Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hug Those We Love, The Star, Nov 8, 2008

These are some responses to my article, Hug Those You Love (Nov 8).

Your article struck a chord in me. Ever since I finished high school, I realised I had become more expressive with my feelings, especially towards my parents.

The simple act of Muslim students kissing the hands of their parents gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Our parents may not be used to such acts but I am confident that they somehow feel appreciated.

I know I would feel that way if I got affectionate hugs every now and then.

I am sorry that you never got to say goodbye to Pakcik. May he rest in peace. After I finish typing this, I am going to text my friends whom I have not met in a while.


I started sending birthday cards to my mum (who’s now passed away) when I went to Singapore to further my studies in 1981.

During my 13 years there, I would scribble words of love and gratitude in those carefully selected cards. After she passed away, my sister and I found all the cards we had mailed to her carefully kept in her wardrobe drawer. This really moved me.

Before my parents passed away, I had also begun hugging them and my siblings whenever we met in our hometown. It was much harder with my dad. He was the aloof, stern-looking, typical Chinese father. But later, he, too, softened up to the hugs.

Lily Lee

When I was nine, my beloved grandma passed away. I regret not taking more time to visit her. I miss her very much. May she and Pakcik Norhuda rest in peace.

Dunita Nabila

My mum cried when I didn’t perform well in my PMR. She worked hard to give me everything despite our financial constraints (my parents have a nasi lemak stall). When I saw her frustration and sorrow, I felt bad and promised myself to be a better daughter. Since then, I always kiss and hug my parents, and tell them how much I love them. They are conservative like your parents. But they eventually accepted my hugs and kisses. I’m so glad you make it a point to kiss and hug your parents everyday.


You can read the original article here

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nostalgic over Nosh, The Star, 27 September 2008

These are some readers' responses to my article, Nostalgic over Nosh

I am one of your ardent fans who would eagerly turn the pages of the Weekender every Saturday morning to hunt down and read your article without delay. More than often, I would be touched by your sincere, genuine, authentic and straight from the heart sharing. It gives me a sense of warmth when I read them.

Even today's writing put a lump in my throat and my eyes were a bit wet as I read how you recalled your childhood memories of piano lessons and sandwiches. I agree its not just writing about food but also how it evokes us when we see the food operators put in their love, energy and passion to prepare the food for us to enjoy. Especially so if it comes with good and kind service with a personal touch.

I can often differentiate those operators who cook solely for money and those who cook with passion and love. Remember the young baker whom you wrote about recently? It is not about how much she could make from the bakeries but it is the love and authenticity she puts into her work.

It is also no different today that as I came to the end of your article, I reflected on how we live out our lives and calling. We can choose to do a mediocre job and collect our paycheck at the end of the month. Or we can go the extra mile and put in the love and passion to touch those we come in contact daily. I teach English in a private school for a living and come in contact with eight year old angels and rascals each school day.

It was after half a year of teaching them this year that I admitted to myself despite how naughty they can be I love each of them as my own. At the end of the year, without fail I would reluctantly say farewell to them with a lump in my throat and teary eyes. Well, that the ultimate satisfaction of my job. Its having the privilege to mould their lives for a year and seeing them move on.

That how I see our lives. We touch those whom we come in contact with daily through our love, care and action.

I learn something each time I read your writing. It helps me to reflect and appreciate those who have made a difference in our lives.

And you are one of them. Thanks for all the good sharing.

God bless you.

Lily Lee

My name is Mei Wan and I've recently become a fan of your writing after reading today's article about Thum's Burger and one two weeks back. I love how you describe the food! And there's personality just shining through. I just checked out your blog but it hasn't been updated since August! Just wanted to know if you write anything regularly which I can check online.

I'm currently an engineering student heading back to London pretty soon. I hate to leave the food behind... :( Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for writing an awesome article for me to read on a lazy Saturday.

