Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keukenhof

A burst of colour lit from the flame of God...





















Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Windmills of the Netherlands (Kinderdijk)



The windmills stood like lonely giants in the mist. Stationery and silent; sentinels guarding the polders on the plain. This was the scene that greeted M, K and I as we ventured forth; sallying forth with our cameras and the earnest hope of capturing the essence of the Netherlands.

A land where half of the nation is below sea-level; the windmills have become the bastion of the temerity and ingenuity of the Dutch in making their land liveable for centuries despite the impossible geographical conditions.





As we walked, I asked M if the Netherlands has suffered the recession to which he replied that it was less pronounced as compared to the UK (measuring in chocolate sales as this was the industry he was in). In the international front, Mr Jan Peter Balkenende's government has also faced the dilemma of pushing through a public stimulus package aimed at the Netherlands' financial industry; it being a double-edged sword meaning deteriorating state solvency and maligning public opinion by digging into public coffers for the sake of the EU-good.



Not a sound can be heard on that silent sphere except the occasional cry of a water-fowl or the splash of the boat cruising down the canal. An ominous mist hangs curiously above the ground; the windmills cast dark shadows like grazing obedient cattle over the plain. It's hard to imagine that these gentle giants have stood here for 300 years.

Nevertheless, the Dutch have lived and triumphed over the elements (1953)throughout the centuries. I believe with the same spirit too, they will rise above the economic tide.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

To be or not to be

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saint Paddy's Day

HI ALL

COME AND JOIN US CELEBRATE "SAINT PATRICKS DAY"

IRISH DJ FROM 3PM

DARTS MARATHON INCLUDING KNOCKOUT, KILLER AND MORE!!

"A QUESTION OF THOUGHT" QUIZ IN AID OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
( winning team of four has chance to see question of sport being recorded with SUE BARKER)


PLUS MUCH MORE

PLEASE SEE MY ATTACHMENT



Got this message in the mailbox today. Look at how cute the banner is - U2, Jameson's, The Pogues...all things good and Irish.

Mr. Murphy owns the pub down the street i.e. The Horseshoe Inn.
Apparently up till the 1970's, all the pubs in ireland were shut in observance of the holy saint...unheard of today. Now you can enjoy the 'craic'('crack' or 'craic' meaning the talk and banter) and 'leave on your back'....How Irish!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

SMK CBN Choir



This clip is so cute and reminded me of my days in the CBN school choir as pianist with Angie leading the society and me being also in choral speaking and drama - We went for competitions too and it was serious business. Practicing after school hours, during school hours, holidays etc. That was the specialness of being a CBNer - we were proud of where we came from and were particular on winning. This was not the exception, it was the rule. The headmistress, teachers and all the girls knew it -whether in athletics, volleyball, in the SPM, PMR or STPM exams, cheerleading, choir, choral speaking etc.

Life in CBN was always varied with special customs and heritages - not always about exams and books (although we excelled here too). We had Literary and Drama Week, New Year's eve sing-a-long sessions, Sports Days, etc. On 16 December 2008, Pos Malaysia issued a set of four commemorative stamps and first day cover, honoring four Premier Schools of Malaysia - evidently Convent Bukit Nanas along with Victoria Institution, SMK St. Thomas in Kuching and SMK All Saints in Sabah.

Looking back, I've had nothing but fondness for my days in school and am pleased that the CBN spirit is still strong evidently in this clip. Once a CBNer, always a CBNer!

p.s. They went on to become the national choir champions for 2008 at the Malaysia Secondary School National Champion Choir 2008. Well done girls!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Over You - Brandi Carlisle

I got these from my musical muses in Sweden - they sure know good music when they hear it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Greetings

To my family, friends at home and all over the world,

Blessed be your Christmas and peace be with you every day of the New Year

Fiona

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shortest Day, Longest Night

Yesterday at the office, Hamish mentioned about yesterday being the shortest day and the night before being the longest night (whatever that means).


After quizzing Ben and Andy about it, they mentioned that it was the winter solstice and a time to hug stones at Stonehenge which boggled me more (though they disputed H's date in that it happened two days ago i.e. December 20th) I muttered something like:

Me:' The English: quirky weird'
Ben:'What was that?'
Me:'Nothing!', (walking away)




Sifting around in the bubbling pot of memories, the winter solstice in Malaysia (being a hot, tropical mass) was usually celebrated by going to Mama's place for the 'guo dong' dinner. She knew I loved tang yuen and would never fail to make it. I loved that she loved me eating those coloured balls in sugary syrup as that's how a grandmother would show her care and concern for her grandchildren. No matter how full up I was from eating (and eating) I'd never say no to a bowl of coloured balls.


Fast forward to a year ago, in Sweden, it was the mark of the long, dark days in Stockholm/Umea. The sun would not show - only faint light on gray, clouded skies at 12 noon and by 3.30 it would be pitch dark. The snow was already on the ground in Umea. Whilst walking to school from Alidhem, I used to gaze up at the birch trees along the path and there'd be one or two magpies (large, black ones) in the tree. I'd wonder how these creatures could ever stand the cold..somebody must look after them. By then, I would have left for Stockholm with a peaceful mind.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas in London


Christmas is drawing near and I swear, I've celebrated it this year in London more than I did my Chinese New Years in Malaysia (CNY being the biggest celebration for Chinese). Company dinner parties, cards, drinks, holidays, eating, drinking - it's more than I can bear. New term learnt last week: 'Bah humbug' -Context: Used when you're telling people 'I don't like celebrating Christmas'

The 'Quality Street' Christmas Tree
Put up a Christmas tree in the flat after Frank Caruso, the landlord, discovered it by chance in the loft when I moved in. Mirko and I put it up for the fun of it a few weeks ago but couldn't find any decorations with it. So we hung 'Quality Street' sweets all over it, which works pretty well I must say. Mirko bought lights at the 99p shop in Camden but predictably enough, they were duds.

