Photographs…

SARAWAK LAKSA
Gosh! This is just like somebody who has completed his education and found a job and everybody starts pestering him to find a girl and get married, and when he has done that, they’ll harass him further telling him that he should begin thinking about having a baby and starting a family…and it goes on and on and on!

So it was with me! I was quite happy making a nuisance of myself, commenting in other people’s blogs…but no, they would not leave me in peace. Everyone kept asking me when I would start my own blog, and when I was FORCED into having one of my own, people started asking me to post photographs… Gee! I certainly hope this is it! There’s nothing more after this, or is there?

Well, this photograph has nothing to do with the post. After all, I’m only trying out my “skill”… It’s a photo of the Sarawak Laksa that I cooked the other day, so feast your eyes on it and I hope it makes everyone drool…and drool…!!! After all, you asked for it! LOL!!!

UPDATED: Ok! Ok! Now pic big enough or not!!! Chesh! LOL!!!!

Do ya think I’m sexy…

The following extract is taken from something I wrote on “Teenagers” in one of my books…

…Never for the life of me can I understand why the boys must wear their pants hanging gingerly on the edge of their hips looking as if they would just drop off at any time, exposing more than half of their briefs.  There is a perfectly logical explanation for this, they will declare.  After having spent a fortune on their designer underwear, it makes no sense at all if no one gets to see them…”

That sounds like a reasonable excuse, but perhaps they should just wear their briefs on the outside, like Superman.

Anyway, what this is leading to is…why do girls wear those jeans that barely cover the cleavage in their butt?  Actually, there was a discussion on this on the afternoon show on TraxxFm last week. So, what’s your opinion on this?

Personally, I would think it should be fine when some SYT (sweet-young-thing) wears it to go clubbing or the like. The bone that I would like to pick is with those aunties who still think they’re teenagers (mentally, maybe) wearing those jeans and short figure-hugging tops to church. Gosh! They certainly seem oblivious to the fact that their hour-glass figure is long gone, and the curves that they have now are all in the wrong places. In cases where one chose to sit right in front of me, exposing the complete (almost) view of her big arse, I had to fight this urge to dash out to throw up…but instead, I just closed my eyes in prayer for God’s mercy and compassion! For her, not for me! It’s not at all decent apparel for going to church! Don’t they have any respect at all for the Almighty? One would think that their brains are located exactly at that part of their anatomy that they sit on.

And once I was driving along the road when a motorcycle overtook my car. (Yup! I’m a very slow driver!!!) And lo and behold! There was this guy on the bike with his girlfriend riding pillion…and she was wearing one of those jeans and she was leaning forward on the guy with her arse in full view of anybody tailing behind! Now, I certainly wouldn’t want my girlfriend to make a public exhibition of her asset for all to see…no matter how sexy she may be…..Would you? 

The way we were…

When I was little, my house was near a three-point junction (simpang tiga) with the Melanau kampung/village to the right and the Malay kampung to the left.  Thus, my childhood friends were all the Melanau and Malay kids from these kampungs and we all spoke the Sarawak version of the Malay Language.

We played football on any piece of land sticking two sticks in the ground for the makeshift goal.  We went into the jungle, built huts out of the branches and leaves and spent the day there, enjoying ousrsevles and cooking our own food.  Never mind that it was not very hygienic, well-cooked nor delicious; it was fun!

 We made catapults from forked branches of trees and lots and lots of rubber band and pieces of leather cut from old, discarded shoes. We made pop-guns using bamboo and sticks and used the pea-like seeds of a certain plant as the pellets. And we would strip down to our homemade boxers and jump into the river for a whale of the time. Needless to say, everytime there was a flood in the town, we were the happiest of all!

I can go on and on about the things we did, our exploits as kids…but the point that I would highlight is the fact that we were friends, regardless of colour or creed. Sometimes, they would eat at my place and with due respect to their religion, we would not serve pork – canned sardines, cangkuk manis fried with egg and “sayur rebus” and when eating with friends, the simplest fare woiuld seem like a banquet for a king and rest assured, we would lick our plates clean!

At the time, we were all Sarawakians under the rule of the “ang moh” or “orang putih” (We did not call them “Mat Salleh over here!) but somehow, today it seems that much has changed… Children do not have the time to be children anymore and after attaining independence for some 50 years now, we should be living together as “one people, one nation” but are we? Well, at least, my friends and I did!

I would like, therefore, to close with the lines from the song by Barbara Streisand:

Can it be that it was all so different then? Or has time rewritten every line? If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me…would we?…..Could we?

Goodness gracious me!

