Siblings’ photo: Standing Left to Right; Shirley, Nigel, Malcolm, Uma, myself, Jeannie, Mabel, Terence, Ashley
Seated Left to Right: Ray, Jen, Laura, Sarah

They (not sure who “they” are) say a picture paints a thousand words.

This has to be amongst the best pictures of me, my family, my siblings and their families. It would have been perfect if Alana was in it. I think she was abroad at that time. I love this picture for its clarity and detail. I can’t remember exactly when this picture was taken. It could have been 2015, 2016 or 2017 Christmas.

Seated Left to Right: Raymond Arnold. Former national squash coach, national squash player, now squash coach extraordinaire. Always ready for a good laugh. He is game for anything and loves food. Who doesn’t? Was married to my late sister, Jennifer.

Next seated is Jennifer (Jen). I always used to say that no camera could escape Jen. Jen always insisted on many photographs be taken, especially with family. Hence, the photo above. She was also the family instigator / organiser of many of family gatherings. This picture was taken at Christmas time at The Curve shopping centre in Petaling Jaya. We were there because Jen thought it a great idea that we siblings and our families meet at a mall like this for light shopping and dinner at least once every Christmas. We always had fun at these once a year at the mall Christmas affairs with the family.

Jen was richly talented with her art. She brightened the world with her paintings and murals on many different objects and surfaces.

One of Jen’s paintings / creations. The picture is so vibrant, the colours and detail are exquisite.

Jen also worked extensively on troll beads, fusing beautiful colours on them. She spent long hours working up ideas as art.

Seated next to Jennifer (back to “Jennifer” instead of “Jen” for me. I grew up with “Jennifer” in my life, so I am more comfortable with her full name, though she went into “Jen” mode.) is our (Jeannie’s and my) daughter, Laura. She is the youngest in the Atkinson clan.

Laura, Jeannie and me

Laura is currently abroad, furthering her tertiary education. While in Malaysia; if she was not at studies, she was training and swimming in championships throughout the country.

Laura was a state swimmer, representing Selangor. She was amongst the top 3 swimmers in Malaysia for the 100m and 50m Breaststroke events in the girls’ age group. Now, she represents her university and its swim team in these events and others, too. Just won the 100yd (yard) Breaststroke at Caroll University (Millikin University meet with Caroll University – 7th November, 2021).

Now, sitting on Laura’s left in the picture is (Chef) Sarah Atkinson. Besides being an artist in food presentation; the meals that she prepares leaves her guests wanting for more; seconds, third helpings. Literally! She is a chef at a foreign high commission. Sarah is the daughter of Nigel and Shirley.

Standing, at the back, from left: Shirley, was married to my late brother, Nigel. Shirley is operations chief at a freight forwarding logistics company. She is the most sought after person by her shipping line agencies and clients; pretty much on call 24×7.

Then, after Shirley in the picture; comes Nigel. Nigel is the in the middle of the five of us siblings : Jennifer, Alan, Nigel, Terence and Malcolm.

Nigel ran a temp-maid cleaning agency, providing the services of maids to clean your home, or small office or building. He had a good rapport with his clients, which were from Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam. (3) He obliged some people who were staying out of these areas.

From young, Nigel had this fastidious trait about him: everything had to be clean and in place at all times. There was never a time that anything out of place, even by one millimetre; would get past him. Always having a joke or two, or three at hand to share, he would be the livewire of a party. he loved to sing, too. He was generous, even with the little he had.

Malcolm is next in the picture. He is the youngest in the family but that never stopped him from doing and achieving what he wanted. Known by many as “the singing pastor”; his music and his personality has drawn many, many people to the good news.

Malcolm is up to date on news of his favourite marvel action heroes. He has a pretty good collection of marvel comics, a collection which he started from the time he was in school.

Much of his time now is spent recording and producing music that he sings solo, and with others, too. He wants the end result of production to be the way he has envisaged the songs to be.

Uma, Malcolm’s wife; has a penchant for cooking. She loves cooking. she has all sorts of cooking utensils and gadgets that bring out the already deliciousness in the food she serves. Dinners at their home usually has a wide spread of Indian or western cuisine or a combination of both.

