Friday, August 27, 2010

It's a Book by Lane Smith (Video)

I so so so lurrrve this video I saw on Facebook and thought I'd share it with you too.

Fun for Kids in Malaysia by Lydia Teh

Title/Author: Fun for Kids in Malaysia/Lydia Teh
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
No. of pages: 360
ISBN 13: 978-983-3845-48-4
Price: RM29.90

In a nutshell
So. You have a bunch of hyperactive kids who become even more hyperactive during weekends and school holidays. What do you do? No no no. Turn off Astro. Whip out Fun for Kids in Malaysia and get the entire family outta the house, and explore Malaysia.

This guidebook lists a wide range of activities for your children to indulge in and new places for them to explore in this country. Travel from the northern region right to the southern region of Malaysia and have a great holiday.

What I liked
My first thought was, 'Are there that many places for kids to go to in Malaysia?' Go through the 'Contents' section and you'll find out that there are indeed many places to go to and fun activities to do around Malaysia. At the start of each section, there are 'fast facts' about the state. Then it tells you how to get there and how to get around the area (e.g. what buses to take, or if you could take taxis/rented cars/trains and so on).

Then there's a list of fun activities that they could do while they're there. Let them be Robin Hood for a day and sign them up for archery and horse-riding, or send them off to the golf course with Dad; or if they love art, encourage them to explore their creativity in arts and crafts classes, cooking, or maybe even pottery courses. If you want undistracted shopping, there are professional babysitters who offer 'drop and shop' services in some of the shopping centres.

The 'most happening' or rather the hype of activities featured in this book is KL/Selangor. So if you happened to be living in this area, you might want to check it out and make full use of it for the coming holidays :)

You'd also find beautiful illustrations and pretty amusing quotes throughout the pages. Some of my favourites were 'In primitive society, when native tribes beat the ground with clubs and yell, it was called witchcraft; today, in civilised society, it is called golf. ~Anonymous' and 'Avoid fruits and nuts. You are what you eat. ~Jim Davis (I had a good laugh at this one haha)

This is a helpful and informative guide book that comes complete with contact numbers, websites and email addresses. It'd come in handy for parents who are always at wits end when it comes to planning for the holidays :)

It'd be better if...
An index would probably make it more user and reader-friendly.

Thank you Marshall Cavendish for the book. Fun for Kids in Malaysia is now available in all major bookstores. For more information, kindly email meili@my.marshallcavendish.com.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Found in Malaysia (The Nut Graph)

Title/Author: Found in Malaysia/The Nut Graph
Publisher: ZI Publications
No. of pages: 211
ISBN 13: 978-967-5266-13-3
Price: RM45

In a nutshell
If not for Shanon Shah who came up with this idea and Jacqueline Ann Surin who loved it and for everyone else at The Nut Graph, Found in Malaysia wouldn't be born. So hats off to this group of very passionate journalists for this great piece of work.

Found in Malaysia is a compilation of 50 meticulously selected interviews from the news and analysis website, The Nut Graph, each interviewee sharing their opinions and views on what it means to be a pendatang, the issues they struggle with the most as a Malaysian, and how much they think Malaysia has changed throughout the years. Since 8 January 2009, The Nut Graph team has accumulated almost 80 interviews that include well-known Malaysian public figures, including politicians, corporate figures, social activists, artists and entertainers. Of 80 interviews, publisher ZI Publications chose 50 to be featured in this book.

What I liked
There are just so, so many interviews that I liked in this compilation, I just don't know which ones I'd like to highlight. These stories are such eye openers. Some are candid and inspiring, some share different views of understanding a culture, some highlighting issues of gender, sexual and our political diversity.

One very common topic that touched me the most is the answers given by most of them when asked about our differences in race and religion.

One of the interviews which I liked was Ramli Ibrahim's. I like this part where he said, 'And I think the Malays have always been in between the entrepreneurial races, you know with the Chinese on one side and so on. The latter came from continents where life is more competitive and difficult. That is why indentured labourers came because the Malays were not interested, "Why should we?" And it was the bloody British who wanted to plant this and dig that [up] for their own consumption. So it's difficult now to make a shift to being tough, because it is against the grain. But it can be done.'

We're all born and brought up differently, each with our own strengths and weaknesses, no matter our race or religion. That's what makes us unique. And I think we should learn to accept and respect our differences instead of feeling inferior because of it. Plus, why keep harping on our differences? We're all Malaysians aren't we? Malaysians who 'don't have one particular root. We are Indian, Chinese, Arab, Javanese, Bugis, English, we are a bit of everything. We're not like Persians who go back 6,000 years, we're not like the Greeks. So it's very difficult to place us as a nation, as a people,' said Bernice Chauly, a poet, photgrapher, filmmaker and writer.

