Monthly Archives: October 2011

I am a convert

Oh keep your panties on. It is not what you think.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I detest weddings. I can’t bear the noise and boisterousness that usually comes with weddings, the way some brides parade around whining about how frazzled they are from ‘having’ to plan a big circus wedding with four receptions, when secretly they would have six if they had their way, and the family members who insist on ‘pitching in’ but really want to dominate the entire project. And most recently, I’ve developed a repulsion towards strapless dresses.

And then I realized all this negative energy may have been building up mainly because these weddings I speak of are Chinese weddings.

Last Friday, I attended an akad nikah for the first time in my life — not as surprising as some might think, because in all the time I’ve been with Afham we’ve only ever been invited to the evening receptions held after the solemnization ceremonies. But this was meant to be a ‘working wedding’, a wedding that I was covering for the magazine, so that coupled with the fact that I had never witnessed a Muslim wedding ceremony before helped to dilute the feeling of consternation I normally get prior to attending a wedding. It also helped that the bride was an extremely sweet and humble person that I had met through friends, and made my arrangements to cover her wedding almost unfairly easy.

So when I arrived at Duchess Place on Jalan Ampang on Friday afternoon, an hour before the akad was scheduled to begin, I was greeted with a very calm atmosphere never seen at Chinese or Indian weddings. Photographers were all over the place, taking photos of the decorations and guests, but not getting in anyone’s way. Family members were milling around, the wedding planner was making last-minute adjustments to the setup, and, thank the good Lord, Farhan was there to take me through everything and introduce me to people. As the time drew closer for the akad to begin, what struck me immediately was how calm, laidback and dignified everyone seemed, sitting where they should be and just waiting for the bride to arrive.

The solemnization ceremony itself had a profound impact on me. I had seen it in videos and pictures and heard about it countless times from my friends, but to watch it for the first time was very different. It was such a peaceful, heartfelt ceremony, something that I’ve never seen even at Christian weddings, and the couple’s decision to keep it intimate, with only their family members and closest friends present — members of the press like myself notwithstanding — made it all the more meaningful.

So I found myself tearing during the ceremony.

Yes’m I did. I, who despises weddings, have eyes that welled up at a wedding for the first time in all their 27 years of sight.

I am, obviously, never attending another Chinese wedding. Except, of course, Becca’s.

And I am a Chinese.

Oh, and the bride? The very sight of her was enough to reduce one to tears too:

The radiant bride, Yasmin Hani Richardson. Taken with BlackBerry Bold 9780

2011: Placido

I was released from probation on Wednesday.

Not, obviously, jail, but the probationary period for any newbie in any company. It happened 19 days earlier, but I’m not complaining. Now that I’ve been at this job for two months and 12 days, I’ve had a chance to get used to the work and just allow everything about the place and the people to sink in. And I think I can finally say that I’m truly, genuinely happy in my job.

When I finally decided in June that I had had enough of the hangdog, doormat work I had been doing for the last three years, I made up my mind to stop doing what I had graduated to do and move on to something else I actually liked. So I started applying to be a writer for some magazines. It was more difficult than it looked, and it was the first time that I had nothing to impress my interviewers with except my own voice, but in the end I was accepted into one magazine that I hadn’t expected to work for. It turned out to be a magazine I now cannot imagine not working for.

This job, and  how I ended up taking it, is more proof of how important it is for us to open up our minds and look at the big picture. When I sat through interviews with several other magazines, it was with the intention of being a fashion or styles writer. In my mind, fashion and writing were my interests and I wanted a career in publishing so that I could merge the two together. Beauty, when I was asked about it, was another section I wouldn’t have minded trying. And even when I took the job I was offered before I had even heard from the other magazines, I was still slightly nervous about the prospect of writing about things I may have been unfamiliar with or disliked.

And then the delayed reaction I have to most things finally kicked in. Two weeks into this job, I had never been more grateful that I took it. As someone who doesn’t respond well to monotony — as evidenced by my first job — I realized that what I was doing, and what I was allowed to do, would teach me more than the styles section alone ever could.

It also helped a great deal that I was finally among people I could actually work with, who weren’t judgmental or segmented the way the people from my last two jobs were, and who, whether by circumstance or their own will, knew how important it was to work as a team. Most importantly, I was finally among people who seemed to care that I was good at what I did and could do more than just play pander to whoever held the cards to my future.

Now, nearly three months later, I’m finally happier than I’ve been in more than two years, in a job that I like with people I can find common ground with. All I can hope for now is the endurance to stay in this longer than I did in my previous career, and the peace of mind to finally be able to relinquish some of the anger and bitterness I once felt when I woke up in the morning.

And if nothing else, this job allows me to be as cynical as I like, in order to prevent myself from being disillusioned by the industry and the environment in which I find myself now. I knew my cynicism would one day come in useful.

Beyond human love

There is no possible way for even the most apathetic to watch this and not be moved by it: a cat hugging her dreaming kitten close. It makes me wonder if Offa had that sort of affection from his own mother before he was taken away and shipped off to another country. And it makes me wonder if he will ever be content with the attention he receives from Afham and me, now that he’s made it a habit of lying on my chest in the mornings, maybe hoping that I would wake up and coddle him.