Burn…

It has been hot and sunny for a week or so now. It certainly looks like the rain has gone and hopefully, we will be spared of the nuisance of floods for a long while.

But looking at the extreme weather conditions that countries across the world are experiencing, I had mentioned in a previous post that there is every possibility that we will experience exceedingly hot temperatures  resulting from global warming and in the wake of such dry conditions, the dreaded haze.

Well, it certainly did not take long for the other day, I spotted this in our local Sibu English daily…

News headline

They have had dry and hot weather over in the peninsular for a while now, all that time when those of us here were being drenched day in day out and plagued by floods again and again. Nevertheless, I am sure some, if not all, have noticed that despite it being sunny these few days around these parts, it is also somewhat a bit hazy.

I saw on the news on TV that several hotspots have been spotted in Riau, Indonesia…and we do not even have to look that far. Just take a drive around the housing areas in the evening and what do you see? People burning leaves, grass and what not in their gardens! Somebody mentioned once that it seemed to be the favourite past-time of people here!

Open burning is banned in the country and so is the playing of fireworks and firecrackers…and when the children see with their own eyes, their own parents blatantly breaking the law, what kind of values do you think they are implanting in the kids’ innocent minds? Laws are made to be broken?

And if they do not give a damn what kind of future generation they are grooming, they should at least give some thought for the environmental problems that seem to get more and more serious each passing year. When they are choking in the haze or drowning in the flood, they should realise that they themselves are to blame and should not be pointing their fingers left, right and centre at everybody except themselves.

Of course, the authorities too, on their part, should play their part in enforcing the laws. Why bother saying that firecrackers are banned in the country when the deafening noise raged on and on for 15 days and 15 nights and nobody batted an eyelid, it seemed? Come to think of it, if those things are banned, how did those people manage to get hold of them? It looks like certain parties in our midst have “very tainted hands”, don’t you think? Well, I do not reckon we will get to hear the explosions anymore for the time being, but somebody should drive around in the evenings and the  very instant, they spot somebody burning something, simply slap them with a heavy fine! No questions asked, no excuses entertained! Singapore, they say, is a FINE city! If they can do it, why can’t we?

They say that works on the flood menace will start in March. That, we will have to wait and see! Sedimentation in the drain outside my house has rendered it so very shallow and nothing has been done about it for a long, long time now…

Shallow drain

Sometime ago, they used to come very regularly to dig up the drain but I have not seen anybody doing that for a number of years now. I wonder if that has anything to do with the chairman of the municipal council at the time living in the lane next to mine, but he has since moved away to some place else? The other day, I saw some women doing something in the drains in some other lanes and putting stuff in white canvas bags to be carted away subsequently…but not in my lane.

As you can see in the photo, the drain is presently about two feet deep  only and with the excessive amount of rain we get these days – lately it never rains, it pours – is it any wonder at all that it will get filled up in no time at all and start spilling onto the roads and driveways and into the houses? I suppose they are not in the least bothered as long as that  gigantic luxurious bungalow round the corner stays comfortably high and dry…

P.S.:  Notice from WordPress
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Last date…

A candlelight dinner with flowing champagne, a crooner serenading an Italian love song whilst strumming an acoustic guitar – it was the perfect setting for my Valentine and me. There I was fidgeting incessantly in my seat as I waited anxiously for her to arrive.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief the moment I saw her walk through the door. She was late but all was forgiven as she flashed her sweetest smile and whispered coyly in my ear, “I’m so sorry.” I promptly handed her the bouquet of carnations I had bought for her.

Paper roses

Roses would have been more appropriate for the occasion, of course but at RM15.00 a bloom, I chose to substitute it with carnations instead. Well, if she was disappointed, she did not display any sign of it at all.

We browsed through the menu which was in a language that was Greek to me, but she appeared quite at home with it and ordered what she wanted in a jiffy. So as not to make an exhibition of my ignorance, I merely pointed at an item in the menu and promptly handed it back to the waiter.

