Monday, November 28, 2005

Wanderlust:Chocolate High

today we went to Melbourne Central. nana has been talking abt Max Brenner for days. it's a cafe, n albeit the meaning of coffee, Max Brenner presents a refreshing alternative to the usual caffein shots ppl r so fond of nowadays. it's a chocolate cafe, where everything has chocolate in u have chocolate croissant, chocolate dipped strawberries (which is divine) chocolate souffle, n a lot more.i'm a chocoholic, so i took a Venezuelean chocolate drink with milk (which i think is a tad too sweet, since i love my cocoa to be bitter) n i had souffle as well... i m more in love with the unusual cup. it's in the shape of an egg, so u have to cup it with both hands, at the same time really warming them, esp. when u have cold wind lashing at u. but when i saw the price, i changed my mind. AU30 for a cup?
nana also brought me to every baker's n cook's paradise, a chef shop selling all cooking gadgets. i even found Nigella's favourite toy the mezzaluna!!yep...bought some stuff...hmmm now i wonder if i have excess baggage....
back at the apartment, we watched Paheli (nana's a big fan of the Hindustani movies) n enjoyed strawberries n whipped cream (Janna, not stlowbeli... this is Australian accented "strawberries")
we're going to Victoria Market for the last shopping tomorrow, b4 going to the airport...

Wanderlust: Shop til U Drop

If my feet can talk, they will surely say "no more torture! put us out of misery, n drive! when u're used to the comforts of a car, walking is the last option.something that u hope u can avoid. well, since i'm on a tight budget trip, i cant hail a cab anytime i want to, can i? my sister had warned me that we'd do a lot of walking. i havent walked this much since my undergrad days.

2 days ago we went to Bridgeroad Road. it's the older part of Melbourne, so it's kind of Jln TAR or Jln Leboh Ampang where old buildings r still around. the food there looked wonderful. just wish they had halal sign. there're italian restaurants, cafes, bakeries everywhere.... there're also italian shoes store (which, after discount, still cost around AU$100+). esprit was on sale too... n we went to many other stores. then i felt the need to answer nature's call. but where to find a toilet? those ppl who tune in to Travel n Living channel (n who watch Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe) will remember that when Samantha goes to London, there's a modern auto toilet. there's one in Bridge Road too. everything is auto. which means, if u're not done in 10 mins, the door will automatically open (imagine the scenario). speaking of toilets, i wonder y is it that Malaysian toilets r very stinky when we have ample water to clean them up n mat salleh toilets, despite being dry, r spotless n clean????

yesterday, we went to Victoria Market to do some serious damage to our pocket money. there's a chinese souvenir seller who, upon seeing us, quickly called out "ampat untuk sepluh dollar". yeh, i bought a lot of stuff at his stall. n bcoz i bought a fluffy sheepskin fr him (he gave me a good price for it), i had to carry it in a garbage bag...looking like santa claus hauling the christmas presents. there're a lot of stuff, i bought a colourful boomerang fr an aborigines. he even blowed the pipe made fr a hollowed tree trunk (thanx to the mites). there're a lot leather goods around, n gina bought a leather jacket. we met Nana's classmates, Chris n Min. by the time we're done, it's nearly 3pm, n we're expecting them n Nana's other fren Raja for tea. i had made a cheesecake b4hand, n it's for Raja, as a thank-u for patiently driving us to Philip Island. it became a small party actually, with a lot of malaysian students around. nana made some sardine currypuffs (which became a hit). finally, the oldest of us (me n gina) retired in the room, bcoz i suffered a backache n gina had a migraine attack.

hopefully, today, we'll stay in. tomorrow after an early trip to victoria market to buy some fruits, we'll be flying back.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wanderlust: Sheep, Kangaroo, Koalas n Penguins

Yesterday, Nana, Gina n i went to Victoria Market where fruits n veggies, souvenirs n a lot of other stuff r sold. kak sham told us that we should try the famous donuts. we's freshly fried strawberry jam filled donut sort of ur oblong version of dunkin donut. i saw lots of things that jamie n nigella use in their cooking shows such as rhubarb, artichoke, fennel...n i could smell fresh basil. oh wat heavenly smell! plump ripe fragrant peaches n shiny dark red cherries n happy red strawberries.... i bought some peaches, strawberries n raspberries. we thought of bringing some back to m'sia next week.