Corporate Christmas Dinners
In keeping up with the recession in the UK, the project team cancelled the company dinner. Two of my friends' company dinners also got cancelled or were self-financed. Fortunately T&T's Christmas dinner and the PCon Team Christmas Bowling carried on (my first Christmas socials in London) After agonizing over the perfect dress search, I finally returned the ones I bought at Jane Norman and went with my 8-year old black number. It was a loose at first but the flat drier fixed it: Nothing like a good old shrink from the trusty monster (it shrank my socks and pants)

Christmas Goodies
Received 2 presents this year: a box of chocolates from Penny and a fantastic keyboard from Geoff(ok the latter was a loaner, but it's still great anyway) Never expected to get anything much less do anything over Christmas. Transport is at a standstill on Christmas day - not even the buses are moving. Penny gave me her family's Christmas Cake recipe (her mum bakes cakes professionally)and it turned out alright I guess. We'll have this for the Christmas eve dinner (eat) and Christmas day will be spent at church and an open house (eat again!). Expected weight gain: 1/2 a stone

Monday, December 08, 2008

Speaking 'English' English

'Cheers'

Context: When someone's done something for you, you say 'Cheers' as in 'thank you'. Or when you sign off from an email you write ' Cheers' at the end

'Mate'

Context: A name to call someone you want to be on buddy-buddy terms with. 'Thanks mate' 'How're you doing mate?'

'You're a star'

Context: When you want to praise someone for doing a good job or when they've done something for you. 'Thanks Jo, you're a star!'

Lovely/Excellent

Context: What you say when something was done well - or as a praise for someone (but not as high a praise as 'you're a star') ' That's lovely' 'That will be excellent'

Love

Context: Used when addressing a younger person like 'Thanks love', 'It's ok love'

Are you alright?

Context: Asked to show concern...like when you're doing work and trying to concentrate there'll be someone asking you 'Are you alright?' every half hour so you can stop doing your work, start chatting and forget about it.

Did you have a good weekend?

Context: Asked usually on a Monday, in replacement of the usual 'How are you' and 'How's it going' e.g. you see your colleague in the pantry on Monday morning, instead of 'How are you?' it's more appropriate and timely to say 'Did you have a good weekend?'

Let's have a chat/Would you like a chat...?

Context: Same meaning as 'would you like to discuss this?' e.g. 'The issue has cropped up again. Let's have a chat about this over tea?'

Give me a shout

Context: Not to be confused with a cheerleading cry - it means, 'Call me' or ' Notify me' as in 'Give me a shout when you're ready'

Monday, December 01, 2008

Book Clubs and Oedipus



Had a very good Sunday today. First I leapt out of bed at 10.40am and realized I was late for the book club meet. Hurriedly dressed and ran out the door. It was raining, naturally. Fortunately Southbank isn't so far and providence provided a bus 172 just as I crossed the street to the bus stop. Played hide and seek looking for the Giraffe in the South bank centre - finally found it after walking round the Royal Festival Hall twice.

The meeting had already kicked off amid the cafe-bustle, brazilian music and coffee blending machines. Reminded me of the time I had mine in La Bodega in Bangsar - can't believe it was 3 years ago. It was a little hard to hear what the group was saying while being interrupted by the 'Vegetarian salad? Large Cappucino? English Breakfast??' yelled out insistently on occasion. Otherwise, the discussion was interesting covering culture, India, politics and ethics - heavy stuff on a Sunday afternoon but the company was great too.

There were a couple of keen theatre-goers amongst us and one of them wanted to check out 'Oedipus', currently playing a hop and skip away *literally next door* in the National Theatre. The plus was that Ralph Fiennes was in the title role. I invited myself to come along and we tried our luck for the standby tickets for about half an hour when finally we had three very good seats - smack in the centre of the hall, right up front.


The play was superb - Ralph Fiennes was larger than life. He appeared through the large bronze door right in the centre of the stage - stared at the audience and uttered 'You come here weeping and crying. You, you old man get up and speak!' lifted a finger and slowly stared accusingly. It was scary. The cast was no less brilliant ....all of them terribly accomplished in their role. And I liked the stage layout - a circular conference with the large ominous bronze door in the centre almost signifying the wheel of fate with the doorway of tragedy like a gaping hole on the stage.

OK I have to be an ignoramus now and say this: there is a lot of spit emitted in plays. I saw actors spitting when talking, spitting when singing, or spit while standing and putting fingers in their mouths (look at Ralph's picture) I'm sure there's a criteria that one must be able to spit while acting to become truly an actor. I could almost spot which ones were the 'wannabe-spitters' - it had to be the guy at the end of the play - the filler delivering the bad news while Ralph had time to put on some bloody make up. The sanitary team must disinfect the stage every day I'll bet - nice job. Collect some famous spit and sell em.

All in all, a nice Sunday well spent.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Stay in My Memory



Here's a good example of what you may call 'ambient music' by British group BIM with striking animation by Katy Davis

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Foux De Fa Fa

Ha Ha Ha hA .......Kiwis Rule!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Inner City Pressure

I'm moving into the City....Just saw an episode of Flight of the Conchords which sheds a hilarious perspective to my situation.


Inner city life, inner city pressure
The concrete world is starting to get ya
The city is alive, the city is expanding,
Living in the city can be demanding,
You've pawned everything, everything you own,
Your toothbrush, jar, and a camera phone
You don't know where you're going
You cross the street
You don't know why you did,
You walk back across the street.
Standing in the sitting room, totally skint
And your favorite jersey is covered in lint
You want to sit down, but you sold your chair
So you just stand there
You just stand there
You just stand there
Inner
Inner city
Inner city pressure
Inner city pressure
Counting coins on the counter of the 7-11,
From a quarter past six 'til a quarter to seven,
The manager Bevan starts to abuse me
Hey man, I just want some Muesli,
Neon signs, hidden messages,
Questions, answers, fetishes,
You know you're not in high finance,
Considering getting second hand underpants,
Check your mind, how'd it get so bad?
What happened to those other underpants you had,
Look in your pockets, haven't found a cent yet,
Landlords on your balls, have you paid your rent yet?
Inner
Inner city
Inner city pressure
Inner city pressure
So you think maybe you'll be a prostitute,
Just to pay for your lessons, you're learning the flute,
The ladies won't pay you very much for this,
Looks like you'll never be a concert flautist,
You don't measure up to the expectation
When you're unemployed there's no vacation
No one cares, no one sympathizes
You just stay home and play synthesizers.
Inner
Inner city
Inner city pressure
Inner city pressure
Inner
Inner city
Inner city pressure
Inner city pressure

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

www.oneword.com

Word of the day: Brick

He picked up the brick like it was any old thing he'd usually stoop to include in his collection of variables. A compulsive hoarder; this would go very well with the slats of plywood which he took from the construction site down the road the other day.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Underground Reads: Graphic Novels

Have been trying to keep up some reading but it's going slow. The times that I get to snatch a few reads are either on the underground or on the weekends but somehow I never seem to get further than 5 pages at each length of time. I seem to suffer either from attention deficit disorder or a heavy workload (Can't be the latter cos I'm not earning tons)

Determined to get my bibliojo going; I picked up some graphic novels from the Southwark council library just down the road from my office. Surprisingly it works pretty well as it's light enough reading for the tube i.e. you can snatch-read while shuffling around in the tube and wallah, you've done 5 pages.

