Saturday, July 31, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Bidayus Don't Eat Crocodile

In Asia you can find some unusual food on the table.  I won't eat anything that's protected or endangered, but having said that, there are still some odd delicacies about. And when you're being taken out by new friends, you can hardly say, "Yuck, I won't eat that!" even if you think you are going to be sick just looking at the plate.

In my first year in Sarawak I ate jellyfish tentacles in orange sauce, sago worms (see pic courtesy of Wikipedia), and snake. But my mate David holds the record as far as I'm concerned for eating swamp toad stew. He talked nineteen to the dozen for days after, so I expect there is something in toad skin that makes you high.

Anyway, given the odd foods I'd seen served, I had the impression that Sarawakians eat pretty much everything.  So I was rather surprised when my mate Agatha told me there was no way she would eat crocodile.

As far as I knew, Agatha ate everything under the sun, except for prawns to which she is allergic. When I poked for more info, Agatha explained that her tribe, the Bidayuh of Sarawak, had made a pact with the crocodiles centuries ago not to eat one another.

"When we wash our clothes in the river," Agatha said seriously, "We sing a song to remind the crocodiles of this promise. And to this day they don't eat us and we don't eat them."

Next time I'm offered sago worms, I'm going to use that as an excuse.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Repost Friday: Sofa Wars

This repost was originally put up on Thursday, March 22, 2007.  Enjoy!

Office Chair Kitty
Au on the office chair
Au and I are having a tussle over the office chair. When I go into the office to switch on the PC first thing in the morning, Au is firmly ensconced in his seat. Ears back, he'll glare at me as if to dare me to move him.

I leave him be and go downstairs to make coffee while the PC boots. While I'm gone Au rolls onto his back and hooks a claw into the fabric of the chair. By the time I get back upstairs he's lying there, pretending to be fast asleep.

Au usually gets his own way. If he wants a sofa spot, I'll sit somewhere else. If he is in bed first, I'm willing to curl around him. But work is different. "Someone," I tell him sternly every day, "has to earn the cat biscuits. And unless you start typing, you'll have to give way on the seat."

When I pick him up to move him to the bedroom, Au whimpers, sticks another claw into the chair, and pretends he's wounded to the core.

Cats! They're so histrionic!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review Thursday: Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato' Hamid Adventures

Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato' Hamid Adventures
By Kam Raslan
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Editions; 1st edition (February 25, 2007)
ISBN-10: 9833445004
ISBN-13: 978-9833445004
Price: RM32

I picked this up in MPH a while ago on an impulse - and it was worth the money.  The Old Boy in question is a Malaysian civil servant Dato' Hamid (Dato being a Malaysian title like Sir and also the word for grandfather).

This collection of stories starts in the 1940s when our hero joins the Ministry; and end in modern times.  Stories are based in London, France, northern Africa and Malaysia so we see the Dato show his true colours in many different settings.  Lazy, cowardly, and quite open to a few bribes, he gets into lots of trouble - and manages to slip out from under it time and time again.

Of the stories, I loved "Ariff and Capitalism" best where the Dato goes to a party in London, and ends up becoming embroiled in a get-rich-quick scam.  My favourite side-kick character is the Dato's son, the "the Ayatollah" who is no doubt much more moral than his dad, but so horribly self righteous and smug that you can't help but want to give him a kick in the pants.

The characters in this book are so true to life, that I could swear that Raslan based these on real people.  If you can, get this book.

For overseas readers: It's available from Amazon but it costs a bomb there from what I can see: US$118.  Local price is less than US$10.  I don't know why Malaysian books overseas are so expensive.  I'll look into postage costs and blog about that on Monday, OK?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Qwill Likes Tea

My mum's 18 year old Siamese Qwill always takes what he wants, when he wants.  In this case, he's expressing his fondness for tea.  Black, without sugar.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

COT: A Mountain Of Kitty Crunchies!

We opened a new bag of kitty crunchies this morning, so Au and Target are munching away like mad.  They adore the smell of a new box of biscuits.

Following a pig-out breakfast, our pigs in fur retired to bed. 

A cat's life is pretty good!

There's something weird going on with the lines in Malaysia.  West Malaysia can't communicate with East Malaysia.  As I am in the West and my server in the East, I can post to my blog but I can't see entries - or comments.

