Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shut Up and Stand Up, Will Ya'?

Went for a subtitle flick last evening. It was more of a public viewing. They played the movie on a white screen from a projector in a quiet café in the middle of downtown KL. It is a highly commendable effort by the café showing such foreign movies to the general public for free.

Terre et Cendres is an Afghan movie, following the journey of a grandfather traveling across the country with his deaf grandson to reunite with his son, father of the grandson after their village was ravaged by brutality of war.

There sweeping landscape was barren and arid land. The setting was gloomily dusty. The dialogue was minimal and well, foreign. The movie was slow paced and flat. I suppose that was reflecting the nothingness after war, confronting the audience with the dreadfulness of the aftermath and instigating contemplation.

To me watching a foreign movie is challenging and it’s all about multi-tasking. Obviously the language barrier, the eyes must simultaneously watch the scenes and read the subtitles. The movie is normally Indie and artsy hence there was neither Bollywood routines nor Hollywood effects. The brain has to stay awake, follow through with undivided attention and at the same time process the visuals and ponder on them deeply. It requires full on, mind and body and soul commitment to enjoy the flick. Hence the slightest disturbance triggers utter contempt.

Oh boy. We had got disturbances coming like the Americans dropping bombs all over the Afghan hills. There were mobile phone ringing and text message alerting. Wasn’t there an announcement before the show started to remind us silencing our phones? Were these people stupid or deaf? Well most likely both.

Then there were these two middle-aged ladies, which we “fondly” call aunties, sitting behind me. To begin with, they came in late. Then they were whispering on and on and on. They were actually verbalizing the movie, frame by frame! “Oh look at the trees are all yellow and dry and barren.” “The grandson eating an apple.” “See, the grandfather is walking away.” Oh man, that was like so damn fucking annoying! I had had it with them, I turned around and shoo-ed them quiet.

People can be so unconsidered, so rude and so stupid. Such intolerable acts should be told off into their faces. But we are not taught to stand up for ourselves when such situations are done unto us. We must not create a scene in the public. What’s the point? It’s not in us to be confrontational. We are all about talking, or bitching about it after the fact, but never there and then. We are taught to bite our tongue and swallow our dismay, even though we are totally right and the others are totally wrong.

What kind of bullshit is that?

It’s time to change. It’s late, but better than never.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pop Up Surprises

The moment I laid eyes on that pop-up book on dinosaurs, I immediately thought of my twin nephews A and J. They would totally love it, and of course, tear it into pieces in no time. Well what the heck, their expressions would be worth every single cent of it. Besides I sure hope this would sow the seed of reading and appreciating books in them. I know they are merely two, but no harm done starting early. So I bought two, one on dinosaurs and the other on sharks.

Eagerly I brought the books over to them. They were playing with their Legos. Forcefully they were plucked away from that. We sat around the dining table in the kitchen. J sat on my laps, drooling endlessly while A stayed with his mom fidgeting restlessly. They were both trying hard to slide down and get back to their Legos.

“Patience boys. I’ve got some good stuff for ya’.”

“Ta daaaaaa…”

With that I flipped the cover, a T-rex popped out from the pages. Silence befell upon them. They were in awe and absolutely enchanted. A stopped his fidgeting instantly and more saliva drooled from J. I think I saw my sister drooling too! As the pages were turned, more dinosaurs literally jumped out: sauropods, raptors, stegosaurs, ceratopsians, etc. The boys’ eyes widened and brightened. Their mouths, they gaped even more. In addition to the impressive dinosaurs pop ups, there were pop-ups depicting volcano eruptions and jungles, with dinosaurs roaming around. The pop ups were beyond spectacular.

The second pop up book on sharks was just equally mind blowing and jaw dropping (more evidently). In this book various sharks and sea monsters swim or leap out of the waters, and pages. In one particular page, the head of a shark, with its sharp teeth leaps out, attacking us. That, I must say, scared the twins a bit. But they couldn’t get enough of it. Each page was tension-coiled with a wonderful surprise ready to spring out, well pop up. The pop-ups were actually that vivid, that detailed, that good!

Indeed the fascination on their little faces was priceless.

I took the books along when I left. I decided to keep them for the boys until they are 5 or older, as the books intended for.

Books shown by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fuzzy Weekend

I headed north to Langkawi Island with my secondary school mates a couple of weekends ago. Langkawi Island is an island up north in peninsular Malaysia, steep in history and legends. According to the folklore, the island was cursed by a princess named Mahsuri, who was wrongly accused of being adulterous. Before she was killed, she cursed that for seven generations Langkawi soil would remain impoverished and parched and nothing could be grown on the island.

Today, the island is thriving as a popular holiday destination famous for her soft sandy beaches, towering limestone mountain and green lush jungle. More importantly it’s a duty free island, which translated to cheap booze, and that set the tone of our trip of debauchery.

Seriously, when alcohol is almost as cheap as mineral water, what would you do? And who would care about the beaches and the waters and the history?

But we did take a detour from our imbibing to visit the geopark, boarding the cable car atop the limestone mountain. Well we had to stop drinking as high altitude and alcohol is a lethal combo. The cable car ride itself was exhilarating. The six of us packed into one car and climbed slowly up, above the trees. Any slight movement from us was exaggerated and resonated by the swinging or bobbing of the cable car. For a height-phobic like me, that was nerve-wrecking. My knees again turned into jello, even as I was sitting down.

We were greeted by a slight drizzle at the top and part of the mountain was shrouded in a veil of mist, adding a mysterious feel to the formidable mass of rock. But the view awaiting us at 705m above sea level was simply magnificent, a 360 view of the ocean. The ripples of the turquoise waters stretched as far as eyes could see, extended into the blue sky it seemed. Then there were small islands dotting off coast the main island. On a clear day, if you squint your eyes hard enough you could even see Penang island. OK, I made up the last one.