These are my reads so far:



Spiral: A horror manga mag which has an interesting concept of the 'spiral'. It appears in the spiraled-spine of a haunted jack in the box, the mosquitoes flight, snails, tornadoes -Talk about 'light' reading...it was quite ridiculous really.











Road to Perdition: I loved this one! Beautifully drawn with powerful character studies. I'm glad I read this instead of watching Tom Hanks spoil it.













The Goon: Oooo I liked this one too. At first it didn't get me but the more I read it the funnier it became. It was the zombies that led me to pick up this one















Mort: I got this as it had Terry Pratchett on it. I've never read any of his novels but this one was so-so. I didn't get parts of it though - maybe I'll get the book...hmmmm....not













Deogratias: Award-winning Belgian comic - I've just borrowed this one today and looking forward.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh !

There was an old re-run of friends in the first season on SKY.

In the closing scene, Monica knocks on Ross' ex-fling's (who has a hygiene problem) door and says:

"HI I'm Ross sister and he told me about your apartment and I can't sleep - can I clean your apartment?"

I AM Monica!!

www.oneword.com

Word of the day: Mantle

man tai!....screamed the chinese aunty. The literal translation of 'Problem'! Who doesn't have problems these days? Especially with the petrol price hikes and notwithstanding increasing prices on the noodles. Old chinese aunty isn't too fogey to fathom it

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wicked

Just watched 'Wicked' yesterday night. After being in London for almost 2 months and coming here so many times, I never had the opportunity to catch a single musical. Well it was worth it - fantastic music, backdrop and costumes. It's a clever story based on Gregory Maguire's book Wicked:The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West


Thanks to Alden though for being a good 'teman' and listening to my tirade before - sorry ah

I wonder how many hours of work the cast has to go through for each scene and little movement - it must take such amount of stamina. And they have to perform it for 8 days a week for months(years?)- nothing short of amazing. Alisha Khadime was the star in this show I think - I prefer the quality of her voice compared to the other female performers in the show.

I didn't even realize that the music was live - thought it was a recording until I saw the conductor waving about in the middle. Oh well, it's really years before Malaysia can get to this level of entertainment.

Anyway if Wicked does ever come to your shore, I'd highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Growing Sweet William

Watched The Wonder Years today - it was hilarious. Not that i really watch the telly but there's one with Sky in my room but I haven't touched it since moving in plus its a Sunday morning after all.

Amy thinks I should write in my blog more - though have been lazy at it since no one reads it in the first place. (if you are say 'aye'....exactly my point)

In between settling down in London, my weekends have been pretty sporadic and so is my weekday schedule. I did decide on a low-maintenance hobby which I gathered would not take too much time and effort i.e. growing plants. Put in a garden plus a dash of botanical inspiration (most of the houses around East Acton have gorgeous blossoms), I popped down the local Pound stretcher and found a box of ready-potted gloxinia seeds. I watered them and waited for almost 2 weeks and realized they were duds - it cost only 20p no wonder.


So I went down to the nearby Home Base and paid a little more for a pack of Sweet William (Dianthus Barbatus - 1.75GBP for 800 seeds). I chose seeds which were supposed to be sown between July- September; apparently I'm a little late for the gardening season. Oh well I'll try anyways.

I planted the little black seeds, doubtful of their worth.



And with much surprise they started sprouting after a week.


It will take a whole year before they turn into these(see below)

But it would be interesting to see how far William will grow under my green thumb.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

East of the Sun and West of the Moon




Once upon a time, my father and mother bought the 'World's Best Fairy Tales' from the Reader's Digest magazine subscription. It was already old when I started to read it at the age of 7. It was beige in colour (not sky blue like the picture here) and had spots on the cover and dust from the silverfishes hiding in its spine. I read the book from cover to cover and looked at the beautiful watercolour illustrations for each story again and again.

One day my aunt asked me, "Which story is your favourite?"

I had thought long and hard about it and I decided that the story I liked best was 'East of the Sun and West of the Moon'.

I liked it because

a. The long title sounded sophisticated
b. The heroine in the picture was the prettiest of all
c. I empathised with the girl in the story who couldn't get what she wanted

My aunt asked me 'why' and so I told her.


A long, long time passed. I grew up, my parents and my aunt grew wrinkles and spots and the story from the book became another buried childhood memory. The book itself mysteriously disappears - either magicked itself away or thrown out by my mother and father or buried in the dust somewhere in the many piles of stuff in my house.

One day, another book came into my hands and told me "Read this fairy tale again: East of the Sun and West of the Moon!". Compelled to obey, I go on the internet and Google.

Lo! and behold! Knowledge and memory comes back to me like a trumpet blast. I like the story now because:

a. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a Scandinavian fairy tale. It is Norwegian: collected by Peter Christensen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. The Swedish version is called Prince Hat under the Ground. It is about the search for a lost husband - Aarne-Thompson type 425A - similar to the Beauty and the Beast
b.The heroine was the bravest of all - she looked beyond appearances and accepted a monster (a white bear) as her husband
d. I sympathised with the girl in the story

With that, so ends my fairy tale.

Snip, snap, snout, this tale's told out.

You can read the story in Surlalune Fairytales here

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Origin of Love (Hedwig and The Angry Inch)

-by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask

One of the greatest movie songs of all time....



When the earth was still flat,
And the clouds made of fire,
And mountains stretched up to the sky,
Sometimes higher,
Folks roamed the earth
Like big rolling kegs.
They had two sets of arms.
They had two sets of legs.
They had two faces peering
Out of one giant head
So they could watch all around them
As they talked; while they read.
And they never knew nothing of love.
It was before the origin of love.

The origin of love

And there were three sexes then,
One that looked like two men
Glued up back to back,
Called the children of the sun.
And similar in shape and girth
Were the children of the earth.
They looked like two girls
Rolled up in one.
And the children of the moon
Were like a fork shoved on a spoon.
They were part sun, part earth
Part daughter, part son.

