Thursday, 23 December 2010

(Music) Season's Greetings : A Concert Fiesta!


And once again, this Malaysian made her way through the December Music Festival in Chennai, to feed her soul!

Strangely, this year felt different - somehow, lots of new singers were given primtetime slots and seasoned faves seemed to sit this season out a little. Very uncharacteristic of the Madras Music Season. My best friend's take is that seasoned musicians are now flying around the world, performing all year round, hence leaving slots open for newbies in Margazhi! A reliable source also informed me that one or two seasoned performers had intentionally decided to be in the audience, rather than take the stage this year, but did not say why the unexpected move was taken specifically this year. Fortunately however, I got the best of the seasonsed and new performers, with a little advanced planning and loads of luck.

Chennai was wet, wet, wet! And cold! Riding through the streets in my Fast Track taxi from the airport, it was soon discernible that the city was just recovering from the infamous winter floods that never fail to be reported on local and international primtetime news every year. By the time I'd cruised through Chennai's streets and pulled up to my hotel however, I was absolutely excited at the familiar sights, sounds and smells of Chennai!

The next days were nothing short of musically delightful. Starting with friend Kuldeep Pai's concert at BVB's mini hall was a great appetiser to the season. One of his best pieces was Ata Modi ( raga: Charukesi), which to me, was a primer of the bliss to come this season! Humbly accepting a warm invite home for lunch next week from the starlet and his wife, I made my way to the bulettin board of BVB to see what was in store for the next day. A session on 'sanskrit in carnatic music' caught my eye on the board and my plans were magically etched for the next day.


Following days included one particularly long auto ride to Adyar, to catch the expressively rebellious OS Arun. Unfortunately, the concert was predominantly Murugan "songs", rather than krithis, which meant several folk numbers were interspersed into his repertoire. Of course, he never failed to infuse his personal style into these numbers, but an artiste with talent like his always fills out a krithi far better than a small folk number! Nonetheless, I was determined to stay for the full performance and catch the little vocal nuggets he threw into concerts without fail! My conclusion is that this man could sing a nursery rhyme and it would sound out of this world!

The start of the season at Music Academy on 15th Dec was a free TVS concert which was indeed a treat for me, since I'd not experienced his concerts in Chennai, in the past. As I was recovering from a flu, I was bummed that I'd missed Suguna Varadachari and Shankari Krishnan earlier the same day. In fact, missing those ones led me to haul myself for the evening concert at the academy 'against the odds' - i.e. despite having low energy levels and several spoons of drowsiness-causing cough syrup!

The most disappointing part of my trip was making it to Mylapore Fine Arts just in time to be told that Aruna Sayeeram's concert was filled to the brim! The only place I could listen to the concert, was in the drizzle outside the gates, amidst auto horns and speeding motorcycles! I noticed that some ardent fans preferred to wait in the wet weather, hoping for seats to free up in the course of the evening. Knowing it was too much of a long shot and a particularly uncomfortable wait in the winter rain, I quickly hailed an auto and made my way to Music Academy. I was glad to have thus caught the tail end of Kanyakumari and Embar Kannan's violin treat! Next in the same venue, was Manda Sudharani, who took the primetime slot. Curious about this new name in such a coveted slot, I stayed on after the violin concert. I was pleasantly surprised to be engaged from start to finish!

Having 'bathed' in musical notes over the last few days, I realised it was time for some left-brain activity. Attending Sumathi Krishnan's lec-dem was a priority the next day. She covered the varieties in varnams - chowka, pada, daru. And as is usual fashion in academy lec-dems, she was mercilessly bombarded by learned scholars, aspiring theorists and seasoned musicologists on her assertions and research.

I stayed on for Savita Narasimhan, yet another newbie, who amazed me with her melifluous vocals. But I stayed on just until 3.30pm, just in time to make a dash for the NGS main hall concert which I had been waiting for! It was P. Unnikrishan! Having proudly and successfully purchased a good seat in his concert, I was one of the first in the queue to enter the hall - availing me the best choice of seats. I was elated. However, when the concert started, I realised I'd been to better katcheris of Unni's in the past. Unfortunately, the percussion was playing over his singing and his sahitya was indiscernible. I was heartbroken, as in the past, this singing sensation had taken me to a plane of bliss that I felt even 3 days after his concert! As some friends told me, he could have been having a bad day. My disappointment of course, was that it was just unfortunate that I had to go all the way to Chennai to see him perform on one of his "bad days"!

