Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Little Ultraman

I was taking my shower this morning when I heard a little voice outside the bathroom, "Mummy... Mummy..".

The little boy had woken up and was looking for me.

I answered, "Yes....", and I heard him cry.

I just kept quiet and after a while, the little voice went silent. I thought he must have gone back to sleep.

To my surprise, I saw this as I opened the bathroom door after my shower!




He was waiting for me outside the bathroom sampai tertidur2 kat situ! Hee.. hee...

Inilah dikatakan "Occupational Hazard". Malam tadi main Ultraman sampai pukul 12.30 tak mahu tidur lagi. Now ada dua orang dayang2 kat rumah, sukahati lah our friend. Kalau Kak Sri tak nak main, dia ajak "Kakak Baru" main. And as someone new, the new maid is very obliging.

Dah habis bersepah all his toys, bila suruh kemas balik, he'd look at me and whisper, "Kakak baru boleh kemas..." Eh, banyak cantik! No way! As much as possible, I would force him to pick up his own toys. Ingat anak raja ke apa?

But in the end, normally we would be the ones picking up after his Ultraman pieces. Sigh...

But I love you anyway, little Ultraman! Peace!








Monday, November 23, 2009

Kisah Pembantu Rumah - Part 2

So I’ve got a new maid. She came in last Saturday.

Phew… you don’t know how relieved I was when I finally got the new girl. I was in panic mode when Sri told me last week that she wanted to go home mid-Dec. That’s too soon! I haven’t got a replacement for her!

I had inquired from an agent-friend earlier on but she told me it’s not easy to bring in Indon maids nowadays. Nak get yang illegal pun the same thing, lagi pulak sekarang ni we hear so many horror stories about maids. Eeee… I cringed thinking about our fate if the maid ran away!

As luck had it, two days after Sri broke the news to us and as I was frantically trying to call agents for a new maid (to which all said have to wait at least 2.5 months), a dear friend, SW, told me the agent for her Nanny McPhee ada lagi 4 orang maid available right now! And that I should call the agent right away!

I didn’t call him right away but he called me a few minutes after that. We arranged to meet and the best part is, I got to select and interview the maids as they are all here already. First time I dengar orang boleh interview maids, usually one just choose from the biodata and photos.

So,I went to the agent’s house with Mdm Tai Tai since MrNordin was in JB. Upon arrival, the agent called upon all the maids to line up in front of me so I could take a good look at them. Hee.. hee… rasa macam mem besar pulak!

Please remember that I have never hired a maid before in my whole life, that was the first time I was given such tasks. I didn’t know what to ask, not sure whether my choice would be the right choice etc, etc.

Out of 4, I picked 2. One elderly lady – I quite like her coz she had a pleasant face, but I think she’s quite slow… don’t think she larat kerja at my house. The second choice was this young girl aged 23 and had worked in Singapore before. She’s too skinny for my liking but highly recommended by the agent.

When it comes to choosing a maid, I think we just need to trust our gut feel. No line of questioning would bring out their true colors coz their answers would be standard answers. So, I did just that, trusted my gut feel, chose the young one and prayed hard that she would not run away!

Two days at my house, I think she’s ok. Only speak when spoken to, that’s what I like. Sri has been teaching her what to do around the house, boleh lah… it’s too soon to tell anyway.

One interesting fact tho’, this new maid prefers to converse in English. “I prefer English,” she said when I picked her up from the agent’s place. Having worked for a Chinese family for 4 years before this, she speaks better English than Malay, so it seemed.

But her sentences always ended with Chinese connotation like this, “I looked after the house, lor…” “I cooked, lor…” Hee.. hee.. I found it strange coming from an Indonesian gal’s mouth!

And yesterday afternoon, we all went out for nasi kandar lunch. We brought her along. Guess what? We all ate with our hands while she ate with fork and spoon!

Hee.. hee... not bad, huh… our new maid! I suppose, she was used to doing that before this and doesn’t know our norm yet. So we let her be...

And last night, we had Roast Duck for dinner. When I asked her, “Pernah makan duck tak?” She said, “Selalu !"

I think she’ll be happy staying with my family.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kisah Pembantu Rumah - Part 1

Ever since I married MrNordin, I only know of one maid, Sri.

Sri came into my husband’s family in 2002. I was not married yet then. She was this tomboyish-looking gal with short hair and big-built, always looking at me nervously whenever I came around visiting.

I remember her going in and out of the kitchen when I visited their house one day and I thought she looked rather suspicious. She was illegal at first, but after seeing that she was quite capable of handling the housework, MrNordin applied for her work permit and so, she was made legal.

