Paralyzed (Halloween special 2)

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(Photo credit – The Grudge)

One time, I dreamed I was being dragged along the ground. I didn’t know who was dragging me. All I know was that I was being dragged by the arms. I tried to move my body, but I felt paralyzed. The only think I could do was speak. Everything around me was pitch black. I couldn’t see a single thing.

“Who’s there? What’s happening? Let me go,” I cried out.

But there was no answer. I was terrified. I didn’t know what else to do. And then all of a sudden, the dragging stopped. I fell on my back. I looked up, but I still couldn’t see anything. There was total silence. Even though I couldn’t see or hear anything, I had a strange feeling that I wasn’t alone. I felt a ghostly presence. I tried to move, but I still couldn’t.

“Hello? Somebody help me. Hello?” I cried out again.

There was still no answer. Nothing was happening. I began to feel paranoid. What’s going to happen to me? Am I going to be like this forever? Is somebody going to save me? After what seemed like a long time, I blinked, and woke up with a jump.

I looked around my room. It was still night. My heart was beating and thumping hard and fast. I felt relieved and scared at the same time. The nightmare, or whatever it was, it had felt extremely real. It didn’t feel like a dream, or a nightmare. I’ve had scary dreams/nightmares in the past, and the effect it had on me was nothing compared to the one I had. There were no comparisons.

Introducing Oudvin Cassell and Renee

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I have a good friend, Oudvin Cassell, whom I had written a short post about in the past. He is an amazing artist/illustrator. There is nothing he cannot do when it comes to art and design. I am here to continuously help spread the word of his works and talent. Below is a message from his teacher/manager, Renee.

“Introducing the works of Illustrator Oudvin Cassell, and also some of my work too. Oudvin and I have known each other since he was a high school student artist, who was part of my short-lived NGO in Liberia called the Art House (disbanded due to the war). Oudvin then went on to get his art degree in the US and has been freelancing ever since. We have partnered to create comics and I am also managing him. He has completed two assignments, one making art for Liberian school books and another to story board a short film in the US. We will also put other work we create from time to time. I hope you enjoy our comics. More to come. If anyone is interested in hiring Oudvin for graphics work or to do commission work for you personally, please inbox me.”

Here are the following links to the website/page of Oudvin and Renee, and their contact details:

http://cassellandirene.tumblr.com

https://www.facebook.com/oudvincassellofficialpage

http://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/tag/oudvin-cassell

More works by Oudvin Cassell.

(All photos are subject to copyright)68966_10152728135873614_6841533678399275429_n10520662_10152507070598614_5154193540454126716_o1930939_29071243613_7595_n1597995_10152169606658614_43155109_o10398887_62309113613_7349680_n1618290_10152720257068614_9006141792794815593_o

My most favourite of all. Oudvin designed this shirt with a friend to create an awareness to fight Ebola. 10553942_10152529167663614_3492427114805603264_o

A Penang Story – Part 2 Haunted home (Halloween special 1)

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rigor_mortis_1(Photo credit – Rigor Mortis)

*Actual names have been changed.

The following accounts are real.

First account:

During my time in Penang, which was 11 years ago, I lived in a condominium with two other female flatmates, *Renee and Kate. Renee was also the landlord of our unit. The condominium consisted of two huge blocks. The buildings were very tall, and each floor had about eight units (hope that makes sense). The size of each unit wasn’t big, and it consisted of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen and living room area, and a balcony. Although every unit had a main front door, there was also a main gate to each of the unit, which was good for extra protection. Overall, the condominium was ‘alright’ looking. It wasn’t glamorous either, nor did it have a welcoming look, if I have to be honest. There were times when I didn’t feel safe. Each floor was eerily quiet. Not many neighbours would talk to each other. And the lifts can be creepy, especially when you are alone. Renee and Kate would work all day during the weekdays, and every Friday, after work, they would often go back to their home town, which left me to be by myself until Sunday or Monday, when they would return. At that time, I didn’t go out much during the weekends, except for going out to dinner with my uncle and his family, and I would always be back before 10 at night. After then, I would drown myself in homework. Strangely enough, at exactly midnight every Saturday, I could hear the doorbell ringing, followed by two women’s voices calling out. They sounded polite, too polite in fact.