When dinner was served, to my horror, I discovered that I had ordered a lobster! Goodness gracious me! This was going to be expensive! And in the meantime, how was I going to eat it? If I were in the privacy of my own home, I would have used my hands, giving my fingers a good licking once I was through but there was no way I would want to embarrass myself in front of my date. I plunged in with my knife and fork and the wretched crustacean slipped off my plate and fell onto the table. I cast a glance at her; she probably did not notice for she went on eating ever so gracefully as if nothing had happened.

I slipped the creature back onto my plate quietly and just nibbled at the garnishing while waiting for her to finish. When she was done, we ordered coffee and I opted for a cup of cappuccino. As I attempted to sip the beverage, I discovered that it was too hot so I blew on it hoping to cool it down a little. The moment I looked up from the cup, my blood ran cold when I saw my date’s face covered with the frothy white cream complete with its sprinkling of chocolate.

“Weren’t you supposed to stir it first?” she muttered disdainfully and looking extremely cross, she stormed out of the restaurant and out of my life.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

It takes two…

Still on the topic of the spiralling prices of vegetables, as they say, it takes two to tango. There must be buyers, otherwise the sellers will not be able to take advantage of the situation. Well, in my previous post, I mentioned that some (imported) vegetables are relatively cheaper, so we should buy those instead.

Another option is to buy at the foodstall at Bandong that I had a couple of posts on sometime back. I bought this dish of brinjal with sambal for only RM3.00…

Bandong's sambal brinjal

…and this plate of paku (jungle fern) fried with sambal as well, also cost Rm3.00 and I did not have to go through all the trouble of preparing the vegetables and ingredients and cooking them!

Bandong's sambal paku

For the meat dish, I could not resist buying some more of the chicken kurma that I enjoyed so much the other time but I only bought RM3.00 and only got two pieces of chicken at the time…

Bandong's chicken kurma

Anyway, to move on from the topic of food, one person that I simply hate these days is the postman! I do not receive any letters from anybody anymore, so all I get will be bills…bills…and more bills! I suspect the one serving my area is not very efficient as I tend to get the bills a couple of days before or sometimes even after the due date.

Other than bills, I also get a whole lot of junk mail…

STP's junk mail

I am still subscribing to Reader’s Digest because my daughter wants it, otherwise I would have terminated the subscription long ago. For one thing, it is NOT cheap, and it is getting thinner and thinner and there are pages and pages of advertisements inside with hardly very much left to read! And what I hate most of the junk mail from them! These days, I do not even bother to open – just throw them straight into the rubbish bin!

Then, as if that is not bad enough, I will also get junk mail from all kinds of publications like Fortune, for instance! Gee! If I were rich enough to read Fortune, I would not have to toil day and night to put food on the table and make ends meet!!! Tsk!!! Tsk!!!

Gosh! It’s Thursday already and one more day and the weekend’s here! Isn’t that nice? In the meantime, happy working, everybody!

Here comes the sun…

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun 1

After days and days of endless rain (and floods) and dark, gloomy skies, finally, we get to enjoy a stretch of sunny days, if I can remember exactly…since last Saturday, other than the brief spell at around 4.00 p.m. on Chap Goh Meh which lasted only a few minutes.

While people fret and complain and moan and groan over the excessive precipitation (which I’m sure the people in drought-stricken China would give an arm or a leg for right now), other forms of life, on the other hand, would have benefitted from all that. The grass seems greener, in places where it was not submerged in the flood (which I think is even worse in Northern Australia and other parts of the state like Marudi, for instance), that is…and the flowers start blooming in all their glory…

Here comes the sun 2

But unfortunately, because we have been plagued by floods (At least, it wasn’t bushfires like those presently raging on and on in Victoria, Australia! Thank God for small mercies!!!) again and again, the vegetable sellers claim that their crop has been destroyed and they have no choice but to sell whatever they can lay their hands on at ridiculously astronomical prices…

Sign 1

Good grief! That makes it RM15.00 for a kilogram of kai lan!!! I think it’s more expensive than chicken and around the same price as pork. What I cannot understand is the fact that there ARE people crazy enough to go and buy the vegetables at such absurd prices. If nobody were to buy them, the sellers would be stuck with a whole lot of withered and pathetic-looking greens at the end of the day and they would just have to throw them away. Seeing that they would stand to lose in the end, I am sure they would think twice about jacking up the prices so high.

