Unborn heart…

I saw this post in somebody’s blog about an autopsy done on a newborn baby found dead and the first thing that came to mind was this song by Dan Hill (more popularly known for his song, “Sometimes when we touch”) – Unborn Heart. If you have never heard the song before, you can just click the link and give it a listen. I would have chosen the other video clip showing the ultrasound images of the baby in the womb but the song is hardly audible.

From the stone, a flower emerges

Anyway, I have gone back to look for the post so that I may be able to link it to this post but it seems that it has been removed probably due to some underlying professional ethics or something else that I do not know of. Well, whatever the case may be, the fact remains that with the moral decadence in society today, cases of abandoned babies, babies found dead in rubbish bins or drowned in toilets and streams, young teenage girls resorting to abortions and so on are on the rise.

That post also reminded me of this poem by Wong Phui Nam – “At the door” which was one of the those selected for the previous Literature in English cycle for the SPM Examination. Categorised under the theme of “Hope”, the “expert” at the time interpreted the poem as the baby in the womb crying out to the mother in the hope that it would be born safely into the world. I read it but somehow it appeared to me that it was about the abortion of an unborn child and the spirit of the baby was crying out to the mother. The way I saw it, the baby had died and there was no longer any HOPE. Perhaps you would like to read the poem and share what you think the underlying meaning may be…

Mother, why did you let
the poison seep down,
blacken leaf and stem
from overhead course down the roots
to pinch and disarrange
the bulging knob
that was to find its shape
to be my head?

Why did you let
the poison seep through
befoul the streams that join together,
from beneath well up as spoilt blood
to stain and soften
the hooked tail
that was to lose itself
for the forked ends of my limbs?

Did you not sense me,
image my face, my dumb form
before I melted back
into the glistening bunched gel,
red grapes shot thick with ash,
as I, expelled,
made my way out in my sac
filming over so soon with death?

Mother, tell me about your world.
Tell me if you found
the light of day so harsh
the sight of all things
intrude with such sharp anxieties
upon your heart
and in the night, in sleep,
if you stumbled upon such upheavals,
your dreams could not connect
and you would let your hand to smudge
such traceries, filaments through which,
delicate and sure as crystals forming,
I was to emerge;
let your hand
disturb where no disturbances should –
random places, clear springs of life.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” ~ Matthew 7:1, so I shall not deliberate further on the issue but in this month of November, the month for the departed souls, I would think that it is appropriate to spare a moment and say a little prayer for those unfortunate, innocent souls whose lives had ended all too soon…and for whom nobody ever prays.


Same old brand new you…

Well, this is the same old recipe actually and nothing brand new at all as I have cooked pineapple prawns this way before but this time, I tried it with chicken for a change…

STP's ayam masak kunyit

I pounded these ingredients together: 2-3 shallots, 4-5 cloves of garlic, 2 cm3 of tumeric (kunyit), 3-4 thing slices of galangal (lengkuas), 1-2 cm3 of dried prawn paste (belacan) and chillies (according to taste). I also got 2-3 stalks of lemon grass (serai) and crushed the ends.

After heating a bit of oil in the wok, I fried the pounded ingredients and the lemon grass until fragrant and then I added a tablespoon of sugar. Then I added the chicken, cut into bite sizes, and stirred till the meat was well-coated with the ingredients. When the oil had come out of the chicken, I added water, threw in two pieces of assam keping (dried tamarind) and a teaspoon of salt and left it to simmer till there was very little gravy left. Then it was ready to serve…

STP's ayam masak kunyit 2

It was nice, and a welcome change from the usual curry, rendang or masak merah. By the way, just ignore the carrots! It so happened that there was one left in the fridge from God knows when my old lady bought it and it was already  sprouting roots. Thinking that it would be such a waste to throw it away, I decided to cut it up and put it in for some roughage.

