Monday, December 14, 2009

Promise Me - Beverly Craven

Why don't they make sad pop songs like they used to?

Lea Salonga's cover is not bad too.

Monday, November 09, 2009

November 2009, of Babies and Birthdays

There seems to be a recurring theme this month. A colleague of mine is an impending father sometime next week and a friend of mine announced that she's now an expectant mother.

Last week I attended a friends' birthday celebration and on the very same weekend I visited a mother who had just given birth to a baby girl.

Two dear friends' birthday will occur this week and the next.

September should be THE baby and birthday month but November seems to be the new September. Oh man, can't be going broke twice a year!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mooncake Festival

I may be out of Malaysia but there’s still Malaysia in me which manifested itself in a few celebrations with friends. A couple of weekends back, J and Y initiated a Mooncake hot-pot and herded a few of us ‘eaters’ around a bubbling cobble laden with fishball, fish,prawn, dumplings, vermicelli, mussels, egg, etc.. It was an evening of eating and laughter, mooncakes, pomelos, funny-hornshaped-chestnut and all the things that makes the mooncake festival. Thank you guys!

Conker season and changing weather

The seasons are changing with the descent of the darkness (we’re losing 24 mins of daylight a day) and drops in temperature (averaging about 9-10 C now).

And in participating in a little British cultural tradition for autumn, B, T and I spent the Sunday in Hampstead Heath – a nice parkland north of London for the HH Conker Championships.

Aahh..the magical conker. Conkers have mystified me since my Beano and Topper reading days. In one of the Topper issues, was a story of a magical conker. Gosh –what the heck is that? - wondered my 9 year old mind…..I only found out last weekend.

The conker game is a traditional British schoolyard game where two parties try to ‘hit’ the opponents conker(horse chestnut). There are 3 tries where the one with the most hits wins but the ultimate victor is the one who manages to knock his opponents conker off its string. B, T and I had a go and lo! And behold! I had the magical winning conker:P

Diwali a.k.a Deepavali Feast

Frisbee freaks and a few friends had a great Deepavali celebration in A’s ‘Palace’. R and A went all the way by preparing the house with lights, Henna, Bollywood songs and best-dressed games (A+ for the effort guys!), everyone brought an assortment of delicious food and drinks and Kal provided the games. We even had a bit of Bollywood dancing (S leading the way). T mentioned that it was a little hard to feel the Deepavali spirit when she first arrived in London but this year we endeavoured to make it special with a bang! It was definitely a night to remember (especially when some of us missed the last train home)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Open Houses - the Malaysian Way

With Raya (aka Eid) month celebrations, went round to a few open houses in London. The concept of the 'open house' is a very Malaysian/Eastern custom - the home of the host is literally 'opened' to friends and family (and friends of friends or family of friends - you get the picture) at any time throughout the whole day. You'd have traditional food and cookies spread on the table buffet style and everyone is talking, eating and laughing - a strong sense of community permeates throughout the home.

This year I was fortunate to attend two at Lena and Richard's in Reading and at Hani's

Thank you ladies for your generous hospitality and warmth.

Open Houses

A Vista in the Kew

Was in and around a few interesting places London again for the past few weekends. Seriously, I wonder how I get into so many activities without my even trying. That's how it is with this city so much so that come Monday morning, I'm absolutely knackered and have difficulty dragging out of bed in the AM.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory

Two weekends back was the London Open House weekend- a spectacular event where 700 private buildings in and around London are opened to the public. In conjunction there were tours, walks and exhibitions to garner further appreciation and education of the architecture and landscapes of London. I managed to book two events i.e. the Tower Bridge Exhibition and the Architectural Tour of the Kew Gardens. But due to the timing, had to give away the former to A and B who had an interesting experience (A's account here) I had a totel blind 'date' to the tour as my appointed 'partner' had to go to York on a sudden emergency. But the company was just as pleasant nevertheless.

A Nice Old Tree

The Architectural Tour of the Kew Gardens consisted of the fundamental buildings in the famous Kew - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kew once belonged to the Royal family but was given to the people by Queen Victoria.It boasts the largest herbarium in the world with 7 million specimens and has the most comprehensive plant collections in the UK.