If the problem originates from the farmers/vegetable growers, then the sellers may do the same to them. Business is like that – sometimes, it goes up and at other times, it comes down. I’m sure they have made quite a bundle on better days and at times like these, they should not take it out so BRUTALLY on the helpless customers. If they were to make a loss today, they would just have to wait to make up for it another day.

I found some that were reasonably priced though, e.g. cabbage and carrots. I bought a huge head of lettuce for only RM5.00, 10 tomatoes for RM3.00 and Taiwan cucumber (which the seller claimed, the greener it was, the nicer) at RM1.00 each, for instance. I do not see why people cannot eat these instead for the time being, instead of getting themselves slaughtered and crying foul till kingdom come.

And back to signs, I spotted this one outside a shop the other day…

Sign 2

They, for reasons known only to themselves, had blocked the left side of the door and wanted customers to use the right side only…but if we were to take the sign literally, it would mean that we would have to enter through the shop next door – which was a stationery store! LOL!!!

And back to the subject of flowers, did anybody buy pussy willows for display in their houses during Chinese New Year? I’m talking about pussy willows, Clare, pussy willows – the flowers! Hahahahahaha!!! Well, I didn’t but I did get a special Chinese New Year floral basket for my parents and they had some in the very impressive arrangement. After some of the flowers had withered, my sister took the surviving ones and placed them in a vase…and lo and behold! The buds of the pussy willows started to bloom…

Pussy willow 1

Pussy willow 2

I don’t know if it’s a good omen of any kind but a few days ago, she won a very nice rice cooker in a lucky draw at a local supermarket! Gee! Some people just have all the luck!…..Sigh!!! LOL!!!

By the light of the silvery moon…

Well, finally the Chinese New Year celebration is officially over, culminating with the celebration of Chap Goh Meh or Yuanxiao Jie/the Lantern Festival last night. Once again, we communed at my parents’ house for the dinner but this time, we chose not to have one of those packages from a local restaurant here anymore. For one thing, there was simply way too much food for just the five of us and other than that, the fare was not really that great.

Instead, my missus prepared a few dishes to bring over for the dinner. There was sweet and sour black pomfret (ikan bawal hitam) – the current market price is RM20.00 a kilogram. As Yan explained in her comment in an earlier post, “nien nien you yu” or “every year will have surplus or excess”, so we must have fish in the menu…

Chap Goh Mei dinner 1

We still had a bit of the ngor hiang (meat rolls) in the freezer,  left over from Chinese New Year – the ones that Bongkersz loved so much, so we fried that and brought it along too…

Chap Goh Mei dinner 2

We also prepared some salad…

Chap Goh Mei dinner 3

…and topped that with the special dressing that has been in my family for years…

Chap Goh Mei dinner 4

My mother obviously enjoyed eating the salad and had a lot of it. It must have been quite a while since she last had it as most of the time, on special occasions, we would just go and eat in one of the restaurants in town. She probably had pleasant memories of the time when she used to prepare that with the mother and sisters on special occasions like this one.

My missus also cooked a pot of clear fish maw soup that also went down well with everyone…

Chap Goh Mei dinner 5

…and there were also the chicken curry and the ayam masak merah (red-cooked chicken) from Chinese New Year.

Chap Goh Mei dinner 6

Chap Goh Mei dinner 7

I did not get to fry my mee sua (Foochow string/thread noodles) as I had intended though because my father said that he would be buying some Foochow fried noodles (Hock Chiew char mee) from the Y2K Restuarant here.

While we were at the restaurant to collect the noodles, I managed to take a few photographs of some of the things that had cropped up in some of your comments in one of my recent posts, like this one of a can of Sundrop Orange, formerly known as Green Spot and sold in bottles, on display in the shop window…

Sundrop Orange

…and these made-in-Sibu carbonated or aerated drinks, now available in plastic bottles…

Chuo Kian aerated drinks 1

These are from the Chuo Kian Aerated Drink factory which, if I’m not mistaken, is located somewhere along Upper Lanang Road/Jalan Bukit Lima, near Chung Hua Secondary School. But I remember that in my younger days, those from the Ngo Kian factory were more popular. Well, it looks like in keeping up with the times, they have rebranded their drinks – CK Delight…

Chuo Kian Aerated Drinks 2

…but of course, needless to say, they have nothing to do with CK as in Calvin Klein, not at all! LOL!!!