While at hers and Malcolm’s home yesterday she taught us a lesson which I heard for the first time and think it as interesting. If you are eating an Indian meal and use your hands instead of the usual cutlery; you pick up the food with your fingers, making sure the food does not touch the palm of your hand.

Continuing with the siblings photo. I am next after Uma and don’t need any introduction. 😄😉

Jeannie is standing next to me, more like in front of me. She hardly needs any introduction. She is in business development in the food services industry. Always on the lookout for new food items and brands.

Jeannie is also a batik influencer. Batik designs and materials have evolved since it became popular many years ago. Jeannie has an interest in the different types of batik and has produced several ladies’ jackets and tops that have gone to several parts of the world. If you see a lady in the U.S., Australia or Japan in a beautiful batik jacket; it may most likely be one of Jeannie’s creations.

Mabel is next. Terence’s wife; she makes fancy design cakes. She is artistic and thus produces these beautifully designed cakes. When there’s a party in her house; cups will be plastic with your names written on them so that there won’t be an unnecessary waste of cups. She is organised.

Terence, Mabel’s husband; happens to be my brother, not my “second brother” or my cousin’s cousin. Wait a minute – my cousin’s cousin? We’re onto something here. 😁

Terence, who is also the “Uncle Al” (4) of our generation; has been with international schools for many years now. He spends a lot of time with his hobby – hydroponic (5) vegetables. He is about to turn 60 in a few days time. Happy Birthday, Terence (in advance). Welcome to the “60s is the new thirties” club.

Ashley is the last but not least in this picture. Younger daughter of Terence and Mabel; she is a teacher by profession. She started a new handicraft business fairly recently, promoting all the handicraft she makes. She is a very talented singer.

This photo of my siblings and myself and our families, has that warm and Christmas-y atmosphere about it. Will be treasured. Christmas is just around the corner.

Every time I re-visit a picture, it tells me the same story, but from a different point of view. As I get on in years, the same picture becomes more vibrant. – Good memories. Many smiles. Everlasting.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, I think it does more than that. Definitely more than a thousand words – this essay is over 1,300 words.


  1. Jennifer passed away in March 2019.
  2. Nigel passed away in August 2021.
  3. Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya are cities in Selangor, Malaysia.
  4. “Uncle Al” – his mannerisms, way of talking and expressing himself is like dad’s brother, Uncle Al.
  5. Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture which involves in growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent… Hydroponics offers many advantages notably a decrease in water usage in agriculture.


The swim race season takes off from the starting blocks again this weekend. Jeannie and I, having spectators’ front row seats in front of our big computer screens, watching Laura (1) and Millikin university swimming team race; will be upping the ante in our “Go Laura GO!” cheering campaign this year.

Watching a sport live on a big tv screen is nothing new. In 1999; we were at the Sepang Petronas Formula 1 race. In that race, we got to see Michael Schumacher (2), Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barichello race.

That whole weekend was an enormous fanfare of excitement. Jeannie and I pitched our place on the small hillside at the last few corners of the racetrack at the back of the grandstand. We laid out a mat and used two large umbrellas to shield us from the blazing sun. We enjoyed the aerial display of the Malaysian air force’s F-18 Hornets, Mikoyan Mig-29s and Sukhoi SU-30s. Simply outstanding. There was a race of wannabe racers in Proton Satrias. Then, followed a motor parade of the Formula 1 drivers taken around in vintage cars for a lap round the track.

Malaysia’s hosting of the first Formula 1 race took place after that. It started with the formation lap where all the cars did a lap around the track with the safety car leading in front. Then, they took position on the grid. The 5 starter lights went out and the race began.

Soon the cars made way around the track and came up to our section where we were sitting. We knew they were coming because their engines were so loud that they muted the sound of thunder. They were gone like a flash in the pan, all in a brief few seconds. Then, we had to watch the rest of the lap on big monitor screens until the cars came up in front of us the next lap and all the following laps until the end of the race.

