Author Archive

In the Eye of the Beholder

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s true. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Saturday afternoon I headed into our neighborhood ready to put away groceries and relax after work. Half a block from our house, I had to pull over for a free sign and I almost got teary looking at what I saw.

I raced around the corner to get home asap and as I was getting out of the car, John came outside with the kids to help with groceries. I told him to skip the groceries and just head down the street to check out the treasure I found.

He came back a minute later shaking his head. “No. Absolutely not! It’s in terrible shape!”

But I didn’t care. We all headed back down, one raggamuffin kids in a diaper and tee, the other in a backwards dress with crazy just-after-nap hair and dirty flip flops thrown on her feet.

It’s so pretty. SO  pretty.

He just shook his head and asked if their teenage son would help him get it to our garage with him. They brought it back and I ran my hand over the wood across the back of the couch. I have wanted an old blue velvet couch for as long as I can remember.

Granted, it’s really not in great shape.  The fabric is threadbare in spots and the piping is poking out of cushions.  Later in the evening, it took a good shopvac to get it cleaned up a bit.  But, it’s still just so pretty.  And it has great bones.  I’m getting all crazy envisioning re-upholstering it the same exact shade of blue velvet.  The cushions are also in need of help in a big way.

But I don’t care.  It’s beautiful. And free. Even if my husband just wants to put it right back out on the curb.

{If you like a good vintage find, had over to Southern Hospitality


The Art of nickname

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

To most people I encounter, I have a wonderfully (or not so wonderfully) difficult ethnic name. For those of you who’ve never heard (of) my name and don’t know how to say it, it sounds something like this: Sa ‘roo ja nee. Got it? Maybe? Take your time, practice a little, I’ll wait.

It’s virtually unheard of here and that makes me appreciate it so much more. My parents named me after the famed Indian poet and political activist (and incidentally, a compatriot of Gandhi’s) Sarojini Naidu. While that makes it an incredibly hard name to live up to, I still love it and say it as often as I can say it (Is this asiago cheese? Oh, that reminds me of my name Saroooojini), without coming off as a complete asshole. I don’t speak Hindi unfortunately, but I’ve been told Sarojini can mean a few different things: of the forest, or of nature, or my favorite, from the dirt grows the beauty of the lotus. Yeah, beat that, Jennifer. (I have nothing against anyone named Jennifer. In fact, I’m envious because I’m sure all Jennifers lead much less complicated phonetic lives than I do. Furthermore, I’m ABSOLUTELY sure not one Jennifer on planet earth has ever been stopped by someone who demands she explain what her name means in minute detail. “Jennifer, huh? What does that mean? Does it have a meaning?” You’ll never hear that conversation. Ever.)

Where’s Sarojini?

Most people, upon seeing or hearing Sarojini for the first time inevitably throw their hands up in fear and say, “Your name is what?” They back away, as if to say, I don’t want any trouble here. Some people are slightly more diplomatic and instead say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” They try to repeat the same sounds that came out of my mouth, this time displacing, replacing and deleting vowels and consonants like it’s nobody’s business. “Sigourney? Serengeti? Sasquatch?…sa..” It’s like their brains get scrambled and short circuit and they no longer know how to speak any form of human language. The ability to control the movements of their tongue and lips get relegated to a small part of the ancestral primordial ooze that still hides deep in the recesses of the mind. Right before my eyes, intelligent adults turn into single-celled organisms faced with two choices: slither away or evolve.

I try to simplify my name and say the four syllables very slowly and then let it sink in a bit. They nod their heads slowly in agreement. Not so bad, right? They nod some more. I make elaborate, yet soothing hand gestures like I’m conducting a mildly schizophrenic cat symphony (Shh…take it easy) and continue repeating the unfamiliar sounds, making sure to emphasize the softness of the ‘j’ in the ‘ja’ sound. I often give positive feedback (Good try. You can do this! You went to college!) to help with the process. After several attempts, most people get it. The others? The conversation usually goes something like this:

“Um, Sirachi?”

“Uh, no. It’s Sarojini.”

“Sa what?”

“Sa rooooo ja neeeee.”



“Oh.”Several moments pass. “Do you have a nickname?”

A heavy sigh of anguish escapes my throat.

“Call me Suzi,” I whisper, as I hang my head in embarrassment.

Yes, it’s true. For most of my life, everyone has called me Suzi. My parents, my sisters, my friends… everyone. My parents swear they don’t know the origins of this nickname (“I dunno…someone just started calling you Suzi”) but I’m sure they’ve got something to do with it because no one in my family has ever used Sarojini. I couldn’t even spell Sarojini until I was in the second grade (Thanks Mrs. Biederman!). As long as I can remember, I’ve been Suzi.

