Neuro Linguistic Programme (NLP) And My Workout

I have heard of this term for many years but haven’t had the urge or any reasons to understand it. I thought it is just another gimmicky self-help and personal development technique in the market. Somehow I was given a “Going for Gold – Change Your Life with NLP” material written by Jimmy Petruzzi. This material was sent to me as part of the Diet and Nutrition Advisor Diploma: Train to become a Nutritionist course I signed up to study.

Prior to this, I have borrowed a book on NLP but thought the book wasn’t written very well or perhaps at that point of time, I wasn’t ready to accept NLP or that I didn’t manage to grasp the concept very well. Somehow this Going For Gold article, although there are a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, the article was interactive or engaging. I was able to associate it to myself in one way or another. Perhaps it was written with personal experience of the author and along the line, there are few examples of his clients whose problems or issues resembled mine.

One exercise that I gave it a try but didn’t really expect any results out of it, was the following (all copied from this material, with my own input in response to the instructions given):

Here are the steps to the New Behaviour Generator: Technique to assist you in overcoming negative behaviour and unwanted bad habits. First decide on a behaviour you would like to change and decide on a new behaviour to replace it.

I have chosen to build a new behaviour to be an active person, to love exercise. The unwanted bad habit is to exercise with pain, less enthusiasm, and feel heavy. As a result, I give up the exercise within the first 20 mins or so. I want to replace this habit to an active me who enjoy the exercises with enthusiasm. I want to be able to do the exercise or workout in hours. One followed by another. I just want to be that active person.

1. Think of a time you demonstrated that behaviour you would like, or choose a role model that has the behaviour, skills or abilities that you want for yourself. i.e. confident, motivated, excellent public speaker.

A role model I have chosen is my former Manager, Josephine, who to me is someone who lives her life to the fullest, enjoy outdoor and indoor physical activities and enjoy meeting people. She is my role model and I really would like to be like her, to enjoy life as should have been. Have a big group of friends to enjoy similar activities, and not only able to survive in any situation but she masters it. It seems to me that there’s nothing impossible in her life. Nothing that she can’t do. A very bright person, good looking and confident.

I also thought about a time I demonstrated that behaviour, i.e. enjoyed an exercise or workout, That was few years ago when I was working in the same company with her, we both participated in the annual sports day, and we played netball. It was a team work and I was the defender of the team. We practiced every week to foster and nurture team spirit and cohesiveness. I was able to lose weight for that period of time due the fact that I was exercising hard, run hard without feeling much of the pain. I was having fun indeed. So I want to be that person again to do my daily routine exercise or workout at home. Yes, because I am not working now and no income, I have to cut back on these substitutable expenses. If I really want to exercise, I don’t need to go to gym or pay money to do that. I have the right resources at home, i.e. a TV set, a set of different workouts, space and most importantly time. I don’t have any reason that I can’t do exercise at home. Yes, there will need a lot of self-motivation to start the workout, and yes, there won’t be any other people whom I can talk to or connect with. It is all about myself. I do need to build this new habit into me. If I could, I would be able to do exercise no matter what the circumstances are.

2. Close your eyes and visualize yourself or that person in action. Watch it like a movie in your mind. See how you or they look, how you or they use their body, how you or they use their posture; how you or they stand, walk, and sit. Pay close attention. Hear how you or they talk, what you or they say, and how you or they say it.

And so I closed my eyes, and visualised myself doing the action. I was dancing gracefully to the workout on the TV set, I practiced the steps in my head, and I didn’t feel any pain in my legs, or felt heavy when I jumped up and down. I was able to enjoy the workout as I should be. My arms were swinging forward and backward whilst my legs were doing box set, or jumping, or skipping or even running. I then did the Salsa moves, and Cha Cha Cha. I was having fun doing it. And of course, I visualised myself to be slimmer me and able to move gracefully.  I was all smiling when doing this.

On top of this instruction, I added additional element to it. Somehow I looked at the reality, the usual me. How did I normally behaved when I did those workouts. I was heavy, panting, painful legs due to the spurbony growth, and aching muscles. I didn’t enjoy the workout at all although I know I have to do it.  I have to build the new habit, my mind instructing me. If I could get into the routines, I would be able to continue it everday.  If I didn’t do it for one day, I should feel uneasy as if I didn’t brush my teeth in the morning, or took shower everyday, or ate or even went to the toilet like I have to whenever I have the urge. It should give me a cold turkey. But this is the big ultimate goal that I have set myself stopped before I achieve the goal. That is the real me. I am not committed to the goal and I am just weak. Will power!

3. Ask yourself: do you really want to adopt this behaviour to change the old one? Confirm that it is what you want for yourself.

Obviously I wanted to do that. I want that new me in that visualisation I had. I want to be that active person who recognise no pain during the workout but full of enthusiasm enjoying the workout.

4. See yourself as the model or yourself conducting this choice of behaviour. You have stepped into the role model’s place. You are watching yourself do as the model does. You have taken over the role and are acting exactly like your role model. Or imagine reliving a time you did the preferred behaviour.

When I came to this step, I had already done it in Step 2. So I just reinforced the image of me doing that.

5. Do you feel any negativity come up within you when you watch yourself? Any doubts that you are capable of doing as the model does or producing your new behaviour? Go through them one by one and adjust them, or adjust your action in the movie, until you are happy with what you see and hear in this new behaviour. Feel positive and confident in your abilities.

When I watched myself in that visualisation, I didn’t see any negativity. However when I took that reality steps, I did. I saw the non-committal me who just gave up after 10-20 mins of workout, because I was telling myself that I was out of breath, and my legs were painful.

6. Mentally step inside the picture. You are now inside your movie image, looking through your own eyes. You are no longer watching yourself. You are doing the new behaviour just as you did it in the past or the model did it. How does it feel to perform this new behaviour or be this person with these new behaviours? How does your body feel? How is your posture? What do you hear? How does your voice sound to you?

Again, I have done it in Step 2. I felt alive doing the workout, sweating and energised. I heard myself laughing and saw myself smilling.

7. Imagine a future situation where you want to behave this way. Put yourself there. Look through your own eyes at this situation. You are the star of this movie and behaving in the new way! Is it all working? Do you need to make any adjustments?

8. Open your eyes and come to the present moment.

9. Imagine that you are now the new you with the new behaviour. Get up and walk around as the new model. Walk the walk and talk the talk as they say. How does it feel? Building new pathways in the mind is a great way to adopt a new behaviour, one way I like to put it is re patterning existing negative thought process and replacing it with a more productive level of thinking, even by doing this technique it can be powerful enough to move us forward into a more productive thought process and outcome.

So I have followed through step 1 to 9, but it didn’t just stop there. I didn’t think of what I have done would bring any results.

Yet when it was already 4 pm in the afternoon and I felt that I needed a break from the laptop and the virtual world, I changed into my exercise gear and turned on the TV and the workout channel, almost habitually. I chose “Pump It Up Dance workout”, which I had been doing for the last few days without success. It was a high intensity workout which I normally could only last for about 7-10 mins before I paused to take my breath or changed to another workout. If I could continue, I would only do so for another 5 -10 mins as I was too tired to follow through then.

Somehow this time, I was doing it with energy, and the first break I had was in about 20 mins after some jumping and running. I drank water, and took my  breath and continued on for another 15 mins or so. I have stepped into a workout zone which I haven’t done or even seen before as normally I would have either changed to watch another channel or to an easier fitness ball workout, which I didn’t manage to last for more than 10 mins. Cheating myself I guess.

Although I didn’t finish all the sections of the workout, i.e. I had skipped the peak of the intensity of the workout at the 40th minute, I still managed to do a full 1  hour workout intermittently.