I'll visit today as usual but I won't be able to see new people who've visited in the past week for another day or so.  When I can, I'll be round!  Just leave a comment.

cats on Tuesday more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Logomania Write In Cats and Dogs And Beans

I asked for suggestions for the Logomania column, and boy did you send me some good ones!  On Wednesday Mind Our English in The Star, the Malaysian national daily, will publish the Logomania article with these phrases:

Smart-aleck; smarty-pants
Nose to the grindstone
To take the gilt off the gingerbread
To blaze a trail
Water under the bridge
By hook or by crook
My better half

As for the 3 phrases I promised online readers... here they are

To rain cats and dogs... why not other animals? Sabrina Yeap from Friends Furry Farm

To rain very heavily.

On myth circulating online is that this expression comes from medieval England where pets would climb onto roofs made of thatch or grass clippings, and fall through onto the people living below every time it rained. Obviously this is nonsense.

In fact, this phrase appeared in print in 1738 and is a variation on an older synonymous phrase from 1652 to rain dogs and polecats.

Nobody knows really knows where the expression comes from. Some think the image has its roots in times past when heavy rain dislodged rubbish, including dead pets, from open drains.

Support for this comes from Jonathan Swift's A Description of a City Shower published in 1710, Drown'd Puppies, stinking Sprats, all drench'd in Mud, Dead Cats and Turnip-Tops come tumbling down the Flood."

As for it raining other objects: it rains young cats in the Netherlands, young dogs in Germany, old women with clubs in Wales and South Africa, pitchforks and bull yearlings in the USA, tractors in Slovak, and female trolls in Norway.

Example: We cancelled our evening out because it was raining cats and dogs.

Do "cat got your tongue" ! mind-boggling, says Neri 

Something you say to someone when you ask a question, and they don't answer, or when you think they should speak, and they don't.  Also someone who is temporarily speechless.

One online myth says this was originally a threat or the cat will get your tongue made in the Middle Ages and after, where the "cat" is a reference to the cat o' nine tails, a whip with many different strands that could cripple and kill.  This whip is also said to have inspired the phrase room to swing a cat.  

Another myth says it comes from a Middle Eastern tradition where liars had their tongues ripped out, and that these were then presented to the Royal Cats as treats.

A third explanation says that in Puritan times, liars were punished by having their tongues tied up with cat gut.

All three are extremely unlikely as the expression appears to be modern.  The very authoritative English Oxford Dictionary says it first appeared in print in 1911.  However, I also found it appears in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, a 1908 romance western hit novel written by John Fox, Jr.  

Where the image comes from is anyone's guess.  I'm going to keep digging at this one.

Example: I asked you for an explanation.  What?  You've got nothing to say?  Cat got your tongue?

An Imperfect New Momma has always wondered where "What does that have to do with the price of beans" comes from.

Something you say when someone says something totally irrelevant.

Wikipedia lists two sources that say this expression became popular in the 1920s in the USA, and that variations include price of eggs, cheese, fish, tea in China etc. You can see that piece here

However, the Oxford English dictionary says it first appeared in print in 1867 in Theodore Parker's Speeches, Addresses, & Occasional Sermons as "What has Pythagoras to do with the price of cotton?"  OED also notes that the address was written 7 years earlier in 1860.

I looked up
to do with the price of in various places but it doesn't seem to have appeared in print before then; it isn't listed in any Gutenberg classic or in the Bartleby collection. 

Interestingly, I can't find a Dutch, Spanish or German equivalent either.  Presumably there will be soon, seeing the flexibility of the phrase, and the fact that it appears here and there on the Web, especially in discussion forums.

Example: We were talking about price hikes when Maggie started talking about her holiday.  "What does that have to do with the price of beans?" I asked her.    

Hope you enjoyed this post.  If you did, check out my book

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Difficult Dinners

Having dinner with Malaysian friends can be tough because of food taboos.

As a rule of thumb:

* Muslims don't eat pork and want to have meat that's Halal (killed according to certain rituals).
* Hindus don't eat beef.
* Many Hindus who eat meat regularly, are vegetarian on Tuesdays and Fridays. (Well, actually most often this applies to the ladies but many of the men don't bother, unless they are eating with their female relatives.)
* There are many Buddhists/Taoists who don't eat beef.
* There are many Hindus and Buddhists who are vegetarian or vegan.

And to think I used to have difficulty cooking for friends who eat Kosher!

Anyway, because it's all so darn complicated, cooking for a dinner party can be a minefield. Having had some difficult experiences, I was particularly worried when we were married. It was about 6 months after our arrival in Kuching, Sarawak, and we had invited about 40 guests.

