Dust in the wind (2)…

It’s Ash Wednesday today – the first day of Lent and it’s a day of fasting and abstinence.

Ash Wednesday

On this day, ashes are blessed, mixed with either holy oil or water and imposed on the head with the sign of the cross. The ashes are made from burning palm branches blessed the previous year on Palm Sunday. The priest will say, “Remember, from dust thou art made and unto dust thou shalt return.” (Genesis 3:19)

The ashes serve to remind us of our mortality and humanity and are at the same time, the biblical symbol of repentance, sorrow and humility.

Blessed palms

With all due respect for this solemn and significant day in the Christian calendar, therefore, there will not be any of the usual posts you can get to read in the blog today.

God bless, one and all…

When I was young…

We did not have much to choose from when I was young. If we wanted to eat at the coffee shops, it was either kampua noodles or pian sip (something like kiaw or wantan) or we can have loti-kiap – two pieces of charcoal-toasted bread with margarine and kaya (coconut jam) sandwiched together – and half-boiled eggs.

Sometimes, there might be some bak paos (meat buns) available but those would be very different the char siew paos (barbecued meat steamed buns) that we get these days at the dim sum outlets. The texture of the very thick skin would be different and inside, there would be a bit of meat pre-cooked in soy sauce with half or a quarter of a hard-boiled egg. At other times, there might be a saucer of muffin-like cake wrapped in oily red paper or pulut panggang (glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over an open fire).

I do not think many people had their meals outside, so economical fast food and chicken rice were unheard of. You can be sure that we did not get to see stalls like this one…

Sibu's roast meat plus rice or noodles stall

Kampua noodles were going for 30 cents a plate without meat and 50 cents if you want those few pieces of boiled meat coloured red on the edges. Kpenyu claims that if you switched on the fan at full speed, those slices of meat would be blown away…but then, everybody knows that we need to take whatever he says with a pinch of salt.

Today, we have a lot more choices to cater to our more discerning taste buds but some may be quite expensive and prices may go up to RM5.00 or beyond. It is still much cheaper to go for our good ol’ kampua or pian sip (pian nik, if you want to say it in Foochow) at only RM2.20 a plate/bowl…

Sibu's pian sip dry

It is usually served as a soup dish but some may prefer the dry version. My daughter loves this one in particular from the kampua stall at Soon Hock Cafe, so you can bet that we’ll be heading there for this when she comes home for the holidays in a few weeks’ time. Incidentally, if you may recall, there were complaints about the kampua lady’s long hair and some people were worried about getting it in their noodles. Well, the good news is the lady has cut it short! (Good grief! Has she been reading my blog or what? Hahahahaha!!!)

Pian sip is similar to kiaw as it is called in Kuching or wantan elsewhere but they are not exactly the same. I think the difference is in the skin – the pian sip ones are thinner and whiter whereas wantan skin tends to be a bit “tougher” and is yellowish in colour. For one thing, there isn’t very much of the minced meat in pian sip, so what you get in the end is mostly skin…

Sibu's pian sip 2

But if anyone of you prefers something different for a change and feels that the char siew-roast duck noodles I had on Sunday was way too expensive or you do not like the Hokkien noodles used and prefer kampua instead, you can try this…

Sibu's char siew kampua

This is the char siew kampua at the shop along Ramin Way, across the lane from Meckey Store and it costs only RM3.00. I would say it is very nice but parking in that vicinity can be quite a hassle! Some may feel that it is not exactly the same as those authentic kampua noodles…

Sibu's char siew kampua 2

…but then, neither are the ones at Rasa Sayang Cafe, and you all know that I love their kampua too…at RM2.20 some more! They say the beef noodles at this particular shop is nice too, but I’ve yet to go there and try. Another time perhaps…

I saw her standing there…

Yes, I did. I saw her standing there…

marg.wordpress.com

I got an sms from her a couple of days earlier saying that she’ll be dropping by in Sibu this weekend, but I did not get to hear from her on Saturday so I guessed she must have cancelled her plans or something.