I didn’t realise the impact of this new behaviour visualisation until I went to bed that night, still marvelling at my great effort in the afternoon. I was thinking of that moment when I felt great when I was taking a break, that first drop of sweat dripped from my forehead and I felt alive! I hungered for more sweat and I wanted to do more. So after a few mins break, I continued on with the workout. To taste more sweat. I want to feel wet, not pornographically, but really sweat wet.

I will from now on visualise this exercise and feeling every day so that I could build this new regime, new habit, new behaviour  in my life. I will remember that taste of first sweat in my workout yesterday!

Categories: Exercise, Life, Mind, Motivation, New Habit, NLP | 2 Comments

May 2013: 1 week in Malaysia

As usual everytime I go back to Malaysia, I will try to meet up with my friends as many as I could. Asians love food and so all my meetups were during breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. As age caught up with me, I couldn’t quite last till supper time.

It seems that Yuzu Japanese restaurant at The Gardens, Mid Valley. This was the 2nd time, although I have heard about it even before I first visited the restaurant in my last visit in Feb. My husband went there before me when he met up with his ex-boss who ordered a big fish and a boat of sushi amongst other things listed on the menu. The final bill was a whopping MYR600! I couldn’t quite fathom the reason of such a high bill.

My husband had to go there 2 days in a row when I met-up with my school best friend.

Going there again with another group of friend and bigger group of friends allowed me to sample more food than the first time. We ordered mixed maki but to share out with 6 people, I don’t think that were quite enough maki.

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The highlight for me is the fresh catch of the day, mixed sashimi of 5 fishes. Salmon, Ember Jack which we all made fun as Amber Chia, thanks to a member of the staff who couldn’t quite pronounce it correctly, tuna, yellow fin, and finally salmon belly. The sashimi and the wasabi were really fresh.

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My fellow Malaysian friends weren’t very enthusiastic when I suggested to order a side salad. Thankfully there were 2 of them who appreciated it and so I happily ordered the avocado, ichijiku (figs) and octopus salad with miso salad dressing. I enjoyed the salad the most.

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Back to my hometown, Ipoh. I always think Ipoh is famous for many other food although most of non-Ipohan flock to Ipoh to eat beansprouts chicken, eat the most expensive taufu fah you could ever find in Ipoh and take away salt baked chickens. For example, the following “kuih” is a little jewel I uncovered in my trip home this time. The top layer is sago or tapioca (green coloured) followed by cassava (yellow colour) and at the bottom, sweet potato (purple). No colouring or flavouring added as the aroma of the cassava complementing the soft texture of the sweet potato and tapioca. Yums! And that is just for MYR2! All home made by the seller. Honest food!

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Another highlight for me in Ipoh was this Seremban Grilled Crab at The Crab House Restaurant, Ipoh in Ipoh Garden East  (32, Laluan Perajurit 1, Taman Ipoh Timur, 31400 Ipoh, Perak). Thanks to my younger brother for treating us this delicious meal and took the effort to book a table in advance, even during a week day dinner. The claws of the crabs were as big as my palm. Meaty and deliciously marinated, it was definitely joy in heaven. Crabs of the crabs! The last time I had such meaty crabs were when I was in Singapore in Feb when my friend took my husband and I to a crab place in Ang Mo Kio. We queued for about 30 mins, even though we were there fairly early at 5 pm! For dinner!! Ok, it was a Sat so definitely it was busy. But I didn’t expect to be THAT busy even at 5 pm! Now that I found this place, I have no reason to go to Singapore to queue for that crabs! And really I think these crabs were made beautifully and better than Singapore.

We ordered two ways of crabs, one was marmite, and another one was Seremban Grilled Crabs. In fact, I thought it wasn’t enough with one Seremban Grilled Crabs that I ordered another one after we had the first one.

This is Marmite Crab, unlike most of restaurants tend to make this rather sweet, Crab House Restaurant actually retains most of the marmite taste, salty but not overly salty. In fact for the first time I could taste marmite.

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This is the Seremban Grilled Crab. At first I thought this was marmite as mentioned earlier, it looked sweeter and like any other marmite crabs I have had before. It turned out their signature crab is better than marmite although their marmite crab is commendable too.

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Each crab cost about MYR80. Expensive? Nay, if you see the size and taste it. I think it worths the price!

Hope I’ll be able to go and try this again next time I go home and they will retain the same level of quality!

 

Categories: Food, Malaysia | Leave a comment

What is your thinking style?

I am reading a book entitled “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Happiness” by Ruth Searle. One of the chapters is “Discover your personal thinking style”. When we are referring to the thinking style, it is more often than not associated with whether you are a left- or right-brainer. From young up until now, I am fairly certain I am a left-brain thinker, i.e. my thinking process is more on “the logical, sequential, linear and rational, organised, verbal expression, writing, and reading” style. I always like to expand my right-brain as well, i.e. to become more creative, intuitive, abstract, random, feelings, etc, because I am dead certain I am not much of a right brainer person. But at least I know I have brain!

In the book, there is a test to help the readers to ascertain if you are a right- or left-brainer . 20 sets of words or statements are listed and all you have to do is to choose which best describe yourself. I chose based on what I thought I am and surprise, surprise! The test results actually indicated I am predominantly a right-brain thinker! How bizarre. Here is the 10 2 sets of words/ statements, and choose which one best describes you.

Q1: A) Studying/ Reading B) Warm

I chose (A) – Column 1

Q2 A) Imaginative B) Analytical

I chose (B) – Column 1

Q3 A) Sensitive B) Precise

I chose (A) – Column 2

Q4 A) Feeling B) Speaking

I chose (A) – Column 2

Q5 A) Science B) Intuition

I chose (B) – Column 2

Q6 A) Factual B) Arts

I chose (A) – Column 1

Q7 A) Untidy B) Organised

I chose (A) – Column 2

Q8 A) Numbers B) Thinking

I chose (B) – Column 2

Q9 A) Creative B) Cool

I chose (B) – Column 1

Q10 A) Competitive B) Spontaneous

I chose (B) – Column 2

I have 6 column 2 and 4 column 1. (There are only 2 columns, so if your answers differ from mine, then yours will be on the opposite column). With higher total in column 2, this indicates I am predominantly a right-brain thinker, random, creative, and intuitive. Although it is just by 60/40 mark, the result definitely gave me a big question of how much do I know myself. Before taking the test, I thought it would have been a 90/10 or 80/20 mark, which both would have indicated I am a predominantly left-brain thinker.

So maybe I should start working on my left-brain to make my brain more balance? Or should I continue to work on the right-brain to strengthen my skills? Ironically I thought I have been working in a profession which requires more of a left-brain than right-brain thinking.

I am so confused now! Is this why I always self-doubt my performance at work? Should that be the case, I have been working my left-brain for the last 10 years. I do hate numbers although ironically I study accounting. Again, it was a wrong decision to do that, and I definitely think the career choice back in my schooling days weren’t great. They always associate an accounting profession with mathematics or solving problems. Let me stress that it is not the case! In fact accounting has nothing to do with the fact that you can calculate well. You can add, subtract, multiply or divide. You just have to know how to punch the calculator or computer in order to get the equations. Interest in mathematics or statistics does not mean you have interest in accounts! And I don’t deal with numbers! Why I like math is because the logic, the equations, the fact that if I can solve a problem that gives me a hyper level satisfaction! Whereas accounting, you can only do so if you manage to balance the balance sheet or trial balance. Both does not require any problem solving skills, but you just have to be conscious what has gone into the debit or credit. It is a balancing act, and to a certain extent, creativity! Ok, creative accounting is not quite encouraged from auditing or perhaps legal point of view. So I wouldn’t go into details anymore and in fact, I have diverted the topic.