I solved it by catering to everyone. I cooked vegan and veggy food, chicken, fish, pork and beef dishes, and labeled everything clearly so that everyone knew what was what.

It was a lot of work but it was worth it. It was a great party and we had a blast. And remembering that day, I have to say: I miss my friends in Kuching!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review Thursday: Spicy Sichuan Cooking

Spicy Sichuan Cooking
By Daniel Reid
Periplus Mini Cookbooks 2001 
ISBN 962 8734 202
Paperback 64 pages

I bought this about 3 months ago, and I think the price may have gone up by now, but you may be able to get this in a 3-for-2 deal.

I love this cook book.  It's recipe for Gung Bao Chicken is fantastic, as is the recipe for Sichuan Noodles with Chilli Oil.  The two dishes turned out exactly as I had them in Chengdu, China, the heart of Sichuan culture, when I visited there 18 months ago.

The one thing I have against Periplus books is that they don't tell you anything about the writer.  I mean, who is Daniel Reid?  Is he a famous chef?  A TV personality?  The son of the editor?  A restaurant owner?  Just some made up name?  It's a mystery. 

All I know about this man (if he IS a man!) is that he writes great recipes.  Buy this book if you see it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

24 Signs You’re Living Under The Velvet Paw

You know you're living under the velvet paw when:

1. You have hundreds of pictures of your kitties and their pals, but have to hunt for one of your human friends and family.

2. Everything you own is covered with a light sprinkling of fur.

3. You can tell your furry friend's meow from that of other cats.

4. There is a space on the sofa that is for kitties only.

5. You order takeout that you and your fuzzy like rather than something only you can eat.

6. You know your cat's favourite foods off by heart but aren't too sure if you can say the same about your three closest human friends.

7. You call the non-furry loved one by the furry friend's name.

8. It's not your pillow anymore.

9. You know the names of the cats who live with your colleagues but not the names of their human family.

10. You can tell a meow for food from a "Meow, I am in trouble" and "Meow, I am bored".

11. You look at a baby picture and think they look odd without fur.

12. You have to bite your tongue and not tell kitten stories when people talk of their human babies.

13. You talk easily of fur friends and don't get it when people look at you funny.

14. You leave a dinner/party early "because the cats will be lonely".

15. You watch Animal Planet because it's what the fuzzies like.

16. You won't befriend someone who actively dislikes cats.

17. You lie on the edge of the bed because your fur friend is so comfy all splashed out in the center of the bed.

18. Your neighbours think of you as "that weird cat woman".

19. Your meow is so good that your furry friend thinks you are a kitty too.

20. You have to set severe curbs on how often you talk about your cat so you don't bore others.

21. Your partner knows not to say, "It's me or the cat." 

22. You take a day off work because your kitty isn't well.

23. You choose your home based on how suitable it is for your furry friend's needs.

24. You won't move to a country where they make your kitties go into quarantine.

Love romance? Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

cats on Tuesday more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Cross Promoting Print And Online Products

Creating and maintaining a presence online take time and effort, but there's little doubt in my mind that supporting a newspaper column online is worthwhile.

I write a column called Logomania in The Star, the Malaysian national daily, twice a month. It delves into the origin and meaning of common expressions.

When we ran a competition earlier this year to promote the book, I blogged, tweeted and Facebooked about it. After that, online pals started looking out for the column. I also got email messages from strangers telling me they had bought my book. (THANKS!!!)

Because of this, I'd like to make an announcement.... This week we're inviting reader entries for Logomania. Anyone wanting to know the origin and meaning of their fave phrase like, "The leopard doesn't change its spots" or "Letting the cat out of the bag"? is invited to write in.

8 expressions will appear in the Logomania column on 28th July 2010 in The Star. In addition, for those of you who don't live in Malaysia, I'll answer another 3 on this blog next week.

So if you have a fave phrase you want to know the origin of, leave me a comment or send me an email at by 21st July 2010, OK?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Rudeness

"Be there on time," I said. "And don't switch off your handphone."

When I hung up, Sharlene was giving me a very old-fashioned look. "How old was that person you were talking to?" she asked.

"Fifty something."

"You talk to her like she's 12." Sharlene's disapproval was obvious. But that's because she had no idea who I was talking to.

This woman asked me to deliver a stray cat to her.  I took the afternoon off, drove 30 minutes to her home, and she wasn't there. And she'd switched off her phone.

