January 13, 2018 § Leave a comment
It is funny how after some time, it isn’t about the pose, it’s about the breath you take in and how you release it. It is the way you show up on the mat everyday that inherently, dedicating an hour to reconnect the mind/body/soul. It is how the pose is formed and transits to another.
It is funny how after a while, it isn’t how the dish is served but the freshness of the ingredients and how they arrived at your table. The sincerity of the purveyors, honest cooks and warm servers.
It is funny how it isn’t the type of clothes we wear but how it softly fits onto our skin and makes us feel naturally comfortable . It isn’t about dress sense but the sincerity of our smile we put on every time we greet someone.
It is funny how it isn’t about the amount of friends you have but the depth of friendships. How far you are willing to stretch for one another and how often they appear in your daily thoughts. The moments you shared laughing at one another’s stupidity, putting up with the idiosyncrasies and still want to share a meal together.
It is funny how it isn’t about the places you have been but how you get there. As cliche as this sounds, it is amusing that there are still tourist spots and selfie sticks.
It is funny how as a plant based eater (some call me rabbit, goat or bird), I know how to eight way a chicken, gut and scale a fish or touch raw meat; yet find meat eaters who squinch into a ball when they see a pig’s head or bone in meal. It is also rather peculiar that they do not know the shape of an oyster in poultry or where the vein of the prawns are.
It is strange and awesome at the same time. We are all looking for the same sense of belonging and meaning on this earth but our paths are far from near.
It is remarkable that you can feel so much for someone and yet so little in an instance. It isn’t the words we say but the promises we keep to ourselves for others, which makes the relationship genuine. The call you were supposed to make, the letter you were going to sent, the cup of coffee you meant to share and the little projects we set out to do.
It is peculiar that we meet at the same spot again and again. We are drawn to the likeness of sensibility and charm in the space. In time, our encounters are brief but special. Yet there is all there is.
We took a trip to the Great Ocean Road today. It was pouring very heavily and the little fella felt scared. So he rested his chin on my lap the whole way until we got home. I sneaked into McGran’s Cafe to take away a lovely slice of tahini cake. The rain has a way of showing up when it is least needed but beneath the thick dark clouds there is warmth in being good company and a sincere slice of cake.
January 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
Your experience will be solely yours. No one else sees or feels what you deeply observe, encounter and soak the soul in. By that I also mean we get to choose who and what we karmically interact with. Sometimes we do not realise that there is a reason behind the daily habits. How we brush our teeth, choose to hold a fork or chopsticks, turn the door knob a certain way. Perhaps even with the certain people we communicate. Do we greet them a kindly, joyfully or quietly. What brings that particular emotion when something inside is triggered.
I chose living mindfully since a tender age. Though it might appeared that some hard experiences were much intended than unconsciously, there has always been a certain light inside the heart that lead to where I am now.
Now, is the moment we should all live in. I do realise more and more that people living in the fast pace world tend to sweep away my questions or curiosity as they would, sweep away awareness. Everything goes under the rug. Ironically, so does being authentic.
What is your sankalpa?, as most yoga instructors will ask at the beginning of the practice. Is it simply to let go? To feel warmth? To be here? How is your heart doing?
These days, my intentions have been to with the soul. The mind has been drifting off to the past year and resulted in drawing memories of encounters. These growing moments were like pain growing sprouts, reminders of lessons and staying true. So much had happened. So much have yet, to happen.
You have waited to be loved. Love every corners there is inside right this moment. All that is needed is encapsulated in the tender heart.
New Year’s Eve countdown was much spectacular as it was spent luxuriously by Sydney Harbour. The days along were so blessed I started to wonder what have I done to deserve this. “Take it all in my dear”, that is all she said to me.
Back to my favourite part of the city, practicing yoga, reading/writing and more cooking. Nectarines from the tree right in front of the lovely apartment.
December 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Yoga practice today was quite a revolution. Ever since I joined the Westside yoga, every session has been very insightful. Perhaps it has to do with the current course of my journey, how it has shifted tremendously and is still evolving.
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you.