The Palm House

One of the most fascinating was the Palm House - the oldest and largest Victorian greenhouse to survive to this day with a Tropical atmosphere within. 'Palm House' because it was a status symbol then to have tropical palms growing in the greenhouse! The fact that it was built of curved glass in the shape of an ark attested to the ingenuity and artistry of the architect, Richard Turner. That was back in 1848 and still looks as intricate and imposing today.

Water lilies in the Water Lily House

Went to the Water Lily house too where they housed the giant Amazonian water lily plants and a myriad of water lily species.

The Davies Alpine House

I told a colleague of mine, J, about my visit to the Kew and he had a strange story to add. Back in the 80's, he was doing survey work on the upper floors of the Kew Palace. It was long work, looking under floorboards and measuring, and soon he and his colleague found that it was getting dark. His mate decided to get a Mars bar from the cafe downstairs and J was soon alone in the darkened rooms (it wasn't fixtured as the palace wasn't used on the upper floors. Only the first lower floors were used for the Museum). He carried on the work and in a few minutes heard the thud of footsteps of his mate walking about. He called out 'That was quick one!' but when he looked up, there was nobody there. Puzzled, he looked around but could see no one. It was but a few moments then that he broke out in cold sweat and hurried downstairs. His mate only re-appeared much later and J told him about his experience. Apparently he wasn't the only one to have heard or seen things in the Kew palace.

The Dutch House i.e. Kew Palace

Unfortunately due to having another appointment with a friend, i didn't manage to go to all the other sites e.g. the pagoda, herbarium and different gardens but it was an interesting experience. Think I'll paint a little green on my thumbs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When September Ends...

Summer has come to past, the innocent can never last, wake me up when September ends....

I could only sing this appropriate song this month. It's past mid of it and in case you didn't think it; September is quite eventful - Ramadan, Open House Weekends, final concerts, school term beginnings. But it also means summer's end is nigh, with the light fading quickly (sunsetting earlier 3 mins a day), rainy weather and cold winds. Myself, moved a step into the 30's (aaaargh!)but got nice friends for consolation:)

Here are the highlights of the first weeks of September.

September Babies

The girls of the Shard each had birthdays in September so we celebrated it 'one-leg-kick' (Cantonese slang ) together by watching Pedro Almodovar's latest 'Broken Embraces' which starred Penelope Cruz. It was another good girly night out - had a gift exchange with interesting and beautiful gifts like a piggy bank, bubble gum machine, books on Dreams and an engraved box. After that it was a yummy Carribbean dinner with jerk chicken, ackee and salt fish. Happy Birthday girls!

Imperial War Museum

Paid a visit to the (free) Imperial War Museum in Lambeth North. It was very comprehensive and well-thought with historical representation of the wars of Britain ranging from the Middle East, West Indies, Far East etc. I visited it for the Holocaust exhibition (inspired post-Auschwitz) and was impressed with the perspectives curated on survivor accounts, interviews, photographs and physical items. Jiann wasn't very keen but nevertheless every time I go into a British museum, I never fail to appreciate the respect of knowledge the people here possess and how much effort has been put in to making the exhibits and displays interesting and interactive.

Birthday Party

Had a fab night with friends, flatmates and frisbee kaki chez moi. Thanks to Kai Ling for organizing this. I got very nice presents indeed, very nice. One of them being

a Fender acoustic guitar

Books: "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl" by Tracy Quan and "By the Time You Read This" by Lola Jaye

Hairdryer: Per Una by M&S 2000watt

Thank you everyone for such a lovely and memorable birthday. Bless you!:)

p.s. Another very nice book from Jas arrived from Amazon today i.e. A Woman's Book of Yoga by M.Siebel and Hari Kaur Khalsa

The Thames River Festival

The Mayor's Festival on the River Thames is an annual festival held along the popular spots on the Thames with lots of events i.e. theatre, music, dance, a free boat ride on the Thames, stalls - all very happening. Paid me a visit and got on a jembe drumming workshop...what luck!

