Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fox Vixen ... Yeah, That's Me

There I am, minding my own beeswax, soundly napping to resuscitate my appetite when I hear an impatient pounding on my door. Followed by someone leaning on the doorbell.

What on earth?!!

I am never good when I just awake so I half stumbled, crawled out from beneath the sheets and meandered drunkenly to the door.

Peeking through the tiny spyglass, I saw the distorted visage of an unfamiliar female behind the door. I say distorted not only because of the convex lenses that warps all faces into a pointy fish face but also because the woman looked really ugly with fury.

Cautiously I opened the door to ask through the latch.

"Yes, may I help you?"

"You effing biatch! You w#^re! Where's my husband?"

"Eh? What? What husband? What on earth are you talking about?"

She kept throwing one insult after another, her shrill voice rising higher and higher as her command of English sludged drearily over the same four- and five-letter words.

I could feel my confused blurriness giving way to mild annoyance. I was woken up for this??? I am going to be one cranky cow tonight, that was for sure.

"Look, you crazy half-wit. I have no idea who your husband or you are for that matter, but you are seriously pissing me off and I advise you to get away from this door before I lose my temper."

She responded by trying to stick her arm through the narrow aperture of the door to claw my eyes out.

By now, some of the other hotel guests were out of the rooms to watch the antics of the psycho. I saw hotel security and staff dashing towards us so I decided to open the door.

I happened to have my practise sword, Hakim, with me.

Once the door opened, the rather chubby Chinese woman lunged through without taking a good look at me.

The me who was wielding Hakim and settling into position.

Door opens, woman is open ... I side kicked her right in the chest into the opposite door. Then I moved forward to point Hakim into her stomach.

"Don't move. In fact, do not speak unless I tell you to. My hand might shake and you could end up with a liposuction you did not want."

Hotel security started to turn their attention towards me now, thinking I am the psycho and tried to talk me down.

I assured them I was only defending myself and I was not going to lose my temper yet and skewer her but I wanted some answers and then I wanted them all to vamoose so I could continue my nap. But I was fast losing patience and if they got in my way I was really going to let loose with Hakim.

"You. Who the hell is your husband?"

She gave some Chinese name.

"Never heard of him. Why do you think he's with me and shagging me?"

She screamed that she knew he was in Room XXX with his ... she used a bad Chinese word equivalent to a woman's part.

"Stop shouting or I might lose my grip on Hakim. Either talk softly or scream loudly when I get frightened and lose my grip. I frighten easily you know."

I looked at my room door. Right number. 

"You can see there is no man in my room other than Hakim. That's the sword's name, by the way. Has not been a man in there other than the bell boy bringing my luggage."

"You lie! Look at you! Of course you must be a fox vixen. You probably hide him somewhere! Where is he?!!!"

Wow, a fox vixen, eh? That's the Chinese slur for women who seduce hapless men, usually of the married variety. They typically look like some harlot from a bad American soap ... wait, is there such a thing as a good one? Sorry .. tangent ...

Gee, the insult has struck me so much to the core, I can feel my grip on Hakim loosening. 

"Oy, watch it! Do not know your husband and am certainly not hiding him. And what do you mean look at me? How rude! Right, call your idiot husband right now to check his whereabouts."

By now she is starting to think she's in mucho trouble and it is a much quieter woman who called her erstwhile husband on her mobile. 

I swear, all heads turned when we heard a mobile ring behind us.

It was like a scene from a farce. 

A man in a bathrobe with a woman in matching attire were in the passageway a few doors away. As he reached for his mobile in his pocket, he realised he had just been busted.

Crazy, jealous wife was so infuriated, she actually swatted Hakim as she rose from the floor and lumbered angrily towards her new target. Everyone followed except me and one hotel security staff.

I rolled my eyes and he apologised profusely.

I told him they owed me one and they better make sure I am appeased or I might sue them. And then told him to go away for now as I wanted to go back to sleep.