The next day she was to come to my house. She forgot. And she'd switched off her phone so I couldn't phone her to remind her.

When she finally did get the cat, she decided after a month she didn't want him anymore.  And guess what?  Despite having 3 cars in her drive, she couldn't manage to drop him back off at my place.

Because of this, I talk to her like she's 12. I don't want to waste any more time when arranging to meet up with her.

Asians are always polite to older people; even if they are horrible. I try to be polite to people of all ages. But if they are wasting my time because they are too lazy/selfish/untogether, then I think they are treating me rudely, and all my best intentions go out of the window.

Politeness has to go both ways.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Repost Friday: That's Purr-Fect

This post was originally put up on Saturday, May 26, 2007

That's Purr-Fect!

Au is in the Star today, having the back of his neck rubbed.

At the moment the little fluff is flat out on the sofa, enjoying a light snooze before lunch.

But the clouds are gathering and if it's anything like yesterday, we're in for a spectacular thunder and lightening storm.

As Au is a bit of a coward about noise, that will send him straight under the bed.

Apparently lightening doesn't strike there!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review Thursday: The Boy Who Talks To Ghosts

The Boy Who Talks To Ghosts
by Benny and Alice Wong
edited by Ralph Modder
Paperback 142 pages
Horizon Books 2006
ISBN: 9789810503918
Price: SGD13.00 (w/o GST)

In this book little Benny meets his aunt's ghost, finds the stash of money she has secreted away, fights demons intent on evil doings on this plane, and much more.  And it's all true, honest.

OK, this is not really a well written book.  Text is presented in block paragraphs.  The writing is choppy, full of exclamation marks, and sprinkled with flights into morality.  But I love it because this is exactly how people in Asia tell these sorts of tales.

I'll bet that this is one of those books foreigners who live in Asia love to give to visitors because it is undeniably a great insight into local culture.

If you see it, dip into it.  It's guaranteed irresistible.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

COT: Highly Superior Cat

As you can see by his grin, Target loooooves hanging out at the top of the staircase. 

Looking down on us below from his lofty perch, our baby cat clearly feels himself to be superior to all of us. 

To encourage this feeling of supremacy, we tickle the toe that hangs down, and pretend we want to t reach up to tug his whiskers but caaaaaan't reach!.

This makes Target purr like mad.

I wonder who's sillier?  Target for loving this silly game, or us for loving it just as much?

cats on Tuesday more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Finding The Right Experts

For the last 3 weeks I've been looking for food scientists, HIV/AIDS experts, radiologists and half a dozen other scientific folk to contribute quotes to articles aimed at Singapore and Malaysian markets.  All I can say is: hooray for the Net!

Just 10 years ago it took a lot of phoning about to find someone suitable, then more phoning to persuade people to take part.  Now you can find bios online and send email. 

Getting one quote from one person is easy enough.  However, when writing pieces about contested subjects, it's important to get as many opinions as possible.  I get a panoply of opinion by finding bios and then using Google Scholar for papers.  That shows me what side of whatever issue my scientist is on. 

It's a simple tip but I guarantee it works. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Living In Malaysia: White Girls Are Easy - So What's Wrong With You?

When I first arrived in Asia, I read various culture guide books.  But believe me, there are some really weird ideas floating about out there that those writers NEVER touch.

Take, for example, the time I was living in Jakarta in the late 80s.  I was out with for dinner and drinks with Ellie, a Jakarta girl with a great sense of humour, and an amazing head for cocktails.  We were enjoying a good gossip when a guy sauntered over, and proceeded make a nuisance of himself. 

While giving him the brush-off, he muttered, "White girls have no morals, so what's your problem?"  He was really rather aggrieved; and even more so when Ellie sent him off with some rather pithy comments I didn't quite catch.

When I delved further into this this, I discovered most of my friends thought the same way.  They pointed to the white hippies/backpackers who were notorious for shacking up with locals for a few days while passing through, the amazingly appalling way tourists behave in Bali, and Hollywood films and American TV shows where everyone is always doing everyone else.

I pointed out that Indonesians are just as likely to have affairs as other folks, and also behave horribly when away from home.  The only difference is that they are more furtive about it.  Over there, discretion is the thing that matters; public appearance is key.

Also, many Indonesian films and TV shows are about forbidden love (mind you, thanks to Suharto's censorship, sex scenes consisted of dramatic music, closeups of heavy eye contact with fluttering eyelashes, and then a quick cut to the final scene where the man is sitting on the edge of a rumpled bed, smoking a cigarette).