I also had corned beef a day or two earlier. I used to love the red and yellow tin corned beef from China, Great Wall brand, but like the Ma Ling luncheon meat, the quality has deteriorated so badly that it has become inedible. I have not bought that brand for a long time now. At one time, we had the Palm brand from New Zealand but when the price exceeded RM10 a tin, I did not think it was worth it anymore. We have brands like Highwayman, Libby’s and I think there is also Agromas but these are quite expensive too. These days, I would settle for Mili or Linkz, both of them around RM5 something a tin.

STP's corned beef with potatoes

I love my corned beef with boiled potatoes and sliced Bombay onions. What about you?

This next dish is nothing new either. I had cooked it before and featured it in this earlier post except that I pounded the tapioca leaves and they did not…

3Q's tapioca leaves with chicken

I think I also had lemon grass (serai) but even without that, it still tasted nice – something like manok/ayam pansoh (chicken cooked the traditional ethnic way in bamboo)…and I got it from 3Q Takeaway for only RM4.00. That’s pretty cheap, don’t you think?

Well, the weekend’s here again. Cooking anything special, anyone?

New kid in town (2)…

They have just opened a new supermarket in Sibu at the Delta Mall which is a stone’s throw away from my house. It is called…

Sibu's The Market Place

Those of you who are familiar with the night scene in KL will probably know that there is a place by the same name – The Marketplace – but it is not a supermarket and I will refrain from mentioning what sort of sexcitement you can find there. ROTFLMAO!!!

Anyway, to get back to what I was going to tell you about, this new place was officially declared open on November 1st and I heard that it was so very crowded over the weekend and the queues at the payment counters were so long that some just gave up and went home.

I dropped by around lunchtime yesterday and there were only a few shoppers around. It is located in the basement of the mall and my first impression was that the stairs are very steep…

The Market Place - steep stairs

I have had this phobia for staircases ever since I slipped on the wet steps at a theme park in KL and fractured my arm and that took three months and subsequently, a surgery, to recover. Well, at least, in the case of this one, handrails are provided for clumsy people like me.

Once you enter, you will see the fruits and vegetables section. I would think that some of the items on special offer were quite cheap but I did not buy anything. After all, I was only there to check out the place.

The Market Place - fruits and veg

…and here, you can buy your meat or seafood.

The Market Place - meat and fish

Everything is embedded in ice so I would think that they must be quite fresh, unlike at the supermarket next door (owned by a certain fat Kuching blogger). Once, I bought two frozen black pomfret (ikan bawal hitam) packed in a plastic bag there and as soon as I got home, I defrosted them and there was a peculiar stench from one so I threw it away. Then when I deep-fried the other one, it actually disintegrated right before my very eyes. I never went back there to buy anything ever again!

At this new one, there is a non-halal section at the back where you can get your fresh meat or your ham, bacon and staff. Browsing around, I spotted these small tins of my favourite sardines…

The Market Place - Marina sardines

A small tin of the Marina Brand costs RM1.95 compared to RM1.90 at another supermarket in the Sibu bus station commercial area. Normally I am hopeless at remembering prices of things that I buy but it so happened that I had just bought two things of the same a day earlier. Ah well…I’m sure I will need to use up more than 5-10 sen worth of petrol to get to the other supermarket which is further away.

Moving off from there, I found these…

The Market Place - Scots shortbread

McVITIES’ All Butter Scottish Shortbread at RM6.10 per packet! If I remember correctly, they were selling them at RM5.80 a packet at Tesco in Sungai Petani. Fair enough, I thought! 30 sen extra to cover the shipping and handling charges and I bought two packets for my afternoon tea. They’re very much cheaper than Walkers anyway! Walkers’ shortbread is nice too but at that price (Nothing less than RM10!), poor pensioners like me can only hope for kind and generous souls like Stella to pick up a packet or two for me at the duty-free shops at the airport on the way back to Sibu. Hahahahahaha!!!

You can pay as you leave at the check-out counters right before the exit which in fact, is the entrance as well so you can bet that many will just nonchalantly march past the cashiers into the supermarket instead of using the entrance proper on the right. (You know lah! Sibu people, where got law one!!!)