Of course, after I returned to the calm of my room, I could not sleep.

Such drama and excitement. It can only happen to me.

Wait a second, the cow did not even apologise to me! Ah, feck it. I rather not have to hear her strident voice or see her or her faithless spouse anywhere near me again.

And to think I stayed at a hotel today because I wanted some peace and quiet. Right.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tag Clouds Are Falling On My Brand

Have you ever wondered if you are the only one who thinks Time Inc is boring or if Taco Bells is dirty dog food?

Well, you can check if your opinion is validated by others just by checking with Brand Tags.

This website collates the opinion of visitors and provides a tag cloud of keywords that supposedly defines the brand.  Of course, this is assuming you do not get a load of crazies who go in there just to give ludicrous one-word misinformation.

Still, it is an extremely interesting tool to gauge public opinion.  

Here's one example of what you would see for Time Inc.

And for the Beijing Olympics 2008, it currently shows as 

These are just some snap shots of the tag clouds, which should grow exponentially as the site gains more awareness.  However, it would be more interesting if statistical figures were attached to the tag clouds.  But then, that would not be free as that kind of media study typically is a real money churner.

Ah well ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If You Were my Husband

I love this hilarious, but later disproved, exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor.The words may not be exact but the riposte certainly hits the mark.

Lady Astor to the famous misogynist. "If you were my husband, I would put arsenic in your tea."  To which the man replied, "If I were your husband, madam, I would drink it."


While surfing along, I came across a series of photographs on creative ways on how to kill your husband.  I thought that was rather serendipitous as just that afternoon, I was talking to a girlfriend who was terribly furious at her husband.

Her back had given out on her during a weekend holiday and apparently the hubby was at a complete loss during the hours of her incapacity and could not and did not take care of her.  To compound the "sin", he was just as helpless when they returned home. 

Her back and hip were hurting quite badly and she found herself unable to undertake the daily housework and preparation of meals.  So she asked her hubby if he could handle some of the chores till she recovered and the man pleaded weariness from work and errands he had to run.  And yet he refused to order out or go out for dinner, demanding that she still prepared his meals.

Our girl, who is no wilting violet, was furious and there has been a barrage of sarky little comments and evil looks cast at the clueless spouse.

Anyway, she was complaining violently over the phone and I could hear all the pent-up ire.  So when I found these pictures, I decided it would be a bad idea to post them to her.  

I do not want her hubby's demise to be on my blog.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Voice of God

Had lunch with an old friend who bemoaned the rising prices of property in a time when they suddenly found themselves with three properties on hand.

Having been a hausfrau for a long time, the prospect of having to return to the workforce just to manage the mortgages on all three properties is a horrifying one with much dramatic rolling of eyes, grimaces and woeful quivering of lips.

In other words, she was having a ball lamenting her fate.

She's a funny kid with a droll sense of humour and a self-professed love of doing nothing but shopping and lunching.

Their current house is next to a church that is frequented by the yuppies and bourgeoisie. Every Saturday and Sunday, the cars line up right up to their gates, both illegally and legally parked as their owners enter en mass into the house of God to hear His word.

Usually, the devotees would drive their poshest cars to church even if they live within 15 easy walking minutes' distance. It is an opportunity to display their wealth and positions.

We made snarky gasps of amazement that they did not have chauffeured cars as that would eliminate the need for parking. Trust the nouveau riche to be clueless.

Anyway, her husband is a Catholic but she is a forcibly converted one who is more comfortable in being spiritual than religious. She occasionally goes to church with him under duress and with the promise of a nice prezzie after.

So, having to deal with a battalion of cars blocking their gate and street when they leave for Sunday brunch is a reprehensible crime to her.

She recounted how she would call the police to remove the vehicles as a Sunday routine.

I commented that it was a trite bit unChristianly, driving her into a tirade against th equally hellish behaviour in blocking their way in and out of their own estate.