“Excuse me, good evening.” (Really??? Midnight is not exactly evening)

“Is anybody home? Do you have any newspapers?” (???????)

And then a couple more ringing of the doorbell.

“Hello, is anybody home?”

I never answered the door. Renee had warned me a number of times to never open the door when I was home alone, especially if I wasn’t expecting anyone. So I listened to her. After a short while, there was no more ringing of the doorbell or the voices of the women, nor could I hear them calling out to my neighbours and asking them for newspapers. I then ignored it and went back to doing my work. In the beginning, I didn’t think much about the two women. But as it started occurring every Saturday midnight (yes, seriously, every single Saturday) with the women asking the same exact questions about newspapers, I began to get a ‘funny’ feeling. I was confused, and yet, curious about the women. Why were they asking for newspapers? If so, why did they have to come every Saturday midnight? Why not at other times? And why don’t I hear them calling out to the other units. It was creepy and strange. One night, I was tempted to look through the peephole, but was afraid the women might see the shadow of my feet (there was a tiny gap space between the bottom of the door and the floor). So I covered the entire gap with a shirt. Just before midnight approached, I turned off all the lights, except for the one near the balcony (didn’t want to freak myself out in the dark). I then looked through the peephole and waited. Midnight arrived. The women were nowhere in sight, nor could I hear their voices. Five minutes past twelve, I was about to give up waiting, thinking that they weren’t going to come. I looked away from the peephole, and just when I was about to walk away from the door, I heard the doorbell, followed by them calling out whether I had newspapers. I suddenly felt scared. I wanted to look through the peephole, but I couldn’t. I was scared. I had a bad feeling about looking through the peephole. My instinct told me not to look. So I stepped away from the door and remained quiet. After a short while, the doorbell ringing and calling out stopped. I didn’t hear them anymore. But I didn’t look through the peephole to find out.

Throughout my time at the condominium, I never found out who those women were, nor did I ever see them with my own eyes.

 

Second account coming shortly…………

 

 

On my mind – a personal post on autism

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(Photo credit – Autism Awareness)

Every year, around this time in the UK, it is the season for charity and special needs awareness, such as breast cancer and Children In Need. So for this post, I would like to take the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with autism, a cause I strongly support.

As mentioned before, I like to make this blog personal. Whatever is on my mind, I write. Don’t care about spellings or grammars. I have never written such a personal post before, but I’m about to. Please bear in mind that I do not mean to offend anyone (if) with this post, nor cause any problem. It is all about my personal reflection and experience with autism. I don’t expect some to understand or agree with me. After all, not everyone would understand autism. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my son and autism. I love my son, and when it comes to him and autism, I wouldn’t change him for the world. I know the past is the past, but sometimes I cannot help but look back at some of the experiences.

One afternoon, I was taking my son home from school. We were catching the tube (train in London for those who don’t know the term). While waiting for the train, my son was sitting down on one of those ‘waiting seats’. Another young boy went straight up to him, up close, face close, like 2 inches apart, and asked my son,

“Why don’t you have front teeth?”

My son didn’t look at him. He started to slowly spit. Mind you, he wasn’t spitting directly in the boy’s face. It was like he was spitting slow bubbles if that makes sense. And by the way, my son doesn’t spit directly AT PEOPLE (not defending my son on this matter. It’s the truth). The reason why he was spitting was because the boy was up close in his face. My son doesn’t like that. It makes him uncomfortable, especially if he’s a total stranger. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother looked at me and rolled her eyes. I told her politely,

“Sorry, please mind my son.”

