Sunday, October 30, 2005

Good Mates Are a Wonderful Thang

What it says on the title. I sent out a mass message to my mates re the maid emergency and some of my mates are real stars. One immediately offered to call around for me and revert by today even though he was out of town. Another sent the numbers of three maids she knew immediately. And yet another sweetheart offered his maid to help me out, calling her the best maid in the world. I told them I already found one but the last insisted that his maid would take better care of me than anyone else just 'cos I am special. Awww ... bless.

I feel a lot better now. Now back to the catalogue. Pain ... pain ... in Chinese there is a saying "Entire river of red" ... how true.

Woo hoo! My uber cool girlfriends just messaged to say they are taking me out for my birthday. They probably knew left to my own devices, I'd probably stay in and work. Starts humming the ole Toy R Us song ... one day older than before, I'm not a kid anymooooree ... lalalalala ...

Strife Sunday

I blame the stars. They must be messing up something big up there. Because I've had a shitty weekend. First the supermarket incident, and now having to fire my maid first thing in the morning. Aside from not turning up two weeks in a row, with nary a call or explanation, she had the audacity to deny ruining one of my prized and very expensive hip belts. I fired her arse and sent her packing faster than you can say I'm done with ye, ye dishonest cow.

So, being the efficient anal retentive person that I am, I was on the phone and booking a new maid within the hour. New maid coming in next week. Fait accompli.

Now onto my tonne load of editing. I have 54 pages of the most disastrous pieces of writing I have had to encounter since I edited a medical journal in China. Let's just say I saved some of those pieces for a good laugh on the days when I think it cannot get worse than this. Those pages are now sitting on my bed as standby.

I decided to fortify myself with a beef noodle soup. It's simple but somehow tasty and comforting. This particular food court uses the freshest beef so the quality is really discernable. So even though it is a really plain dish, the use of fresh ingredients really elevates it beyond the few ingredients and basic stock. I have also noticed that this particular food court never uses MSG and a minimum of salt. A very ballsy move in Singapore, I can tell you as almost every food establishment here uses these two ingredients.

Singaporeans are used to a dense flavour imparted by the combination of MSG and salt, a MSG-free and limited salt dish will usually be considered bland here. For this food court to stick to its guns is admirable. I like this food court because it does not serve MSG and uses only enough salt to flavour its food AND they usually add lots of vegetables to the dishes.

Anyway, I started eating these new choccie biccies I came across at Carrefour. They looked intriguing from the packaging. Oozing coffee-filled centres in a chocolate cookie coating. Yums. The reality was little less orgasmic. The coffee centre was the typical hardened cream filling and although fairly tasty, the biccie was not remarkable. Oh well ... I guess I will have to bake some myself to get what I want. I will need an oven then. I really need to sort my time out to do this soon. The only oven in the house is this strange contraption that looks like a giant pressure cooker. And like Anthony Boudain, I am deathly afraid of those. Long story ... childhood trauma involving crazy aunt and a pressure cooker. 'Nuff said.

Sigh, if I can finish my work in time tonight I might make some curry fish. Have a craving for Indian today. Which is daft since I just recovered from a bout of upset tummy yesterday ... I live on the edge! Yeah ... rrrrright. Or perhaps I will take the safer route and make myself some beef balls and vegetables soup. We'll see if I can plow through the catalogue in time and not stab myself with my ballpoint pen first ...

Categories - Rambling Prose

Supermarket Trauma

Just when you think it is safe ... A supermarket should realistically be the safest place for a girl, right? Unless of course, you are a 200 lb over-eater. Sorry. Tangent. Off again.

Anyway, I've had a bad stomach again all night and day and I was gingerly making my way through the supermarket looking for the makings of a light porridge. Trucking along with my shopping cart, my laptop case and my knapsack, I turn around the corner and who do I see?

An old friend, R. Well, I still considered him a friend even though we have not spoken or communicated with each other in years. I've seen him perhaps twice since and every time I see him, a rush of guilt, regret and sorrow hits me. See, this used to be a really good friend of mine. Recently arrived in Singapore again, he was one of the few people I gravitated towards. We shared the same humour, ironic look at life, love for comics and art .. OK, the music part we had a few disagreements on ... and the man could dance! Do you know how many straight guys out there who can dance and do not use this as an excuse to grope you???

But the most important quality he had was that he made me feel safe. Yes, I know at this moment a million blokes are going "Ouch!". You guys have no idea what an important trait that is to a girl though. He was a refreshing and much much appreciated breath of fresh decency. I was not going to plays or movies or pubs or even dinners because it just seemed that I could not hang out with any blokes even in a group (it seemed during this period) without one of them trying it on. I know it sounds naft but for some reason - perhaps some weird alignment of stars ... woo ooo wooo hocus pocus - during this period, I was literally running around in circles daily trying to avoid situations like that. I once ran around a bar 5 times in one night just to avoid having conversations with blokes trying to chat me up. My friends thought it was hilarious but my feet hurt after the third lap. Note to self: wear track shoes to pub.

I hung out with R all the time and we had the late night chats and it was one of the most enriching relationships I ever had with a bloke. Our discussions were amazing. But for some reason, our friend had a really low opinion of himself. He was overweight and lots of people were really stupid about it. I remember being in a club with him and some women were giving him the "using the dog's eye to look down at someone". I was so irritated by it that I grabbed him and we started dancing. The man is a mean salsa dancer. After that, girls were trying to swarm him for dances. LOL ... doncha just love these women of substance?

Things were fine till my friends, mostly girlfriends, harped at me to start dating again as I was developing a real phobia of men after a very bad divorce.

"It's been six months, girlfriend! It's time you got out there!"


"Because it is not healthy! You're young, beautiful (sic), intelligent ... and you are letting him win if you hide yourself. There so many men out there who are just dying to meet you."

"Now you are reeeally scaring me! I don't wanna! Don't make me! They literally make me puke!" Hiding head under duvet now and rocking.

But even I knew it was not normal when you have to rush off to the loo to barf when some bloke puts his hand on your lower back to move you from point A to B. Er ... sorry, mate but you literally make me sick so can we cancel the dinner please? I decided that perhaps my friends were right and I should break the 6-month sanctuary and go out on a date. But with whom? I looked around. Most of the blokes had this gleam in your eye that made you reach out for the first chastity belt you saw, rusty or not. Hell, I had not been on a date for almost 8 years! I'd forgotten what peeps do on dates. I had to ask my girlfriends what the modus operandi was. Sad but true. So I thought if I really had to go on my first date in 8 1/2 years, I should do it with someone safe and yet I could have fun with. I decided to ask my friend R as I thought he would understand where I was coming from.

How wrong we are. How stupid I am.

I should have guessed when he went dead silent and then totally jubilant when I asked him if he'd go out on a date with me. At first he thought I was pulling a cruel joke on him. He kept asking why him. And I was truthful. I told him I thought it was time I went on a date and he was safe and I knew I would have fun with him. And I would rather spend time with him then anyone else who would make me feel yucky at the end of the night. Also, and I was sincere about this, he was such an amazing person, I thought if I had to explore trying to get back into a relationship with a bloke, he was the best candidate. I am very logical like that. I forgot there is such a thing as chemistry as I had not felt any in a long time.