The next concert made the wound all better! Primtetime in the academy, Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna, the (ex)child prodigy who is all grown up now, and still makes waves with every piece he sings! You're awesome, boy! Of course, his pakkavadyam (Mrdangam) Umayalpuram Sivaraman lifted the entire performance another notch! This mrdangist needs neither intro nor praise; Suffice to say "Listen to him once, and you're hooked"!

Probably the highlight of the season for me was young Abhishek Raghuram, who I first heard in 2008. This chap just keeps growing and growing, musically! He is so creative that he can't help formulating new and beautiful sangathis for krithis, and give every musical mathematician/ mathematical musician a run for his money! If it weren't for squeezing into the Mini Hall at NGS and ducking from enthusiastic thala gestures of excited fans, I may have enjoyed Abhishek even more - if that is at all possible!

You can't leave Chennai without one KJ Jesudas concert on your itenerary. So I did just that. Thanks to friends, a free ticket was at hand for the concert. Jesudas made his usual magic and left an impression on me with a piece in Reethigowla, followed by another in Devamanohari. Known more for invoking emotion than for technical prowess, I think my soul food quota was filled for the day, despite short falls in kanaku. But that was ok! Variety in katcheris is the spice of life! I guess I was ready to head home, feeling fulfilled for the day.

I am however, a tad greedy when it comes to katcheris. So I did not want to pass up the opportunity to avail a dose of Sikkil Gurcharan at the Sivagami Petachi Auditorium. He enthralled audience for three hours and is one of the few atistes I've seen who appears to give the concert a "band" feel rather than a solo-performance feel. This is quite (pleasantly!)uncharacteristic of carnatic concerts I've otherwise attended and hence is yet another novelty witnessed this time during the season. I was awestruck as soon as he started his Ranjani RTP which at the pallavi stage, morphed into Sriranjani and then Janaranani before spawning Kharaharapriya. He also challenged the audience by singing a long alapana in a raga some thought resembled Thodi and others knew belonged to the Nethrachakra given G1 and M1. I realised the raga was #11 in the Melakartha, but it was my genius of a university senior who effortlessly whispered "Kokilapriya" into my ear within seconds of the full scale being rendered.

Ready for another dose of intellectual nourishment, I attended two lectures; "Harikatha in four south indian states" and "Varnam in Six Kalas", at the music academy. I missed the Suguna Purushotaman concert in Forum, but managed to finally attend Shankari Krishnan on my last day, catching her in Thodi-action. It was great that I bumped into about ten people I knew from my uni days that day and made a small reunion out of it!

Shortly after, grappling between Sanjay Subramanyam and Bombay Jayshree to attend, I finally resorted to the former's concert. And boy, did I make the right decision! Though I got a seat on the dias, about 6 feet away from the singer, it was a fabulous experience! I thought it would be uncomfortable, but I can't say I felt disadvantaged even for a second. Sanjay's energy draws you into his performance and he gives you moments when neither you nor he exists! Such is the power of his music. "Who knew Hindolam could be sung like that?!" was all I was thinking as he belted the RTP. And I love the way he never fails to display his thala while singing, making it both, a learning experience as well as a purely-pleasurable one for me.

Overall, the season was well-spent where I was concerned. Paatu katcheri and saapaatu katcheri, were equally good. Can't wait for next year's experience!

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Hobson's Choice: A TV Addict's Story



I. WATCH. TV. A. LOT.

Do you? Oh! You don't, you say?

Well then, don't read ahead, because you wouldn't have a clue as to what I'm saying here.

The rest of you TV-addicts, follow me...

It's 8pm. A weeknight. Or a weekend. Immaterial, really.

You're back from work after several earth-shattering meetings. You're on your couch, recalling a squabble with the attendant at the gas station moments ago, who could not understand that a request for "petrol for 30 ringgit please", does NOT mean he can fill you up for RM 50 and then ask for the remainder with a snooty grin.

Ah, but now, you're home, aren't you? And that glorious thing called the TV will slowly bring your heart rate back to where it's meant to be.

You turn it on and start the usual surf. The usual being, HB-OWW, Minimax, Supernova Movies, Hallingtonmark, Star Universe, Bayou, Grandad, Hisherstory, Discoveroot and Flox.

MOVIES ON THE REMOTE!

Click!

"Nope, saw that yesterday."
"Nope, saw that last week."
"Nope, saw that last Wesak."
"Nope, saw that in 2006 - and seven times since! What the...?"

Ok, so it seems you're done with the movie channels. You give up and move on.