She smugged and said rudely,

“Huh, well, spitting is just disgusting.” (Her exact words)

I said angrily, and yet calmly,

“Actually, he’s autistic. And the spitting is part of his condition.”

She immediately became shock. She said,

“Oh, ok.”

I said again,

“I apologise for the spitting, but he’s autistic, OK?”

She said,

“Ok.”

She looked nervously around her and ignored me.

 

I know sometimes with autism, and some other disabilities, people can’t tell if one actually has a disability. The mother had the right to be angry, I’m sure. Spitting is unhygienic and disgusting. But she could have just ‘asked’ if my son could stop spitting rather then give me the attitude.

Another experience…..

Those with autism can have eccentric behaviours. That goes for my son. He especially likes to run or sing when he’s really happy. We used to live with our landlord. She knew about my son being autistic and said she was fine with it. One morning, she barged into the kitchen and asked loudly and rudely,

“WHO THE HELL SLAMMED THE DOOR?”

I was confused. It wasn’t me, nor my son. I said,

“I don’t know. Not me.” (It was the truth. No idea who slammed what door)

“You know what. You should control that child of yours. He makes so much noise in the morning. Learn to shut him up.” (Her exact words)

I immediately became angry.

“NO, I cannot shut my son up because he is autistic. He makes those noises because he is happy to go to school.”

“I don’t care what he is. Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.”

Hmmmm, what responsibility??????? The fight ended with her storming out the kitchen and not listening to what else I had to say.

 

Another time my son and I were in a takeaway chicken shop. We were in line. My son started making noises because he was getting impatient. A group of teenagers sitting nearby started making fun of him. I turned to them and said in a normal tone of voice,

“My son is making those noises because he is autistic.”

They ignored me and laughed. I said no more, although I wanted to punch them all in the faces.

 

My son has even been called a retard or asked,

“When are you going to learn? You don’t know anything. Speak!”

I know parents from my son’s school who pushes their special needs children, who are older looking, in children push chairs. They get ‘funny’ looks when they are out in the public. But it’s ok for grown ups to push another grown up in a push chair, because we would automatically assume they are disabled.

During the Paralympics, especially during the London 2012, many say how inspirational those paralympians were. Many say it’s inspirational because we get to see those with needs, not just those with physical needs, do incredible sports. And amongst the cheering crowds, we see support. No one in the crowd would make fun of the paralympians. No one would shout out ‘RETARD’ to them or make fun if they made funny noises for no reason. No one would look at them differently. Instead, we saw them as heroes and inspirational figures. But outside of the Paralympics, it seems ok to make fun of those who make the same funny noises, or to be looked at differently if someone awkward looking was in a push chair.

I am writing this post to share my thoughts and experiences. I am not looking to start a debate or an argument. I am not saying I am in the right. All I am asking is, for those who don’t understand autism and special needs, then please be patient and understanding. If you see a child, or someone, spitting or behaving differently from others, don’t immediately assume the worse, because sometimes, they are the way they are and not because they want to be naughty or want to cause a scene.

I am so proud to say that my autistic son is already in training to one day represent Team Great Britain swimming in the Paralympics, maybe Japan 2020.

Never judge.

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(Photo credit – Facebook (Autism and other ramblings)

 

 

 

 

A Penang Story – Part 1

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So it all began with this photo I saw posted by a friend on Facebook.

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To most of you, this might seem like an ordinary photo. But for me, it’s so much more. It reminds me of my other home, Penang, in Malaysia. The photo is recent, and the location of where it was taken was at a famous shopping mall nearby where I used to live when I was residing in Penang. It was where I used to go almost everyday to have my meals, meet up with friends, and do my shopping. It’s been 11 years since I was last there. When I saw this photo, I immediately became homesick. It sure hit me hard.

