Showing posts from January, 2008

Of Mice, Nien and Fifteen Days of Fun

Welcome to a new cycle in the stellar events of the Lunar calendar. As we enter the Year of the Mouse,we reflect on the agility and prudence of this clever animal who prepares for the future and is quick-witted to ensure its prosperity. Its size may not herald its position as the first animal, out of the twelve, in the line-up for the Lunar Zodiac, but its personality and attitude makes it a sure winner.

In China, we celebrate what is also known as the Spring Festival. In various immigrant communities from Toronto to Copenhagen to Melbourne, people of Chinese origin continue to practise customs from the motherland - some of which may have been forgotten in China itself. All these celebrations are dominated by the five thousand year old legend of the arrival of the Nien, a mythical creature which used to lurk in the north-west of China and which had reputedly threatened the lives and security of the common folk. Once the Nien had been vanquished by fire crackers and sheer numbers of t…

Food and Festivity

As the current Lunar Year of the Boar draws to a close, preparations are being made to welcome the next twelve year cycle in the zodiac. Festivities begin.

It has been ironic that in summer here, I realise that the lore and custom of the Lunar New Year relate to practices which mostly originate in a freezing cold northern hemisphere environment, for this time of the calendar. This came to me while partaking dumplings in a place specialising in north-eastern Chinese food. I had presumed that dishes from northern China are usually plain and unassuming, short of the Beijing duck and the accompanying wraps. Instead, the dozen or so of us eating at this round table could actually feel the kick of some dishes that had an underlying spicy current. Such food heat, even if subtle, was hidden in the gravy and sauces. It would have been perfect for a snow -laden night in Harbin or Tianjin, but here we were eating all these under a heavy air of thirty degrees, coupled with high humidity. The res…

Oppressive, and not just the heat

The summer air was so still, nothing moved. Not a single leaf budged on the trees. Even the ceiling down lights at home exuded a sense of radiating warmth, besides being mere sources of light. Sweat persistently came down my back and there was no breeze to moderate the effects. Cleaning the car in my home garage was overwhelming with the high humidity. Taking a nap in this weather in the middle of the day was akin to baking one's self, but my subconscious continued to do its work.

Even if it was not night, the subconscious for a while went full speed in re-thinking matters and offering symbolic insights into possible solutions. These involved a set of several characters whom I had initially wished I had not met and known. However, life makes me cross paths with these individuals, so that I have an opportunity to learn - and move on. Now I should count myself so lucky. The more each of them provides me their antics, they have only served to reinforce my convictions that:

- their ac…

Jakarta di Kingsford

Sepanjang hari dan malam, hujan jatuh tiada berhenti. Beberapa saudara-mara terkumpul dalam restauran terletak di Kingsford, dekat kampus utama Universiti New South Wales. Sudah lama saya tidak dapat peluang bergaul dan makan malam dengan hidangan Nusantara Indonesia. Selepas duduk, kami boleh dengar dan lihat satu saluran siaran TVRI.

Makanan Jakarta ada hubungan dengan makanan dari kampungku diPulau Pinang. Ayam bakar dari Java memang hampir makanan Inche Kabin. Rojak dan gaduh gaduh di jual pun di Semanunjung Malaysia, tetapi cara membuat bihun goreng dan sup bihun berlainan.
Ais campur Shanghai terlalu manis, tetapi dihidangkan dengan buah buahan exotik, seperti buah nangka. Cendol terlampau warna hijau dan tidak cukup kelemakan dengan santan yang digunakan.

Majoriti pelanggan di restaurant itu adalah pelajar universiti dari Malaysia, Singapura dan Indonesia. Hidangan yang mereka makan sehampir dengan masakan ibu bapa mereka. Terdapat beberapa kedai makan ala Indonesia dekat Anzac Pa…

Neither Rain nor Hail

Catching up with good and long-term friendships do nourish the soul. Even if I had to do it facing the challenges of inclement weather, it was all worth every minute.

This had been a rather wet summer, and mixed with the thick fogs on the freeway between Wollongong and Sydney. It is good to have survived the threats of unpredictable hail, wind slide, torrential showers and just getting persistently soaked.

The Big Smoke became the Big Wet on Friday, a day when I seemed to stand on the verge of change. I caught up with three new consultants I engaged to work on forthcoming projects, had to say goodbye to someone at work whom I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with, had a refreshing professional chat and then submitted myself to quadrant cleaning at the end of the day. By the time I had my appointment at the surgery, I was looking like a wet dog, maybe reflecting the mixed emotions I faced inside. I also re-discovered the pleasures of taking the commuter train, coming across situations th…

Not What It Seems To Be

She felt like one of the spiked pollen balls being blown away from a tree by a divergent gush of breeze. She likened herself trapped in a translucent ball of white furry fluff, helplessly and reluctantly removed from the people she loves. Subject to the whimsical vagaries of the wind, she did not even know where she was heading next.

Below this figurative ball, she could still hear the laughter, chatter and varying din caused by collective and separate conversations. More importantly, as she was reluctantly being whisked away, as if in some cinematic glazed photographic effect, she could still see the facial expressions of a particular person who had surprised - and mystified - her that evening.

She loved this dashing chap, but with no prospect of a return to her of the care she consciously and sub-consciously projected for him, she had decided that "to truly love someone is to let him go free". It was perhaps some convoluted thinking on her part, but this very subject of mu…

Swaying In The Silent Wind

It is very quiet on campus today. Mainly Asian students lingering around and they do summer semester sharpening their English language requirements, before getting into their undergraduate courses proper.

There is no food sold on campus, so I have to go out for lunch. Even the ducks seem to be away on holiday, they are no where on their favourite ponds.

Instead of city traffic and sounds, I hear bird song. It is that kind of day when leaves high up on a tall tree sway in the silent wind.

It’s a great day for the surf. I bumped into Paul Mason, a KPMG staff member cum UOW student, and he hinted that it was a great day to be at the beach at Wombarra, instead of us being on this hillside park that we call our work place for today. I also see Josh and another Kev, and they are working hard fixing hardware around campus.

I went home at lunch hour and noticed that the canna lilies, that Danielle and Shane Campbell gave me from their home garden, are sprouting blooms for the first time – a …