Sunday, October 28, 2007

Simple Pleasure

Sunday morning.

Hot coffee, OJ and toasty cibatta roll with butter and dusting of icing sugar.

Sometimes, it's the simple things that brighten our day, bring us endless joy.

Well if you think about it, it's actually most of the times.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


What do you collect? Coins, stamps, ticket stubs, bookmarks, match boxes, bar coasters or hotel toiletries? I collect pins, for years now. Spent the Saturday morning cleaning up my collections. Like a river breaching it’s bank, memories poured in uncontrollably.

These remind of my secondary school days. It was not just all books and no play. I involved in various co-curriculums activities back then. The after school afternoons and weekends spent organizing fundraising dinner, participating in general knowledge competition, marching under the blazing sun…

These bring me back to my 3 years in Calgary for university. I went to Calgary in fall 1998 to start my third year of my engineering degree. I remembered doing very well in my first semester, but flopping, not failing though, miserably in the next. I took a year off later to pursue an internship program and earned shit load of money (for a student) and lived a lavish life (for a student). Oh, I met her here in Calgary.

These are some that I picked up along the road while traveling. Aside from taking tones of pictures, I bought these souvenir pins. These flash back my first backpacking trip to Thailand back in 1997. They also tell stories about my trial and tribulations roaming around in Central and South America.

These are collected during my trip to Maritime Canada. I could clearly recall that rainy day as I touched down at Halifax. I walked in the rain around town sightseeing. Then there were the beautiful kind folks that I met in Charlottetown. Oh the drive along the coast of Cape Breton Island was fun filled and full of adventures: camping illegally along the way.

These prompt memories of my trans-Canada journey aboard a train for a month. I set off from Edmonton, Alberta, heading east all the way to Quebec City, Quebec. Then I made a U-turn moving westward towards Vancouver, British Columbia, meeting my parents there. When the train stopped at Jasper, I remembered racing towards a laundry with a bunch of fellow travelers, paying to take a shower. We went 4 days without a shower on the train. When the water hit my body, it felt almost as good as sex.

These are about Quebec, the French speaking province in Canada. It’s strange yet unique, like going into another country, within a country. I love the French Canadians for their deep appreciation for art. There are amazing sculptures and beautiful murals and wonderful galleries everywhere in Montreal and Quebec City. More so, the zest for life of the Quebecois is infectious. Once their aloofness shells were broken, I could feel their live-life-NOW! attitude, enjoying a good cuppa at a café, cracking open a bottle of wine early in the evening, even walking a lot slower. So when in Quebec, do as the Quebecois do.

Not counting transiting in LA and Dallas, the two places I’ve been to in the States are Washington DC and Chicago. I never had a strong desire to travel to the States but both trips were indeed very pleasant experiences. They were all-paid-for trips. Oh, from what I’ve observed, yes, there are a lot of fat people in the States, and no, not all Yanks are stupid and ignorant.

I always want to travel around Europe. So far the only place I ever set foot in that continent is Stavager, Norway. I got a trip there 2 years ago for work. Like any other Scandinavian countries, it's a very expensive place. I flew into Amsterdam but that doesn't count as I only saw the airport, transitting. These are the 2 pins I bought in Stavanger.

These are some of the pins given by friends and family. Knowing I collect pins, they were kind enough to think of me during their trips by getting me these pins. They speak volumes of our friendships. I cherish these big time.

While some remind me of the places I’ve been to, these count for the people I met. Among others are the crazy cross-country skiing brothers, A and G from Yukon; the pretty Japanese lady J who volunteered for the Girl Guide; the kind, generous, soft spoken and artistic Pommie E that I befriended volunteering in Belize. These pins are the sweet reminder of the friendships we built.

These serve as the testimonials of the crazy things that I’ve done: rolling down a double black diamond course on my first try at alpine skiing; yee-haw-ing at the Calgary Stampede, the greatest outdoors show on earth; polar bear dipping on the new year’s day of the new millennium for fundraising (got a t-shirt for that too); bungee jumping in Bali; pub crawling in Belize City; partying on the street of Quito after the Ecuadorian football team made it into the 2002 FIFA World Cup final; diving at the Blue Hole; spending the night (again illegally) atop a Mayan pyramid at Caracol, Belize; sneaking into Tikal, Guatemala on a fake visa.