Regular listeners to the afternoon show on TraxxFm (1-4pm) would be familiar with this song with Sophia Loren as the patient and Peter Sellers as a doctor, an Indian one at that with a peculiar Indian accent. Then, there is S.H. Tan who had a hilarious anecdote about a Chinese fruit seller at Petaling Street and a Malay customer. Furthermore, some of you may know the Malay stand-up comic, Datuk Jamali Shadat, who shot to fame when he emerged 1st runner-up in Bakat TV 1970 (or was it 1971?) . He would have the audience in stitches, speaking in all kinds of accents from the various communites in the country. And of course, there’s the one-time very popular TV sit-com, “Mind Your Language”. Remember “Mr. Blown” (pronounced Bla – uan)? All in good fun, I would say…and definitely not intended to offend or insult any sector of the population, but some people saw it fitting to impose a ban on the speaking of Malay in any other accent.  Anyway, that is not the concern of this post.

Despite being an English Language teacher before, I, for one, would not insist on R.P. or the Queen’s English even though there are people who would speak as if they are gargling with marbles or the mouth is stuffed with mashed potatoes. Some students (young upstarts!) would do that, probably because of their home environment or for other reasons known only to them. I would let them speak that way as long as they were comfortablle with it AND as long as they did not make any structural or grammatical errors. Then I would snap their heads off, barking, “You speak like you’ve been living overseas all your life and you don’t even know the simple tenses???”

Whatever it is, there can be no denying that in many cases, a person’s mastery of a language may be affected by his/her mother tongue. Here in Sibu with the predominant Foochow population, it comes as no surprise that there is some negative interference when it comes to the speaking of the English Language. In Form One, the poor kids have to wrestle with Shakespeare’s “Life’s Brief Candle”…and imagine them having to recite, “Thu..mo..lo…, thu..mo..lo.., thu..mo..lo..” which in Foochow, means “No more, no more, no more!”

And what do you think they mean when they appear at the door and ask, “May I khang nging, please? (“Khang nging” in Foochow means “to see”), I would retort, “Khang nging no miang?” (What do you want to see?) The truth of the matter is they want to COME IN but somehow, they have a problem saying “come”. A college lecturer suggests that in their dialect, every word ends with a vowel (mouth open) so they cannot handle a word for which they have to close the mouth at the end. As for ending words with “ng”, the lecturer says that a look at their surnames may explain the whole thing – Wong, Ting, Ling and so on.

Unfortunately, as their English teacher, I had to try and rectify the problem and I assure you it was no easy task. However, I would think that language is for communication and once communication is established, what does it matter? Only when communication breaks down, therein lies the problem like this story that I heard some time ago.

The English would pronounce “no” in a manner that it sounds something like “nau” while Asians would just say ‘no’ as the spelling dictates.   So once, there was this Chinese pilot; as his aircraft was approaching Heathrow Airport, he contacted the control tower saying, “Lequestin permission to rand?” The runways were congested, so the guy at the control tower replied, “No! No!” The pilot heard, “Now! Now!” and landed…..

Easy…

Gosh! So many posts already and not a single one on food! Unbelievable, isn’t it? Well, actually, I was waiting to learn how to upload photos before doing that…but I haven’t had time to do that yet. So here’s a food post then…without photos that will make you drool! 

Well, with all this hoo-haa these days about healthy living and healthy eating, perhaps you would like to try cooking “sayur rebus” or directly translated “boiled vegetables”. This is actually a traditional dish of the ethnic population in Sarawak, and my maternal grandmother being a Melanau, I inherited some ot the family recipes.

It is SO very easy to prepare. First, you boil some water (one Chinese soup bowl) in which you must put a handful of ikan bilis (10-20), or what we call ikan pusu here. Do remove the insides and wash first unless you do not mind those black things floating in your soup later.  Put in some belacan (1-2 cubic cm) and a chilli (stalk and seeds removed). Simmer for a while to allow the flavour to come out of the ingredients.

After that, you can put in sweet potatoes (cut into small cubes) or young sweet corn and either cangkuk manis (I think in West Malaysia, u have the sayur/pucuk manis from Sabah. They’re smaller than the Sarawak variety but taste the same.) or pucuk paku. Note the suggested combination.

Bring to boil and your soup is ready! No salt, no msg, no oil! Isn’t that an absolutely healthy dish? There is no need to add salt because usually the ikan bilis and belacan are salty enough. But if you prefer it saltier, then you can add a little. The same goes with msg; the soup is sweet enough but you can add a pinch of it if you like.

For extra flavour, you can add a stalk or two of lemon grass (serai) but this is optional.  And if you do not mind the high cholesterol level, you can replace the ikan bilis with freshwater prawns (udang galah). This will definitely enhance the taste!