Back to the thinking style. In the book, there is another table to suggest how to develop left- or right brain once you have identified with the 10 of 2 sets of words or statements earlier. So for me, I should be developing my left-brain more by doing the following activities:

a) Keep a diary of my daily activities and organise my week 

Ok, I don’t really keep a diary of my daily activities and organise my week. Well I like to be a bit more free – (Ok, it is the first indication of me being a non-left brainer) 

b) Read newspaper and factual books

I do read factual books and newspaper. In fact I have lost interest on fiction novels now. – so that is one tick! 

c) Put together a speech or presentation on my favourite subject

Public speaking?? That makes me legs jelly! 

d) Organise your finances on a computer spreadsheet 

Ok, I am an accounting undergraduate, but I hate to manage finance. I have my own “finance manager” at home, so I wouldn’t need to do that myself!  

e) Make a list of items you need in order to redecorate a room, or a list of plants you would put in the garden

I may do this if I have my own house later. Would I make a list? Erm…maybe not. I think I would just see what decorative items are easy to clean but pretty at the same time. Why would I want to put a list of what I need to decorate the house? And plants?.. ermm… 

Right I should be doing these if I want to develop my left-brain! Keep that in mind. 

f) Make a “Mind Map” of your goals and plans and list ways you would achieve them 

Yup I was supposed to do that too after attended the career planning seminar. I started to scribble something, well, not quite finish yet. Mind mapping may be a good way to continue it. At least that is more fun than just answering the questions. Well those are thoughts provoking questions but I just haven’t had the quiet moment to do that yet. Quiet internally. 

g) Write a list of all the new experiences in life you want to try out 

I like this exercise. I could be listing all sorts of experiences that I like to try out. In fact, I have been doing that, well not quite writing it down but thinking about doing it. But whether I have done- or will do it or not, that is another set of questions! (Why can’t I commit??!!!) 

h) Go to the library and explore the internet to find out as much as you can about an interesting new hobby 

Surely I can do it at home? I have internet at home. Sorry, I think the key words are “new hobby” and not where I do the research. Ok, I will think of a new hobby later on. Then again, I did pick up a new hobby 2-3 years ago, i.e. photography and purchased 1 DLSR camera (well 2 actually as the first one was stolen). So how is that going to help with the left-brain activity? Where is the element that is going to help me to develop my left-brain? In fact when I started this hobby, I thought it is a good way for me to expand my right-brain as it requires creativity and artistic eyes to certain extent in order to capture that beautiful moment. In fact, I felt it is a powerful tool for me to express my creativity. It may not be to the professional standard, but I do feel satisfied with the results. And I insist on not “photoshop” them as it will not be “natural” anymore. I may do some colour adjustments to enhance it but will definitely not anything more than than. 

i) Write plans and lists of things to do every day 

I again have some vague idea of what I want to do every day especially this time of my life. Waking up clueless of what I am going to do for the day is suffering. So before I went to bed yesterday, I thought about what I want to do today. Which I did, just haven’t started yet. It is only mid-day and I should be doing it later. 

There you go the whole long list of to-do to develop my left-brain. My reactions to each of the activity did somehow indicate I am a right-brain thinker. How stupid am I?  So let’s look at what activities to develop the right-brain and whether I have the same reaction I had with the left-brain thinker activities.

1) Keep a diary of your feelings 

That is quite accurate. I would rather write about my feelings than what my daily activities are. 

2) Write a short story and read more fiction

I love writing short story, although not quite successful, as I don’t have good juicy stories or ways to play with words. I always think that will be a good read if my vocabulary is better. And I have been reading fictions since young although as I mentioned earlier, I prefer to read non-fiction now. How ignorant am I not to realise that this actually indicates I am a right-brainer?!! 

3) Learn to paint and draw

When I was young, I did take up art classes, although only lasted for a month or less. In fact, I hate art classes in school. I didn’t quite enjoy painting or drawing as I think I don’t have the talent. I would love to draw though. I remember when I was young and free, I would take a poster of my idol, Tony Leung and drew his portrait with pencil. I thought I did quite well. But I don’t know where that drawing is anymore. 

4) Make something with clay

Ok, I haven’t tried this one before. But then again, I did want to make something out of plasticine but it always left my hands with oil or sticky feeling. I guess plasticine in my era wasn’t as good as what it is now. I am quite amazed with the play doh nowadays. Very creative. 

5) Redesign a room in your house or your garden

Similar to (5) in right-brainer activities, I would do so when I have my own house. I do day-dream what kitchen I like to have. With an island in the middle of the kitchen and a big work top so that I can do whatever cooking there. What colour I like? Doesn’t matter as long as easy to clean. Which means I wouldn’t want my stove to be near the wall at all!

6) Make a “Mind Map” of your feelings  about your life and how you would feel if you changed things

Again this is something I always do although not necessarily “mind mapping”. Just thinking abstractly but never really put things in place. 

7) Write a story of yourself and your life and what you want to achieve

I have written a few postings here already!

8) Visualise yourself doing something new and exciting

I am always doing it. Again, I only visualise but never really got to doing it. 

9) Daydream more often

Right, day dreaming! I don’t know if I realise I do that or not. I do think that I don’t day dream too much. Maybe I should. Hmm… 

Right, after having done this last exercise, I think I am indeed a left-brain thinker than a right-brain thinker than I always thought I was. Very interesting exercise! (I wonder this exercise would help me to develop my right brain).

And I wonder if that could help me to steer my future direction, regardless in my current profession or in a completely different profession? I hope I can figure out very soon!

Categories: Career, Life, Thinking Style | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Stuffed Chestnut Mushrooms with Minced Prawn

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Yong tau foo is one of my favourite food. Whilst it is not easy to find delicious home made yong tau fu in Kuala Lumpur, thankfully there are still good yong tau fu in Ipoh.

I have been trying to recreate yong tau foo in my home in London and still searching for the best fishes to do so. However I didn’t stop at fishes only, I also tried prawns, which is just the right ingredient for yong tau foo too. I have tried to stuff with fried taufu, which is absolutely delicious. I bought some chestnut mushrooms the other day and when I saw the size, I thought I could also try to stuff with the paste. And voila! It is another to die for dish. The recipe is fairly easy and shouldn’t be too difficult to make. All you need is some love and patient! And this is a very versatile dish. You can stuff the paste with anything, such as aubergine, fried or non-fried taufu, bean curd sheet, bitter gourd, ladies fingers or okra, or just eat it on its own.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

250g prawns, shells removed and deveined

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks of spring onion, diced

salt and white pepper to taste

1 tsp sesame oil

cornflour

For the sauce:

garlic, finely diced

oyster sauce

chestnut mushroom stalks, finely diced

10 chestnut mushroom

Methods:

1. Before you work on the minced meat, let’s focus on the diced carrots first. As prawns cooked fairly quickly, what I did was to blanch the diced carrots for about 15-20 mins in boiled water. Don’t boil the carrots as this may soften the carrots too much. By blanching, the carrots will be partially cooked and its crunchiness is retained. You need this texture in the paste to add another dimension to your dish.

2. In the meantime, you can move on to the prawns. Once the shells and vein of the prawns have been removed, you can either use a heavy knife to “mince” the prawn till it forms paste, which I like to use. Or you if you have a food processor, you can process the prawns in it. Just be careful not to process the meat too much till it becomes mousse. Not quite the right texture you want.

3. Season the prawn paste with salt, pepper, cornflour and water. Mix it evenly and then add a dash of sesame oil and mix again. Once you have done so, the fun part begins. Take a big enough bowl and by using a clean hand, scoop out the paste and raise it about 15-20 cm from the bowl, throw the minced prawn to the bowl. This is the secret to having bouncy meat balls. (I am still trying to find out the actual reason of how this will help the minced meat to become bouncy). Try it and you will love it. Again the texture will be different to normal minced meat balls. Repeat this for 10-20 times.  Once this is done, place the minced prawn in a bowl, wrap it with cling film and put in the fridge while proceeding on with the following steps.