The origin of love

Now the gods grew quite scared
Of our strength and defiance
And Thor said,
"I'm gonna kill them all
With my hammer,
Like I killed the giants."
And Zeus said, "No,
You better let me
Use my lightening, like scissors,
Like I cut the legs off the whales
And dinosaurs into lizards."
Then he grabbed up some bolts
And he let out a laugh,
Said, "I'll split them right down the middle.
Gonna cut them right up in half."
And then storm clouds gathered above
Into great balls of fire

And then fire shot down
From the sky in bolts
Like shining blades
Of a knife.
And it ripped
Right through the flesh
Of the children of the sun
And the moon
And the earth.
And some Indian god
Sewed the wound up into a hole,
Pulled it round to our belly
To remind us of the price we pay.
And Osiris and the gods of the Nile
Gathered up a big storm
To blow a hurricane,
To scatter us away,
In a flood of wind and rain,
And a sea of tidal waves,
To wash us all away,
And if we don't behave
They'll cut us down again
And we'll be hopping round on one foot
And looking through one eye.

Last time I saw you
We had just split in two.
You were looking at me.
I was looking at you.
You had a way so familiar,
But I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face;
I had blood in my eyes.
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine.
That's the pain,
Cuts a straight line
Down through the heart;
We called it love.
So we wrapped our arms around each other,
Trying to shove ourselves back together.
We were making love,
Making love.
It was a cold dark evening,
Such a long time ago,
When by the mighty hand of Jove,
It was the sad story
How we became
Lonely two-legged creatures,
It's the story of
The origin of love.
That's the origin of love.

The Bud of Umea

Day 1: Just getting started...



Day 10: Gaining confidence...


Day 18: All dressed and ready to go!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Year of B Movies and Horror

I'd say this year was the year of Horror and B Movies which was an interesting watch. Threw in a few mainstream and animation to balance out all the B-ness of it all. Nevertheless I appreciate the different viewpoint i.e. campiness is fun.

2008 Viewings in No Particular Order:

Finishing the Game: The Search for the New Bruce Lee (2007)
Enchanted (2007)
Braindead (1992)
Eumranseosaeng - Forbidden Quest (2006)
Muoi (2007)
Chakushin ari - One Missed Call (2003)
Gwoemul- The Host (2006)
Black Sheep (2006)
Eagle vs Shark (2007)
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)
Bee Movie(2007)
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
[Rec] (2007)
Fido (2006)
Cube (1997)
Into the Wild (2007)
Saw (2004)
Creepshow (1982)
Creepshow 2 (1987)
The Blob (1988)
The Stuff (1985)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Martin (1977)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Day of the Dead (1985)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Dellamore Dellamorte (1994)
Bride of Reanimator (2003)
Hot Fuzz (2007)
The Changeling (1980)
The Birds (1963)
Citizen Kane (1941)
They Wait (2007)
The Mist (2007)
Silent Hill (2006)
Gedo Senki:Tales from Earthsea (2006)
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
The Wicker Man (1973)
House of Sand and Fog (2003)
Juno (2007)
Little Children (2006)
Fragile (2005)
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
Dreamgirls (2006)


Friday, April 25, 2008

Tiger in a Cage



The tiger you see madly pacing its cage is nevertheless preoccupied by something that a human would certainly recognize as a thought. And this thought is a question: Why

'Why, why, why, why, why, why,' the tiger asks itself hour after hour, day after day, year after year. It cannot analyze the questions or elaborate on it. If you were somehow able to ask the creature, "Why what?" It would be unable to answer you.

Nevertheless this question burns like an unquenchable flame in its mind, inflicting a searing pain that does not diminish until the creature lapses into a final lethargy that zookeepers recognize as an irreversible rejection of life.

And of course this questioning is something that no tiger does in its normal habitat.

- in 'Ishmael' by Daniel Quinn

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Days



Winter died in Umea on April 15th, 2008. I remembered it exactly as last Tuesday cos I woke up and the snow mysteriously evaporated overnight and the sun was shining and the sky and endless blue. The sun continued to shine till today thus I'd expect spring was here for good. This change was sudden as it was snowy and grey not a few days ago; and strange for me being from a tropical country with its eternal steamy summers.

Suddenly people started to act strange; they'd begin to sit outside and bask in the sun despite the still chilly weather. Everyone wanted to go outside, like worms being unearthed waving their bodies about. Then there'd be a million runners about in the evening walks.

Suddenly the birds were everywhere; seagulls, terns, crows, finches. You'd hear them bursting into song when it was silent among the trees none too long ago. A flock of birds sail through the air, not a cloud in the sky.

Suddenly there'd be the smell of shit in the air. Serious smells, like the kind you get in stables and farms..maybe it's earth but I don't know the difference. Then you feel like burning something for a bbq.

Yes, goodbye Cold, Enter sun...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ronnie Taheny




I just admire singer-songwriters like Australian Ronnie Taheny. I knew about her through Joe for a songwriting project in school. I got her wonderful "Ronnie and her Bloody DVD" and watched it hungrily. She reminds me of that character who went off into the wild in Alaska. Wild, wandering, evanescent, generous, and beautiful. Her performances are power packed and assailing. Go and watch her, and you'll know what I mean. Great music too bordering between rock, folk and pop but never any of these.

Her lyrics are deep - in fact the best part of her songs. When asked about a good song, lyrics is what she's particular about....and she's damn right about great songs (see an excerpt of her song 'Photograph' below)

Touring extensively all over Europe now, she was in Germany when I got hold of her. I'd love to go to one of her gigs and see her live but I have to make do with her DVD now...LOVE YOU RONNIE!


Photograph

Of all the days you keep

which ones keep you from your sleep?

Ones you’'d call your photograph?


A phase that comes and goes

while deep inside the emptiness grows,

Proof of your own photograph.

I'’m tired and I'’m worn-out

and it seems I’ve lost myself a reason

For trying to stick it out.



I say I'’m civilised which means

I'’m a savage in disguise,

A dark tormented other half.

And this crusade I’m in wakes an ancient voice

that sleeps within,


Destroying my own photograph.

I'’m tired and I'’m worn-out

and it seems I'’ve lost myself a reason

For trying to stick it out.



But I will live, each day I live

in the hope that I'’ll find my own photograph.