I got to know her better after I moved into the family. One word to describe her is ~ competent. She takes care of everything in the house while we are at work ~ from cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing to taking care of the pets (we had a lot then ~ chickens, cats, birds, tortoises and now a goose) and the kids.

She also supervises the gardener, the plumber, the electrician, the driver, the bill collector, the air-cond man and whoever that comes around to the house while we were out. We can trust her with giving instructions to them and clarifying what’s wrong with the devices.

She can cook very well, sekali ajar dah boleh buat. I thought her how to cook nasi lemak and asam pedas, now her asam pedas and nasi lemak are the ones that my kids crave for when they come home for the holidays. She makes the best sambal goreng and ayam berlada (which I don’t know how to). Her sambal belacan is only second best to my MIL’s and her masak lemak is almost as good.

Besides masakan melayu, she can also cook pasta and such ~ macaroni and cheese tu pejam mata je lah, spagetthi olio, carbonara, bolognaise etc, etc. But I thought her first how to do all these lah... (must claim credit !).

She’s also a good seamstress. Before she came to Malaysia, she was working in a garment factory in her kampung for a while and that’s how she acquired the skill. She sews her own baju, Nizzar’s baju melayu, repair our baju2 yang dah koyak, jahit tepi kain, jahit samping etc, etc. It’s so convenient.

Besides her multi-skills, she’s also quite clever. Maybe because she has been with us for a long time and she knows our style. Sometimes when I’m out with my friends at night and my MIL calls the house, she could cover for me by saying, “Kak Yati dah tidur, bu…” (I didn’t ask her to do that).

Or when some sales man call, demanding to speak to my husband, she could gaduh with the guy to stop bugging us.

And she can speak English as well. Not fluent, but bolehlah sikit-sikit. She reads Harry Potter, ok? And watches TV with my children. I guess that’s how she picks up the language.

I’m glad she wanted to learn although my MIL was not very happy when she found out that our maid reads books instead of doing housework. We told her, "Daripada dia dok melepak dengan maid2 lain kat luar, baiklah dia baca buku, mak…" She was not amused.

Having her around was a blessing for us all. I remember when Nizzar was just a little baby, she was the one who took care of him after I went back to work. She’s very good with children and I can trust leaving her with my baby.

But not everything is well and good. She has her flaws and her days as well. If you’ve been reading my blog, there were times when I got cross with her due to her lax attitude. And that’s normal especially when one has been working for one employer for a long time. Complacency sets in… she becomes lazy, sloppy with her work… that’s when we gave her a scolding so she toe the line once again.

But most times, she would realize it was her mistake and she would come to me after that to apologize. At least she felt remorse and that’s a good sign.

To this very day, I have never treated her as a maid per se coz she’s been a part of our family. She eats with us at the dining table, she goes on holiday with us, she comes with us whenever we dine out, she eats what we eat and she drinks what we drink from the same Portmeirion plates and cups that we have in the house. No different pots/plates/cups for maid vs our own use coz we don’t believe in that.

Well, initially she did eat alone in the kitchen after we had our meals but over time, we just asked her to join us at the dining table. Dahlah penat2 masak, takkan makan sorang2 kat belakang pulak, ya tak?

To me, she’s family. That’s why when she told us that she wanted to get married at the end of this year and that she wants to go back to Indonesia, we were devastated. Can we do without her? Can we get the same maid as good as her? Is she sure of her decision?

Going home is one thing, but getting married is another thing. She’s a good girl, hard-working, and has lots of money having worked here for 7 years. This guy is a painter (tukang cat) and he does odd jobs as and when they are available. Don’t know how they met but she told me he is a neighbor in her kampung. He came here only recently.

From what she told us, we were not convinced that he’s a good guy. I think he’s just after her money. But pressure from both sides of the family and the fact that she’s now 25 and still not married (kat kampong dia kira dah andartu lah tu..), she succumbed to their wishes tho’ deep inside I know she doesn’t really want to marry this guy.

I shed tears when she told me about it coz I worry for her future. After being with us for some time, my only wish is that she’ll have a better life after she leaves. Having worked so hard all this while, I don’t want her to lose all the money that she has earned to this guy. I want her to have a good life; not lavish but comfortable enough for a small family unit.

I feel that she deserves a good life. She always told me, "Saya datang ke sini untuk kerja dan kumpul wang supaya adik2 saya and anak2 saya boleh pergi ke sekolah... sesuatu yang saya tak pernah alami selama ini. Saya mahu mereka dapat kehidupan yang lebih baik dari diri saya, k.Yati...”

I know her intentions are noble, that’s why I don’t want this guy to screw it up!