SITCOMS N' SUCH

Maybe some good situational comedy. You enjoy both British and American comedy so long as it isn't in French yeah, so why not checkout your favourite channels for a good hour of laughs.

"Huh?! 'American Ideal' again?! Now that the show is over for the season, we have to watch reruns. We ALLLLL know who won already! Please save us the agony of that reality show's rerun!"

"NCEyeS...what? Click."

"Oh look... Midslumer Murders with not male, but GET THIS - - - FEMALE British detectives! What a twist, I say Jeeves! Move on!"

THE LAST STRAW

It's 8.45pm and you've yet to settle on a channel. This is bad. Maybe you should move on to something you can learn from despite weary eyes. Why? Because everything else sucks ...sigh!

"Nope, don't want to learn how to build a mosoleum."

"Nope, no interest in the immortalisation of Gods in Greek Mythology when we Asians already have enough Gods to populate a small planet, with the same stories - if not more intricate. Yes, a tad ethnocentric there. But someone HAS to be if we're going to get anything Asian on knowledge-oriented channels."

"Nope,don't want to see someone pulling out her hair and the world trying to save her from herself."

"Hmmm...DEFINATELY don't want to see 15 obese people on bicycles in Finland OR China OR Uranus, now that I've seen the American, Australian and Malaysian versions! Repeatedly!"

Click! The TV is switched off. It is now 9pm and you've gone over all your favourite channels and even some other random ones and then back to your faves again.

Silence.

You ponder your choices - movie at the nearest cinema resulting in a late night and a groggy morning? Or a DVD of Leaonardo Di Cappucino's Interception my aunt left behind on my TV stand last week?

What do YOU think?

;-)

(Any people, places, events, objects, movies,brands or gas stations mentioned in this post are purely fictional and do not intend to bear resemblence to real life. Any resemblence is purely coincidental. Smites here represent those of the blogger and not of any organisation or authority.)

(Really.)

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Sitiawan Stylo, My Hero

Sitiawan Stylo was a portly man with a pleasant and somewhat alluring disposition. He often made friends of everyone from big wig corporate men to waiters at the local Chinese restaurant. He was fair-skinned, bordering on a yellowish tan he said he got from his mother. He had a thick head of hair which never seemed to grey and light brown eyes that had a hint of bluish grey at the iris edges. He always saw the glass half full and led others to see the same through his actions and sheer energy. In his later years, it was common for him to have a pack of youngsters around his chair during the holidays, usually seeking his counsel or just basking in the warmth of his affection.


1980

Sitiawan Stylo accompanied his 6 y.o. daughter to her first kindergarten race. What he did not expect was for the headmistress to suddenly announce a parents’ race as part of the events. Stylo’s daughter knew he knew he had little chance of winning, but instead of backing out of the race he had been randomly picked for, he chose to be a sport and take part in the race. As expected Stylo did not win. Or stand second or third or fourth. He was the second last. He was no runner for sure. And in spite of his daughter standing on the sidelines looking aghast at what she thought would be a colossal failure for anyone in a competiton, Sitiawan Stylo trotted back from the finish line, gleaming and clapping. When his daughter asked, “Acha, aren’t you sad you didn’t win?”, he cheerfully responded, “I would be sad if I didn't try. Because if I didn't try, I would not be able to show you that you don't always have to be sure of success to try something. Trying, whether it brings you failure or not, is the first step to success." His daughter was still sad then, but as she grew up, these words resounded in her head at every class debate, singing contest and writing competiton.

1985

Stylo, now 55, was medically boarded out of work where he'd earned accolades like "Insurance Man of the Year" and made manager despite his lack of education. He was diagnosed with a severe heart condition. His now 11 y.o. daughter and 7 y.o. son were oblivious of the lifestyle implications. Instead, the kids were ecstatic that there would be someone at home when they returned from school every day, especially since both their parents worked late. Stylo felt restless and restricted at home, as he was still completely mentally productive and alert. Despite the high likelihood that he would descend into depression, it was amazing that Stylo did the opposite; He found ways to keep his mind satiated - teaching his daughter and son cooking, home chores, fix-its, wood work, pet care etc. He also inculcated their reading habit, set a time for listening to classical music and introduced physical activity on alternate days of the week for good measure. His daughter, being the elder of the two, was the first to notice how he turned his life around all on his own. Later in her own life, she always looked to that part of Stylo's for strength in her own.

