Archive for the ‘age’ Category

10 reasons why I love KL

This 1st February, Kuala Lumpur turns 44 years old as a federal territory of Malaysia. Love it or hate it, KL is the lady in red that makes an impression. Tacky or classy, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

But in keeping with the concept of this blog, and in honouring this city I’ve lived in for 17 years (gosh, it has been that long?), here are 10 reasons why I love KL and will continue to call it home, even though I’m from Penang. Yes, I still identify myself as a Penangite even though I’ve lived longer in KL than Penang.


  1. KL is great for non-drivers

Traffic can be horrendous in KL for drivers during the rush hour commute, and expensive parking rates will put a huge dent on your wallet if you’re working here, but it’s relatively easy to move around by public transport or on foot. As someone who can’t drive, KL works for me.

My main mode of transport into the city is by train (KTM Komuter, LRT, monorail). From the train station, it’s possible to walk to many places, unlike the suburban townships that are mostly surrounded by highways. And the best way to discover the city’s nook and crannies is on foot.

What about taxis? Yes, our taxi drivers are on the world’s worst list, but there’s Uber and GrabCar now. Buses? Frequency and punctuality of buses into the city centre still need to be improved but within the city, you can hop onto the free Go KL buses.


  1. The greenery is a soothing sight for sore eyes

Despite the skyscrapers that dominate the city’s landscape, KL is still quite green. Shady trees provide respite from the scorching sun and soften the edges of the concrete jungle. There’s even a forest reserve (Bukit Nanas) in the heart of the city, at the base of KL Tower.


  1. Its population is very diverse


KL has always been a tempat cari makan (a place to make a living) for out-of- towners and foreigners alike. Today’s Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Myanmarese are last century’s Chinese and Indians. You can find a sense of belonging even among strangers. When I first moved here, I used to attend mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. I called it the church for lost souls. Unlike community churches in the suburbs, it’s easy to maintain anonymity here if you want to. Old city dwellers, Filipino maids, diplomat families, new arrivals… all can come and go without much fuss in the house of God.


  1. Free activities


City living is always expensive but there are places you can go to for free. How about catching a free movie at KLpac (look out for free screenings of international films every two months or so) or Content Malaysia Pitching Centre?

If you’re an art buff, visit Galeri PETRONAS, Ilham Gallery, and Bank Negara Museum and Art Gallery.


  1. There’s something to do every weekend

I don’t know why some people say there’s nothing to do in KL. There’s so much happening I need a 3-day weekend (one day to go out, one day to do housework and one day chillax and recover). With Facebook, it’s so easy to seek out groups with similar interests.

If you like photography, join photo walks or look out for special talks and exhibitions. For arts, history and culture, there are events organized by groups such as Malaysian Heritage and History Club, Pusaka and Badan Warisan Malaysia. If music is your thing, there’s the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and No Black Tie.

Also check out Meetup for various interest groups (sports, arts, social, etc.) and Time Out KL.


  1. The malls have character

Ya, ya, there are too many malls here, but let’s go with the positive spin, okay? There are different malls for different folks.

KLCC is a personal favourite of mine. It was my weekend hangout I first moved here largely because I was renting a room then and needed to get out for some me time. After church, I would take the train here for lunch, a movie, Sunday banking, book browsing at the Kinokuniya bookstore, errands at the post office, grocery shopping at Isetan, art admiration at Galeri PETRONAS…

I don’t go there often now but I still love the place for it’s international vibe. The crowd is cosmopolitan, the layout is simple enough that you don’t get lost in the maze, the size is manageable (you can walk from one end to the other in about five minutes) and there’s a park outside.

While KLCC is prim and proper (yet approachable), Sungei Wang Plaza is the kooky cousin, and still hip at 39 years old. Think Vivienne Westwood vs Anna Wintour. This is the place to go for funky fashion and fun finds. Be warned that you could get lost in there, so if you like something, get it then because you might not be able to find the store again.

Pertama Complex in the grittier part of town is underrated as far as malls go. It may not look much from the outside (or even inside), but this is the kind of place where you can get your shoes resoled, fulfil your rocker dream with bespoke leather pants, give people something to talk about with a holster for your gun and source for sewing supplies – do you know how hard it is to get something as simple as press tarts and elastic bands in the fancier malls? This 40-year-old mall is also home to the Yoon Hin bag shop, where you can get genuine backpacks (Osprey, Deuter and the likes) at prices much lower than anywhere else. Just bring cash (credit card not accepted) and be prepared that Madam Sia may not like you for some reason.