So we went out on the first date. We, of course, had a ball. Until we went to a club and literally the first person I saw was my ex-husband. It can only happen to me. But it was all good, R & I went somewhere else and of course that gave us lots of fodder for making jokes the whole night. Things were great. We went out for a few dates and I was really enjoying myself. Till the night he sent me home and kissed me good night. It was like kissing my cousins good night. There was totally no spark and it was just comforting and nice. But being a stubborn git, I decided not to make a decision. Taking bat now and thwapping self here.

I should not have been such a coward. Or so blind. While I was wondering if we were better off as best mates, R was spending this time planning our wedding. I of course was clueless. As I usually am. We spent more time together. A few more kisses. Couple of cuddles. Nope. Nadda. But I like him sooooo much. This is so bogus! I was in agony. What to do ... what to do? Finally, I decided to do the right thing. We'd been dating casually for almost 3 months now and it was time to set the record straight. Be brave, Steph ... be decent, be fair, be nice ... get out from under the bloody duvet and just face the man!

R was totally devastated. I was totally bewildered. His response was way beyond what I had expected. I truly had no idea he felt so deeply for me. He kept saying that I led him on, making him think that he had a chance with "someone like me". What the hell did that mean? Someone like me??? He said he knew better than to expect someone who looked like me and all to be interested in someone like him and he was in love with me. I felt like the turd even worms avoid. Now I was devastated. How the hell did someone fall in love with someone else in just three months when all you did was hang out?

I spent the next month trying to assure him that it really really was not him but me. I just was not ready to go out with anyone and truly there is nothing for it if there is no chemistry. But he just refused to believe that it was not due to his size. The man was obsessed with his size! It had bloody nothing to do with it! Gawd, it was exasperating. Nothing got through to him. And then he did the most painful thing imaginable. He told me he could not see me at all after that as it hurt too much. That really hurt me. But I respected his decision and his right to recover his pride so I left him alone.

We tried a little reonciliation later but it was not meant to be. A rehash of my not feeling more for him because of his size and my leading him on finally drove me to lay my foot down. I refuse to be made to feel guilty for not feeling any kind of sparks for him and to allow him to continue to impose his own insecurities on me. It really hurt me to lose his friendship but I felt that it was better for him. He knew when he got over it, I was always there ready to be his friend again.

I saw him with a girl this year and I was really happy. I was delighted to see him with a girlfriend because he really is a great bloke. But his look when he saw me was still bitter, angry and hurt even when I smiled at him and waved. That is not good.

I thought perhaps if he saw how genuinely happy I was for him, he would get over it. Being the daft git I was, I just smiled and gave a nod in the direction of his girlfriend and smiled happily to communicate how happy I was for him. He looked away. Oh well.

So when I saw him this afternoon, I smiled at him again and he walked over. I was pleasantly surprised and thought perhaps it may be the first step towards us forging a much healthier if more distant friendship. Instead, he grabbed my arm and hissed in my ear that it was not fair that I used him and made him fall in love with me and I never looked back. And then he marched off as I stood there completely gobsmacked.

The bruise on my arm now will fade but the lesson will not ... not for a very long time. People ask me why I seldom if ever date. This is why. There are so many sleazy guys out there that it turns my stomach to even have them stand anywhere near me. And the "nice ones" seem to turn psycho on you with time. Most blokes expect you to jump into the sack with them within the first few dates and when you don't they act all surprised and turn Neanderthal on you so you literally have to kungfu their arses out of your way as you tell them to eat dirt.

And the nice ones .. when you hang out with them even in a friendly way .. in a group or just a friendly dinner or movie, they start falling in love with you after a month. What is wrong with them??? Who the hell does that??? And why blame me when I don't operate the same way? I have never fallen in love (rare few times) with anyone till at least 3-6 months after dating them exclusively. So I'm slow. Gimme a break and stop busting my chops about it!

You know, the dating game is hard enough. But it is even harder when you become afraid to hang out with any male mates just in case one of them gets the wrong idea and started imagining they have feelings about you. Sorry for the rant but someone just bloody lead me to the nearest nunnery.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Thursday, October 27, 2005

How About Them Tarts?

I've got a shitload to do tonight again. I decided not to bring the laptop home and work from the home desktop instead because I thought I should pay a visit to Carrefour again. And I needed my hands free to carry the groceries home.

I decided not to cook too so I have more time to work and to post here before I got cracking on work. So, I bought a bowl of beef noodles - the gooey, dark gravy-ed beef noodles that look like giant worms and bits of turd. WEG ... as you can see, I am really getting into the whole Halloween thing. LOL.

I also bought a Chinese dessert called tau suan which is like a sweet lentil soup. I really like these as I find them comforting in an odd way. But I was bloody disappointed to find that it was watery and way too sweet. Fortunately, some sixth sense told me to buy some other desserts. So at Carrefour I was bloody delighted to see two dark choccie tarts going for only $2.59. I decided to give it a try.

I finished my noodles really quickly, eating and typing at the same time. And then it was the tau suan. I did not finish it. It was that disappointing. And then it was on to the tarts ...

Woah! Bloody hell they are good! It was lust at first bite ... I was a goner. My heart was racing, my mouth was watering, my eyes wide and distended with a dazed gleam ... I eyed the tart in every angle, contemplating the rules of engagement. The dark, luscious gleam of the silky chocolate. The curvaceously sensuous undulations of the snow white cream. The coy dusting of icing sugar. The coiled turgidity of the sinfully dark chocolate sticks. It would be a sin to rush it ... but to go to slow was a torment on my senses.

Ah feck it ... I ate it with a relish a hotdog would envy. It was sooooooo good. I applaud my own self control and saintly virtue in not devouring the second tart and saving it for tomorrow.

We'll see if it can survive the night. As long as I do not awaken with an insatiable lust for choccie tart in the middle of the night, its virtue is safe from this rampaging glutton. Now that I have packed it away, I have only the pictures to leer at.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Monday, October 24, 2005


I was just reminded of an incident that happened about 2 weeks ago when someone asked if I was Taiwanese and related to another dancer and good friend who is. Serene, myself and our Taiwanese friend, Charmaine, had gone out to a shisha place where we met a Moroccan dancer who used to live in Singapore.

I could barely remember her but we all greeted each other and Charmaine was very excited. She had apparently taken her first lessons in Singapore from this Moroccan lady whom we shall just simply call Sam. She was very impressed with her dancing and after some discussion, we decided to ask her if she could spare a couple of hours to give the three of us a private class. It was all rather loosey goosey with Sam telling Charmaine to call her the next day to make arrangements for the class.

Anyway, the next morning, I messaged the girls to ask about the time of the class as I had quite a lot of work to do and I needed to time myself just right so I could make the class. No one responded. By the time it was 3pm, I was wondering if the class was cancelled.