There are 13 states and 3 federal territories in Malaysia. But out of them, Penang is the most different state. The people, the community, the lifestyle, the environment, is somehow different from the other states/territories. If you live in one state and then move to Penang, you will automatically feel the difference. A good difference. After being magnetized by the photo, I decided that I wanted to share with you my tour of Penang via my personal thoughts, views, knowledge, and experience, with also the help of some of my Penang friends with the visuals. Instead of presenting everything in one post, I am going to divide them into categories. My tour will include some of my favourite local food where you can’t find ANYWHERE else in the world, famous streets, art, stories and gossips (both local and personal), a haunted hill and war museum, and a history of an Englishman.

Enough said. Let the tour begin.

Malaysia is a multicultural country. There is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, and Eurasian. Therefore, the food in Malaysia is also multicultural. Some have a combination of Malay and Chinese, while others may have a combination of Chinese and Portuguese. But in the end, no matter how many cultures there are, in food and people, it all comes together as one, Malaysia.

msia24The Penang flag.

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I lived in one of those tall condominiums by the seafront back when I was residing in Penang from the beginning of 2003 till end of that year.

msia6msia20komtar Penang’s iconic tall building.

What I miss the most is the food. Sure, there are Malaysian restaurants around the world. But it is never the same as home. I’ve tried many Malaysian dishes in London (where I am living), and the food never tastes the same. The food isn’t bad either, but it just doesn’t taste like home. It’s not as authentic, even though they say it is. In some restaurants, they even have the names of the food wrong. I don’t know how I’ve survived 11 years of no home food. I’ve even tried cooking some of the dishes, but they just don’t taste the same. I guess I just have to wait for some of my Malaysian friends to come and visit so that they can teach me the authentic way. Below are some of the food that are so authentic that it’s hard to find anywhere else in the world except for home.

msia12Char Kuey Teow, a noodle dish cooked in light and dark soy sauce, with egg and seafood.

msia11Noodle dish with meat or seafood dumplings. Most Malaysians like to have their dishes with iced/hot tea or coffee with milk.

msia22msia8Noodle dish in soup. This is an extremely rare dish to find in any western countries. The closest I’ll ever get to tasting the real deal is a pot noodle version from London Chinatown :(msia14A typical noodle cafe. msia15A noodle stand.

msia7Not just is this dish rare to find in western countries, but so is the fish. I call this fish the white fish.

msia13When I saw this photo while looking through a friend’s Facebook album, I almost cried. This is my all time favourite Malaysian dessert. It is made out of rice flour and thick coconut milk. It is layered, and I have a way of eating it. I don’t like eating it as it is, or taking a bite off it. There has only been ONE way I would eat it, and that is by layers. I would gently peel off each layer and eat it. I don’t know why. It’s the only way I will eat it. There’s no other way. Every time I see this dessert, I would immediately think of my childhood. msia17Another all time favourite. Biscuit with dried coloured icing on top.

msia16Of course, how can I forget about the rice balls.

My other posts on rice balls:

http://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/tag/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

http://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/

http://puiyinlab.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/chinese-rice-balls/

msia1A typical Malaysian breakfast. It is a very simple dish. Bread with butter and sugar spread on top. Bread can be toasted or not, up to you. I prefer it toasted.

msia3Roti Canai, flat bread with spicy sauce.

msia21Traditional prawn curry in deliciously thick sauce. My goodness.

msia23A typical stall selling traditional desserts.

msia10Durians, also known as the smelly fruit to some. Like marmite, either you like it or you don’t. msia5Inside the durian. It does leave a strong odor on your hands afterwards. They are very expensive here in London Chinatown. Crazy expensive.

msia9Chinese buns. It is usually used for celebrations or prayers.

That’s it for the first part. To be continued.

A huge thank you to Irene Soo and Suzanne Yeang for the wonderful photos.

Two-Year Anniversary

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(Picture/logo credit – WordPress)

Hello all,

It’s been two years since I joined WordPress. I can’t believe how time flies. Has it really been that long? I would like to thank my fellow followers/bloggers for reading, sharing, and supporting my blog, especially those who have named and honoured my blog as their favourite (you know who you are). So thank you very much. I really appreciate it. I wouldn’t be blogging in the first place if it wasn’t for you guys….really. I don’t have an editor for my blog, so if you catch me rambling, or you spot any grammar mistakes, forgive me. When it comes to this blog, I like to keep it real and personal. That means writing whatever comes to mind.