Monday, November 16, 2009

In Search of the perfect Nasi Kandar

For the past two Saturdays, I have had nasi kandar for lunch. First, it was Nasi Kandar Kudu and second was Nasi Kandar Yaseen, both located along Jalan Raja Laut/Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

I love nasi kandar, so does my family. Our favourite haunt is Pelita near Wisma Central at Jalan Ampang. I don’t know what they put in the rice, but it is just so sedaaap! Every time makan, sure licin satu pinggan!

I usually like my rice loaded with all the kuah, but my lauk would just be ayam goreng. Plus a bendi or two and telur masin... sehingga menjilat jari, babe!!

The thing with us is that, once we like eating at a certain place, we will continue going there and will not try anywhere else. Call us boring, but that’s how we like it. Familiarity, I suppose...

But this time around, we decided to try other nasi kandar restaurants just for the fun of it.

I was sceptical at first about Kudu. The restaurant is small (compared to Pelita) and there’s nothing fancy about it. Just a typical family run business at the corner of Jln TAR.

But what made me changed my mind was when I saw there were a lot of mamaks having their meals in the restaurant. I saw this popular TV personality who is a renowned gynaecologist eating there with his family and I thought, “Kalau ramai mamak makan kat sini, I’m sure the food is good”.

Then I saw old newspaper cuttings on the wall, stating that Kudu was P.Ramlee’s favourite nasi kandar joint. Apa lagi... terus duduk lah!

Indeed, the curry was good. Well combined without any spill at the side of our plates (unlike in Pelita). But I couldn’t finish my rice because there was just too much on my plate.








(photos courtesy of http://pablopabla.blogspot.com/)


Then, the next Saturday, we tried Nasi Kandar Yaseen pulak which was just a few steps away from Kudu. This restaurant is not as clean as Kudu but their signature dish is the ayam masak kicap, ie the black sauce. Not bad, the ayam goreng is nice and crispy, but still, I couldn’t finish my rice coz there was just too much on my plate.






(photos courtesy of http://www.foodpoi.com/)

(For location of these two restaurants, please Google. Thank you.)

From my experience eating at these two (or three if you included Pelita) restaurants, one can’t really tell the difference when it comes to taste. Each has its own unique taste, so it really depends on what you’re going for.

But for me, if the all nasi kandar tasted almost the same, then the deciding factor would be: 1) cleanliness, and 2) ease of parking.

So for now, the Top 2 in my nasi kandar list would be Pelita and Kudu. I think Pelita still takes the cake coz I love their rice.

Anyway, I’m off to Penang next month for a vacation and while I’m there, I shall continue my search for the perfect nasi kandar! Yeay!!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

As Good As It Gets

Last night, we were all gathered in the study room. It was after midnight but we were still wide awake and didn’t want to go to sleep yet.

Nizzar was looking through old photo albums for pictures of his brother and sisters when they were about his age while Nadim was guiding him with the “who is who”.

As he flipped through the pages, suddenly he stopped at this one particular photo and asked his brother, “Nadim, ini siapa Dim?”

Nadim took a second look at the picture and softly replied, “This is my arwah Mama..”

I choked up when I heard his reply.

This is Nadim’s Mummy, Nizzar…”, I added, and the little boy turned over the page.

I didn’t know if the little boy understood what we said or not, but I found it quite surreal because what was going through his mind must be, “Hey, I know everyone’s faces here… but I’ve not seen this one before. Who could she be?”

That must have prompted him to ask Nadim who she was.

Right after that, I felt a tinge of sadness. I went into the bathroom and sat on the throne quietly, pondering over the incident.

I felt sorry for Nadim coz he had lost his mother when he was still very young. He didn’t get enough love and affection that he should be getting from a real mother because she passed away much too soon. He was only 7 at that time… and it has been 8 years now since he lost his mother.

Throughout the years, he struggled to grow up into a fine young man without the love from a mother. Fortunately, he had his father who tried in every way that he could to be both mother and father to his children. Yes, I was there too in the middle of it, but it's just not the same.

So when his father tends to give in a little bit more to him than to the girls, I can understand why...

When we were looking at those pictures, I could feel that this boy must be wishing that his mother was still alive. That he could still be showered with her hugs and kisses, just like what I love to do with Nizzar. I wondered if he missed his mother…

You know, being a stepmother to 3 kids and a real mother to 1, I do feel the difference when it comes to displaying my affection towards them. With Nizzar, I could easily smother him with kisses and roll over in bed many, many times before we go to sleep because I feel there is no holds barred. He is my son, I can spoil him if I want to and I can spank him if he misbehaved.

But with the older kids, I feel quite awkward to show my affection and I think, they feel the same way too. Something is holding me back. Maybe because when I came into the family, they were already grown ups. I didn’t know how to “manja” kan them although many times I wished I could just hug them and smother them with kisses like how I do to Nizzar.