It was a 56 lap race. So, if the cars were in front of us for about 5 seconds, it would have meant that we got to see the cars live in action for 5 seconds x 56 laps = 280 seconds or 4 minutes 40 seconds only. That was the last time we watched the race at the track. Needless to say, the 4 hour traffic jam getting out of there, helped cement our decision.

The weather which threatened with rain clouds to wet the whole of Petaling Jaya in the morning, looked like it was clearing up quickly as we started our journey south of the border (♪♪South of the border, down Mexico way♪♪ – remember that old song?) of Selangor to Malacca.

The drive on the highway was smooth, despite fairly heavy traffic. Our ride was in our friend’s Porsche Macan. The car was powerful, fast but the ride was very firm, so much so that the step count on my Samsung Watch 4 Classic read every tiny bump as a step walked. The firmness is expected of this sports car.

Porsche Macan facelift launched in Malaysia as base 2.0 litre model – 252 PS, 370 Nm; prices from RM455k Image #975386
Porsche Macan facelift launched in Malaysia as base 2.0 litre model – 252 PS, 370 Nm; prices from RM455k Image #975396

Porsche Macan facelift launched in Malaysia as base 2.0 litre model – 252 PS, 370 Nm; prices from RM455k Image #975408
Interior of the Porsche Macan. Honda Jazz style steering wheel. Buttons, buttons and more buttons everywhere. The chrome bits meant to give contrast to an otherwise all black interior, looks like it was penciled in the design as an afterthought.

We entered Malacca through Alor Gajah and was in the city centre in no time. We came to Malacca to have authentic Portuguese food. So, where do we get authentic Portuguese food? Why, the Portuguese Settlement, also known as St John’s village; of course. The Portuguese Settlement is home to the “Kristang” people, more popularly know as the Malacca Eurasians. We made our way there in no time at all.

A huge disappointment. At 1.30pm, all the restaurants were closed; the earliest was only going to open at 4.00pm. It might have been their “siesta” time. We wondered if they followed the habits / traditions of Portugal and Spain. (3).

We asked a lady who was outside her house just next to the “Portuguese Square” where we could find authentic Portuguese food for lunch. The Portuguese Square is a building in the Portuguese Settlement. This “square”, houses shops all round the square perimeter of the building; the centre of it is where cultural shows are performed, with patrons of these restaurants and shops sitting at tables there to watch these shows.

We were famished as we had worked up an appetite all the way down to Malacca. The lady whose name was Ann, directed us to go to the end of a road, two roads behind where we were now. “You go to the last house at the end of the road and say Ann sent you”. We asked if it was far from where we were now. She said the exercise will do us good, that we can’t drive there as the roads were too narrow.

So, off we went, in the hot, blazing Malacca sun. It was not that far, we reached there in about ten minutes.

Tommy Savage (that is his real name) and his sister, Jenny (4); greeted us when they saw us and invited us in their home. In typical Kristang / Malaccan Portuguese Eurasian fashion; they went into overdrive with excitement and friendliness. They were in the business of selling pickles. They brought out mango, fish and fish roe pickles; all going for RM15 per bottle, cinchalok (5) and home made wine.

Mango pickle by Jenny Savage and family

Jeannie and our friend sampled the fish roe pickles and before I could say anything, Tommy poured a glass of the homemade wine for me to try. I tried to say “no” but the glass was shoved in my hand and he said, You must try”. I drank it. It was fruity with some amount of alcohol. Jeannie tried some, too. Made from “pulut hitam” or black glutinous rice. The taste was quite nice and light. They did not have any of the wine to sell as the stock they had was being shipped to Johor (the southern most state of Peninsula Malaysia).

Inside the Savage family home. No, I was not waving to anybody. I was trying to get the Samsung smartphone to take a picture by just closing my hand . This gesture works at times and at times, it catches you off guard like now. It is not supposed to take the shot with my hand still in the air.😆

Tommy and his family were very gracious. They even took us of a short tour of their long house, which seemed to be 2 or 3 houses joined together. They had many dogs all around the house. Tommy said it was a necessary security as theirs was the last house before some open land filled with tall grass and then the sea. Their family have owned that land for hundreds of years.

