Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jigsaw Puzzles

There’s a new craze going on at home: Jigsaw Puzzles.

Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to pass the time. I first picked up the hobby after watching “Winter Sonata” (remember the missing puzzle that the girl found?).

I’ve never really tried my hands at solving jigsaw puzzles before that, but the movie made me want to give it a try and I did and I liked it!

My first puzzle was a picture of a cat looking at a rubber duck. It was a 100-piece puzzle which did not take too long to complete. I did this before I got married (ie. when I had a lot of free time) and I still have it now. It is now hung on the wall of our kitchen along with another puzzle picture of a cat, which is slightly bigger than the first one I did.

After I got married, I found out that everyone in the house love jigsaw puzzles too. It is my husband’s favorite hobby since college and he still loves doing it now whenever he has the time.

My second daughter Nadira is another puzzle enthusiast. She has her dad’s patience and resilience in finishing a 1,000 piece puzzle till the end (I don't!). Nadim enjoys doing it too while Nabila will help as and when she pleases.

Very recently, I discovered that Nizzar can do puzzles too. He has a natural talent for it and can complete a 100-piece easily, especially if it is a picture of his favorite Ultraman. So far, he has attempted 4 or 5 Ultraman puzzles successfully.

I love to sit down and do puzzles with him because he is very quick at identifying where each piece should go to. I’d pick up one piece and ask him, “What is this?” He would immediately take it from my hand and say, “This one is Taro” (or whatever) and place it exactly at the spot where it should be. Once it’s finished, he would dismantle the whole thing and do it all over again.

The other day, just for variety, I bought him a 40-piece Mickey Mouse jigsaw puzzle. He finished it in less than 5 minutes and exhaled, “Boring…”. Hee..hee..

Puzzle enthusiasts look forward to putting huge puzzles together, but some people, like me, see a 1,000-piece puzzle as a huge test of their patience. I have very little patience, hence I want to finish mine as quickly as possible. That's why I only do small puzzles. I've never attempted anything more than 500 pieces.

At the moment, I’m working on a 250-piece puzzle of a Japanese Geisha. I’ve completed one over the weekend and now I’m doing another one of the same kind so they make a nice pair.

Nizzar is doing a 500-piece Ultraman puzzle which I bought recently. It is a big project for him and I can see that he’s getting a little frustrated because there are so many pieces to choose from.

But I told him that he must do it slowly, take his time. I will help him when I come back from work.

But I can't help smiling when he resorted to doing the Mickey Mouse puzzle again after he'd given up on the big one!

Nadim is doing a 1,000-piece puzzle of his animax cartoon. I don’t know how long that’ll take him, but I think his level of perseverance is quite high for this kind of thing. So, I’ll give him a week to solve it.

Meanwhile, I'll take my time to do mine...



The puzzle I'm working on



The Winter Sonata puzzle in the background

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eulogy

I read about Ruby Ahmad’s passing this morning. So sad...

I’ve never met this woman personally but I’ve always follow her blog. She was so full of zest. And she had so many friends, old and new.

From her photos, I perceived her as someone who was very friendly, unpretentious, always wanted to do new things, see new places and meet new friends. And she was always smiling.

I secretly told myself, I wanted to be just like her.. to live my life to the fullest and make the most of everyday that I have.

So when I heard the news, I was shocked. I can’t believe that she’s gone. Just like that!

The comments I see on her passing in Facebook and blogspot are so touching. One said, "she’s a bright spark.. always giving her best to others..", and another one said, "she’s a nice lady.. full of zest.. bubbly.. first time you met her, she made you feel as if you’re a long lost friend or something.."

That’s when it hit me. How would people describe me when I’m gone? What would people remember me by?

I was asked to perform this task in one of the courses I attended long before, to write an eulogy about oneself. I can’t remember what I wrote then but right now, I would like to know how I will be remembered when I die… by my husband, my children, my friends, my family… don’t you?

Think of that for one second.

You know, when I first met MrNordin, in one of his e-mails to me, he did write something about his late wife. He said this,

To me, I have not only lost a wife and mother to my children but my best friend, confidante, partner, advisor, critic, girlfriend and lover. I always believe one can get another wife easily but it’s the rest that I find difficult to find.

I wonder if he would say the same thing about me when I'm gone…

I know for sure, my children will not describe me as a great cook. They would say that about their father, though. Sometimes when they come home from a party at their friend’s house, they would say things like, “Aunty XXX’s brownie is very nice!” Or, Kak Seri makes the best assam pedas or whatever. I don’t think they’ll have anything great to say about my cooking.

Or sometimes, I hear people describing their mother as, “She’s a great mum. Ever so gentle, she’s always there for me whenever I need her.” Err… I don’t think I qualify for that statement either.

But I can sort of gauge what my children think of me through the cards they sent me on Mother’s Day or my birthday. Children are transparent and they are very honest in what they say. So, I do know what my children think of me to a certain extent, and I’m happy to know just that.

When it comes to friends, it's quite tricky. Some friends make good company but they are not so good in times of trouble. Some friends are not such great "party friends", but you know you can turn to them when you're having a bad day. Some friends will go out of their way to help you, while some don't. So, pick and choose but keep as many friends as you can.