But this doesn’t mean I love them less. I love them all the same and I treat them like I would my own children. I worry over them like any parent would. When they go away, I miss them… when they come home, I am elated.

My favourite moment is when I find them all sitting at the dining table, chatting about everything under the sun. I love to hear their laughters. That's when I'm the happiest person on earth.

I suppose, mothers show their love and affection towards their children in many ways. I try as much as possible to be fair, and I hope my children realize that too.

My only wish is that I could be a better mother to them. I don't know how much better, but I think it could have been better.

But for now, I guess, this is as good as it gets...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Nizzar's 1st Halloween Party

Last Saturday, my little boy was invited to a Halloween Party at Beverly Heights. This is where his Aunty Gina lives.

I’ve never been to a proper Halloween Party before. The closest experience I had on Halloween was when our next door neighbor threw a big Halloween Party for their 15-year old last year, complete with a DJ and disco for all the kids who came dressed up to the theme. We were all admiring from far (we were not invited, of course) but I did give the kids candies when they came around “trick or treating”.

So for this one, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was actually meant for the little ones, so I thought a nice Halloween costume for Nizzar would be proper. So we went to get his outfit, a Power Ranger suit, and a pumpkin. The little boy was very happy, he didn’t want to take it off once I put it on him!




Red Ranger



Anyway, on the day itself, we arrived at Gina’s house just after 5pm. Outside, I could see children and adults walking down the street towards the club house in their Halloween costumes. Cool! Gina got us a hat each. We wore those hats and joined the crowd going to the clubhouse.

The scene at the clubhouse was amazing! People really made the effort to dress up for the occasion and I was very impressed by some of the costumes they wore. There were games, but we did not participate, preferring to sit down and enjoy the food while snapping away photographs of the children.

What I like best about the evening was the trick or treating. We went to almost 20 houses (or more) in the neighborhood for trick or treating and I tell you, Nizzar was very thrilled with all the sweets and candies that he collected. At one point, he even whispered to me, "Nizzar tak suka rumah Nizzar. Nizzar suka rumah Aunty Gina!"


Oh yeah! Now my boy is thinking that going to Aunty Gina's house means candies all night long!

Some owners really went all out to decorate their houses with Halloween paraphernalia. Some even converted their front porch into a haunted house. Spooky! I was having so much fun until I lost my voice!


It was such a joy seeing all the children running around from house to house that night, shouting “Trick or Treat…!!!” and receiving sweet treats in return. People there were really friendly. Though we didn't know anyone besides Alya and Haris (Gina's kids), the neighbourhood made us feel welcomed and that's what made it more special.

I told Gina after that to just buy a house there. No need to look elsewhere...

As dusk sets in, we made our way through the dark alley looking for treats. It was quite windy and drizzling slightly, so it left quite an eery feeling. Just perfect for the occasion and I loved it!

The trick or treating ended at 8.15pm. By that time, my little boy was already too tired and demanded that I carry him home. Hee.. hee... never mind... Mummy had fun too, Nizzar, and I don't mind carrying you though you are now much too heavy for my size. I piggy-backed him in the end.

After dinner at Gina's house, we left for home. I wanted to stay and watch "Drag Me To Hell" which Gina had purchased for the occasion. Unfortunately, my husband told me some people were coming to the house and so I had to go home. Well, we've had enough fun for the night, thus going home didn't seem like a bad option after all.


Thank you Gina for inviting us and I sure look forward to next year's Halloween at your place again!!

Enjoy the photos!




Me and my brood







Haris and his scary mask. I thought it was so cool..






Walking towards the Clubhouse. Notice the little Red Ranger on the right.





I love the hat! Thanks Gina!





The party has just started when we arrived






The lady giving instructions to the children








Mdm Tai Tai and a friend. Nabila eating chicken wing which was yummy!






Luke Skywalker





A lady and her fork





Red Indian lady






I like this boy's cool head gear





This one takes the cake. He told me it was his mum's idea.





The scary pumpkin






Halloween cupcakes





Red Ranger enjoying his food






These two girls look so adorable in their outfits






Arrgghhh!! I'm gonna eat you!!






Witches and vampires







Boo!!







Freddy Kruger








Nabila and the scary orange balloon






Mdm Tai Tai and her candies to give away







Trick or treat!! Kids who came around to Gina's house







Walking in the neighbourhood looking for treats..





We bumped into Harris and his friends..







Harris & friends








This guy waited for us at one of the houses we went to









The alleyway






Nizzar and his botol air










Happy!!







More houses to go..





This boy's parents were very smart in thinking of this.







Another interesting house we visited





Nizzar's treasures





Sweets and candies to last weeks..