Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Play Me I'm Yours

"What's the plan for the weekend then?" asks V, "You sure banyak activity wan"

I don't really plan my weekends nowadays till the 11th hour but it still gets filled up. These past few weeks were confined within London : parks, bbq's, gardening and a few random musical/theatre performances. I'm not one to run away for the weekend to a neighbouring country and London has plenty to offer which suits my austerity drive anyway.

Its liberating to finally walk out of the house without a jacket on - I could even wear sunnies:) Love the long days of summer too - sunrise at 4.30am, sunset at 9pm....lots of activities to cram within the day. Everyone seems happier in the summer - roses and lavendar bloom, a different variety of fruits appear on shelves.

I'd admit that summer weekends come fast and furious - another hot weekend forecasted this week end woo hoo!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oat and Eggs

Ever tried microwaving oats and egg in the microwave? I'd highly suggest you not.

Have been stressed at work and planned to get into Heathrow at 6am the next morning so went to bed pretty early at 11pm. Skipped dinner and all since I just got back from frisbee at about 10pm. Must've have been more highly strung than I thought - woke up at midnight; hungry and worrying about Earned Value.

Breathing deeply and doing the 'Savasana' didn't help so I went to the kitchen to at least quieten my growling tummy. It was a debate between instant noodles or oats - didn't want to feel terribly full thus the oats won - microwaved a cup with an egg in it.

After a few minutes, took it out of the oven and stirred in some soya sauce. There was loud 'Pop!' and the whole thing exploded in my face.

It must have been an almighty blow-over as it was all over the floor, counter and ceiling. No matter that my shirt, face and hair had an instant oat-egg mask. Had to get on my hands and knees to scrub the floor and then climb the counters to clean the mess off the walls - at 1 am. If there's anyone feeling dumb and dumber at this time of night, it's me.

It's half one now and I'm still hungry.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Peckham Finishing School for Girls

I'll start with an analogy as I like them so much. London is like a lady decked-out in the latest togs; tight low-cut blouse and big branded handbag. From afar, she looks posh and loaded; come closer and you'll realise she's not a sweet-young-thing - closer to middle-age in fact but with all that bronzer on she's like a brassy potty beacon.

And so that's my first impression of London - no high-tea rooms, Royal Albert Hall Concerts and Burberry bag shopping - I came on a bus passing Croydon and saw a lot of coloured people.

Looking for accommodation in London is very educational in terms of Geography and Anthropology. Well-meaning advisors tell me -

East = Dodgy
West = Good
South = not good
North = better

So I found a place West - and realised I was practically in East Europe (other wise known as East Acton) Lots of Poles, Hungarians, Czechs etc. And so upon looking at the demographics, it roughly goes like this so I'm told:

North East - Vietnamese, African, Carribean
Central West- Middle Eastern, Indian
South East - African, Carribean
No English people live in London.

The commute to work was long and I didn't really like the Tube so against all the noise, I moved South East i.e. dodgy.

Telling my colleagues and friends where I live is a fun experience. My jingle goes like this,

Acquaintance: So where do you live?

Me: Oh, I live in the ghetto

Acquaintance: Really? Where's that?

Best answer - I live near London Bridge
2nd best answer - I live near Bermondsey
2nd least best answer - I live near Elephant and Castle
Worst answer(not recommended) - I live on the Old Kent Road

To be fair, I've lived where I live for more than a year now and I love it. I've never been stabbed nor shot-at. Though I've had to call the police a couple of times for being followed home and harrassed by a bunch of white kids. Otherwise, its not so bad.

So with great glee, I came across this BBC Programme entitled Peckham Finishing School for Girls: Four affluent girls from the countryside have their credit cards removed and given 6.50GBP a week to live on in not-so-posh Peckham - cluelessness will guarantee amusement.

I live 20 mins walk from Peckham which I do when I can btw - it's a nice stroll in a former canal through a park. Main reason: Peckham has a great library which opens Mon - Sunday.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Of Uniformity

Was off on the bus this morning a little later than usual as I had to run a few errands at the post-office before work. It always amazes me how a difference of a few minutes can quickly transform the density of the buses from 'lightly-squashed' to 'sardine-packed'. It was then that I realised that the additional unit of bodies were contributed by the school-going population of the city strata. I'm pleasantly surprised that the English schools still implemented the school uniform: boys in gray/black shorts and trousers, cardigans, long-sleeved shirt and tie; girls in blazer/cardigan, shirt, plaid skirts and long socks. (see M&S sales poster for uniforms)which brings forth my childhood images of Enid Blyton's schoolchildren i.e. The Naughtiest Girl in School, Malory Towers and St Clare's.