Mei Wan

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

An offer hard to resist, June 21

Rotation 82
RMAF Butterworth, Malaysia

Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Taking a lesson from Frost, do I dare to take risks, leaping into the unknown? Or should I just stay in my comfort zone, leading a rather routine (and quite mundane) but secure and comfortable life?

Alexandra Wong’s piece on being hypocritical over one’s principles and beliefs (An offer hard to resist, Weekender June 21) couldn’t come at a better time. I preach to others about the importance of fulfilling one’s life and dreams, while at the same time, I’m in a rut.

I admire Alexandra’s courage in pursuing her passion and being in charge of her life. While Malaysian writers can’t really become millionaires, I suppose for some, like Alexandra, it’s the “fantastic ride” that matters the most. And I really want to belong to that group of people.
Nazreen, Mersing

You can view the online version here

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Standing United, The Star, March 29 2008

I read Alexandra Wong’s article, Standing united (Weekender, March 29), where she narrated her childhood experience living in a multi racial neighbourhood.

I grew up in a similar environment although I belong to a different generation. I grew up in a kampung in Klang, sandwiched between Chinese and Indian neighbours. Boys and girls in those days played and studied together regardless of colour or religion. I was able to speak Tamil and Hokkien.

I had a good network of friends and business associates from different races. But it is sad that after 50 years of independence, we are regressing whereas unity in diversity should be our strength.

The country needs more young people like her.

Datuk Kalsom Abd Rahman

I enjoyed reading Alexandra’s article about unity and small town values. Even though I enjoy many of the conveniences of modern living, I miss the friendliness and sincerity of the orang kampung.

Most Asian countries have a long history of racial and religious tolerance with a few unfortunate exceptions. In Malaysia, we are lucky enough to remember a time of true harmony between people of different faiths and ethnicities.

She is Chinese but she has non-Chinese friends, watches Tamil movies and knew about chicken varuval even before she heard of Monk Jumps Over the Wall. I am not Chinese and only know a few words of Mandarin, but I love dim sum, watch TV dramas from Taiwan and Hong Kong and my CD collection is full of names like Wang Xin Ling and FIR.

Even among the older generation, people talk about how much better off race relations were in their time. Why didn’t things remain that way? If you ask me, the hunger for modernity as well as race-based politics have driven us apart.

Going back from the time of the ancient Malay kingdoms right up until the beginning of the 20th century, most of our people lived in villages. After we started modernising and more people moved to big cities, they lost touch with their roots.

As more of us got used to the way things had become, we just accepted it. I’m not optimistic but I do think there’s hope. Anyway, it should be known that there are many like her who can remember a better time and wish our country had taken a different path. Maybe it’s not too late after all.


You can view the online version here

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Wongs watch Sivaji, The Star, 27 Dec 2007

Original article

I enjoyed reading your Sivaji experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching it- watched it twice actually.

What I enjoy so much about Tamil movie going experience is actually what you have captured.

The merry of being with family, the background cheers, claps, whistles (all in controlled and not rowdy manner).

I was in Adelaide not long ago.

Got a chance to watch Ghajini (If you have not seen it-I will highly recommend it-fantastic Surya & Asin combo-another boxoffice).

Thinking that moving going experience will be subdued here-I was prepared for a quiet & tame affair.

But what I saw was totally opposite.

The theatre was full-with Indians-wonder where they all came from-because you don't see that many Indians in the streets of Adelaide

As the movie started, the youthful group in the front row started to dance; the whole theatre was a riot of cheers & claps & whistles.

The whole experience was great & more vibrant from one I felt in any Malaysian cinema.

At interval-there was 15 min break.

Every one left the hall.

Outside you could buy hot tea, coffee, Indian snacks-vadai etc and even cold beer.

The movie resumed after the break and the excitement never went down.

And I was told the actual experience in Tamil Nadu is far greater with fire crackers outside the cinema, prayers, coconuts being broken, huge gigantic cut outs of super stars.

