Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Vision 20/20

Imagine clear vision 
the moment I open my eyes
No more fumbling
for my prescribed glasses 
Painless refractive surgery 
is all I need
It's very safe, said the eye specialist
but you'd need to sign this disclaimer form 
for Lasik complication first

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Delivering an Eulogy is hard to do

When my husband first met me, he said I had verbal diarrhea for I could not stop talking. I would say anything whenever a moment of silence found its way around me. I spoke because I was uncomfortable with silence. It made me feel awkward and nervous. Silence was a torture and wrong in so many ways.

That was my past. These days, with three happy little monsters, silence is all I crave. Something I only get when they are asleep and that's when I start jabbbering away in my virtual world.

Never once I thought that my rambling would have touched someone so deep that he would ask me to deliver an eulogy. I didn't think much of it and agreed because I wanted everyone to know how beautiful my aunt was right to her last breath.

I met my aunt Dilip sometime in the year 2000. My husband, then my boyfriend wanted to introduce me to her. She was the first to embrace me into his and her family. I still remember the warmth she showed me. She didn't ask much questions, she just hugged and made me feel very welcomed. I knew instantly, I liked her very much. She was very lovable, approachable and full of emotions. A beautiful social butterfly that never let anyone feel out of place. 

Her hearty and contagious laughter never ceased to entertain us. No matter what life threw at her she always stayed postivie. She is what I like to refer to as a Chardi Kala person. Always in high spirits and blissful even in trying times; as a sign she was fine with whatever God willed for her. 

What inspired me most was her ability to always smile and laugh despite her battles. Her ability to knock depression out of her door and spend her every moment being surrounded by loved ones. Her words to me couple of month back "I feel that the little time I have left, I am going to enjoy every moment of it and I don’t have time for depression, for God has given me a life to live, so I am doing just that! Therefore live, love, forgive, forget, enjoy and laugh. That is exactly how many remember her till her last few days. 

Despite being sick, she never turned anyone away. She always made room and time for others. She had even put up a note outside her door, urging visitors to wake her if they drop by unannounced because she felt bad missing out on the opportunity to meet some family and friends who came to visit her in the hospital and left without seeing her because she was asleep. That’s a gem of a person, who despite being in pain still cared for others and made them feel appreciated for taking time off their busy schedule to visit her. 

She may not be related to me by blood but we are connected to each other in so many ways. She is my father in law’s sister, my mother in law’s sister, my husband’s confidant, my children’s grandmother and so much more. She has touched so many people's hearts with her beautiful, loving and gentle soul. Although she is not with us today, her memories will live forever. Her lessons will be cherished by me forever. I will always remember her embrace and her beautiful hearty laughter. Forever, Aunty Dilip.

That was my eulogy. Writing it wasn't hard but delivering it was so difficult. My voice was caught and I struggled to form words. I paused too many times to calm and control my tears. I dared not to look up for each time I  did,  I saw teary eyes and it made my eyes blurry. 

There was so much love and pain in that hall. There was so much silence and the only sound audible was my quavering voice trying to deliver an eulogy.

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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Community football (& Supergirls recruitment drive)

Sunday 18 October turned out to be yet another hazy day to be training outdoors. After a whole week moderate haze readings, (Yes! Breathing fresh air in my country is becoming rare) we didn't have the slightest inclination that the day would have turned out bad (schools had to be shut the following day because the air quality index reading went from moderate to unhealthy). 

It may have not been as bad as FISA tournament but once again we were exposed to unhealthy air. Luckily, the organisers, Premiere Skills were very informed and wrapped up the football clinic ahead of schedule. 

Premiere Skills (PS) Malaysia is community development project. It uses UK's largest culture export i.e. football. They provide basic training and certification to interested participants whom in turn will give back to the community what they have gained, through football.

On Sunday at Sunway University, the volunteers who happened to be all females, had to put to practice all that football skills they gained over the course of four days. 
The programme (Introduction to Premier Skills Women training course) is one of their four pillars of Premiere Skills Malaysia community development project. 

