot of 2012 with introspection, not necessarily the best kind. More like ‘Woe is me’ of Shakespearean proportion and I have spent more time obsessing on past sins than Lady Macbeth ever had.

Thankfully, I am not like Lady Macbeth. I have yet to convince Eizwan to murder his boss.

So, a retrospective look at 2012 – here we come.

The Good Tea Company

Image

Stacking up our tea

2012 was the year The Good Tea Company really took off. I had been toying and being rather coy about the idea of starting a business but 2012 was the year I really took the plunge.

You can say that starting a business is nerve-wrecking. But that would be an understatement. I think the accurate analogy would be akin to throwing yourself off a cliff without having a parachute on. And hoping that maybe you could build yourself a parachute as you plunge down at the 32 feet per second x per second.

But it has taken off. I have a product with a gorgeous design (designed by my brother) and a small but hopefully growing following. Sometimes when you run a business, you think you’re crazy. Like would anyone taste this tea and think ‘Cor, that’s the best tea I ever had!’ or would they think ‘They headed all the way to India to buy meh tea?’.

Image

One of our successful tea hampers that we sold at The Curve for Eid

The doubt is giving way to confidence that The Good Tea Company has brought in some of the best teas in the world. Yes, I’d go that far. I love the teas I bought, I can make a tea lover out of a non-tea lover and on a lousy day, nothing makes me feel better than a hot mug of Afternoon Tea. I think about it so fondly as though it is my own child. And our teas have a great following amongst my small but growing customer base with some customers obsessing over teas that I never thought you could obsess about.

So. How about it, readers? Willing to give it a shot? Head on over to The Good Tea Company or you could always drop me a line at adlina[AT]georgia-gw.com.

Unfortunately, you can no longer message me on FB because

I’ve switched off Facebook.

Sometimes, you have to know what is debilitating and soul destroying. Facebook was doing that to me – each time I checked it, I felt lower and lower despite knowing full well that people go on Facebook to show off. No one actually goes on Facebook to say the full truth i.e. ‘I’m showing off pictures of my wonderful children because I need to make myself feel better because really, they are brats that I feel like throttling and killing and my loving husband is actually a douche who only comes home around midnight. And I think he might have a mistress.’

I used to feel like I am raining on people’s parade by doubting their happiness. Perhaps they truly feel the need to share their happiness with their friends. Perhaps they really are genuinely happy and successful as they fly first class to London to party it up with the Rolling Stones.

Either way, it was eating me alive, going on Facebook was like putting a microscope on my own flaws. Look at me, rotting at my home, not flying First Class (heck, not even flying Air Asia last year) and not shopping in Paris. What am I doing wrong?

And therefore, it was time to get off. I’ve killed off Instagram even though I adored their filters (although, I stopped like it as much after College Humor made their Instagram parody. It made me feel utterly common) and deactivated it for a while. I might go back online when my sister heads to Australia for her PhD and since she practically lives on FB.

A New Home

Speaking of rotting in our home, I was not kidding. Eizwan and I currently live in a rental, in our bid to be as independent as possible from our parents. But it’s an old house and bits and bobs of the house has been falling apart. When I mean falling apart, I mean, plug points melting to a pile of plastic goo, ceiling almost collapsing from water log and our current favourite, a toilet that keeps backing up because the plumbing possibly dates back to the Roman era.

When our landlady sweetly asked to increase our rent, I threw a massive temper tantrum for a week and made the decision on behalf of the family to buy a new house since rental and mortgage were nearly on par to each other. It took a while for Eizwan to get on board and when he finally did – we hunted for a home. We signed November last year and we are on our way to a house ownership!

The keys should be handed over in end Jan and Eizwan and I, and our three cats (because this is the year we added a new kitty to our brood!) will be moving to our first owned home.

The Third Cat

Image

Marty is on the right, Nadal is on the left. Marty is the cutie pie that loves to irritate all the cats in the house.

This little kitty adopted us, not the other way round. A small manky kitten made her way into our backyard and despite shooing it away countless of times, she kept coming back.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t adopt cats – cats adopt you. It was a difficult transition at first, our cat Marie is a real gangster and showed her true mafia colours on the kitten. It’s been more than 8 months now and we are one big happy family.

Our cats are Nadal, Marie (short for Maria Sharapova) and Marty (short for Martina Hinggis) No points for guessing who they’re named after.

Adlina the Hippy/Masterchef

Image

Spicy Miso Ramen – during my ramen craving times.

My sister frequently accuses me of when I like something, I never go ‘Hey, I gotta take my friends and family here to try out this cake! It’s so good.’ It’s always, ‘Wow, this cake is amazing. I gotta MAKE this!’ She said, if I could, I would probably make my own shoes and handbags if I like a design.

2012 was the year of experimentation food wise. I have cooked so many cuisines the past year, experimented on some of the most difficult cooking stuff and done some Mad Kitchen Experiments. Roasted sambal anyone? I’m sorry I can’t share the recipe yet – the sambal I made was so potent, I nearly killed Eizwan. There are some recipes that have become staples in both my home and my mother’s household – the Dry Chicken Curry and Mapo Tofu being our favourite.

Image

Peanut butter brownies – I have killed some friends with these brownies. It’s okay – they died from happiness.

