Saturday, 31 December 2016

Treasuring and Toasting to a Thirty Two-Year-Old Friendship

          Separated by 10,452 km and busy with the demands of our everyday activities, my best friend and I rarely get to enjoy our heart-to-heart chats. The last time we met up was two and a half years ago. But whenever we come together again, “it’s always amazing how we seem to pick up from where we last met like it was yesterday” (her exact words).
Siew Ee and I are actually pretty different in many aspects. She is devoted to the furry felines while I absolutely abhor them. She’s a very talented artist whereas even a seven-year-old can draw a better picture than I can. She’s stylish, fashionable and has both the looks and stature of a model. I, on the other hand, dress more conservatively and am never up-to-date where fashion is concerned. She swooned over Andre Agassi back in the 1990s but I drooled over lesser known local badminton stars like Kwan Yoke Meng and Soo Beng Kiang. She enjoys green tea latte and matcha cakes, both of which I shun. Despite our differences, we complement each other well and can talk for hours without ever running out of topics. My parents used to marvel at how long our phone conversations could be, even after six hours together at school. 
     For our tertiary studies, we were both in the United Kingdom, albeit in different cities and sponsored by different scholarships. We met up and she introduced me to a dashing friend of hers (now husband), Satvinder. Upon graduation, they stayed on in the UK whereas I had to fulfil my teaching contract back in Malaysia.
Sat, Siew Ee and I at Victoria Station, London 
     Through the years, we have always kept in contact, even before the era of Facebook. Technology has, of course, made things much easier. I can still remember how I excitedly struggled with my first e-mail in 1996, which was to Siew Ee. Every time she returned to Malaysia for a visit, we would make it a point to meet up, regardless of how short a time we had. There was once she was back for her beloved grandmother’s wake, and even at such a difficult time, we managed to sneak out for tea.
     I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and falling in love, first, with Arianna, and later, with Arisha as well.
Meeting 6-month-old Arianna in June 2010

Meeting 6-month-old Arisha in December 2012
Siew Ee’s two angels are very different in character but they love each other to bits, and that kind of reminds me of the bond I share with their mama. We love and accept each other, warts and all.
     Two days before 2016 ended, Siew Ee and I were reunited for an afternoon. She was at my hairdresser’s for a perm. Oblivious to everyone there, we were chatting, giggling and poking fun at each other. Later, we went back to her house, where Arianna was waiting. Arisha, unfortunately, was having a nap. We went to the nearby Petit Mary Patisserie for tea and they were both pleased with the cakes. I had such a fabulous time getting to know Arianna better and regaling her with stories of her mama.
Adorable Arianna poses with our food

Cheeky little angel obliged me when I told her to lick all the cream

Auntie Ai Ling and her little darling

     When it was time for me to drag myself away from them, Arianna was clinging to me, trying to elicit a promise from me to visit her in the UK next. I will find myself missing, not only her mama, but cheeky Arianna as well. How I wish I could have spent time with sweet Arisha too!

     A bond that has been cultivated for thirty two years, and is still going strong, is not something trivial. So here’s a toast to our wonderful friendship, which I treasure dearly, and may we have many more years to come. Cheers, Siew Ee, and Happy New Year!
My best friend and I in 2014

My best friend and I in 2016

Friday, 30 December 2016

Meeting Up With A Fellow Blogger

     This last week of the school holidays has been full of meetings and activities in preparation for the new academic year. However, I was fortunate to have Thursday free and I grabbed the opportunity to schedule two very important meet-ups. Despite the first meet-up being much shorter than the second, it was momentous nevertheless. I shall blog about the second meet-up on another date as it deserves an entire post on its own.

     Blogging has helped to forge some friendships; one of it with an Ipoh lady and ex-Convent girl as well. We had been talking about meeting up one of these days. But we had both been busy with our own agenda.

     When there’s a will, there’s a way. We both agreed that we really had to set a date. So on 29 December 2016, we finally met up for lunch at O’Days in Canning Garden. It is a fairly new cafe which specialises in homemade Nyonya delights and tong sui.

     Although it was our first meeting, it somehow felt as if I was meeting an old friend. Perhaps it is because I already know so much about her through her blogs. She is exactly how I imagined her to be…pleasant, down-to-earth, bubbly and sweet. Meet Claire, the effervescent writer of the blog “Caring Is Not Only Sharing”!

     For once, we were both more interested in chatting and exchanging stories, rather than the food. So we merely ordered drinks and some kuih to share.

     Before we parted ways, we promised that today would not be our last meeting. We met as acquaintances but left as friends. And Claire, thank you very much for the present.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Attending An English Wedding

An English Wedding in Cameron Highlands
"Confetti here
Champagne there
Love everywhere!!!"

"This way to the 'I Do's'
And The Kisses!!!"

      These were two of the quirky wooden signposts that led the way to the English wedding that was held at the All Souls' Church, Cameron Highlands, on 3 December 2016. Derrick and I had the greatest honour and pleasure to be a part of this very special day, a culmination of a six-year-long romance, a celebration of the wondrous love of two incredibly lovely people.
A collage of their wondrous moments together

Follow the way!
     Their relationship has transcended distance, cultures and obstacles. Having met through a mutual friend, the romance of this handsome English gentleman and gorgeous girl from Gopeng blossomed online. Listening to their stories and seeing the sacrifices they have made to meet each other halfway, we praise God for this beautiful couple and pray that their love for each other will continue to grow deeper and stronger.
     The All Souls' Church, tucked away up on a hill in Tanah Rata, was the perfect venue for the wedding. It was quaint and serene. An early morning shower rendered the cool Cameron Highlands air even crispier, thus bringing us all a little closer to the temperatures of England. Wedding guests started streaming in at about half past nine. As dictated by the dress code, the ladies wore hats with their pretty dresses, while the men were handsomely attired in shirts and ties. At ten minutes past ten, the radiant bride walked down the aisle with her elder brother. Mercifully, the pastor kept his sermon short and sweet. It was a simple ceremony but it went beautifully.
We were one of the earliest to arrive and took the opportunity for a we-fie.

The bridal procession begins!

Lillian and her doting brother

Lillian, the picture of happiness and elegance

Exchanging vows

Presenting to you Mr. and Mrs. Fabian Beresford Wylie

A photo with our dear friends

     After the church wedding, everyone adjourned to the nearby Ye Olde Smokehouse Hotel, an English Tudor boutique-style hotel, for the cocktail reception. It was planned to be held in the garden, which would have been really lovely. But the rain decided to shower its blessings on the newly-weds so the cocktail reception had to be held indoors, at the bar. Nevertheless, the venue was an excellent choice, as it was the epitome of all things English. Incidentally, this sweet couple also run their hugely-popular bed and breakfast in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands (check out Everything English Homestay on Airbnb).
Garden-themed English wedding at the English Tudor style Ye Olde Smokehouse Hotel

Checking in at the cocktail reception

Lillian and I

     So to darling Lillian and Fabian, heartiest Congratulations once again! May God's grace be with both of you as you embark on this exciting journey as husband and wife.