At almost 5.30pm, Serene messaged to inform me that the class was scheduled for 7.30pm and she was out buying a present for Sam since the latter had kindly offered not to charge us for the class. We were all going to chip in to buy a nice present for her to show our appreciation. I was told to make my way to Charmaine's house where she had booked her condo studio for the session. With my eternal bad luck with taxi drivers, I got one who went to the wrong part of the island. So by the time 7.20pm rolled around, I was still standing at my house in the rain waiting for the taxi to turn up. I decided to call Serene to report that I would be late and for everyone to go ahead without me so I do not hold them up.

When Serene answered the phone, I angrily blustered that I had another fecking no-good taxi driver and was going to be late. She laughed bitterly and told me not to worry as she was still waiting for Sam who was having her dinner. I assumed they were having dinner together till Serene put me right. Poor Serene had shown up at Sam's hotel at 7pm to pick her up for the class and had been waiting at the lobby while the woman was having dinner with her friends. Ouch ... she could have at least invited Serene to join them while waiting. I felt sorry for Serene and told her I would go to the studio and let Charmaine and Mariko know.

Arriving at the studio at last, I informed Charmaine of what happened. Like idiots, we sat there and waited. We did not even dare to eat as eating before dancing is like asking for a scene from Monty Python. By 8pm, I was starving as I had not eaten the whole day. Serene called and I could hear the ire in her voice as she stated that she was pissed off (I am so astute ...) because Sam was still having her dinner and she had been waiting an hour now. And she was furious that Charmaine had not answered her phone. Things were getting tense. I told Charmaine to make a decision as this was ridiculous. I really did not care who Sam was but this was very bad form and I really felt bad for Serene.

At 8.20pm, Charmaine was still waffling. She was annoyed at Sam but too afraid of confrontation and she was also afraid of speaking to Serene to apologise. I finally had enough so I called Sam, told her thank you but let's forget it and we'll see about doing it another time (NOT!). Can you imagine the woman's gall? She did not even apologise! She in fact made it seem like she did not know we had booked a studio and that she assumed it was at Charmaine's house so she could come anytime. Yes, and that is why we made an appointment at 7.30pm. Duh.

This was so typically middle eastern - we usually joke that middle eastern time means turning up for a 9pm appointment at midnight. But this was ridiculous. I knew it would be a lost cause trying to make her see how rude, inconsiderate, badly brought up and unprofessional her behaviour was. I messaged Serene to let her know I'd told Sam to feck off, and we were going to rescue her and go off for dinner instead. I forgot to mention that none of us had eaten dinner yet as we were all waiting for Sam.

We ended up having a mini, impromptu hafla in the end and had a ball. But what astounded me was that this woman who is not known anywhere behaves like a grand diva with no consideration of anyone's feelings or time. I have had many teachers who are world renowned and none of them has ever behaved in this manner.

I also felt bad for Serene as she always seem to take the brunt of all this. Everyone always relegates her to designated driver status every time a teacher comes to town. And it has become so expected that I do not think anyone ever thanks her properly or treats her with enough respect and consideration. I once kept her company as she was asked 30 mins before a class starts to go get some medication for a teacher - just because she is a doctor and has a car. Because of this, we missed more than an hour of the class which no one ever compensated us for. Mind you, the hour costs about US$100.

She is doing it as a favour, people, so show some grace and gratitude, for God's sake. Show a little respect.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Jumping Frog Legs!

I got a little drenched in a sudden storm last night. There we were gaping at the incredibly ugly lights for Hari Raya, smoking our shishas, when an unexpected gust of wind trying to audition for a part in The Wizard of Oz, came rushing by and basically blew everything off the tables.

It was uncanny. Just an hour or so before, I had the misfortune of having my handbag catch on fire after the charcoal boy dropped his coal right on top of it. As he just stood there and gaped, I had to scream at him to take it out as he fumbled around. Aghast, I watched him picking at it gingerly and slowly with his tongs as my handbag started smoking and flaming. Finally, I got a glass of water and put it out. Fortunately, nothing else was burnt inside my bag. Phew, I was really worried as I had a couple of electronic gadgets in it. Of course the handbag was completely ruined ... a gaping hole the size of a fist had burnt itself into the leather. And guess what? Service oriented Singapore's typical response happened. The charcoal boy did not even apologise and walked away, ignoring me and pretending that he had not done anything wrong the whole night.

Of course I was not gonna take this sitting down. Unfortunately for him, the owner is like an uncle to me. So I brought my bag to him and told him what happened. He's going to replace my handbag and of course everyone apologised profusely ... but not the charcoal boy. And people wonder why the Prime Minister's teh tarik speech did not touch anyone.

Immediately after this, a friend got really upset when she realised that a critical piece of work for an important client had been royally fecked. She'd handed the project to a good friend and the end result is ... shall we say, even my cross-eyed, arthritic and colour-blind third cousin's nephew could do better. She was understandably upset. But I think even greater than the anger, was the betrayal and hurt of a friend betrayed. Everyone felt her pain and we totally commiserated when we saw the work.

So it was a strange group sitting there smoking our shishas and trying to cheer each other up despite our individual small and not-so-small setbacks last night. We cracked jokes, made corny comments and generally clowned around. The words, "Using laughter to hide your pain," flashed through my mind. And as if to mirror the turmoil within, the skies opened with a flash and a tremendous sleet of rain pelted against the aged bricks of the shophouses. The rain was so strong and sudden that someone remarked that it was a Katrina Wannabe.

By this time, I had decided I should bugger off home before anything else went wrong. And my friend wanted to watch a movie to get her mind off her troubles. And these were considerable. Let's just say fecked up work, deadline on Monday, important client with contacts to all her other clients, and recalcitrant ex-best friend aka Creator of Fecked Up Work ... all these do not make for a very good weekend for my poor friend.

But we couldn't leave as the rain was so strong none of us would have been able to make it out anywhere without getting drenched. I managed to borrow an umbrella. But the rain was so strong that I still got drenched even in the short dash to the taxi. The nice taxi driver was so sweet. Seeing me looking like Shakira in one of her videos where she (again!) gets wet ... he decided to drive as fast as he dared in the downpour. He also turned down his air-conditioning and asked if I needed a jacket. Awww ... now that is service.

So, I slept a little .. OK, a lot later, than I planned. When I awoke I was kind of worried that I might catch a cold from the drenching last night. Even though I had taken a very hot shower and had huddled under my duvet all night, I wanted to make sure I was not going to fall prey to any flu or cold. I'd enough of that from my dengue scare.

I thanked my lucky stars that I had the herbs required for Frog Soup with Ginseng, Saffron and Tian Ma. This soup is good for a number of reasons but the biggest benefit is that it wards against flu. It apparently reinforces your heart, liver and stomach's ability to function at optimum and strengthens the gastrointestinal functions. However, either I've read the books wrongly or mistunderstood the instructions but apparently, you cannot drink this soup between 11am and 1pm. I have no clue why, but fortunately, I was planning to have this for dinner anyway.