Unfortunately, I had never bothered to document my successes that I frequently sit down and wonder – what on earth did I make that day? So the aim this year is to document everything down so that I no longer have to figure out, what on earth did I make that time. I am hoping to build an epic kitchen so I have a place to do all my Mad Kitchen Experiments as safely as possible.

So what is there to look forward to in 2013?

The Good Tea Company

I am extremely passionate about this company. I want it to grow, and I want Malaysians to have access to great teas. One of my fondest memories that I cherish is sneaking off from class to have dessert and tea with my best friend in uni. That’s how I feel about tea – you can have it on your own, as you sit down to write but it’s better when you have a good friend and a good dessert in front of you and have long conversations with a good friend.

A bad cup of tea is just that, a bad cup of tea. But a good cup of tea makes you smile, makes you feel warm inside. I want everyone to have a chance to have a great cup of tea to accompany them as they build up friendship and love.

Writing

If you noticed, 2012 was a dismal failure when it came to writing. I wrote a few business plans, completed one short story but struggled to do anything else. I see myself first and foremost as a writer, despite having my own tea company.

This year, I want to complete a novel and then to try and get it published. I’ve said this before, year on year and had failed to keep up my promise. But I got my tea company up and running right? So, even if it means a lack of a social life this year, limiting it only to the Garoupas and close friends – so be it. It’s time to let my writing take priority.

Adlina the Hippy

I let myself down in 2012. I let my health slide and I stopped taking care of myself. I pined so much for something I could not have that I stopped looking at the now, looking at what I could do today. Perhaps, I am not meant for what I was pining for and perhaps, I will get that chance in the future. My mother reminded me that perhaps God intends me to have a differing role than everyone else and that it isn’t a bad thing.

This year, I am going to put me first. I am putting my emotional and physical well-being as priority. It’s true what they say – you can’t take care of others when you’re not taking care of yourself. I want to focus on my ambitions and my dreams and I want to have a more holistic view of my life.

And since I’m a hippy, I’ve started this year by tossing out all my face care products out and doing my face using only natural products. No, we’re not talking about natural face care products. We’re talking putting the contents of the fridge on my face. Yeah, I never do things the easy way.

2013 is going to be a great year. I can just feel it.

Eizwan

eizwan4

I don’t write about Eizwan frequently. Like who he is, and what he does or what he means to me.  I used to mock people who write about their S.O’s in lovey-dovey language because I feel that they’re being dishonest with themselves; that you can’t possibly love someone that much and say “Myaaah! I wuv you hunnyyyyy!” or “Miss you babyyyyy” all over the net. I see love as a very private emotion and it’s hard for me to even talk to people about our relationship.

Which of course, brings next year into a big dilemma. Getting married, well, that’s a very public thing. I mean, you could actually just run into the kadi‘s office and get him to do the nikah without anyone present, but I’d break my grandparent’s hearts. It’s quite a feat to be able to actually say aloud to everyone present and to God, that this is the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with. It’s mind boggling at least for me, that in one sentence you are bound to each other in the eyes of the law and in the hereafter. And to do it in PUBLIC!

This is what happen when you watch too many hindi movies, you think too much about family values and marriage etc.

How do other people do it? I figure the easiest way for me to get over the anxiety of getting married, the responsibilities and the forever-ness is to focus on the unimportant details, like you know, the cake, the dress (THE DRESS! DOES ANYONE KNOW A GOOD TAILOR!) and the decor. But I am thoughtful. Right now, Eizwan is just Eizwan. Will he change from The Eizwan to The Husband on June 4th 2010?

Right now, I can be selfish, I can have one foot out the door and my daydreams which may or may not be naughty be with David Tennant who may or not be there. Does that mean that once I marry, all my daydreams must include my husband? And David Tennant?

I kid. But I am a little worried, even more so when married couples snark “Just WAIT till you get married, see if you’re that lovey-dovey,” when they chance upon us being a little affectionate with each other. Does that mean, fast forward five years after our wedding, our fun-loving selves will somehow deteriorate into snarky, unhappy people with a squealy baby and mild resentment under the surface?

It all boils down to the incredible question: why do you want to get married? That question makes me nervous. Can we actually articulate why we want to get married in coherent sentences? Is it the right answer? What about the slight doubts under the surface, is this what you signed up for? Where’s  Prince Charming The Doctor? The knight Doctor in shining armour a pinstripe suit riding his stallion Tardis?

How do you know you’re not losing out on something better?

Lately Eizwan and I have been watching my stash of Hindi movies. Well, it’s a compromise, for every Hindi movie we watch, I watch TWO bang-bang action movies (a deal that was brokered by my brother) with him. Most men AREN’T into Hindi movies and I have to commend him for sitting through Aditya Chopra’s Rab ne Bana di Jodi, a three hour SRK love-fest.

But on Monday, on the way home after a really good meal at TGIFs, Eizwan switched on a song and squeezed my hand as he drove.This coming from the same person last year who refused to listen to Abba much less Hindi music?

When someone asks me why I want to get married, how do I explain how I felt when I sat in the car and heard this song? It’s not as practical as “I want to marry to further our relationship” or “This is about us making a new life and sharing responsibilities together.”

But it’s no less powerful.

Happy 29th birthday my dear. I love you.