I have read this quote multiple times and like any empowering words they mean something different when you revisit them. I have finally moved into a new apartment, and enjoying the silence. While rejoicing in the new found freedom to dance with, there is a different side of loneliness. The quiet space is now filled with silences but with time I have come to enjoy the nature of it all. The birds wake up way too early for my liking, I can hear the neighbours going in and out of their apartments, I make my meals for solely myself and while I was so used to making it for my family back at home. It is a meal for one everyday. The experiment is nothing less than creative and adventurous but also deeply gratifying. I have a big jar of kombucha fermentation by the kitchen window and a sauerkraut recipe waiting to test out. Another responsibility I have come to adhere to is DIY light fixing. How can one know the differences of E22/B27 or warm light, bright white or LED? Also, I have bought some plants to keep me company. While I am not sure how long they will enjoy my presence but inviting them to the new home has been nothing shy of joy. I would say this is exceptionally so when I wake up in the morning and see the little green leaves face catching the first rays of sunlight.
This year, I have learnt to grow more graciously independent. What does that even mean? To be gracious to yourself while trying be on your own and in good company. Over the years, failed relationships have made it difficult to rely on the right people. Some might say, well perhaps you just haven’t found the right one to depend on. I would agree but also realised that you are essentially responsible for your own happiness/well-being. Being taken care of is such a luxury that not everyone can have, but also to take care of others is another privilege one shall not take for granted. How many times have I wished to have closer family members to cook for and listen to their problems. At the same time wish someone would just sit and listen to me. Yet, this constant ebb and flow settles quietly like the waves on a shore. You watch the tide come and go, enjoying the swiftness of the water and listening to the ripples as they grasp one another.
I have graciously learnt to let go of depending on others for happiness and am cultivating a gentle lifestyle. First step to finding love, don’t. It is already in you. Don’t wait for anything to happen or until it is ready, you will perhaps wait for your whole life. Now, let go of whatever that does not serve you any purpose.
Oh yes, and if all else fails, find friends who laugh over silly matters, shares vegan pizza and hide in pubs while waiting for the rain to pass.
November 27, 2017 § Leave a comment
There are a few moments in life that you unconsciously remember. Perhaps a fruitful dessert you made during the first summer day, when the heat was so strong, turning the oven on would just be against the grain. It might be a stranger you locked eyes with on the train and had a heartfelt connection. It could even be a ratatouille moment ~ a certain dish that sent you back to your childhood dining memories.
Today is a momentous day. One I would never have imagined happening for as long as I remembered. While other girls chase white dresses and shiny rings, I longed for a space I call my own. Exactly two years ago, mum and I decided to visit her university in Switzerland. She had graduated in the year when bell bottom pants were as trendy as dim sim or Lune croissant in Fitzroy. But instead, we had traditional apple strudels with dark roasted coffee in our thick parka jackets. We hiked through a snow blizzard and made it to the cafe she interned at. It was somewhere there that I decided to steer the wheel and take a different course on this journey.
Two years later, I am in a different country, studying my second degree and reading up on road bikes. Perhaps going to celebrate Christmas in hot summer ( not that it really matters since we are from the tropics) and try not to get too tan.
I moved into my new apartment today. For the first time, in years I am living on my own once again. I bought the double mattress from a furniture store which had an incredibly kind salesman who squeezed it into my friend’s car. He also gave me two extra pillows to keep myself warm. I bought a dining table set and second-hand refrigerator from a buy/swap/sale online group, which had given incredibly sublime experiences. Everyone has so warmly offered help and extended an extra pair of hands if in need. My neighbours have already introduced themselves, gave me their numbers in case of emergency and welcomed me to the area. It’s barely even day one, yet it feels like I have lived here for a long time. This is the feeling of being at home.
As a Malaysian, I would call this the kampung spirit. The sense of belonging one feels in a community where everyone looks out for one another and share the same backyard but still respecting privacy. I moved here with 2X30kg suitcases, and am starting from scratch. A new drying rack, a new knife board, a new set of detergents, vacuum cleaner and even blender, which my boyfriend so kindly hand-carried from Mustafa (Singapore).