We bought some bottles of pickles and a bottle of cincalok, then, made our way back to the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle).

By now, we had given up on the idea of Portuguese food and decided on some nyonya food. Jeannie knew of a restaurant that served some of the best nyonya food in Malacca. Opposite the entrance into the Portuguese Settlement, is a little shack-like restaurant that is rumoured to serve the best nasi lemak in Malacca. But it opens only from 4pm – 7pm, daily. We’ve been there once before with Laura, when she was in Malacca to compete in one of the national swimming championships.

We headed to “Nancy’s Kitchen” – the restaurant which was just a few kilometers away. When we arrived there, the restaurant had a long waiting queue. We were not going to wait and started walking to other restaurants around the area.

Nancy’s Kitchen, Taman Kota Laksamana, Malacca

We came to this restaurant called “Face to Face Noodle House” (6), that served freshly made Sarawak conlo mee. Simply delicious. This restaurant is a few doors away from Nancy’s Kitchen.

The spicy dried onions (I think) stuff on the right of the picture (near the facemasks) and in the container (at the top centre of the picture) is potently delicious. It is a condiment but we found ourselves adding it to every mouthful of this delicious mee we had.

Every ingredient in the meals served, seemed to be well balanced. We enjoyed lunch. It was worth the trip to Malacca.

Dried spicy onions condiment.

After lunch, we went back to Nancy’s Kitchen to buy nyonya cookies.

These pineapple jam tarts are yum! If you’re hoping to sample taste one, they are about all gone 😋
In the famous nyonya restaurant, Nancy’s Kitchen.

Then, we did a short “ronda-ronda” of the famous Jonker Street (Malaysians like to go to all those famous famous places and restaurants. Don’t know how they became famous but if someone said so, then must be true “lah” (7) ). We visited all the surrounding attraction sites, stopping by at several more shops along the way to buy more cookies and snacks.

Local cookies and snacks

We started our journey back home at nearly 4.00pm, feeling satisfied that we got some good food. The irony of going to Malacca and having Sarawak food. Malacca is an interesting place for great food, a good getaway for relaxation and lots of sight-seeing activities.

As for The Porsche Macan, priced above the budget of most. Should you get one if you had the money? If you want brand, then yes. Porsche is race bred. Explains the very firm ride. If you are a young family, you may look at other options with a more comfortable ride.

This Saturday morning (today), Jeannie and I will be going up North-West to a town for an often talked-about, famous (that “famous” word again) curry laksa. Stay tuned for a write up on it.


  1. Laura Kristen Atkinson, a state swimmer for Selangor, Malaysia before relocating abroad for her tertiary education.
  2. Michael Shumacher did not win that race. He won his 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th world titles from the following year onwards.
  3. Paolo Pinto, Few people in Portugal actually take a «sesta» (siesta is a spanish word). When they do, it’s after lunch, some time between 1 and 3 pm. Unlike Spain, where shops and businesses usually close in the early afternoon, in Portugal lunchtime is short and there is no time for a nap, even in the hottest months. April 12th, Quora
  4. Jenny Savage, Tel: +60142651989; Portuguese Settlement, Malacca, Malaysia
  5. Cincalok or “cencaluk” is a Malay dish that originated in MalaccaMalaysia, consumed by MalayPeranakan and Kristang. It can trace it origin during Portuguese occupation of Malacca. In Malacca, the shrimp is called udang geragau. This dish made up of fermented small shrimps or krill. It is usually served as a condiment together with chillisshallots and lime juice. The shrimp in the pinkish coloured cincalok are readily identifiable and the taste is salty. 
  6. Face to Face Noodle House, No. 26, Jalan Kota Laksamana 3/7, Section 3, Taman Kota Laksamana, 72500 Malacca
  7. “Lah” Truly Malaysian.

“South of the Border” by Chris Isaak. Soothing and gentle…sets the mood. YouTube