The Market Place - cashiers' counters

See! See! You can actually see a few in the photo coming in through Lane 5! Hah!!! Didn’t I tell you so? LOL!!!

True grit…

My sis-in-law in Kuching sent me some paos (steamed buns) from Kuching, and boy, were they huge?

Kuching big pao

Each of them could easily fill up a saucer to the rim and this was what it looked like inside…

Kuching big pao - inside

As you can see, the skin was extremely thick and there was very little meat. It reminded me of the buns we had during my younger days. People used to snigger at the food of the Foochows in Sibu as being very substantial but considerably bland or lacking in taste. Well, there was a reason for that.

Led by Wong Nai Siong, the Foochow immigrants came and settled in the Rejang Basin in three batches. The first batch consisted of 72 people, the second batch 535, and the third batch 511, totalling 1118 people. Of the total, 130 brought their spouses and families, while the others were bachelors. After working in Sibu, nearly all the immigrants chose to settle down and made Sibu their new home. Some bachelors asked their parents back in China to find wives for them and send them to Sibu. Although many of those new brides who came to Sibu had never seen their partners before, they were happy to settle down here. They raised families and toiled with their husbands for a brighter future in Sibu…

Making rubber sheets
Old Sibu 1
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

Needless to say, life was hard and they ate more for the energy and to fill their stomachs than for pleasure or the taste so that they were able to withstand hunger and labour throughout the whole day.

Pulau Babi wharf
Old Sibu 2
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

Today, other than the Rejang Basin, the Foochows have ventured everywhere as long as there is money to be made. If you have stayed at the Promenade in KK, that belongs to a Foochow, and so is the Tang Dynasty Hotel and the Shangri La Hotel, while in Kuching, the Harbour View Hotel is one of them. If you go anywhere in Kuching these days, you will hear people conversing in Foochow which was quite uncommon back in the 70s and the Foochow-owned Ta Kiong has invaded the city by storm.

Say what you want about the Foochows, there can be no denying that today, they have prospered and many have successfully built their own business empires with vested interests worldwide. A lecturer-friend of mine from KL dropped by on a visit and she was amazed by the huge mansions in this little town. “Are they very cheap?” she asked. Well, I would not think so and one thing’s for sure, the owners are very rich and more likely than not, they are Foochows. Just imagine that they came with nothing more than the clothes on their backs!

Growing pepper
Old Sibu 3
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

People also say that Foochows are very stingy. Somebody said to me once that if you are not stingy, you will never become rich. I guess there is some truth in that. After all, the English also have a proverb that goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” In the past, they scrimped and saved, some for the money to send back to their poor next-of-kin in China and they hoped to make the journey back to their homeland one day, alive or otherwise. If you read “Son of Singapore” – one of the three books in Tan Kok Seng’s “The Malaysian Trilogy”, he gave a vivid description of how his father was like that and being a child, he was not able to understand why when he returned, he was very sad and depressed. Was it because the members of his family were having a hard time in their life of poverty back home or was it because he did not die there?

Anyway, it was through this prudent characteristic of the Foochows that they were able to accumulate their money and property to become so rich today. They may not look impressive to you but believe you me, they are loaded amd many have been able to send their children overseas through their sheer blood, sweat and tears and now, all of them are professionals in their own right.

Making mee sua (thread noodles)
Old Sibu 4
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

No, the Foochows do not possess any special skills, they do not enjoy any special privileges or receive any aid. For what they are today, all the credit must go to them themselves for they are reaping the harvest of their years of toil and labour driven by their sheer determination to make something out of their lives in this strange land.

A parting thought – do their present-day descendents, the so-called 3rd/4th generation, possess that same true grit that had made the Foochows what they are today?

Friends for life…

I have just been given this My Blogging Friends Forever BFF Award by foongpc.