It is surreal but only natural. As I sit beside the window this late evening, staring at the brightly lit half moon and sipping on the Nadurra, I can only count my blessings and be grateful for the generosity and graciousness.
Here is to many first loves to come. I have yet to bake in the oven, do a full asana, sleep on that mattress and make my first breakfast.
yoga is painless, when you practice awareness
asana brings transformation, when you let the breath flow
life is painless, when you practice mindfulness
the journey offers beauty,
when you surrender to the flow
August 29, 2017 § Leave a comment
It has been barely 24 hours since I touched down, my head is still lingering in a heritage sphere. One would wonder how deep an impression a city would make after a couple of days. How my feet remembers the little lanes between a main street, or how my heart allows the scent of cumin spices to pursue the next dining destination, exploring the preserved local architecture, or simply just letting the island’s indecisive weather depict our routines.
Penang has always had a special place in my heart. As a younger family, we would visit relatives and friends over the holidays or special occasions. All other random visits would either be a result of serious food cravings or missing good company.
This trip emerged slowly. We had no plans for anything but to spend quality time together. We spent the days mostly sleeping in till unlikely hours and waking up to local food on the table. An array of char kway teow(fried wok-hei filled noodles), steamed local sweet corn, nyonya kuehs (sweet treats), freshly sliced pineapples and homemade kopi. Then we would head to Hin Bus Depot, an old bus depot turned art exhibition centre, for yoga, a photography event/workshop or a walk around the flea market.
The flea is filled with artistic vendors, recreating traditional prints, clothing, food with new materials or homegrown products. A nasi ulam stand calls for own grown ulam (herbs), freshly folded into turmeric rice and sprinkled with tempeh crumbles. A bookshop decorated with old tiles painted with images of historical sites and calligraphy stationary sets. At this point of the day, I am already feeling spoiled with an abundance amount of good food and great company in an immensely enriching environment.
A kefir soda maker and her daughter who manages the art space behind; a graphic designer turned bartender/cook who runs the retail shop, The Swagger Salon; local beer brewers, Red Door ; Wholey Wonder, vegan/yoga studio; and the resident cat, Eugene.
Where was I when all these home-grown talents were transpiring?
Somewhere at the other side of the world, searching for answers to questions I yearned to understand.
How do we make ourselves relevant to society? How do we preserve what we have and still change what is needed? What is needed?
All things are relevant. All these are subjective to its own usage. Money. Materials. Time. Distance. Food. Clothing. Art. Car. A house. They all mean something to us fundamentally but conjured up different interpretations.
I used to think that having three meals a day was a necessity. But realised we could make our own eating choices without looking at our watches but simply by asking ourselves, are we hungry?
I used to believe that growth is tearing things apart and letting new materials take over. But learnt that growth can start from understanding what the past gave us and using new materials to help preserve its authenticity, without damaging or hindering what the original maker had intent for it to be. Now that’s, craft.
Some evenings were spent dining out but when circumstances allowed, I could feed the family. One of my favourite family meals dishes comes from Nigel Slater’s first Kitchen Diaries. I initially made this as a psychology student in Leeds. We had a big house party with young college students, which called for simple finger food and cheap beers or cider. This time, Lemon Peppercorn Roasted Chicken Wings were paired with sautéed seafood, fried rice and pork rip soup. A rather intimate and slow affair compared to the youthful days. We also took the chance to bake cakes for tea. A staple Grapefruit Yogurt loaf and vegan Chocolate Banana Walnut brownie. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them its dairy & egg-free. I couldn’t bring myself to understand how rich and moist that loaf was. It was perhaps the best vegan chocolate cake I’ve ever concurred. They say, wisdom comes with age. Perhaps, baking experiences are the similar, so to speak.
On a sleepy Sunday, I woke up early and followed his mum to the local ban san (a hokkien slang for wet markets). We walked around the busy street with vendors trying to get our attentions, buyers grabbing fresh produce, ingredients, snacks, and so forth. I stumbled upon an old bakery, where they still use their barehands to fold wet cake batters, proof breads and use margarine for nostalgia.