And I will live, each day I live

in the hope that I’ll find my own photograph.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Pet Pig


This is Pigg
Pigg is round
Pigg likes to eat
Pigg eats chocolate frogs
Pigg likes to eat bamboo
Pigg also likes to eat candy
Pigg dislikes chips
Pigg also dislikes eating truffles
For some reason Pigg likes Pork buns
Maybe Pigg is a cannibal
Or even worse, a zombie
Because zombies are blue and so is Pigg
Zombie Pigg doesn't look happy
Maybe Zombie Pigg wants to eat other Piggs

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Favicon, Flavicon, Fiovicon


OK FYI in case you were wondering, I didn't get sick after eating the snow and it's been 24 hours already. Nevertheless I had a great time eating that thingy.

I've been tinkering on my blog - didn't like the "Tic Tac" template provided by Blogger 'cause the margins were too wide so I thought I'd follow the 3 column-style provided by this great blog (Tips for New Bloggers) Special thanks to Jiann for recommending this site who's got a nice blog himself too.

The thing that kept me most occupied was trying to figure out how to make the Favicon show. In case u didn't know, a Fav - Eye -Con is the little piccy next to your url in the address page. I made my own out of Paint and generated it as an .ico file on any free Online Favicon Generator searchable on Google. (it's a blue frog in case u were wondering) . Thought of ripping some cartoon off Google Search Image but it was more fun to create one to fla-vi-con my blog. Sometimes the thing doesn't show for reasons unknown - so if you're reading this, do me a favour and tell me if it's still there. There are loads of rubbish sites out there (decepti-Cons) and I couldn't figure out why it didn't show. Apparently Blogger rejects .ico files unless you've uploaded one in your cache in googlepage creator. And another quirk is that Googlepages can't recognize the file if it's called 'Favicon'. So if u plan to upload your .ico file, rename it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ice Kacang in Umea

What do u do when it snows like crazy and you've got peanuts in your cupboard? Make some 'Ice kacang' of course.

"Snow Nuts" translated literally is a popular Malaysian dessert in all its sugary, unhealthy glory. After coming back from Scharinska at 11pm, had a whim to eat some snow so I went out with a bowl and went to a spot where I thought there'd be the cleanest snow - on an outdoor table where no dog could reach.

Before that I filled the bottom with corn, peanuts and jam. After scooping some snow, I poured some dark corn syrup on it...yummy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Famous Traitors

Judas Iscariot

George W. Bush

George H. W. Bush

People who don't follow their dreams

Marcus Junius Brutus

Brad Pitt

Mary Queen of Scots

Anakin Skywalker

Sandy Stranger

Briony Tallis

Monday, March 10, 2008

Xenophobia

After being in Europe for 16 months: 1/3 divided almost equally between 3 different `European`countries , personally this author feels that an important part of the experience has yet to be spoken about. Not to downplay the positive aspects of the course, the one thing that none of us have really mentioned was the sometimes unpleasant incidences of discrimination felt.

Some examples:

Incident 1:
A few of us boarded a bus to go to school from the apartment. None of us spoke the language as it was within the first few days of our arrival. One of us (who was dark skinned and obviously looking foreign) was poked on the shoulder by a male passenger on the bus. The passenger pointed at our friend and indicated him to move away . At first our friend thought it was a friendly gesture, but then it seemed apparent that the passenger was gesturing him to ´go and stand in the corner away from me´. Our friend quietly moved away without a fuss. Another one of us who spoke a little of the language was cheesed at this and told the gentleman ´The bus is for EVERYBODY´


Incident 2:
One of us related about an experience at the post office. Although she didn’t speak the language, she attempted to buy stamps by saying ´francobollo´. The lady at the counter was not very happy and pointed at another counter. Apparently they didn’t sell stamps at the main counters in the post office. Upon arriving at the correct counter, she attempted again to buy stamps. The gentleman behind the counter was also quite unhappy for no apparent reason and showed it by throwing the change on the counter at the poor girl.


Although the above incidences seem trivial, the sum of such occurrences in the life of the foreign student in Europe is stressful and ugly.

According to Piper in Boxill (2001), when we say a person is a discriminating person, we mean that he/she has refined tastes and subtle convictions: that he/she exercises the capacity to make fine distinctions of a thing and base positive and negative valuations on these actual properties. However judging a person inferior based on race, is a failure of perception to distinguish finely the properties he/she has or has not i.e. which is also a failure to meet the challenge of cognitive discrimination by confining the range of judgement to those objects and properties to only known pre-existing categories and concepts.

It would seem naïve to say that the world has progressed and racism and discrimination are being tackled especially in ´developed´ nations what with ´globalisation´ and international-understanding-whatnots tiding the foray. However the level and intensity is still surprising despite the ´supposed´ advancement of these societies.

All in all, cognition does not win over emotion still.

References:
Piper, A.M.S., 2001, ´Two Kinds of Discrimination´ in Boxill, B., (ed) Race and Racism, New York: Oxford University Press

Saturday, March 01, 2008

White Teeth




Snow quietly fell overnight as if God tipped gigantic amounts of vanilla sugar everywhere. It's all white and powdery and looks prettiest on the giant trees. Feels like Christmas' in the air even though the end of February is approaching. I like walking in it the most i.e. feeling my foot sink into the stuff, jumping, stomping around in it but risk looking like a stoner stumbling on the sidewalk. Sometimes feel like yelling 'whee' and throw myself in mounds of pristine unbroken snow or maybe scooping some and putting it in my mouth. Rule no 1 of eating snow is, 'Don't eat yellow snow' which are always canine-markings saying 'MY space'...Some are just splats on white but I saw some funny ones today in undulating waves like some crazy art doodle, then realized it was the poor dog trying to keep up with his walker while spraying. Other wise, snow is great. Never get tired of it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Zombie




Zombie - "is a person who is believed to have died and been brought back to life without speech or free will"

Last week was Zombie-Marathon week. Watched 7 zombie movies within 2 days, namely the 3 seminal Romero classics (Night of the Living Dead (1968),Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985)) and the brilliant Shaun of the Dead. Fell asleep with visions of flesh eating dead scrounging for the flesh of the living.

Useless fact 1: To kill a zombie. shoot them in the head or smash the brains.
Useless fact 2: Zombies don't move very fast so you can outrun them.