The Chinese herbs required for this are quite common but the frog was a bit suspect. I have never cooked frog before. I've eaten it many times and theoretically I knew how to cook it. But I've never been that crazy over it so never gave it much thought. I could not find any frogs in the market but they had frog legs. I reckoned it really made no difference so I bought a fair sized packet.

You need saffron for this soup and this is quite unusual for me to see in a Chinese recipe. Saffron is definitely no stranger to me as we use it in our curries and paella at home but I have seriously never seen it in Chinese cuisine. Perhaps, this may be because they call it xi zang hong hua which essentially means Persian red flower. Explains why it was used fairly often even if not weekly, in our food. It is an expensive herb but a little of it goes a long way. However, this recipe asks for quite a lot - about 15g. If you use this, get it from a Chinese medical hall and not from a spice rack.

Saffron regulates the heart and liver, and such being the case, also aids in enhancing your blood circulation. It is said to have the ability to remove blood clots and stagnation so women who have painful menstrual cycles would benefit from this herb. It is also supposed to help in hair growth. If I had any more hair, my hair salon would close its door to me. At the last visit, the poor colourist assistant was heard gasping ... "Wow, it's like I never run of out hair .. I keep combing and combing and still there is hair ... it's so long!" She's Malaysian. They tend to be flamboyant ... LOL.

Being so used to saffron, I did not realise how rare it is till Nishi told me she had never had it. It is a lovely herb. I love the bright red luster of it when it is uncooked, and the yellowish orange glow it imparts to all that comes into contact with it during cooking. However, this lovely herb is potent and has to be taken with care. You should not take too much of it - which is lucky since it is so expensive. Preggers ladies should not take this herb but then again, as I say time and time again, preggers ladies should not be taking Chinese medicine in the first place. Also, people who are on blood-thinning medication should avoid saffron as well as ladies with very heavy menstrual periods.

The other herb is American ginseng aka xi yang shen. Different from the Korean ginseng which is deemed heaty, the American ginseng is considered cold in nature. So in this soup, it helps dispel heat and nourishes your qi while helping relieve dry throats (something I need), nourish the lungss and the stomach.

The last herb is gastrodia tuber which is known as Tian Ma. Tian Ma is also known as Dong Ma and is warm in nature. It dispels wind (stand back now), cures palpitations, and nourishes the liver. Apparently it is also good for dizziness and numbness of the limbs due to inner wind, i.e. rheumatic numbness.

Once I had assembled all my herbs, I got to work.

Frog Leg Soup with Ginseng, Saffron and Tian Ma
250g frog legs
3 conpoys aka dried scallops
3 slices ginger - use old ginger, not young ginger
1/2 tsp Shaoxing wine or any other Chinese wine
3g saffron
15g American ginseng
9g Tian Ma
2 cubes of chicken stock

1. Clean the frog legs and soak the conpoy in water for about 1-2 hours
2. Pour 4 cups of water into a non-metal pot and add the saffron
3. Rinse the ginseng and Tian Ma and add to the pot
4. Lastly, add the conpoy and frog

5. Add another pot of water and bring to boil
6. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 45 minutes
7. Discard the Tian Ma
8. Season with chicken stock cube, the ginger and the wine and simmer for another 10-15 minutes
9. Serve hot

The soup is actually quite mild in taste and I was surprised to find I rather enjoyed it. However, the frog legs were just OK and again reinforced my opinion that they are rather average and nothing much to shout about. I just do not get the whole frog leg craze. So healthwise, this soup gets a 9.5/10 and taste-wise, about 8/10.

I had the soup with rice and experiencing a rush of guilt as I have not eaten as much vegetables or fruits this week, I decided to stir-fry some kailan with garlic and oyster sauce. It was a simple dish. I just sliced up two garlic cloves and sliced up the thick stalks of the kailan. I sauted the garlic and the sliced stalks in peanut oil before adding the kailan leaves. After cooking for about 1 minute, I added oyster sauce flavoured with dried scallops for synergy with the soup. After 2-3 mins till they are cooked, I turned off the fire and plated.

I was quite happy with my meal so I felt justified in having a cream puff for dessert. While eating my dead delicious cream puffs from Bread Papa, the fragrance from my lilies, which finally bloomed, wafted across my nostrils. Let me tell you, it takes quite a lot to take my attention from those cream puffs but I did get distracted. So I decided to take some shots of the flowers. They are gorgeous and now I am inspired to search for my bigger flower vase tomorrow.

Categories - In Hot Soup, Call Me Others, Chinese Herbs

To Teach or not to Teach

That is the question. While I have always preferred performing to teaching, I must say I miss it and wish I had time to do it. Instead, I've had to put that on hold till next year where I have just committed to doing a number of workshops.

Teaching has always been a double edged sword for me and I think many other teachers of dance feel the same. While I have been taking a break due to my extremely hectic work schedule, it also means that I am out of the scene and can be easily forgotten. However, the current condition of the dance scene does not incentivise me to jump back into my dance shoes anytime soon. This year, I have found the dance scene becoming increasingly sleazy and cheap with many so-called dance professionals taking on jobs and doing things which really denigrate the art. Especially when there is a sudden influx of exotic dance forms like pole dancing, bar top dancing and "stripper" dancing. It makes me want to distance myself more and more.

However, it still irks when one of the biggest culprits of degrading the dance form and dancers in general makes a fake, concerned comment that I am "not seen or heard anymore" and that I am "nowhere". I took the high road and just replied that I had a life that I would like to live. They knew of what they speak when they called us prima donnas. Or bitches in this case.

Anyway, I have nothing against exotic dancers and I have seen some whom I have thought are amazingly talented and skilled. But of the few I have seen live and not on some lame movie, the majority have consistently failed to impress me. Frankly a lot of them appear to be uncomfortable in their own skin and are trying too hard to appear sexual instead of sensual, coming across as looking vulgar instead of seductive. To me, it is a damn shame.

I have a couple of friends who are exotic dancers and they have always asked me to teach them to dance "properly". I have always demurred by saying truthfully that I am too busy to teach. But the biggest reason, and I am slightly ashamed to admit, is that I do not want to be known as a teacher of exotic dancers.

I remember a class I taught in a community club a long time ago. Two young mainland Chinese ladies came to my afternoon class dressed in tight, black sparkly dresses. Blinking hard, I told them that comfortable exercise gear was a better option in my class as they did not hinder movement. However, they kept turning up dressed like that and I began to wonder what they did for a living. I later realised they worked in some karaoke lounge as hostesses. I was horrified. I know it is snooty of me but I am just not comfortable with this. And I always felt bad and a little hypocritical ("I can be your friend but please do not tell people I am your teacher" hypocrisy) for feeling this way until I heard a story from Serene recently.

Apparently, a very famous dance teacher whom we shall call Y Sharif, had gone out on a rare boys night with his friends in New York and was taken to a strip club. The moment he entered, one of the dancers gasped and shrieked loudly, "Oh, my teacher!"

He was absolutely humiliated and horrified and begged his friends to leave immediately. But, as good mates all over the world do, they refused and made fun of him throughout the entire night.