I jokingly said she should just take a loud speaker into the church. Get her husband to tome in his deep, authoritarian voice,

"Hark, would the driver of vehicle no. XXXX please remove your car from the gates of heaven. Amen."

Which would prompt some to declare they heard the voice of God and others to start jotting down the numbers so they could buy lottery.

She piped in that some might even burst into hallelujahs.

It was two rather hysterical women who rolled out of the restaurant for some coffee and cakes.

I am sure we are driving straight to hell after this.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chicken Fillets in a Bag

I have truly surreal conversations sometimes. There we were, 10 women in a quiet studio late at night. The class had barely started when a student put her hand up to ask a question.

"How do you do that thing with your chest?"

"I beg your pardon????"

It turned out that quite a few of them had been struggling with isolating their pectoral muscles from their shoulders. We spent the next 15-20 minutes working on the mechanisms and drills when the same inquisitive student suddenly burst out, "It's because we have no chests, isn't it?" in frustration.

After assuring her that it was not the case, as blokes can do that and most of them did not have boobs, they started an assault of really personal questions.

"Are you wearing a bra?"

"What kind of bra do you wear?"
"How come you can do that if you are not wearing a push-up or paddings?"

"You don't ever wear padded bras, do you?"

"What kind of bras should we wear in order to do that?"

"How come the water bra I bought does not help me do the chest pops you do?"

Next thing you knew, we were having a tutorial not about dance techniques but about falsies.

Now, most of these ladies are mature, slightly conservative and very, very Asian. A few of them are medical doctors and we immediately dismissed the idea of breast implants as way too drastic an option.

I am not sure why they thought I would be able to shed light on headlights augmentation. Most of them had seen me in the altogether when we had to go to a Japanese bath together once. However, I was so nonplussed by the turn of the conversation that I started imparting some third-hand information on falsies.

Those gel-like fillets are better options if you stuff them into a push-up bra.

Why not the water bras?

Don't think those work as water is a live element and it can go in different direction with a buoyancy not seen in breastuses terra-firma, I think.

Oh. What about having serious sponge paddings?

I suppose those could work but my friends tell me that they do not bounce as naturally.

Your friends? Dancers too? What do they use?

Oh, my drag queen friends. They use condoms.


Er ...

I now had to explain my friends' unusual falsies experimentations. 

Apparently, water in balloons do not work. They burst too easily and you look like you were leaking milk from one breast. Two if you are lucky. Or not ...

Ziploc bags with water are weird-shaped and pokey in the wrong places.

Sponge paddings made your falsies look too hard and stand at attention in a bad way.

Chicken fillets are the safest option but the queens do not like them as much as you need some form of breasts for them to stick on to. So since most of them do not have moobs ... they prefer the next option.

Water-filled condoms apparently look the most realistic, do not burst as easily and feel the most natural. Don't ask. I didn't.

You wear these by stuffing them into those granny bras or full-figured bras and double-siding the edges of the bra to your skin so the condoms do not jump up and plaster across someone's face.

This works on queens and so far has not been tested on chicks.

We were in hysterics by the time I disclosed the last bit of information and much time was spent discussed the type of condoms that will be most resilient and hardy.

I am awaiting the test results from these bunch of ladies at some point.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Forgotten Sisters

The maids quaked silently at the burst of tempestuous gale that buffeted against the burnished walls of the inner palace. It hurled itself from one hapless chaise lounge before flinging its angry arms around a previously immaculate pillow, now bedraggled in the incensed grip of its captor.

Night Wind's normally perfectly-coifed tresses were disheveled and mussed from the constant running of agitated fingers through the ill-fated strands. She was unnaturally flushed. Her pale skin was a bright peach and her breathing was agitated and staccato in rhythm.

Pika bravely stuttered, "Pri ... Princess Night Wind, you do not look well. Please calm yourself with some tea. And perhaps a bath?"