Thank You for the Music, ABBA tribute concert

Went for my first 'picnic' concert where we spread a blanket (despite the chilly wind) and enjoyed an evening-full of ABBA goldies. Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson were supposed to be present but only saw Benny onstage who played traditional Swedish folk music. Elaine Paige, Kylie Minogue, Chaka Khan, Jason Donovan, Marti Pello (lead singer of Wet Wet Wet) all belted ABBA schlager but it was glorious as Kal and I danced and sang the 70's on the field.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Krakow - Auschwitz

Took a trip to Krakow for the Bank Holiday weekend. Although I have many friends from Poland, I've yet to visit the country. I found the Poles very helpful and humble.

Krakow, the old capital of Poland, is a charming city on its own. Not as fairytale-like as Prague (though I felt a little deja-vu), the city is a grittier and tougher version of the old East-European city.

One of the main destinations for tourists like myself was the Wielicka Salt Mine about 30 mins away by tour bus from Krakow. Arriving in the city, Alden and I got rained out (bringing the British weather with us) so we took refuge underground - half a km below the surface with a maze of 300km tunnels. It was surreal and reminded me of the Derinkuyu underground city in Turkey but less smelly as the salt had absorbed moisture and odors. Of course with every structure above and below entirely of salt, one could not resist scratching the walls to have a taste. (sorry no pics as most of my photos in the dark are just rubbash)

Coming to Krakow would also mean a pilgrimage to the worst scenes in the history of mankind - the Auschwitz concentration camp. As Mr. Yap has blogged about it you can read our experience here

We also had a free guided tour from Andre from Traveller's Inn Hostel - a very nice chap who brought us around the Podgorze district. Podgorze was the former sanctioned ghetto during WWII by the Nazis coralling all Jewish Poles behind a wall. This was the location where Oskar Schindler set up his enamel and ammunitions factory and risked life and limb to save 'his' 1,200 Jewish workers.

Another interesting Polish phenomenon I've discovered are the 'milk bars' i.e. 'bar mlezcny'. A milk bar is the leftover remnants of the welfare state of Poland which offered subsidized cheap meals for workers with no canteens. Hence the food was very cheap but yummy nevertheless. It's name was derived from the fact that then, most of the food served was dairy and flour based i.e. 'pierogi' (a kind of stuffed dumpling) and pancakes.

Besides the walking, eating, taking photos, tours with the hostel guide and sharing a room with anti-fascist German students (coined-term 'Nazi Fighters'), it was a short, cheap and cheerful and I found myself culturally and educationally satisfied.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Summer...

Haven't been blogging for the past few days....sign of me running around doing stuff and keeping busy before summer ends. Somehow life just kicked in as if the accelerator had been revved.

The highlights of the week were...

1. The PCON Picnic in the Park

Had a nice evening with the team in the park...D made her infamous carrot cake(or rather her daughter did)...extremely yummy and chewy. C's wife also contributed with a beetroot fruit cake thingy. It was good fun and a different setting compared to the boardroom presentations and everyone let loose with a bit of frisbee on the side too

2.MSPME 2006 Reunion

Finally we made it! (at least some of us did) 7 of us from the MSPME 2006-8 batch had a mini reunion in London last weekend. We were of course missing the other 19 who are all over the world or back in their home countries. J and V stayed over mine and we met up with H, N, A, and B for a picnic at Regent's Park. Although the moment have passed, we left a little footprint of the memory here at

3. At Hulya's

Had a very nice cooking class and lunch with H who showed me how to make dolma biber (stuffed peppers) which I was missing. Somehow the local Turkish restaurants don't have it on the menu...True to Turkish hospitality, H prepared a feast and it was enjoyed with gusto by myself and her housemate S. Cok guzel! Tessekkur ederim H canim!

4. Ultimate Frisbee Freaks

Got hooked on Ultimate when S introduced me to the Frisbee gang. It's fun, it's addictive, keeps your fitness level up with a fun-bunch of people and cost-free - what more could one ask for? We have a core team of regulars who keep the group running...thank you guys and gals for the sportsmanship and good times!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

LOVE STORY (Taylor Swift) meets VIVA LA VIDA (Coldplay) - Piano Cello - by Jon Schmidt

Jon Schmidt's 7 year-old daughter loved Taylor Swift's song 'Love Story' so much that her dad covered this song with a friend.