As usual, on Sunday morning, I went to church and after the service, my missus and I went for breakfast. Gee! If you tell me that there is an economic recession right now, I will find it really hard to believe. Around the Sibu bus station area alone, I saw so many new food joints…but I did not manage to get to sample any as they were all overflowing with people. Good grief! Every place was so crowded and parking was such a pain! I headed to the more familiar Yum Yum Cafe that I had posted on before…

Sibu's Yum Yum Cafe

…and my missus had this bowl of fish ball noodles (RM4.00)…

Yum Yum's fish ball noodles

…while I had the char siew-roast duck noodles (RM5.00)…

char siew - roast duck noodles

Both tasted ok but neither were something that I would go crazy about, and I felt the prices were pretty steep and I could get much cheaper and nicer stuff elsewhere. But I must say that what I had was nicer than something similar that I had here.

In the meantime, I got an sms from her, asking me where e-cafe was…so after we had finished, I went in search of her. She did not manage to find e-cafe and ended up eating kampua noodles at Soon Hock…and I was only able to catch up with her when she was standing outside the hardware store in the vicinity of the Delta Commercial Centre.

So, finally I got to meet ex-Kuching blogger, now based in Brunei, – Mar of marg.wordpress.com, a friend for quite sometime now in cyberspace and at one time, a radio friend as well, on the now-discontinued “Pat and Mag in the afternoon” on TraxxFm.

Nice meeting you, Mar…and now that your family’s settled in Sibu, I guess we’ll be meeting each other much more often from now on!

Both sides now…

I first came across this picture in one of the TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) methodology books. It has been included as a possible teaching aid that may be used to generate discussion and thus, encourage the use of language. If you look at it from one angle, you may see a young lady but if you look at it from another angle, you see an old woman instead…

Young lady/old woman

A line from the Ray Stevens’ song “Everything is beautiful” goes like this” “There is none so blind as he who will not see.” I guess you will agree that so very often, we see things the way we want to see them – blinded by our convictions, our prejudices and what not, so much so that we fail to see them from other possible points of view.

There are two sides to a coin, so we should not look at it on one side only but should look at the other side as well. Therefore, in looking at things, we may have to look from both sides now or from different angles and at other times, perhaps, we may even need to step back a little and view the thing once again for what we perceive originally may appear quite different when viewed from a distance

Having said that, perhaps you would like to tell me who you can see in the picture below…

Who do you see?

Have a Blessed Sunday, everybody.

Breaking the habit…

A friend of mine gave me this fridge magnet sometime ago…

Miss Piggy aerobics

That is supposed to be Miss Piggy in the unmistakable Jane Fonda aerobics pose and the caption on the belly reads: “Square meals make round people.”

Well, despite the warning, I have always had the habit of eating 3 square meals a day – a substantial breakfast, and rice and dishes for lunch and dinner. But yesterday, I felt like something different for a change, so I stopped by this stall outside Everise at the Pedada Commercial Centre near my house. If it’s of any interest to anybody, that particular branch has closed down and yesterday, I saw people shifting the display cabinets and what not out of the place.

Back to what I was talking about, there is this stall outside on the pavement selling fried kuihs and stuff and I bought these so-called Malaysian burgers at 3 for RM1.00…

Malaysian burger 1

They’re actually deep-fried buns with sambal and a slice of cucumber inside…

Malaysian burger 2

I can’t remember exactly when people started selling these here but that was quite a number of years ago and I used to like it very much at the time. Having not had it for a while, I thought they tasted real nice. I did not like the ti-piang though…

Foochow ti-piang

I am quite positive that I bought these at 4 for RM1.00 not too long ago, but these were 3 for a ringgit. Maybe the price has gone up again. It would not be so bad if they were nice but unfortunately, they were not. Definitely not worth the calories, I must say!

The or-kuih (yam cake), also 3 for RM1.00, wasn’t too bad though but I very much prefer the ones sold at the stall at Rejang Park…

Yam cake

Now these were really very nice – the bingka bandong (tapioca cake)…

Bingka bandong

It was also going for 3 for RM1.00, but the man said I could have the whole lot for RM2.00 and I accepted the offer. When I got home, I found that there were 10 generous slices!!! Wow! That’s a real good bargain…and the best part was it tasted nice!

So that was what I had for lunch yesterday, but do not worry! I did not finish the whole lot alone in one sitting! Lord have mercy! ROTFLMAO!!!

Say you, say me…

The debate on whether Science and Mathematics should be taught in English or not has been dragging on and on for so long now that it does not look as if it is ever going to end. Well, I am not going to dwell on that in this post as personally, I feel it is more a political thing rather than any genuine concern for what is good for the students. But one thing’s for sure, the standard of English in the country is really going to the dogs.