For those of you who don’t know, I am on the verge of setting up my own publishing house, which explains the long absence from my blog. I haven’t forgotten about you guys, nor the blog. When the website for the publishing house is set up, I will link it with this blog. I don’t want to keep any promises I can’t keep. But I will promise to post more. There have been times when I am out and I see something that I want to post, and then I forget about it immediately, because something about the publishing house would come up. So no more excuses.

Anyways, hope to post again this week. See you all then.

Lots of love,

PY LAB

xoxo

MH17

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(Photo credit – Facebook)

My deepest condolences to those affected. I should have posted my condolences earlier, but I was in total shock and distress since the tragedy happened. I didn’t know anyone on board, but yet, it felt like I did.

“One woman’s body is unimaginably scarred, but the red paint on her toenails is still smooth and unchipped and the skin of her one remaining foot has retained its lifelike lustre. The blond hair of another passenger is in perfect condition, but her body has been split and torn. A young boy’s corpse is nearby. His white Tommy Hilfiger shirt is still clean, marked only by the blood near his head and shoulder. His face is well preserved with a strong brow and dark straight hair. But he has suffered a traumatic head wound.” 

- Text taken from The Telegraph online (MH17 – A scene of horror) 19/07/14

The Reason I Jump

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I’ve just finished reading a non-fiction book called ‘The Reason I Jump’ by a young, teenage, Japanese author, Naoki Higashida, who is autistic. As far as my understanding goes, the book was written when the author was thirteen years old. The book is about the author’s life with autism.

Those of you who don’t know or understand autism, here’s a brief explanation. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. Those with autism will usually find it hard to communicate and relate with others. It can also affect how they see the world. They can be sensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, colours and lights. Autism itself is broad. Each autistic individual is different. Some severe, some not. Some can grow up and live independently, whereas some would need long-term caring support.

I have an almost-six-year-old boy with autism, and having read the book really gave me a much better understanding of my son’s certain behaviours. Not that I don’t understand about autism. I do. What I mean by understanding my son’s behaviour is, for instance, after reading the book, I have a better understanding as to why sometimes he would flap his hands repeatedly, especially when he’s out in the sun, or when he repeats what I’m saying, or showing lack of emotional expressions and not speak. Naoki would explain the real reasons behind many of the different and awkward behaviours, expressions, and emotions by those with autism. I could totally relate to the book. It was as if Naoki was writing about my son. It changed the way I look at autism. It also changed the way I look at life and the way I am living it, because like Naoki mentioned, those with autism tends to see the real beauty of the world. They see the beauty of life and living, something many of us don’t see or take notice. There were some parts in the book that made me sad and almost cried, like the part where those with autism always feel isolated, and that they are usually referred to as ‘retards’ and not ‘normal’ people. Never once in my life did I think of my son as a retard. Naoki even mentioned a few times in the book about encouraging us not to give up on those with autism. Instead, he wants us to be patient and understanding. He even wants us to know that majority of those with autism understands people and the world around them, even though it might not seem like it. When I first found out that my son was autistic at the age of three, I was scared. But at the same time, I was willing to fight for him. And with the many help, advise, and support from doctors, playgroups, and parents and friends with autistic children, I managed to pull through and learn/understand about autism one day at a time. Today, I couldn’t be a prouder mother to an autistic child.

Naoki really proves that it doesn’t matter if you are autistic or have a disability or not. No one is not ‘normal’. We are humans. We are all the same. We shouldn’t judge an individual just because he/she might behave differently from others. Look at Naoki. He is an author, and ‘The Reason I Jump’ is a No1 Best Seller. And don’t forget, he’s autistic.

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