4. I use chestnut mushroom because it has nutty flavour than normal white button mushroom. Shiitake mushroom can be used as well, but it may not have the right shape to stuff the paste. If there are black dirts on the mushrooms, remove it with clean cloth or tissue. Once all have been checked and removed, run the mushrooms quickly in cold running water. Wipe the mushrooms with a clean kitchen towel or kitchen tissue. Then remove the stalks so that you can stuff it with the paste. But don’t throw the stalks away as you need it for sauce later on. Or if you want to use it for other dishes, by all means. Just don’t waste food.

5. Now you can take out the paste from the fridge. Mix the paste with the blanched carrots and spring onion. If you like other types of vegetable, make sure it has the right crunchiness and flavour. If I were to do this dish in Malaysia, I’d add water chestnuts.

6. Once it is all evenly mixed, heat up the pan or wok and pour in a small dash of oil. What you are going to do next is to taste it. You just want to make sure that you have seasoned the paste enough. So drop in few bits of the mixed paste and wait till it cooks. Taste it and add salt or pepper if necessary.

7. Again, wash your hand and in a fairly large bowl, pour cold water in it. This is for you to dip your hand in if the paste is sticking to your hand or fingers. You will be using your hand to work with the paste  a lot.

8. Once you are ready, scoop a handful of paste in your hand and form a smooth ball while pushing some paste through your thumb and index fingers. Use a spoon with the other hand to scoop out the paste from the thumb and index fingers. Stuff this formed prawn ball paste into the mushroom. Repeat till all  mushrooms are stuffed. As the final touch, wet your index,  middle and ring fingers with water and smooth the top of the paste. It should have shiny effect. Also you can use this opportunity to press the paste down to ensure it is tightly stuffed.

9. Now you can start to pan fried the paste and mushroom. Turn on the heat and add a dash of oil to the pan. First put the stuffed mushroom with the minced prawn facing down to the pan first. Fried till it brown. And turn the stuffed mushrooms over so to brown or cook the mushrooms. Remember to pan fry these with medium heat as you don’t want to burn it. You may need to cover the pan at this juncture to ensure the prawn is cooked thoroughly. You can obviously take one out and cut to see if it is all cooked, but by covering the pan for 5-10 mins, the prawn should be cooked.

10. Plate the mushroom and don’t worry if the mushrooms start to water. With the same pan, saute the garlic, and diced mushroom and add oyster sauce to taste. Pour it over the stuffed mushroom and enjoy!

Categories: Life, Mushrooms, Prawn, Recipe | Leave a comment

Big 4 World Tour Concert in London! (The Hong Kong singers!)

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I was lucky enough to win two tickets to watch Big 4 concert in The O2, London. It was the 3rd time I watched concert in London. Eason Chan’s,  the first ever Chinese concert held in the O2, thanks to Orientouch Entertainment, was the first concert I watched in London. This followed shortly by NKOTBSB’s concert, performed by New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys.

We  took our DSLR camera the first time we went for concert in the O2, but we almost risked our camera of being “confiscated” by the security at the entrance. They in the end gave it back to us with a condition that we won’t use the camera during the concert. So for the next concerts onwards, we decided not to bring the camera again.

However, the situation in Big 4 concert was slightly less rigid. There were a lot of people with DSLR camera and some with big lenses. How did they get pass the security line I have no idea. I just felt stupid for not bringing my DSLR.

Our seat. It was Block B, Row 112, entrance H. To our pleasant surprise, it was the 2nd row from the ground floor and very near to the stage. I just wonder how many more free tickets were given out.
The venue was half covered with cloth, which means that only half of the venue was filled with audiences. But our rough guess was there must be at least 5,000 audiences.

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At 8 pm, the light was finally dimmed and the drums started to roll with the countdown from 10 to 4 only! The Big 4 kicked off the concert with high powered song entitled 大家利事 (I haven’t heard before this concert), with one by one emerged to the stage.  The following picture was taken after they have sung the first song.

From left to right, Andy Hui (許志安), Edmond Leong (梁漢文), Dicky Cheung (張衛健) and William So (蘇永康).

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They were busy debating whether Dicky would still be able to spring off the ground while lying on his back (i.e. by bending arms and put palms on the ground above head, bend knees and bring them to chest. Then thrust legs up and out while pushing off with hands. Back is arched as launch and snap upright when feet hit the ground), as he did in his younger days in a singing competition. To answer their challenge, Dicky volunteered to give £200 to a lucky audience should he failed to do so. ( I later found out that he paid HKD3,000, which is almost equivalent to £300!!).

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So Dicky was getting ready to the act, (picture above) and the result??!! He managed to bounce up half way but fell back to his buttock! And so everyone in the concert was really ecstatic as a lucky person would not only able to go to the stage but to get his/ her hand on the £200. I didn’t let go of this chance too and kept on waving the light in my hand, attempting to attract their attention. But my light lost in thousands lights that night and my seat wasn’t exactly the convenient seat to go up to the stage.

Finally a chef by the name of Ah Lung won the price. However, he was also asked to perform the same movement, and he did! He managed to do it successfully!

Over the next few pictures were taken during their individual rendition of their own songs. First up was William So, who is better known for his fanciful glasses and fashion. I can’t recall the name of all songs he sang or the sequence that night, but my favourite were 那誰, 越吻越傷心,  來夜方長 and 男人不該讓女人流淚. Some of these songs were sang in a group, and by the other members.

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Next up is Andy Hui’s pictures. He dressed up in pink, recounting his experience of learning piano 2 years ago. He started off by thanking Edmond Leong for encouraging him to take up piano lessons, and so he sang Edmond’s song as an appreciation. Then he continued on with William’s and was speechless when came to Dicky. He commented that Dicky didn’t encourage or add any value whatsoever in this case, but he played and sang Dicky’s infamous song, 哎呀哎呀親親你. He ended that session with his own song, 半天假. Other songs he sang that night, were 唯獨你是不可取替, 男人最痛, 世紀末煙花, etc.

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Edmond Leung is probably the most low-profile person in the group. He has a quite a number of good songs which I like, such as 衣櫃裡的男人, 七友, and 纏綿遊戲. However,  he didn’t sing my favourite song, which he duets with Miriam Yeung, 滾, a powerful almost operatic performance from both singers.

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Last but not least, Dicky. Unlike his other counterparts, Dicky didn’t release as many albums as. In fact, he is more well-known for his Monkey God character in TVB series, Wai Siu Bo and others Chinese series. However his talent as a stand-up comedian definitely filled in the gap of the night and cracked laughter from the floor. He also took the opportunity to express his love to his wife and dedicated a song to her. And perhaps he was the one who had the most outfits that night compared to the others. From outraging yellow outfit somewhat similar to a chick, to a modern twist of the renaissance European women costume. One of the most passionate topic he talked about that night was  Andy and Sammi Cheng’s relationship.

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Now, my favourite moment of the entire night was when these four old men sang one of  TVB series, 天與地, songs,  年少無知, originally sung by Bowie Lam (林保怡)、Moses Chan (陳豪) and Kenny Wong, (黃德斌) and composed by Paul Wong from Beyond. They also mimic the group in performing the song, i.e. a band, with Dicky as the drummer, William So and Andy Hui as the guitarists and Edmond the pianist.

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The atmosphere of the night definitely heightened when two guests performed, especially for those who grew up with  Hong Kong music from the 80s till 2000s  era. Joey Tang, (鄧建明) a common face nowadays in most of Hong Kong artists’ concerts, one of the talented guitarists in Hong Kong music industry from a rock band  Tai Chi (太極)  and a 80s/ 90s singer, composer and actor, Eddie Ng (吳國敬), who may be a stranger to a lot of youngsters as he is working behind the scene more nowadays. They performed 2 of Tai Chi’s songs, one of which was performed together with Big 4, i.e. 紅色跑車.

I always thought guests are too expensive to be invited in any world tours. Later I realised they were  not only guests of the night, they were also part of the band, a guitarist and a backing vocalists for Big 4 in the concert.