Thank you Angie for sharing this - love it love it

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Scar

I have a scar on my upper lip. It's light brown about the size of a finger nail. I don't notice it until I face the mirror in the morning to brush my teeth and then I realise it is there, it is still there. I put Bio-oil on it every day and eat Vitamin E capsules (2 a day) in the hopes that it fades away.

I can look at it both ways:

I have a scar and I had been hurt.


I have a scar and I got over the hurt

Scars are a sign of health - the ability of the skin to repair itself from a wound. Scars are also mementoes of an injury - a past pain. There are the physical scars and then there are the emotional ones. That discomfiting memory of a harsh word and transgression, a betrayal. You don't realise it's there until something/someone triggers the emotion and then you remember. But then again, you are alive and well now and have survived it - thus a celebration is called for. I came across this passage which seemed appropriate:

"On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means,"I survived".'

~The Other Hand by Chris Cleave~

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Turkey Reunion 2002

2002 THEN:

It all happened in the peak of summer in Istanbul in the year 2002. There were about 50 + trainees brought together by AIESEC from all corners of the world; name a country and they had a global representative. The trainees were placed as interns in Turkish companies and organizations for a duration of 1 to 6 months. Besides the internships, they went out on excursions all around the country, partied on weekends (or sometimes week days) on Istiklal street, lived in Turkish dormitories, ate kebabs, drank ayran and even printed their own t-shirts for it. A random bunch of people from all over the world tossed together for a split second : it was a summer in Istanbul which would shape their lives in the future.

2009 NOW

7 years later, we still kept in touch and had the good fortune of meeting (just a fraction of us) in London. Although we'd lost touch and had nothing in common at present, there was something we had shared once upon a time in a land called Turkiye. We retraced the threads of our lives that crossed then that afternoon in Covent Garden. The random memories within us started popping out of the blue; bargaining with Turkish taxi drivers, so and so person who we remember the face but not the name, the dorms in Maslak and the Bursa spor stadium, the mud baths in the hamam, the snoozes at work in the library, the roof top bar where we used to party... It was strange but mysterious how we'd carried a part of that fateful summer within us across borders and time up till today.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Ashes

Lately there'd been advertisements on TV and radio about 'The Ashes' and then came notifications around the pubs saying that 'The Ashes' will be shown. The Ashes? What's that? Some movie being publicized ? It's got as much coverage as 'Bruno' here.

Apparently 'The Ashes' is the nickname for the test cricket series between England and Australia. As it's summer and cricket being a summer game, hence the cricket frenzy in this cranny of the world. The intriguing nickname dates all the way back to 1882 when England lost to Australia on English ground for the first time. After the loss, a satirical obituary was published in the British newspaper, The Sporting Times, stating 'the death of cricket', and the body will be' cremated and the ashes taken to Australia'. The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to regain The Ashes.

Apparently there's a little urn with the ashes of the cricket bale of that particular game - which is a treasured artifact for cricket fans

The urn is also featured in the science fiction comedy novel Life, the Universe and Everything, the third "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" book by Douglas Adams. The urn is stolen by alien robots, as the burnt bail inside it is part of the key needed to unlock the "Wikkit Gate" and release the imprisoned world of "Krikkit".

'The Ashes' are currently in Australia now since the last Ashes in 2006-7 but is now being contested for in the England and Wales 2009 series.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Life is..picnics and proms

What should one do before the weekend? Check the 3-day weather forecast of course. And if one of those days is fair weather, one should spread out the picnic blanket, call a few friends and bring the frisbee. Had a really nice Saturday after a few crap-rainy-days. Thanks to Y and J for organizing this...good company, talk and riddled by riddles involving midgets, potatoes, doctors, a naked man with a matchstick...bizzare but lovely.