  1. The weather

The weather is always nice for a swim, especially in the evening when the sun has warmed up the water.

Hell, yeah! I actually love the tropical weather here. I hate the cold and I don’t like being bundled up and having to carry a jacket, scarf and gloves whenever I go out. I love the freedom of going out wearing something light and not having to add and remove layers of clothing. You complain so hot? Pop into a shopping mall or restaurant lah. There’s air conditioning everywhere and sometimes, even the Mat Sallehs complain our air con is freezing (I sometimes wear a wool jacket in the office).


  1. Democratized dining


KL is a city of wonderful contrasts. You can be hoity-toity and indulge in omakase for RM380 at Nobu, or slurp delicious noodles next to a drain for under RM8. I tend to go for chap eats because they often taste better when it’s just about the food rather than the décor or image.


  1. You can play tourist in your own city

Every now and then, be a tourist. Go for a guided walk and discover your own backyard. Do the museum or temple thing. Eat your way through Chinatown and Little India. I bet you would be saying “I didn’t know we had this!” a lot.


  1. We have some amazing architecture


As a person who is drawn to aesthetics, I love many buildings in KL, both old and new. In the old part of KL, the influences are varied: Moorish (Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station), art deco (Central Market, Lee Rubber Building, OCBC Building), colonial (Muzium Telekom), traditional (Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman) pre-war shophouses (Medan Pasar). For modern architecture, the condominiums around KLCC give the city a very international appeal.

So there you have it, my top 10 list. How about you? What do you love about KL?


Remembering Sam


There are a few things that would make one feel truly like a grown-up – paying for your own property, sex, having children and going for funerals, especially if the deceased is not a family member yet you go anyway.

I’m not sure how to behave at funerals. The few that I have been to were of grandparents and elderly relatives… do I have a heart of stone for not feeling enough grief? It was their time to go and I wasn’t very close to them. There were no tears to be shed. I did feel sad at their passing, but it was more of a sobering thought than heart-wrenching pain. My concern is more for the living. I don’t pray much but I would make it a point to offer at least a decade of the rosary for the deceased and for God to give strength to the family.

Last December, I found out from Facebook that an ex-colleague had died on Christmas eve due to heart complications. We had lost touch over the years but I still remember him from three agencies ago. We were not best buds but he was nice to me and I enjoyed his company. He was my senior, in profession and age –  a difference of 17 years. We met at Bates where he was a DM writer at Bates 141. I was with Bates Advertising but we shared the same office.

I didn’t go for the funeral but decided to attend his memorial last Saturday on 18th January when I saw a notice for it in the Sunday papers. It was held at the parish house of the St. Joseph’s Cathedral – a place easy enough for me to get to.

Sam was a friendly chap. He would keep to himself and mind his own business but he would be warm towards people around him. He had an arsenal of jokes, mostly bawdy though I don’t recall any of them. There were probably a few about me being a skinny person. Sam was a big guy, so big that he would often be out of breath after a walk or climb up the stairs.

When I was at M&C Saatchi and he was at Tequila down the road, I would sometimes go to his office building to meet him for lunch. He would be at the food court with his newspapers (probably Malay Mail or the Sun – I don’t remember for sure) and order a second teh limau ais towards the end of his meal.

The only time we met ‘outside the office’ was when he asked if I would like to go to a Mongolian restaurant he wanted to check out. It was somewhere in Pudu. We went on a weekend and he picked me up from my place. His car was small and when he sat in it, it would tilt to one side.

Making an appointment with Sam meant calling him at the office. He did not own a handphone. If someone from work needed to contact him outside office hours, they would have to call his house number. I wondered if that’s just to keep people from calling him back to work at night or on the weekends. Surely he had a handphone for family members and friends to get a hold of him. I asked his sister, Agnes if this was true. She confirmed that he did not own a handphone. His company gave him one but he didn’t use it. His family had to call him at the office too.

Knowing this, I was surprised to find out that he was on Facebook. When I first heard of his passing, I looked him up on Facebook. I learned from Agnes that he joined Facebook because he was looking for poker buddies. Checking his Facebook page shed more light on the kind of man Sam was. Those from work knew him as Sam (his surname) while family members called him by his middle name, Damien. He did not like to be called by his first name, Joseph. I don’t know why.

One of my favourite stories was shared by Joe Najib:

When I first met Joseph Damien Sam, it was it was in 2004. The company I just joined was leaving for Hawaii for a company incentive trip, and because I was new, I couldn’t go. So I jokingly told Sam to “bring back some volcanic rocks” for me. To my surprise a week later, he actually did! And I still have those rocks with me today.

