Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mumbles the Maid

Fingers crossed, I have always been fortunate in my choice of maids.

Horror stories abound in the mainstream media about maids who range from the drunk to the disorderly, from the delinquent to the downright deranged. Compared to that nightmarish lot, my maids have been relatively benign. Despite my unfortunate tendency to order them about imperiously ( armed with a trusty silver bell ), I don't think my maids have made any complaints. Obviously there are far worse slavedrivers around who offer their own inhumane version of turkish treatment.

Even my egalitarian boyfriend - perpetually appalled over my haughty manner - would admit that I have never ill-treated my maids. Not even a raised voice.

Which is why they adore me. Or secretly plot in the fields of Netherfield to ignite a fiery revolution and have my noble head guillotined.

Fortunately my newest maid would rally the crowd alone since there is no one else under my regular employ. And few would even understand her seditious suggestions, if she had any, since she mumbles.

Paul : Surely you understood what she meant?
Kat : I honestly didn't have the slightest idea.
Paul : I was depending on you to to decipher her cryptic dialect. Not even her name then?
Kat : I'm afraid she lost me at hello.

Yes. My maid mumbles.

Very first time we called to hire her, we could barely make out her garbled name which is why we immediately assigned a new nickname for her. Maid Mumbles. Rather than speak in one of the beautifully melodious local dialects here, Mumbles chooses to maul the English language instead - armed with a dozen mutilating marbles in her mouth.

Or a precious gold nugget. I haven't quite decided which.

Paul : Lovely work, my dear. I think you deserve a bonus this month.
Mumbles : Gobbledygook.
Paul : Umm, you're welcome?
Mumbles : Tarabarshchina.
Paul : I'm sorry, was that a thank you?
Felix : We should run. That could be a threat.

Wonderful worker. Efficient, eager and enthusiastic. Seriously frustrated that I can't understand her better. Initially wondered whether I had developed a listening disorder ( or an early stroke ) when I found that I couldn't comprehend her garbled speech! Only when the other tenants in the household agreed wholeheartedly that they found her a puzzling enigma did I realize that the fault didn't lie with me.

Maybe as a legacy of the Brooke dynasty, she speaks with a Dartmoor accent?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Web of Lies

My brother is a straightforward kinda fellow. Literally what you see is what you get. Says what he means, means what he says. Very little duplicity or subterfuge of any kind in his everyday actions.

Unlike me. Growing up in the closet has turned me into something akin to a devious Cold War intelligence agent hiding deep undercover in the unassuming suburbs, always trying to blend in with the heteronormative crowd while nervously concealing that hush hush secret. Though I've gradually crept out of the closet, I still find it hard to abandon such old ingrained habits of deception.

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!

Mom : That's a whole lotta stuff in your closet!

Trying to untangle the web of lies gets a bit complex when you have a similarly cryptic mother. Each time my brother and I have worked out that she already knows, she suddenly backtracks only to leave us fumbling. Does she know? Doesn't she know? Given up on the pretense entirely though so I just fumble along while waiting for her to pop the question.

Never one to wait patiently, I tend to suggest dozens of gay melodramas for her hoping to needle her for the question. Including recently sending a Korean family drama called Life is Beautiful which includes a gay doctor amongst the multi-generational cast.

Then today my mother sends me this odd message.

Mother : Shedding loads of tears over how a family handles a gay son in Life is Beautiful.
Paul : Huh.

Unlike my semi-obtuse brother ( and similarly oblivious boyfriend ), I tend to read much more into words and actions, digging to find a deeper meaning. Even when there's none.

However my mom, like me, has always been particularly deliberate in what she does. Surely that encoded message didn't come from out of the blue. So does my mother mean she understands and empathizes with what I'm going through? Or is she busy weeping because the family has been plagued with the horribly shameful spectre of homosexuality?

Or that she just likes weeping over Korean melodramas even when it's mainly about gay issues.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Siamese Twin Syndrome

It turns out my friend Whispery Wilhemina has managed to hold on to her latest man date. Nice sensible fellow - that we've secretly started calling Deputy Dawg - since he does have a painful propensity to slip into hip hop slang.

