Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

I try not to be too superstitious. Been working on this for years.

Most are harmless enough, right? Maybe even a bit fun.

Not stepping on a crack in the sidewalk wouldn’t have actually prevented “Mother’s broken back.” But it might have made the boring walk down the street to Cabral’s corner market for a loaf of bread and a pack of Mom’s L&Ms a little less monotonous for a kid.

I remember when a bunch of us kids were passengers in Mrs. Gillett’s car. She was our neighbor but also our friends’ grandmother. That’s the real reason we were in the car. Anyway, when Mrs. Gillett came to the railroad tracks in the road she lifted her feet. Not for long. Maybe just a few seconds. Nope, she wasn’t doing it to strengthen her lower abs. She did it for good luck.

I still do it.

But I falter from time to time. Step on cracks all the time and my Mama is perfectly fine.

Recently, I was in a Delhi shop. Narrow as all get out. One of the employees had a ladder out in the middle of the floor. No way for me to go around it. So I waited. Waited some more. There was no way I was walking under that thing. No way.

Also have this other thing. I should always leave from the same door I entered. Not sure where that one came from but I am always aware of it.

But this is absolutely one superstition that should be left by the door.

Here is why.

In 2003 I was living in Dallas, Texas. On a February evening, many, many miles away in my home state of Rhode Island there was a terrible fire in a night club. It claimed the lives of one hundred men and women. And injured hundreds of others. Like horribly injured.

Young people were just having an evening out, listening to music and enjoying a respite from one of New England’s long winter nights. Like I did many a time. As you probably did.

Pyrotechnics (fireworks) which were meant to add a bit to the show ignited the foam that was used for sound insulation in the walls and ceiling. Within FIVE minutes the Station club in West Warwick was engulfed.

People could not see the exits due to the heavy smoke. There was also a massive crush as people tried to get out the main exit. The place where they entered at the beginning of the evening.

So there were different causes of death that night.

The following is a video, taken ten years ago, of my cousin John who was a firefighter in Warwick. It also features his bandmate (yes, singing firefighters) who was actually present at the Station when the fire began. The video is dated 2007 and John has recently retired as a Lieutenant. But the message in this clip is still as important today as it was then.

You do not need to leave from the same door you entered.

John is still in the band and after the tragic Station fire the group would post a floor plan of each venue on their website. He states how important it is to make note of an exit.

I also learned something yesterday that struck a similar chord.

A family that I knew in Kuala Lumpur was recently on a holiday in Yangon, Myanmar. Yes, the perks of living in Asia.

Seems that on October 19th they were asleep in their lovely, colonial era hotel only to be wakened around 3:00am by banging noises. Sounded like people yelling and pounding on doors. But the family couldn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe drunken revelry? Terrorism?

They tried the front desk. No one answering. Finally someone picked up and told them to evacuate immediately due to a fire in the hotel.

The two teen daughters left first and then the parents a few minutes later. The mom was sort of freaked about the separation but they were soon reunited and safe.

Police were shoving people aside and trying to evacuate but there was no clear communication, very disorganized and pitch black.

I want to just note here that this luxurious, teak and iconic hotel was considered a 5 Star property.¬† So it doesn’t really matter where you stay. The rules for your personal safety should always be the same. Regardless of the price tag. Or tag line.

Her advice?

“Don’t take for granted emergency exit information.”

She stressed the importance of staying together. Checking to see if there is a fire alarm and sprinkler in hotel room. Having a plan to meet up if separated. The importance of being close to your family and knowing where they are at all times.

This is the time of year when a plethora of seasonal activities will beckon. Many will welcome the opportunity for indoor, festive gatherings surrounded by loads of people. Seeing the Nutcracker, Christmas musicals, plays, concerts, sporting events and attending worship services.

Some will travel and spend time in hotels. Or pass through airports.

All happy as larks to be in places with closed doors keeping out the cold or staving off the heat.

Have fun but take note of exit signs immediately upon entering. Communicate a place to meet with family members if case you ever get separated. Don’t take for granted emergency exit information. Do your homework. And remember you do not need to leave from the same door you entered. Ever.

Wishing you and all of your families a safe holiday season. Hoping you employ these safety measures all year long. Some superstitions should absolutely be left at the door.

Update: My cousin, John, told me that he was actually supposed to be at the Station the evening of the fire. He did not attend because he didn’t want to be the “third wheel.” But a few folks thought he was there. Including his fire chief.

