When they are not in laksa or assam pedas

I always use “Bunga Kantan” to make laksa. Some other ladies use it to make asssam pedas. The Thais use it to make offerings in the temple for their prayers to be accepted. But what I didn’t know, and only recently realised, that when they bloom, they are oh so beautiful.

Shots are taken just before maghrib, at D’s place at Mutiara Damansara. I think they are gorgeous. The flowers, I mean… not my shots. Heh. (Takut termasuk bakul angkat sendiri… ūüėõ )

Raw and unedited

These were what I was actually capturing on Sunday morning, when I got distracted by the copulating frogs…

Very early in the morning, it started with this…

Slowly, as the day went by, it opened up…gently but surely under the morning sun.

Final glory… OH GLORY BE TO HIM!!!

Pollination…

Making du’a

Kiambang… somehow, the mention of the word kiambang reminds me of P.Ramlee’s movie Anakku Sazali where they sang.. Tanya sama pokok apa sebab goyang.. nanti jawab pokok.. angin yang goncang… heh

The white princess’ turn

Pure and delicate

Responding…

Coy….

Demure

Sunday mate

I am not proud to say that I spent my Sunday morning spying on the copulating activities of a couple. But that’s what I did anyway, all for the sake of science. When one is an educator like myself, we can never resist collecting teaching materials as and when the opportunity arises. So, meet Mr and Mrs Frog!

Guess, which is Mr Frog and which is Mrs Frog?

Mr Frog looks kinda… err ..nevermind!The egg casing which will later release tadpoles

ANOTHER Mrs Frog who had in a low palm tree. Her Mr Frog jumped off before it was done and left her alone here to settle her mess! (How typical, no? :P)Preparing to leaver her ‘nestling’ till it releases her tadpoles later

Like I said, all for science, ok?

Lam Peng Kwan would be so proud of me.

Canoeing on troubled waters

Just a couple of hours ago, we came back from our date night, watching –well, Date Night. It was hilarious and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. I thought Tina Fey was awesome and we could identify with some issues raised in the movie.

It was a great night. ¬†When we were driving back, I couldn’t help but silently pray that this happiness would last and that even though we would not be deliriously happy all the time, that this stability and happy marriage that we have would last till, well– death do us part. Why the sudden urgency for this prayer of hope and thankfulness?

Well, an hour before we left for the cinema, I got a msg from a very dear old friend, one whom I knew since I was having ponytails and babyfats still intact– that his marriage has fallen apart and they are currently going through divorce proceedings. They have a kid, barely 3 years old. This came as a shock to me as I didn’t see it coming. The last I saw them together on a trip back home, they were a picture of a perfect small family, financially stable and both of them being very educated people.

Prior to this, another good friend’s marriage ended slightly just before Eid last year. That one made me sad because it took so long for him to finally find his Miss Right and finally he got married at the 2nd half of his 30s. I remembered his radiance at this wedding and how he beamed gleefully when we congratulated him at the dias, jesting– FINALLY!

Currently  in between breaks of editing my work, I suddenly began counting, amongst my personal friends, around 5 of them had gotten divorced before their 7th year of marriage, most of them with at last a kid. While about 4 others are having troubled marriages.

The highest divorce rates back in my hometown belonged to the Malays. In the past, this was said to be caused by lack of education, low family income (hence they always fight about money), lack of religious knowledge , lack of.. well any other thing. It seems that the lack of something, more often material was what attributed to the crumbling marriages of the Malay community in that tiny island of ours.

But then again, as I am typing this, my friends whom I mentioned above are educated, with both husbands and wives with at least a general degree, some even with Masters in hand already, high-flying careers in their resumes– so it is very unlike they lack money and fight often about it, and they definitely do not lack basic religious knowledge by the amount of community work they do for the people of the same faith there and the classes they attend. So then again, why?

My father once made a statement… “Budak-budak sekarang, kawin main-main… for my generation, we stick through thick and thin together. Sekarang, tak suka, just walk out!”

I dare not agree or disagree with him, because I am pretty sure that whatever the reasons may be for the crumbling marriages of my friends, and the many other marriages these days, they must be valid enough for two people whom once upon a time love each other to walk out of each other, kids notwithstanding.

Whatever reasons they may have, I just pray that those reason won’t be applicable to my own marriage, and that my friends, who are going through some painful episodes in their lives right now would see the light at the end of the tunnel.

My most ardent prayers are for their children, actually. When I was teaching English in the school back then, I got my students to write daily journals of their feelings and experiences. The journals of kids from broken marriages were the most painful to read. My own husband came from a broken family. And I see the impact of it in him, although now as an adult, he has mellowed down by a lot.