Memories, so many memories. Now snap out of it and resume cleaning.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mission Accomplished

The first Malaysian in space had successfully completed his mission in International Space Station and safely returned to earth after spending 11 day in space. The whole nation is rejoicing at this great achievement, as usual, with a lot of fanfares, media coverage and more big talks on the future space explorations. At the same time, there are the skeptical and the cynical camps questioning or mocking the whole thing.

Unfortunately, I must admit that I’m with the cynical camp. C’mon, let’s get real for a second: people are still debating whether he is an astronaut, a cosmonaut, a space tourist or a space cowboy. Opps, space kampong boy. Seriously, we do not train the guy. News flash: We do not have a space program! Reality check: what exactly are the tangible benefits of this space exploration for the country?

Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong, this first Malaysian in space said that, he would be taking a small step for himself but it would be a giant leap for Malaysia. As epic and as momentous and as significant and as historic the moment might be, it did not amount to that giant leap for the nation, not even the small step.

But it was no doubt a positive sign of progress, as positive and hopeful as some heighten abnormal neuron activities in brain of a neck down paralyzed coma patient, and we are not even talking about waking up or any physical moment at yet.

One thing for sure, I sincerely wish that by putting him into space and generating so much fanfares, it’d inspire the young generation, realizing what they want in life, be it space exploration or arts and literature, following their dreams and going all out reaching beyond the stars, knowing that the sky is no longer the limit, in the way that Homer Hickam was inspired, looking at the Sputnik, Russian satellite traversing across the October sky in small town Coalwood, and grew up to be a NASA engineer.

That'd be mission accomplished.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

No Duck and No Pork, Got Wine

Plan was set on Friday that a couple of friends were supposed to come over for dinner tonight. One was to bring the famous roasted duck, the other one was to grab some famous roasted pork in town. I was to serve up the booze. The plan was simple, we were going to stuff our face silly with some greasy grub, chase them down with bottles of wine and yak the night away.

But damn it, the plan fell through. The one with the duck couldn't make it.

So I spent the night in. I spent it cleanning my room: dusting the book shelves, tidying my wadrobe, mopping the floor and changing the sheet.

When my room was all spotless and smelling great, I sat and drank my Chardonnay.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Silver Lining

My heart was thumping heavily and I was wheezing like a rackety old truck on a bumpy road, as I was closing in on the 5th lap of the 1.2k running track at the KLCC Park. The euphoric delusion of chasing the wind offset the excruciating pain I felt on my toes, my feet, my right ankle, my claves, my left knee and my thighs for every stride I took. My head was enjoying the heavenly lightness while my legs were burning in hell.

"One more to go. I can do it!" I told myself, panting heavily.

About 200m ahead I saw a tall Caucasian guy, at least 6'2", strolling along leisurely on the track munching an apple. Then to my utter horror I saw him tossing the apple core onto the lawn of the park. Actually he slowed down, bended his knees and bowled the apple core across the lawn with a swift powerful swing of his arm, beautiful form, precise execution.

"What the fuck! The bin is just steps ahead of him." My heart thumping faster, my breathing wheezing noisier and my blood was boiling over.

Picking up my pace, I ran towards him. It was such perfect timing and coordination that as I run beside him, the bin was in front of us. I tapped him on his arm and then pointed to the bin with simply a expressionless face. I was sucking wind so badly that I could hardly put on a stern and dismay face, let alone chiding him some. So I just continued running. He seemed to get my message though. "It's an apple core. Blah blah blah. (I did not catch this part) Have a nice day." He shouted as I dashed away.

True, it was an apple core. It's organic. It will decay on it's own. It will help the growth of the plants around. So what? So fucking what? The decay takes time, about 10 to 14 days. So for the next 10 to 14 days, that apple core would be an eye sore in the park. Now imagine if the other visitors doing the same thing, hurling banana skins or orange peels, how the park will look like and smell like. "Dude this is my running ground. I wanna run in a park, not a dump." Tossing that apple core like that is definitely not the right way of composting. That was just justifying being a lazy asshole with a bloody lame excuse.

A moment of genius came to me as I was pushing ahead running, gasping for more air. I suppose there are a lot of stupid inconsidered irresponsible people like that jackass composting in the park. Perhaps the park management can designate an area for visitors to dispose their perishable waste and then compost them properly to be used as fertilizer for the plants. It's a win-win-win situation, convenient for the lazy or green-conscious visitors, greener and cheaper approach to maintain the park, and not to mention good education for the kids (and adults) and good publicity for the park.