But that's fine by me since at least the Dawg doesn't smack her around.

Paul : I take it things are going well with you and your new fella?
Wilhelmina : We're keeping it real, you know what I'm saying?
Paul : Is that a bling I'm blinded by?
Wilhelmina : Yeah, home boy, I so love hip hop now.
Paul : Didn't you once call it ghetto trash?
Wilhelmina : I've found a new appreciation for it.
Paul : You know you're doing again, don't you?
Wilhelmina : Doing what?
Paul : Changing to suit your new boytoy.

Let me recall the more memorable ones to reiterate. I recall Wilhemina's immersion into the neon waters of Japanese pop - just because her ex worked there once upon a time - only to emerge as a skankier version of Ayumi Hamasaki. Then there was the time Wilhelmina flipped into a psycho-housewife version of Nigella Lawson just to please her ex with profiteroles and madelines.

And now this. I could have sworn Wilhelmina had a temporary tramp stamp on her back but I couldn't tell for sure.

Joined at the hip? NO!

Look, I understand trying to find common interests with your new partner.We all do things to please the ones we love. We try the things they like. We listen to the music they like. We watch the movies they like. Trying out new music, new books, new pursuits, new experiences - all that can be quite an adventure with somebody new.

But I always figure there should be a line. We don't really have to be exact Stepford clones of each other, do we? Smacks of the horrific Siamese Twin Syndrome that I'm always so afraid of.

Siamese Twin Syndrome? Oh yeah, to me it means clones joined at the hip.

Something I have no intention of falling into. Surely even though we're together, we are allowed to have our own interests, hobbies and pursuits separate from our partners? Certainly made me wonder whether Charming Calvin and I have become nearly identical in that respect.

What a horrifying prospect!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Drag Kings

Since they are already locally ( internationally? ) renowned for their shocking lack of intelligence and forethought, we have grown to expect acts of incomprehensible, ill-conceived suggestions from our ever-expanding army of idiotic Malaysian bureaucrats.

And yet sometimes they can still surprise us with their sheer stupidity.

Like their recent attempts to de-sissify the boys with a correction school. Turns out the draconian State Education department has pin-pointed 66 unfortunate schoolboys with effeminate tendencies and forced them to a mysterious gulag aimed at helping them behave in a proper socially acceptable manner.

Time to be a man!
Or else.

How exactly do the narrow-minded fools judge? With the terrifying spectre of homosexuality and transgenderism hanging over their heads, supposedly teachers were instructed the year before to identify students who displayed feminine qualities. Already have this classic black-and-white scene in my head where uniformed officers march in Gestapo-like to a classroom to snatch schoolkids according to the noodle limpness of their wrists. Or maybe even that teeny bit of sway in their hips? A profound admiration for music, culture and arts?

A crazed obsession for Lady Gaga?

Seriously. Not even gay-dar works that well all the time!

So how would the classes in the straight-acting gulag be conducted? My mind literally boggles at their futile attempts to butch someone up! Teach them how to walk? Teach them how to talk? And who would these macho experts at this exclusive finishing school be?

No doubt the classes would prove to be something like the infamous scene from In & Out. Be a man. Kick someone. Punch someone. Bite someone's ear.

So much for schools providing a safe and neutral environment for our children to grow and develop without fear of recrimination for being themselves. Guess these days our education system prefers churning out rough, tough manly thugs who spit and scratch themselves.

And don't dance.

Seriously never had the urge to drag till now. Move over, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. All I wanna do now is leap into slinky stilettos, pile on the make-up with a shovel and drive a neon-pink bus over to the rescue the much-abused boys.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tech Whiz Kids

I gotta say kids these days are amazing.

While I'm still trying my best to fathom the intricacies of wi-fi, I see relative rugrats punching PS3s, cracking up their iPods and clogging up twitter with their reasonably mundane daily routines. With the unstoppable advent of technology - and the seemingly ubiquitous internet, kids these days are getting far more exposure to the rest of the world than ever I did as a child growing up.

