Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sauteed with asparagus

Sometimes too much research is a bitch. But there you go.

I had my first taste of foie gras 2 weekends ago and I fell in love. The taste is so rich, texture so smooth and is incredibly expensive. Foie gras literally means "fat liver". At that time I only knew foie gras is the liver of a goose.

Upon returning home fully satiated, I decided to Google it.

What I found was quite distressing. Foie gras is the liver from a goose that has been fattened by force feeding so that it becomes particularly large. Animal rights activists practically go nuts when it is mentioned. Yikes.

I am contemplating being a vegetarian for a while. Or maybe semi-vegetarian since my loyalty to Pork still borders on obsession.


A life without books would be an existance deviod of meaning.

I am forever grateful to my parents who saw to it that I got my very own library card when I was 6 and by the way, that was how I was ceremoniously ushered me into the magical world of geekdoom. Entry into bookwormship normally entailed above- average English and a compulsory distate for PE. (Wearing glasses and braces - optional). Of course I had the super deluxe Platinum Package with being Teacher's Pet and School Prefect thrown in.
Disgusting, I know. But that is another story.

Where was I? Oh yeah, books.

I count myself lucky to have friends who are voracious readers, some of whom also share my inclination for demons and death. I throughly enjoy fantasy mainly because current events are just so distasteful that it's not so hard to find refuge in magic and alternate realities. Living in denial, perhaps but I look forward to my 8 tentacled mythical creatures, bells of death and neatly packaged endings.

Fictional violence I can deal with. Especially if they were written for young readers. Happy endings mostly guaranteed. I am about to begin the Earthsea quartet classic by Ursula Le Guin. Took me forever to get a copy of the book from the store.

Notice how more and more books seem to come out in series now? I kept being lent the first in the series and I end up having to buy the remainder. Hence to my exasperation, I am not able to lend a boxfull of novels to anyone as I can't imagine anyone who would want to read a series from the second books onwards.

However in a strange course of events, I was given book 2 and book 3 of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. It's quite expensive this collection. One novel is over RM50. I finally bit the bullet and bought the first book. Despite not having anything to do with anything remotely fire breathing, I finished all the books within weeks. Set in gay San Fransisco, the books chronicles the lives of the tenants of 28 Barbary Lane, circa 1970 or thereabouts. Naturally its about decadence, drugs, nail biting suspence and sexual liberation. And in the words of the character Michael Tolliver, its as gay as a goose. And what a fun fun fun read. I still need to get book 4, 5, and 6. It's a pity that the books I want are never on sale.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


My adoration for all dogs is attributed solely to their uncanny ability to cock their heads to one side and stare at you unblinking with their enquiring eyes.
How can you resist something as cute as that?

Its different with Cats . As they invade your favourite armchair, their eyes would narrow to slits to shoot you this look of unadulterated disapproval not unlike an Emperor having to endure the presence of a peasant. This is especially true after Its Highness The Cat has had its dinner and you are the unfortunate thing coming between it and its chosen crib (aka, the aforementioned armchair).

Someone once told me how animals have this ability to tell whether a person is a friend or foe. Maybe that is why cats don't bother wasting their time with me ( unless its an emergency) and why someone like Eric gets mauled by Ah Jin, house dog and terror machine of Jo's in-laws.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sand in my hair, sun in my heart

The only time to visit Langkawi is when the sun is shining and the sea is behaving itself. Clever me, my last visit to the island was during the monsoon season. The dark clouds poured their hearts out everyday and the sea was so choppy that it scared the bejeebers out of us. The trip so disappointed me that I swore to never return to the island.

So when our firm organised a fully expense-paid company trip this July, naturally it was destination Langkawi. The option of not joining the trip could not be considered, as lawyers who opted to stay would be made to go to court. Yours truly signed up on the spot.

I was prepared to be bored out of my skull. But as you know, Expectation is always in inverse proportion to Reality. So I was pleasantly shocked how my trip actually blew me away!

We lodged at the luxurious Mutiara Burau Bay Resort. With private cabanas among lush foliage set within a short walk from the sea–it was picturesque. The long stretch of beach was part white sand and part rocky enclave.

