Karma, Psychiatrists and the Storyteller – Interview with VJ Singam (18 March 2020)

I came across Uma’s first published work in 1998. And this was in Alor Setar. At the time, I had completed university and was about to join a law firm. Still, I was more than happy to meet someone who had followed her dream and become a published author. More than the lovely story Uma told in that first book, I remember being fascinated by this idea of being a published author. What was it like? How do you tell a story? Is it possible, even, for someone from a small town to succeed as a writer? So many questions…

Except for a brief meeting when my first novel The Banana Leaf Men was published, I didn’t know that more than 20 years would pass before Uma and I would meet again. Last year, at a meeting

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In the Name of the Father? Maybe Not.

In July 2018, soon after the manuscript for my novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets, went to print, I wrote a story about the prevailing position of the law in Malaysia where both parents must consent to the conversion of a child to Islam. It stemmed from newspaper articles about a high-profile case involving the unilateral conversion of a child to Islam and the jurisdiction of the courts in Malaysia. It is now commonly called the ‘Indira Gandhi decision’.

Why was this case such a big deal in the first place? Quite simply, under Malaysian law, once you embrace Islam, your identity changes forever. You retain the right to seek redress in the Civil Courts, but you’re subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts. This was confusing for the simplest of minds. To understand how

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Dance Weavers by Ramli Ibrahim

In April 2011, Sutra Foundation staged Odissi Stirred at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. The newspapers reported that, ‘true to the art, the choreographer is inspired by the Odissi tradition and reveals its rural and folk charm, incorporating elements of its originality while transcending into modernity as the moves are mesmerisingly surreal and captivating.’

The production included a 20-minute composition commissioned by Sutra called Pallavan which was choreographed by Madhavi Mudgal. She performed it alongside Evocations by Sharmila Biswas.

Many were unaware that this was the beginning of a paradigm shift. It was the first time that Malaysians saw odissi choreographed by women. Indeed, the word ‘choreography’ was either not understood or taken for granted.

For a long while, the gurus and dance-makers of odissi tended to be male. Generally, male dancers learn odissi in order to become gurus; not many can compete with

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The Wedding Estate

Flame

One of the things that caught my attention early last month was a story about the wedding photos of the Hollywood couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds being removed from websites. Why had those photos caused such offence? The answer was because the wedding had taken place at a US plantation which was ‘a site that holds deep traumatic historical meaning for the African American community’. (1)

I set about investigating this story a little more and found an online article about it in The Guardian where it was stated as follows: ‘In a letter, Color of Change wrote that “plantations are physical reminders of one of the most horrific human rights abuses the world has ever seen. The wedding industry routinely denies the violent conditions Black people faced under chattel slavery by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry…’

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Magical Story Energy – Interview with Mbeke Waseme (16 January 2020)

Mbeke and I first met a year and a half ago during a celebration hosted by 7C Life RealiZation Centre. A few months later, during the full moon, we travelled together to a resort in Sepang to take part in a session called ‘Gratitude of Life’ where we immersed ourselves in seawater. The purpose of this session was to express our gratitude to Mother Ganga and set our intentions for a successful and happy life. It is said that during the full moon’s heightened gravitational pull, the power of our intentions increases which allows them to be manifested quickly. During the journey back from Sepang, we discovered that we lived in the same area and, in the aftermath of this trip, our friendship developed. She asked me to submit a story to an anthology she’s working on (please see below for details)

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Miracles Made

There is no winter to speak of in tropical Malaysia, but on 18 December 2019, all that came to mind was that it was a bleak midwinter. In the last few weeks, I’d managed health issues of dear ones, the shocking death of a friend too young to die, assignments to submit, deadlines to meet, the flu, severe allergies to the point of developing painful welts all over and the stress of travel. Certainly, it was a lesson in time management and focusing the mind on the tasks before me. There were many low moments, none more so than when I arrived home and switched on my phone to read one sickening message. Even now, I hurt reading the caustic criticisms and cruel judgements that showed an utter lack of empathy for all I was going through.

Nonetheless, as I unpacked, I began to unwind and slowly, happier thoughts filtered through.

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Whisper 3 Rs by Seema Subash

David Ananda (Published with Permission)

It’s been just over two years since Aneeta and I first met. I was the subject of her article ‘All Paws For A Support System’, published in New Straits Times in March 2017. She gave me the privilege of sharing with her the story of ‘Pawse For A Cause’, a project I founded that brings the entertainment industry together to raise resources for needy animal shelters.

Since then, I have also founded the ‘ALIVE’ Project with my partner David Ananda. This is an animal initiative that focuses on strategic solutions for the animal community with a large focus on the 3 Rs – Rescue, Rehabilitation and Rehoming of strays and shelter dogs.

David and I met about three years ago. Our shared passion for animals spurred a working partnership that eventually evolved into a personal

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Contact and Connection. And Empathy?

The scene is familiar: It’s Sunday evening and a family of four come into a restaurant for dinner. The waitress shows them to a table and before they even sit down, all four of them – father, mother, son and daughter – place their phones on the table. Orders are placed and while waiting for the food to arrive, they are glued to their phones.

Maybe, there’ll be some respite when the food arrives. Maybe, they’ll put away their phones for a while. Maybe, they’ll even look at each other for a moment.

When the plates of fried rice, fried vegetables and steamed fish are placed in front of them, all four people adjust their positions. Having to use their hands for something other than holding their electronic gadgets, they scramble to prop their phones against glasses. Soon, they’re entertained by watching the programme on their phones uninterrupted as they shove food

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Making Miracles With the Subconscious Mind

When my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, one thing struck me as odd. Convinced that she’d lived a fulfilled life, she was resigned to her fate and said, “My doctor told me that if you get cancer, you’re just unlucky.” I wanted to tell her about the many people I’d met who’d gone into remission and, miraculously, lived long and healthy lives. However, I stayed silent because I knew better than to challenge her. My aunt died within 24 months of making that statement.

Since then, I’ve wondered about all this. Do we make our own luck? Does our mind have anything to do with it? Or are we victims of our circumstances and environment? It all came back to me about three weeks ago when HH SwamiGuru and I discussed optimising the power of our subconscious mind. The scientific basis of our discussion was based on a book by Dr.

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Time and the Moment of a Smile

Retreat to Nature

In these last few months, many of us at 7C Life RealiZation Centre feel that time has gone by too fast. Just last week, one of my colleagues said, “Oh my God, the second quarter of the year is almost over.” Indeed, many of our projects have gained a stronger foothold and we’re on track.

In moments of quietude, however, I wonder about it all. What do we mean when we say ‘last few months’? How long is this time? For those of us who are ambitious, time is running out. For others, it’s too slow. What, in fact, is this thing called ‘time’? Is it possible to achieve everything we want in this short space of time that is the human life?

More often than not, we measure time in terms of hours, minutes and seconds. Is this accurate? Is

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