1992

No one but the angels knew that 62 y.o. Stylo was days away from his fatal heart attack. He was smiling and happy during his last few days, but increasingly demanding of his children; especially of his daughter, who he insisted, enters the accounting profession. His daughter was peeved feeling that a career in English literature or music would be more up her alley. However, after futile arguments, she begrudgingly settled for an accounting course. Stylo died on the day she signed up. It was only four years later that she understood how far sighted and planned Stylo’s decision was, given that financially, the family was struggling. Stylo's daughter graduated in accounting and was snapped up by a major accounting firm, laying foundations for a very stable income source and therefore being able to support her retiree mother.


To date, these three episodes with Stylo remain monumental in his daughter’s life. She always remembers - "failure is what you encounter while you practice for success", "strength is something you build, not have" and, "think through your plans before you act".

Acha, you are Sitiawan Stylo, my hero!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Beyond Idli and Naan


Fret not! You are not alone. There is a large community of Indian expats in Malaysia with most of them hailing from South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andra Pradesh and Karnataka. And though I'd in the past found most to be cautious about stepping away from familair food, they are all not just rotating between doshas, idlis and naans.

Yes, you the South Indian expat, is tempted to keep an eye out for the familiar smells and sights of food. To some of you, you may have been somewhat concerned at the onset, that living in a foreign land could mean no Indian food within quick reach. But you later discovered in your first week in Malaysia that this country hardly fits into that stereotype. Here, getting acquainted with the quintessential Malaysian past time, i.e. food (Indian or otherwise), would have been followed by the realisation that the familiar tastes of India are all at a stones throw from wherever it is you are!

Yet other South Indian expats have been timidly declining food choices that my fellow Malaysians have been pointing out over time. Sometimes, you may have accepted a dinner treat or two, realising post-meal, that neither the treator nor you, was educated on what was going to be acceptable to your palate. Those meals could have turned out to be disastrous, leaving you hungry, unsatisfied and craving for a good biriyani. Worse still you would have gone on to conclude that the best thing would be to remain safely devoted to your previously chosen Indian restauraunts. You must have made about 15 trips to Sharavan Bhavan in two weeks, if you'd done that!


However, what my point is that your journey does not need to end with successfully identifying Indian places to eat. The induction to Malaysian food that you will receive, if you so allow it, will cover the smogasboard of fascinating Malaysian cuisine. And all within the boundries of familiar meats (chicken, fish, prawns, beef, mutton and lamb). Vegetarians may be at a loss away from India, but the meat eater has no excuse to seek the comfort of sambar a day into your Malaysian stay. You need not worry that eating in a regular city restaurant will result in the unwitting introduction to pig's blood or snake meat, as some of my friends have experienced in their trips around exotic Asian cities. Having said that, a choice of extreme cuisine is not impossible to find. This post is however, not about the extremem choices, but just everyday ones.

Back to "common Malaysian food" - You can often discern the palatability of a dish, through your nose, can't you? So, to start with, remember use it to guide you to what's good to eat. Chances are, perhaps the spicier dishes will call to you immediately.

My advice is to try, try and keep trying different "common Malaysian food" like nasi lemak, roti canai, char kuay teow, mi siam, nasi goreng, rendang ayam/ daging (photo above)etc. If your saliva glands do not respond the first time, remember to start with something closest in smell to your more familair foods. These would be chicken rendang, roti canai and nasi goreng - the last of which I've even found in menus at restaurants in Chennai! Roti canai is probably the best example of something that is very close to home - it is almost synonymous in taste and texture to the pranthas you will find in India. And though your next instinct will drive you to a meal of that ever so familiar idli or tandoori roti, try steering yourself in the direction of a well-prepared nasi lemak. You may be pleasantly surprised and best of all, you'd have expanded your food repertoire.

Remember that repeated trials of the items in the above list of Malaysian choices will most likely lead you to a new opinion of a particular dish you've already sampled. Why? Because it is not guaranteed that a dish tried in two different places is likely to be exactly the same! Though a nasi lemak is a nasi lemak, you will find more than a few subtle differences from one vendor to another. This is characteristic of Malaysians who love to vary their recipes of standard dishes, to show off their creativity in the kitchen.

A nasi goreng pattaya with its eggy covering may be just about the only common denominator between the dish being served in shop A versus shop B. I've had red hot looking nasi goreng pattaya and a completely bland version. The best part is that Malaysia is so diverse that consumers who enjoyed shop A's version may be a set of clientelle that is completely different from those who prefer shop B's. And yet, both shops thrive. There is no absolute answer to the best dish.

