What My Grandma Said


When I was much younger, my late grandma told me something which, at the time, sounded like a whole load of bollocks. Of course, I was only fifteen at the time and I still had a lot to learn about the big bad world. Now, some thirty one years later, it dawns on me that what she said should have come across as pretty self-evident. Yes, I am a slow learner: so shoot me!

This was what my grandma said to me: “If you’re a woman, you’d better be pretty; if you’re man, you’d better be rich.”

This statement still sounds rather distasteful – even to this day – but I cannot totally ignore its accuracy. Can you? Like wars, famine and poverty, this is one of those things that just will not go away no matter how much we would like it to.

There must be a lot of men out there who are either in love, or are married to women they would probably not touch with a ten foot pole but for the fact that these women look like they belong on the front cover of glossy fashion magazines. Similarly, there is probably an equal number of women out there who are either in love, or are married to men they will not even give the time of day to but for the fact these men need to hire an army of accountants to manage their money.

Isn’t it funny how beauty or money helps us overlooks someone’s faults? Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Shouldn’t a person’s virtues help us overlook another’s lack of beauty or money?

Who am I kidding? This is the real world: so, get over it!

36 thoughts on “What My Grandma Said

  1. Mr. MB,

    My other half is drop-dead gorgeous but i’m no where near rich. Wonder what your late grandma (may Allah bless her soul) would say to that….; )


    She would say that sometimes there are exceptions to the rule – or something like that 🙂

  2. Mat-san,

    She`s full of wisdom and foresight,that grandma of yours.

    It`s one of those hard facts of life..that seldom does love transcend the travesty of time.In our youth,when idealism rode roughshod over everything else, being in love was more than reason enough to rush to the altar,and to declare in all earnestness,”..till death do us part”.How perfect,and how foolhardy too.

    Slowly but surely, as the years move on and take their toll, and kids come along,grow up and get to College going age,and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses creep in,even just that tiny weeny bit(c`mon, who are we kidding if we say we aren`t guilty of this?If it ain`t so,why aren`t everyone contented just driving the National cars, for instance?) , then that money element really looms up all the time in your consciousness and sub-consciousness.Love takes a back seat(naturally).And that initial youthful passion and lust,which had been so overwhelming once, have waned too, over time(but of course).

    And so it evolves, with multiplier effect, sad to say.

    The girls and ladies know this, too.Hence, of what use the Adonis looks if the wallet is jingling with coins only all the time?That won`t be enough even for an evening to chill out, say they.What more to look after our upkeep in the long-term?Better to go after that wealthy, married but available and lonely middle-aged guy who`s really matured and savvy in all things which oozes class..at the very least, our future`s assured.

    And the men?Hey, why not?We live this life only once, remember, and let`s just have one more moment of bliss and of feeling to be wanted(after all, we can afford it, and she`s too busy looking after the grandchildren to notice that I`m still around!)

    That, Mat-san, is reality for quite a number of us.Who can we really blame,at the end of the day? I really don`t know.It`s hard, but it`s the truth.The sooner we accept it, the better.



    You have summed it all up pretty well, my friend. It is sometimes better to accept realities that we cannot change – and try to be happy with that.

  3. Uncle Boe….!!

    Tok Pak said add another one for man,
    got to have brain to be rich !!!



    Bye uncle



    Son, I actually found a book once titled “Are You Dumb Enough To Be Rich?”

    There is a lot of truth to that book. The smartest men are seldom the richest. We think they should be; but they aren’t. This is another harsh reality of life you will soon discover.

  4. but Uncle…….!!!!I donno how to be rich and smart either?



    Sorry, son. Can’t help you here. Uncle doesn’t know either!

  5. Mat B

    I’m not pretty and he’s not rich but neither am I ugly nor is he poor. Where does that leave us…?

    PS: That Higashi chap up there has it down so pat that it sounds scary.. 🙂

    Puteri Kamaliah

    You are not pretty? Pak Abu obviously doesn’t think so. So there!

    But imagine this: What if you were absolutely hideous and he doesn’t even have 2 ten sen coins to rub together. Would either of you have even looked at each other?

    Yes, ma’am. That Higashi-san is kind of prophetic.

  6. MB, ditto Puteri. Sigh! some people are stacked with beauty , brain and wealth and i cant even spell.
    But, i do make a mean bowl of mee bandung. and he makes me smile. does that count in your grandma’s books?

    Kak Teh

    Good for you, ma’am. You share something good.

    But let’s take the average Joe: Who would he prefer to be serving him 2 equally delicious portions of briyani? Someone who looks like Cindy Crawford, or someone who looks like the Wicked Witch of the North?