then we rented a car n went to phillip island. the agenda of the day was to meet australia's icons - koalas, kangaroos as well as penguins n sheep. on the way to the island, we went to a cattle farm. sadly tho, we missed the cow milking tour. but we did see some docile fat wooly sheep, n this 1 woman gave a demo on how to shear their fleece. then she taught us how to crack a whip, used for herding the cattle. sorta indiana jones kinda style. then i fed a kangaroo. very tame indeed. it fed right out of my hand. very very ticklish n i was giggling uncontrollably. then 1 sheep saw that i had food in my palm n was harrassing me! it was following me wherever i went that nana told me to feed it. n it still wanted it more! we saw wombat, then 1 albino peacock (all white). after that we had continental tea - tea with scones n jam n cream. simply divine, darling...simply divine *grin*. after taking more pics in the english garden where there were huge roses of every colour n pansies n english n shasta daisies, we continued our way to phillip island.

phillip island is linked to the mainland by a bridge. its main attraction is the wildlife. we went to see some koalas first. sure enough, we could see koalas sleeping on trees. they looked so cute, hugging the trees. saw some babies too. there were also kookabarra birds, a native species. after the tour, we went to a seashore where penguin nestling ground could be found. on the way, shops were already closed. unlike us who take the advantage of making more money n spending them at shops well into the nite (10pm), the australians believe that all work n (n all buy) makes jack a dull boy. shops close at 6pm here. except for cafes n restaurants.

anyway, at the seashore, the only thing we found was sea gulls...n more sea gulls with their young uns. n it was so windy... it's not like in m'sia where we have warm breeze. we're talking abt cold wind! there were some seals on the rocks but this we couldnt see through our naked eyes n had to use a telescope. only after that did we go to see the penguins. wat makes this an interesting events is that u dont see the penguins in display like at the zoo. here, u see penguins in their natural habita. n wat we see is part of their daily routine - the penguins return to the shore after a day of catching fish in the water. they only return to the shore at dusk n bcoz it's summertime, this happens around 8.30pm. the spectators cannot go near but had to sit at the stand n watch them fr afar. cameras arent allowed. n absolutely no touching them. last nite the first penguins rose to shore at 8.30. it was really windy, n very very cold...despite our sweaters, we huddled together covered with nana's blankie. some even covered their whole body with blankies n towels. but it was awesome to see these cute creatures rising fr the sea n waddling to the shore. these r called fairy penguins n r quite small if compared to their other counterparts. after buying souvenirs, we went home n reached melbourne at midnight.

it was very tiring, but i enjoyed every single minute of it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wanderlust:Aching Feet n Persistent Flies

gina n i arrived in melbourne at 9.45am. we were supposed to arrive at 8.10 but there was a flight delay. it was a bright sunny day here in melbourne, except that it's windy, n it's cold. both gina n nana assured me that it's not cold. well, for me it is.

nana's apartment is next to subway restaurant. unfortunately tho, eventho the smell is sooo inviting, we cant just simply walk in n buy sandwiches there. i can hear the toll of the tram's bell ringing as it rolls by, n it's kind of weird to see mat salleh instead of malaysians. melbourne is not a busy city like KL. it's the antithesis of KL. nana said they r more interested in creating a family-oriented soicety that leads a slow-paced life. so u dont see a lot of cars around, altho' once or twice u'll hear the screeching of tyres. we took the tram n went to the Federation Square, where there is an art gallery. found that i'm not really into arts. cant understand y one considers squares of yellow n orange n black as the corruption in human's life..bla bla bla...we went to the Royal Botanical Garden next...n walked n walked...n god knows how long we walked.... i thot i was losing my feet. i noticed that there r a lot of flies around. n they r more persistent than their malaysian cousins. just imagine around 10 flies kacauing us... after stopping by the supermarket (australian version of Giant) n buying some groceries, we went back n had dinner.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wanderlust: the Pains

i'm at kak sham's house, n in 48 hrs i'll be on my 7-day trip to melbourne. while my students, frends n family members r excited n envy me for going on this trip,frankly, the excitement still hasnt crept in, i dont know when that'll be, probably i'll feel it when i board MAS.

it's not easy to save money to go on this trip, especially when u have milliions of things to think abt, esp. bills, bills, n more bills. i dont have a father to sponsor me, i only have my baking skills n english n literature knowledge to help me. n they helped a lot. there r a lot of sacrifices to be made, in terms of friendship material wealth.a fren of mine is a bit miffed when i said regretfully that i wouldnt be able to meet her. if she's reading this, i d like to say that i'm sorry, but being on a tight budget, i have to constrain myself (fr. dining at chili's, as we would normally do). i still dream of buying a kenwood mixer, and a europa electric oven. i could have bought them both with the money i spent on the tickets.but like kak emah told me, "nora, while u're still single, go n travel n see the world". this, coming fr a mother of 4 who really defines the phrase "carpe diem" n who had lived in the USA, Scotland, n travelled to Spain to see the Alhambra. the experience will change u. this is also the message salman rushdie tries to convey to his readers. may be bcoz of this, n after seeing too many Globe Trekkers, i thirst for new experiences, new environment, new ppl to meet n learn new things... n hopefully i'll be wiser.