Others more well-known artists who were there on the stage that were Mark Lui (雷頌德) as the musical director, Pal Si or better known as “Brother Panther” – 豹哥 (單立文 ) on bass and Dennie Wong (黃丹儀) on keyboards.

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Another big surprise for me was all of them came down from the stage. There was even a session whereby Big 4 shook hands with audiences. However I guess the seats that we got were cheaper than the ground and those on the left, so we didn’t have the chance to shake hands with them.

Like most of Chinese weddings receptions, one of the events is “growing up with the newly weds”, i.e. a series of slideshows of the bride and groom growing up process. So Big 4 adopted this concept, and featured their babies to youngster to adults and to more current photos. Just managed to snap two of the many photos they showed that night.

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With the most colourful and vibrant outfits, Big 4 ended the concert with 愛莫能助, a song composed by Mark Lui and lyrics by Wyman Wong 黃偉文.

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Overall, I enjoyed the concert thoroughly. There was no dead air at any moment in time throughout the night. If I had  to fork out my money to buy the tickets, Big 4 concert is definitely worth it than Eason Chan.

Categories: Concert, Hong Kong Artists, Life | 2 Comments

What can you do with a 5-pence?

What can you do with a 5 pence? Not much I think. You can’t even buy anything with just a 10 pence nowadays. But Sharon Palazzo, a speaker of a seminar I attended yesterday, who is also the Managing Director of Managing My Career (http://www.managingmycareer.org/), managed to find a good use of a 5 pence. The topic of the seminar was “Career Plan in Five Simple Steps”.
This is the first free seminar I attended “paid” by the speaker at the end of the talk. She gave each of us a 5 pence! Whilst the nominal value is somewhat low, the meaning behind her gesture is definitely priceless! It is the main point or gist of her talk that she wants us to imprint in us after we walked out from that room. In fact, it is a very powerful and impactful small gesture left a big print in me.
So what is the message that she wants us to remember? She is using the abbreviation of 5 pence, i.e. 5 Ps. Not the 5 Ps marketing theory, but 5 Ps in career planning.

“Perfect Planning Prevent Poor Performance!”

“Planning” is not a foreign theory to most of us, we may plan our journey on a daily basis, plan what we are going to do in our job, plan what we are going to eat, plan our wedding, plan our holiday, etc. But how many of us plan our career? I planned my career based on what I don’t want to do. I use the elimination method rather than selection. For example, when I did my internship as an external auditor with one of the accounting practices, Deloitte, more than 10 years ago, I ended the internship with a conclusion that I don’t want to be an external auditor. At that point, I was already doubting myself whether Accountancy is something I want to do for life. So after graduation, instead of planning what career I want to do, I followed the usual route most of accounting graduates would do. Apply Big 5, the top five accounting practices, i.e PwC, KPMG, E&Y, Arthur Andersen (prior to the collapse) and Deloitte. I managed to secure myself in PwC, but absolutely had no idea what I was going to do. It wasn’t external audit for sure, but somehow I was mesmerised by the job nature, in particular the investigation. So I joined without any clarity what exactly the job entails. But after 1.5 years, I started to doubt myself again whether this is really something I want to do. And so I left and since, I jumped from one company to another, but never far from what my I did in my first job. That is my comfort zone.

So I never really plan my career based on what I want to do. I discard what industries I don’t want to do. There are some points that I did choose what I want to, such as international travelling in my job. But I realised I didn’t enjoy the travelling as much as I thought I like to. Perhaps age is catching up, or my priority has changed. Or maybe because I have managed to achieve this dream of travelling even prior to landing myself with such a job.

The key messages that I carried away with me yesterday after the seminar are:

a) Career planning is not just about planning what I want to do, or where I want to see myself in 5 years time. It is a process of stock-taking of what skills I have, what experience I have, what I enjoy doing or what motivates and encourages me, and where my self-satisfaction comes from. She has given us some series of thought provoking questions. Some of the questions are asked during interviews, which I normally don’t take it too seriously and answered based on the standard answers or what the interviewers may be looking to hear. In another words, I didn’t answer the question from my own perspective.

b) Writing it down will not only remind me of what I enjoy doing, but also helps me to keep track where I am and what is my next step. It is useful to avoid waking up every day and wondering what I should do for that day. And day by day basis, I am sure I will be so demotivated to wake up clueless of what my plan for the day !

c) I am on the right track. For the last few weeks, I was doubting too about this decision. I almost want to go back to my comfort zone, i.e. what I have been doing for the last 10 years. And repeat the cycle again and resign every 2 years. As I mentioned in my last post, What’s Next! , I am ashamed of myself for jumping from one job to another. Every time I reach that peak and have the urge to resign, I’ll think about the interview cycle and have to explain myself why I moved from job to another for the last 10 years, I then dreaded the thought of resigning. Yet, I suffer internally wanting to get out of the job. Surely this is not healthy for me and I channel it incorrectly to people around me. Going back to comfort zone, means that I won’t feel motivated and definitely worthless. Sharon advised us to always stretch ourselves, i.e. move out of that comfort zone, take a baby step. Just stretch yourself 10% or 20% at most. Do not chew what you can take. Do not take an elephant step. Start small, and does not always have to think of that final destination. Enjoy the scenery on the way.

d) Finally, it is ok to change career! In fact, there is a survey that on an average, there are people who have 3-4 different careers in life. Obviously the question is whether you are willing to start from scratch again. Whether you are willing to drop from earning at the top or mid-tiered salary to the rock bottom again. If you can pass this psychologically, you may even have 10 careers in life! I attended another seminar about clinical psychology as a career the other day. Whilst I know that I won’t be in that field, but I am happy to learn that one of the speakers who is doing a doctorate in clinical psychology with NHS, has done all sorts of different jobs for the last 10 years. He is a psychology undergraduate but he never really got into this field until 15 years later. He has been to South America to teach English to less fortunate children, he has been a DJ, he has done some sales and marketing job, etc. But these experiences that he has had equipped him with all sorts of skills and life experience. In fact during that talk, most of the psychologists who delivered their speech are so uptight and to a certain extent, boring, but only this speaker with different life experience have managed to crack laughter from the floor. I don’t want to be that uptight bunch of psychologists and I definitely don’t see myself being a clinical psychologist. (Note, I am considering of taking psychology course based on my interest and one of the things that I want to study when I was younger back then. I am still assessing whether I still want to do psychology.)

e) Note that in (d) above, I am again using the elimination method to choose what I want to do. Interesting enough, Sharon pointed out yesterday to avoid using any negative connotation. I.e. what I DON’T WANT to see myself to be like, because our brain will then applies the reverse psychology method. What you don’t want to see yourself in will end up seeing yourself in. For example, I don’t want to be like that person, because he/ she is miserable. So more often than not, we will be acting like that person. True or false? I am not sure, but I think the idea is to channel some positive thinking in your mind rather than negative.

f) Finally talk about your plan. Like my younger brother’s advice on my Facebook, talk about your plan. Tell people about your plan. Let people question you and then only you can realise where your plan needs more tweaking or readjustment. Preferably find a mentor who has been through what you want to go through and give you the right direction and idea. Now where to find this mentor? I am still searching.

One last thing I learnt yesterday, in fact a very valuable lesson for me is, I have not thought thoroughly of my plan. Well I have a very vague idea of what I want to do, but I haven’t started to write it down, plan in detail and thought about how to sell it or myself. I may have found some business yesterday but I blew it away because I didn’t expect to “sell” myself in that manner. Opportunity may have slipped but I am going to re-think my objective of attending networking session in the future.

Until then I will continue to refine my plan, refine my strategy and soul searching!

Categories: Career, Life | 2 Comments

What’s next?