As for me, I would like to be a better friend to my friends. As the saying goes, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

I’d like to be thought of as a "friend in need" rather than a "friend for fun", if you know what I mean. So that when I die, I will be remembered as, "A great friend who almost always go out of her way to help you whenever you are in trouble..."

That would make a great eulogy.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, be good, all the time, so people will remember us for all the good things we’ve done and not otherwise.

Rest in peace, Ruby Ahmad.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Movie Reviews

You know, there are days when you picked up a movie to watch and it turned out to be a great movie? Yesterday was the day for me.

Khan Kluay 2






I took my kids to the cinema yesterday to watch Khan Kluay 2. That was a rare treat because I seldom watch movies at the cinema.

Khan Kluay 2 is a Thai animated film about a young elephant, who was often teased and looked down by other elephants because he was fatherless, who eventually became a war elephant for the King of Ayyuthaya.

I watched the first film, Khan Kluay, from a rented DVD from Speedy many moons ago. I found it by chance, didn’t think much of it because it was a Thai animated film, “Surely it cannot beat Finding Nemo or Ice Age..”, I thought.

But surprisingly, it was a good film. The animation was fantastic, the storyline was very touching and heartwarming. Forget that it was spoken in Thai (which makes it better actually, but it has subtitles), the message is clear: if you have the will, you can be anything you want to be.

So, when I read that Khan Kluay 2 is coming to our cinemas, I must watch it! Indeed, it was still as good. It didn’t disappoint me although this time, it was dubbed in Malay.


The animation is better, the war scene is more fantastic and Nadim, who hardly likes to watch these kind of films, came out of the cinema exclaiming, “It was a GOOD!”

You should watch it with your children. It’s a beautiful story about love between a mother and son, husband and wife, loyalty and bravery, and a strong devotion by a father to protect his family.


And you know elephants… they are adorable anyway you look at them. So you cannot go wrong with this movie!

Hashiko

When we got home from the cinema last night, it was still too early to sleep. So we put on this new DVD which I bought recently, titled “Hashiko”. I had no idea what it was about except it starred Richard Gere but it turned out to be another great movie.

Hashiko is a story about a dog, who was very loyal to his master. It’s based on a true story in Japan. Every day, Hashiko would walk to the train station with his master (Richard Gere) to send him off to work (he’s a university professor). And in the evening, he would wait for his master’s return at the same spot in front of the train station every day.


One day, the master died of a sudden heart attack in his class and never made it home on the evening train. But the dog continued to wait for him in front of the train station, day in day out for the next 10 years, until he died.


This is a great story and has been used by the Japanese in schools to teach children about loyalty towards family.


The train station where he waited for his master is the Shibuya train station, outside of which, a bronze statue of Hashiko has been erected at the same spot where he waited for his master those 10 long years.


A very touching movie indeed. Another must watch. But make sure you have a tissue box next to you...


Richard Gere and Hashiko in the film



The real Hashiko








Hashiko statue infront of Shibuya train station

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Be Grateful

Why do marriage break? Why do they call it quits?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing stories about friends who have gone their separate ways.

“It was my choice..”, said one. “I just don’t love him anymore..”, said another.

On one hand, I was happy upon hearing this when I know the marriage was on the rocks anyway. They were not happy when they were together but happier when they were with other people. But on the other hand, it was sad because I’ve always known them as a couple but now they are not anymore.

Do we really have a choice when it comes to divorce? Do we follow our hearts or our minds?

It’s hard to say unless we have been in similar situations before. Lots of factors have to come into play. Sometimes the heart rules while other times, the mind does. You don’t just pull the plug unless you have weighed the consequences of doing so. It is a big decision and it requires a lot of thinking.

Sometimes when you see couples together, you can tell whether they are in it for a long term or not. If they are living separately but claimed they are happy that way, I guess there must be some problems there.

Or, when one goes away for a 2-month holiday without the spouse, surely one wonders what’s going on too. And what if one always sees this person with another woman but never with the wife – don’t you wonder as well?

These are tell tale signs. So if they say “We are divorced now,”, I won’t be too surprised.

But there are couples who, on the surface, look perfect for each other. Tak ada angin, tiba2, “We are divorced.” Bang! Just like that. That would be a real shocker.

Hearing all these stories made me realize one thing, that we should be grateful for what we have. We complain about our spouses all the time, but hey… he’s the best that we’ve got right now, so live with it!

If you’re looking for a perfect marriage, sorry my friend… go and fly kite. There is no perfect marriage because nobody’s perfect. If only we could achieve 50% of what a perfect marriage is all about, I think that is great already. But how do you define perfect, anyway? It is rather subjective.

I think, we must always appreciate the things we have in life. No matter how annoyed we are with our husband’s snoring or tardiness, try to think of other things that make him special in our eyes. Think of the reasons why we fell in love with him for the first time. Think of why we married him in the first place.

If we can continue to maintain that our partner is still attractive, funny, kind, and ideal for us in just about every way, I think we will remain content with each other for a long, long time. I'm not suggesting you should overlook an abusive husband or put up with a deadbeat bore. But with so many divorces happening right now, I think it's worth revisiting those happy moments again.