Jovian Lee wrote about working with Sam:

RIP Joseph Damien Sam, fellow copywriter, ex-colleague from KHK who studied in Hyderabad and used to rhyme “equine, bovine, feline, canine and swine” and together we coined up names for F&N ice cream variants like “Sang Vanilla Utama” and “Lick Astley” – which the client never bought.  – they would come out with crazy names for ice cream flavours that never saw the light of day – Lick Astley and Sang Nila Utama. 

At the memorial, a few others shared their stories. Sham SunderBinwani, who was also the MC, reminisced about Sam being the first customer of his book business. And a tractor tyre that had to be brought in as a float for a Redang trip. A cousin shared about his first school holiday away from his parents with Sam’s family. Sam was warned not to tell the young lad any dirty jokes but he was deflowered anyway.

His brother-in-law shared a nice one about his son’s explanation for why God made Sam so big. Because his body had to fit his big heart and his brain had to have enough space for his encyclopedic knowledge.

The memorial was a nice way to honour Sam. Remember the good times, because Sam lead a full life and was a kind soul to his friends. It’s not about the time you spend with a friend, but the imprint you make as one. Live life fully, joyfully, honestly.

Reza Salleh was also invited to sing a few songs that Sam liked. I only recognised Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car and Talkin Bout A Revolution. He wrote this on his Facebook page:

I was invited to play at the remembrance day of Joseph Damien Sam, a man I’ve never met. He passed last Christmas Eve unexpectedly and I was contacted a few weeks ago by his sister Agnes who saw me perform at a corporate event organised by her company last year. I’ve never been invited to play for such an event before, let alone one dedicated to someone I didn’t know. I was unsure at first as it felt like I might be intruding on something intimate but Agnes said “He loved music and he would’ve really liked yours.” Last night I played to a small crowd at the Old Parish Hall beside St. John’s Cathedral in KL. It was a small, touching event, led and attended by family, close friends and colleagues. You could really feel the love for the man in the room. Wish I could’ve met you Sam.

Sam, it was nice meeting you. I’ll see you when I see you. Teh ais limau, dua!



The other songs performed by Reza are:
What The Hell Just Happened I’m Not Really Sure
For Her
Half The Soul
Putera Jaya

The songs can be found on YouTube but the live recordings are unclear, hence I am including only the first song. Enjoy!

Love is like a pint of Guinness

You’ll either love or dread next Thursday. In a week’s time, it’ll be Valentine’s Day.

For lovers, pleasant surprises await. The single ones on the other hand, would probably wish that they could go into hibernation until all the fuss is over.

Yeah, yeah, like Jay Leno, we could call Valentine’s Day ‘Extortion Day’, nothing more than a commercial gimmick to pressure men and women alike into parting with obscene amounts of money to lavish their partners with overpriced flowers, teddy bears bearing heart-shaped cushions and conveyor belt set meals.

But admit it, if you’re attached, you too will jump on the Venetian gondola with all those saccharine sweet couples we loathe for their FDA (Facebook Display of Affection).

I am happiest when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend because I could hole up home until it’s over. It’s not just restaurants with couple tables and perfume counters promoting Valentine’s Day sets that remind you that your only date is the TV at home, which of course will be screening romantic movies starring Reese Witherspoon or Meg Ryan.

Drowning yourself in work at the office is no solution. Not when the tables around you will be graced with big bouquets of flowers taunting you like Cinderella’s stepsisters.

So where does this leave us single gals?

“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed.
Maybe they just need to run free till they find someone
just as wild to run with them.” ~ Sex and the City

Will we ever find someone to love and love us in return, or will we wake up one day and realise the love boat has long left the port?

Don’t despair. Love is like a pint of Guinness. Good things do come to those who wait, like Eve Pell.

The author of We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante recently wrote about meeting the love of her life at 67.

He was a widow, she was twice divorced. They both belonged to the same running club. Eve knew a gem when she saw one. Sam was charming, single and fit for a 77-year-old.

With the help of a friend, she set herself up with Sam. A house party led to movies, runs together, dates in Chinese restaurants, a holiday in Europe, and finally, marriage three years later.

Read the full story of The Race Grows Sweeter Near its Final Lap here in the New York Times. I promise it’s one you will want to finish. Happy Valentine’s Day.

P.S. I would like to thank the regional boss of a former workplace of mine. He anonymously arranged for every woman in the office to have a rose on her desk on Valentine’s Day. It was a very thoughtful and sweet gesture.