I felt so much better hearing this story as I realised that it was a genuine concern and I was not alone. It also made me feel happier about sticking to my principles despite many criticisms and bitching about me being too up myself to teach all and sundry. I have the right to choose who and where I teach or perform and I often exercise that right. To lose gigs because of this is painful and insulting sometimes but I strongly believe that those who want me will wait or will understand my position. Which is usually validated by my true clients.

It is preferable to being all over the place and being a lesser dancer, if not in stature, but in dignity, talent, class, skills, techniques, morals, creativity and more importantly ... soul. I would rather be forgotten than cheap. Dancing comes from the soul ... not from the purse.

So for now, I choose not ... to teach or perform. Till hopefully the day when the dance community remembers why we started dancing in the first place.

Oh, to those who wondered, my ex-colleague had to cancel the mulled wine adventure to another weekend. So I ended up at Kampong Glam for the Hari Raya Light-up instead.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Flower Power

Had a healthy dinner of steamboat fish soup near my house with a fellow lateworker this evening. It was OK tasting ... very little oil, healthy and well cooked, which is a boon. But it had pieces of yam in it. I found that very odd but my dinner companion said it was a Chinese thing. Oh ... OK then ...

On the way home, realising that it would be another long night of trying to sort out my work, I decided to buy some flowers to cheer up my room. To my amazement, there was still two florists opened at the market. One had much healthier looking blooms but they were kind of boring while the other had fairly interesting flowers but they looked a little worse for wear. I decided to go for beauty over hardiness and picked a lily stalk, some forget-me-nots and a bunch of crysanthamums.

Going home, I went ikebana on their arses. The result was slightly disappointing as the lilies have not blossomed yet and I realised my flower vase was a little too narrow .. and I can't find my larger vase since I have not fully unpacked yet. Oh well, will adjust the arrangement again when the lilies bloom.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In a Chestnut Shell

Well, it's been a shite day. I've been on the wire before but today took the cake. Not only did I have to deal with morons from the local civil disservice servants masquerading as art doyens, I was also faced with a director who seems determined to ruin us with his forgetfulness. Which almost cost me US$3k to almost have a blank page in a publication. To say I was pissed off is an understatement.

Then I realised he'd forgotten to mention that he had received a critical piece of information that caused me to not only lose a day of productivity but alsoi have to work late (gee, que surprise) in order to complete it. But worse .. much worse ... it also caused me to kick the arse of a civil disservice chickie who, while she usually deserved it, truly did not deserve it today. I was so mad at the director for putting me in the position of having to apologise to her for his over-sight. And he had the gall to try to suggest that I could pretend that it was her fault anyway. I might be an uptight cow who will kick your arse to kingdom come if you cost me money, but I really hate it when peeps are accused of something wrongly. Even if I am the accuser. So I sent her a note to apologise and accepted that it was our (not me but hey, I am a bigger man than him!) fault. It was the only decent thing to do.

I was so pissed off with him that come 9pm, I pretty much said Feck it and buggered off home without bringing any work home. A radical thing, I can tell you. Stop worrying, ye of little faith. I did manage to finish the project with the misappropriated info before I buggered off.

I also had not eaten today. For some reason, the maid's cooking has been really off recently and no one can really eat her lunch anymore. I went to a food court and bought mee poh home. And then guilt struck me. It's not terribly healthy, is it? And my throat has been feeling a little raspy and I think I am too "heaty". So I decided to make waterchestnut soup. It's a traditional Chinese sweet broth made with waterchestnuts that is supposed to cool down your body and is supposed to be generally good for you.

I bought a basket of them and went home to sit in front of the telly with my trusty fruit knife and brush. It's tedious business preparing waterchestnuts the way my mum did. You have to peel off all the fine, papery "leaves" from the waterchestnuts. Then you scrub it to get rid of all the mud. Then you peel the top off the chestnut so all the hard, fibrious stalks is lopped off. But you keep the skin. Why? I asked that as a kid too .... terribly distressed at having to crunch and chew through all that "bark". Because most of the nutrients and fibre is in the skin. The flesh of the waterchestnut is not as packed with goodness. Even if it tastes good.

It's dead easy to make the soup.

Waterchestnut Soup
Rock sugar

1. Prepare the waterchestnuts as described. If you are really lazy, just take the fruit knife and peel off the whole skin .. try to leave some flesh.
2. Place the waterchestnuts in a pot and add water
3. Bring to boil and add rock sugar to taste
4. Lower the heat to simmer for another 15-20 minutes
5. You're done

Easy huh? Drink the soup. Drink the soup. Drink the soup. Listen to me nag. All the goodness is in the soup. You can discard the waterchestnuts now actually and all you need is the soup. But I eat the waterchestnuts too. It makes me feel virtuous. Another rare occurence.

Am extremely busy so to peeps who have been wondering where I am, am in the midst of hell but this weekend I am supposed to go to an ex-colleagues house at her command. For some strange reason she wants my famous mulled wine so I am gonna make her some. Wrong season, wrong climate but hey, it's booze! We will also be making a cheesecake and she might want me to make my Margarita Wilson too.

Well, watch this space to see what we would come up with. We're both good cooks and used to pig out together all the time when we worked at the same hellhole. But this will be the first time we are cooking together. Could be fun. Could also be murder.

Categories - Sweet Thang, VeggieMight

Sunday, October 09, 2005

On the Frits Again

I am sooooo tired. Too tired to cook. Came back from work and decided to go to another food court. Strolling along, I saw a store with all sorts of fritters and other fried heart-stoppers. Oh well, I worked hard, been eating fairly carefully ... what the hell!

So I ordered the following to takeaway:

Red sausage
Fried tofu
Century Egg
Fried fish cake
Fried liver sausage
Ngoh Hiang (a Chinese version of deep fried haggis)
Fried vegetable fritters
Fried bee hoon

It sounds like a lot, huh? Well, it was! I am so stuffed now I think I am gonna explode. And you know what is scarier? I ate the whole lot! Well, except for half the noodles. Jaysus ... oink!

Am too stuffed to move now. I think I need a nap. Double oink.

Categories - Rambling Prose

I Steam You Long Long Hard Hard?

OK, an update on yesterday. Because it was a helluva funny night.

First, it was both a brilliant and a horrid day at work. Mdm Tak Mao finally managed to piss off everyone so much that the director lost it completely and basically kicked her arse right out of the office. It was a bad scene but actually a real sigh of relief because the woman brought such bad mojo.

But we had a fab day in terms of business. We were hard press to keep up with the number of peeps coming in and buying works. So by 7pm, I was in a very good mood. Was also in a great mood because I was actually gonna do something social for once instead of working non-stop. I was going to watch an old classic Chinese movie called Liang Shan Bo & Zhu Ying Tai aka the Chinese Romeo and Juliet. I'm definitely not a romantic movie type person and would normally rather chew my own eyes out than watch this, especially as it was one of those opera like ones ... but it is a classic and all my friends were going and I just wanted to go out and have a chilled out night.

Anyway, one of the blokes had not even heard of it before and I was trying to explain the entire precept of the Chinese operatic romantic movie genre.

