Showing posts from March, 2008

The Long And Winding Road

Between destinations, to and fro, I traversed a continuous road, without turning right or left, but kept on following the curves, bends and the straights.

First, there were passing showers. The drops came down, spot on the windscreen and the applied Rain-X did its work immediately. Upon impact, each sky drop broke into tiny bubbles that then religiously climbed up the glass surface in various splintered directions. The effect on me as the driver and on my passengers was both calming and inspiring. Molecules, components and atoms - these all came collectively to our conscious minds, while our eyes were transfixed on the natural, spontaneous display. We could not really hear the sound of the rain, for the car stereo was on, and the experience was like watching a silent movie in apparent slow motion.

Second, there was this restaurant that we passed by and had a crowd waiting patiently to be seated and served a meal. Maybe it was opening night. Seafood was involved, and it was just after …

Penang Island circa 2008

Perth-originated coffee chain DOME operates an outlet in the shipliner shaped Queensbay Mall.

Diverse fresh and dried herbs on sale in an open air Sunday market.

Handsomely restored front of Pernanakan terrace from the early 20th century.

Romantic getaway in bungalow perched over the seaside near Mouse Isle.

Biscuit varieties on display in traditional storage jars at Belissa Row grocer.

The Equinox

Equal daylight, equal night hours. Whether you are in the north or south, there is a feeling of environmental equity. In Wollongong, the rather warm weather persists, with summer-like harshness of sunlight at noon and at daybreak. The full moon on an equinox evening adds to the alignment of the heavens, earth and the calendar. Catholic and Protestant Easter falling on March 21st this year meant the start of the long weekend in Western countries. I subconsciously await for signs of fall, but only see, with delight, mandarins and Tahitian limes sprouting fruit in my garden.

Autumn normally flags a cooler time, perhaps suited doing the inevitable chore of clothes ironing, but not so far. People do send their laundry to be crisply ironed for a fee, but I secretly enjoy the motion and mindlessness of such a house task. I sip in the rather calming effect of unique tea blends called Morning Flower and Stockholm ( do they grow tea in Sweden?). With more discretionary time, I dabble in a frenz…


Without a prompt, I reflected that several years ago today, a group of burglars broke into my residence in a Sydney suburb. I was having a whale of a time enjoying the Royal Easter Show with an aunt and cousin. When I came back at midnight, flushed with the delights of the day and company, I found the glass sliding doors of a back room facing the back courtyard had been aggressively smashed. There was the expected mayhem of scattered things and being trespassed. It was my only time of experiencing such a burglary. For months, they put the fear in my inner soul about the uncertainty of things, despite all our precautions, preparations and planning.

Maybe the thieves needed all that stuff of mine more than me. I wonder where they are now, and whether they do recall the owners of houses they have broken into. Thankfully, I was not inside the house when they assertively carried out their burglary. What they stole as physical things, another dear aunt in Penang assured me, can always be rep…

Customer Service Encounters

I bought a train ticket in Sydney’s Central Station and got turned down by the sales person when I requested for a receipt for claims reimbursement purposes. I had tried to avoid asking for a receipt by offering to pay by credit card, but this was already turned down. It was simpler getting that receipt another day at an urban rail station in Thirroul, south of Sydney. The Central Station information counter lady that Wednesday March 5 however was very fair, suggesting that I could perhaps get a receipt if I asked the station manager. The manager flatly squashed the idea, asking me to go through the exit side gate at my destination station, to maintain my travel ticket to serve as a receipt (instead of getting it swallowed by the toll gate). I asked, what if the side gate was locked and it was unmanned, as it tends to be at smaller rail stations in the Sydney area? I was carrying two pieces of luggage, one rather heavy and even without them, I do not want to jump any gate at any publi…

Chinatown Delights, Sydney

A walking tour of any niche cultural district, in any city around the world, is always worth the effort. Forget about structure; sink into the atmosphere brought from places far away and so different from the mainstream; and get absorbed into a pace removed from our otherwise everyday lives.

So-called Chinatowns outside China offer perspectives that may surprise the eye and delight the heart – and we are not just talking of yum cha. Sydney is no exception, although the conglomeration of Chinatown businesses, malls and streets can blend seamlessly into the other major precincts of the central business district. The term Chinatown can be a misnomer, as it can contain things that are not Chinese in origin, but which are brought by already immigrant Chinese from other countries and cultures. The variety of spicy Thai soups, Vietnamese spring rolls, Indonesian salads and Malaysian curries in Sydney’s Chinatown is a good example. More illustrative is the South Indian murtabak available fro…

The Summer Gone By

As I write, it's two more weeks before the festive season here hits its crescendo, to be followed by endless hours of the annual chilling out sessions on beaches and barbecue pits all over the country. Annual report drafts are being written not only for the business, family and self, but also for profession, region, country and world. We spend so many hours devoting ourselves to business and work goals - have we achieved that? Are there things that are not durable - including relationships, consumables and those with a limited shelf life - that we have not already chucked out? Have we completed the more important items on our wish list? There is also the ritual of ensuring that annual tasks - be they renewals or reviews - have been worked through. As with the approach of major holidays in every country around the globe, the timeliness of services get delayed ("come back after January") or delivery of products not fulfilled. Whatever the hiccups in travel, commercial deli…