Lost in Shah Alam

Posted by Lakshmi
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Do you know what happens when you're given the runaround for the 3rd time - you rant and rave and let off steam in the most expressive way you can . I'm doing it right here and now and there's no stopping me...

I received an sms and attended an impromptu hurried meeting last Friday afternoon to make arrangements for setting upa craft centre of sorts. It was to exclusively cater for a large group of Singaporean tourists who would be arriving on Monday. We were told to particularly showcase Shah Alam as the City of Orchids and thus to create suitably designed crafts.The booth was to be ready by 10am. I had only 2 days to accomplish this and that included the day of Sabbath,Sunday, which was strictly family day for me. Alarm bells should have rung by now in my head, what with the two previous similar incidences, but perhaps I deliberately chose to ignore it, hoping that I would be 3rd time lucky in Kampung Shah Alam. ( read previous articles)Oh God, how did I ever get entangled in this mess again with my eyes, ears and mouth all wide open? Fool..fool...fool...Am I getting Alzheimers or senile.......I digress but back to the story...

I spent the weekend looking for beautiful orchids to paint. I traversed the internet and library but found nothing suitable for painting. Let me tell you now, even if you are a die hard orchid lover, that orchids are meant to be admired in their natural form, fresh and beguiling with their intricate colours and shapes. They can be photographed but are not, I mean NOT meant to be painted- they look stupid and silly. I tried and you wouldn't want to repeat my mistake. Thus my weekend was spent..... sigh... waste of time if I had but known what was in store..

First, I didn't know the venue had been changed. I received an unclear message from the organiser at a quarter to midnight on Sunday to go to Mawadah kiosk at 10.00am.
For the world of me, I sure didnt't know what the heck that was or where it was or what it meant.There were no directions .

I left home at 6.30am on Monday morning with my son to PJ and rushed back by 9.30am, thinking I would be late. Quickly did the cooking for my kids and rushed back to Antan whatisname restaurant,the venue, lugging all my painted works with my daughter in tow . Found no one there, rang the organiser and she tells me that its at Galeri Shah Alam. Lugged back and drove to Galeri Shah Alam. Oh God, it was a lack lustre building with a dinghy entrance and an air of mustiness prevailed everywhere. Frankly, no one was in sight. Seeing no booth or whatsoever, I dumped my bags and paintings at a corner and rushed back home to attend to my contractor, then rushed again to the Gallery, this time waiting for the organiser to set up the booth. It was 11am . The organiser set up 2 booths but there were 3 of us! After a frantic call, 3 booths were put up at the corridor. There were no one about and the whole time I was there it was like a deserted place. It took me 20 minutes to display my artwork ( I had good experience by now ) and there was nothing much to do after that but wait for the busloads of tourists with anticipation. There was only Sheeda with a few trays of costume jewellery on my right and Aisyah with even less, to my left. I was in the centre. We were a pathetic looking bunch, sitting there in the heat with no one about, waiting for the 'tourists'....We were told that they would arrive by noon and after a prepared lunch, would have ample time to browse and buy at our booths. We could pack off by 3pm.

They arrived at almost 3pm, not your usual tourists with wallets filled with money to spend but a bunch of rag tag old religious group who I think were all retired and had nothing bettter to do but jump on a bus for a free ride to Shah Alam.

We were instructed to go and greet them at the car park under the sweltering heat and I felt so conspicuous because they were all of a religious denomination,well covered from head to toe in dark colours and I was the only odd one out, in a pair of white slacks and sunflower yellow t-shirt! I think the tourists thought so too by the surprised look on their faces. I found out too late that they were not your regular tourists but a prearranged religious group who had been invited by the local authority as part of their tour in Malaysia. It also dawned on me too late in the day why the organiser put up only 2 booths. Heck, why didn't they tell me so?,why make me go through all the trouble if I was not meant to be there? Or was I only an afterthought to fill in the space because the others conveniently backed off at the last minute?

