Something About My Name

This morning I listened to the recent BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour episode about first names.

I’ve always been interested in the meanings and origins of names. And I like knowing how people get their names, or choose their children’s names. I was nearly named Diana, but my uncle’s then-wife protested, saying it sounded like the name of a ‘working’ girl. Apparently Malaysian women who worked in bars in the 60s (they were referred to as bar girls) were called Suzie, Maggie, Lucy, Alice, Diana etc. (my great grandmother was called Lucy, and my grandmother Alice – I don’t know what my uncle’s then-wife had to say about that!). I don’t like Diana, but it’s not for that reason. I just don’t like the way it sounds and I can’t imagine being a Diana. I don’t, in my opinion, seem like a Diana; or look like one. Do I look like a Daphne?

Daphne du Maurier: This picture reminds me of my mother who was a smoker and often cooked with a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth.

Daphne was chosen as my name because my uncle’s then-wife, my mother and her sisters had all read and liked Daphne du Maurier’s novels. I don’t know if my father had any say. I believe he chose my Chinese name because he was the one who could read and write Chinese. However, my sisters and I have very ordinary Chinese names. They are the Janes and Jills of Chinese names: Mei Choo, Mei Chan, Mei Mei and Mei Lin.Read More »

Kinda Blue


From Water Rolls, Water Rises, a picture book published by Lee & Low Books, written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Meilo So.

Thank Godzilla it’s Friday!

godzilla goes out for dinner

I’m looking forward to the weekend because it’s when I get to sleep in and also take a break from cooking.

This weekend, I would like to go on a rampage and stomp on a few cities a la Godzilla, but only abandoned cities, with no danger of casualties: I’m obviously a half-baked monster.




No Friends

I’ve just seen my friend Senthil. He lives in Singapore (he’s Malaysian), but is in KL for work meetings. I Miss him. If only he lived here. When we first met, back in 2007, he was here but he moved soon after. I think he’s the only friend I’ve made after turning forty whom I feel about the same as the ones I made in my teens or twenties. The sort I can take for granted and who take me for granted too, but in the best possible way.

I don’t feel like that about anyone in KL and I am no one’s go-to friend here. There isn’t a single person in this city who thinks of me as the first person to call when they are  happy or sad or angry or confused; or when they want to watch a movie or have a coffee or check out a new play. I don’t hang out doing nothing with anyone here. I am no one’s default person and no one is mine.

Is fifty too late to make that sort of friend? Maybe that’s why having a partner is important to me. Was important to me. I can’t rely on that anymore. I won’t. It’s a mistake to depend on a lover, even one supposedly bound to you legally, to safeguard your emotional well being.

A Street In a Strange World

You Can Call Me Al

A man walks down the street
He says, “Why am I soft in the middle now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard
I need a photo opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard”
Bonedigger, bonedigger
Dogs in the moonlight
Far away my well-lit door
Mr. Beerbelly, Beerbelly
Get these mutts away from me
You know I don’t find this stuff
Amusing anymore

If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me
You can call me Al

A man walks down the street
He says, “Why am I short of attention?
Got a short little span of attention
And, woe my nights are so long
Where’s my wife and family?
What if I die here?
Who’ll be my role model
Now that my role model is
Gone gone?”
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations

If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me
You can call me Al
Call me Al

A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the third world
Maybe it’s his first time around
He doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages

He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says, “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!”

If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long-lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me
You can call me Al
Call me

Na na na na …

If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty

© 1986 Words and Music by Paul SimonRead More »