Through these kids whom I taught and also my own experiences with my husband (and in-laws), I finally understood why in my faith, although divorce is allowed, it is the thing most hated by HIM.

In ward

The long and short of it, Tito had birth complications last Sunday where her uterus ‘terburai‘ after her last push for the 3rd kitten. And yes, yours truly was again, the midwife who went through it with her all night long. I should get a certificate of feline midwifery already, no?

We rushed her to the pet hospital where the vet looked in disbelief on how her uterus could have been pushed out like that. Monday was her major operation, unfortunately the uterus couldn’t be put back in, so they removed her whole womb. Excessive lost of blood prior to and during the ops made her need blood transfusion which was done on Tuesday.

Yesterday when I visited her at the hospital, she has stabilized, has begun eating and nursing her kittens despite still hurting and high on antibiotics and painkillers. When I walked into the ward, she gave a loud meowwww that made both myself and the (very awesome) vet laugh. She is on the road to recovery, we hope.

Tito’s hospital ‘bed’.. she’s still on drips and I think that is for monitoring blood pressure…

When I called out to her… she responded with a loud meowww… perhaps trying to tell me hospital food is blergh and she wants to go home…

On drips. She’s very well-behaved. Not once she tried to tear this away from her leg…

Looking at her surgical scarLooking utterly bored…

This whole incident costs us perhaps an equivalent of a ¬†trip to Jakarta/Chiangmai (airfares+food+acccomodation). But we reminded ourselves that HE has promised that if we take care of HIS creations, HE will take care of us. So these are all, as they say, our ‘saham akhirat’.

Ameen.

Twilight days

I feel a bit sentimental when I saw this pic of my nyai (grandmother) taken in Makkah for her 2nd Hajj more than a decade ago.

Because now, she is frail and wrinkly and old and can’t really walk without assistance. She can hardly remember who is who and she speaks and asks about the same thing over and over again. This very person who once raised 12 out of her 13 children without a flinch (and without a maid, if I may add).

She is my icon of isteri mithali and ibu teladan. She is also my reminder. That no matter how strong and unbreakable the youthful years have made us to be, we will one day just wilt and wait for our time, like this awesome person I adore.

The long and short of them all…

Although in the last 14 days, I have been so busy training daily as our sensei-s and fellow students from Jakarta were here, I have also been busy hopping from one new eatery to another. Oh well, our dojo gang brought our guests to around the Klang Valley for good eats, and I feel like sharing some of them here. I wouldn’t call it food review per say because I don’t have the time to go into great details about the taste and services, but an overview of what I felt when I was at these places.

First stop, Pasta Zanmai in Midvalley. My first time there and I swear to be back for more. I love the fusion of Japanese and European food, and what is more important, they do their pasta to the perfect al-dante, which not many places I’ve been to can get that exact pasta texture which I like.

Image taken from Foodstreet.com.my

I have posted my own pic of my order of Pasta Zanmai pasta here before but I think this one will do more justice. There were arrays of pasta– squid ink, salmon fish roe etc… all done in the Japanese way, but with basic ingredients of spaghetti and olive oil. Delicious and they don’t give one the ‘a tad too full’ feeling- the kind you get after a heavy creamy bomb of Italian pasta. And oh, the desserts were awesome too! My new favourite is Matcha Tiramisu– Green Tea Tiramisu with red bean paste as topping.

My other virgin visit was to The Loaf at Pavilion, yeap that bakery/cafe by Tun Dr Mahathir. I went there with Sensei S, on the afternoon of my birthday. Supposedly an all girls time while our husbands were at Friday prayers. Although on most days she does not consume red meat, somehow she was enticed by this pic of Lamb Kofta from the menu and ordered for herself…

While I had some tomato pesto pasta. Our desserts were tiramisu. I was a tad disappointed because after all the reviews I read, the food from the cafe was nothing to shout about, really. Because I have tasted better Kofta elsewhere and better pasta elsewhere too. And the tiramisu was just weak, which couldn’t beat the one at Alexis. BUT, and this is a HUGE BUT. Their breads, danishes and other pastries were to die for, really! Especially their chocolate tarts! So here is the tip. Go there for the bakery stuffs but you can get better cafe food elsewhere!

The other new place we tried is the Hokkaido Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Jalan Ipoh. Well, when we arrived, we were surprised at the crowd. Every other table was pre-booked. I asked the husband, ‘Does this remind you of Chai Chee Seafood we took you to in Singapore?’ Indeed, he saw the resemblance. But it stops there, I personally feel. The food was good, no doubt. But I still feel it lacked the oomph Mak’s Place or ChaiCheeSeafood offer.