Of course along with the best the world has to give, the kids these days have to contend with the bad as well - all the predatory dangers that come along in the Pandora's box. Monsters don't sneak out from under the bed these days, so much easier to slide along the dark, dank passageways of the shadowy net onto the computer screen. Anxious parents would like nothing more than to lock up their tech-whiz children - along with the computers as a prevention.

Sadly, to many parents, there's only one option-a simple one: Keep their children off the Internet entirely.

Ooh whatchu looking at!


Despite the fact that I'm a practicing doctor, prevention isn't a word I am a particular fan of. A form of censorship that covers all ills. Prevent rape. Cover up the women. Prevent smoking. Ban cigarettes. Prevent drinking. Ban alcohol.

Like that ever stopped anyone. Prohibition without education never works.

And seriously there shouldn't be talk of prevention when the disease has already stricken more than half the population. With the cyberspace only a simple click away even in the most remote places, exactly how are you going to prevent your child from falling prey to the internet ills?

Sister-in-law : OMG Chatty Carmen is online on facebook!
Paul : She is? My niece is a prodigy! Can I be her friend?
Sister-in-law : No way! I am stopping this. I don't know how she got online! I must stop it.
Paul : By locking up the computer each time she comes near? How about the computers in school? How about the cybercafes?

Filtering? Blocking? Parental controls?

Oh please. Don't you know that's like waving a red flag in front of a rebellious child? I can tell you that since I was one of the kids who'd enjoy breaking a rule just to prove a point.

I'm more a fan of education. Even parental controls need some semblance of instruction. Children these days need to be internet literate. Rather than imprison the child in a tower keep ( and then throwing away the key ), I'd give them the tools to combat any online predators that come their way. Isn't that a better solution?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jesus Loves

Just the other day, I kidded with Fabulous Felix that sharing the idea of Jesus being gay would probably give his highly religious, conservative mother an apoplectic fit.

Paul : Imagine if Jesus had a thing for Judas. Hence the kiss at Gethsemane.
Felix : My mom would have a stroke.

Who knew my words might have been nearly prophetic!

Unsatisfied with besmirching Jesus' reputation by asserting that he had a torrid affair with Mary Magdalene, now the historians have come up with an even more scandalous claim; that Jesus Christ was unambiguously and openly gay. Seems a swinging bachelor of a marriageable age happily roaming the plains of Galilee with a horde of virile fishermen preaching his cause can only suffer the slings and arrows of wicked calumny.

And be branded as a homosexual. At least according to recently discovered lead codices.

The kiss of Judas

A gay Jesus? Blasphemy that would have the most devoted parishioners raising their horrified hands to the heavens. Or perhaps grabbing hold of their flaming pitchforks.

But wouldn't that be against his teachings? From what we know of Jesus himself, I think the man would probably chuckle and turn the other cheek. Gladly. Say what you will about him but he knows all about despicable slander and wild accusations. After all, people have been talking about him ever since he found in the Temple in discussion with the elders. What is one more ugly rumour?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

I gotta say I'm all for sex education in our schools.

Despite the fact that I seriously doubt it would ever be properly integrated and taught in our school system - since the conservative zealots would probably bleep out every other word in the sex education textbook leaving a confused morass of contradictions! Certainly no talk of premarital sex, not a whisper of adultery and let's not even discuss homosexuality lest it infects the younger generation, shall we?

Now let's talk about sex.

And that is only if we actually manage to get over the fact that the religious prudes would prefer sex education be openly taught over their collective dead bodies. Talk of combating social ills such as teenage pregnancies would only be heard on deaf ears when it comes to this narrow-minded lot who frequently make the erroneous claim that allowing sex education only encourages the youth to go out and have sex. Seriously, get over yourselves. Whether with or without the education to arm them against the ills, the kids will want to go out and have sex.

But it's almost impossible to convince these stern moralists who prefer to preach abstinence-only lectures. A pity that a number of them are actually educationists.