Dr Sekar Shanmugam


Dear Ms. Wong

When I read your article on Saturday morning, I was beaming with smile from ear to ear, from the first word till the last. It is very heart warming to know and realise chinese and malays do watch indian movies. What you did, as to boldly venture into TGV to watch Sivaji, The Boss was an act that showed a truly Malaysian culture. Kudos to you and your family.

With kind regards, Alison Banu


I read with amusement your article on the 'Wong watch Sivaji' and it was definitely an amusing read in an otherwise 'quite boring' Saturday Star paper.

Nothing like some good humour to keep me up on my toes on a very demanding day ahead!

Keep it up and it's good to note that there are still people who value family outings!



I came across your article in The Star days ago. I realized that I am not the only chinese guy in the cinema for a Hindi movie, namely the Sivaji...

I did my watching in Ipoh Parade out of plain curiosity. The movie claimed to be of the highest budget and gross in indian movie history and I
wish to know how and where they spent the money on. The other reason to encourage such an odd choice is so that I stay awake for the night and I will be drowsy and
easily fall asleep the next day when I got onto a ten over hours flight.

The ticket cashier for that night was an indian girl of mid twenties. I can still remember her expression when I made my choice for the movie. Her first reaction was: Hey are you sure you are watching this?

I replied spontaneously: Is there any reason why I shoulden be watching this? The indians watch HwangFeiHong and Jackie Chan too. I jokingly added: This is Malaysia, the goverment is always promoting muhibah and now I am practicing it. Upon hearing that, the malay colleague next to her giggles and she told me she was proud of me watching movies of her race. Both of them burst into laughter when I walked away and that confirmed me as the very few chinese who have watched Sivaji. After the first few minutes of screening, I was dismayed learning that I need to live through long hours without any subtitles. I was all alone, trying hard to guess myself through the movie. The stages are flashy, beautiful girls compliment the scenes; the music is everything opposite of the chinese's. I came to realize that the majority of the budget was spent on the psychedelic dreams of Sivaji.

It was a pure experience, both of the exotic visual art and the hardship of trying to understand someone's language that is illiterate to you. It also broke my perceptions of the reoccuring props and scenes usually seen in Hindi movies: the snake pit, the hide and seekin the bushes whenever a song is played, heroe being tied with the the dynamites on his body and just in time to do the rescue in the very moment. On other hand, I do notice that some elements were passed down.

At least the smash and knocking sound effects of the fighting scene still remain to this generation.

Kersing, Ipoh


Dear Alexandra,
I just read yr column in Star today. U r really Malaysian in depth! If only all Malaysians could do the same and watch movies of diffirent hues and languages. I for one watch many language type movies even though my mother tongue is Tamil. May the gods follow u always in all that u do.

Raajan Ahnantha

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quaint little hamlet, 29 September 2007

Original article

Never thought Karai would be featured in the papers.

I had the privilege to be acquainted with Karai when I was involved in the design of the new railway bridge across Sg Perak between 1999 and 2001.

There are these little gems of small quaint towns here and there, where every one knows each other and the pace of life not hurried. In my profession as a civil/bridge engineer, I am lucky to have experienced some of them.

I worry that these towns will not retain their character for another generation or two. We have a trend of urbanisation and the replacement population of these small, out of the way towns continue to be attracted to the bigger cities.

I envy that you can easily establish a base in Karai should you wish to. I can't - my family's roots are in Pudu and Sentul.



This is Evelyn here at her 50's.

It was amazing to come across such article all about Karai.

I was born there and it was my nest until when I was at the age of 19. Upon completion of my Form 5 studies, I decided to leave Karai, my hometown for some ventures.

There are probably 4 rubber stalls in Karai, two of the stall son was my primary school classmate. One of them has the surname of Goh and the other is Ng.

Feel wonderful to read the article and ancited to drop you a word of appreciation.

You have a good day.