And if the weather is not fab, one should also check out the BBC Proms held in the Royal Albert Hall. Amy spotted the free BBC Family Proms tickets (thanks girl!), I swapped mine with Adelene for a seat in the Grand Tier. It was all the classical standards i.e. Chopin, Saint Saens, Elgar, Britten- a good introduction to classical music beginners. I liked especially the solo violin by Jennifer Pike -an exquisitely intricate Holst's 'Song of the Night' and also the BBC family orchestra's 'Rough Guide to the Orchestra' a new piece played by family members of the orchestra i.e. grandparetnts, fathers, mothers, brothers, girls and boys...lovely-jobely.

And so passes yet another eventful weekend...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad

One of the gems of the country has passed on. Yasmin Ahmad was truly an inspiration...being a woman, forging her way in the creative industry in Malaysia, one would think it was an unrewarding task. But Yasmin loved what she did and she did it well. So well in fact that she's recognized internationally with her films - something very few Malaysians directors can hope to achieve.

I watched Sepet in the GSC Mid Valley when it first launched in 2004...something unheard of because I'd never have thought of watching a local film as they were notorious for being bad. But I've heard so much about this brave movie that I had to watch it..and I'm glad I did. 'Brave' because it dealt with the sensitive themes of interracial love - a theme which would rile the bigots running the censorship board.

Here is a snapshot of an interview with Yasmin - insightful and thoughtful. Rest in peaches Yasmin (life was peachy) and God bless you!

Bloggers meet with Yasmin Ahmad from rinaz on Vimeo.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Strong Women

Celebrated the birthday of a strong woman this weekend and met another (C) who drove us around in her little 'nurse car'. Also visited a family of a few strong women posthumously in Haworth.

SISTER, you've sat there all the day,
Come to the hearth awhile;
The wind so wildly sweeps away,
The clouds so darkly pile.
That open book has lain, unread,
For hours upon your knee;
You've never smiled nor turned your head;
What can you, sister, see?

For you who are reading this, you know who you are.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kal-Lavelle and the missed Mates

Mates of Mine didn't get the train to London from Brighton and so we missed them. But there was Olly the Octopus jamming with political protest melodies.

My mates S and R were there and we had a good talk over Pimms and pizza ...thank you ladies.

But the gem of the night was Kal Lavelle. Individuals like her are so bloody talented - they become THE music instrument as opposed to the singing and dancing poppets with the strings. It was plain magic listening to her tonight

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saint Swithin's Day

Today is Saint Swithin's Day - whatever the weather is like today would be the weather for the next forty days.

There's a weather rhyme which goes

'Saint Swithin's Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
Saint Swithin's Day if it be fair
For Forty Days, t'will rain no more"

Fortunately it's a myth - the Met Office tested the weather on 55 occasions and 40 days of rain did not always follow.

Or is it? As the weather forecast is rubbash for the next 16 days.

Thank you very much Saint Swithin - I'm going back to the gym tqvm

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Frisbee Fat Lip, Rueda and the Concert

Getting the Frisbee Fat Lip

The disc rose up in the air with a life of it's own and instinctively I followed it. Suddenly a force pummeled me to the ground and the slab of earth pounded my face. Before I knew it, I tasted some grass and gritty sand. Dazed, I wondered if I had lost any teeth and gone blind.


It was seamless movements riding on a beat that could never end. Feet danced in circles and eights - an invisible hand guided their bodies like a pattern on a wall-paper. Music - party-like surrounding the little brown hut in the middle of the grassy field. Hands on hands, hands on waist, hands on shoulders. Feet moving left, feet moving right, then around.

The Concert

"You gotta roll with it, you gotta take your time, you gotta say what you say, don't let anybody get in your way, cause it's all too much for me to take"

A million hands waved and a million feet jumped. A blaze of colour lit up the arena as the jackhammer of sound pumped from the black centre that was the stage. A symphony of souls, an orchestra of emotion, conducted by the man in the green jacket.

"Say it loud and sing it proud! And they...Will dance if they want to dance,Please brother take a chance,You know they're gonna go,All we know is that we don't know,What is gonna be,Please brother let it be,Life on the other hand won't let you understand,Why we're all part of the masterplan"