It was almost 4pm when they came to our booth. They bought a few of the $5 - $10 beadings from Sheeda and Aisyah and that was it. They walked pass my booth without even a cursory glance. Was I invisible or was it because I was not of their race and faith?. How could a large group of people ignore a person just like that? They had to pass my booth to reach Sheeda's and not one of them even bothered a 'hi'. Their nochalant attitude dented my confidence to the core and hit me cold. It was all over in a few seconds. How long had I taken the effort to prepare for this gig and waited for them in the blistering heat with no fan?

I didn't even want to think. My legs trembled and I felt a hot flush in my face. I sat there like an idiot and put on a brave smile. Even the driver threw a sympathetic glance at me and shook his head. Waves of anger and a feeling of dejection and hopelessness washed over me. I was just too overcome with emotion and disillusionment. I lowered my head and busied myself under the table. I could feel warm tears clouding my eyes and I felt like crying.

I had spent a whole day in the hot weather, been given the runaround by the authorities , set up booth to help promote Shah Alam as a craft centre and then completey ignored by the targetted group. The organisers had disappeared and I was left alone without even a word of thanks for all the effort put in. I could have used that 8 precious hours in the comfort of my home with my children and done something useful instead of being made use of on the pretext of promoting Shah Alam as a centre of craft Ha! that's a laugh, isn't it?! What started of as a promising journey turned into a wretched and heart-breaking experience for me.

Weariness has set in and personally, the rainbow has all but disappeared from my horizon in Shah Alam . I've become extremely disillusioned with what's been happening at all these bazaars and booths and I'm pretty sure I won't fall prey to another wild goose chase anymore. I don't know whether it's the town, or its peoples' mindset or faith. Or, it could be like what my well connected friend said ' it's not what you know Lakshmi, but whom you know in Shah Alam ". Maybe I'm in the wrong place .... well, it has certainly proved difficult to make a living from painting in Shah Alam. This is the last of my foray into taking booths to sell my beautifully decorated art pieces. I would rather keep them in my house and admire them or give them away as gifts to my cherished friends. My love for painting and teaching is undiminished as ever and I do so hope I will get other opportunities to teach and paint elsewhere... I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hope you will do the same for me.. Let me know please for I could sure use some encouragement and a whiff of optimisim.

I've got a load off my chest and feel much better now...


PS : I mean no offence to anyone of any faith mentioned or otherwise and if anyone does, my sincere apologies to him/her.

Sabrina's Soiree in the Hills 2

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A cool and crisp air greeted me when I woke up in the wee hours of the morning at Berjaya Hills. Looking down from the large glass walls of my bedroom, I wished the morning would continue on...the mist was rising and I sat cross-legged on the bed with my hand cupping my chin. I couldn't sleep a wink, much as I tried. I wanted to savour every minute and second of my first overnight outing ever with my girl pals after 21 years of marriage! Now that's a record meant to be broken and I just did. yippee....

I skipped breakfast and donning my leggings and T-shirt, all of us trooped into the car and drove downhill to her farm . Two professional videoman and photographer were clicking away all our movements. I silently prayed that I won't turn out looking like a Bangledeshi immigrant doing hard labour.( sigh), I'm just not the photogenic type and next to Sabrina, I thought I always looked like the Beauty and the Beast..

Like a scene from Indiana Jones, a convoy of 4WDs were waiting to take us up the humpity bumpity hill. The ride was a nightmare to some and a jolly one for me ( I hadn't taken breakfast, you get it ?) Upon reaching the grounds,the party planner had organised a treasure hunt of sorts. I had a sinking feeling when I was given a life-jacket to wear. We trekked with our jackets on under the sweltering heat. The trek was slippery and winding and the treacherous path was a test for the braveheart. At one of the paths, the dry and brittle bamboo handbars gave away and I almost slipped and lost my balance. Praying was the order of the day, ha ha... My worst nightmare was when we reached the deep stream beyond which was a 8ft waterfall. Not knowing how to swim was already a major handicap and making a spectacle of myself shrieking and wailing for the entire forest to hear was a big boo hoo. ( aiyo, major major embarrassment for me la !) To top it all, everyone present was having a good laugh at my pathetic antics and desperate attempts at crossing the deep stream- instead of holding the rope and surging forward, I was grappling with the stupid rope and going sideways, bobbing up and down and screaming for anyone to hold my legs and arms! I was that desperate. God knows how I ever let myself into this...

