April 20, 2018 § Leave a comment
In the conversations of my daily routines, there is a queer silence between sentences. As gentle as they are, the exists in pauses of acknowledgements and gratitude. I write frequently about gratitude, almost too much when I look back on how many times I type it on this screen. But yet, there will not be sufficient amount to express how fortunate we are and how much we still take for granted.
A couple of weeks ago, my partner ran a full marathon back in Malaysia. So I decided to cheer him on by running, well, a quarter of it. The next 5km mark is a boundary I have yet to explore. The feet took me to Williamstown, a lovely horizon leading towards the endless sea. The beach front was merely the beginning of a buzzing little town. It lined with sun-kissed children, joyful dog-walkers and eager diners. Bring out the roller blades, if I may say, and glide through the bright pavements with ocean breeze in your hair and salty moisture on your skin.
Back at home, in this little apartment, I have been settling in just as bread on butter. It’s been almost 10 weeks of analysing botany, human parts and occasionally wine-ing. Learning about your own palate is perhaps one of the most satisfying adventure to leap on. Acquiring a skill to understand another’s is, something beyond reach. I have a deep admiration for wine connoisseurs as for botanists.
A simple walk in the park was far more complex and enriching than it seems. We visited the gorgeous Royal Botanical Gardens last week. The tropical glasshouse felt like home and memories of being a child running around our home garden came floating in. Right here, the terrain is different. The weather changes so drastically, every moment of beauty is like the freshly bloomed flower, temporary and sacred. The short instances make it so delightful, just as the pauses in my conversations.
The days are getting shorter, my runs are getting longer, but the silences remain unchanged. Always there to keep an everlasting subtle essence in beautiful moments.
February 19, 2018 § 1 Comment
This is your path.
This is how you form the shapes you fall so gently in. This is a journey of how graceful you treat yourself and practice compassion. This is not your mom’s or dad’s. Do not take Forbes list or best yoga poses to be your goal. Do not take an idol and follow their style.
What makes you think you will be happy today with what you have in the future? What makes you believe that other people’s happiness is ideal for you?
Is it for you to take?
Is it meant to be enough?
What is ever enough when less is so much more than what you already stand for?
Your happiness is already in you.
Be the main character in your show. Find your own proses and take the lead.
The last weekend was a quiet one by the beach. I drove myself out to the end of a little town and found the most delightful deli. So I bought myself some hummus, olives and sourdough bread for a little picnic by the sea. As I found myself in an unknown corner, a dog came up and put his weight on my feet. How wet and warm he felt, how loyal and tender he seemed. He was waiting for his owner to finish a surf. Everytime someone would come up to the shore, he would run over and greet them.
“Eventually it will be the right one”, the second surfer said to me.
Every time he realised the surfer wasn’t the owner, he came back to my little towel and waited with me. As they say, misery loves company.
“It’s call Benjo!”, another surfer shouted across to me.
I guess as much he is a regular. The ocean has a way of calling me back. I have been enjoying the waves, cold waters and watching surfers take the plunge. One day, I will too.
Till that day comes, it’s a little memory of finding warmth in nature. An unknown shepherd dog, the abundance of sea herbs, white sands and oceanic sounds.
January 30, 2018 § Leave a comment
The last weekend was well spent with six other beautiful women at St Andrews Beach, Mornington Peninsula. They held a yoga retreat which included soul searching workshops. The space was filled with abundant authenticity and gratification. Everyone had personal stories of mistaken love, different career directions, family cooking adventures and wonderful unique life experiences. It is not only truly inspiring to hear them but also deeply privilege to be part of the circle.
We soaked up plenty of sunshine while exploring our truest desires. We hold visions of what is yet to be and expectations, but have we ever sat down with ourselves with a cup of tea/coffee truthfully to ask how do we feel when these expectations are met.
So many of our dreams or aspirations are unrealistic because we do not take the opportunity to ask ourselves what they resonate with us. Feeling loved or connected with another soul by attracting something that is not your truest heart’s desire; accomplishing something that is perhaps not best for what you can offer mentally, physically or emotionally right this moment; believing in shaping your form to be better but not having the right tools.
This retreat was a realignment of past/present/future. Putting past experiences into present moments and manifesting from here on.
This morning I sank my teeth into a thick stack of sorghum pancakes with soy yogurt, molasses and fresh berries while reflecting on the year that is to be. More surfing, making fresh meals, writing and making this apartment a home.
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love … and then we return home.” – Australian aboriginal proverb
Retreat was organised by these two talented ladies:
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.
December 26, 2017 § Leave a comment
It’s been a very reflective year. More so than the year before because of the events that have unfolded. For many, it is perhaps sedentary, a cruise mode to pass through the motions and performed what is needed or should. I for one have never been the sort who operates on cruise mode, if anything it has always been manual. I bought a bike and put it together (with a little help from my friends), moved into an empty apartment and found furniture on the local community sites, found recipes for kombucha/sauerkraut/soy yogurt and now have a little fermentation corner; perhaps Bunnings would be my next favourite DIY store. As it should, as I feel our lives should be simplified to lessen the carbon footprints by making it of our own and deliberately making a conscious effort to refine attitudes, broaden perspectives, and foster cohesiveness amongst ourselves.
There hasn’t been any new recipes here despite being a food blog. I have not been cooking with recipes for a while. Baking is quite intuitive and so is cooking. But here is a simple put together for days like these are far than a few. This morning at the local asian market, I found laksa leaves and danced around the spot while hoping the cctv above me didn’t notice. Then head down to the local Coles, treat myself to some locally grown blood orange and a big tub of soy yogurt. I turned our Cave playlist on, assembled a spread of crackers with vegemite, dolloped a couple of tablespoons of soy yogurt into a vintage teacup, sliced oranges & banana and tossed a few laksa leaves.
So this is how 2017 will end, with no guidance to how life should be but simply a genuine joyful act of come what may. As one of my uncles will sing in my ear when I was a little girl, que sara sara . You know the next line…
Updated, and a new title. I just watched an inspiring film, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. It is perhaps the best movie I have seen this year.
Let the flesh grow old and crumble. What are my expectations and what have I done?
How can one not sit on the thoughts and reflect on those questions? For Jeremiah Tower, cooking and dining is a soiree. More than not, he has meticulous anticipations with lighthearted vim and vigour. I had thought I would be rather insane to think that menus are as readable as books. Hence having a big collection of menus from restaurants/cafes through travelling. The name of the dish should highlight the main ingredient, not whimsical or how it’s processed but what it entails. It has never quite stuck with me how sous-vide is so welcomed on a menu or putting an accurate number for cooking temperature. We might as well put UNOX oven-baked apricot cake or Iseya sliced tuna belly. Our equipment has taken over how food is appreciated, where it should simply be rejoiced by its origins. The source of how they are formed has been diminished. A pinch of salt in a dense brownie is forgotten because salted caramel is drenched all over it.
I seek finesse in feeding the finesse food and drinks. Perhaps it’s not everyday I work in one but hope to find a place where people are on their toes and captivate themselves into something more than just as it is. After all, what is greatness if we settle?
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.