I have recently resigned from my decent paying job and I have been out of job for almost 2 months now. My husband also resigned and so both of us were out of job at the same time without any jobs lined up. The first reaction or question that we got was “shocked” followed by a “wow” or “how daring you two are!”. Over times, I will receive questions such as “so what is the plan? What are you going to do? Have you decided..?” questions.

I am overwhelmed with so many caring friends around me. I think being a typical Asian, we tend to think that we have to work in order to survive. We may be working in a similar profession and industry for the rest of our life and changing a career or profession, or even industry is something that we would like to do but normally would not do. 

I am blessed that I can survive without any income, well for a short period of time which I have no idea for how long. Though my husband is back to work.

I learnt that working is not just about earning monies, but also to keep our sanity in this social. I do spend a lot of time on my own these few weeks at home, but that doesn’t mean I only sit at home twiddling my fingers. I am taking this opportunity to do some searching, read books that I normally don’t have the energy or will to do so. I also have the opportunity to write, like I am now, writing blogs that I have always wanted to do, regardless of whether it is being read by many people or just one or two souls.

I also want to take this opportunity to find my directions, and most importantly get to know myself more. In the meantime, I try to connect the world outside of my professions and career. I have been in London for 5 years now, but my social network is limited to my ex colleagues and friends from Malaysia. We are one way or another have similar background and I am really keen to get to know someone outside of my circle. For example, we are mainly from employment background, and I don’t have any other friends in London who are self-employed or into business. This is something that I aim to explore and expose myself to.

Yes, monies will always be a question that I can’t avoid to think of. So I am trying to see how I can maintain balance between earning adequate money and at the same time opportunity to explore my second or even third lives. I have been to interview(s) for my own profession, readjusting my priorities in terms of the criteria of the jobs, to working a format that hopefully will suit my future pursuits.

One thing I realise in this period of time is I enjoy learning new things. I don’t need and don’t aspire to be on top of that career ladder. In fact I just can’t see myself sitting on top of that steps. That doesn’t give me any motivation or satisfaction. I do enjoy being an expert into something, and so I’ll work on to master in something. That something I am still exploring. I don’t think I will stop on that one thing. It will be few “things”.

When I decided to resign without any jobs, I am worried that I won’t be able to get another job. Yes I do worry. Not because I am doubting my ability or experience, but more of the fact that I can’t commit to one job. My longest history of employment was 3.5 years and that I consider way too long. And my shortest employment is 4 months! At one point, I felt ashamed of this and as a result, reluctant to explain why I changed job so frequently. But this is also the main reason I wanted to stop and do some soul searching as no matter how good or bad the job or the company is, I won’t stay for long. It is a personal issue or rather my personal trait.

I finally realised that I love to learn and once I think there is little personal development for me, I’ll want to stop and move on. Or rather, I like to stop, take a pause and do some reflection in order to think of what I have learnt in my last employment. So I wouldn’t mind to go back to the previous employer(s) as I know that I will learn something along the lines but at one point, I will leave again.

That is just me. And I do want to see myself change to another career, something completely different to what I  have done for the last 10 years. I don’t aspire to be a rich or successful measured by how much you earn per year or how high you are in that corporate ladder. I measure my success by how happy and satisfied I am in what I do in my life.

Thank you for those who concerned about my future or what I am going to do next. I will definitely update you once I have my decision. But it won’t be my finite decision as life is a journey and I am learning to enjoy the views and moments for every step I take.

Categories: Life | 8 Comments

Shoryu Ramen – A Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen Specialist

I went out with my high school friend, Cathy, who is also my regular hangout mate in London, last Thurs to register as an election voter for our home country. She suggested after the registration we should go to a newly opened Japanese restaurant in London, which she found out on an article in a newspaper few days ago. What captured her attention was the broth. The broth is not only cooked with pork bones, but also with an added and to some, perhaps an unusual ingredient, pig heads with brains intact. Accordingly, brains will melt in the soup and hence thicken the broth further. I tried to look online for quotation of this claim, but failed to do so. So I think I’ll just keep it as pork bones broth.

When I first looked at the menu, everything seems to end with tonkatsu. However a second look at the menu, I realised that it is actually tonkotsu, with an “o” between k and t istead of an “a”. Tonkotsu is broth made with pork bones. On the menu, there is an introduction of where Hakata is and the main selling point of this restaurant and noodles.

Hakata is a district in Fukuoka City, and Japanese centre has purposely hired a chef from the region to bring authentic Hakata tonkotsu taste to London. Well I wouldn’t know if that is indeed the authentic taste of Fukuoka as the ingredients would be sourced locally if freshness is one of their top agenda.  However the fact that they bring in a chef who is borned and raised in Hakata would definitely be able to maintain the authenticity of the taste. So despite the fact that I haven’t been to Hakata, I can only use the ruler of my usual taste preference as an Ipoh girl and some knowledge from my passion for cooking.

The drink

Let’s start with the drink we ordered, i.e. soba cha tea or buckwheat tea. A decaffeinated tea, served in a pot with 2 small oriental tea cups. Just the way how I like my tea instead of teabag in a cup. The teapot is interesting, almost like chinese pot to boil chinees medicine or herbs.

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I am also curious as to what exactly buckwheat tea looks like, and so here’s a picture of what is inside the tea pot. It is indeed a pot full of buckwheat instead of the normal tea leaves.

The first sip was almost like eating buckwheat, nutty and wheaty yet aromatic. It reminds me of brown rice tea, less the roasting taste. Overall I prefer buckwheat than brown rice tea.

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The starter

We agreed to order Kimchi as our starter/ side dish, however I was speechless for few seconds when I ordered this. I didn’t expect to be asked wehther I would like to have just kimchi as topping or served with tofu. And Cathy has stepped away to the ladies. So, considering that Cathy is pregnant and requires calcium, so I took the liberty to order with tofu. Which I am glad I did so as I never thought of combining these two delightful dishes. The tofu is soft and full of soya taste , though bland in taste, it just goes perfectly well with the spicy kimchi. The kimchi is slightly skewered towards the salty radar rather than sour but again it marries well with the bland but aromatic tofu. Though I am quite happy to just eat the tofu.

On the menu, you can find this under side dishes/ starter as Kimchi Kinugoshi Tofu sold at £4.50 per serving. Kimchi as topping is sold at £2.50 per serving, which can be found under Extra Topping on the menu.

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The mains

While we were happily tucking away in our starter, soon the first main dish was served (although the waiter did make a mistake by serving us two bowls of Dracula Tonkotsu). Cathy ordered Shoryu signature ramen, i.e. Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu whilst I ordered its recommended Dracula Tonkotsu.

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Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu, as narrated on the menu, is ramen in tonkotsu and miso broth, with added spinach and garlic. From my experience of boiling pork bones soup, I roughly know what to expect, at least the colour of the broth. So the first look of the colour of broth didn’t surprise me, i.e. milky white. I couldn’t wait to taste the broth to determine whether is is boiled with a lot of pork bones or just enhanced with MSG. The colour test has passed, milky white to be concluded that it is boiled with a lot of bones and that other secret ingredients. The next test would be the taste. I was expecting heavy pork smell as I do find that porks in England has some smell that I don’t find it in Malaysia pork. I can’t quite describe how is that different to Malaysia pork but I supposed it lies in the food they eat.

The taste of this broth is totally different to the soup I made using just pork bones I bought from Chinese or local supermarkets. It doesn’t have that distinctive smell and taste I found in porks sold in England. And unlike pork noodles soup I had in Malaysia, this broth is sweeter and to be honest, I am more than happy to just drink the broth than eating the noodle. Most of Malaysian pork noodles soup are heavy handed with MSG and since I have lived in England, I can’t drink the soup of any soup-based noodle anymore. Otherwise, I find myself full by drinking water before I can finish my bowl of noodles. Or my tongue will be numb by too much MSG. That will also be the ultimate test of this tonkotsu ramen.