Hence this horrifying ( and I'll admit hilarious ) video of a sex education talk in a local primary school. Seems the teacher exhorts the students to have sex only according to the proper way between a husband and his wife. Any other variations on the above sexual coupling, veering away from the standard heteronormative directives, would be deemed aberrant - and the participants obviously meant to be reviled with offensive slurs.

I know I should get mad. Certainly isn't a laughable matter.

Basically the video shows an overzealous teacher goading his wide-eyed student charges to denounce those engaging in what he deems unhealthy, illicit sexual practices - ranging from premarital sex to homosexuality ... and well anything vaguely sexual occurring outside of a sanctified heterosexual union between man and wife. In case the guileless students are still confused over the matter, the teacher helpfully provides them with several derogatory insults, even adjuring them to repeat the abusive words loudly.

At least now I know how some homophobic bigots are indoctrinated.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sh*t My Granny Says

We're not exactly your traditional Chinese family.

In spite of the fact that my grandmother literally stepped off the boat barely half a century ago, she doesn't seem to have brought along any of the tiresome baggage containing archaic customs and superstitions that typify the Chinese immigrants of that particular era. Seems like she cast them all into the sea the minute she decided to board the heaving junk out of mainland China.

So when curious tourists ask about my family and our superstitious beliefs, I usually ruefully admit that I never had any. Don't think my skeptical grandmother ever told us any.

Paul : Not even one superstition?
Grandma : You want me to make one up for you?
Paul : I've got a really good imagination. Surely you had some kooky superstition as a child back in China.
Grandma : Not really. We're a scientific people.
Paul : Good grief.

Honestly, I don't even think my pragmatic, no-nonsense granny believes in a God.

So we were one of the few Chinese households without a single altar for many years. Don't think I ever held a single joss-stick as a child. Temples were places we went to ogle and stare at the smoke, the incense and the devotees in awe-struck wonder.

Paul : Damn, did grandma make up another story to scare the kids?
Cousin : Shit. Again? I thought she promised not to!
Paul : Whose turn is it to debunk myths again?

At least till one of my lovestruck uncles brought home a surprisingly flighty, shockingly superstitious wife, a devoted daughter of blood-smearing, idol-shaking Chinese shamans. No doubt to my grandmother's utmost dismay.

Not only did the new daughter-in-law shudder that she'd married into a family of godless heathens, she wondered why we didn't have a single altar to pray to. So to please her daughter-in-law, my grandmother - rolling her disbelieving eyes heavenward yet ever so obliging - grabbed a used soda can to place on a stand, stuck a red candle in it and mumbled some prayer of thanks.

And that was our makeshift altar.

See why we never had any superstitions?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pure Brightness Festival

Or at least that's the closest direct translation you may get for Qingming Jie 清明节. Otherwise known as the Tomb Sweeping Day which regularly falls in spring sometime in the first days of April. It's a time when the Chinese people hike up the hills and valleys to visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors for the annual spring cleaning.

What my cousins and I call our annual spring picnic. While we adhere to the ancient customs of sweeping the tombs clean, we have also injected an element of fun to the sombre proceedings by carting up huge umbrellas, suntan lotion and a gargantuan picnic basket filled with the trimmings. Thoroughly shocking the rest of the more traditional crowd coming to pay their respects.

This year however I begged out of the ceremonies citing work.

Though I still somehow ended up in a wooden chair folding hell dollars.

Paul : Damn, it looks like the Borgias are expecting us!

Yes, I actually was in the country estate of Charming Calvin helping his wicked momma Madame Borgia fold hell banknotes. Dutiful son-in-law that I am.

Ostensibly bringing a wandering tourist to visit their family estate, I found the family matriarch busy sorting out hell banknotes and paper replicas of material goods to burn for the departed. Since there was no one else around, what else could I do but offer to help?

Though I doubt Madame Borgia was suitably impressed when I folded the notes into paper cranes - instead of the usual gold ingots.

