The Wisdom of Parties

Women and parties are like fish and water. Or maybe, is it more like the bird and the skies. Lame.
I know, I know! It is like sambal belacan and ikan kering. No?

I foresee this coming February to be my party-happy month. There are 3 swirling in my head right now –

A) A wrap party for the JALAN crew
B) A farewell party that GAB is kindly and exuberantly organising for my departure
C) A Celebrating The 30’s party at D’s house possibly – women only!

Like writing, all 3 has distinct target market, and boy it has been a headache just thinking about them. With Party A, the options swayed from the typical eat-at-buffet-restaurant-until-you-burp-with-leftover-production-money type, to disco rave at Ministry of Sound thanks to the sweaty wants and desires of the male species in the crew, and to a Mediteranean I-cook-so-you-guys-better-eat ensemble at ZB’s movie-poster filled apartment. How do you make a hardworking team happy – when the range of members range from the teens to the mothers and fathers of school-going kids?

Party B is technically headache-free since I know GAB is a queen at organising such dramatic ones. Take how she organised my hen party 2 years ago at Samar. I heard that GAB, in her true legendary style, actually HAD time to go to a spa in an Indonesian island and had her hair relaxed and moisturised a few hours before the hen party, lugged the belly-dancer costumes all the way there and still make it in time – and err, VERY energetic when I arrived. And I thought I WAS the bride-to-be. GAB is still hunting for locations as of now, and kept pestering me on what kind of party I wanted. And me, well, just like my wedding video saga, I just can’t decide.

Party C was initially conceptualised as a housewarming for D’s huge place overlooking the runway, with a Retro theme. We wanted to relive the ‘function’ days where How Do I Know by Whitney Houston will be THE song that will have us girls prancing on table tops. Then, it evolved into a farewell one for me instead since I am leaving in a month, and the idea is to have just a few of us cackling good ol’ school days away. And then, as of today, Party C has morphed into a supremo gathering of celebrating the 30’s with a guest list that can form holding companies. I didn’t realise that so many of my girlfriends are women in their own rights now because when we all meet, it is just plain banter about politics and shallow gossips about this and that. The challenge is – how DO you organise a party for a noisy group of Type A’s who have travelled to the corners of Tuscany and sky-dived in the Australian skies at 20. I don’t know, because it is damn scary! I surely do not want to be leading the planning for this one.

So it will be Party C that will be the task for the month for some of us. In true women style, the planning kept on changing because hey, the flowers has to colour-matched and the cutlery has to be shiny silver – the kind that can double up as a mirror to touch up the noses. What I do know, Cooking Swatch will be summoned to draw up a halal list of mouth watering gastronomic elements. Gosh it is so nice to have friends in the party business.And he has NOT even been informed!

I seriously don’t know if Party C will happen. All I have in my head right now is a vision of a big Big BIG flower arrangement of lovely tulips and sweet lilies.

Ah women. So hard to please.

Conversations in a Parallel Universe

Here’s a conversation that happened today while walking along Bukit Pasoh with a director friend. Who also happened to marry someone I grew up with. Whose daughters also call me Mama XXX. Ok, you get the picture how comfortable I am with him.

Director Friend: So…has it been satisfying being an Executive Producer for JALAN?

Me: Ah? Hmmm….uhh…hmmmm…(look at apek walking in front)…oklah. Good hires, bad hires. Always have to remind myself I am paid to lead and therefore make the best of what I have. But I realise I work best with….(car zooms pass)….

Director Friend: So you’d do it again?

Me: Yes! JALAN Vietnam..JALAN China…

Did anyone ever think of JALAN Ellesmere Island? Now THAT would be cool eh?


Of all the scenes that I managed to go on set for the filming of JALAN, this one must be one of my favourite. It speaks volumes of the dedication involved amongst the crew – which resonates well with many others in the team as well.

This scene was slotted for Episode 6 – where Y, the host – ventures out to Changi in search of a railway that was once there sometime during the WW2. It was a reenactment of how the Malay Regiment Soldiers were tortured by the Japanese, and this scene had 2 of the soldiers running from a bomb explosion.

I did not have the likes of $2 million in my coffers to allow the director and the crew to make extended, expansive and elaborate reenactments and so they made do.To Punggol they went, camera in hand, lallang in the midst, mosquitoes in their most friendly moods, and lots of inspiration from Band of Brothers to make this scene realistic. While running alongside the actors, the crew nearly fell on top of each other, but they persevered. They took a few retakes of these – and the actors obligingly walked 100 metres back only to run in ‘exasperation’ again. My bright orange pants was in-shot in some of these scenes unfortunately,and so you may not get to see it on TV when this episode air eventually.

JALAN has seen its virgin episode aired last Sunday, at 8.30 on Suria. That was the episode on the rich Boyan heritage that was wiped out by development in Serangoon.Seven more episodes to go – before I can finally start packing my waiting bags and abandoned boxes to finally jalan to Vancouver.