We have also unwillingly opted out the half boiled egg since I don’t take runny yolks and Cathy is not supposed to eat anything that is raw or half cooked. We tried to convince the waitress to hard-boil the eggs, but she refused to as the eggs are pre-cooked, and they can’t change it.

Now my order of Dracula Tonkotsu, it looks somewhat similar to the signature dish. From the first glance, the only difference seems to be the pickled ginger, the pinkish-purplish strips on top of the noodle. The colour of the broth is somewhat similar to Ganso tonkotsu, creamy white broth. The dish is further apart when we took the first taste of the broth.

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Whilst Ganso tonkotsu is sweet from the pork bones, Dracula Tonkotsu is slightly sourish. My best bet was because of the pickled ginger. A read of the menu again “deep roasted tones from caramelised black garlic mayu, balsamic vinegar and garlic chips”. So the sourish taste of the broth is more than just pickled ginger but also balsamic vinegar. It definitey suits my tastebud than Ganso tonkotsu as the sourish taste cut through the heavy milky broth and it makes me want to drink more and more of the broth. Again I am happy to just drink the soup than eating the noodles.

Another difference both Cathy and I noted was the cuts of the porks served in the noodles. In the Dracula tonkotsu, each slice of pork consists of 5 layers of meat and fat. I think it is pork belly. As for Ganso tonkotsu, we noted that only 10% of the pork is fat and the rest is meat. It must be either pork shoulder or loin to go with the dish. I will definitely validate this in my next visit to Shoryu Ramen. Accordingly those who knows how to eat will appreciate the 5 layers of meat and fat, however as I am conscious of my waste line, to certain extent, I only ate the meat layer, leaving the fat layers on a side plate. I can hear “tsk, tsk, tsk” upon reading the last sentence!

The ramen noodles – well I am not an expert in ramen noodles, however I was expecting someting more springy or al-dente. The noodles are rather soft and “doughier” than I would like my noodle to be. This makes me want to drink the soup only rather than eating the noodle.

Here’s a another snapshot of what have been served on our table:

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The dessert

We ended our lunch with a slice of Cheese Soufle Cake. It is cheesecake ultimately and it is light and fluffy, just what you would have expected for a souffle texture. I however was quite full and conscious that I shouldn’t take too much dairy based food, so I let Cathy finished the cake. She on the other hand, needs a lot of calcium for herself and baby in her tummy. I have forgotten to take a picture of the cake as when it was served, I was on the phone and Cathy couldn’t wait for me and helped herself to it.

How to get there:

The restaurant is tucked in the heart of London strategically by the Piccadilly Circus Station, exit number 3, if my memory serves me right. It should be the exit opposite LilyWhite, the big digital advertisement boad, and you should be able to see a Pizza Hut upon exiting the underground station. There is also a Tesco along the way and it is actually located in between The Flight Centre and Ryman Stationery shop. The predecessor of this restaurant was a Spanish Tapas restaurant. There is also map on the website and it is quite accurate.  All you have to do is to look up for no 9!

http://www.shoryuramen.com/

The Final Test

Well, as mentioned, I am particular with food seasoned with MSG. A hint of it will leave my mouth taste funny wanting to drink water. So does Shoryu Ramen pass the test? I didn’t verify with the chefs or anyone who works in the restaurant but only relying on my tongue. After finishing my bowl of Dracula Tonkotsu, it first left my mouth with garlic taste, as it is with garlic chips. Brilliant! Then I did feel the urge wanting to drink water, probably about 10-15 mins after finished my bowl of noodle. It is the thirst due to MSG. So I think they do put MSG in the broth but not a lot.

Will I go back and eat again? I will but not for the same dish anymore. I am curious of the Fire and Ice Salmon Tsukemen and there are other questions as mentioned above, that I would like to ask the waitresses or waiters to validate my guesses.I just hope they wouldn’t mind to give me an answer!

Categories: Food, Japanese, London | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Chocolate Marble Cake

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A friend gave me a bear silicone bake ware sometime last year and I didn’t have the chance to use it till today when I have this funny cake craving. Perhaps my deliberate weight loss diet has left me hanging without adequate sugar. And so with the remaining butter I have, I decided to bake marbled chocolate cake.

I somehow did something very awful to the bear by decorating it with few walnuts and some strawberry jam on the body, thinking it will add a bit of colour to it. Well I need to work a lot more on my artistry skill. Anyhow, the cake is moist and delicious! I hope substance will win over the form! I’ll try to decorate it better next time. In the meantime, enjoy the recipe, it is easy to bake!

Ingredients:

200g butter

200g caster sugar

200g self raising flour

4 eggs

1 vanilla pod

1.5 tbsp chocolate powder (cooking or drinking)

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degree celcius. I used a silicone bake ware given by a friend instead of the normal cake tin. It is easy to use and I didn’t have to line the baking or parchment paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together and mix well. Add one egg at a time and mix with the batter till smooth. Once all eggs are added, sift flour bit by bit to the batter and fold.

3. Divide the batter into 2 portions. Mix one portion with chocolate powder. I also added a drop of Irish Coffee Liquor. Add either vanilla seeds or vanilla essence to the other portion.

4. Scoop one spoon of the chocolate batter to the silicone bake ware and then followed by the vanilla portion and repeat this till batters in both portions are used up.

5. Tap the bottom of the bake ware to ensure all air bubbles are released and use a spoon or sticks to stir the batter a bit to create that marbled effect. But do not mix it, otherwise, the batter will become all chocolatey.

6. Finally bake the batter, for about 30-45 mins, or use a stick and insert to the centre of the cake. If it is cooked, the stick will come out without any sign of batter. Else, let it continue to bake till the same the stick comes out clean from the centre of the cake.

7. Turn off the oven once it is cooked and let it cool on a cooling rack.

Categories: Recipe | 4 Comments

Humanity and human rights!!??

Introduction:

In the midst of the recent political situation in Malaysia, there are a lot of postings on Facebook, a lot of them siding the opposition parties than the current government. Although I do not have a very strong view on the political arena in my country, I am silently protesting the current government by leaving the country to live in another country. I remember once a Hong Kong visitor questioned us why would we want to leave our own home country where we grew up and where our family and friends are and live in a foreign soil as a 2nd citizen. She doesn’t understand the predicament we face as a non-bumiputera in Malaysia.

So with all the recent unrest situation in Malaysia, be it the rampant petty thefts, breaks-ins, children and adults kidnaps, to life threatening and traumatising incidents such as murders and rapes to the latest of the Philippines military invasion to Sabah, this just reflects how effective the current government in administering and policing the country. I am not a political expert nor am I an avid fan of politics. Yet all these have sparked angers and to a lot of extent, patriotism of my fellow Malaysians.

Sometimes I wonder those postings of the incidents on Facebook are real. I was told that some of them aren’t, or perhaps some modifications werer made. However the following incident was based on a friend’s experience, his own real life experience. I am not trying to propogate any agenda, but I was shocked when I learnt about this.

The following incident was just a recap of an experience of a couple and I did not add or modify anything. I am just sharing what they have gone through and perhaps many others who may be suffering silently.

“Make a statement! Or arrest??!!

On that one particular morning sometime in January 2011, my friend, Mrs T, received a phone call from her Indonesian worker, who had a valid work permit, although not in Mrs T’s name, was arrested by Immigration Officers. The Indonesian worker was instructed by the Immigration Officers to contact her employer so she’d make her way to the work place immediately.

Mrs T and her husband, Mr T. went to the work place, and the officers told Mrs T that she would have to go to the Immigration Office to make a statement. Upon heaering this, Mr T volunteered to go on behalf of Mrs T as she would need to look after the work place whilst the officers needed to “take” her worker away. Note that not a word of “arrest” was mentioned. All they said was “ambik statement” (take statement). There was no explanation given by the immigration officers of what will entail after they were led to the office.