Paul : Come, let me help you arrange the items for the festival.
Madame : Thank you but there is no need. Perfectly fine on my own, in fact I've been doing this for years.
Paul : Maybe I should come with you for the festival!
Madame : Capital idea. Maybe you should!
Paul : I mean, since I have a foreign guest with me. Not as family or anything.
Madame : That's what I mean as well.

For a moment I worried whether she had just received a pure blinding epiphany. Pure Brightness Festival after all. Fortunately I had already mapped out the quickest escape route from their hillside home the very first time I walked in.

Just in case.

Sometimes I wonder whether the sly lady has actually grasped the full extent of the relationship between me and Calvin. Or whether Madame Borgia remains utterly blissfully unaware of the clandestine affair happening right before her eyes. Surely Calvin's amateurish attempts to prevaricate would fool no one.

Reason enough to keep an eye out in case she has something up her sleeve.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lake District Follies

Life is full of little coincidences.

Having a living room full of couch surfers again - and being the intrepid eco-adventurers they are, most have wondered why we're not particularly enamoured of nature and its like. In fact they seem incredulous over the fact that we really don't care much about the forests around! With glorious examples of mother nature in her tropical best only an hour's away in the form of world-renowned national parks, why haven't we taken the time to visit?

Paul : Me visit a national park? Like eeew.
Felix : I'd rather take a nap.
Paul : But do send me a postcard though.

That of course brings me to my very own infamous travelogue titbit of Windermere.

My ambivalence with nature stems from that happily lost weekend when my ISO and I got stranded in the picturesque Lake District due to a railway scheduling glitch. So young, so idealistic, so in love, so at one with nature.

It was two whole days of staring at lakes, trees and vales. Trudging down endless nature trails just to gaze at clumps of daffodils.

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The prophetic words of Wordsworth seemed to be like a whispering mantra that nearly drove us insane. Seriously, don't believe all that crap about the beauty of nature. Unless you're a true-blue tree-hugger believer, it's all leaves, grass and muck to everyone else.

Fortunately we had a television to keep us from going completely batty!

Paul : Isn't nature lovely?
My ISO : Fucking fantastic.
Paul : If I see another tree, I might have to burn the place down.
My ISO : I have a match. We might be doing future generations a favour.

So yeah, I do dredge up that weekend quite a bit when folks question my dislike of nature walks. Which is why it surprised me yesterday when I found a postcard from my ISO in the mail! From the Lake District. With a scrawled message at the back.

'Aren't you glad we aren't there now?'

Guess now I just need to flash the telling postcard rather than rehash the entire story!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Pimp That Gaymobile

Started this blog a long while ago complaining about the dearth of a gay social life in small towns like Malacca?

Hell it's even worse in an even smaller town like Miri. Though nightspots with prostitution abounds here, none would appeal to the gay boys in town. Seems like our bachelor pad might be the gayest spot in town. Without handy applications such as Grindr, we might have to resort to using secret hand signals and pocket handkerchiefs just to find our brothers in arms.

Damn, is that Gaga in your car?

Suffering the same homosickness as I do, Fabulous Felix has taken desperate measures to replicate the things he misses the most by pimping his car. Which is why I found myself inadvertently lost in the hazy, disco-track laden miasma of Studio 54 when I stepped into his car last night.

Paul : OMG.
Felix : Don't you love it?
Paul : I'm not expected to pay a cover charge, am I?
Felix : Not with a pink passport! No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track, baby!

Seriously. The gayest car in town. Dark, dank and steamy interiors with running LED flickers complete with the throbbing thumpa-thumpa dance techno music blaring out of the pounding speakers. Lady Gaga's club-ready anthem Born This Way on constant replay in every possible variation.

With every pro-gay lyric perfectly audible - despite the half-hearted ban by our scissor-happy radio stations.

All we needed was a twirling disco ball dangling from the rearview mirror. And maybe a few sculpted circuit boys dancing shirtless on the hood.