Some of the other maids looked at her in wide-eyed admiration and pitying inevitability.

The wrinkled pillow flew overhead and Pika instinctively shied back as the well-padded missile hit her in the neck and rebounded with a sullen thud on the floor.

"Shut up! Just shut up and leave me alone! Why cannot you leave me alone! I do not want bloody tea and I do not need a bath! Stupid tea and baths! Is that all you have in your brains? Water?"

The ranting girl flung herself out of the chaise lounge and every single person in the room cringed. She had been on the rampage for the last hour and they wondered that she did not tire. Some of them were wilting just from holding their breaths in fear of exhaling too loudly and calling attention to themselves.

Night Wind's tantrums were infamous in the palace. She once threw a pair of scissors at a maid who had the audacity to answer back to her. Fortunately, her aim was not true or there would have been a dead servant girl carted out of the palace that night.

She paced the room like a restless, raging tiger, ready to leap and tear shreds and slivers of reluctant flesh from those unfortunate enough to cross her path. Everyone made sure to stick to the far edges and corners of the room, allowing and hoping that her fury will spend itself.

She hung her head down as staggered eruptions of searing ire puffed up the jagged fringe of her forlorn dark locks .

"How dare he? I am a princess and he turns down the chance to be with me? How dare he?" 

She tossed onto her side and stared at the intertwining leaves embroidered in gold and black on the chaise lounge. Picking at a few threads peevishly with one fingernail, she felt unaccustomed tears sting her eyes.

"Why? Why did he not want to be with me? Is home so important? What is there at home that he cannot find with me here?"

Her mind started racing as she wondered how she could make him change his mind. Did he not realise what he was turning down? 

Perhaps it would be hard at first to work in the shadows to turn her father's eye and the court's sentiments in his favour. But she was smarter than all of them combined and what she put her mind to, she always achieved. Did he doubt her ability? Did he not trust her? Why did he reject her offer? What could it mean? Why?

The sudden pivot of her head towards the door startled the maids, causing one particularly timid girl to whimper sharply, drawing a pair of glittering eyes in her direction.

"You! Get a bath ready for me. And lay out the red gown with the golden roses," NIght Wind sat up abruptly and wiped her tears slowly as a stony look of determination hardened her face.

No one thwarted her. If Bernard thought he could get away with disregarding her feelings and good intentions, he had better think again.

Dashing a quick note out on the perfumed vellum paper she had acquired from the West, she bade Pika deliver it to its intended destination.


Night Cloud returned to hear the maids whispering quietly in a corner. Perturbed, she asked, "What is going on? Why are you girls crowded in a corner gossiping?"

Pika kept her eyes downcast as she stepped forward.

"Princess, it's the Princess Night Wind. She has been in a state since she returned home. Crying and tearing things apart. It was quite frightening. Then suddenly it just ... stopped. She was shouting one moment and then when she stepped into the baths, she seemed to calm down and had some tea. And suddenly she just fainted. We were so afraid and were just going to summon the Royal Doctor but were afraid to inform the King as he is so angry at the moment."

The panicked maid stopped for breath, gasping and trying to collect her thoughts before the older princess.

"No! No ... she is just ... tired. From all that emotional break down. Do not call the Royal Doctor or inform Father. Just let her rest. We shall just watch over her. Una, go prepare some broth with the special herbs we obtained today."

Una caught the hidden instructions in the careful words and set off for the kitchens, dragging an unsure Pika with her. 

Night Cloud walked towards her sister's section of the bedchambers and sat next to her reposed sibling. Slowly, she drew her hand gently across the furrowed brow of the sleeping princess.

"Even in sleep you are troubled, my sister. Do not worry. I shall watch over you and together we will defeat the evil spirit. We have more medicine for you from Troubled Waters. All will be well. Trust me, my sister."

In her sleep, Night Wind was dreaming of a gentle zephyr that caressed her brow even as it brought the faint smell of decay with it. Her brow furrowed further, inviting a soothing smoothing from a pair of alabaster hands.