I do listen to the radio quite often and I must say that the errors the announcers make on air can be quite appalling at times. Our Malaysian newspapers, unfortunately, are not much better. To prove my point, I just picked up ONE copy of a national English language newspaper and I found this…

Newspaper slip 1

I do not know if the columnist is trying to be clever by twisting the title of Thomas Hardy’s novel or whether it is a sheer exhibition of her ignorance. For one thing, the article makes no mention of people getting on her nerves, just that the place can be very busy and advanced reservations would be in order. Still, I fail to see the relevance of the headline. Then, on another page, I saw this…

Newspaper slip 2

Now, isn’t “anymore” one single word anymore? Anyway, let us see if there are any more slips in the daily…

Newspaper slip 3

I will not say that I’m a fan of Nat King Cole or I will never hear the end of it from people like Kpenyu…but I do like his song “Unforgettable” especially the duet with his daughter, Natalie (after his demise).

I also wonder why the capital letter “P” is used for “prawns” here…

Newspaper slip 4

Has it got anything to do with the size? Maybe they are HUGE ones like those Kpenyu is bringing over for me when he comes here in April. ROTFLMAO!!!

Moving on from the subject of prawns, all of you will agree with me, I’m sure, when I say that little things mean a lot…even if it is something seemingly insignificant like a comma or an apostrophe. Just look at these two sentences, for example:
1 The principal says, “The teacher is very lazy.”
2 “The principal,” says the teacher, “is very lazy.”
Note how the meaning is changed once the punctuation marks are shifted.

Well, there is this report on David Beckham in the sports section…

Beck

Ok, ladies…*clapping hands…attention, ladies! Don’t get distracted now, and that goes for you too, TOC!!! Hahahahahaha!!! Now, what do you think of the following headline? I am not the possessive type but I am positive that there is a need for an apostrophe mark to show possession…

Newspaper slip 5

Other than the above, I also find the use of the hyphen or the dash somewhat erratic and mind-boggling. Should the words be hyphenated or should they be two separate words? Or perhaps they should be joined together to form just one word?

Let’s see how good you are at this. Can you look at the following and tell me which are correct and which are incorrect?

Newspaper slip 6

Newspaper slip 7

Newspaper slip 8

Newspaper slip 9

Newspaper slip 10

Have a great weekend, everybody!!! LOL!!!

As time goes by…

…some things change, others remain the same. This is the Masland Methodist Church along Island Road here in Sibu…

Masland Methodist Church, Sibu

It used to be a small, wooden church, but it underwent a facelift and ended up looking very different from before. Right now, they are carrying out further construction around the place but I guess the church itself will retain its present appearance for the time being, at least.

Across the road, to the right, was the Borneo Company (subsequently after independence,  renamed SEBOR) premises. You cannot get to see it now as they had demolished the whole place sometime ago to build this tall building that used to house the Hock Hua Bank and later, after the merger, Public Bank.

Sibu's IRD office 1

Don’t ask me why…but Public Bank vacated the place eventually and now, it has become the office of everybody’s enemies…

Sibu's IRD office 2

…the Inland Revenue Department! Right or not, Faisaladmar? Your office in Penang just as nice or not? LOL!!!

But what has not changed is the row of shophouses to the left. Yes, it is still that same row and I would say that it looks more or less the same as it did years ago. There is a kampua noodle shop there, still going strong, it seems…

Dr Xavier's kampua 1

The kampua was very popular, reputed to be among the best in town. I did not like to go there because of the heavy traffic due to the primary school located beside the church and later, because of the presence of the bank. However, when I went yesterday morning, the roads were not really busy and there were ample parking spaces.

Some people would refer to the noodles as Dr. Xavier’s kampua because at one time, there was an Indian doctor by that name in Sibu and his clinic was a couple of doors away in that same block of shophouses. Well, the stall seems to be enjoying brisk business still. You can see the noodles on the counter and I’m sure they had some more stashed away some place else…

Dr Xavier's kampua 2

The coffee was good – thick and strong, the way I like it. Some places may have nice food…but the coffee is usually such a disappointment. I had the kopi-o peng kau-kau (thick iced black coffee), of course…

Dr Xavier's kampua 3

The kampua has not changed either! You still get the same generous sprinkling of fragrant fried onions as before…

Dr Xavier's kampua 4

…but personally, I think I prefer the ones at Soon Hock or Rasa Sayang. Ah well! As time goes by, some things change and people change too! What do you think?