Ahhh... A brilliant idea came out of a not-so-brilliant circumstance. I should get in touch with the park management ASAP!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Squash Sweetness

Making squash dishes can be as simple or as fancy as you like. This time around I took the fancy route. I've got a wedge of squash, covered it with crushed garlic, sliced shitake mushrooms and chopped bacon. Then topped it pinch of salt and pepper and dash of olive oil. Into a preheat oven the squash went.

Roughly 45 minutes later, I tasted the soft sweetness of the squash with the trimmings. Mmm... Yummy.

Didn't know it took that long to bake that little thing. But hey, it was well worth the wait.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sorry for Not Playing

The sadness he saw in her eyes at the end of the night sparked the guilt in him. He had been thinking about what he said and how he said that night over and over again for the past few days. The more he thought about it, the heavier the burden of guilt he felt.

He knew something was up that night. The air in the room was stuffy and smoky. The anxiety was so intense that it was suffocating him a little. There was a strong undertow of anticipation from her friends of them finally being them. They were watching and waiting. Then out poured her revelations of her feelings towards him. Though they did not come as a surprise, they were stifling. He was pushed into a corner. He felt trapped.

He was treading on thin ice. One wrong move, or one slight tremble even, he might be falling into the frigid water below. Therefore he was extremely cautious, with his words and gestures. How could he say no to her without hurting her? Like ripping off a Band-Aid in a snap, just one short sharp piercing pain to end it all. Or sugar coating the rejection with sensitivity and political correctness, but potentially dragging the misery. How should he do it?

He decided to be gentle. He tried hard not to be harsh or blunt. So he laughed off the questions and avoided the conversations. He was trying to be elusive yet assertive. The more she opened up, the more he shut in. She poured her heart out to him, so delicate and vulnerable. He knew that and he felt it. Unfortunately he could not reciprocate, the feeling was not mutual.

As much as he felt choked and trapped, he felt sorry.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Playing Catch

She put on that pretty little dress and that sexy strappy heels. She wanted to look gorgeous for the night. Indeed she was.

All night long she was downing copious amount of alcohol, one after another, to show that she was having a ball. Afterall it was her party. Perhaps she was using the alcohol to psyched herself up, to muster the courage to spill her heart, to bare her soul in search for return of affection from him. It was a little pep talk session with alcohol for herself. Well, you know how you think you can fly off the building or conquer the world when you have got enough alcohol in your system.

So she did. She did it, hinting sheepishly to him when they both drinking with the noisy merry making crowd. She did it, telling him gently when they both stepping out for fresh air. She did it, whispering into his ear when they both almost drunk lounging on the couch.

He was playing dumb. He was making jokes. He was being witty. He was pushing his luck. He was beating around the bush. His replies were ambiguious and vague at best.

While it was heart-breaking not getting the answers she hoped for from him. More so, it was mind tormenting not getting any answer at all. They set out playing catch. She kept throwing the ball but he remained motionless, simply not catching the ball, simply watching it hit the ground.

It wasn't too much fun. It wasn't fun at all.

She then sat silently across from him. She drank some more. She laid down on the plush sofa. She said she was tired and tipsy. He thought she was utterly dissappoined, maybe crushed. He knew she was done with him.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I took a week off and went home to spent time wth my folks. It was a slow relaxing week. But there was something amiss. I couldn't put my finger on it.

Until I came home from office tonight...

I was dead tired, probably from my Friday workout. I had a killer yoga session over lunch. After work, I went for my Friday's run-in-the-park, logging 6k and then hit the for my hamster-run (treadmill) for another 3k. I was absolutely beat when I dragged myself into the door, even slightly dehyradrated. Yet, I felt good and elated, feeling like a million bucks, probably more!

It dawned on me that I was back in full swing of my exercise routine upon my return to the city, weekend swimming laps, weekday after work gym session, yoga on Tue and Fri, sweating in the sauna and my Friday run. No wonder I felt like on top of the world.

The last week back home were spent being a couch potato, reading, catching up on shut-eye and hanging out at the beach. Those were hardly breaking the slightest drop of sweat. Then the other major 'workout' would probably be the stuff face exercise with mom's awesome cooking. I've been lazy all last week.

No wonder I felt like crap last week. That must be it.

Man, I'm such a workout freak!