So Mr. T was instructed to line up with a few others with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front him and similarly a hand on his shoulder from the stranger lined up behind him. He was then paraded in the public in that kind of line up, as if he had done something wrong and arrested. What was missing were just the hand cuffs.

“A bar!!”

They arrived at the immigration department. Deep down everyone just wished to sign the statement quickly to get this done and over.

But what they saw upon entering the “office” was more than an office. He was stunned to see what was inside the “office”, and before he could register what it was, he was told to wait for the immigration officer, who was not available at that point of time. What he saw was a row of bars!!

After waited for few hours, finally they were told that the officer will not be back for the day. It was already 5 pm! He was overjoy thinking that is done for today. But before he realised what was going to happen, another officer unlocked a bar and he and few others were ushered and pushed in a 20 x 20 cell which was already occupied!

There were all types of nationalities. Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indonesian, Yemeni, Myanmar etc. The smell in the bar was unpleasant too. It was the smell of un-dried clothes. The lock-up was divided into concrete floor with a raised wooden platform and at the other end he could not help but noticed an open loo. No cover, no sink, no soap. The rest is just concrete.

Special treatment??!!

He started to worry. He thought that if the officer is not going to come back today and he is now locked up, the possibility of going home that night was very low.

He is an elderly, in his 70s. He has just done a major heart surgery and still on medication As everything happened too quickly, he didn’t bring the medicines with him. Remember, he volunteered to go to the immigration office to make a statement, but instead he was arrested and locked up.

He had no choice but to yell and ask the officer to let him call his family to bring the medicine. They knew that they have to oblige, otherwise any mishaps will bring unwanted media attentions.

Finally, his daughter arrived at the Immigration office with his medicines. But much to their dismay, the officers refused to let her daughter in as it was already past the office hours. His daughter had no choice but to “create a scene”, i.e. pretended to cry to attract attention, which she finally managed to catch the chief’s attention.

He was then explained and thankfully he is smart enough to allow his daughter to go in and give him the medicines. The chief also asked one of his officers to fulfill this elderly’s needs or requests for the night.

Sleeping time??

The elderly was lucky enough to be treated nicely. When the night comes, and time for bed, and when everyone was snoozing on their soft and springy mattress with pillows and bolsters, those who were unluckily locked up in this bar had nothing but just the cold floor or wooden platform. The platform is so small relatively to the number of people in the cell, so everyone had to take turn to sleep on it for 3 hours whilst the rest slept on the dirty and cold concrete floor. Once the time is up, they will be awaken abruptly, if they are lucky enough to be able to sleep, so that those who sleeps on the floor will have the privilege to sleep on the wooden platform.

Everyone was instructed to line up closely as if they are just a set of mummies or robots or worst, corpses, and each one’s legs touched the shoulders or head of the person who sleeps underneath them. There is no room to turn at all, or their legs will be on top of the face of the one underneath them. Could you imagine if yourself in such a condition? Could you still sleep soundly?

Every now and then throughout that night, the officer who was instructed to attend Mr T’s need would have a lookout on him. Whenever he saw the others around him got too close or left no space for him, he would instructed them to give him the space, at least 3 feet apart from him. He had his privilege because he was a nice elderly and didn’t create much troubles for him. But they also do not want any troubles.

What happened in the middle of the night??

In the middle night, there was another “arrest”. It was a group of scantily clad Chinese and Myanmar women with all sorts of dyed-hair colours. Apparently they were raided and arrested from massage parlours and accordingly they are all without a proper working permit.

They were asked to squat in a line in Malay, however some of them do not understand as they don’t speak the language. As a result, they failed to obey the instruction. To make them to follow the instruction, the officers forcefully squatted them. Some even stepped on their hands or feet.

Hygiene?? Humanity??

They were given a coupon each to  redeem their food. It is supposed to worth MRY20 but all they got was just rice, giblets and some runny curry. No fork or spoon provided and so everyone has to use their fingers to eat. Don’t forget that there is no soap to wash their hands after they have gone to toilet. So imagine that you have to eat using your fingers after pissing or shitting.

There is a water cooler right in front of the bars, however only 1 paper cup provided. Everyone in the bars are expected to share the cup and take turn to drink. So no one dares to touch the cup with their mouth.

Precioussssss …. behind the bars!

What would you think is the most  sought after and priceles commodity behind the bards? Let me give you some hint, don’t forget about the smell. Not just the smell of urine and faeces from the open loo, but those who have been there for weeks, without proper shower, clothes drying and laundry facilities.

When Mr T’s daughter came with the medicines, she has also brought a pair of undergarments and long pants for him to change. The long pants are to avoid any bugs and lice in the cell and undergarments, well for him to change. In this cell, he learnt that something as intimate as the undergarments are precious commodities. He didn’t realise that his undergarments were stolen until everyone was asked to to pick up all their belongings on the floor. Till today, he couldn’t locate them. Why would a pair of undergarments become such “precious”?? No, there was no Gollum in the bar.

Mr T found out from an Indonesian inmate, who slept just near him that night. Let us address him as Y. He was smelly as he was wearing the same clothes the day he was “arrested”. Every day, he is only able to wash his underwear during the shower time, just like everyone else in there. Everyone would have to take their clothes off, down to the undergarments leaving nothing to cover and exposing themselves while they are washing their underwear. There is no clothes line nor sun to dry the clothes and they have to wear it back almost immediately. Unless they don’t mind to let their genital hanging and expose to everyone in the cell. Would you rather have that or just wear the wet and smelly clothes?

How long have you been in the cell??

Like most of the foreigners in the cell, Y has been there fore almost a month. Mr T was curious why Y is not released. Apparently they were supposed to be deported back to their home country. They were supposed to have an air ticket to return. Yet they need to pay and they don’t have money. They were asked to request from their family or friends, but obviously if they took the risk to be an illegal immigrants, they wouldn’t have that kind of monies to buy air tickets.

Mr T pitied Y and asked him how much he would need to go back to his country on a boat. Y answered MYR50. The elderly thought to himself that he could easily sponsor him that.

Handover ceremony! !

Finally my friend was asked to see the director. He was told that he will be released. Upon hearing this, the elderly took the opportunity to enquire whether he could sponsor Y to go home. He wanted to give him MYR150 but the director told him that he could not give the monies directly to Y. Instead, he will announce to everyone in the bars that a kind-hearted Mr T was going to sponsor Y to go home. And so both Mr T and the director stood in front of everyone, announced and handed the 3 MYR50 ceremoniously to Y. But when Y wanted to take the monies, the director took the notes away from him immediately.

HOME!!

The elderly could finally leave the bars. There is nothing much that Mr T could do now but to pray silently that Y will be sent home soon.

Few days later, he managed to find out that the Y was also sent home shortly after he was released.

Human Rights?? Humanity??

This incident reflects the basic human rights we enjoy now.  Mr T was not even judged or convicted for any wrong doings, yet he was imprisoned without any trials. Was that right? And what about the conditions behind the bar?

In Europe, even the inmates have their own basic human rights. I recalled a news I read on newspaper sometime ago, the  inmates in Europe are able to enjoy normal facilities such as TV subscribed to Sports Channels, arrangement for spouse every now and then to stay a night in the cell so that they can enjoy the basic human relationship, etc.

Shall I compare with developed countries? (Please don’t come and hound me with Listen! Listen! Listen!! Ms Listen!! ) But then again, is human right a privilege only to those in developed countries?

I am not an expert in the law and regulation nor what is legally and politically right. I could not assertively conclude whether there are any non-law abiding actions took place throughout the incident. The Immigration Act vested the immigration officers the authority to search, interrogate and even imprison, fine or even whip anyone they deemed as a suspect who may have contravened the regulation. Does that sound right?

I am just merely sharing an experience of a friend who was unluckily arrested and spent his virgin night behind the bar and of what he learnt and observed that night.

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