Incidentally, I have also shared the recipe for cooking tapioca leaves with cincaluk in coral’s blog, so if you are interested, you can log on to quest-quench.blogspot.com  and check out my comment.

For one thing, as with most traditional recipes, there are no measurements. They will just tell you “a little bit of this” and “a little bit of that”. Everything is according to taste, so it is sort of a trial and error kind of thing.  For one thing, it is hassle-free…and in my opinion, delicious.

Do give it a try and let me know your verdict! Bon appetit!

Obvious…

I was at a coffee shop enjoying a bowl of mouth-watering kam pua when somebody came up to me and said, “Chiak mee ah?” (Eating noodles?) Now how was I supposed to respond? No, I’m keeping it all in my mouth, so when I get home, I can spit it all out to feed my kids!!!

Or I was sitting in the cineplex waiting for the movie to start. Then somebody walked in and he asked, “Khua hee kah?” (Watch movie kah?) No, my wife threw me out of the house, so I’ve no place to have a nap!!!

Now why on earth do people have to ask the obvious? These are just two instances…but if you think about it, it happens all the time.  You’re up to your neck in work at the office and they ask you, “Busy?”  You’ve just got home and your neighbour asks, “Just got home kah?” Grrrrr……

If there has to be such small talk as an indication of friendliness, they should at least come up with something that is not a mere statement of the obvious.

And don’t you hate it when somebody phones you at home and asks, “Chee leh si lang air choo hio?” (Is this somebody’s house?) I guess what they want to know is whether they’ve called up somebody’s residence and not an office, but I am always tempted to reply, “No, this is somebody. I’m sorry my house can’t talk!”

Or they’ll ask you, “Where is this?” Many a time have I responded, “Now YOU tell me! You made the call and you don’t know where this is???” And once there was this poor fella who called and asked, “Kopi Tiam hia?” (Is this a coffee shop?) I was tempted to say, “No, this is a coffin shop. How many do you want?” However, I refrained from doing so and quietly replied, “Yes, what would you like?” He promptly placed his orders and hung up;I smiled with glee at the thought of that presumptious nincompoop cursing and swearing at some poor coffee shop people once his patience started to wear out.

Oops…I’ve digressed, but never mind. Anyone has anything like that to share?

It’s only words…

Language changes with time despite the fact that purists would insist on the conventional structures and archaic vocabulary.  There is this joke about St Peter.  Keeping vigil at the gates of Heaven as usual, he heard a knock on the door.

“Who goes there?” he asked.

“It is I,” the voice outside replied.

“Oh no!” St Peter groaned,. “Not another English teacher!”

People have been saying, “It’s me,” for so long that it is generally accepted and no longer considered as being grammatically incorrect, though some people (English teachers?) may not agree.

In the same way, some words seem to have acquired new meanings along that way. In the past, if a person remained “cool“, he was calm, or the word was used to describe the temperature in the vicinity. Today, if I say, “He’s cool!”, he is probably nice, interesting, fashionable, trendy or something along those lines. During my time, we used the word “groovy” – a word that evolved during the hippie/flower power era in the 70s.

Besides, some words have frequently been abused to the extent that one would have to use them with caution for out of context, they may bring to mind some not-very-desirable connotations.  Thus when Little Red Riding Hood said, “What big teeth/jaws you have, grandma!” and the wolf replied, “All the better to EAT you with,” the meaning conjured in some individuals’ minds may be different from what is originally intended. So when Bongkersz was in town, I was careful enough not ask to him, “Now, what would YOU like to EAT???” Instead, I suggested, “Would you like some Foochow fried noodles with freshwater prawns for breakfast?” Phew! That was close! ROTFLMAO!!!

I remember when the tiny sultanate attained independence from British colonial rule, the headline on the front page of a local newspaper read: “Brunei goes gay!!!” Of course, the reference was to the happy, joyous celebrations held at the time but today, the word has been associated with something totally different. And when someone talks about the Queen of England, one can never be sure whether he means Elizabeth the 2nd or Sir Elton John, and likewise, if you tell people you are going to a fancy dress party as a fairy, one will wonder if you have a magic wand in hand…or you have a fetish for one! Catch the drift?

And those of you who love croaking, oops…I mean, karaoke-ing, especially if you are a guy and love the Carpenters (Yup! Cibol and gang! Bet you all know one such person? LOL!), avoid “Jambalaya” at all cost, as the lyrics go:

“Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be GAY-o! Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou!”

P.S.: And you can ask your Foochow-speaking friend what “Ba-You” means in the dialect. LOL!!!