Monday, January 5, 2009

Moyuko gets hitched!

I returned to Bangkok, after a nice holiday with my mum and niece, just to "witness" my friend Moyuko get hitched to Wattana.

It was a lovely and cozy wedding in DOn Bosco's Catholic Church in Petcheburi on Sunday, 4 January 2009.

The bride and bridegroom planned and did everything themselves, from organising the attendance of their two families - one from Tokyo and the other from Udonthani - to sewing the wedding dress, printing the misalletes, bride's bouquet, to making the wedding souvenirs - japanese sweets wrapped in a tiny photo of the wedded couple in traditional Japanese attire.

It was really sweet and I was the witness to the wedding - had to sign my name on the marriage registry and all. Wow!

No one gave the bride away - Moyuko held Wattana's arm and both of them marched to the alter - looking perfect as newly weds, while their families on both side of the pew looked on with glowing eyes.

Only close friends were invited, other than immediate family members. Hehey! We were the privileged ones. I believe this is the best way to celebrate one's union with the other.

I do shy away from big, busy and noisy marriage ceremonies. But I guess they do serve their purpose as well, especially for those living in large communities.

Bless them.

I am happy for Moyuko and Wattana. And wish them all the love and happiness in the world!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Can anyone interpret dreams?

[Dreams grow on trees, acrylic on canvass, 50x70cm]

Last night, I had a strange dream, of having met a stranger. He was a young man of 22. He looked Filipino, or maybe he was Malaysian. But he was crazy over me.

I know his age because I asked him in my dream.

The setting was a secluded room, where we were both imprisoned by "terrorists". I do not know the location, though it seemed like it was somewhere out of Asia.

We tried to escape, and while finding all ways and means to free ourselves, he kept telling me he loved me.

And I kept saying I could not love him. I was faithful to my soulmate even in my dreams.

"I can't. There's someone waiting for me. And he is the one", I said repeatedly.

The boy only smiled and continued with his mission.

We then managed to escape by dismantling the window grills, and jumping off the building.

It was quite a high jump, yet we did not injure our legs. Strange.

Then I woke up startled. Wonder what it all means...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My first painting on canvass

Tada.But not finished yet ...

I have many images to paint but I did this one first - because my friends and I are at this stage of our lives where we are contemplating life and work.

We keep saying that we need to do work that is meaningful, that makes us feel something stir inside us, and work that has impact and outcome.

Actually, I was thinking of Giyoun and Bernice when I started to paint this.

Because Giyoun wants to be a garderner, and Bernice wants to grow herbs. And they said, that if they had actually done it, they can see things growing by now.

I agreed, and thought of my art work.

Can we say the same for our professional/ officework now, we asked each other?

It was something to think about.

I finally managed to bridge the inkpaper - paintcanvass divide within myself. I have a long way to go to get used to the technique.

After years of drawing in ink, I was actually afraid to start on canvass. With ink I can be really detailed and fine. But I actually appreciate the freedom of movement I have with canvass.

I did watercolors since primary school.

At 12, I was happy that my art teacher Cikgu Bukhairi of Sek. Ren. Pengkalan Tentera in Kuantan, Pahang - east coast of Malaysia (a school where children of soldiers go to - in an army camp) announce one day: Topic Bebas (free topic).

I had been an abstract/surreal artist since then (hehey), because when all my classmates painted flowers and houses, villages, fruits and the likes, I painted the earth - a round shape with the insides filled with many different colors, lined in black. I mixed more than 20 colors, from the 12 basics that I had.

At the end, it looked like the earth was divided into so many blocks of different shades. If I knew better, I'd call it multiculturalism, kept apart by our different boundaries.

Then we had to pin all our art work on the wall at the back of the classroom.

I remember Cikgu Bukhairi actually standing infront of my painting, looking hard at it, sometimes frowning, he seem to be thinking hard. Then he rubbed his chin, turned around to look at me and winked.

Cikgu Bukhairi was a very strict teacher. I felt some satisfaction in that. Haha!

Ps. Thanks Rainstorm for the encouragement. I need it!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Finally....a good place to buy art supplies

I finally found an art supplies shop near Thammasat University and got all I want to start me on this journey - a new series of art work.

When I browsed through the internet, I find many expats asking about where to buy cheap art supplies. The ones in the shopping centres or malls are rather costly.

So its good that my Thai colleague Sulee pointed me to this one, and accompanied me today.

I told her that if I manage to hold an exhibition in Thailand, I would definitely say a word about her contribution.