I stood at the counter too long to their likings and observed them manoeuvre from counter to counter. Their quick punching on proof doughs, prudence in tipping breads out from hot pans and carefully wrapping cooled pastries were so well orchestrated. I wonder how long they have been doing this. I wonder how many times the lady had asked me what I want when I lost all awareness while in the baker’s trance. She finally grew impatient, and left me alone. I continued staring gleefully at the perfectly season deck ovens, stainless steel trays and arrays of pastries. How long have we been doing this in our own backyard and yet search for greener pastures to create trends? Have we grown impatient or bored of ourselves? How does creativity prevail while we have little appreciation for authenticity or simple craftsmanship?
The food we eat these days has heritage. It is nostalgic for the flavours, textures and environment. But the food we ate, sometimes have little nutritional values. We were cultured to adapt to this because we were at war or perhaps not so well informed. While I go on commenting about how we should take care of our own well-being, I sometimes wonder if I should stop caring. For people don’t care what they put in their bodies and when I say too much, it isn’t well-received.
A little sadness sank in that evening. Sitting outside staring on the quiet streets, asking myself how can we continue to educate or bring awareness when people don’t want to? Because being ignorance is blissful and we could continue living in a egomania society, breading excessiveness and immorality.
I always say, how you do one thing is how you do everything. Pour enough sauce for your salad or chee chong fun; buy one not take advance of buy two get one free (there is no need); take what you need and leave what you don’t. Our heritage is narrowing, because our education is advancing without teaching ethics or mindful-living. I feel grateful for meeting passional collective individuals on this trip. A little light to capture essence of hopes for a better community.
June 1, 2017 § Leave a comment
“If you read stories, you get to see the entire world. And not just the stories you find in books and film, but the stories of strangers sitting next to you on the subway or in an ordinary restaurant. You can find the world in your own story, too – you just have to keep your eyes open.”
― Steve Dublanica, Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
I remember reading Waiter Rant, right after culinary school. It was the soft cream that finished off a simple butter cake. Something I looked forward to at the end of every shift as a pastry cook in a small French/Californian restaurant of 5th Ave at Santa Monica. He wrote about his observations around the restaurants and his life as a waiter. I admired his audacity to speak out in an invincible voice for the large group of us who went unnoticed behind the line. I adored the way he reflected on society’s perceptions of the service industry. Though they were mostly, rants, they were truths.
They say the truth sets you free. In many ways, they do. But truths are like art pieces, which beauty lies in the perceptions of the beholder. In a place of ranks or solitude, one looks through their own glass to define what is and not. In many ways, the truth doesn’t set you free. The present moment does. I could tell you that the slice of cake is awfully bad for you and you could jolly well believe me because that is the truth to you right at that moment. Does that set you free? No, it holds you down with guilt and displeasure. But if you accept being in the moment, you would have been honest enough to yourself that the slice of cake is bad and the awareness would bring you nothing but peace.
I have kept a resilient heart and soul with the adventures. Something to keep me absolutely grounded at this moment is being with the greater crew. Everyday I learn something new about them and how we can be better for ourselves. No one stands alone and do well for him/herself. You got to find something good out of them and encouraged their strengths. For the sandless ocean bay community, I’ve grown to find some friends which share common grounds.
I have given up defining or stereotyping things/people/events. The world is too big of a place for us to narrow everything into corner stones. The moments we live daily is truly what we have and can only sincerely appreciate them when they are accepted fully.
Sometimes on my off days, I visit one of my favourite parts of this island. In many ways, we grew up eating these little ang ku kuehs during tea time or after school. You can find them in the corner snack stall in our canteens and at a local bakery on the way home. There is a particular kueh-kueh stall at my parents’ hometown in Taiping, Malaysia, which makes the softest and most fragrant traditional ang ku. While I reminisce those little moments, we have moved on to a different culture. Back in the big city where locally roasted coffee is proudly served in little neighbourhoods and traditional bakes are still integrated our daily lives. We are redefining coffee moments. A Colombia El Mirador and Kenya Kagumoini brew with mung bean paste wrapped in glutinous rice pastry at our favourite coffee shop.
Ji Xiang Confectionery
Blk 1 #01-33 Everton Park,