Golden Lily was quite pleased with herself. She had sent the message to her husband that the first part of their plans were in place without even the machinations of their original plan. The fates had played into their hands quite nicely, which only proved that the gods were on their side.

As she walked past the quiet peacock gardens, an assessing pair of eyes watched her scheming shadow from a quiet pavilion in the corner. A shuffling of feet drew them away from the gloating princess as a folded note came to rest before them. 


"Father, I think you are too precipitous. We must not listen to just one source of information. Perhaps we should wait to hear from Night Cloud before making a decision," the elegant pair of hands lifted the golden chalice serenely to vermilion lips.

"One source? I have heard from at least three different sources since this afternoon. Everyone has seen her cavorting all over the city with this foreigner! It is a disgrace! How can we marry her off now without bringing shame upon us?" The furious KIng glared at her through mutinous brows.

Unperturbed, the calm princess smiled gently before lifting orbs of quiet strength and aged-knowledge encased in a tranquil symmetry of quiet beauty.

The monarch felt his temper easing a little as the insistent aura of peace his eldest daughter always emanated surrounded him. Somehow, the very fact it calmed him made him slightly more peevish. How that happened every time she was around was a mystery to him. He was not quite sure he liked it.

Rain Orchid studied her father fondly as she chose her words carefully.

"Sometimes we see what others intend for us to see. It colours our perception unevenly if we do not allow the other shades to assert themselves."

The king resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her. He was fond of his eldest daughter but her constant pontification of ambiguous analogies drove him quite mad sometimes. Why could women not just say what they meant without cloaking it in so many words?

"What do you mean, daughter?"

"I simply mean that there could be more to the stories than what you are being told. How did the stories start and how much of it is true can only be confirmed by the parties involved. We should perhaps ask Night Wind directly and summon this foreigner into court to question him. But we would have to be careful as he works for a powerful company and we should not invite the foreigners' censure by reacting rashly."

"Hmmm ... but if we summon him in, everyone would think that I approve of him. Let's just arrest him and then we can question him in the prisons."

"That might work if he did not work for the local representative of one of the biggest companies linked to the Eron court. If we arrest him arbitrarily, we might invite their retaliation. We must conduct this more discreetly too or it will sully our name even more," Rain Orchid looked limpidly at her father as she smoothed her skirt across her knee.

The King tried not to show his disgruntled agreement and kept silent as he weighed his options and calculated the chess pieces.

"What if it is true, Rain Orchid? I will have to punish her as we cannot let such a violation of court rules go unanswered. You know the rules."

Rain Cloud's eyes soften with compassion as she saw the old man's fears of a life without his favourite child. Her voice was a soothing balm of soft sympathy as she offered to speak with her youngest sister.


The maids were getting worried. The princess had slept the whole day and missed dinner. She had hardly stirred except to mutter incoherently a few times, prompting Una to spoon tiny sips of tea through her parched lips.

Night Cloud sat in silent vigil by her sister. She was calm for the first time in weeks knowing that the over-long sleep was only the sign of NIght Wind's battle against the evil spirit that had invaded her consciousness. Only in sleep could she fight this most fearsome enemy.

She watched her sister's face and continued her painstaking sewing of a snuff bottle pouch for her father. A shadow darkened the stitch she was just picking through the stretched silk, causing her to start and almost prick herself.

She spun her head up to stare into a smiling pair of eyes.

"Sister! You startled me!" she breathed out in relief. Standing, she beamed and gratefully fell into the wide arms of her eldest sister. 

So warm and gentle. The familiar scent of wild orchids and cloves. She loved this smell. It always made her feel so safe and at peace. She unconsciously rubbed her cheek against her sister's shoulder and suddenly felt an unbidden sob rise up and almost tumbled onto the silk-clad limb.

She bit her lip and lifted her head to stare at Rain Orchid.

