Friday, July 31, 2009


RELAXATIONAND SUN-BAKED CHILDREN. As the sun sets, the weather gets cooler and the kids warm up in their colourful cardigans and hoods. The Best Things in Life are FREE - Fresh Air, Water and Sunshine.
This is really true with the Balinese kids as theyhave fun with simple things - a kite, stick, a ducky float, a rented kayak and sand castles. I did not see any handphones, MP3s, iPods - stuff that city kids find so necessary. They posed and smile for the pictures so happily and naturally

The sun has gone to bed and so must I start my journey home

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The locals at Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia doing yoga at sunrise. This is what living should be - exercising in the fresh air and to the sound of pounding waves. At sunrise, I am already stuck in traffic jams while driving MartianGirl to school and rushing to clock in at work by 8am. It was a surprise catching this scene on a recent trip to Bali. Some came walking and others on bicycles.
We rolled out our hotel towels in the sand and stretched our creaky stiff city bones. The class was conducted in Bahasa Indonesian but we could sort of follow by example. My muscles were stretched as I tried so hard to follow the Bird, Snake,Lotus, Hare and many more unbelievable postures. The instructors had to prop me up as I was quite out of balance and falling to the left and right. Imagine, keeping my legs right up pointing to the sky and supporting my entire body on the shoulders. Come on people, make me feel better and tell me this is simply not natural. I couldn't get them up and it's not my fault cos' gravity was pulling my thunder thighs (that's what MartianGirl calls them) right down. Issac Newton's law of gravity states that every thing that goes UP must come DOWN!


Friday, July 24, 2009


You can always find our dependable cobbler busily giving new souls (soles) to our favourite shoes. They do not need fancy shop lots within air-conditioned shopping complexes where they have to pay exorbitant rental. They occupy a little space along almost any side walks. All they need for the job is a stool, a metallic shoe-like horn, their tools and an extra pair of slippers.
Why the extra pair of slippers? He offers direct emergency services and it's for his customers to slip into when he is repairing their shoes. Many a times, I have limped my way to the reliable cobbler for a quick "fix-my-heel-up as the bottom rubber of my stilleto falls out with my heavy walking. Graceful I am not. It only costs RM3 (US$1) to get new stilleto rubber soles.
Sometimes it's a bigger job, something my mother calls a "Crocodile's mouth," that is when the front of my sneekers becomes undone from the bottom sole to show a hungry crocodile about to attack. He just glues it back together or switches them back. The cobbler is definite a neccesity in my life and someone I cannot do without. I hope he passes his precious trade on as he has been a part of Malaysian life for as long as I can remember.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


An achivement always feels better if I have worked hard for it. I spent hours digging, weeding and planting in my vegetable plot and end up really sweaty, stinky and hot. My reward is a cold shower followed by a Magnum (vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate in a stick) resting on the swing in the cool evening breeze. What has this got to do with the durian - a Malaysian fruit with menacing thorns? Well, if I can get to eat the fleshy fruits inside, it means someone had worked very hard trying to pry open the darn thing. I will be truthful, I have never opened a durian in my life. Being the first girl after 2 boys, the men in my family would take care of these "difficult" tasks. My task was to just scoop the fruits out with my fingers and enjoy them. There is no etiquette when eating durians - use your fingers.
Like every Malaysian, I love durians. The fruit is covered with hard sharp thorns. It splits along specific grooves that open up at the base once the fruits over ripens. Thus, to eat the durian when it tastes at its best, we have to hit the base with the cleaver and find the grooves before they open.
We use a large cleaver to widen the grooves,
and then both our hands to fully open the fruit.
The fruits with large seeds sit snugly along each groove. Even our dog waits patiently for his share.
Durians are considered "heatie," and one way of cooling the body after a large durian feast is drinking Coco Cola with a bit of salt added. That's our family tradition, others pour a little water into the grooves and drink from it. I swear by the Coco Cola and salt.
Everyone has had a thorny encounter with this King of the Fruits - a durian fell on my dad's toe when he was carrying the fruits to the kitchen, and in another incident MartianGirl really fell backwards onto a pile of durians during a party. Her poor bum looked like a pin cushion with red dots.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Asia is famous for its street food. It's delicious and cheap provided your stomach can handle it. Most times, the food is uncovered and it does attract flies and bees (yes, lots of bees on the sweet sticky yams and cakes). It is common to pack lunch at these places - get a polystyrene container from the stall owner, pile in the rice and select whatever dishes you like. An instant meal at a budget price. I guess in the West, lunches are sandwiches and hot dogs on the run. We have these too but, we love our rice and noodles. It is funny how our tummies can get use to specific "contamination." I call it "contamination" as the water and ingredients used to prepare the food is different in each country. I enjoy street food in Malaysia and happily sit by the wooden tables and chairs by the road side, but street food in Thailand or Indonesia will give me a "rumble in my stomach."
Even with franchaise food where our taste buds may not detect the slight differences, the stomach knows what it is digesting. I will confess I am a McDonald's addict. I even have McD (as our family calls it) coupons in my wallet all the time. Some of you have shared your addictions to coffee and "pop drinks." But nothing makes me happier than my Happy Meals at McD. My 2 all time favourites - Bic Mac and the Fillet-O-Fish.

When I was in UK for a conference a few years ago, I happily tucked into the Fillet. The bun was just as soft and the fish warm and crispy on the outside and perfect inside. Tasted more delicious than the ones at home because of the cold winter. But a few minutes after finishing, my stomach protested. It just was not possible. Being a scientist, I had to do more experiments on this really unusual phenomenon. So I actually ate the Fillet-O-Fish thrice more at different times (lunch and dinner), a good scientist must test all variables. The same thing happened every time - stomach rumble. Conclusion - It must be a slight difference in the tartare sauce, maybe there is more lemon juice as I know my stomach is sensitive to acidic stuff. Anyway they were the most enjoyable experiments I had ever done. Does anyone else have a queer tummy like mine?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thank God It's FRIDAY?

The Almighty Crane

This will be ONE UNFORGETTABLE FRIDAY. Here I am in the laboratory...BLOGGING. Normally, I wouldn't dare as there are rules about blogging at work and I sure don't want to get caught. But it is 10.10 at night and I have been stuck here for over an hour. I had to work late this evening cos' the new students will arrive on Monday for the start of the University's new academic year. Thought I had better get things ready for Monday when I get to meet them for their first lecture and not be all flustered like a chicken. I had completed everything by 8.45 pm and got into my car to head off home. MartianGirl had already called 3 times as she does not like me driving home late at night.

Oh..Oh... something big and nasty was stuck on the only road that leads uphill to my Department. A hugh crane cum trailer with mechanical problems! It wasn't moving and you can see the poor guy's legs sticking out from all those wheels as he tried to fix it. . There was already a line of cars ahead of me - having waited for over 30 mins.

I strolled over to the guys who were very apologetic, " Sorry Miss, You have to wait for at least another hour." I forgave him - anyone who calls a middle-aged lady a "Miss" deserves instant respect!! So I returned to the Office, went to the tea room and stole my colleague's Maggi instant noodles and had dinner. Then I raided the fridge and stole another colleague's Snickers bar for dessert.

Now that I am feeling better, I wonder if the "Miss" thing-o was due to the very little lighting on the road and that I shouldn' feel so pleased!!