A must have at this place is the Fried Fish Roe. I loved it. The rest are just nice and delicious but not too fantastic.

When my parents came, we booked for a table at the Melting Pot, Concorde Hotel. I love the buffet spread and the service. The buffet offers a wide array of dishes which were lip smacking good. However, the desserts were mediocre. But it didn’t matter because after binging on the so many different kinds of starters and main courses, it left extremely little room for desserts. My father and I shared a personal¬†favorite¬†from the buffet, this crab meat nasi goreng. Delicious!

My ‘high on sugar hyper’ mother tipped the Melthing Pot’s acapella band to come and sing me a birthday song, and I almost wished I was swallowed by batu belah batu betangkup. heh. Paiseh, ok! But the staff of ¬†Concorde Hotel was swift to react with a complimentary birthday cake, much to our surprise!

Oh well… :)))

There were more places– TGIF at One Utama, Kanna Banana Leaf etc… But those are not new to me like these places were.

Just re-looking at these photos is making me burp. Go try them!

Yang tersirat

There is something to learn from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you’ll still get wet. When you are resolved from the very beginning, you will not be perplexed though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

I got the above from the HAGAKURE, The Book of Samurai written by Yama.mo/to Tsu.net/omo. and translated by William Scott Wilson.

Actually it was the husband’s book and he asked our sensei the explanation for this Samurai’s saying, ( the whole book is all about lessons from the Samurai world ) on what the above paragraph could actually mean. I read it a few times myself, since our sensei has not given his answer yet. I don’t think he will anyway. Because now that I read it a few times more, I find that I understood what it means or what it is trying to convey.

Grin and Be Happy

I am currently reading the book Geography of Bliss, a tad too slowly due to the last 14 days of aiki/do events which took up most of my time. In it, the writer traveled from one country to another, trying to research on what makes a nation happy and why are the people of any particular nation happy (or otherwise), and the contributing factors to their state of happiness.

Two days ago, I turned a year older and so did my marriage. Amidst the well wishes from family and friends, I also received the inevitable question of ‘ Are you happy?’

Weiner, the writer of Geography of Bliss described the Swiss as people who seemed happy, but in actual fact, they are just extremely contented. Well, I am no Swiss. Being thankful, being contented and being happy are 3 very different emotions in my humble opinion, which do not equate to one another. I am thankful for all that I am getting from the ONE up there, but by being thankful, it does not mean I am contented. Far from it. But am I happy with my discontent? Indeed. I don’t think I am happy. I just am happy.

If I can literally translate being thankful as being bersyukur, well then, yes I am very thankful. I am thankful for the lifestyle I can afford to lead, I am thankful for the family, spouse and friends that I have and also for the fact that despite being a bit overweight, I am not in any serious health problems. I am thankful for the.. ok, just about anything that is within my window of existence.

But I am not contented. I find that if I let myself succumb to contentment, I would lose my drive to achieve things which are achievable by someone whose limbs,brains and senses are all functioning. What I mean is, for example–I am thankful that I am educated, but I am not contented that my education level is just as such. I want to achieve it at a higher level, if possible. I am thankful that I am financially ok, but I am not contented that I am not financially more able to contribute freely and being able to do more had I have a free access to my moolahs without worrying about the rainy days. I am thankful I am given the chance to pursue my interest like aikido and baking etc, but I am not contented if I am just DOING them. I¬† want to be good in them. I am after all, a human and it has been said that it is very difficult for the human race to be contented, we are always in pursuit of more. Hence, I might as well turn this discontent nature of us humans as a driving force behind my actions in order to achieve more positive things, no?

But yes, to the question if I am happy, I would say I definitely am. I am happy in my marriage despite the challenges it brings, I am happy career -wise, being my own boss and in partnership with a long time good friend. I am happy just now when my parents celebrated our anniversary and my birthday with us over delicious buffet at Concorde Hotel, I am happy stroking my cats and talking to the yellow birds that build their nest in our backyard. In fact, I feel happy now, typing this down, in the comforts of my own home on a comfy sofa, feeling safe and comfortable. Happy, very thankful but no, unlike the Swiss, I am not contented.

Being a year older, I look back and realised that with each passing year, I get less angsty and less edgy and having less issues with life as a whole. I guess it is indeed true, what the saying says– with age comes widsom. And with wisdom comes happiness.

I am no Weiner, who traveled all over the world for his Geography of Bliss. My happiness is right here, right now on this sofa.