"How is it you come, sister? Not that I am not glad to see you but I am just surprised," Night Cloud started feeling a small thread of unease wheedle itself into her brain.

"Ah, I just thought I should visit my two favourite sisters. It's been far too long. And I heard Night Wind has been unwell. Is it true?"

The younger half-sibling kept her eyes on her sewing as she feared the intelligent and all-seeing eyes of the acknowledged genius among the princesses. Even NIght Wind could not compare to Rain Cloud's renowned superior mental abilities.

"She has just been over-tired recently and caught a slight cold. She just needs a lot of rest."

"Has the Royal Doctors been to see her? What medication has she been given?"

"Ah! No! I mean, no, there is no need to call for the Royal Doctors for such a slight illness. She has just been taking tea and broths as well as some steamed chicken to keep her strength up. Do not worry, sister, I am taking good care of her."

Rain Cloud narrowed her eyes slightly at her sister's down-bent head. Something was wrong with the picture. She meandered seemingly aimlessly around the room, picking up an ornament here, examining a tapestry there, all the while making a sure path towards Night Wind's bed.

"I am sure you are. You two have always been the closest of all the sisters. The years of being outcast by the others have made you two cling to each other. I have always regretted being married and away from home so early and thus, being unable to ease your years here," Rain Orchid looked regretfully at Night Cloud as she remembered the young sisters clinging to each other and sobbing from the window of their bedchamber as they watched their eldest sister carried off in the wedding palanquin.

The vision of the two frightened and desperate children's tear-stained faces haunted her for years, driving a cleaving wedge of regret and worried sorrow through her heart.

Night Cloud looked up with eyes gone soft and moist with the remembered panic of two abandoned young girls. "It is not your fault, sister. You were always kind to us and when you left, we felt as if our only friend in the whole world had been taken from us. But fortunately, Night Wind was so clever. She managed to find her way into Father's attention and charmed him into remembering us.

If not for Night Wind, we might have been forgotten all those years ago. She always said she learnt all the tricks from watching you," Night Cloud smiled sweetly and in gentle acceptance.

Rain Orchid stopped in her tracks and looked over at Night Cloud, whose embroidery hoop fell listlessly from her hands as she remembered the days between Rain Orchid's departure and Night Wind's first gueriila attack on getting themselves under the protection of their father.

As their eyes met again, Night Cloud's eyes were clouded with the remnant tears of a bewildered chid left to fend for itself without the protection of an adult. Rain Orchid's blurred with sympathetic pain and maternal regret. Her own daughters were her most precious treasures on whom she lavished all her love and attention because of the guilty memory of her two forgotten sisters.

Rousing herself, she carefully and efficiently sealed the mental painting of her daughters back into their precious compartment in her heart.

"Let us go see to Night Wind and you can tell me all about this young man that has caused such a storm in a teacup."

Copyright reserved by Raised Eyebrow.  Please do not copy or republish without permission.

Wild Horses of Home

Sometimes you find yourself doing inexplicable things. Stopping in the middle of the road because a stray rain drop on a bright red flame of the forest glistened suddenly like a diamond, throwing a seductive wink back at the lavish sun.

Why? Because it reminds you of slow summer afternoons when he took you on walks, explained what a flame of the forest was and went home to teach you how to paint one.

You almost buy an antique wooden badminton racquet that is chipped and missing its strings. As you fondle the age-smoothened handle and savour its weight and grip, you contemplate not its valuation but the value it once played in a child's joy.

You remember the first person who bought you a wooden badminton racquet and a canister of shuttlecocks. The focus on how to grip it properly in your little hands. The unfamiliar weight and desire not to disappoint. The yelling you both receive when the shuttlecock toppled one of the porcelain ornaments and shattered the lesson. The sneaking off to the back hills to continue the lesson. And then the years spent in training and tournaments.

You contemplate those days and feel a faint sense of regret in abandoning that childhood play.