Supergirls were thrilled to be part of this and had a wonderful time being coached by these ladies along side Supergirl's own coach. 

UEFA Women's Development Reps and former Switzerland Women's Head Coach, Beatrice Von Siebenthal was also present. She has shown interest in Supergirls and would be attending their training session this Saturday 24 October.

We have already bagged an assistant coach who has agreed to assist Supergirl's head coach Patrick. He has been doing a wonderful job with the girls and has brought many victories but as the number of Supergirls players are swelling and we will be recruiting* more, Supergirls needed an extra hand. 

She, Leila Chua from Hamburg, Germany has played football with a local club called HEBC when she was 12 years old. She has been (on and off) playing football for about nine years. 

After her return to Malaysia, she found it close to impossible to continue playing football. Over in Germany and most European countries, you would easily find many girls football team. They are passionate about football regardless of gender. Every community has their own club and they have leagues for all ages and levels for girls and women. The same cannot be said for Malaysian football scene. So since there wasn't much opportunity to play football, she got herself a football license and wants to coach an all girls football team.

Having a woman coach for an all girls football team is an asset because she can be the source of inspiration for these young and eager footballers. She can also impart her knowledge on what to expect in a male dominated sport.

*Supergirls recruitment drive will be taking place at SMK USJ 4:
  1. 14 November 2015 Saturday between 3-5pm
  2. 13 December 2015 Sunday between 3-5pm
  3. 9 January 2016 Saturday between 3-5pm  

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The worst kind of disease

She sat at the corner of a crowded bus stop. 
Disheveled and disorientated. 
"I'm sorry but why is everyone looking at me?", she cried 
"This isn't a public toilet you freak", someone ridiculed. 
" Leave her alone! She's got Alzheimer's, her savior screamed.

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Live on national television Bella NTV7, addressing vehicular heatstroke in Malaysia

This would be my second time being on live television. The first was with my children and we tackled a necessary topic; 'How to deal with competitive parents, when winning is not everything'. It was interesting and fun because I had my kids along and there was no space left in my already-working-on-hyper-drive brain for being nervous. I aced the show, yes I did.

Taken during live show on Oct 12, 2015

Yesterday, (12 October 2015) I was at the same place with the same host but without my kids. 

Unlike my first interview, this time I was involved in the production of this segment. Personally met up with the producer, pitched him my idea and a week later, I saw my words being used by the host, my suggested video being played on their social media platform and me speaking live to a big audience from their studio.

With the lovely host
I have been very vocal about vehicular heatstroke since 2013. It was a wake up call when I had a brush with it. From that day on, I knew I had to share about it because forgetting your child in a car can happen to anyone.

Luckily my friend Rakhee, a paediatrician felt strongly about it and joined me on this show. Her medical input was very valuable.

Although there are not many deaths reported due to vehicular heatstroke in Malaysia, I still feel this under recognised risk needs to be addressed. There isn't much being discussed in local scenes. In fact the word vehicular heatstroke is foreign to many and only emerges on some Malaysian websites whenever a death related to a child being forgotten in a car.

Do we need to wait for the number of deaths to reach a certain number before the authorities take it seriously? Are we going to let the deaths of *four children (all under the age of five) be in vain? Aren't we suppose to learn and do everything we can to prevent it? It is preventable.

*I wanted to compile and make comparison of how many times this has happened in Malaysia and based on the information I managed to gather from various online new reports, four child deaths (all under the age of five) due to vehicular heatstroke since 2012.

In Australia, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle and the specific law is available in 19 states in the United States. They have campaigns and local government community kit awareness. They have recognised its danger and have been taking preventive measures to make sure it does not happen to their citizen.

In Malaysia, of course we have a law but it is not specific to leaving a child unattended in a vehicle but it still applies and if found guilty, the offence under Section 33 of Child Act 2001 carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or two years in jail or both (Bernama)

My point is, whether you are aware or not of such laws and incidence happening around the world, losing a child because of negligence is the worst kind of pain there is. Heck, losing a child is already painful, imagine losing it because you thought it was safer for him to stay in the car alone while you dashed out to run a quick errand. Even worse, because you forgot your child was in your car when you locked it and went away, for hours! 