It would seem that the school uniform is still viewed as a positive method in instilling school ethos, discipline and pride in young people as encouraged by the Department of Children, Schools and Families (a UK Government agency responsible for issues regarding children up to the age of 19 until 2010). Although not all schools do it, there is encouraged implementation of uniforms for school children in England and Wales.

In Europe for example Germany, the traditional school uniform is never proposed in earnest but 'school clothing' such as t-shirts collections and set-clothing in a contemporary sense is often used.

And thus, the uniform is dying out as a perceived method of discipline - only implemented now in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Malaysia.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweet William - 22 months

I brought my Sweet William over when I moved to Rolls Road in October 2008. It was still in the little pot which it was seeded in for a few months, the poor thing. It grew quite a lot as it was straining out of its perch so I hijacked one of the hanging pots outside my door (which had nothing it in - guess the previous inhabitant died) in hope that it would have a little place to grow.

It's been developing into this green mess. This is how it looks like outside my door -

And that's how it looks like every day, every evening and every morning, day-in, day-out. It blends into the background and every day life (sometimes I forget to water it). Occasionally when I come home from work I wondered if it was ever going to flower. It never did.

My surmise was that

a. it was still too young
b. the soil was infertile
c. the seeds are a dud

or maybe a combination of two or more factors. I mean, I still water it (and I give it more water than the other two plants outside the door which probably belonged to the previous tenants of the place just because it's mine) and sometimes I don't until I see it turning a little yellow and thirsty and then I hurry to the tap to get a little H2O and dump some water in the pot. I've even started seeding another little pot of Sweet William but that one died at my window sill because I forgot to water it.

So it sits there every day, every evening and every morning, day-in and day-out.
Until yesterday I noticed that it's been growing flowers (the sneaky little thing)!

I mean it's nothing like the picture on the packet which looks like this

but I'm happy for the flowers that it's yielding. I'm quite proud of my little Sweet William (Well done boy!). Despite them being tiny flowers I'm feeling pretty grateful. It's funny how life gives you a nice surprise when you least expect it to.

Now I have been harboring feelings for a certain person for about the same amount of time but that hasn't yielded any thing. Maybe

a. the relationship is premature
b. the conditions are not right
c. the seed is a dud

Should I take a lesson from Sweet William? But plants are not people and people are not plants. Maybe I should just grow plants instead - heck at least after 22 months, the plant yielded some flowers. Yeah, I'm picturing a little old spinster lady with her plants, baking cakes and scones and listening to sad Carpenter's songs like this one:

I'm doing all three pretty well now (heavens and horrors )... at this rate who knows what I'm capable of when I reach that age.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters

Have been listening a lot to the Carpenters lately. I daresay Karen Carpenter's signature voice stands unrivaled to this day - bell-like, subtle but powerful. Such an unfortunate loss of a great singer but the duo's music still lives on after all these years.

Have chosen this song in conjunction with the rainy days in London befelling us.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Of Malaysia

"Malaysian politics" is like a big old building - it sits there too big to move, an eyesore, UGLY, painful but with very very deep foundations. You destroy the foundations and you destroy the building - for good but could possibly adversely affect the surrounding environment.

You could say I fit the stereotypical Chinese person who's apolitical and apathetic - I have very little knowledge on the going-ons on who's who and what's what, rarely read newspapers, watch TV or surf the internet on these issues. I have a scattering knowledge of cow's heads, castles in Klang, DVD sex-tapes and a Mongolian model being murdered.

Recent discussions and contact with some fellow Malaysians who are in the UK have emphasised 'Malaysian political' issues which intrigue me now than when I was in the country. Not sure why but maybe when we were back home, things were 'as it is', it was still possible to live without looking critically at the issues and how it was bleeding the nation.

It does take some time to come to a realisation that some of the things that are going on at home ARE disgusting, obscene and outrightly 'wrong'. Now how did that happen all of a sudden?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Anyeong Ha Se Yo

Read this article on the BBC news on life in North Korea. I wonder if it's really possible to mass-brainwash millions into happiness

Which reminded me of a conversation I had over drinks with my well-read colleague and she so happened to be reading a book on North Korea which jogged my memory on the one I read by Hyejin Kim entitled 'Jia'.

'Jia' is a part fiction-part autobiography of a little girl brought up as a dancer for the military regime in North Korea - her life, love and finally escape from North Korea into China. There are very few North Korean novels ( or any at all as this one claims to be the first to be published in the West) and I was very pleased to pick this one up while browsing the Peckham library. Highly recommended.