And while I still genuinely like being called Suzi because it feels familiar, safe and well, easy, these days I much prefer my given name because it feels real, like the real me. I started using it more and more in my late twenties and it felt good to hear it come out of my mouth, and not just see it occasionally on my passport or ConEd bill. I eventually grew attached to it and soon enough, saying, “My name is Sarojini” became as easy as saying, “My name is Suzi.” I own it now. This is me.

I know what you’re thinking: Why did you even have a nickname? I have tons of friends with ethnic names and it’s totally cool! Well, I grew up during a particular time in our history in the late 70’s, early 80’s, when children of immigrants were raised to assimilate as quickly as possible, not stand out or be different. Immigrant parents didn’t want any added difficulties for their children in a very Anglo-Saxon society and ethnic names were viewed as a hindrance to their success, not an asset. We didn’t hold hands and celebrate our differences in the 70’s. The result? Beautiful, culturally-indigenous names like Dao-ming, Vaishali and Bihai became easy-to-say American names like Debbie, Vicki and Beth. They became approachable, likable and conformist. Non-threatening. Just like you.

This practice is, thankfully, dying out, but it hasn’t completely disappeared. Listen, it’s hard to give a phonetics lesson every single time you meet someone new. Some people with not-so-easy to say names choose an alternative. If I’m not in the mood to have a ten-minute conversation about my name, you better believe I’m going to introduce myself as Suzi. I know folks without ethnic names often wonder why someone with an ethnic name would want to deny their heritage and take on a false identity, especially in this day and age. Wear your culture as a badge! It’s a post-racial society, right?! Uh, no. It isn’t, actually. More importantly, that isn’t the point. If everyone wants you to use your nickname because they can’t be bothered with the effort to say a name with more than two syllables, you eventually oblige. Sporadically, I still employ the use of my nickname and for good reason and even that gets shortened to Sooz. And besides, I can say from experience that it’s not about denying who we are or trying to be someone else. I’m sure you’ve heard some obnoxious person say, “I know that Chinese guy’s name isn’t Peter. Come on!” What those obnoxious people don’t get is that Peter didn’t change his name for his own sake; he knows how to say his name. He changed it for your sake. Now fuck off, John. (I have nothing against anyone named John, I swear. In fact…)

So, the next time you’re wondering why the Korean gentleman at the coffee shop – who barely speaks English – goes by the name of Sam, wonder no more.

*Indian is a widely accepted generic term used in the United States – and not readily used elsewhere- to describe a very large, ambiguous ethnic group and is surely part of our lexicon, but I don’t prefer this ethnic description anymore than Asians prefer Oriental. Indian can be used as a description as one’s nationality, perhaps, but it is not an ethnicity or race. Do I use it? Sure. But only with Americans. So, go ahead and use it with care. One caveat: If you call me Indian Girl, I will lose my damn mind. And not in a good way.

My Favourite Food

Posted: July 27, 2011 in malay food

My favourite food is nasi lemak.

Nasi lemak is a dish sold in MalaysiaBruneiSingapore,[1] Riau Islands and Southern Thailand. The dish is considered the national dish and a national heritage of Malaysia.[2] It is not to be confused with Nasi Dagang sold on the east coast of Malaysia or Terengganu and Kelantan although both dishes can usually be found sold side by side for breakfast. However, because of the nasi lemak’s versatility in being able to be served in a variety of manners, it is now served and eaten any time of the day.

With roots in Malay culture, its name is a Malay word that literally means ‘fatty rice’. The name is derived from the cooking process whereby rice is soaked incoconut cream and then the mixture steamed. Sometimes knotted screwpine (pandan) leaves are thrown into the rice while steaming to give it more fragrance. Spices such as ginger and occasionally herbs like lemon grass may be added for additional fragrance.

Traditionally, this comes as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaf, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce (sambal) at its core. As a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also come with a variety of other accompaniments such as chicken, cuttlefishcockles, stir fried water convolvulus (kangkong), pickled vegetables (acar), beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices) or paru(beef lungs). Traditionally most of these accompaniments are spicy in nature.

Nasi lemak is widely eaten in Malaysia and Singapore, even as a dish served in Malaysian schools. Commonly a breakfast dish in both countries, it is normally sold at hawker food centres in Singapore and roadside stalls in Malaysia. It often comes packed in newspaper, brown paper, or banana leaf. However, there are restaurants which serve it on a plate as noon or evening meals, making it possible for the dish to be eaten all day. Nasi lemak kukuswhich means steam nasi lemak is another name given to nasi lemak served with steamed rice.

malay food

Blog 1

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

My name is Chow Kar Chun, i’m studying at SMJK CHONG HWA, my hobbies is play computer games.My favorite thing is watch movie, my best friends How Wing Son, Chung Moon Hsien, Sia Ban Ming,Lau kok Hwa, Wong Jing Fang.