Yeah, the video's not Born This Way. Needed a break from the constant remixes so I changed it to Show Me Your Teeth. Really, I don't think there's a gayer video out there. :)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Crimes of Passion

Peaceful little hamlet with friendly neighbours and picket fences rocked by a shocking murder seemingly overnight

Sounds just like the sensational premise of several thriller dramas showing on the telly right about now. Twin Peaks? Haven? Obviously life has started imitating art here - since not one but two brutal murders have taken place in this little hamlet only in the past week! Fortunately for the undoubtedly unpracticed sheriffs in town, the recent cases have been quite elementary as Sherlock himself would say. In both events the alleged killers have both been found with the proverbial smoking gun in hand.

Or dripping knife.

Case closed. Two unfortunate girls who found themselves the tragic victims of love unrequited.

Eh, it was just love!

What surprised me was the fact that the townsfolk were so eager to forgive the killers! Pious people they may be but I certainly didn't expect them to extend the hand of forgiveness that quickly. Actually half expected burning pitchforks raised by a crazed mob marching on the police station crying out for justice!

But even my nurses - usually a helluva bloodthirsty lot - seemed complacent enough. Even with one of the murders happening only two doors away.

Nurse : Well it was a crime of passion.
Paul : And that somehow makes them forgivable?
Nurse : Understandable perhaps?
Paul : Love means putting the other person's needs before yours. Not strangling the life out of them.
Nurse : But it's all for love, I guess.
Paul : Well, I don't think the victims felt loved in the least.

So it's easy to forgive even cold-blooded murder when twisted love is the reason? Always wondered how some inane girls could fall head-over-heels for convicted murderers behind bars. At least now I know.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Drag Me To Hell

I have opinions.

And obviously I'm not afraid to say it. A couple of times in fact, I've been guilty of giving quite uncalled-for advice. For what it's worth, sorry, guys but I just can't help myself.

Fortunately though I don't regularly make pronouncements that leave everyone else at the table shell-shocked in silence!

Unlike Kool Kat. More than a few times, Kat has blithely come up with shocking revelations that literally stagger her horror-struck audience. Kinda like I-can't-believe-you-just-said-that.

Paul : Hard to imagine such a disaster like the tsunami hitting our country.
Kat : I've thought about it actually. I don't think I would allow my boyfriend to die after me.
Paul : Huh?
Kat : If he outlives me, I might have to come back to get him.
Paul : OMG. Drag me to hell? With claws out of the ground?

Hmm. Creepy much?

Drag me to hell!

Though Kat immediately tried to retract her shocking announcement, she could hardly do so since we had all taken one step back from her. Maybe it's time to leave her boyfriend a friendly warning.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Feet Vote

From the daily ramblings in the coffeeshops and the mamak corners, dissatisfaction with the shockingly inept, corrupt political system in our country is rife. With election days looming ahead inevitably, the people are hoping for a change for the better yet political apathy amongst the youth remains at an all time-high.

Even amongst my own disgruntled peers.

Friend : Not like our votes will even matter.
Paul : Well if you don't vote, it wouldn't matter.
Friend : Nothing will change even if I do.
Paul : That kinda political apathy isn't helping democracy.
Friend : Maybe it's time to vote with my feet.
Paul : By leaving?
Friend : Surely there's a better place out there.
Paul : And if that place sucks just as bad, will you do the same again and again?
Friend : Yes?
Paul : So you'll live in a gypsy caravan?
Friend : Maybe.
Paul : Why not stop and try to make a change?
Friend : Not like it would even matter. Eh, I'm not even registered anyway.

Yes. The apathetic cycle continues.

What can we do!

Vote with your feet? What it means is to express dissatisfaction by quitting or leaving. Jaded by the reverse discrimination caused by the race-based policies practised here, migrants - usually the best and the brightest - have been leaving the country in droves for the past two decades.

Seriously. Ever thought of trying to change things rather than just bitch about it? Instead of proving the racist Malay supremacists in our country right by being the eternal immigrant fleeing when the going gets tough, why not make a last stand by casting your votes? If the grass is truly greener on the other side as they say, it’s only because it has been fertilized with the blood and sweat of citizens who have worked hard to build a just and fair society.

Don't give up without even trying. Go out and cast your votes.