Sunday, February 15, 2009

Something More Beautiful

Call us a dull and old-fashion couple but John and I don't really believe in Valentines - therefore, celebration has been kept to the minimum all these years. Shouldn't love be celebrated and expressed everyday irregardless of time and space?
Anyways, we had a private 2-course dinner attempted by yours truly at our humble abode. The evening was occupied enjoying each other's company, appreciating the simplicity of our food and thinking of people whom we love or admire. Perhaps it's good to let go of ideas and notions which bind us and then rediscover what love means for us all over again. Having said this, brought a short story to mind, I'll share it here :

MORE BEAUTIFUL (Taken from Stories For A Faithful Heart compiled by Alice Gray)
The question is asked, "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and a girl glasping clean hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?
And the answer given is, "Yes. There is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forgotten 'feasts' of childhood

I survived 2 months of festivities with a belly full of content and I'm glad I'm finally giving my stomach a break now. It started off with X'mas where it's always the time of the year when everyone wants to throw a party and we have not been left out. Then came the New Year and the Chinese New Year, where despite the so-called economic slowdown, almost every Chinese household that I know had at least one 'Lo Sang' do. They insisted it's for prosperity throughout the year. Well, John and I had our fair share of 'Lo Sang' too - mostly, invitations from friends. Last Saturday, we had 4 invitations that we had to turn down a few. But the feeling of being invited is extremely extremely great. Great to have not just aquaintances but friends who remember you and would want you to be around. Oh my God, we feel so blessed!!!

Now that the Chinese New Year feasts are all over, I'm beginning to yearn and reminisce some forgotten food of my childhood...

Ice Balls
Ice balls! Yes, I remember watching the ice-ball man as he placed an ice block on a wooden slab in which a sharp blade was inserted. Then he would scrape the ice block over the blade to collect a whole mountain of ice shavings, and using his bare hands (I was too young to bother about hygiene), he would compress and shape them into a huge ice ball. Lastly, some 'gula melaka' (brown sugar) syrup would be lashed on the ice-ball and I would slurp and suck away the ice, tossing the ice ball around and squealing with delight because of the cold. So what if it was 'unglamour' - it was memorable. Nowadays, the ice-ball men have all disappeared.

Tink Tink Candy
Another of my favourite was this 'Tink Tink' candy. It was called 'Tink Tink' candy because the candyman would hit 2 metal objects that gave out the 'tink! tink!' sound. This candy is really hard and gooey laced with lots of sesame seeds in a round tin try and the pieces had to be knocked out using 2 chisels so that everyone could perpectually hear the 'tink! tink!' sound. Those days, I could get about 5 or 6 pieces for 5 cents!

Wheel Of Fortune Ice Cream
Then there was this ice-cream man that cycled with a big ice box and a roulette wheel attached to it at the back of his bicycle. I would quickly fork out 5 cents and got myself a spin at the wheel - if the wheel stopped at the arrow pointing number 10, wah..I'll get 10 scoops of ice-cream! If it stops at 0, then too bad, I won't get any ice-cream. Usually, I'll get at least 2! Those were the!

Nanny's Homemade Kaya
On special occassions, my nanny would make her tradisional homemade kaya and I love to observe how dozens of eggs were beaten together with coconut milk, brown sugar, pandan leaves (juice) by hand. This mixture has to be heated in a perfect temperature and stirred slowly and carefully until the jam turn smooth and creamy. Doing this requires some patience and skills in order to get good results. Sometimes if the amount of ingredients or the temperature is not right, the jam will turn out lumpy and not smooth. Oh well, something like that!
When the kaya is ready, I would spread the thick creamy jam generously on a toast or cracker and hmmm...delicious!
Nowadays, I hardly eat kaya cos' no other kaya taste like Nanny's homemade. Believe me, her kaya is really rich and so fragrant that one could taste the eggs and coconut milk that went into it - a huge contrast from the sweet and gooey stuff with lots of preservatives that are sold in the supermarket today.
I write with nostalgia as nanny is 96 years old this year. Although she is still healthy and very alert, she has already stopped cooking. The last time I had her homemade kaya was 2 years ago and was glad that I ate until my heart's content!

Nyonya Kuihs Galore

Although I'm not an ardent fan of nyonya cakes, I enjoyed observing how nyonya kuihs were sold back then. The Nyonya Kuih man would walk around carrying a long wooden pole slung over his shoulders (he definitely must have strong shoulders). At the end of each pole was a 3-tiered container (like a treasure chest) containing an array of colorful Nyonya kuihs displayed inside.
These days nyonya kuihs are sold everywhere; at the morning market, night market, supermarket and hawker stalls but they can be rather expensive now especially if they are sold at the malls.

Ice Kacang or ABC

Few days ago, I persuaded John to accompany me to a hawker stall at Brickfields last week where we had our most refreshing dessert. By the way, ice kacang is just fine ice shavings packed with red bean, corn, black jelly, peanuts, green chendol, all drown in fresh coconut milk and lashings of brown sugar syrup. Here at the Brickfields stall, we added fresh coconut meat as our topping. Some other stalls normally offer a scoop of ice-cream. Hmmm...glorious!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Most days I do pretty well with the weather, whatever it brings. In fact, at times I enjoy the extremes - frigid cold and broiling heat. Kinda weird..after all, as a runner I guess I have to make peace with the outdoors. Last Saturday was another matter.

