Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carpet Auction

Twice a year or so, the American Association here in KL holds a carpet auction. Each time, the same company comes in with all their wares, and for a nominal fee, one can eat samosas (yum!), drink wine and bid their hard earned cash on a carpet or two.

M and I arrived late, and the bidding was already underway. We would have arrived earlier except that one way streets aren't marked on KL maps. Fucking maps. Much cursing ensued. So, after finding another parking garage to park in, we made our way over to the hotel.

Before we headed into the auction, we viewed the carpets outside to decide which ones were our favorites. As we were checking out the carpets, a guy came out to the buffet, reached into a chafing dish with his hand, pulled out a handful of spaghetti noodles, tilted his head back and ever so gracefully lowered the noodles into his waiting mouth. I shit you not. Then, a few minutes later, the same guy went over to the open bar, and while he was talking on his phone, he pulled the wine cork out of the bottle with his teeth. Okay, we will just mark your name on that wine bottle, sir, because no one else wants to put their hands on that nasty cork now. This guy ended up buying several rugs, which illustrates the point that money does not buy class. I feel a little bad for ragging on him because he seemed like a nice guy, but fuck! Spaghetti is not a finger good, and the chafing dish is not a trough.

The auction itself was a blast. The auctioneers were entertaining and very knowledgeable (aside from being really amazing salespeople - quite smooth). We were about three rugs into things when the carpet up for bid caught our eye. We ended up bidding on it (and we were total auction virgins) and we ended up with a new carpet! So that sufficiently scared the bejeezus out of us bidding much more that night, as I didn't want our bidding card writing checks that our bank account couldn't cash, so to speak. The bidding part would be oodles of fun if, at the end, you could just tell them, "Never mind, I was just practicing" or something like that. They tend to frown on that, so our bidding card stayed in M's pocket for the most part for the rest of the evening.

Not everyone else though. They were bidding left and right, on almost everything. The auctioneers have obviously learned that Americans + open bar = a very profitable night. As the night wore on, the crowd got more and more vocal, to the point of the auctioneer having to shh the crowd (I think the phrase used was "focus" - ha!) And while one or two Americans in a crowd of foreigners can sometimes appear a bit obnoxious, a whole group of Americans together? Well, that was just lovely. Really. It was the first time in KL that we've been around a large group of Americans. It was nice.

Self restraint at the next auction will prove difficult. I do think, however, that I should at least be able to keep my fingers out of the spaghetti.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hari Raya

The weekend before last was a lovely, lovely weekend. Not only was it our first wedding anniversary, our anniversary also fell on a four day weekend, as it was Hari Raya - the end of Ramadan. Balik kampung gave me sweet, sweet relief!

Everyone hightailed it out of town for Hari Raya, and M and I were originally planning to do the same. But after realizing that we could 1) join the millions of Malaysians on the highway (and waiting for hours at the toll booth) or 2) stay in KL and enjoy the city, which would be far less crowded than the highway, we knew what we had to do. So we cancelled our reservation at the E&O in Penang, and stayed in KL all weekend.

The city wasn't empty, but it was a hell of a lot less crowded than it normally is. And it was freakin' great. The traffic was nil, the restaurants weren't crowded (the ones that were open, that is) and there was a slower pace to things - and I don't just mean the speed at which people walk here. (Seriously. A snail's pace. Drives us batty. I'm just saying.)

We had a great Italian meal for our anniversary, then spent the rest of the weekend taking it easy, doing a bit of furniture shopping, and we even caught a movie on Monday.

Okay, about the movie...it was Bourne Ultimatum, which I didn't think was all that great. I mean seriously, at the last minute you LOOP YOUR ARM through the seat belt and that saves you from the latest fiery multi-car crash? I am the "Oh, Like That Could Really Happen" Viewer. This is why M hates watching movies with me. But the part of the movie that was actually good? The theater itself. We went to the Gold Class theater, complete with leather recliner, blankie and snacks-on-demand button. I don't know if I'll ever be able to go to a regular movie theater again.