The shop is called Nanapun (will add name of street later!) and it's not very far from the Democracy Monument. I am surely going back there again.

I am not sure yet of what series I am going to paint this time. It usually just happens according to what and how I feel.

I'm not a commercial artist and when asked recently to come up with a happy family theme for Chinese New Year (to be made into postcards and calendar), I am stuck.

I am more of an abstract artist who does not paint or draw reality. Am finding it hard to visualise 'happy family' in an abstract way :)

But then again, I might just do it. Would you buy my postcards? calendar? art pieces? It'll definitely help keep this blogger alive!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I am not afraid to walk on the streets of Bangkok

I'm always walking home late at nights on the streets of Bangkok. Tonight I am happier because this scrap collector keeps me company on the street that leads to my apartment.

Poor man. It's almost 12 midnight, and he is just about to return home. He looked weary and hungry. I am beginning to feel how the economic crisis is beginning to affect everyone.

Today, King Bhumipol is once again drapped in gold, and worshipped like God. But the scrap man remains as he is. Pushing his cart, looking for scraps, and hoping that tomorrow would be a better day.

Not much difference from me actually.

I know, I know, I ought to feel afraid. I should not be walking around Bangkok, alone, so late at night. I should leave the office earlier. But I don't.

When one is at work, time flies and before you know it, damn! It's not all about work. Sometimes I have dinner with friends or see a movie, and then take a slow walk home. I can take the sky train, but the weather in winter is sublime.

A winter without snow, but it's great just to feel the cool air on your face and in your hair.I pray the hot weather will never come this way.

Besides, I feel so safe here on the streets, or when I ride in Taxis (they don't even charge a midnigt fee like they do back home).

I felt safe even when there were chaos at the Government House and Suvanabhumi airport. Because I do notice on my way back, that there were many tourist police at every juncture.

Sigh. I don't feel that safe back home, not even in Penang, and worst still Kuala Lumpur.

I did feel safer years back, but now, it scares the hell out of me if I return home late in Penang. And mom would be worried too, staying up till I come home, which is a bad thing for her, because she sents my niece (her grand daughter) to school at 6.30am.

So when I read this Malaysiakini article entitled "I am afraid to walk on the street" - a response to the IGP saying that "the worsening crime index is purely a problem of misperception by Malaysians, tourists and investors" - I can fully understand how the writer feels.

And I am not just talking about petty crimes and robberies or theft.

Missing kids are never found, murders are growing more and more gruesome by the day and body guards of a certain minister can blow up foreigners to bits. You know what I mean, don't ya?

Gosh! With an earth like this, who needs hell? And we are not even migrant workers!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Long Live the Man in Gold

Somehow I felt sad looking at the enlarged photo of King Bhumipol of Thailand in front of the Emporium tonight.

He does look very kind and benign, waving to his subjects, who simply adore him and worship the ground he walks upon.

Unlike us Malaysians, sorry to say, but royalties hardly figure in our lives.

Yet, there are so many stories of how much influence Bhumipol has in the power struggle that makes up Thailand's political landscape today.

Not everyone appreciate the Royalties, though. Dissent is real, and growing although hidden and hushed for fear of the Les Mejeste law that can throw one in prison until His Majesty pardons.

Or until the sentence is served. Hell, that could be a lifetime!

Truth is, many Youths prefer a republic but Thailand has a long way to go in this area. It's not just the Constitution. Hearts would bleed if anything untoward happens to their beloved King.

I stopped by the Emporium (which by the way has a very good selection of books in its version of Kinokuniya) on my way home from work. It was already about 11.30pm, and preparations were underway for his Birthday tomorrow.

I worry for that guy up on the billboard (can you see him?) although it seems he has two glittering angels looking out for him - right in front of him!

Those angels are of course part of the coming Christmas celebrations you see every where in Bangkok, which considers itself a Buddhist state.

Then I noticed that although he is dressed in gold over there, His Majesty has really gone on in years. When I see him on TV, I felt his eyes no longer hold any passion or life.

Does he really care anymore for what happens in Thailand? Is he finally giving up in the midst of all this chaos and uncertainties?

Maybe it is just a figment of my imagination?

I still wonder how a frail and sick man can be at the centre of a political storm?

When will he give up?

No matter how much wealth one has, or how much one is worshipped or reverred, these pleasures are temporary and would soon come to an end. Like a movie reel.

Long Live the King, indeed. I know he has lived his life well.