 

 

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A friend used to joke, “I’m like marble. I don’t want to be taken for granite.”

So goofy.

It’s true though. No one wants to be taken for granted.

But most of us do take people and things for granted at times. We just don’t think about it on a daily basis. Until we don’t have them.

Last Spring, my neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur lost internet connection for the entire day. Thank Jesus for the fancy iPhones so everyone could whine about it in group chats.

Wait, don’t folks around the world lose water, electricity and more every single day? If they even ever had access to them at all.

Luckily, I was out running errands. So the internet outage didn’t totally destroy me. And I had my phone ūüôā

One of the errands was dropping off a carload of donations to a housing complex where many refugees live. It made me realize the clothes and household items we can sometimes take for granted.

That afternoon, I went with my then 12th grade daughter to school for her last day as president of a club she started three years ago.

This club allowed refugee students from a nearby volunteer run school to be bussed to her campus so they could play games, use the sports facilities, etc. It made be conscious of how something like a simple school campus can be taken for granted.

I was watching these lovely young girls and boys playing basketball and cheering for each other. Kids from Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

So many children displaced from so many countries around the world. Due to war and violence. A stark reminder that we can take our security for granted.

As my daughter was saying goodbye to her refugee friends they told her, “We will miss you.”

One young girl told her, “You’re so lucky you can go to college.”

Okay, wow. My daughter never really looked at it like that. It was taken for granted that there would be the opportunity for her to attend college.

Now this is totally human.¬†We don’t tend to think about these things-these absolute gifts-¬†all the time. Or think about the people-these absolute gifts in our lives-¬†all the time.¬†It’s really not sustainable to constantly be in a state of such focus.

But we should take more time to realize who and what we might be taking for granted. We absolutely should take more time to be mindful and appreciative of the gifts, comforts and blessings bestowed upon us. Communicate love and gratefulness.

We do plenty of things without giving them a single thought like…….

Hopping into the hot shower. Snuggling under the warm blanket with spouse, kid or pet. Turning on the tap and expectantly hold a glass under it. Waking up feeling fit and energetic. Flicking on the light. Cracking open the fridge. Pursing our lips for the perfunctory kiss at the front door. Saying the rote “I love you.” Opening the wallet. Closing the car door with the habitual thank you response.

Until we no longer have or we are faced with no longer having…..

Hot water. The warm cover over our bodies. The spouse, kid or pet no longer there. The surety that water will flow into the glass. Good health. The person at the front door. Electricity. The loved one on the other end of the telephone line. Money. The beloved parent in the car dropping you off one more time.

I wish all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful visit with family and friends. Enjoy and appreciate this special day. A perfect time to remember that the gifts, comforts and blessings in our lives should be like marble and not taken for granted.

To those who are not celebrating the holiday I wish you the same. A day of giving thanks.

One last thing. I’m very thankful for you all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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You know what I don’t get?

When a serial killer is caught and family, friends and neighbors say, “I had no idea. He was such a nice guy.”

I do sort of get that those evil beings can be so cunning and devious that they could somehow slip below the radar.

But still.

No one has any clue that something might be a teeny bit off?

I feel like I really know my family, friends and neighbors. Know the words they use. Their phrases. Know their moods. Their likes and dislikes. Know if they are not quite acting themselves.

I am not normally a suspicious person by nature.

Okay, maybe there was that one time.

There was a serial killer in Providence for a very short while in 1984.

I was dating a guy back then and one day maybe the radio was on with a description of the killer. So I might have said something to him or looked at him in a strange, new way.

He was like, “OH MY GOD, Mary!!!!!!!! YOU DON”T THINK I’M THE …………!!!!!!!!”

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m the one who’s nuts. But it’s good to be aware, right?

Last year I received a text from my friend and neighbor Nancy.

Receiving the text was not at all unusual. We were in daily contact. Especially due to the fact that we were both living on our own with the daughters in Malaysia while our husbands were out of the country. So if we weren’t with each other we always knew where the other one was on any given day.

But what was unusual was what I read in this particular text.

“How was your day, love?”

I blanched and immediately thought there was some type of homicidal maniac at her place. Holding her hostage and forcing her to send out weirdo texts.

She’s never, ever called me “love.” Or anyone for that matter. That I can recall.

I then thought she was leaving some hidden clue in this message. Like a bread crumb on a trail. Like, “Help me, Mary. You know this isn’t my lingo. I’m in real danger!”