There's even a Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.Very detailed stuff on zombie causes, strategic tactics on fighting zombies, defending against zombies, attacking zombies etc. (you get the drift)

Rue the day you watch a B grade slasher films but the zombie genre is somewhat addictive. Zombie information is rampant out there and you begin to wonder if they are real. Too late, you realize after watching all those zombie movies, that you've become one your self. Mwah hah hah

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Finding MSPME


Thus ends the MSPME 2006/2007 course. It has been a wonderful, tumultous, roller-coaster 16 months for the 26 souls who braved leaving their families, jobs and homes to arrive in Europe in 2006.


Hedi and myself attended the final theses seminar which belonged to Vara and Bharad which incidently was the last session in the whole course at 5pm on January 15th, 2008 in Room S305. Especially difficult to fathom as we had laboured over so many hours of classes, assignments and case studies.


All of us successfully received our Masters degree in hand at our graduation dinner on the 16th of February 2008 with a nice dinner and ceremony at E Pub. The co-ordinators from each university i.e. Dr Paul Gardiner from Heriot Watt University, Prof. Antonio Calabrese from MIP Politecnico di Milano, Prof. Anders Soderholm, Tomas Blomqvist and Monica Palmqvist from Umea University witnessed this moment which was pretty nice. The miracle of the moment according to Anders was actually seeing this event happen after years of planning for the course. It took so much time to co-ordinate and wait that they(the co-ordinators) were beginning to wonder if any students would come at all.



Words can say so much and it's impossible to express the precious moments in the past 16 months. Many tears were shed and sad good byes said in the last few weeks. A course-mate smsed me after returning home saying "We were not just coursemates, we have become family"



Last week my Creative Songwriting group wrote and arranged a song within 2 days which I find pretty fitting. So I've made a short presentation on my personal-view of the last 16 months with it.

Finding

Travelling in the space
Of your open mind
You will find a place
See what lies behind
And when
You see a glimmering
You just find

Bridge

Silence
Can bring out your art
Listen
You will feel your part
And when
You hear your heart
You will find

ps. Special thanks to Malin, Maja, Amanda, Olov and Elina for this track (it was all recorded live on a little mp3 player therefore apologies for the sound quality)

video

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 Curriculum Vitae



Fiona Wan...professional pole dancer, song-writer and musician. Manages musical and movie projects with international training in project management in the UK, Italy and Sweden. Extensive marketing and sales experience in financial services in the Asian Markets. For consultation call +46 7 333 1357

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The New Year

Here we are, another year before us.

The year 2007 has been the first time I've spent the entire year away from Malaysian soil. It was a year of firsts for me. And it was two fold.

I spent a lot of the year in self-reflection. And I found a lot in giving to others and also in being comfortable with solitude.

I spent the New Year in a rather unexpected way. It was a nice surprise too.

While surfing I came across an apt quote: "The best way to predict the future is to INVENT it" How apt.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My MSPME Experience




"How are you na?" says Jasmine. "Na" being the Indian equivalent to the particle "Lah" like how Malaysians do.

"Ok la....whassup?" says me

"How's theses getting along?"..says Bakthier. Yeah theses, writing, assignments. Trust the Uzbeks to get serious or un-serious like Kirrill....and dammit I still don't know how to spell his name.

"OK.Going to IKSU later...jajajaja"...says Isaac. 'Jajaja' is the Mexican way of saying "Hahahaha"...you know cos the 'J' is a 'H' in Spanish...don't ask me why.

'Snap snap snap' sound in the background. It's Hedieh doing her hand thing ...I am not sure if it is an Iranian thing as I've never seen it before. Ernesto, the Prada-clad-always fashionably dressed-Mexican is very adept at doing it now.

There's a wailing sound in the background...like a very excited cat or a howling dog. It's actually Minh when he's all worked up about something. I am not sure if all Vietnamese sound like that but Nga (the little wonder) and Tau (the wisest among us all) doesn't make that noise. But I've heard Vilma do it too....so it must be Filipino in origin.

"Haaa....another cake ?"...says Amy. She's seen the amount of cakes on the table.

"Yeeeeeeehh..." says Meng. She's the sweety in the group - sweet like a smartie and likes cakes too. Meng also has the funnniest MSN messages next to her nick...today it is saying "Dear Santa, I need a final theses"...don't we all.

"At least someone eats the cake....no one has eaten the pasta" says The Queen (who is always right)

"Hey watch it....No one is going home without finishing the pasta" says Han (the Malaysian guy)

"Don't worry Han, I will eat all the pasta for you" says Philip.(Hahahahah) Philip will eat for a friend, you can count on him. Duo Li our other Chinese compatriot might not though....he once told me "You shouldn't eat food when it's cold. The salt in the food will stay in your stomach"

In the corner, a conversation is taking place:

Ghaz: What? Who said that?
Vara: (Shaking his head from side to side - which is either a yes, no or I don't know)
Bimal: This is Bimal.
Vanessa: I don't get it!
Jene: To hell with it, let's dance!


In the other corner, a drinking session is taking place:

Tiago: Hahahhahaha
Priscilla: Hahahahaha

And there goes yet another MSPME party.Lots of good food cleared from its plates....dishes piled on the table. Someone usually washes. We laugh and joke about stuff that happened in class. Take lots of pictures.....We were ordinary people with extraordinary talents. Ate a lot, shopped a lot, traveled a lot, worked a lot, studied a lot, partied a lot,shared a lot....26 people from 12 nations...who dragged 1500 kg of luggage all over Europe, baked 122 cakes, had 49 birthday parties, missed 52 flights, spent 2000EUD on shopping, stayed in 330 different hostels, dirtied kitchens in Milan, Edinburgh and Umea, submitted 780 assignments, wrote 395 exam papers.....If that wasn't a whole lot, I don't know what is.

Guess I have to make another video about this (Fiona, 2007)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas in Stockholm



Twas the eve before Christmas
Lit candles cos it was cold
Cleaned the room a few days ago
Washed out dust and mould

Its quiet around here
Just the plumbing a-whirring
Nobody in the corridor
No student a-stirring

Another day in December
Named Christmas so seeming
Apparently celebrated widely here
but not without meaning

The city awaited
The white-driven snow
All that blanketed Stockholm
Was frost, freeze and thaw

Frenzied shoppers rushing
On Drottninggatan; Vallingby
bumping each other like pinballs
Siau-wei, like for free

So sitting here in the room
Overlooking the city
The lights wink back at me
Saying a calm and peaceful

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stockholm Syndromes



Hanging out with Sezar in Stockholm has been funny...was in Drottninggatan with his mate Stefan for a meal..It was a surreal evening where we discussed books, the theory of evolution in relation to specks, how wasted time is also karmic, procrastination is sitting in front of the tv and growing a belly which is the same as showing sacrificial love so you could tell your mate ´I did it for you´.