Although my pals all agreed politely that everything I said was true, I could see they still thought white women were more promiscuous than Asian women.

When I tell friends in Malaysia that story, they laugh.  And then have a heated debate over differences between Asian and Western values. We have many fine arguments about it, and always enjoy ourselves.  It's a wonderful way to discover prejudices.

For me the whole question was settled a few weeks ago during one of those discussions by a pal who I've promised not to name.  "White girls are easy," he pronounced authoritatively. "But if you come across one that isn't, then that's because there's something wrong with her."

So there you go.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Repost Friday: Milk Bar

This post was originally put up on Monday, May 14, 2007

Milk Bar

kittens enjoying a
 drinkThe kittens at the back seem to be a tough lot; all four come rushing in twice a day for biscuits. Their mum still holds back and snarls and hisses and growls, but her kids know there's nothing to fear in this house.

In a few weeks I'll be looking for homes if anyone cares to adopt a pair of small kittens with no pedigree?

Here are two of them, enjoying a session at the milk bar.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Review Thursday: Sweetheart From Hell

Sweetheart From Hell
By May-Zhee Lim
Self-Published 2007
ISBN 978 983 4314415
Paperback 382 pagesRM29.90

May Zhee wrote this story when she was 16 years old - or maybe 17.  It's self published too.  Don't let either of these facts put you off.  Sweetheart From Hell is a great read.

The star of the book is Vicky.  She is one of those spoilt rotten, clingy, demanding, mercenary, bitchy girls who get away with appalling manners because they are pretty.  She's the sort of girl my friend Grace calls SCBs (Skinny Chinese Bitches).  But you can't help liking Vicky just a tiny bit.

The story starts when Vicky divorces her husband because he refuses to run after the lipstick she dropped on the plane, ("the plane is taking off" is not an excuse).  Vicky then goes out in Kuala Lumpur to find herself a better prospect.  Whether she gets what she wants or what she deserves you'll have to find out for yourself.

This book was published a while ago but if you look around you should be able to find it.  I got mine in MPH.  You can also check out May Zhee's blog.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Garuda

This is Garuda, the bird that transported Lord Vishnu, the great Hindu deity.  
Garuda is also one of the guardians and symbols of Indonesia. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

COT: Au Speaks Out: Target Is A Fur Brain

My frend Target is a fur brain. It is furry sad but it is tru.

I am handsum, intelligunt and alltogedur magnifisent. Dis is bekos i am a kat. But i am furry sad to say dat not all kats are intelligunt. Take Target for eksampul. Target is a fur brain.

Target nevur thinks abowt anyfing.  Look at de way he spoils de survunts.  He is all ovur dem: playing, purring and kuddling. 

When de survunts go owt without permishun, does he show dem de Tayul of Displeshure wen dey come home?  No.  He is allovur dem.

When de feemale is asleep, and he wants biskuts, dos he waken hur wif a loud MEOW?  No, he purrs until she wakuns.  An if she sez, Target I am still sleepy, he waits!!!!!

Target has no idea of dissiplin or kommand.  I tell you dat if dis spoiling carries on, den wun of dese days de survunts will be kompleetlee spoilt.  On dat day dey won't respond to de kontrols - me!  And den we will be in reel hot watur.  And you know how we kats feel abowt watur.

cats on Tuesday more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Clicks Versus Comments

Figuring out how many eyeballs blog posts get isn’t easy. I'm using Google Analytics and Blog Tracker but I'm not confident I am getting a clear picture of what's happening.

I’m getting about 2000 visitors per month and about 3000 page views. About 1000 are from Malaysia, about 300 from the US and about 200 from Australia. The rest are from all over.

I'm not sure if these things count the number of hits I get through Facebook links, and I'm still unclear what posts are most popular, or peak hours when people come.

Writer's tip: What is clear is that since I started blogging 6 days a week, my traffic has increased. If you want to build traffic, you've got to have a near daily offering.

What's also interesting is that only 20 or so people ever leave a comment. I'm always curious why so many other readers don't leave a comment, so when I meet people who tell me how much they like my blog and visit often, I quiz them (hopefully I don't put them off!)

One pal says she doesn't participate because she knows me so she can tell me what she thinks. But that lovely girl I met in the park two weeks ago said it's because she didn't know me and she thought it a bit mahlu (shymaking) to write in the comment box.