That was the highlight of the show: Recognise it, believe it is real and don't be fooled into thinking it can never happen to you.

Once you recognise this problem and accept that it could happen to the best of parents or care takers then you can work out a coping mechanism to ensure it never happens. Taking care of children is a job and every job comes with its own sets of hazards.

I managed to share some essential tips on air but 15 minutes is so little for what I had to say. I shan't waste my time repeating tips which are widely available from many websites like Kids and Cars that provide a lot of tips on children around automobiles or those I shared on Bella (2015) Episode 199, NTV7 available at Tonton TV. 

I would though appreciate if you could carry on reading. There are some clever tips that has worked for me and it might work for you too.

Rule number one, believe it can happen to you. Once we have established that here are some other tips to help you

Safety tips:

  • For toddlers, teach them to open car doors. I know this sounds dangerous but I have worked with my three year old. She is aware the dangers of opening a car door while it is moving. She knows she can only open it when the car stops and when I remove my seat belt. She is able to push back the car lock and kick the door open with her feet whilst being strapped in her car seat. She then screams for me. We have done this numerous times. It was tough in the beginning because SUV doors are heavy but she has been successfully opening her own door for close to a year now.
  • Be nosey. Call your spouse or whoever that is responsible of transporting your child to places she needs to be. Be sure you have all the necessary contact numbers.
  • Be like clockwork. Have extreme regularity. This way when your child is late or isn't where she is supposed to be you can start being nosey and call everyone in your list.
  • Make sure you tell your child's care taker, school, teachers or whoever that deals with your child to always bug you if your child does not show up.
  • Look before you enter your car, look before your lock. Just practise it.
  • Always keep your vehicle locked and get house guests to do the same. Young children are very curious and may end up locking themselves in it. Remember it takes as little as 10 minutes in a heated vehicle to cause major damage to a children
Sometimes we are tempted to leave our children in the car for a quick errand. I am always tempted because it is so much easier for me to walk into a gas station and pick up a loaf of bread compared to taking my kids who would always, always end up buying something. I can't blame them because every no good snack is purposely placed right to their eye level. Who wouldn't get enticed to buy it? 

Doing so leaves a wide opportunity to car hijackers and kidnappers.

A couple of years back, I managed to get into a car with a baby and five year old. I had to because it was obstructing my (car) exit, my numerous frantic honking brought no adult to claim the car and I was in a rush. My intentions were to move the car so I can easily reverse out. After driving off in my car, it occurred to me I could have easily drove off with the other car and the children in it. How scary is that? 

Just so that you know, the car was locked but the five year old unlocked it for me after I managed to convince him. So think and look before you lock

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Sunday, 11 October 2015

Supergirls football at First International Soccer Academy (FISA)

Haze. It has became an annual problem for us. Year by year it only seems to be getting worse. It is turning into a losing battle and many are beginning to accept it as they go about with their daily life.

Thanks to the burning of Sumatran forest, we no longer have clear blue skies. It is blanketed by a thick layer of smog, choking us and depriving us of fresh air. 

The beautiful orange sun, looked like a rare full honey moon. Yes! I was able to stare at the sun with my naked eyes and its glare wasn't strong enough to penetrate the layer of smog to command me to look away. Even the moon is no longer bright. It has gone from a white radiating ball to an amber coloured moon.

Photo credit: Adriani Hana

You have to be a fool to walk out for fresh air because the air smells like a hundred smokers blowing their cigarette's smoke right into my face. It is better to stay indoors and keep all windows and doors shut

Every year we face this annual problem and I would announce a state of emergency; a curfew where no one is allowed to go out or even stick their heads out of my windows. If we do leave the house, the kids would be rushed into the car like some prisoners, with their hands on their head holding a towel to their face. 

Unlike in the past years, this year the haze is quite unpredictable. It would be clear blue skies in the morning and at about 11am, visibility drops down to just a hundred metres. The clear sky turns misty gray like it is winter but instead of feeling the winters chill, we would be sweating buckets. 

