Hella Excited


HBO’s Insecure is back. Four episodes have aired, but I’m not sure if I should start watching or wait to binge-watch the whole second season.

As I don’t mind spoilers I have been reading the episode recaps and it sounds like there are solid scripts and acting to look forward to.

I am a little afraid though. Season One ended in such heartbreak and I don’t want to have to cope with even more of that. I guess I am Team Issa-Lawrence, meaning I want them to get back together. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m a sentimental fool.

Review: Dongeng by Anna Tan

Dongeng[This review contains spoilers]


By Anna Tan

Publisher: Pronoun, 214 pages

The prelude to Dongeng by Anna Tan sets the scene and fulfils the promise of the book’s title: This is a story set in the world of fairytales. Sang Kancil makes a brief appearance, confirming that, as the title suggests, the fairytales will be those of the Malay world.

The title also seems to remind us that the world we are about to enter, via the story, is an imaginary one. While we may be expected to suspend our disbelief as we immerse ourselves in Tan’s words, the title stresses that this is a fairy story. Or is it? Certainly, as I read more, I began to see that the book’s title might allude to the doubt and skepticism felt by the novel’s protagonist about what she encounters. Indeed, the title seems also to cheekily reference the reader’s own assumptions that the story being told is pure fantasy.

‘Chapter One’ plunges us into the thick of things: Sara, the protagonist, finds herself in the middle of a forest, on a moss-covered dais no less. A city girl, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, she is immediately aware that something really odd is afoot, and so, one of her first observations is that her handbag has travelled to the forest with her and that nothing in it has gone missing — as it would be inconvenient to have to apply for a new identity card and cancel her credit card. This response is rather incongruous, but not entirely implausible, I suppose, considering how traumatised Sara must be to find herself whisked away to another world.Read More »

The Truth About Love

O Tell Me the Truth About Love

Some say love’s a little boy,

And some say it’s a bird,

Some say it makes the world go round,

Some say that’s absurd,

And when I asked the man next door,

Who looked as if he knew,

His wife got very cross indeed,

And said it wouldn’t do.


Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,

Or the ham in a temperance hotel?

Does its odour remind one of llamas,

Or has it a comforting smell?

Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,

Or soft as eiderdown fluff?

Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?

O tell me the truth about love.


Our history books refer to it

In cryptic little notes,

It’s quite a common topic on

The Transatlantic boats;

I’ve found the subject mentioned in

Accounts of suicides,

And even seen it scribbled on

The backs of railway guides.


Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,

Or boom like a military band?

Could one give a first-rate imitation

On a saw or a Steinway Grand?

Is its singing at parties a riot?

Does it only like Classical stuff?

Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?

O tell me the truth about love.


I looked inside the summer-house;

It wasn’t even there;

I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,

And Brighton’s bracing air.

I don’t know what the blackbird sang,

Or what the tulip said;

But it wasn’t in the chicken-run,

Or underneath the bed.


Can it pull extraordinary faces?

Is it usually sick on a swing?

Does it spend all its time at the races,

or fiddling with pieces of string?

Has it views of its own about money?

Does it think Patriotism enough?

Are its stories vulgar but funny?

O tell me the truth about love.


When it comes, will it come without warning

Just as I’m picking my nose?

Will it knock on my door in the morning,

Or tread in the bus on my toes?

Will it come like a change in the weather?

Will its greeting be courteous or rough?

Will it alter my life altogether?

O tell me the truth about love.


By WH Auden (!907-1973)

Birch Road or Jalan Maharajalela?

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee now and when it used to be Hight Street. This picture is taken from Kuala Lumpur Dahulu dan Sekarang, an article on Poskod.my. Photo Credit: Mohd Radzi Jamaludin’

I didn’t grow up in Kuala Lumpur so I don’t know the old names of the roads and streets in the capital city. By the time I moved to KL (1996), the names had all been changed.

I believe the major renaming happened in 1981 when Mahathir Mohammad was the prime minister. Wiki describes the exercise as a ‘post-independence decolonisation’ effort: the original names of the roads and streets in question were of British public figures. (I’ve been told that Jalan Madge was named after the young daughter of a British official, but I haven’t been able to confirm this. The name of this road has not been changed.)Read More »

Fifty-something and … Who Cares What We Look Like, Anyway?






‘Popular wisdom insists that you’re not allowed to hit your  fifties and be gorgeous.’ ~ Cassandra Khaw, science fiction and fantasy author.

It’s true that people are surprised when they come across an ‘older’ woman who is conventionally good-looking, i.e. slim, shapely, sexy, well dressed.

When it is confirmed that she is in her fifties (sometimes even forties) or older, and, yet, all or at least two of these things, people act like they want to give her an award.

The belief is that the older you get, the less attractive you will be.

The belief is that it’s important to women to look attractive whatever their age.

The belief is that to qualify as looking good (for your age or at any age) you need to tick certain boxes.

What if, unlike Ming-Na Wen, you were fat, grey-haired and wrinkled at fifty? Would you be seen as having let the side down? Would young women look at you in horror and, shaking their heads, say you had ‘let yourself go’?

Why is a twenty-something author concerned with the physical appearance of women in their fifties? Why is she rooting for these women to look ‘gorgeous’? Are gorgeous fifty-somethings more worthy? Would a fifty-something woman who didn’t live up to conventional standards of beauty be seen by Ms Khaw as a disappointment? A failure? And why isn’t someone fat, grey and wrinkled gorgeous anyway?

These are tired, old questions, and I’m feeling very tired and old. People say, admiringly, that I don’t look fifty: I am fifty so I must look fifty, or fifty must look like me. Right?