I text back right away as I’m putting on my shoes. Ready to run two houses down if needed.

My text probably went something like, “Everything okay???? What on earth is going on over there??? Feeling fine?????”

Knew something wasn’t quite right.

And I was 100% correct.

Her response text?

“Lol. That text was supposed to go to Curtis.”

The husband.

Who, in my presence, she always called, “dear.” So, not sure where this “love” thing was coming from but it doesn’t matter.¬† I’m not all that current on sexting.

This posting isn’t really about serial killers. Chances are pretty good that we will not be neighbors of one. Please God!

It’s really more about listening to your instinct. Being aware. Knowing when someone is not themselves. Truly knowing family, friends and neighbors and not missing any clues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am visiting Kuala Lumpur for a few days and really enjoying seeing the many delightful friends I’ve made over the last five years.

Staying in a nice, clean hotel. Staff has been great. No complaints.

Until.

Yesterday, I was finishing up something when the guy came to clean the room. When I made my way out of the room he had just finished making up the bed.

I came back a bit later and he was gone. Noticed a stain on the bed cover. Looked like someone spilled coffee. And the mark obviously didn’t come out in the wash. Certainly knew it wasn’t me since the only thing I drank in the room was water.

Besides, it was a new cover. He had taken mine off and put the “fresh” one on the bed.

Left to meet a friend for coffee and when I returned the fellow who cleans the room was back. Making up the bed again.

I said, “Oh, you’re back.”

He replied that he was changing the bed cover because of the stain. Or something like that.

What I wanted to discuss-but didn’t want to lose him in conversation-is why on earth he kept the stained cover on the neatly made bed? Once he discovered the stain why not take it off and go find an unstained one? ¬†

Weird.

This morning I hopped out of the shower and grabbed a neatly folded towel. It felt strange. I then took a good look at it. It had holes in it. Torn and worn.

towel

Weird.

I’m not blaming the cleaning guy (stain boy) who restocks the towel shelf in the bathroom. Because it was probably already folded in the laundry when it got to his cart.

Here’s my question.

Who folded it and thought it passed muster?

We’ve all folded a towel, right? And we all know that no matter how you fold a towel chances are pretty good that you would notice if it was torn nearly in half. No?

I’m not making a fuss. I thought both incidents were sort of funny in an odd way.

I will give my feedback to the hotel.¬†But I’m still really curious.

 

 

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Thought I would share some photos taken while I lived in Malaysia. They made me smile. Or laugh. Or shudder. Or just pause.

monkeysign

Who would try to feed that bad boy?

sadam

Ummm, okay. Not sure I would ever be a regular customer.

hairysoup

Why are people always complaining about hospital food?

guyonroof

I prayed, “Please don’t slip in your socks!” Most of the fellas go barefoot.

impulse

Not exactly sure what this is but I think I could use one.

naancorner

Fast service no matter how long it takes. Good to know.

Needed cash so I was excited to see the ATM. Until. Sigh. It’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

normal

Day at the zoo. Adult wristband. Validation!

blinker

I know it shows no right turn but that blinker was flashing anyway. Hope they’re okay.

shoe

Those folks obviously didn’t read the sign.

dunkin

Dunkin Donuts. Not just donuts.

hospitalsign

Sign in the hospital. Way to motivate.

mothergoose

Pretty birds just wandering around the neighborhood near school. On the correct side of the road.

pvd

So proud to have grown up in Ode Island. Malaysian heat toasted my bumper sticker.

pink

When you’re not like the rest of the gang.

carparked

This photo was taken by a friend. LOL.

amma

I will leave you with this one.

Who’s a mess? Amma mess.

 

 

 

 

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I could write about so many things but I have to be in a particular frame of mind to get the gears grinding for certain topics.

So, today I will just write about monkeys.

I have been in Delhi now for twenty days.

One morning, around 6:00am, I went up to the balcony on the third floor looking for an item. The pup followed as usual. Thumper is a Jack Russell mix with loads of energy.

Out of the corner of my eye I spy two monkeys sitting on the post. I was a bit startled. Immediately hoped the dog didn’t see them. Then I see five of them.

Too late. My Thump spots them and makes a beeline for the ones sitting on the balcony post. They all seemed to scramble and disappear.

Then one suddenly pops back up, leers and leans down toward my dog! Very aggressive and no fear at all.

I’m yelling for my husband, one floor below, who is on the telephone with one of our kids.

Grabbing a golf club, I yell at the monkeys, “Shoo, Shoo!” Or some gobbledygook.