"Oh, prepare for lots of wailing," I said helpfully.

"Wailing? What? Why?" an alarmed Jan asked.

"They sing in these movies ... scary isn't it?"

I don't think he quite believed me. Ten minutes later, the first screech burst forth from the screen and I saw Jan's bald pate turn viciously around as he looked back at me wide-eyed and accusing. Heh ... told ya.

It's a good thing they had subtitles in that movie because it just made it that much funnier. For those of you not in the know, the storyline is really naft. Girl wants to go to school. Parents say no. Girl pretends to be a bloke so she could go to school as way back then only boys went to school. On way to school, she meets boy ... who turns out to be going to the same school.

Wail, whine, wail ... "We're getting along so well after only 10 minutes of meeting so why don't we become sworn brothers?"

"Wonderful, how old are you? I am 17."

"I am 16 ..."

At this point, my group start humming "I am 16 going on 17 ..." to the annoyance of the peeps around us. But honestly, how did you expect us to resist??!!

Anyway, girl falls in love with classmate, who's a daft git who never realises no boy wears that much make-up in school .. no, not even RuPaul. They finally graduate and on the way home, she tries to tell the dimwit that she's a girl.

"See those two fishes swimming together so happily!" (Code: Psst, I'm a girl)


"See those two mandarin ducks in the pond? They are just like us .. a happy couple!" (Code: Pssst, I AM A GIRL!)

My group at the movies was made up of 3 gay blokes, 1 straight but pervie bloke, a chick who works for the French so she's gotta be a bit bent anyway and then there's me. Jan came for the movie because he thought it might be a gay flick ... come on ... girl dress up as guy and guy falls in love with her and the characters are all played by girls with one pretending to be a guy who is really a guy who falls in love with a girl ... ya see? So when the line " ... a happy couple" came up on the subtitles, we thought they meant to say "... a gay couple".

Back to the scintillating story ...

"See that crow sitting on the back of the cow in the farm. They should be a married couple. You can be the cow and I can be the crow." (Code: You flaming idiot, I'm a GIRL!)

"What? I'm a cow???!!"

They take shelter in a temple and girl suggests they get married. Boy laughs and says men do not marry other men. Nervous laugh. I heckled and said .. "Not true!" ... "Shhhhhh!"

You can see why they did not quite get together during that scene. Anyway, girl goes home totally devastated and boy goes back to school and wonders if he might be gay as he keeps thinking of girl. Then his principal's wife tells him that girl is really a girl and she wanted them to get engaged so the hussy gives her hanky and some jade thingy to the principal's wife to give to boy as a bethrothal gift. Crikey, is that girl hard up or what?!!

Boy is ecstatic and he rushes off to girl's home. But noooooo ... he is too late! Her father's gone and married her off to some rich git. He's devastated and they meet and wail ... a lot ... and proclaim they rather die than be apart. Next thing you know he's dying in bed and missing her. Brilliant line comes up on the subtitles saying that he has "a queer illness". Our group cracks up and says "No shit!" Classic.

He dies, coughing blood onto a hanky which his servant then gives to girl. And we're treated to a stomach turning scene where she rubs the blood-soaked hanky on her face. Eeeuuuuwww.

The ending is tremendous. She rushes to his grave in her bridal finery and a huge hurricane blows by, splits his grave in half and she throws herself in! And suddenly two butterflies fly out from the grave up to heaven. Hence the Butterly Lovers title.

Naft, isn't it? It's a good laugh though and explains why my relationships with Chinese blokes rarely work out. Er ... right, take yer bloody hanky (literally) and if you try to flash some butterfly at me, I'll pulverise you.

After the dinner, Jan and I messed around with my shawl doing the sleeves waving and wailing bit around the lobby. Peeps were staring but hey, can't cut the sleeves, get out of the opera! We all decided to go out for steamboat. I was ecstatic. I'd not had steamboat in years! Kelvin and Jan brought us to Golden Mile shopping centre, which is infamous for being the local Little Thailand, complete with the sterilised version of girlie bars. Meaning there are girls but no prostitution ... yeah, rrrrright.

Dinner was fab but rushed as they literally pulled down the shutters and packed up all the chairs and tables around us as we ate. The Hainanese chicken rice was amazing though. But I thought the steamboat was just so so. After the hurried dinner we decided to go for a quick beer. For some reason, we decided that it would be a hoot to go to one of those Thai places for a beer. And of course, we had to choose the loudest, gaudiest (they actually had red lights and lamps) joint with 0% non-Thai content, with some Thai girls prancing around. We showed up and it's like a scene from a cowboy movie.

Whooosh! Collective heads turn to look at the greenhorns who smile happily and wave like the gits that they are.

They sat us down and with the beer came a couple of hookers. One of them demanded that Nathaniel dance with her. Now, Nathaniel is a fine catch. Cute as hell and muscley yet intellectual, he's also gay. But I reckon she didn't realise and if she did, did not care. Aggressively poking him till he danced with her, she started shimmying down till she is squatting at his crotch level. Not to be outdone, our boy shimmys on down too just as she extends her hands out in the classic movie of I-am-gonna-grab-your-balls. Dance over. It was hilarious. The rest of us were in hysterics trying not to fall off our chairs laughing.

We had only one beer there before they too started to stack the chairs and tables around us. I declared that I saw a trend forming. Everywhere we went, peeps kept shutting up around us. Are they trying to tell us something?

Anyway, dissatisfied, we went back to Jan's place where we sat out at the balcony looking out at an amazing view of the city. Whiskey and ciggies where dispensed as we chatted about art, architecture, Malaysian and Singaporean politics, the discivil service and then of course, Kelvin asked me to tell my Me, Crime Overlordess Story. As I recounted my police and court farce, everyone was in hysterics and I was prodded to be start my own stand-up routine. Roll eyes. Says thanks you and pokes eye out with mike as I bow my head. Right, keeping my day & night jobs.

The closing act was when they egged me on to do an Indian accent in pretense of how I would have replied if I had been indeed the Sri Lankan Crime Syndicate Mafia Mary. I've always been told my Indian impersonation was spot on but seeing Nathaniel keeling over in laughter was still startling. They also loved my Thai hooker speak impersonation. Hmmm .... My Honour, I be telling you, the only crime I be committing is saying to Jan, "I Steam You Long Long Hard Hard?"

Categories - Rambling Prose

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lions & Chickens & Bears, Oh My!

Was too busy to masticate today. So by 8.30om, I was starving. I decided to go home as I was really tired but on the way back, I thought I might give myself a short chill-out time. I decided to go to a local pub for some pub grub and a pint before I went home.

The place was not that packed and I usually visited this pub as I know the owner and most of the musicians and it was near my office. It's the kind of chilled out place where musicians and irregular laypersons can go up and just jam. This can be a good and a bad thing. Good when they can sing and cruel and unusual punishment when the exiled karaoke denizens descend on the place.