So on Saturday when my girls were selected to play at another football tournament, we were excited but a little apprehensive because of the haze. Luckily, a heavy downpour a couple of days prior to the tournament helped blow away the smog. I even dared believe it was gone for good. 

It was a perfect morning. Clear skies and a light shower promised a good start to our football weekend. The bright green grass with speckles of silver rain was a beautiful welcome at the First International Soccer Academy (FISA) venue.
Clear day at 8 a.m.

Children in their colourful jerseys warming up to kick start the tournament and parents picnicking under shady trees was truly liberating experience compared my regimented haze survival living condition, these past couple of day. 
By noon, it got very hazy 

I jinxed it because just like in any good horror movie, my delight was short lived. Within hours after kick off, a thick layer of smog descended upon us. It blurred our visions, tickled our noses and irritated our throats but the matches continued. I felt so naked and exposed. There was nothing I could do to safeguard any of these children from it. I kept forcing water down their throats. Some decided to drench themselves with chilled water to fight the heat and that was fine too. Anything, as long as they kept well hydrated.

The sudden drastic change in the quality of air didn't seem to bother them. They just wanted to play. They were only midway through their tournament after having lost their first match against Titans 0-2 and ended with a 0-0 tie against KLYS B in their second match when it started to get very hazy. Their third match was against CIMB YFA and Supergirls were leading 2-1 right until the last minute when the opposing team scored their equalising goal ending the match with another tie, 2-2
This shot was taken at 1 p.m. & look at the blurry background

They did not make it into the finals for winning teams (which was a blessing in disguise) but we were quite glad to pack up and head back home, away from this haze. Yet, this defeat did not dampened their spirit and they are hungry for more matches. So keep watching this space if you are interested to see their growth as the first ever all girls football team under 14.
Standing; Sabrina (7), K Kaur (14), A Kaur (15), Thurga (66), Jade (31)
Kneeling; Ashley (8), Laki (10), Yasmin (93), Rania (20), Aleesya (34)

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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

When words don't come easy

I was hysterical
I was mad and I was sad
I called you for help

You immediately answered
You picked me up and you never asked why 
You hugged me while I cried

You never asked why and that was all needed.

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More than acquaintance

I have a rather peculiar friendship with a very beautiful person. She is gorgeous inside out. The kind of person who doesn't mind sharing her table and food with a beggar. She puts  the need of others before hers and believes in giving.

We became friends during my short stint playing an ambassador for a regional baby products distributor. She, a celebrity mom was friendly and genuinely interested in chatting up with me, a non-celebrity mom. We exchanged phone numbers and three years later, we are still friends. 

We don't meet like most friends do but we have stayed in touch. Always knowing what the other person is up to. I saw her when she became a first time mother, then pregnant with her second and later a mother of two. Today I met her for her third baby shower and her daughter's second birthday. How time flies.

As usual, she throws a brilliant party thanks to her besties and never fails at making sure her wide circle of friends and acquaintance are comfortable. She makes it look so easy and natural. Truly, she's a social butterfly. She is warm, beautiful, approachable, humble and generous. 

As my kids occupied themselves with the fun activities, I gobbled up some yummy food and sneakily watched the crowd. It is not always one gets to be in the presence of celebrities. I was surrounded by them and was eager to approach all of them for some selfies but had to play it cool. I am pretty sure some of them must have wondered who I was and may have been intrigued by my anonymity but I stayed anonymous. Although, I did have a chat or two with her non-celebrity sibling and parents. The non-celebrities regrouped themselves in a quite little corner close to the barista for a steady supply of good espresso.

With a warm cuppa in my hands I noticed everywhere I looked, I only saw mothers and fathers. All were busy with their parenting duties such as feeding a toddler, tying a kid's shoelace for the umpteen time and calming a hysterical child who's poodle balloon had burst and he didn't want to queue for another. It didn't matter who these parents were because when it came down to children, we were all the same. 

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