But just as soon as I thought that, somewhere deep in my little heart, I truly, truly fear for my adopted home when the inevitable happens.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not your typical kind of Sushi

No, my friends. I am not talking about Japanese food :)

Poor Sushi is stranded in Bangkok due to the airport seige by anti-government supporters.

Sushi works for SUARAM PENANG and is in the forefront of the human rights situation there.

I am sure you Penangnites would know Sushi?

She's been arrested for attending ISA rallies and gatherings, but she is one tough lady.

She was here to attend an event with FORUM-ASIA. And what an experience it had been!

But don't worry about Sushi because she's been taken care of very well.

I took her for lunch at the Siam Paragon, for nasi lemak at Secret Recipe knowing how much she is missing food back home. So am I!

I also managed to catch up with her on what's happening back home.

How I miss Penang!

You can see Sushi is enjoying herself here. And inspite of all that is happening to me, I feel happy when I see that smile on Sushi's face.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Airport crisis breaks my heart

The Suvanabhumi airport crisis has really affected me, especially personally. I've been in and out of that airport so often, I can find my way even when blindfolded (I think!).

But I don't particularly like the place. It's cold and almost clinical. Now I do not even think it is safe anymore, after the anti-Thaksin supporters stormed and seized the place.

But I guess these are things I have to live with while being here in Bangkok.

The saddest part of it all for me is that my mum, who was supposed to spend the month of December with me, can now longer come. And I am finding it difficult to go home.

Most tickets are booked, and anyway there is much to do here in terms of work before I can really leave.

I had a grand plan laid out for my mum, and had wanted to give her a really nice Christmas holiday this time.

I've discovered so many exciting places that I want to share it with her. But alas!

She really wanted to visit Siamreap this time, especially the Angkor Wat, and we were supposed to travel by land, to savour the country side. "It's the only place left to go" she said.

"If I don't travel anywhere else after this,it's okay". Mum is a seasoned traveller, especially when dad was still alive. And they didn't quite make it to Cambodia.

I thought I could make her wishes come through. I think I had planned it for almost a year. It makes me feel bad that I cannot take her when I want to. Surely, we could travel via KLIA.

But she isn't feeling good about the whole thing anymore. "Lets just stay at home," she says.Then comes the next question: When can I go home?

And that is why I hate to plan things. It never works out the way you want. I am more of a footloose and fancy free person, a free spirit.

And when I don't plan, things really work out better than I expected. Is the universe trying to send me some kind of message here?

One thing's for sure, it's really bad when you are not in control of your movements, what more your destiny.

Sigh, I don't feel free anymore, in this land, which is supposedly famous for its freedom.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

At a butcher shop

I went to a student art exhibition in Siam Paragon. And was quite impressed at the talents of these young minds. Refreshing and bold. There were many interesting pieces, but my attention was caught by this.

The artist for the photo shown here is Kreerath Sunnitramat (image below):

In his digital photo (actually blown up into a very large size), Kreerath tries to present a situation at a butcher shop. See the bloody and messy, dirty floors, flooded with pigs blood. The butchers here could either be Thais or migrant workers.

The write-up of this piece is in Thai, except for somethings like name of artiste and medium of work. So I can't make out much of what this is. But ...

In an instant I felt like puking, and felt some empathy for the workers who had to slog all day in this kind of environment. It must be quite revolting but can they help it?

I also thought about Thai Buddhist society and how they would react when see this. Buddhists would prefer not to kill animals. But the bloody floor tells a different story.

The other thing that came to mind was the situation back home. Malaysian Chinese are often labelled "Babi" or pig (in a degrading manner) by the ultra racists.

But the ultra racists forget that many Malaysians of Chinese origins do not eat meat, let alone pork, for various reasons.

I do not eat pork, or beef, or even lamb. Mostly chicken, which I do not prefer because I rather like fish. I am mostly vegetarian, no seafood at all, no eggs, only fish.

It's sad to see how conservative society is and how little have changed since the dark ages.

Friday, November 28, 2008

State of emergency on Sukhumvit road


When I left the office at 6pm yesterday, Sukhumvit road was as congested as ever. People were still rushing home for the weekend, dinner before disco, or Christmas shopping.

Did you say there was a state of emergency in Bangkok?

Yes, only at Suvanabhumi airport, where even taxi drivers are joking about it.

"Not going to Suvanaphoom, are you?"they'll ask cheekily, adding "Even if you pay us 1,000B (RM100) we won't go!"

Since I've been here in 2006, there's always something or other in the political scene. I've gotten use to it. Though my work in human rights does not allow me to be detach from it.

In Sukhumvit where I live and work, it's Christmas forever.