Archive for December, 2012

This amazing cake was made to replicate my book and my childhood home that was on the cover of my book (see sidebar).

This amazing cake was made to replicate my book and my childhood home that was on the cover of my book (see sidebar).

kampung memoriesI’m very lucky that my book “Kampung Memories, A Life’s Journey Revisited” has been able to “travel” and present itself on both sides of the Pacific; and more importantly, has enabled me to share memories and insights with diverse people and readers.

“Kampung” means village in Malay, and the book revolves around the urban villages in Singapore before they were demolished for redevelopment. I grow up in such a kampung, and in the book, I weaved my memories with that of the people who used to live there.

I launched my book in Singapore in June this year, and recently, the first book launch/event in the United States was held in Santa Clara, northern California, at the Kababs and Curry’s Restaurant.

It was the brainchild of my friend Khir Johari, who is considered by his many friends as a Renaissance man. He and members of the Singapore and Malay communities in the San Francisco Bay Area took care of all the details of the event: everything was done elegantly, and all I needed to do was to show up.

There was batik to decorate the tables, a spread of Malay dishes prepared by the talented ladies from the community, and wonderful chai from the restaurant. One of the highlights was a chocolate cake, made to replicate my kampung house that was on the cover of the book.

Faridah, who made this amazing cake, said she took a few days to complete it. She decorated it with coconut trees and little pots of flowering plants made with brightly colored fondant. There was even a tiny replica of a sepak raga (a traditional Malay ball made of bamboo and rattan).

So on that Sunday afternoon in fall, we sat down in that cosy room, sharing and listening to stories that follow a path to our heritage and roots. There were also other Americans of different ancestry in that room. I hope, and I suppose I imagine this, that the book brings to their minds a dusty road where their fathers or grandfathers used to cycle, or all the strong women of their childhood, the ones who nurtured and held the families in their seemingly simple, humble ways.

Thank you to everyone who helped organized and showed up for the launch.

The author with Khir, listening to the stories and ideas shared by the guests. Khir is the brainchild behind the event.

The author Sharifah (left) with Khir, the event’s creator, listening to the stories and ideas shared by the guests.

A group photo. The banner, handmade by Salizah, was pretty impressive.

A group photo. The banner, handmade by Salizah, was pretty impressive.

With Faridah, who made the extraordinary cake.

I’m carefully cutting the cake with Faridah, who made the extraordinary cake.

Mee siam, a specialty noodle dish of Singapore Malays.

Mee siam, a specialty noodle dish of Singapore Malays.

Kuih keria, Malay doughnuts made with sweet potato.

Kuih keria, Malay doughnuts made with sweet potato.

Playing Malay heritage games (left) batu serembat or five stones, and the congkak, a board game.

Playing Malay heritage games (left) batu serembat or five stones, and the congkak, a board game.

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A lovely gift arrived recently: I received a blogging award from Tasneem. Thank you so much, Tasneem and wonderful timing, too, in the holiday season!

Some of the rules for accepting Versatile Blogger Award are:versatile blogger award

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Share seven things about yourself.
  • Nominate up to 15 fellow bloggers.
  • Add the Versatile Blog Award logo on your blog post.

I have met, followed and read so many interesting blogs and bloggers; that have made my blogging journey so enjoyable, and a rich learning experience. Thank you to all of you, and to everyone who has read my posts, sent a “like” and comments.

My nominees for the Versatile Blog Award:


one more morning

Happy Yuan Fun Life

Krishna’s Pictures and Notes

Author, G.D. Grace

Professions for PEACE

Seven things about myself:

  1. I am a chocoholic.
  2. I drink copious amounts of tea, with sugar, no milk.
  3. I come from a family of cat lovers. When I was 10, we stayed in a house with a big backyard. We kept saving stray cats, thinking that we had the space for them, till we had eight cats at one time.
  4. I collect teacups, plates and interesting advertising items.
  5. I refresh and destress by being near the sea or any other water source.
  6. I believe that if we try to live by the golden rule “treat others the way you would want to be treated’, life would be much simpler and kinder.
  7. My favorite colors are yellow and blue.

yellow rose

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Singapore Malay wedding

Farhana’s henna decorated hands added a traditional touch of radiance.

On my recent trip to Singapore, I was lucky to be able to celebrate with my large, close-knit extended family, the wedding of a niece, Farhana and the engagement ceremonies of two nephews, Cassim and Ebrahim.

The Malay wedding is a bustling affair with hundreds of guests and relatives streaming in throughout the day, enjoying the camaraderie and the briyani rice spread.

The engagement ceremony, according to the Malay custom, usually takes place at the lady’s home. The elders of both families discuss issues such as the date of the marriage and the wedding dowry. The young woman is then presented with the engagement ring, and gifts, beautifully decorated, are also exchanged.

After the formal discussion, there will be lots of food and members of the two families chat and get to know each other.

I’m posting some close-ups of the events.

….Love still makes the world go round.

bridal cupcakes

Putting together the wedding cake.

lovely cake

The wedding cake: a lovely centerpiece.

Malay water jar

A Malay water jar for guests to wash their hands before a meal. (Wedding photos taken by a professional photographer.)

engagement flowers

A man who knows his flowers: Ebrahim hand-picked the flowers for the bouquet to be presented to his fiance.

engagement ring

The box with the engagement ring, decorated by Sarah, the artist in the family.


Cassim’s gifts to his fiance were carefully chosen to reflect her preferences. (Pic by Shireen)

engagement party feast

Fine tableware and a delectable spread graced the engagement ceremony.

For another post on a Malay wedding, please see The Life of a Malay Wedding.

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Have you ever thought about something, or had a desire for something, then out of the blue, it seemed to be handed to you?

Well, I experienced that recently. Firstly, I had been thinking about buying an item of clothing. Then I visited a neighbor to see how she was doing. After chatting a little bit, she took out a shopping bag, and said that she had just bought something that was too small for her, and she wanted to give it to me.

And out came an item similar to the one that I had been thinking about.

Later that weekend, I was having a fish sandwich and smoothie lunch at a fast food place. When I sat down with my order, I felt like having fries to go with it, but decided to let it go this time.

It so happened that the fast food chain had a sticker game promotion at that time. I peeled off the small sticker on the sandwich box, and it said that I had won a prize for a medium serving of fries.

Those were nice happenings – made me feel lucky and blessed.

Then it so happened that a few days later, I was reading a book by Dr Wayne Dyer, and there was a section about the principle of synchronicity.

Synchronicity can be defined as “meaningful coincidence”. Some writers on the topic say that when a person has an open and flexible state of mind, he or she can attract synchronicity into his/her life.

Another writer has a good point: viewed from a religious or spiritual perspective, synchronicity can also be called grace or blessing. That, with the added component of exceptional timing.

I think the phenomenon of synchronicity does exist, although I may still be a bit cynical about it. I’m not sure, though, if one can attract it with the right attitude or frame of mind. It seems like synchronicity is too complex for one to “will” it or make it happen subconsciously.

But I do know that when it happens, it leaves you with a nice, happy feeling.

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