All rested up from our relaxing weekend, we are thinking about putting up our Christmas decorations. It's only October, you say? We aren't concerned with the calendar. In our mind, it's close enough. Besides, it's 90 degrees here at Christmas, so what's the difference? I want to be able to enjoy the tree for a while before I leave for the US (which will be Thanksgiving weekend). Who's up for some eggnog and carols?

(Who am I kidding? In my family, it's not eggnog and carols, it's Bud Light and Dirty Scattergories. Norman Rockwell, we are not.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I miss autumn. Okay, scratch that…I miss seasons. But autumn is my favorite. Every year, I look forward to that first crisp fall morning, where you get to break out your autumn clothes and maybe even a jacket. In Texas, that usually doesn’t happen until around Thanksgiving, but every once in a while we were lucky, and autumn would peek her head around the corner in October…for a day or two, until the 90 degree temperatures would take over again.

Autumn is my favorite season. I like my fall and winter clothes so much more that my summer clothes. I get to wear my sassy suede jacket that needs to be replaced, but I can't seem to find a jacket like it and it’s one of my favorite items of clothing ever. So I'll wear it until it disintegrates. Halloween and Thanksgiving are fall holidays. Football is in the fall. Falling leaves (and in some lucky parts of the country, leaves of different colors) abound. The leaves in Texas pretty much go from green, to brown, to gone in a matter of a couple of weeks, but I’ll take it. They make such a nice crunchy noise on the ground.

Seasons mark the passage of time. So it makes it a little difficult that we don’t have seasons here. It’s the same temperature…all year long. The sun rises and sets at the same times each day. The main variation on the weather here is if it will rain a little or a lot on any given day. Every day it’s like this. Every day.

I miss autumn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Daily Dose of Irony

Last night, I was watching an episode of Seinfeld.

They censored the word "butt".

They censored the word "butt" in the episode where the entire fucking episode was about masturbation.

I'd like to thank the Malaysian censors for protecting the viewing public from the horrors of the word "butt" while they are viewing the Seinfeld episode where the characters bet who can refrain the longest from masturbating, and JFK Jr. de-virginizes Jerry's ex-girlfriend.

Thanks guys, your priorities are definitely in order.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Strangely, He Didn't Offer a Receipt

Friday night, M and I drove our lovely little car to dinner. We were heading for our favorite Indian restaurant, and since it was our first time driving there, we took the same route that all the cab drivers have taken during the many, many times they have driven us to said restaurant.

Well, getting there involved making a right hand turn across a couple of lanes of traffic (we drive on the left hand side here). We made the turn and started down a dark back road, where we were waved down by a cop. Turns out, when we made the turn, we crossed a double white line, which is a no-no. I guess we didn't notice it because we were too busy trying not to get hit, hit anyone else, dodge the motorbikes that are whizzing by us, etc. Besides, every cab we have taken to this restaurant has gone this way, but DING!DING!DING! We were the lucky winners who got pulled over.

So he asked M for his license (which, luckily, we found the other day after misplacing it). He explained what we had done, we were apologetic, yada yada. He asked where we were from and we told him where we lived, but turned out he wanted to know where we were from, so we told him the US. Damn! I hate when we have to do that.

He proceeded to tell us that we could pay an on the spot fine. Now, we have never been pulled over before, so we didn't know how it worked here. The on the spot fine was RM 300, which is the going rate according to a couple of other expats we've talked to.

M didn't have cash, so the cop even escorted us to an ATM...holding up traffic and everything so that we could stay behind him. M got cash and the cop then proceeded to escort us to the restaurant. Along the way, on a dark and desolate street, he stopped and told us we could pay him there. Seriously. So we pay, and since at that point we didn't really know the neighborhood we were in, he escorted us to the restaurant.

As it turns out, he could have given us a ticket and according to some locals, the fine would have been about RM 100, which we would have then paid at the police station. I guess that other RM 200 must have been a "convenience" fee, right? Do you get my sarcasm? Are you sure? 'Cause I'm laying it on pretty thick.

Although, truth be told, I might opt for an on the spot fine again. Something tells me that going to the police station to pay a fine would not be an exercise in efficiency. Quite frankly, 200 ringgit is worth it to save my sanity. I have so little to spare these days.