Friday, January 16, 2009

I Do?

Our friend Muna recently got married to her long time boyfriend Nasruddin.

“Seriously, it’s about time,” Saffy said as she inspected the wedding invitation the day before. “They’ve been dating like since before Mariah’s breakdown. And I’m loving the paper stock of this invite. See, this is what wedding invitations should be like!” she said, her ample bosom heaving with approval.

Recently, another set of friends John and Sook Heng had sent out an email invitation which scandalised Amanda. “I hope this isn’t the actual invitation!” she said. In a rare meeting of minds, Saffy also refused to attend the wedding dinner and sent the happy couple a snapshot of her lying on a beach in Phuket and a note that said, “Just prop this picture of me on the seat!”

To all her friends, she complained, “Well, if I’m not even worth a hard copy invite on proper stationery, then they’re not worth the real me showing up.” Which led her best friend Sharyn to wonder to me, “Wah, like that can, meh?”

I sighed and said that weddings always made the girls weird. “Remember that time Saffy poured a whole bowl of sharks-fin soup down the chief bridesmaid’s dress because she made that joke about single women being desperate?” I said happily. “I’m just dying to see what happens at Muna’s. It’s their first void deck wedding!”

A few days later, the three of us piled into a cab to head to Bedok. “I’m not sure I understand the romance of a void deck marriage,” Amanda said, as she delicately adjusted the lace on her latest Prada outfit.

“I think we’re overdressed,” Saffy grumbled as she adjusted her bra strap. I spotted the cab driver flick his eyes back and forth his rear-view mirror. “Please watch where you’re going, Uncle,” I said.

Just then an SMS arrived from Barney Chen on all three phones: ‘I am trying very hard not to slap my cab driver who has CLEARLY taken the long way! Will be late!’

The thing I love about Malay weddings is the whole informality of it all. You usually hear the noise long before you see the actual gathering, but there’s a stream of people in colourful tudungs and sarongs milling around handsome kids clinging to their patient parents. People come and go. Struggle through the sea of aunties and grannies to say hello to the bride and groom sitting on the stage in their finest silks and extravagant make-up. Grab a plate, get served, find the nearest empty table. Sit, say hello to a complete stranger, eat, get up and go home just in time for a repeat of American Idol.

I’ve found that if I don’t dally at a Malay wedding, I can be done in an hour.

Which can be disconcerting to those used to the tedious drawn out drama of Chinese weddings with their ridiculous costume changes by the bride, business card exchanges and endless rounds of half-hearted yum-sings.

“Have we actually missed the ceremony?” Saffy asked as she stood at the foot of the stairs of block 13 and surveyed the organised chaos before her. “And is that Muna over there on that dais? Good lord, her make-up is three dimensional!”

“This humidity is ruining my outfit. We need to sit under a fan!” Amanda instructed as she stepped smartly towards an empty table. I headed to the buffet table. I’d spotted mee rebus.

The novelty of a Malay wedding kept everyone happily engaged, though at one stage, Amanda completely forgot where she was and asked one of the passing maciks if there was a chance she could get a gin and tonic.

“You know,” Barney Chen said as he idly stroked the plastic table covering and stared at the distant couple, “I’m happy for Muna and Nas and everything, but I just can’t imagine beginning my married life under a pink and white tulle tent in a Bedok HDB void deck!”

“I think it’s great. It’s so festive! And think of all the money you save,” I said.

“Meanwhile, it’s only just occurring to me that Malay men are seriously hot!” Saffy said suddenly, as she sat up to concentrate and look around the concrete hall. “Look at the beautiful eyes on that guy over there!”

“Back away slowly, bitch,” Barney warned. "I saw him first."

“How could I,” Saffy said, by now completely in a parallel universe, “with all my extensive dating history, have missed an entire demographic?”

Leave it to Sharyn to be practical when she heard about this. “She eat rendang every day, her constipation how?”

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to Basics

When it comes to technology, I’m a right old dinosaur. I’m the sort of person who will show up at a SingTel shop and ask if they’ve a phone that dials out and receives phone calls. “That’s all,” I tell them firmly. “I don’t want anything with games, GPS, music, alarm, camera, diary, calculator functions, nothing. Nothing,” I repeat.

“Please don’t tell people that I live with you,” Saffy once begged me after a particularly painful visit to the SingTel shop during which I must have looked at every single model they had and said no to every single one. The one I wanted had been discontinued. Four years ago.

I don’t care what people say. A phone is just meant to make calls. That’s all. If it does anything more than that, it’s got no business being called a phone. “It’s the same with a vibrator,” I told Saffy recently over breakfast, trying to look for an example that would make sense to her. “Why, for instance, would you want one that also has an alarm clock function?” I asked.

Saffy sat up straighter, eyes wide open. “Shut. Up. They make them with alarm clocks? Oh my God, that’s perfect because sometimes I fall asleep while using mine!”

Amanda looked up from her Hello! magazine and stared at Saffy who shifted a little under the strength of the gaze. “Do not tell people that I live with you,” she said which led Saffy to later complain privately that it’s no wonder Amanda is still single. “She’s so bossy!”

My point is, technology is not my best friend. It took me the longest time to get an iPod and even longer to work out how to load songs onto it. Of course, once I got the hang of it, I sat up all night loading music and, at last count, I had over 4000 songs on it.

But leave it to some kill-joy to rain on my parade.

“Hey, how often do you back up your iPod?” my best friend Karl asked me the other day. We were walking from Borders to lunch at Paragon. I stopped in the middle of the road, causing a little human traffic jam to swirl around me. As often happens when the conversation turns technical, my heartbeat went up a little. “Back up? What do you mean?”

Karl walked back and pulled me along. “You know, like you back up your computer so all your documents are safe. How often do you back up your iPod?”
I was astonished. Though now that I think about it, I’m astonished that I was astonished in the first place.
“How do you back up an iPod?”
“Well, I normally back up my iTunes to an external hard-drive,” Karl said. “But I guess as long as you’ve got all your songs in the library, that should be fine. You’re looking at me funny. Why?”
“I know you’re speaking English because I recognise the words, but really, I have no idea what you just said.”

“What don’t you understand?”

“Well, for starters, I don’t have iTunes,” I said patiently. “I have an iPod.”

Barney Chen said that that night, Karl rang him to wonder how I ever managed to get out of the house. “He was going on and on about how easy it was to sync this and do that, it made me very dizzy to be honest with you. He’s so butch!” Barney said adding thoughtfully, “He’s almost more of a man than that dreadful harpy he’s married to.”

I’ve not stopped complaining since then that not only have I had to learn how to load my songs, I now also have to learn how to save them. “It’s ridiculous!” I said to Saffy.

“I don’t understand why you don’t have all your songs on your laptop anyway,” she said, patently pretending that she knew what she was saying, which aggravated me even more.

“Because I didn’t want to use up all that space. I thought 4000 songs would take up a lot of space. So I deleted them!”

“Not if you just use the laptop for word processing. It’s not as if you use a lot of applications or do a lot of programming,” Saffy said fluently. This, from the girl who, until recently, was seen trying into attach an alarm clock to her personal lifestyle device, as she’s decided to call her vibrator.

“If this works, I’ll be so rich I’ll never have to work another day in my life!” she said as she fiddled with bits of wire.

Amanda says that if Saffy electrocutes herself, we’re evicting her.