Anyway, to get back to the dinner, everyone ate to his or her heart’s content. It certainly was a good one, and I hope it was the same with yours too. So what did you all have for your Chap Goh Meh dinner?

Have a nice day (1)…

It’s Faisaladmar‘s 2*th birthday today, so from Ajil aka Fazil and me, a very Happy Birthday to you, Faisal, many happy returns and may the coming year be filled with happiness and all good things that you wish for.

Well, actually it was Ajil who told me about it. He was in town over the weekend to shop for groceries and stock up on supplies and as it seemed,  he was sporting a new look – unshaven…and no wise cracks from you, Faisal! Hahahahahaha!!!

Ajil - unshaven

We went to this cafe that I had blogged about before for lunch. I had the kolo mee special and got this…

Rafie's Cafe kolo mee

…and this bowl of sup tulang (bone soup)…

Rafie's Cafe sup tulang

The kolo mee was no kolo mee, that’s for sure! It was something like kampua mee with soy sauce…and the taugeh (bean sprouts) and shredded chicken added certainly had very little effect as far as enhancing the taste was concerned. The soup was all right though somewhat diluted and came nowhere near the ngui chap I had in KK.

I ordered a glass of Nescafe tarek and it came out with the froth overflowing…

Rafie's Cafe Nescafe tarek

If only they had added a bit more coffee…as it was kinda weak – no kick at all and hardly comparable to Ruby Restaurant’s blended kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee).

Ajil has this plate of nasi goreng Pattaya (Pattaya fried rice)… Rafie's Cafe nasi goreng pattaya

He did not say anything, so I guess it was not that great!

In the evening, he wanted to go to visit Colonel Sanders. Goodness gracious! There are actually people who love the stuff at these fast food outlets. I cannot even remember the last time I ate at the colonel’s or his counterpart, Ronald’s…but since he had a craving for it, we went to the outlet at Delta Mall near my house.

Both of us had this Zinger burger…

KFC's Zinger

…which was pretty nice and I quite enjoyed it, and a piece of chicken – hot and spicy…

KFC's hot and spicy...

The two items plus a drink were going for around RM10 plus – one of those value meals. Well, what does everybody think? Expensive or not?

After the meal, we went browsing around the shops at the mall, including the Popular Bookstore branch there. Ajil bought a few things…

Ajil - shopping

…but sorry, Faisal, he did not buy you anything for your birthday. ROTFLMAO!!!

It’s the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Jie) today, so Happy Chap Goh Mei, everybody and have a nice day

Smile…

I always pay my bills at the Rejang Park Post Office because of its location. It is very convenient for me to stop by on the way home from my parents’ house to my own, but since they started paying the RM600 rebate to motorists, the place has been very crowded and I am sure things are not easy for the personnel there and more often than not, tempers are wearing thin. In fact, the situation got even worse when they started renovating the Sibu General Office in the town recently. The place became very much more congested than what you can see in this photograph taken sometime in June 2008…

Queue for RM600-rebate

Well, sometime ago, I went to pay some bills as usual and when my turn came, I found the Malay lady at the counter very moody and sulking away. Probably she did not have a very good day or it might have been the fasting as it was still a puasa month, a couple of days before Hari Raya Aidlifitri. I handed over the bills and the money and after she had finished processing everything and was returning the bills to me, I smiled at her and said, “Thank you very much. Selamat Hari Raya!” Instantly, a radiant smile flashed across her face and she replied, “Thank you!”

Then, the other day, I went to the post office again. Well, it certainly seems that that is all I do most of time – paying bills, and the terrible weather these days is not helping very much in bringing a bit of cheer into one’s life! They have made some improvements to the place now – there are seats provided and it is now airconditioned. I took my number and waited and when my turn came, I approached the counter. It was the same Malay lady and the moment she saw me, she smiled ever so sweetly and greeted, “Happy New Year!”

Somehow, the dark, cloudy and very gloomy weather did not seem so bad after all. That is all it takes to brighten up someone’s day – a friendly greeting and one warm smile…..