Shark’s Fin Soup and Wonky Spines – A Malaysian Alien Column #1

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You’ve noticed that the title is different to my usual titles – why you might ask? Well most of you won’t as you won’t even be reading this, to tell you the truth I think I am only talking to my sister, mum and boyfriend and shouting into the echo-ey abyss of the blogosphere. Hellooo? …ooo…ooo…


The reason why this is titled ‘A Malaysian Alien Column #1’ is because I really do want to write for editorial publication, and be a columnist for a great paper (let’s dream big of the Guardians and the Times’s, or the weekend magazines or glossies). I’ve been trying to whore my literary attempts and inclinations out (for free even!) to different publications here in Edinburgh, online options for venue editors, or book reviewer, but to no avail. I’m standing here with my naked knee out, but they all drive past as if I have the mark of syphilis on my forehead. I bet you the truly coveted ladies are just around the corner – but how can I get there when no one’s prepared to show me the way?

So to keep exhausting this plodding analogy – I’m walking there myself.

I have this space where I can do anything I want really – I mean where else can I mix metaphors, go crazy with puns, get overly enthusiastic with parentheses and just be self indulgently verbose, other than on my own blog. So why not make my blog my column and practise right here.

So this is the first episode.

**immediately hits a wall**

What can I write?

Write what you know they say (they = those whispery folk that tell you half truths from the depths of your subconscious). Well, what I know best is me, really (haha well what do you know, I’m writing about myself again). A Malaysian girl, who lives abroad (and all the hilarity that ensues from her quirky adventures – oh, how we will laugh!)

So what should this first episode be about?

Food. Definitely Food. There is nothing that makes you a true Malaysian than an (un)healthy obsession with Food. (with a capital F)

So let me tell you a story from my past – Sharks Fin Soup and Wonky Spines:

One day I went over to Melanie Goh’s house. I was fourteen and a mess of spots and greasy hair. I loved going to Mel’s house because her mother made the most kick ass fried rice I’d ever had, I am not sure exactly what she put in it, but it was addictive-like-crack-cocaine-ly good. So Mel and I had just had lunch, the famous fried rice, with little translucent grains of rice glistening in pork fat and ‘kicap’, and making up a huge bowl of starchy deliciousness that you shovel into your mouth with a pair of plastic chopsticks – it’s heaven. After lunch were lounging around on the floor for some reason – actually I remember now, it was playing Five Stones. We were all obsessed with making these little cotton pillow parcels stuffed with uncooked rice, creating mini sacks that we would then play elaborate games with. You start with five sacks, throw it on the ground, then, using one hand you throw and catch different numbers of sacks in intricate patterns and combinations.

While lolling about on the floor, Mel’s mother, who is a nurse, came over and placed her palm on my shoulder blade – looking alarmed. She said that the bone looked like it wasn’t in the right place – and I would have just ignored her, but she wisely spoke to my mum about it when mum arrived to pick me up. Whatever she said must have taken hold, because the next thing I knew was that I was being told that I had to go to Singapore for spinal surgery.

But this is all about food. You know what a good Malaysia girl wants after a month in intensive care, torso completely bandaged, and body completely immobile? After a diet of random liquids fed through tubes? All I wanted was Shark’s Fin Soup. Please don’t judge me on this, because most Shark’s Fin Soup is not actually made with shark meat, but I do realise that the dish is terrible as it features an endangered animal as its main ingredient. I just had a 12 inch medal rod pushed through the length my spine though…

Anyway, this is one of my favourite memories because of my sister. While I am a self-confessed food-aholic, the Malaysian food gene is much more pronounced in my wonderful sister. In a morphine infused haze, I’d realised that my Dad, prone to worrying and fretting, had managed to find some Shark’s Fin Soup, and a steaming bowl of the stuff was now sat in front of me. An amber thick liquor with pearls of white crab meat and gelatinous see-through strings of delicious (fake) shark fin.  But I only managed a couple of spoonfuls before floating off into a pink tinged druggy sleep. When jolted back awake a mere ten minutes later, my sister was spooning the last of this precious broth into her mouth – no permission sought or granted. But it was fine, morphine is forgiving, and better to have it hot then and there, than lukewarm with a wrinkly skin on it later.

But to my sister – this is one debt I have yet to call upon. One day, I will take your last piece of Sunrise Roast Duck, or eat your Roti Canai in front of you with pieces of flaky ‘segi empat’ hanging out my grinning mouth.


One thought on “Shark’s Fin Soup and Wonky Spines – A Malaysian Alien Column #1

  1. Pingback: The smell of teen spirit – A Malaysian Alien Column #5 | tammymeaculpa

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