The rest of the trip, they were kinda’ fuzzy. I remembered getting a pampering treatment of foot, shoulders and back massage, tasting some cheap fresh seafood, sipping some cheap lovely wine, teasing the hell out of each other, laughing so hard that almost pee in my pants and of course knocking back a lot of cheap beer…

Another fantastic island getaway. Same old routine, I just showed up for some good food, good wine/beer, good laugh, good company and a hell of a good time.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Presto Pesto

After the morning swim, I was absolutely starved, famish in fact. I wanted something warm and quick and filling.

Quickly, handful of pasta was thrown into the boiling water. While pasta was boiling, I marinated the 2 strips chicken breast with pepper, oregano, brown sugar and pesto sauce and off they went into the pre-heated oven. While pasta was boiling and chicken was baking, I put a strip of bacon to be fried till crispy over medium heat. While pasta was boiling and chicken was baking and bacon was frying, I coarsely chopped two cloves of garlic and two shallots.

By the time I done with the chopping (and crying), the bacon was ready and promptly removed. I browned the garlic and shallot using the bacon fat, along with a teaspoon of pesto sauce and splash of cooking wine. By the time I done with the sauce, the pasta was ready and drained and back into the sauce for a quick toss. By the time I done dishing the pasta on the plate, the chicken was ready and out of the oven and piled onto the heap of pasta. Final touch, chopped and sprinkled the crispy bacon on top.

Voila, chow time!

Looking back, that was quite a feat of multi-tasking cooking.

Friday, April 20, 2007

"Running is EVIL!"

The conference hall was freezing and the meeting seemed neverending. I went out to take a leak, and get some warmth.

From the 41st floor I got a breathtaking view of the KLCC Park under the glorious sun. I was so hoping that the day would end soon (Well, it was only like 10 am!) so I could go for my Friday run in the park, doing my 6k around the running track, aiming for a sub 30 minute time. I love Friday not just because weekend is around the corner, but more so I'm looking forward to the run in the park. Running outside, among the trees in a park, in the middle of the city, is liberating and fun. It reminds me of the childhood days when I got to play outside with my buddies.

I remember once when my swim coach asked me why was I doing my tumble turn kick of the wall with my left leg only. Upon knowing I got a hair line fracture at my right tibia from running, he practically shouted at me:" Boon, don't you know running is evil? Running is EVIL!" But I love running. Once getting pass the pain and sore at the shins and knees and calves and ankles and feet, I feel like I could run forever, like Forrest Gump.

Around 6pm, my running time, it was pouring by the buckets outside. No running in the park for me today. Damn! So I ended up logging my 6k on a treadmill in the gym, feeling like a hamster.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Veggie Pix

Just realised the last time I picked up my camera was some time back in February. So I bought a yellow pepper and some mushrooms and got some leftover cherry tomatoes from the fridge, set them up on the dinner table and clicked away.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunday Lunch

My lunch today. Quick to prepare, easy to cook, scrumptious to taste, healthy and nutritious.

Scavenge your fridge for whatever vegetables available and chop them into bite size pieces. I found mushrooms, carrot, onion, and cherry tomatoes. Spread them on a lightly greased tin foil. Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt and pepper. That’ll take care of your greens and fiber intake of the day.

For muscle building protein, take whatever meat you got in the freezer and line them on top of the veggie. I’ve got a couple of chicken breast strips. White meat, healthy! Lightly marinate them with some mustard. Throw in some herbs. Just got some rosemary from the store. According to Jamie Oliver, chicken and rosemary are best mates. I topped the little pile of food with a strip of bacon. Fat baby. Mmm mmm…

Finally, drizzle some white wine all over. Since I ran out of wine, I instead used Chinese ShaoHsing wine, generously and OJ, not so generously. Close and fold the tin foil into an envelope then stuff it into a preheat oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until to you smell the sinfully tantalizing aroma of the bacon.

"Voila, lunch is served!"

Oh the best part, just dump the tin foil when you are done, almost zero clean up. Now that’s great lunch!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Welcome to KL

“Time and tide wait for no man.”

How true! How scarily true! I’m indeed petrified at how time zoomed by so swiftly and quietly. I’ve been living in KL for a year! Cliché it might sound, I feel like I just moved here yesterday, still exploring the city.

The highly energized and fast-paced city life makes everyone looks like suffering from severe ADHD. Here in Rushinghood, city folks walk fast and talk even faster. The folks chase after the trains, squeeze into elevators and rush for meals. Slowing down is almost a cardinal sin.

Ironically, the chop-chop eddy flow is halted to a screech in Jam-ville. Jam-ville is a city without limit within the city itself. Everything moves in extra slow-mo mode. Jam-ville folks are not friendly folks. They use a special sign language, a lot, passionately.

Squanderton is like the cool lush green oasis amid the hot arid concrete and asphalts desert. Desires trump necessaries. Rationale and logic are not applicable here. Retail therapy is the way to attain the Zen in the hectic city life.

In the heat of the city, Boozeborough is another welcoming watering hole. Burning troubles are hosed down with a lethal concoction of spirits. But troubles remain troubles, and they always blowout uglily and violently in the end, normally the morning after.

Here I am, a year living and working in the city, still discovering the nooks and crannies of the city, still adjusting to the city life and still missing the tiny town life. You can get a man out of a tiny town, but you can never get the tiny town out of a man. I am a tiny-towner through and through. I grew up in one, studied in one and worked in one. I know the day would come where I’d be relocated to the big city but never crossed my mind that it’d be so soon.

Well, I'll live.