Hmm. Thing is, I use my blog to leverage my writing like Katz Tales and Dog Talk that appear in The Star, the Malaysian national daily, and my books Katz Tales and Logomania. If I think the blog isn't working to boost my other work, I will stop writing entries.

Hits are hard-to-discern signs of success but comments are nice and visible. I'm going to try and think of ways to boost the ratio of visitors who leave comments. In the meantime, if you like this blog, leave me a comment, please? Pretty please?

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Morals Are For The Rich

Many pubs in Malaysia have GROs or Guest Relation Officers; girls who are hired to keep customers entertained.  These girls are paid a commission on every drink they sell - and they sell themselves every now and again too.  Most are from neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and China.
When you go into a normal pub, there will be a girl to every single man.  The GROs pour drinks, giggle, chat, and if the guy is the sort of pulpo (octopus, as they say in Madrid) then they giggle and pretend to enjoy it. Many will go home with you for the night - at a price that ranges from RM100 (US25) upwards.

It always surprises me that some Malaysians look down on these girls.  Malaysia has some hardcore poverty, but there's jobs if you want them - even if you can't read and write - and basic medical care at token prices.  School is affordable and almost everyone goes to primary school as well as years of secondary school.

It's different in Indonesia and Cambodia and a half dozen other places near here.

When I lived in Indonesia in the late 80s and early 90s I met loads of girls who worked as part time hookers.  The reason was simple: desperation.  These girls have very little or no schooling, their husbands have left them after the first or second baby was born, and even though they hold a job, it doesn't pay enough to keep their family - which usually includes an elderly mum or gran, and a couple of little brothers and sisters.

Many of these girls work as hotel staff, waitresses, sales girls and other respectable jobs.   They typically work 8 to 10 hour days for a pittance, and live 4 or 5 to a room.  All of their money is sent back to the family.  But if the baby or mum gets sick, there is no money for medical care.  I know of girls who lost babies and old folks to diarrhea and simple infections, purely through lack of basic medical care.

So the girls cash in on the one asset they have while they are young: their looks.  They chase white men for preference because they tend to be more generous than locals or other Asian tourists.

As one girl I knew put it, "When I sleep with an buleh (a slightly rude word for white person in Indonesian), he gives me money to buy a dress, and that keeps my whole family for a week."

So when I look at the girls who pour drinks and smile at every customer as though he's the best thing since sliced bread, I see desperation.  And if I were in their position, I would do the same thing.

If you ask me, the hardcore poor can't afford morals.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Repost Friday: Car Cats

Katz Tales is out tomorrow in The Star Weekender, print version only, so you have to buy the paper to read it!  Have a great weekend, everyone.

This repost is from Monday, May 07, 2007

Car Cats
I washed and polished my car the other day.

At first both cats kept their distance. Scoop sat on the wall and watched with pleasure. He always likes to see people working hard. Au on the other hand refuses to be anywhere near soapy water. He watched from behind the living room window.

But the second the car was clean and dry, they bounced up and inspected it, putting dusty paw prints all over it. Here they are, looking smug and not the least bit guilty as always!

Scoop and Au

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Review Thursday: Feng Shui for Homebuyers

Feng Shui for Homebuyers
By Joey Yap
Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: Joey Yap; Second edition (Feb 2006)
Language English
ISBN-10: 983333217X
ISBN-13: 978-9833332175

Several million years ago I had to interview a Feng Shui master for a Her World magazine article. I asked one of the newspaper stars for an interview, and got such an arrogant reply that I decided there and then to talk to someone else.

I found Joey through his web site, and when we met I was delighted to find he was interesting, personable, and good at explaining Feng Shui concepts in a manner so that anyone could understand it.

Joey is now hugely famous, and in addition to classes, consultation and other things, he’s writing and publishing his own books.

This particular book looks great. The pictures are of varying quality but they do what they’re supposed to: illustrate Feng Shui principles. The writing is excellent. It’s clear, concise and aimed very clearly at people who want to build their own home.

This book covers everything from how to buy a plot of land that won’t have negative FSQ (Feng Shui Quotient) to what sort of things you should talk about to your architect and landscaping people.It doesn't delve a lot into the theory of Feng Shui, but gives simple, practical tips anyone can follow. 

I’m afraid though that I’ve no idea what the book costs. It was a present from Jaime who works for Joey, and I can’t find the price for the book on Joey’s Facebook page or his corporate page. In an hour or so when office hours start I’ll call Jaime and post the price in a comment .