So the best test? Your nose. If it smells good, you'll probably like it. So dive in. If your nose has deceived you once, don't give up. As your nose trains you to distinguish tastes you prefer among Malaysian dishes, you'll get savvy enough to be the official food guide for your friends and family visiting from your homeland!

So, be adventurous and try Malaysian food. Rest assured that by the time you leave Malaysia, you'll be wishing Chennai had a restaurant selling Char Kuay Teow!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Are You Happy Yet?



“Declare War on Negative Thoughts!”, is a quote I see proudly displayed on a poster in my office pantry everyday... Probably the souvenir from a very vivaciously delivered motivational speech on positive thinking. Sure it sounds logical at first glance, but really, is that the best way to treat negative thoughts - by denying any dignity to the moment?

I’ve always felt that society rewards us a bit too much, not for positive thinking, but for simply and successfully denying communication of negative thoughts. Yes, yes, I've heard that positive thought is the highway to happiness. Or is it?


I've always felt that society rewards
us a bit too much, not for
positive thinking,
but for simply and successfully
denying communication of negative thoughts.

Perhaps a case in point would be how when I once lost my enviable placement in a singing competition due to some underhandedness of the orgnisers’, I was overcome with rage to the point that I could not pinpoint what it was that drove me up the wall – Was it my hatred for these unscrupulous organizers? Was it the feeling of helplessness from a lack of control over the situation? Was it the sheer nonchalance of the others in the competition with the same fate, who seemed to take the incident with such a lack of remorse?




Allowed a little more exploration of my negative thoughts, I may have come to the root of my erupting emotions. I recall keeping my calm at the competition, waiting to enter the safe arms of family and friends to vent. However, upon sharing my experience, my friends’ and family’s immediate response was to dismiss the “negative thoughts” and instead, to “think positive”! But how? Why was the crowd around me quick to suggest, “Don’t cry!”, instead of saying, “Go on - Cry and let it all out”? In a turbulent sea of rage and hatred, is it that simple to skip one’s probable response to impropriety and directly ascend to peace and equilibrium? I think not!
It may feel all to obvious that if a negative thought ceases to exist in our minds, that the obvious replacement for it is a positive one. How reductionist and simplistic. Not logical to me, simply because the positive negative relationship of thought is far from balck-and white. Sorry, my dear compulsive optimists, but I think people are afraid of negative thought more than they are sold on the benefits of positive ones! So we always try to appear happy just to avoid the "think positive" admonishment - even when doing so isn't the best thing. Think of all the mondays you have come into the workplace feeling like you've been hit by a bus, but chirped, "Oh...great!", to a workmate enquiring about your weekend. Isn't that just to avoid being seen as negative by another person?


Think of all the mondays you have come into

the workplace feeling like you've been hit

by a bus, but chirped, "Oh... great!", to a

workmate enquiring about your weekend.



We’d much rather get really quickly from the point of negative thought to a place of resolve at the fastest possible speed. Perhaps there is a misconception that one cannot cope with another iota of misery that comes from acknowledging negativity. Little do we realize the recovery we so desire is sometimes cloaked in the delicacy and graduality with which we explore those negative thoughts. So, let those thoughts linger a while!

Perhaps the most ironic behaviour in the pursuit of (urgent!) happiness is how we consider negative thought to have a space and time within which they are considered valid. Apparently, within these parameters, negative thoughts are not only accepted, but also expected! A 4 year old child laughing innocently during his grand-uncle’s funeral is quickly shushed. But one year later at the deceased's death anniversary gatehring, his grieving spouse of 50 years was coaxed and cajoled by relatives, quite insistently, out of her misery! All this in the pursuit of getting from that negative thought, oh so quickly to acceptance because apparently, someone had decided that her time to grieve was over!


I say let her cry. Let her have her fears magnified, purpose questioned, reality checked and her emotions inundated. She’s earned the right to treat this event as she wants to, for it defines her life. Remember that each person is different and each situation is unique for every individual. Be there for her, but for God’s sake, even if she takes more time than you can accept, don’t tell the woman to “Declare War on Negative Thoughts”! Her negative thoughts are hers to work out or wallow in. The question is whether you acknowledge yours enough to give them the dignity she has given hers!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

A Tiger's Wisdom


So, it's the year of the Tiger. Finally. My year.

Yesterday, I visited a Feng Shui store in Mega Mall. I was all excited that after the usual 12 year rotation, it was finally my year, my moment, the Year of the Tiger! I wanted to read what consultants and advisers of other-worldy energies had to say about the year ahead.

