Archive | May, 2013

A Malaysian Wedding

28 May

Used-car salesmen don’t have a good reputation. So you can imagine our hesitation when the Malaysian man who sold us his car invited us to his niece’s wedding because “it would be a good cultural experience.” A little shy, we dressed up on Saturday morning and took a slow drive through Port Dickson town, to his family’s village.

It was a little awkward when we first arrived because we stuck out like sore thumbs. I was just about the only woman without a muslin head scarf and, with Baden’s blonde hair, it was pretty obvious that we were not family. Fortunately, Zuriami (the car salesman) spotted us and welcomed us in. We were immediately taken to the buffet table, where a fair amount of effort went into handing us forks and spoons (since Malaysians eat with their hands, cutlery is not common) and we filled our plates with chicken curry, beef curry, vegetable curry, fried chicken, rice, fruit and chip-like things. We then joined a table of guests right at the entrance (front row seats.) People were so friendly and kept coming up to ask us where we were from, what we were doing in Malaysia or how we liked Malaysia. I was surprised that no one asked us how we knew the bride or groom (thankfully, since we didn’t.) I was also surprised at how many people knew (and had visited) South Africa. One man was a captain of a ship and had sailed to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. The other man worked for the military and had bought weapons from South Africa.

Baden and I had arrived with a small gift: a glass jar, wrapped in brown paper. It looked rather sad sitting on the gift table amongst the big elegant boxes. Even our dress was rather bland in comparison with the bright coloured dress of the Indian and Malay women. Although their traditional wear is meant to be modest and not expose the woman’s beauty, the women were spectacular in their brilliant pinks and greens, silky purples and blues. It’s not common for families in Malaysia to be ‘mixed blood’ (their words, not mine!) but this family had Indians, Malays and Chinese (and maybe some Western if you count us!) We were told that about 1500 people had been invited to the wedding and that people would come and go throughout the day. Some people would leave before the bride and groom arrived. They came rather to pay respect to the parents.

At about 1.30 in the afternoon, the bride and groom arrived. The bride was inside the house and went out to welcome her husband and invite him into their home – he appeared in a valiant grey suit with a sword and head piece and they made a very attractive couple in their matching grey outfits. They sat on their thrones inside the house and people blessed them with sprinkles of what looked like grass.

After that was pudding time and we had cakes and banana bread and cakes and ice cream and cakes and banana bread. One Malay woman remarked that Malays could be a lot smaller, if they didn’t eat so many cakes. And then it became time to leave. There was no traditional wedding ceremony or late night dancing and drinking – in fact, there wasn’t any alcohol served at the wedding so there were no drunk uncles spitting all over the guests. When we left, we thanked everyone who had been friendly, and said goodbye to our used-car-salesman. He walked us to our car, shook our hands and said goodbye. His invite really had been genuine, with no ulterior motives – and that is something we aren’t quite used to!

Baden eating lunch

The Wedding Thrones

The Wedding Thrones

The Bride and Groom

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Nesting and growing in Malaysia

13 May

After my last entry about the death of the gecko, a few people commented on the change in subject material over the last few months. This time last year, I was journalling entries of London pubs, Japanese cuisine and sleeping on the Great Wall of China. Now, I write about geckos. “Is that all the news you have?” someone commented. Perhaps that’s what pregnancy does to you: it makes you nest. In the beginning, I felt like I needed to sit still to make sure I didn’t dislodge the baby. And home maker I am!

We have, once again, taken on the impossible home: a rather run down, simple home with a barren, uncared for and empty canvas garden. (Like moving to a new country, having a baby and surviving on one salary wasn’t enough of an adventure!) It seems as though we are forever project-bound, looking for ways to make the unloveable, loveable again. And, although it costs money and time to invest in someone else’s home and garden, we believe that making God’s space beautiful helps to change the world in some small way. And so we set to work.

The house was in desperate need of a paint. And although our landlord didn’t have time to paint it, he was prepared to buy the paint. So Baden and I spent 2 days painting the bedrooms, bathrooms, and living room.

Painting the living room.

Painting the living room.

 

 

 

The garden is going to be a 2 year project but we’ve made a slow and steady start. The only pot plant which had survived the neglect was a Frangipani. After 1 week of water and love, the plant picked up and grew brilliant healthy leaves. But I couldn’t get it to flower, until I moved it into the sun. Now it boasts some of the most beautiful pink flowers in the garden.

Flowering frangipani

 

We started with 1  plant, now I have 42 plants. The landscapist at Baden’s school has given us free plants, and I made friends with a lady down the street (who has a beautiful garden) and she has also given me some small trees and hibiscus – one of which flowered magnificently last week.

Flowering hibiscus

Flowering hibiscus

 

 

 

 

 

I did buy 4 pretty Cape Honey Suckle flowers, which I only later discovered are native to South Africa. They were just starting to grow buds, which I pruned off quickly. They now have a flurry of cheerful yellow and orange flowers. I have noticed, however, that the orange ones are becoming yellow and I know that some plants have a more dominant colour and shouldn’t be planted together. This is the point where I reflected to Baden how plants can teach us so many good life lessons: don’t hang out with the wrong company because you will become someone you are not!

After pruning and time

After pruning and time

Cape honey suckle in the beginning.

Cape honey suckle in the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have also planted a tree. We owe Mother Earth 24 trees from all the flying we did last year and, so far, have planted one. I have no idea what it is called because we actually rescued it out of the rubbish dump. Someone had dumped the tree and pot on vacant land and we dug it out and planted it in the ground. I do hope that someone is planting beautiful trees for me somewhere so that, one day, I can move into a house with a tree that is already big and beautiful.

The sad tree that we rescued.

Baden digging the hole for the tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We still have plans to add more trees, flower beds and grass but until then, we are also growing a baby.

IMG_1169

 

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The Dowies in Asia

2 travellers and a baby