    And lets take the average Jane: Who would be able to make her smile wider? Richard Branson or a vagabond sleeping on some bench (Blue?) in Regent’s Park?

    But I admit, the above are extreme examples… 😉

  7. Memang begitu, cuba kalau ada saudara mara kita bertunang atau berkahwin. Orang akan bertanya, “lawakah pengantin perempuan?”, “pengantin lelaki tu kerja apa?”

    Itu sudah menjadi adat kita

    Syed Zul Tojo

    Betul tu tuan! Mana ada orang tanya “Pengantin lelaki tu hansem tak?”

    Dan mana orang tanya “Pengantin perempuan tu pangkat apa?”

  8. hmmmm…..mamak,

    ‘Kalau takut dengan ombak,jangan buat rumah ditepi laut’

    tak cantik ada bontox.
    tak pandai ada guru,
    jangan mengaku pandai!
    kita bukan quantum physicist.
    tak ada harta/pulus hanya satu sahaja ubatnya.

    ‘…if the sun never rise,we will make it rise’

    dan satu lagu pegangan
    ‘..biar banyak rumah jangan banyak orang rumah’

    Nanti kelang-kabut,akal dan nafsu dikawal.Pulus akan datang dengan ‘determination’ dan jangan buat sesuatu half way.Tak menjadi dia…….

    Lu nak itu ikut,tak mahu ikut sudah!

    Pak Tuo

    Pak Tuo

    Sudah tentu!

  9. Salam Mat,
    Yep! Tough, but hard fact of life nowadays… I might add to your late grandma’s advice though… “If you are a man, you’d better figure out how to become SIL of the PM… or at the very least, SIL to an up-and-coming politician!”

    Dhahran Sea,

    Becoming the PM’s SiL is definitely one way of doing it!

  10. Mat-san,

    My apologies at having to come in again,albeit briefly this time.Couldn`t help it,after reading Putri Kamaliah`s comment.

    My reaction…all`s not lost yet.It`s still possible
    to nurture the love righ up to the golden years. It`s a different kind of relationship then,sans the fireworks and the sparks.Instead, it`s a lot of putting up with grumpiness and long moments of silence,yet forged resolutely with an ever enduring bond that only the two “evergreens” understand.

    A little hard to comprehend? Watch “On Golden Pond”.Now,that`s a true classic, and pretty near to what it`s really about in real life.

    Me? Let`s say…I`m being “temporarily grounded” now,so life`s a little dull.Don`t get me wrong, though..I`m nowhere near “evergreen” yet.It`s a self-voluntary thing,if you know what I mean, and it`s temporary.

    Cheers again!


    This is why I am skeptical when people who know each other for anything up to 10 or 20 years declare, “I love you!” The true test is to see if they can say that to each other in their golden years.

    But then again, if I am right, people who truly love will never have to say say it to each other – they would already know it in their hearts. They have no need for the brand of romance as found in your typical Hollywood flick

  11. I am pretty (botoxless )…I am quite smart ( i know my periodic tables ).. .I got money (pays my taxes online)..so why am I still alone after all these years?

    Robina Xang

    Maybe coz the right rich guy hasn’t come along yet?

  12. MB,
    Your comment to Higashi-san about ‘people who truly love will never have to say it to each other’ – really strikes a chord. At times, the insecure in me would like to hear more verbal affirmations of ‘I Love You’, but I realise actions do speak louder than words.

    As for you grandma’s contention, I am a hopeless romantic. I’d like to believe that beauty is skin deep and money is the root of all evil, but the reality of life has taught me otherwise. 🙂


    In my old age I have come to learn that we can never truly love until we are able to shed our sentimentality and see beyond form. It is the essence that matters; the content rather than the package.

    It is all to easy to feel love when we are surrounded by romance and all its trimmings. But will that love survive in the absence of all the trimmings? I believe it will: if it is real.

    Yes, ma’am. Sometimes reality sucks

  13. i will settle for the right poor guy right now…
    does it always have to be so black and white?reality sucks but perceptions is a true dyson vacuum.

    btw…i am miss reality too…


    Aha! But if we were to adhere to this school of thought, the right guy is never a poor one! This may sound chauvinistic but the poor sod has got to be richer than you 🙂

  14. Galing68

    My grandma would say you are a damn lucky fellow.


    That’s why I want to live in a kampong. I’ll be a prince among paupers, a millionaire among lopers.


    Would you drop your stetho, scalpel and all, come and live with me in Kampong Ulu Bernam?


    Don’t mind my humour – it’s dry.