Hold that moment

I am one of those lucky ones who have all the windows in the house facing a mosque. It is the atypical, contemporary Singaporean mosque – built from the thousands of contributions from the half a million Muslims or so here, along with 67 others around the island-republic.Its design is modern – with clean and straight lines contouring the edges and large, flat blue slabs plastering its facade. There is nothing curvy about Darul Ghufran, very unlike the usual Moorish architecture that often draw gasps of oohs and aahs from observers. There is nothing historical about its design too, just a functional piece of work designed by an architect salaried by the Housing Development Board, and built for 4,000 Muslims residing in good ol’ Tampines. Very Singapore, if you ask me.

There was something about it today that made me almost cry, however. I rushed home early from Oak 3 just so that I will not miss the Eid takbir with my mother, which I painfully missed during Hari Raya Puasa eve. I was fussing about in the kitchen when the first melodious sound of the Takbir came cascading out of the mosque’s speaker system at maghrib, and I was stumped.

It was a strange feeling. I have heard this same Takbir before, from the same mosque every Raya eve. On some years, I was also in the congregation takbir-ing together with the jemaah. Yet, this year the takbir seems louder,and poignant. I looked hard at the mosque’s blue minaret resting against a reddish sky, and watched the clouds slowly pass above the looming tower as the Takbir resonates God’s beauty. It was so magical. It was, as they say – a moment.

In ancient Sanskrit philosophy, reality is a string of moments sewn together. I felt that I was trapped in time when the moment of awe struck me earlier, and therefore, it did not feel like reality. It felt surreal, and I am not very sure why but I sure felt lucky.

The flat design of Darul Ghufran beat the day I witnessed the majestic dome of the Mahram Al Reza in Iran, the too-huge Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the hundreds of staircases of Sagrada Familia, the famed Catholic church built by Gaudi in Spain, the rustic Jumeira Mosque in Dubai, the very pink and pretty Masjid Putra in Putrajaya, and many others I do not instantly recall in my days of travel. I am always very fixated with how man build tall structures, as if to reach out to God – when building places of worship. This time, Darul Ghufran – in its flat, unartistic, blue sort of way – hustled history and heritage and showed that all it takes is a willowy and poignant call of the Takbir, to win hearts over. Beauty, is in the sacrifice of the material and design, and indeed deserves a moment all of its own.

Eid Mubarak to all. May you have found your moment too.

Notes From A Lost Weekend

W passed me two of his band’s discography CDs earlier at the office. The usual Friday rendesvous with cousins in town today resulted in me having platefuls of Ayam Penyet and tonnes of bad jokes spinning in my head, so the first thing I did when I reached home was to play the CDs – LOUD, mind you, in my room.

The moment I heard the first riffs and W’s basslines, I was immediately transported to a realm so familiar yet so distanced at the same time. Sang Froid is incredibly tight-sounding, and I must say that for a non-heavy fan – I became an instant one.

Right after the last song, I caught myself dragging a big box of CDs from under my bed just so that I can find CDs of my own former band recordings, many eons ago. Those jamming days were the kills! F & C, the first band I sang with – was actually a group of tired journos, me included – not of the profession, but the sometimes stupid demands of the newspaper editors we worked for. We used to jam on the 7th floor of Times House, in the same room where journalists were trained to report world affairs succinctly. For SSM (our lead guitarist) and RLB (our bassist), it was a case of getting the chords right, and nothing beats those better, not even a former DPM being accused of sodomy.

The Boon’s studio at Macpherson was our playground on weekends. Tucked in a small street in an old rundown area, Boon’s does not actually cater to drivers. I remember always, always fighting for parking space with the rest of them whenever we jam. Sometimes, when I am lucky – the guy I used to go out with then would send me there -but not until he gave a long face as a mark of disapproval that I jam at all. Ah.. sigh. One of those holier-than-thou cases, if you ask me. Glad I didnt marry him!

Our first public gig was at No.18 at Mohammad Sultan Road. That fateful night, CB, our other guitarist chose to wear a huge colourful wig. He ended up blocking the drummer with his head and in another gig, where I was absent, he could not even hear himself cos the wig was an Amazon. The night we played at No.18 we had the club packed with …well…almost all the journos from the entire ST newsroom. I am pretty sure strangers who walked into that gig must have thought we were one bigtime band with the amount of media personnel there. But alas, my offkeys would have been too much of a tell-tale that we were not.

After almost a year of jamming, we decided to record. We pooled our blood money from reporting and spent 3 days on a weekend at Lions Studio. I remembered sweet ol’ Tian who was mixing for us, and MS (our drummer)crazy antics. I shudder thinking of the tense moments between RLB and SSM abt the tracks, and me wearing a hat instead of the hijab while in the studio. Alas….the exuberance of youth.

I thank God for those sessions. Notes From a Lost Weekend was the name of the album. Call it wild, but they were defining moments of creativity, if you want to call it that. I am sure W, and many others who ever had a band would agree.

Rock on. Music lives.