Tonight, they had a bloke who would not get off the stage for almost an hour, crooning every Elvis song known to man and the aliens he has gone to live with. The band was quite good but this bloke ... as I told the lady who sat next to me, "If Elvis was shorter, Chinese, fatter, square as hell and wears Drew Carey glasses .. yes, he is in the building!" Pelvic thrusts and extended arms a la Ju Ming's single whip pose were de rigour with this man too.

I sat eating a fairly mediocre plate of beef fried rice and had a whiskey on the rocks while chatting with the woman on my right. Turns out she works for Brands! How weird! I was just chatting about Brands with a friend the night before. Bizarre. She tried to convince me that Brands Chicken of Essence was not foul tasting and would grow on me. So would mould ... and I think I might prefer to eat that ...

Then she started flirting with this bloke I know ... who just asked me out the week before. (Why do men have to send you cutsey little smiley face ... barf ...smses immediately after you turn them down? Do they think that will change your mind?) It was awkward and I decided to give them their privacy and turned to face the other direction. A woman came and sat next to me and started introducing herself and I learnt that she works for a company that cures sleeping disorders! Wow! I'm meeting really interesting peeps tonight. Gleefully we launch into a discussion about why men cannot admit that they snore and the 84 sleep disorders known to men. And then I felt a hand on my back rubbing my shoulders blades gently. Huh?

I turned around and there was Date Boy listening to the Brands Chicken Lady and having a seemingly intense convo .. and he's trying to bond his hand to my shoulders! What is up with that??? I smiled politely and shifted towards Sleep Disorder Lady and we started making fun of Chinese Elvis. I began noticing that she kept leaning closer and closer. Suddenly a long haired young chick comes by and thrusts herself aggressively between us. Very surprised, then highly amused, I chuckled and turn back to the right ... just in time to see Brands Chicken Lady tell Date Boy I was great fun and we've become great friends in the 20 mins since meeting. Awww ... how ... bizarre.

Long Haired Jealous GF finally left and Sleeping Disorder Lady tells me that a man hovering near her has the hots for her. And she did not know how to tell him that she was not interested. Leaning closer now .. real subtle ... looking beseechingly at me ..

"What shall I do? How do I convince him without hurting his feelings? 'Cos I'm gay ... You do know I am gay, right? Because some peeps say I do come across as gay but I really don't know .. what do you think?"

Ah .. the ole ... I'm-gay-but-help-me-convince-some-clueless-bloke-that-I-am-not-interested-by-pretending-you-are-my-gf ruse. And while we are at it, how about something something ...? No .. I've never heard that one before. Roll eyes. Very politely and gently I made a production of looking at the guy and pretended not to notice that she's trying to audition for a role as my lip balm.

Twirling lock of hair and looking wide-eyed, I lisped, "Men, they are so clueless. But I kinda like some of them dumb. And there's really no point telling him you are gay as he'd probably think you are lying to put him off. And he'll be in denial 'cos his brain will not be able to accept the fact that the woman he fancies is trying to feel up the leg of the woman next to her. Jeez ... men!"

She laughed nervously while I waved happily at her gf to get her to come over to witness her gf's perfidy. I glanced at the time and thought .. bit early for such excessive desperation, isn't it? What were these peeps drinking?? Discretion being the better part of valour and knowing my temper, I better bugger off before I take a bar-stool, carry it in front of me and start making like a lion tamer by cracking a whip over the maddening crowd. It was time to to call it a day. It's been weird ... very very weird. And as my friends say .. it can only happen to Steph.

Going to the door, I see Date Boy hastily removing his handphone ear-piece and ask me why I was leaving so early. Hmmm .. unlike the rest of you guys, I am not here to pick up desperate peeps .. came for dinner and a pint and I would like to go home and work a little on a curatorial paper, thank you very much. Yes I know .. I am boring ... give it a rest already!

Anyway, Date Boy still tried to tie me down to a date by doing the universal hand gesture for "Call me" ... yeah right ...

Roll eyes.

Remind me to call for pizza takeout next time.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Which Hand, Your Honour?

Right, I am now gonna tell the story of the day I went to court. I sooooo wanted to bring my camera and take a pix ... because this is like a rare opportunity but I did not think the judge would take kindly to me doing a Japanese tourist routine in her court.

First, the Subordinate Court is quite big but it looks like a government school with the prerequisite beige, brown and white tiles creatively juxtaposed for a retro look which everyone is trying to forget. Except that this "school of misdemeanour" has security posts and lots of policemen trying to look dangerous. Rather like an American school I reckon. Ok, sorry ... low Columbine blow.

I am so female sometimes it's revolting. I spent the morning pondering what I should wear to court. It had to be conservative enough not to piss off the judge but also dressy enough as we had our exhibition opening cocktails that evening. I decided on a 3/4-sleeved layered lavendar knit top with a pair of slim dark grey pants. Did the usual chignon and pearl ear-rings and I was ready for tea with the Queen Mum. I was set. With my computer briefcase, my fuschia pashmina shaw and the schoolmarm look, no one would think I was associated with a Sri Lankan crime syndicate.

Going through the security checks at the courts was disappointingly uneventful. But dayum! What is with all those stairs! My court room was on the third floor and there were no escalators. I gasped in horror and circled the atrium trying to see if a flight of escalators or a lift would suddenly materialise. By now, the policemen who had given me nary a look before were starting to glance at me suspiciously. Bugger, time to suck it up and climb those damn stairs. Bloody heavy computer briefcase!

By the time I got to the 3rd floor I was a panting mess. The Bogus Copper saw me and smiling broadly escorted me to a seat. And I was left there alone to sit for about 45 mins. Deja vu. Luckily I'd bought a book on Water and Ink - fascinating read about the evolution of modern ink painting. Good thing the book was riveting or I would have been hopelessly bored.

Finally, Bogus Copper comes and gets me and takes me to a room with a table and some chairs. It's a well appointed room with poorly painted, caked up grey walls and clean but streaky grey floors and oh ...lovely, exposed grey pipes and casings. Nice. And guess what? I sat there for another 30 mins waiting. Except this time I had the Bogus Copper and an unidentified young Indian bloke in civilian clothes (wait, Bogus Copper is always in civilian clothes too) who kept smiling shyly at me so I felt obliged to smile back nervously. The smile got even more nervous when Bogus Copper decided to take off his belt. Fortunately it was just to slip his handphone case through the belt a la Phua Chu Kang. Have you ever seen an Indian Ah Beng? Wait ... that's what Phua Chu Kang really is. Wow .. epiphany!

Finally, I went into the room. It was really really empty. Kind of a circular arrangement of brown, wooden benches like an atrium. And the judge and her stenographer (is that what you call those pinch-faced females who always sit below the judge looking like they were sitting on a cactus while sucking lemons?) were seated slightly elevated from the rest. I looked for signs of a gavel but saw nothing. Another disappointment. I woke up early for this??? Sigh ...

The Deputy Prosecutor is a rather young girly who looks a little overwhelmed. It was almost an all-women court. The judge was female, the steno was female, the DP was female and there was a middle-aged Indian lady there (who turned out to be the defense lawyer instead of a primary school Maths teacher), the policeman guarding the door from creaky door springs, and the criminal - a chubby, tired looking Indian .. sorry .. Sri Lankan bloke. The questioning was rather tame.