Blogging Friends Forever Award 

Here are the rules:
1. Only five people are allowed
2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog
3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world
4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award

Ok, so now it’s my turn. I’m awarding this award to eiling, annant, peteformation, calvin (Two gals, two guys! See…I’m so fair!) and ingchia in New Zealand. Sorry to the rest, you’ll have to wait for your turn when I get another award. LOL!!!

Anyway, here’s a song for everybody! Just click on the link and enjoy the video clip as well. Friends for life!

Gettin’ jiggy wit it…

Truth be told, I did not know what the heck that title of Will Smith’s song meant, so I googled to check it up in one of the online dictionaries. I found that it means “getting excited about or involved in something”. Hmmm…I just thought it sounds suitable for something that I will talk about later.

Well, Clare came back to Sibu over the weekend for All Souls’ Day…with Alvin and that definitely didn’t sound too exciting, don’t you think? LOL!!! I did not hear from them the whole day and only got an sms from Clare asking me to join them for dinner at the Ruby Restaurant after the All Saints’ Day mass that night (Saturday). But it was already 8 something and I was already in bed! Yes, KNB, like I have said before, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man wealthy healthy and wise!” Later, I got another sms from her telling me that the restaurant towkay (boss) gave her a discount because she was my friend but when he found out that the article in the Sunday Star was derived from her Glutton Queen blog, he refunded her the money and said it was on the house. Still, that was nothing to get excited about…not to me, at least!

Then came the bit of news that I can get excited about! The towkay asked her to ask me to drop by for dinner one of these days as he wanted to chia me (give me a treat) too. Now isn’t that great?  Anybody keen on going with me? LOL!!! But still, the best is yet to come…

The next day, before Clare and Alvin started their journey back to Kuching, they dropped by my place so Alvin could pay his respect to THE one and only Suituapui! Hahahahaha!!! And look at what Clare gave to me!!! Ooooo…her paos (buns)!!!

Clare's paos

Ooi! Char boh (girl)!!! Why your pao kaymek (squashed/out of shape) one? Now, now! What have you been doing, Alvin? Hahahahaha!!! But never mind! Beggars can’t be choosers…so I tried to get her them steamed in the hope that I might restore them to their normal voluptuous shape. I got the fire going and pretty soon, it got steaming hot…but unfortunately, it did not seem to help very much. LOL!!!

Clare's pao 1

Clare’s pao was still in that same distorted shape…so that did not leave me with much choice. I just took one giant bite at it…and yum…yum!!! It was soft and meaty and tasted really good…

Clare's pao 2

Now, if anybody’s interested in gettin’ jiggy with Clare’s paos, you can get them at this shop called Xiao Pao Wang (My Chinese is hopeless, but does that mean “small bun king”?), the first few shops on the left in Padungan, Kuching if you’re coming from the fire station end. I have been there a few times to buy the very delicious buns/rolls with a generous slice of ham and nice sweet-sourish cream. Somebody told me before that the steamed char siew buns are nice too but so far I never got round to buying them for myself. Well, thanks a lot for your paos, Clare…and next time, you come home, get me some of those buns/rolls too! ROTFLMAO!!!

So, did you enjoy your brief stay in Sibu, Alvin? I know you went to try the Rasa Sayang kampua that I had posted about a couple of times before, and I hope you had the chance to try the other Foochow delicacies like kompia and ma-nging (which some people call lam pha kuey, owing to their uncanny resemblance to scrotums)…

Sibu's ma-nging

Do come again and stay longer next time!

As a return gesture (Typical Chinese mah!), I gave Clare my rambutans…and she said they were sweet and juicy. Hahahahahaha!!!!

Hot legs…

I mentioned in passing in my post two days ago that the Chinese will eat anything that walks…

Weird foods 1

…and the moment I opened the newspaper that very morning, I saw this recipe in the Nature & Health supplement…

frogs' legs 1

(All cartoons received via email inserted in original post have been deleted in case of copyright infringement.)

Well, it’s Monday today and many of you will be back at work in the office.

Have a great week ahead, everybody! Cheers!