    Dry Humour

    That’s right, sir. I try to live by the ‘big fish in small pond’ method, too – whenever possible. Life’s easier on the heart that way…

    And way to go! May you and Robina find eternal happiness and bliss – in Ulu Bernam, or wherever you people decide to make your home.


  15. Mr MB, Good Day,

    (it’s my first time commenting here though have been avid reader for some time)

    Things may have changed somewhat with parents who are more aware and teach their children the values of internal beauty and wealth. But I do remember when my sister got married and the Imam decided that my sister must have made a mistake when she put ‘economist’ at ‘pekerjaan pengantin perempuan’ in the relevant borang and he duly changed it to ‘kerani’. He also changed ‘pekerjaan pengantin lelaki’ from ‘IT engineer’ to “IT manager” (better oomph, perhaps). If I had not noticed it before my sister signed the form, someone might be able to question the validity of the marriage when they found out. I know I would.


    This is exactly the old school mentality I’m talking about: The groom has to at least appear to be of a higher status than the bride. Sometimes I think there is wisdom in this. But forging occupation entries in an official document ain’t going to change anything.

    Glad to see you here, Auntida

  16. mmm..seriously considering ur kind offer..

    do u hv space for my three pussies ( young cats ),my mom ,a treadmill and spinbike ,collection of Monty Python,my dad,my coffee maker,lawnmower,my grandma and my neuroses?

    presume ppl do get pregnant enuff in ulu bernam so shld i bring my scalpel (they still use that?) and stuff?

  17. me, he promised me wealth. and i, him, beauty.
    now we thrive on those expectations we’ll never see. 🙂


    As they say: The anticipation is better than the fulfillment! But I’m sure the two of you already live very fulfilling lives.

    You should have been a poet, you know (if you aren’t already one)

  18. Mat,

    Truly, I think, the star to this post is the comment by Higashi-san. What he wrote chilled me to the bone.

    And what’s this love, money and look issues? Can I get you to write about something I love, for instance, the Moleskine? Your client has an exquisite taste, I must say.

    Theta, I wore my heart on my sleeve as well (still do) but I realised that love – in its true essence – does not need to be professed.

    I once saw intense love in a two people having breakfast together, steaming cups of coffee brewed near, newspaper for him, the New Yorker for her.

    They were holding hands underneath the table, but no words were spoken for good 2 hours.

    But hey, what do I know? *Shrug*

    p/s: Why am I blogging on someone else’s blog?


    I have to agree with you: that particular client has exquisite taste.

    And you are right, too, about not having to profess love – or act out the part of the droopy-eyed lover – when two people are truly in love. Love should be able to (and it usually does) transcend Hollywood-like theatrics, sugar-coated syrupy sweet talk, and rapturous romps between the sheets: Its about two hearts finding each other – and bonding, despite the constraints of space and time; despite overwhelming odds and differences.

    Love exist in the hearts of two people who are destined to be as one: the cord the inexorably binds their hearts forever. It lives in their hearts; not in words printed on a blog, nor in words transmitted over a telephone line.

    Though all of this will make good material for a novel, it becomes even more precious when left unsaid.

    You can blog on my blog anytime.

  19. Bangkai,
    I’m not pretty, he’s not rich but we have Aikido in between. So how? Make it to your grandma’s buku tiga lima wisdom or not ? 😛


    Ah! I think during her time, she’d have never heard of aikido. Hence, I don’t think there would be a reference to it in her buku tiga lima. Its a pity that!

  20. Abang Kai

    the poor sod has got to be richer than you

    I take exception to this lah Abang…why must u say it out aloud that the guy who “gets” me is a poor sod??Am I that bad ?Wat hv I not done to deserve such an image?

    Abang kai..i brush my teeth before I sleep,I don’t snore,I manicure my nails twice a month,i take vitamins..



    Sorrylah Robina – ‘sorry sod’ is just an manner of speech. No malice lah.

    No lah you not bad. No need to be sad…

  21. Guys, spare a tot – this one not my grandmother say one hoh:

    *t.h.e.r.e.s. n.o s.u.c.h t.h.i.n.g a.s s.o.u.l.m.a.t.e l.o.r*

    But my fren say:

    If in Heaven arr.. u r happy coz u get what u wish, & bcoz theres no more Law like here on eath.. so,, wud that mean ahh anyone can wish for anyones elses wife one?

    happy thinking about it? or not? 😉

    heheh heheh heheh

    dak ah bau

    Wah! Your grandmother is something else. But I think there is such a thing as a soulmate; but sometimes we don’t get to meet them in this life time 🙂

    About your thought experiment: I don’t think you will covet your neighbour’s wife in heaven;you would have already gotten the perfect mate (for you) that no one else will tickle your fancy.