after all, knowledge is wealth enough. although it really pains the pocket to acquire it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

in the name of love

Just when u get to be disillusioned abt people and their meanness n cruelty, there're always some touching stories or events that u feel that there is still hope for mankind.

in oprah winfrey's show today, oprah interviewed a father who has a "special" son who is unable to mobilise himself nor talk. despite his son's physical inability, dick hoyt sent rick to a public school. rick even graduated with a bachelor's degree in special education.

what is so special abt this duo is that dick enters marathons n triathlons on the request of rick. he does not do this alone, dick pushes rick on a wheelchair during the marathons, n will carry rick into a boat during the swimming part in triathlon. they did 50 marathons a year. during an HBO interview, dick was asked why is it that he still continues participating in the races. n he answered, with tears down his cheeks, (yes, i cried too) that he loved hearing the special sound (somewhat like laughter) that rick makes when they're running together, that happy sound from a happy face.

that's father's love for his son. he goes at great lengths to be able to hear that laughter. makes u wonder wat u can do to your parents or your children.

love is the one that makes the world go round. this is wat makes humans so special. bcoz of love.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Food in Abundance

One thing Malaysians know n do best is eating. n now that it's raya, the array of food can lead a chef to write an ode to the food. at my house, we simply adore the heavyweight food. gone was my hard earned 2kg loss. as i had written in my previous entry, we had nasi dagang. my tiramisu was filled with rich filling of cheese n milk. n having more than 20 canisters of cookies strategically placed at the coffee table at the living room didnt help.

on 3rd day of raya, when the siblings returned to the city, i thot of having an open house.i never had one, never invited any of my frens or students b4. but i was on a tight budget, as i have to save for the trip, so i racked my brain n wondered wat kind of dish that's unusual, delicious but economical? nasi beriyani is out. my mother's recipe requires more than 20 ingredients (no short cuts for me, it's the from-scratch recipe) n saffron is very expensive (1 teeny weeny case costs rm16). plus, it's time consuming. oh well... my sis suggested mee hoon. mee hoon? nah... too common. spaghetti bolognaise? nah...that's too common too...then i thot of my fav dish - pasta with bechamel sauce. aha! it's easy, time-saving, economical n very delicious. that's the main dish.then i made tomato salsa. for dessert, i made trifle n chocolate cake with white topping. all these in 3 hours. as jamie oliver would have said it, easy peasy...

my first guests were my literature students n a boy that i coached for debate. then my colleagues came. i also invited nash, my coursemate who has been flying everywhere presenting papers on literature (gawd, i envy him). since nash was there, i told my students to ask him wat they wanted to know abt e.e. cummings' poem (which is as dense as homi bhabha's concept of hybridity). then my form 3b students came - they finished up my pasta ("sedap la teacher...mintak recipe?") n played with fluffy the attention-seeking fat cat. after the guests left, i realised that i didnt have a proper meal... yay! that's like dieting for me. however, my happiness is shortlived. until today, the canisters of goodies r still on the coffee table, tempting me to eat them...

i'm trying to re-like exercising. *sigh* it's no easy task...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Eid Mubarrak

I woke up at 5something n made my way to the kitchen.kak sham n mother were cooking nasi dagang. felt like helping, but the bloatedness in my tummy (caused by the pucuk paku in the bubur lambuk) really rankled me, so i went back to sleep.woke up at 6.20am, n after subuh prayer, prepared the ingredients for masak lodeh. i'm not really a big fan of nasi dagang, n was quite upset when the grand dame declared that the main course for raya feast was going to be nasi dagang. i love lontong, n kak dah cooks lontong every year since her hubby is a johorean. while she was cooking, i did some finishing touches on my tiramisu.
the tradition in my family is that we ask for forgiveness, but we dont stand to any formal ceremonies like wat ppl see on tv. being noisy as we r, the atmosphere was made lively with apit's antics n funny remarks. after that, we had family photos, with the grand dame sitting in the middle, while we the daughters sat beside her.
we went to 2 cousins' houses, n could only eat a bit. i was already worried that my waistline is going to expand again (not that it hasnt expanded already). back home, we're like ular sawa, sleeping comfortably after eating a big amount of food. in the evening, both me n asha went briskwalking around the neighbourhood. it's kinda weird, u know, everybody else was visiting the big houses, looking their best in their baju melayu n baju kurung while asha n i were in our sports attire...hmmm
tomorrow we're going to my late father's village, which is situated by the sea. i'll try to post some pics taken there.