Husband comes up, takes the club from me and runs to the monkeys and they flee.

monkeybalcony

I was sort of shaking. The surprise of it all and fearing for my dog.

Then they went into the front yard and made a mess. Broke tree branches.

Here’s one of the cheeky monkeys sucking flowers on the opposite side of the yard.

monkeyfront

I’m no stranger to monkeys. There were plenty of them in Malaysia where we lived for five years. Especially near the area where my daughter attended school. But I never had the aggressive face to face experience with them in my yard or on my balcony.

I’d read about the monkeys before arriving in Delhi. Current count is 30,000 monkeys in the city. Yes, the city. Not the countryside.

My husband thinks that might be underestimating it. Yikes.

It’s a tricky situation. There’s a preservation a couple of blocks away from our home. Meant to keep the monkeys protected and contained.

monkeyres

But many folks here feed them on Tuesdays and Saturdays for religious reasons. Because of the Hindu monkey god. Feeding them is considered auspicious for the devout.

So I’m not sure why they are leaving the preservation and coming into neighborhoods. Maybe over crowding or looking for more food on the off days.

They are scary. Such a menace, in fact, that there are actually measures in place to keep them at bay.

This is what I really wanted to tell you.

The measures in place are monkeys.

Langurs.

These are actual monkeys (and in these cases-trained monkeys) and apparently the only thing that has deterred the pesky Rhesus monkeys in the past.

Yes, langur monkeys and their handlers have been hired to control the smaller Rhesus monkeys. Until it was banned. But still a black market trade.

Brides have hired langur handlers and their monkeys for outdoor weddings to keep the smaller monkeys away so they don’t ruin the special day.

They’re even hired to guard the homes of political leaders, judges, and other VVIPs.

Thankfully, I haven’t seen them on our property since that first week but I certainly plan on remaining vigilant. Extremely vigilant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last six months have been very busy for me. At times quite stressful.

The weekend of my daughter’s high school graduation (she graduated on the Friday) seemed especially busy. My husband was preparing to fly back to India on the Sunday with Thumper (the infamous canine) in cargo. We were worried about the mutt. And doing a bunch of last minute things.

We drove them to the airport (an hour from our home) hours earlier than the flight to ensure all paperwork in order.

It was hot. But it’s always hot in Malaysia.

And I was sweating. But I was always sweating in Malaysia.

Had to rush home from the airport because a friend was in from Australia and we needed to meet a group for dinner.

It was rush, rush and rush.

Got home but no time for a shower. What to do?

Brushed my hair and put it up in a clip. Some lip color.

I stunk. Just being honest. So I grabbed a face cloth and soap and cleaned under my arms.

Because I smelled like a person who had labored all day in the Malaysian heat without deodorant. For the record I do wear deodorant. Sometimes it fails me. In Malaysia.

At least I’m aware of it.

Hightailed it out of the house with my daughters and our friends who lived two doors down to meet up with our visiting friends at an Indian restaurant in the city.

It ended up being a lovely evening. The young folks went home right after dinner. My daughters had an early flight out in the morning. My friend and I went with the visitors for a couple of drinks after dinner.

Not a late night.

Arrived home and readied myself for bed. Now, thankfully, I only smelled like Indian food and wine.

My eldest, who sleeps with me when she’s at home and my husband is not, mumbled a few words like, “How was it?”

I took that as my cue for conversation.

She’s not always a fan. Because I’m sometimes pillow to pillow, “Remember your friend, Melissa, from second grade? Whatever happened to her?” and the like.

So I said, “Was a good night with the friends.”

And then continued conversing.

She said, “Not tonight, Mom. Early flight tomorrow.”

Totally respected that and snuggled into my pillow for a good night’s sleep.

Few minutes later I hear, “Mom?”

“Yes?”

“When we came back from airport did you shower?” she asked.

“No! You know I didn’t have time for that. Had to get downtown. I just cleaned under my arms with soap and water.”

She continued, “With the face cloth that’s on the sink?”

“Yup.”

“Oh.”

Okay, I laughed out loud even though I was nearly in slumber town. Couldn’t help myself. ¬†Total belly laugh.

I said, “I’m going to blog about this one day.”

She replied, “Be more embarrassing for you though.”

I retorted, “Not really. It was my face cloth. Who uses someone else’s face cloth????”

Wishing you all a fun weekend! With a belly laugh or two! I promise to be better at updating the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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