All the while I had a view of a dimly lit shelf of tiger striped and cheetah faux fur while a little girl with a Santa hat came around asking for letter for Santa and we gave her our receipts. Out the window it was cold but people were still walking around finishing up the Christmas shopping. I had a view of the door to AIG Europe.

The importance of recognizing the signs came to mind.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Fen Shou Ba/Let's Break Up

Finally I've found this song after so long...almost 9 years...Thanks to Calvin who made me listen to this song in the first place in 1999. Then Dresden helped in deducing the song with a few clues. How ironic is it that I found this song now at the final leg of the course.

We've finally reached the end friends....I dedicate this song to all of you the amazing MSPMErs of 2006/7 (no doubt who's the best)

ps. Pay no attention to the silly video... the song is really great!
Duo Li and Philip if you can please provide the english translation....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jam Partners

Last Thursday was with Lorentz and Valeria at the music room again...It's really fun to jam with such cool people - Lorentz is my Swedish host in the International Host programme and senior lecturer in Music and Education in the Lararhuset while Valeria is an Italian rocker babe studying Swedish here in Umea.


Valeria on drums, Lorentz on sax and guitar and me on the keyboard.We played Caravan, Be-Bop-A-Lulla, Blue Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock and Run run Rudolph....I didn't record our session but here's what we coulda looked like in this clip:

OK so we're not Hanson but we were just as cute:P Here's a big THANKS to Lorentz and Valeria for educating me in the aspects of rockabilly, blues and jazz. Rock on guys!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

White Winter










Snow, snow, snow!

This is my first real snow experience.... A birthday bash for Amy was held in my kitchen in Alidhem and that was nice. We continued the party at the music room about 15 mins walk away in Lararhuset. I was a little surprised upon stepping outside - the whole world was white whereas a few hours before it wasn't. Airy, feathery snow flakes falling everywhere....lovely. We started a snowball fight...just couldn't resist all the white stuff around (made me feel like a kid all over again) Walking to the music room later, it was as if we walked into a picture with the snow hanging on the trees, on the fences, everywhere, hearing the snow crunch under your feet...so clean and white. I'm glad I got those pairs of boots even if I had to carry it all the way from Edinburgh a year ago.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Days Turn into Nights

The days are really getting shorter here....I knew about it as they have warned us before we came but I didn't anticipate how much it would impact my mood and biological pattern. When I wake up at 8am it feels as if it's still 6am and I usually DO wake up at 6am. So if I though I was early, I was actually late. Bang! There goes my day (because I usually like being early) The sky is gray and overcast as if it were 7pm the whole day and by the time it's 4pm, the sun is setting (IF you can see the sun) and it gets dark by 5pm. By now, I feel as if the day has already ended and would like to crawl into bed to sleep - and this would be 6pm. Talk about being unproductive...So I'd force myself to stay awake until 10pm...get out of the room, go to gym, go to the library. ....DOn't blame the Swedes if they wanted to finish work at 4.30pm and no wonder they eat lunch and dinner so early....11.30am and 5pm respectively. Now I know how bears feel when they hibernate....Malaysian Honey Bear getting used to Polar temporal conditions...grrooowllll-yaawwwwnwnn (Polar bears are cute here though)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Palindromes


Don't nod
Dogma: I am God
Never odd or even
Too bad – I hid a boot
Rats live on no evil star
No trace; not one carton
Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?
Murder for a jar of red rum
May a moody baby doom a yam?
Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog!
Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!
A Toyota! Race fast... safe car: a Toyota
Straw? No, too stupid a fad; I put soot on warts
Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
Doc Note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod
No, it never propagates if I set a gap or prevention
Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna
Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak
Some men interpret nine memos
Campus Motto: Bottoms up, Mac
Go deliver a dare, vile dog!
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
Ah, Satan sees Natasha
Lisa Bonet ate no basil
Do geese see God?
God saw I was dog
Dennis sinned

A famous palindrome:
"A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!"

and finally my personal favourite,

"Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Elementary Swedish: En Dag i Min Liv


Fiona vaknar kvart i atta pa morgonen.

Efter frukost gar hon till universitetet.

Hon jobbar i en project management kurs. Sedan hon spelar piano nagra timmar.

Pa eftermiddagen hon graddar en kaka

Pa kvallen traffar hon Vanessa.
Vanessa ar 25 ar i dag
"Gratis pa fodelsedagen Vanessa!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aurora Dreams


Last night one of my dreams came true - I saw the Aurora Borealis. I had to walk down a very dark road and through the forest to get to the lake...felt a bit silly though but I had a feeling that tonight was THE night. Was a bit scared by the thought of being attacked by bears or some wild animal. Shadows casted funny shapes on the branches and leaves and I jumped once at my own shadow. Finally I came through a little clearing with the view of the water.After getting over the spookiness of the dark, the beauty of the night gradually loomed before me. Millions and millions of stars were in the sky that night. You could see their little points of light reflecting from the calm inky surface of the lake. There was total silence and the trees occasionally rustled (from the wind?)Quietly I waited, not knowing how long I would stand there in the cold. It was after 5-10 minutes or so when the lowest stars started to dazzle and shimmer very brightly....something was happening off the horizon. I looked again, not sure if it was my imagination. There it was, that red low star and the white one off to the left flashing like mad. Slowly slowly, a white shadow like a moving cloud appeared. It began changing shape and before I knew it, a band like a very faint greenish arc materialized over the horizon. It moved constantly; sometimes like a line, sometimes like a cloud, sometimes getting brighter and sometimes fading away.. It was a very shy aurora, not very bright but nevertheless one which was there; which I have waited for a long time to see. It remained in the sky with me, doing its little dance in the sky. Slowly, it moved to the left, blocked by the trees and out of view and finally was no more.