  22. looks, brains, money … what use are these when you are not tall enough and look old enough to be taken seriously?

    one can’t just have everything. and since i have already accepted the fact that my lack of height and lack of look are detriments to my pursuit of career advancement and to be taken seriously in this line of work, i might as well move on to other conquests, whatever they may be.

    why am i ranting? sorry, i’m undergoing yet another phase.



    Wow! That’s a tough position you’re in, ma’am. But I know you will not let it get the best of you.

    All the best.

  23. dear sir,
    i understand robina situation all too well.
    when i was younger, mom used to say.. tak yah ngaji banyak2 sgt. kang keja tinggi2 orang takut nak masuk meminang.
    but what shud i have done? just wait around for someone to actually ‘meminang’ me?
    i decided to pursue my studies and advance in my career. at least now i have both, kalau tak, asyik nunggu orang meminang, belajar pun tak kemana.
    i always believe in jodoh pertemuan di tangan Allah.
    one day my prince will come.. hehe


    But women have an advantage: Even if they are smart, they can pretend to appear not so smart to appease whoever it is they have to appease. Men, on the other hand, have to pretend to be smart – especially if they are not.

    It is easier to pretend to be not so smart; one can keep up the act forever. But pretending to be smart is tough: you get caught out very quickly.

    Your prince is out there, Serene. Its just that right now he hasn’t yet earned to right to meet up with you.

  24. Thank god they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. So all women are beutiful to some male’s eyes.

    But richness is only in the eyes of the bankers. Either you are rich or poor.

    The exception could perhaps be those withthe ability to create the perception of richness. Maybe you have any idea, MB?


    Bro! No banker, no matter how blind or incompetent, is going to be able to classify me as rich. So, the answer to your question is: I haven’t got a clue as to how to conjure up the perception of wealth – even if I wanted to 😦

    Yeah, and about beauty being in the eye of the beholder – its true! – some men are more easily pleased than others.

  25. Thanks abang Kai…

    Love means not having to say sorry lah…just a little trip to Poh Kong will do

    Robina Xang

    Let’s see if we can get Dry Humour to take you to the Ulu Bernam branch of Poh Kong…

  26. Dah lah tu,membebankan dengan subjective matter.
    Dari tulisan my nyik(great-great grand dad) begini translate nya

    ‘Al Aham Fal Aham’
    ‘Dulukan yang penting dari yang kurang pentin’

    Non kecuali Galing68 yg.mengingati arwah late grand ma.
    Al.fatiha to arwah moga rohnya aman dan pengajarannya diberkati Allah.

    p.s macam kat rumah Fermoy Rd dulu.ramainya squartters when summer comes.mamak!

  27. Robina

    Everything accepted except neuroses. I love roses but not the neu variety.

    Unfortunately, the town next to Ulu Bernam doesn’t even have a Poh Kong.

    But not far from there we can get bangles, necklaces etc made by the Orang Asli. The jampi on them can take us to the moon many times over.

    Love is being able to live on thin air, my dear. Don’t have to be on Mount Everest.

    Btw, Ulu Bernam is Double M’s kampong – his father lived (lives?) there. He took RM2.4 mill cash to Australia reportedly to buy furniture – even he couldn’t find a Poh Kong nearby, Robina.


    Got chance you reckon?


    Dry Humour

    I am rooting for you, bro!

  28. What? Do you think staying pretty is cheap? We need rich men to support our beauty products so we could stay pretty until we’re old…Haha…

    I always believe nobody can be celebrity-like beautiful without make-ups or photoshop or plastic surgery. Nobody has naturally long, curled eyelashes and naturally flawless skin and naturally red lips and naturally straight teeth all at once. I refuse to believe somebody can be that perfect. Hehe.

    Honestly speaking, sometimes, I prefer guys to fancy me for my beauty rather than my brain. It’s good for my self-esteem 🙂 It can be fun to play bimbo.


    See how well it works out? The man needs a beauty by is side to stroke is ego (amongst other things) and the woman needs the cash so that she can remain beautiful for as long as she can.Hows that for symbiosis?

    I got good news for you, ma’am: No man (if he is honest about it) really fancies a woman for her brains; its the bits further south that he is after. So, if a man fancies you at all, you can bet your stethoscope that he fancies you for your looks.

    He might say he’s intrigued by your mind. But don’t fall for this subterfuge: he knows what to say to get what he wants.

    OK, this is just me being cynical… There are good men out there. Really!

