Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[Reading] No Bed of Roses: The Rose Chan Story

Book cover: No Bed of Roses: The Rose Chan Story
I actually have two titles in my hand last month and coincidentally BOTH (yes, emphasis on b-o-t-h) books were erotica in genre. This book is about the legendary Rose Chan, Asia’s undisputed Striptease Queen. If you bravely stand in a crowd of youngsters born post 1980, and casually mention her name I bet no one would bat an eyelid or even turn their heads. But if that same crowd is pre-1980s babies, I can assure you a simple whisper of her name will make heads turn.  Because that was exactly what happened to ME at the bookstore!

This book was launched end July 2013 and sold in bookstores for MYR49.90. A few weekends ago, my regular bookstore had 15% discount slapped on the covers and I took the opportunity to grab a copy. Now the name Rose Chan was no alien to me, I’ve heard her name being mentioned numerous times. And it seems to me that her saying name is a forbidden as You-Know-Who (Lord Voldemort the baddie in Harry Potter series).

Anyway, I was at the bookstore and looking high and low as the bookstore was in utter mess due to a new batch of books that has just arrived. The store supervisor was running her fingers on her clip board when I interrupted her sheepishly asking for the biography on Rose Chan. She was totally clueless on who the Flower of Malaya was, because her expression was exactly like clueless minion (from Despicable Me movie). I had a tough time recalling the exact title or the author’s name. As the only think I know about that book (then) was “it’s a biography of Rose Chan, full stop”.

About two arm lengths away from me was a senior man (50 year old uncle I guess) who overheard me whisper the striptease goddess name and his head twisted around like an owl to my direction! I don’t know whose face bore closer resemblance to the winter Hokkaido monkey in a hot spring, his or mine. I do really wonder, such a name that could make old heads turn with a murmur.

I then quietly tailgate the supervisor into the biography section while she bombarded me with more questions about the book. The supervisor must have thought of me being queer as I fumbled in my explanation before I spotted the sepia mix cover sitting on the top shelf right on my eye level. I thanked her and apologized again for dragging her away from her duties, then headed straight to the payment counter with my eyes glued on the casher and nowhere else!

As I’ve mentioned I knew the name Rose Chan since a kid even though her demise in Penang on 26th of May in the year 1987 would mean I was still a diaper wearing toddler. But her life always intrigued me. I’ve heard my parents mention her when I was growing up and the newspapers printing articles of her. So this book does set some insight to who what where when and how this Soochow born dancer stole her name. Yes, apparently she stole a girl’s English name, who stole her fiancé.

Overall, I find this book a good read because it is about someone I know only by name and nothing more. It would however be a headache for those who are not well verse with a multiple mix of languages like Malay, Hokkien and Cantonese. Although some of the words do come with an English translation in brackets, I find it quite a task to grasp her heavily Chinese accent of Ingris

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A small thought,
A simple sentence
To light up my day - Terima Kasih