A Chinese ink painting of a herd of wild horses catches your eye. Simple in composition, sure in execution. The lines are fluid. The brush control is assured. The pressure is aggressive yet the strokes are light. The manes of the horses flow in the ghost wind and the prairie is suggested.

You almost buy it and then remember you will not be home for a long time to display it. Should it travel with you and accompany you as the sand clouds that hover nebulously behind the horse in the background of this painting? 

The urge comes not from yourself but from the memory of one for whom horses hold much significance. Born in the year of the Horse, painter of horses and nothing else, collector of figurines and statues, carvings and paintings all glorifying the freedom and wildness of the desert nomads. A remnant of home. A reminder of heritage.

The painting is wrapped lovingly and you carry it with you across the seas and clouds, farther from the desert sands and wide plains suggested in ink.

You find yourself caressing the cool, jade-coloured bottle of Chinese wine. Shaped like a gourd, with a red plastic seal. A small bottle of liquid fire that used to burn and glide across lips and throat that spoke of home. Where horses roamed free and the eye could see for miles into the sky and endless horizon.

A glass or two after dinner. Sitting in the darkened grotto under the warm amber glow of a garden sconce. Fanning himself gently as he drank his wine and smoked his pipe. Banished from the house which did not abide the pungent smell of tobacco, the only companion a skinny young child seated by his side.

Tall tales and short hugs. He was not a very physically demonstrative man but then again, none of us were. But he showed his affection in myriad ways. Usually in ways that got him banished from the house.

A little baby pipe so you could smoke by his side. When you were all of six. 

A tiny snifter so you could share his wine and whiskey. 

A set of rice paper and Chinese ink and brushes so he could teach you to paint bamboos and horses.

A badminton racquet and shuttlecocks so you could break things in the house. Which got both of you banished from it.

Much time was spent in that garden. Smoking. Drinking. Painting. Not the most wholesome activities, perhaps, for a young child. 

But he also taught the art of self defense, the love of Chinese literature, music and poetry from the motherland, how to play the violin (badly), ancient medicine, folklore, the art of war, honour, loyalty and sacrifice for your fellow comrades during these sessions in the garden.

You wonder sometimes if he realised you were not a boy as he never treated you differently and imparted lessons that seemed more appropriate for the oldest male child of the family instead of the tiniest female child.

Perhaps it is because you were so tiny and frail that he wanted to make sure you were strong enough to stand on your own two feet when he was not around.

Hit first. Ask questions later.

Never let anyone touch you without permission. And only give permission to those who will not use it to stab you.

Never harm the weak and helpless.

Always defend the weak and helpless.

Never hit a woman. 

Only fight when you need to. A gentleman learns to fight with words before fists. But when in doubt, deck the bugger.

Protect your own.

When overwhelmed, hit to stun, then run.

Never show your strength till the last moment. Then go for the kill.

The killing stroke can only be made once. If you miss, you lose.

Before delivering the killing stroke, remember that the enemy is someone's child and parent and think if it is still deserved.

Fight fair. Fight smart. If you have to fight dirty, make sure no one finds out.

To get rid of the problem, kill the root.

He loved his idioms and quotes. Old-school, old tales. Afternoons and quiet evenings spent listening to him spin stories. Favourite tales of long lost heroes sacrificing their lives for their home and hearth; heroines who infiltrated enemy lines at the risk of their virtue and lives; families who devoted their names in history to fighting to the last child in defense of their country.

He loved epics detailing the bravery of knights and warriors. Genies and djinns who beguiled, guided and misled. Princesses who did not wait for rescue but used their wiles to bedevil their captors.

You hold the newly-purchased bottle of wine and painting of his birth sign close to you. It is time to make a journey. Back to a quiet garden under the silent skies. A row of aged stone and plaster and grass. To place a painting and toast some wine across the slab where his name is inscribed.