  29. What MY grandmother said – “Sape lah nakkan kau nanti, bodi pun takde. Nah ambek Tok punya separuh” – cackling with laughter while offerring her bounteous bosom. “Ala Tok, kalau bodi besar, macamana nak menang lumba lari?” – me side-stepping the insult. But marry I did to my present-day hubby. Me no bodi, he no money. FF 28 years, tak kaya harta, cuma kaya anak. Hidup selesa, rumah tangga bahagia, Insya Allah. The End.


    Good for you, ma’am. I guess the trick is to learn to appreciate – and accept – our partner; all their faults together with all their strengths. Add to this the realisation that in life we will seldom get what we want, we should be OK.

  30. My husband used to be damn rich before, a good looking man, he could have Rozita Wan Cik (sorry if I misspell her name) if he wants to. I’m being not-so-that-pretty as her but still in the category boleh tahan la, in addition having kids my voluptuous figure slowly deteriorate to Betty Ugly but he never damn care about it, he still treat me as we first met. Being very loyal and now he is broke and I’m still with him even he could not afford my expensive maintenance and no more access to luxury living. It is not whether you are pretty or rich, it is all depends on your ‘nawaitu’ the main purpose of the marriage/relationship. Lust? materialistic? plastic? till when it will last?


    What can I say? You must be one in a million.

    Standing by your man even when he has gone broke is a virtue I seldom see in women. Maybe I’ve been in the company of the wrong women for far too long. I’ve seen, too often perhaps, a man’s pride and self-respect being reduced to yesterday’s rubbish the moment he fails to provide at the level the wife expects him to.

    I hope you will never have to see this. May your union deepen and endure.

  31. Hi Matt,

    Rough day at the office watching all those uefa champions league games. Good to have 4 EPL teams thru’ the last 8.

    Anyway going by what your granny said; I should have been born a female, ahem…Leng Chai mah …blushing.

    I empathized with your use of those words ‘poor sod’; it’s a blokey thing mah. Like they says;

    You’ll never know happiness until u get married…………………….by then it’s too late!

    It’s so scary; the uncanny similarities Ms Xang have with my Ah Soh. So all u bachelors out there, if u want a blissful life, go for not too pretty, yet not ugly, smart but pretending to be not smart damsels like our Puteri & Kak Teh types. There’s u go, my $50 worth, hey I don’t come cheap u know!


    Tommy Yew

    You should be a philosopher… go for the not too pretty but not ugly; smart but pretends not to be not so smart…

    I think you have paid Kama and Kak Teh a very big compliment.

    And this one: “You’ll never know happiness until u get married…………………….by then it’s too late!” This is a gem!

    Thanks for sharing, Tommy. You da man!

  32. Mr MB,

    Another family story. When I was studying law and of marriageable age, my mom used to tell me ‘jangan cakap pasal undang-undang dengan orang lelaki, nanti dia takut dan lari (as in there goes you chance of happy ever after). ”

    Needless to say, I married the first man who didn’t blink when I said, ‘let’s talk about a ‘ta’liq’ [marriage contract]”.


    It seems you found yourself a man of steel, Auntida. Good for you!

  33. Abang Pian,

    When I knew him, he told me he is unemployed, jobless, I believed him and till now he is still out of job but I still choose to be with him. Me, not pretty even worse no brain, broke, in addition not even in a category of successful career woman and he still stuck with me. As age catching up, we’ve looked love/life in different perspective. I agree with you, it’s all about appreciation and accepting. Accepting the fact we seldom get what we want. Life have taught us valuable lesson indeed!

    Thank you for the awe-inspiring and profound writing.


    He is a good man, Azah: I’ve known him for a very long time. He is a good man.

    And don’t be too hard on yourself. He is with you because he knows a good thing when he sees it. Of this I am sure.

    It is all too easy to use how much money a man has (or doesn’t have) as a yardstick because it is often the easiest yardstick to use. Sadly for some people this is the only yardstick they know. But never forget that we all have other yardsticks as well; all of us have.

    Never lose sight of this.

  34. dear mat,

    Your grandma indeed gave us something to ponder. To me, rich is objective while beauty is subjective. One may look extremely hideous to all but another may see her as ‘exotic, unique etc. And one too may look drop dead gorgeous but a few may consider as ‘too..bla bla..to my liking’.. see…my point is, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Appreciate what you have and stop dreaming..:-))



    Too true!

    But come to think of it, even rich is subjective. To someone living poverty – somewhere in, lets say, the Ethiopian desert – I will appear remarkably rich. But by KL standards, I would hardly be able to measure up. See what I mean?

    Thanks for dropping by.

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