#PrayForUkraine… Help Ukrainians…

I don’t have to tell you what has been happening in Ukraine over the last week. Putin sent his military to invade Ukraine.

Across my social media, I have appealed #PrayForUkraine. Today on my blog I would like to highlight ways you can do something practical to help Ukrainians.

A prayer station for Ukraine that someone set up in our little town.

First of all, I have to say I have friends in Ukraine. They are there caring for special needs people; people who have been pushed to the fringes of society, literally, because of uninformed, misinformed thinking about special needs. My friends can not leave these people they care for so they are staying. Please pray for their safety. If you would like to support my friends’ work directly, you can find out more about their work and donate here.

Here’s a list of NGOs/humanitarian organisations in Switzerland:

Here’s a list for people outside of Switzerland:

Now this list is not exhaustive. I am sure there are so many other charities and NGOs that are also asking for help for Ukraine. You just have to google and pick one whose mission appeals to you the most.

Please continue to #PrayForUkraine and do what you can to help.

Thank you very much.

syc

Book Review: Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher by Suffian Hakim

My darling husband gifted me this book for Christmas and I smiled like the Cheshire Cat when I saw it. It was one that had been on my TBR list.

As you would have guessed, it’s a parody of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I am a bit of a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Potter series of books – the heart of the stories she tells is why I think her books have such a wide appeal. I was hoping that such a parody would not miss that. And it certainly did not disappoint.

In keeping with the Singapore flavour of Harris bin Potter, I shall attempt to write some of this review in Singlish.

I tell you I super like this book. This Suffian Hakim, he very funny writer. No wonder it is number Uno in The Straits Times bestseller list. Hakim use proper Queen’s English when he writing but you can still feel so much Singapore flavour cos he use words like baju kurung, sial lah, relek in a corner, and many others.

He follow quite close to the Harry Potter one; he go to the school, here called Hog-tat-Halal-what, then got the bad guy – this one is called Lord Oldermat and he want to make everyone who show any Malay-ness no more magical. Then got the principal of the school, he called Pakcik Dollah. Got that talking hat, here called a songkok. Of course, got the fat cousin and family. Got all the professors – all with very funny names, I let you read yourself. Harris bin Potter has to live under the kitchen sink, worse than the Harry Potter one. People with no magic are called kosongs. Oh yes, definitely have the best friend, Ron and the girl, here called Her-Aku-Punya-Lutut – you can Google translate to find out why she called that. Don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Actually, in the book got footnote to tell you why also.

But I tell you, huh, I so long not live in Singapore, plus I never study Malay at school, I had to look at dictionary to know what some of the Malay words mean. When I understand already, I think, wah, this Hakim guy quite clever, no? Many times I LOL.

He also have some deep meaning in his writing; he even say in the book, in Chapter 11, “There are several things that many Malay people do not know. That is not to say that Malay people are predisposed to not know things – that would be a horribly racist statement to make, even if the author himself is Malay.” He use this story to talk about some stereotypes that people sometimes think about Malay people. It is not to fight anything, just to show it exists. But I hope that this sort of thinking will be no more soon. You read this interview Hakim gave to l’Officiel Singapore – good to know his thinking behind his writing.

So that’s the book review. I hope this has proven to be helpful in convincing you to go out, buy this book and read it. If you’re Singaporean, I know you will enjoy it and you would have also supported a local talent. If you’re not Singaporean, there might be some head-scratching moments, but nothing that a quick question to a Singaporean or Google won’t be able to help you with, plus it’s a good way to get know a bit of Singaporean culture.

If you have read it, do share your thoughts about this Singaporean version of a famous book.

Happy Reading!

syc

Book Review: Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

This book was an impulse buy. I am absolutely hopeless at walking out of a bookstore empty-handed… LOL…

The back of the book blurb reads: “Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary…” and I knew I had to give this book a shot. I have read Crazy Rich Asians (my review is here) as well as Bridget Jones’s Diary (which I read a long time ago) and I liked both so I thought it’s a good basis as any to read this story.

It was a good purchase! The main plot features Andrea Tang, in her mid-thirties with a successful law career and a flat of her own, enjoying life with a trendy group of friends. What more could you want? Well, in the very matriarchal Chinese-Malaysian family circle, she is lacking in one major part of her life; marriage. With the announcement of her cousin’s engagement, she is about to become the only unmarried member of her generation in the extended family.

With best friend and cousin, Linda (who is only half-Chinese so the family holds her to a different standard), she attempts to find Mr. Right. A chance meeting with very wealthy Mr. Eric Deng seems to be the answer to her ring-less problem but is she being true to herself? What about that annoying Suresh Aditparan who is also vying for partnership at her firm? Why can’t Andrea treat him more like an enemy?

I like Lauren Ho‘s style of writing. The voice she has given Andrea is slightly self-disparaging yet optimistic. The inclusion of a few colloquial terms and social media shorthand makes it appropriately Singaporean, bringing a smile to my face.

I love the play in the relationships between Andrea and Linda, Andrea and her mother/family, Andrea and her friends, Andrea and her work, Andrea and the men in her life, Andrea and her dreams. There are a few LOL moments and a few more head-shaking ones too.

The struggle to find a man whom you love while at the same time satisfying the expectations of the family is so familiar to many Asians but I think it’s not limited to Asia. However, the extent to which one would go or should go to satisfy family is a long and complex debate, depending on which side of the marriage journey you are on.

So if you are interested in learning a bit about an Asian woman’s mindset towards marriage and the juggling act between the demands of work-life and her family she performs, have a read of this book. Let me know what you think.

Happy Reading!

syc