Pinch Face asks if I am a Christian and I said, "Catholic .. is that bad?"

She tells me to raise my hand and read from a piece of laminated paper. For a moment, my brain went blank and I cast my eyes at the table top. OK, bible on right, so ... I raised my left hand up ... and Pinch Face said, "Wrong hand." So I did a fast switcheroo and raised the other hand but at that moment she said, "That's right," and for some reason I thought she was barking at me to change hands so there was a moment where I was doing a fast forward Wipe In, Wipe Out Karate Kid move while on the stand. The lines were a little easier ..the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth gizmo.

They let you sit down! Cool .. after those stairs, I needed to sit down. It was fairly comfortable up there and I started to relax till I noticed I was shaking my foot and starting to slide off the seat. Bad idea .. I straightened up and made a face to show I was truly and really in the moment and full of respect, awe and lawfulness. All the questions were remarkable simple.

"Do you know the accused?"


"Have you seen him before?"


"You .. have you seen this woman before?

Chubby Indian lady translate and chubby Sri Lankan man looks bored and says something in Sri Lankan that even I could tell meant ... "No."

They showed me my ID and asked if it was mine. There's a female smiling back at me who looks like me ... has my name and my signature ... add wow! She has my date of birth! Gee ... I really can't be certain, your Honour ...

Handing me a Certified True Copy of my police report stating that I had lost my wallet and my ID months ago, which the police did not check, the judge asked me when I lost my ID, what happened, why I didn't make a report to Immigration ... Wait! I did not know that if you made a report at a police station, they did not share that kind of information with Immigration and you are still expected to make a report to the Immigration folks! Explain to me why I should make a report to the police in the first place .. as we all know they would not have caught the bloody thieving bastards who stole my wallet! I really had to suppress the urge to roll my eyes at the farce.

At the end of about 15-20 minutes, the judge tells me I can leave. I rolled up my Certified True Copy of my police report and said very politely, "Thank you and have a nice day," and tried not skip off.

"Wait! Wait! What are you doing with the evidence?"

"Huh, you mean I can't keep it? Because I can't find my copy ..."

Er .. no. Right. Sorry.

And then the judge tried to spring a surprise attack on me. Just as I reached the lower step where I had placed my computer briefcase, my handbag and my shawl, she asked me, "Wait, did you ever lend your ID to that person?"

"Huh? Which person?" Alarmed, I swiveled around trying to spot the mysterious person.

"That person ... the accused."

"Oh ... er, no. Cause have you noticed that his lawyer has to translate everything I say? He can only speak Sri Lankan! Bit hard for me to communicate with him .. 'cos you see, I never learn Sri ..."

"You can go now."

"Oh ... OK, thanks again and good bye."

Surreal. And every bit the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.

That night, the conundrum still troubled me and I spent a good hour having a discourse with my mates during Ramadan dinner figuring out how you would charade "Can you commit a crime for me please?" Let's just say there were a lot of creative suggestions and many obscene ones but none that I think would have put me in the position of hand gesturing Sri Lankan Mafia Mary.

What a farce! It's almost too silly to be real and if I was not the hapless git who was caught up in it I would have thought I was in a Monty Python skit. And wait a sec, they did not give me back my ID! Bastards.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Guilt Can be A Pretty Thing

Guilty as a girl can be ... If I am quoting a line from a Bananarama song, you know it's been a bad day for me. Absolutely knackered and demoralised today, I had pizza for dinner. After eating my 4th slice of pizza, I felt really guilty ... and slightly ill.

So I decided to have a pear for dessert. To cajole myself into eating it and perhaps feeling a little cheerier, I decided to photoshoot the darn thing. I know ... I get really silly when I am tired.

So there you have it. My tropical pear (actually it's a Chinese pear) aka my guilty conscience of the day. Sic.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Monday, October 03, 2005

Dessert Break

Am working like a dog and I decided that I needed a dessert break. I went into the kitchen with the best of intentions. I was going to get a Chinese pear .. but ... I opened my fridge. Always a bad mistake.

And I saw my unopened tub of mascarpone. Hmmm ... I rationalised that I should use it before the use-by-date came & went. But what to have with it? I did not have any strawberries, so I rummaged around my veggie bin. Ah ha! Oranges! Brilliant. I had an idea. I was going to make a variation of my orange and coffee tiramisu. I would make the tiramisu except I did not have any sponge fingers. So variation it is.

I went into this whole thing in my usual fashion, which is the extremely well-thought out system of winging it. I grabbed the bottle of Cointreau, then I took out my box of hot chocolate powder, the mascarpone of course and then ... I passed by my bottle of candied ginger. Hmmm, a slight surprise to the taste sensation. Oh yes, yes. I grabbed that too. I started peeling the segments of Mandarin oranges, making sure to remove as much of the pith as possible. And then I started making a very thick hot chocolate such that it is more like a chocolate sauce then beverage. As I made this, I was going to add condensed milk to it when I decided that I would add Kahlua instead. If I was going to make this dessert alcholic I might as well go the whole hog then.

I gave it a name as much of a mouthful as the dessert. Look, I'm tired and am facing several more hours of work before I can get any sleep. Gimme a break! I'll think of a better name later.

Steph's Orange Mascarpone in Hot Chocolate Cointreau Sauce & Ginger
I whole Mandarin orange - peel it into segments, removing as much of the pith as possible
About 5 dessertspoons of mascarpone
2 tbsps of Cointreau
Half a cup of milk
4 tsp of hot chocolate powder
1 1/2 tbsp of Kahlau
1 tsp of diced candied ginger

1. Blend the mascarpone with the Cointreau
2. Zap the milk in the microwave for about 1 1/2 min on High to heat
3. Blend the hot chocolate powder into the hot milk and mix well to dissolve
4. Add the Kahlau
5. Place the orange segments in a bowl and spoon the mascarpone over
6. Drizzle the hot chocolate sauce over
7. Sprinkle the candied ginger on top to garnish

I admit, I was in a hurry and I was lazy or else I would segment the oranges properly. That is, I would have cut them using the knife so you do not get the skin or any pith at all. It would have enhanced the taste for sure but I needed to get back to work and this was supposed to be a quick dessert that I can whip up in 15 mins flat or less.

The ginger added dimension to the dessert in terms of taste and texture and I am glad I tried it but next time I think I will also soak the ginger in Cointreau before dredging in icing sugar. Also, an alternative would be to use chopped pistachios. Oh yums. Unfortunately, for some reason I hae not been able to find nice unsalted pistachios yet. The ones I've seen are disgusting.

All in all, dessert was fairly yummy ... anytime mascarpone is in my dessert, I am a happy camper. Tastewise, it scores an 7.75/10 and healthwise ... uh oh ... I can only give it a 5.5/10. It is not the healthiest of dessert but I thought I deserved it for working so hard.

Yes, yes, I rationalise too much.

Categories - Sweet Thang