Reading these interviews made me realise, we Malaysians, have a myriad of experiences to share due to our differences - we are one rich and diverse society, which we could and should use to our advantage. As Jerome Kugan, the media manager for Annexe Gallery at Central Market, aptly said it, 'In a way, we're kind of lucky to have so much to draw upon. All these stories we have as a people, it's a gold mine. I just hope that religious fervour, neofeudalist intrigues and economic barbarism don't tear it apart before it has a chance.'

Human rights lawyer and activist Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who recently won the Bindmans Law and Campaigning award for his work on human rights, said this, 'The kind of society we have, strictly speaking, should be really one of the model societies in the world. Where else can you find a society that, although we have all been brought together, we have not all melted into each other? We still have our heritage, we still have our culture.'

Despite our differences in views and opinions, we share one thing in common - the vision of the ideal Malaysia - one that is peaceful, united and able to embrace diversity. Like most Malaysians interviewed here, I long for the ideal Malaysia...

I hope these interviews would inspire you as much as they've inspired me.

Happy Merdeka to all.

Thank you ZI Publications for this book. Love the design, the way you compiled the interviews, and definitely the paper material. Publishing a book is not an easy task, what more one that is of good quality, and I think you guys have done a marvelous job.

My verdict? Perfect 5. This would also make a good Merdeka read.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tapai by Hishamuddin Rais

Title/Author: Tapai/Hishamuddin Rais
Publisher:
ZI Publications
No. of pages: 266
ISBN 13: 978-967-5266-11-9

In a nutshell
Tapai is a collection of 40 stories of Rais's adventures in less ventured, non-typical touristy places, in search for delectable food and free alcohol. Said he, "As a seasoned traveller, I prefer to eat and drink well than to pay expensively for snoring." It's difficult to summarise Tapai in a nutshell, as this book is about alot of things - yes, food as its main idea, but it also carries various meanings beyond food.

Tapai brings you from the nondescript streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to soup kitchens in Tokyo, Japan; from celebrating Christmas in Bangladesh to meeting the Darai of the band that accompanied the raising of the Jalur Gemilang on Merdeka Day. Yep, this book is not just about Rais satisfying his gastronomic desires, but it's also a collection of Rais's experience with food and culture from all over the world.

What I liked
The author's wit, honesty, sharp observations, humour and sensitivity made this collection of stories such a joy to read. He draws his experience from his travels and pens them down vividly. I learnt a whole great deal about authentic Malay food more than ever before. It was after reading 'The Man from Belacan' that I found out, belacan-making was that tedious! It took this lady, Mak Cik Rajiah, with guidance from her mom, a couple of years to perfect this art! Oh and not to mention my learning of tapai in 'Sign of the yeast'. My first encounter with tapai was last year in one of the Ramadhan bazaars. Because I've never seen it before, it caught my attention. Without hesitating, I got one for myself, not knowing at all what's in it. I do remember asking the abang, if I could eat it right away or if i have to pre-heat it or cook it before consuming it, and I remember liking it. Now, thanks to Rais, I have now a deeper appreciation of tapai. (If only I could taste an authentically-made one!) Did you know that there are certain rituals that must be followed when making tapai? *wink*

In 'Wedding bawls', Rais also tell us about the long-forgotten Malay food and traditions pre and while Raya - like Hari membantai "that has been subverted by 'daging kotak', imported beef from India", the vanishing of the announcement by the Penyimpan Mohor Raja-Raja Melayu - and the 'gotong royong' that takes place for kenduri kahwin (weddings) that has been replaced by a new culture - the caterer (You'd be able to get their name cards on the table you're sitting at).

I had a somewhat different dining experience in Tokyo though. Rais mentioned Tokyo diners are "dead silent" but the places I dined at, they were mostly quite a talkative bunch. I guess it depends on which district of Tokyo you're in? If I'm right, the "legendary pasar ikan of Tokyo" the author was talking about is called Tsukiji. (Which makes me wonder...why is its name not mentioned?) One thing though, from what I gathered, it's rude to eat while you walk. There are signs in some of their food stalls which 'suggest' you to eat while standing/sitting in front their stall.

Rais's stories make me want to explore every part of Malaysia to try every food he has tasted. Now, if someone could tell me where can I try a plate of mee pisang and a cup of janda pulang....and what's this gulai lemak tempoyak lampan jawa that Rais wrote so fondly of??

PLUS, can someone tell me exactly where this 'restaurant with no name' is? I'd really want to try some Acehnese food!

What could have been better
Some of the pictures were kinda small! :( Such a pity, really....and...it'd help if there's a glossary. This is such a great book for non Malaysians to read too.

My verdict: 4/5
**Burp** Full & satisfied!

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