To leave a note written in Chinese ink. On rice paper and sealed in red.

"Dear Grandpa

I come again to sit with you. To speak of tales of heroes past and admire a fine painting of the wild horses of home. 

I come again to drink some Chinese wine with you. To sprinkle some across your garden so you can enjoy it when I am gone.

As I have enjoyed every moment we had.

These I leave with you till I come back again. "

It is time to make a journey.

* The painting featured, is of course, not the one by my grandfather or the one I bought.  If only I could afford a Xu Beihong!  It is instead, one of the masterpieces of one of my most admired artists, entitled Liu Ma or Six Horses.  For a rather good article about Xu Beihong, you may check out 06/the_voracious_g.html.

Copyright reserved by Raised Eyebrow.  Please do not copy or republish without permission.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Geriatric Knight

Asians seem to like the word "killer". I noticed that.

There is the Auntie-killer, which is apparently a male who can charm any and every older lady.

There is the young men-killer, awarded to an older femme fatale whose seductive charms give young men the sort of wet dreams and cougar fantasies their mothers dread.

There is the little sister-killer, usually a young man with the hunky looks and boyish appeal that little girls and young teens fall for.

Then there is the old folks-killer.

Which is apparently what I am.

Many of my friends and students have noticed this phenomenon and gleefully informed me of the diagnosis. For some reason, old people like me. I am not sure why but it happens so often that even I cannot deny the charge.

After a few days of incarceration from over-zealous doctors for the flu, I was sick (sic) and tired of not doing any real exercise. 

So I got suited out in some yoga pants, sports bra and tank and clipped on my iPod for a brisk walk around the block to work off some energy before dinner.

Head down and not paying attention, I almost got off at the wrong floor and had a bit of a start when an old man poked his head through the doors.

After a few flustered moments and embarrassed apologies, we withdrew to different corners of the elevator.

I heard his voice through the pumped up tunes of Breathe. And his lips were moving as he looked at me. Oh darn. He wants to speak with me.

Sighing inwardly, I withdrew one ear-phone and smiled at him.


"Did you get a fright just now?"

No, I just tend to gasp loudly, and start backwards when someone almost head butts me, for no reason.

"Just a little. It's alright though. I should have been paying attention."

Smiling, I made to replace my earphone but he started speaking again. Sigh.

"So, are you going to exercise now?"

"Yes, I am."

"At the gym?"

"No, I thought it was such a nice day that I should go out for a walk before dinner."

"A walk? Where? Outside the hotel?" He looked startled and alarmed.


"That can be dangerous! You should be careful as it can be dangerous for a young girl like you to go out walking on your own."

Young girl? Yo, you need better glasses, mate! And we're in the middle of the tourist belt. And it's not even 6pm yet. The sun's still up!

"Er, that's quite alright. I'll be careful and it's just around the block. I shan't be walking too far away. But thank you for your concern." 

Bright, beaming smile and Jedi mind trick to end conversation.

Damn flu messed up my Force. He smiled in response but still looked troubled.

The doors opened and quickly bidding adieu, I hurriedly walked out of that awkward conversation.

And heard his voice behind me saying, "No, no, it's too dangerous letting a pretty, young girl like you walk around on her own. I shall accompany you. Or we should ask hotel security to assign someone to escort you."

So I ended up taking a very, very slow walk, escorting a sweet but terribly misguided 70-year-old man on a walkie. 

He was awfully earnest in protecting me but the end result was that I had to physically aid him halfway through the walkie as his legs gave out. We had to stop for a coffee to revive him before we could return to the hotel. He was so knackered, I got worried and had to make sure his driver and wife arrived before I returned to my room. I also had to spend some time turning down their dinner invitation without hurting their feelings.

I ended up being late for my own dinner. And had to explain to my dinner mates the reason why and endure the entire evening being teased and addressed as the old folks-killer. 

Sigh. I have the worst luck. Being an old folks-killer is tiring.