I felt very proud that year after year of oxen, sheep, rooster and other animal totems and buntings finally led up to the inevitable strike of the clock when the Tiger would once more grace Feng Shui stores. There they were, majestic tiger totems and buntings.

I felt important and addressed, as one would when toasted to, in a party held in one's honour. I grinned and reached for a little yellow booklet that said something like "Forecast for Tiger Year 2010 - For the Tiger Sign". I was already leaping with joy inside, just waiting for the pages to unravel my sexy, exciting future. It was, afterall, the year of the Tiger and I, a Tiger-born woman, must surely have a lot to look forward to - in my own year at least.

I flipped through, starting with the general predicitons, and then to specific areas of life; career, marriage, family life, love, education, health. With each section, my spirits sank further and further; Apparently the year of the Tiger was nothing but tumultous to those born in it! I could bearly make half the tiny book without feeling like a wreck - it's criminal that this cascade of predictions were turning me inside out, especially since they were of course, blanket predictions for the Tiger-born and by no means accurate to every individual. In my head, all I could think about was that things were not to be good in the career arena, not good for love not for health, nothing! No areas of life held promise except for a meagre flicker of hope in money matters that said the "Female Tiger's finances would be bearable IF she married or; if already married, had a child"!

What ??!

So now, the book told me that my year would suck if I marry (because the year generally sucked for the Tiger) - but if I marry, finances will be bearable??! What kind of compromise is that?! And if I were already married, and it sucks (as the book promises), I should have a child to ensure finances are beareable?

What's wrong with this picture?
Who writes this stuff?
And who reads it, darn it?!

Looking around the store, I saw two scenes of notoriety; one, was the shared look of disdain on the faces of the readers of the 2010-prediciton books. The second was a scene further inside the store, of faces looking desparately at expensive totems, trinkets and charms to weather people through the impending crises of 2010. It was something like RM 1,500 for some of these items! I felt like I was standing at the precipice of being suckered into the business of propogating fear and faith in an unfounded science.

"Why am I contemplating totems over techniques to get through turbulences of life, if any are indeed being predicted accurately by a person I've never relied on before for the good things in my life? Bah! Humbug, all this!" , I thought.

"Thank God no one I knew was in the vicinity of the store, bearing witness to my near descent into foolery", I consoled myself. I took a step away from the tantalising pocket book shelf, sighing, "Phew, close one!"

The book was still in my hand, but I was (thankfully!), intrigued no more by its contents. So I stepped to the shelf and put it back but it slipped and fell off, face down. I bent down to pick it up, when I realised the page opened to the final 2010 prediction for the Tiger-born. Apparently, the book could not only tell you about the tangible, but also the intangible aspects of your life such as how you would think, feel, react and perhaps even, how you would most likely defrost your frozen peas this year.

I could not restrain my eyes from reading the words, "The tigress comes into great wisdom in 2010. This will lead her to achieve success in love, marriage, education and career. These in turn will improve her finances this year."

Excuse me, but if this isn't contradiction of a previous prediction, please tell me what is! How dare the Feng Shui advisers tell me that my year will be awful but awesome, painful but peachy all in one breath, and expect me to believe them without question. How dare they believe they could leave me with self doubt in quantities that would only lead me to find solace in expensive itmes from their Feng Shui store in Mega Mall?

Who writes these superstitions?! And more importantly, who reads this stuff? Who believes this nonsense, darn it?! Thank God, I'm too wise to buy into all this humbug!

Really.

Ok.... so at long last yesterday, I bought the darn book already - for a friend.

No, no, not for me. Of course not!

It's for a fellow Tiger-born. She's into all this mumbo-jumbo.

Not me. I just think it is not well-meaning to entice wide-eyed consumers into purchasing nonsensical items that supposedly ward off bad luck and usher in prosperity. The book's not on my shelf. Only hers.

Yeah, really.

And oh, I nearly forgot to say - Today I went back to the store and got myself... I mean, my friend, a tiger charm. For RM 19.90, apparently the great wisdom of the Tiger is sharpened. Cool, yes? Yeah, but as I said, this hum bug isn't for me.

Really.

It's for that fellow Tiger-born. She's into all this mumbo-jumbo, you see.

I for one, would never be fooled into believing in such humbug! Never. I wouldn't descend into buying totems and books written based on baseless conjecture! Who on earth believes this sort of thing? Only those with no wisdom, is my guess.

And after all, the book did say I have "great wisdom", didn't it?