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures with me. However at the exact hour, a few kilometres away at another lake, Nicolas Zea, a photographer in Umea was photographing it. He's kindly given me permission to post it which is the photo you see here now.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jennifer Lopez - Do It Well(Official Music Video)

Ok this is me distracting myself from the exam on Monday but I find this video very funny- JLo kickin ass!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Life Changing Experiences

I met up with Kim Chu online and we had a nice chat. She's now setting up her own child learning experience centre now. Whilst chatting I heard that Khay Ling got married in London to her sweetheart she met in her AIESEC traineeship in India.

Now I look back 7 years ago how I was going to INTI college to recruit some SNs (Student Nominees in AIESEC terms). It was a new initiative which I was interested to pursue with the encouragement of my EB members because it was something new which LC UKM hadn't done before. It's funny how this event in my life connected to the current lives of others. If we hadn't gone to INTI, we wouldn't have met Khay Ling and if Khay Ling hadn't decided to go to India, she wouldn't have met Lasse and if she hadn't met Lasse, she wouldn't be in London now, happily married.

Life sure works in mysterious ways

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Graffitti

Seen spray painted on the road, in between Alidhem and the university

"Kill Your Boyfriend"

500m further on

"Kill Your Girlfriend"

Otherwise, Umea is 'graffitti'less and spotless

Two Worlds

She hurried down the street determinedly, as if a hurricane was blowing her persistently from behind. A man walking in the opposite direction almost collided into her...little did he know that the inner force driving her was the motor in her mind whispering 'Go, go, go'...Her mind was in the future; what she needed to do in the next five minutes, what she would be doing in the next 5 days, the next 2 months, checking lists mentally, calculating.

She walked leisurely down the beaten path - there were bikers deftly maneuvering between the pedestrians. How she admired them...they must feel powerful on their spindly machines. Two women were walking in front of her, casually talking about something 'the weather?' she wondered... The wind was blowing, the gust of wind against her, trees rustling,the sound of 'flap-flap-a-flapping' in her ears. She has never felt so in the moment....so in the now.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Top of the World


Slung from a plane out of Milan, jettisoned across Paris and Stockholm to land on the Top of the World, also known as Umea. Umeå is about 600 km north of Stockholm at 63°50′N, 20°15′E and about 400 km south of the Arctic Circle -that's what I mean - way up there....Umea could be any other small town in the American Mid-West albeit with birch trees and a lot more watery inlets. I find it difficult to believe that I am that far up north - probably the furthest any of my living relatives have ever been - could travel to Kiruna too and push the benchmark a little higher.

So what does it feel like to be here? Frankly speaking, a little daunting. They weren't joking when they said the city centre was a cross-junction between two roads. When the plane taxied down the runway, there were only trees, miles of trees, carpetful of trees i.e. birch, firs ...and where were the buildings?...Of course I'm exaggerating about the cross-road thingy. Umea is pretty developed for a little big town...but I do miss Milanese buses - at least I knew when it would arrive. Here, all that's missing were those temporal indicators at the bus stop and the buses themselves. We could wait forever in the cold and not know when one would come.

Missed too were the occasional city plans and road notices. I guess being so small, no one would need a map anyway - oh, the grocery? Take a right at the first tree, then left and follow the sun. whoo pee

Will go to sleep now - tomorrow am going to catch a fish for dinner and pick some mushrooms.....hej do!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Romping Roma, Navigating Napoli and Caprice in Capri,

Was back in Rome for a day last Friday to collect my Swedish Visa. And so thus far, the Trevi Fountain thingy was true. One coin to return to Rome, and another for your wish to come true. Down one, another to go. I did the 1-hour Vatican shimmy from St Peter's to the Vatican Museum along with all the other tourists. The Sistine Chapel was great except that they didnt let us take any pictures....but I did anyway just for the heck of it. Also had the chance to visit the 100 Flavour-Gelati shop near the Pantheon....took a conno 3-Gusti pistachio crema, Cioccolato con Cannella and Miele con susamu. yummyyyy

Saturday went to Napoli by train and took a ferry to the Isle of Capri....Caaapri....not caPri. NO one understood us when we first pronounced it. Capri was lovely..a private playground for the rich and famous, the poverina like us could also enjoy the fantastic views on the coastline. Had a mishap when climbing a natural arch...landed on the coccyx but fortunately bum had a lot of fat to cushion the fall. Otherwise, Capri too had those quiet spots of wonder which I found in Venice and Bologna...those little nooks and crannies that make you wonder 'Is this a dream?'

As for Napoli, the day ended with me arguing with a ego centric hostel owner which ended my day sourly somewhat. The girls in my room ( 2 from Austria, 2 from Germany and 1 from Scotland) made the evening more bearable with a glass or two of wine and beer. Francy came late and we could only spend the little time together over breakfast. And Napoli pizza is good, believe me.

So all good things come in 3s for me - the Rome-Napoli-Capri trip was a welcome break in the break.....stattbuon for me now!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hala Turkiye'yi




Exams finished, friends gone, things shipped; I took the opportunity to return back to Turkey for a week. It was a trip down memory lane, trying to fit 6 months worth of memories in 7 days. Unforeseen events threatened to mar my trip i.e. Delayed flights and change of schedules (I hate MYAIR!), lost money, etc but providence played the better part, thank God.

Anyway, back to Turkey...it will always be what I call 'Magic Land' for me. Magic because no other country evokes such a sense of mystery and wonder for me...Taking a trip across the Bosphorus on a ferry from Uskudar to Eminonu - my most treasured experience. And this time thanks to Erkan, I got a motorbike tour all around Istanbul.

Funnily, Turkey always gave me 2 good friends to travel with - in 2002 it was Luciana and Tatjana. Tatjana left and then came Mihaela. Now in 2007. it was Pek Yen and Yanti...Fethiye mates (according to Pek Yen) Fethiye was blazing hot and the harbour and islands are still amazing. Did some swimming and jumped off the top deck for old times sake.

I also had a chance to visit Aya Sofia - didnt do that the last time I was in Istanbul due to being a poor trainee in Istanbul. Then the 10 million TL was a little dear. But I am glad I did this time around - it is truly beautiful on the inside. I love the quiet spots in the huge halls...where one can have a space of their own away from the crowds and quietly swim in a pool of thoughts.

After spending 6 months in Scotland and Milan, somehow that 6 months in 2002 in Turkey was more intense and vibrant. Maybe time has mellowed my senses. Nevertheless I was happy to be back and rejuvenated. The beauty of Turkiye was something which I didn't see, but felt in the heart and that was what I needed.