In spite of all this, my team did manage to get the treasure chest simply because I was lucky to find the exact key out of a box of about 50 keys!. So I did have a streak of luck in me after all. I'm sure that streak will accompany me wherever I go henceforth.

Sabrina's Soiree in the Hills

Posted by Lakshmi
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Ha! I had the most memorable time on my 50th birthday which fell on the same day as my good friend, Puan Sri Sabrina Syed Yusoff. The theme was 'Walk the Red Carpet' and the venue was at her Berjaya Hills Homes in Bukit Tinggi. The party was fabulous, the ladies were dressed to kill and the food, of course, was 5 star quality. Ever the gracious hostess with a heart of gold, she had prepared and organised beautifully wrapped door gifts and specially crafted plates and souveniers for all invited guests (lucky me !).From the caterers to her kitchen help, everyone went home with a quality gift. Added to the list was specially baked and iced birthday cakes by Puan Sri herself. The cake cutting ceremony included 1 for her kids, Farouq, Fareena and Azareena (all June babies, believe it or not!) another cake for all the June birthday ladies present, and, of course, another beautifully iced cake presented to her by her good friend, Dato Seri Azalina, which was cut at the stroke of midnight. The endless trays of cakes and the gastronomical food soon took their toll on me. Luckily, the band did their gig well, which made me dance away about half the loaded calories. Did you know that I took part in a last minute impromptu line dancing number to the beat of Slumdog Millionaire's Jai Ho? You have to be there to believe it!. Barely given less than a few hours to practise, my hands went east while my legs went west, kept forgetting the routine and looked as silly as a goose , prancing around clueless, all in front of the other guests! It was almost 1am when I called it quits, had a shower and came to the patio for a quiet walk. Oh my God! the music fellas were playing the sixty's rock and roll and the twist and there I was in my pyjamy twisting away. (Aiyo, couldn't control myself la !) I just pray that the video guy and cameraman didn't record a mad woman of 50 rocking away in her red pyjamas at 2am! Horrors, what would they say? ( As if I care.....ha ha )

Finally, I dragged myself away and sat myself down on a hanging rocking chair placed strategically overlooking the hills. In the solitute and quiet of the early morning, I could see the beautifuly lit fairy tale like castle of Colmar Tropicale on the highest hill amidst the lush green surroundings. It was like a scene out of Cindrella and (sigh ) a 50 year old was feeling like she was Cindrella herself. I took in every sight and smell and put it to memory lest I forget. I want to be able to retrieve it again when back at home while folding my kids unmatched socks late at night! Hey! the story doesn't end here, the next day's adventures will come in my next posting.... so stay tuned...

Posted by Lakshmi
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Posted by Lakshmi
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This is a beautiful picture which I saw while browsing the net. It does give inspiration to any artist to paint it. Its the quintessential picture perfect home that I want to live in one day.... I'm sure you share my dreams. If anyone does paint this, please drop me a line in the shoutbox. PS: Since this gadget is user friendly,just about any Rani, Mei Lee or Siti can simply write in their thoughts without registering anywhere. Hope to see more comments this way la!

A mod make-over!

Posted by Lakshmi
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I had the good fortune of meeting one of my bright students, Shakeel,recently and guess what he has majored in ? - something to do with computer communications/multimedia. To tell the truth, I can't differentiate between a giga and a terrabyte , so having his help in updating my blog is a real God send. Bless him. What you see now is so much better, isn't it?- and anyone can just about pen their thoughts without having to register anywhere. Now, that's simply great!!! But in the process, I'm afraid the pictures went missing and so I have to put them up again. Soon, I think....

It's the start of the holidays again and I'm back in action, having classes for my friends and students. I'm feeling great and several of my former students have rejoined for class from where they left off.... The usual moaning and groaning about how they forgot this stroke and that pull is back again. I teach with glee!