I followed John and his Hyper Gila Cycling Team to Putrajaya for a change. While waiting for them to complete their 3 hour cycling routine, I decided to run around Putrajaya for as long as I could. Tony suggested that I should just enjoy myself and try jogging around the huge lake to check where it leads to and I did that.
By the time I finished, it was about 11.30am - the sun was intense but I was still okay. Or so I thought. I chatted with some guys who arrived earlier and learned that Michelle got crash and landed in Putrajaya Hospital. The whole team was with her. Later when John arrived, I was perspiring profusely and wondering why? It was cold sweat but I did not feel unwell.

Just as I was going to change into dry clothes, the world suddenly turned grey and the scene in front of me became vaque and then vanished. Panicked, I almost collapsed and called John who was nearby. He advised me to squat down. I obeyed and until I felt better, I got up. When I began to walk, everything that I could see quickly became blur again, as if I was being covered by a large white cloud. I squat down once more - this time slightly longer. When I felt better, we headed straight home. I looked at myself in the mirror and was quite shock to see how pale I've turned..seriously, I thought I saw my own corpse!!

I swear that this has never happened to me during my entire running life. In the end, I concluded that it was a heatstroke that occurs when the body's thermoregulatory system shuts down from excessive heat buildup or excessive dehydration. In my case, it could also be my raging hormones where I lost a lot of blood via a 10day heavy menstruation. I recovered by resting and doing nothing. I tried hydrating myself with fluids throughout the day.

Well, it's just another chapter in 'Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah' (Today in history) for me! A good reminder for me to seize the day and enjoy everyday - Carpe Diem!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


January passed by so swiftly and's been kinda boring month. Like some people, I'm feeling a little fragile and introspective.
Everything else remained the same except that it was a workday for everyone I know but me. Or so it seemed. Whatever it is - I stick to the basics and was pleased to have accomplished even just a few things.

Decluttering physically and mentally
In the spirit of economising and cutting back, I started thinking of things and people I don't need, especially the ones who clutter my life and don't bring any positive energy to me.
Last Christmas, I spent the whole afternoon clearing out all the clothes that John and I don't need and gave away to the Home for Spastic Children (a project by Tony). This Chinese New Year, I cleared my kitchen and discovered the huge amount of utensils that my mom bought and never use them! I called up the House Of Joy to check if they needed them and sent all the kitchen utensils and other stuffs to them.
Well, when it comes to's much harder. Who do you want to keep and who should you let go? In the end I concluded that those who have nothing better than annoy the hell out of me have no right to have any place in my life. Fair? But perhaps, they appeared in my life to test my patience? To teach me lessons I need to learn? I don't know but people come into our lives for a reason and when their time is up, they go. If they are fated to remain longer, they stay.
Peter Walsh author of the book 'It's All Too Much' commented on the Oprah Winfrey Show that we should also learn to get rid of unhappy memories that clutter our mind and invite pleasant and positive thoughts to fill in. If we hold too long to unpleasant or 'toxic' memories, then it would be difficult for blessings to flow in us.

Spending less and wisely
Everyone is talking about the global economic crisis, the stock market's downward tumble and all the economic woes it brings.
Spending less means spending but wisely. Many times, I must confess I often find myself splashing out on unnecessary items and ended purchasing things that I don't really need or particularly want. Those stuff would normally sit in the cupboard for ages until the next de-clutter process or the next.
Sometimes it's just difficult to restrain our retail urges. Perhaps, when we're on a shopping spree, our brains are no longer our own...which resulted impulse spending. This often leave a sense of regret what retailers call "buyer's remorse".
For now and at least for the past few months, before making any purchase, I often ponder and ask myself, "Do I really need them? Will I be using them? For how long? And I do see some progress.

Running alone and freely
Everything on my running route seemed normal. I haven't participated in any race yet.
Recently, although I did not officially run the Great Eastern 30km Race - I followed the exact 30km course with other runners. I stayed right at the back for the pack and was rather pleased to complete that very challenging 30km within 3 hours.
Nowadays, I run briefly and alone most mornings and on weekends, I try longer distance with my running buddies. It's always good to have both kinds of running agenda, the solitary and the shared. Although sometimes, I'm sold on heading out alone. No schedules to shift, no chatter, no one to chase. And more doors left to open.
Running solo at times is not all that bad. Solitary run can slow things down, de-torque the body, mind and spirit, put the world on hold even if it's only for awhile, and return to the unhurried tempo of an earlier time. While running by myself, I don't have to care much about movements...I'm free to find whatever rhythm I want and the only words I hear will be those in my own head. I shun the modernday invasive chattering and simply notice what is left : myself.

Then, I was so happy that John and I finally managed to get tickets to watch the musical Mamma Mia. We had a blast!