The boys went scavenging for snails and crabs and Ramesh claims to have even spotted a biawak. Saltwater lizards? Ick.

One tip about eating when one is up north in Malaysia is forget the sirloins and chicken chops. Even the hotel variety is dismal. The star attraction has to be the Malay food which is spectacular! The simple sambal and dried fish is transformed into a parade for the palate. And in Langkawi beer is almost as cheap as soda. Talk about a Happy Meal for a Happy Me!

Island hopping was without a doubt the highlight of our trip. We left the resort early at 8.30 am to enjoy the wholesome sunshine. We were told that it was better to get an early start as the sun can turn scorching later. Syeah, right!

Three boatfuls of us rode screaming into the sea as we jetted over the beautiful, beautiful emerald waters. Some of the islands were little more than giant limestone monuments covered entirely in green foliage right to the water’s edge. From afar they looked like mossy knolls sitting placidly on smooth green glass.

And then we came and shattered to smithereens what peace they had.

But soon our noisy entourage too was eventually hushed by the islands’ sheer serenity. It was like we were passing through sacred waters. We were dropped off at Tasik Dayang Bunting aka Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. After a 10-minute easy hike from the beach, an immense fresh water lake greeted us. It was even greener than the sea. One can take a dip in its cools waters, take a paddleboat to explore the lake or go crazy and go banana boating. The locals believe that the waters are beneficial for women who have trouble conceiving.

If you ever venture there, be careful where you dip your feet. There is one particular enclosure that is teeming with catfish. They usually trawl the lake bottom. But when they see feet, they surface to nibble the flavourful bits of dirt between your toes. I vow not to think too much when I next eat seafood.

When we got back on our boats, wadda-ya-know, it began to pour. As we sped onwards with rain lashing in our face and the sea throwing itself at us, we were completely soaked to the bone. Sunburn..humbug! Yet what fun!

Some of the passengers on the other boat didn’t quite share our enthusiasm. I don’t blame them. They had a Tsunami survivor as their boatman and he was cheerfully regaling his tale of horror throughout they journey. No wonder a few of my colleagues looked sick.

Then, just as suddenly as the rain had begun, it completely stopped. As we approached a quiet cove the boats stopped. Mr Boatman-From-Hell (so christened by my boss), tossed a handful of meat into the water. Typical of urbanites who grew up throwing bread into fish ponds, our eyes immediately searched into the depths of water until a loud “ehem” from the Boatman got us to look up.

And there came eagles.

There were three species of eagles. The Sea Eagle, the Swamp Eagle and the Hill Eagle. The Sea Eagle was the largest and by far the most impressive due to its while plumage and its significantly larger size. They circled high above us before slowly descending to the water - talons outstretched. We were in awe. Watching the eagles is a highly recommended experience!

After the eagles had enough of us, we made our way to Pasir Basah island where it was quite shallow and there were hardly any waves, making it perfect for swimming.

When we got back to the resort, we were completely drained despite it having only been a half day trip.

The rest of the vacation involved bussing around the various tourist spots. Langkawi may be touted for its mythical heritage but seriously, visiting Mahsuri’s Tomb and Field of Brunt Rice was a waste of time. Its just another excuse to entice tourist to part with their money.

Altogether it was a great escape and all the better that it was fully paid for by the company. One only needs to endure one’s officemates, which can already be trying on most days. Nevetheless the sun and sea was worth it. So you can just imagine how loathsome it was to get back to KL.

But no point in pouting. I end this entry with a picture that encapsulates perfectly the best bit of my 2 nights and 3 days in Langkawi.

It's the view from my hammock.

Open Court Near Death Experience

I finally appeared in open court, before the Magistrate and all my brethren in law and an audience in the gallery. Yes, just like in Ally McBeal but with a less shocking hemline. I appeared for the Plaintiff in a Judgement Debtor Summons hearing.

What it means is that the creditor (my client) has obtained a judgement against the debtor (the defendant) earlier but the debtor still has not paid despite the court having ordered him to. So a JDS is a procedure by which the creditor’s lawyers cross-examine the debtor as to his ability to pay the judgement sum. Usually the debtor will come to court with some sob story about how his family is living below the poverty line and the court will order some sort of instalment arrangement.

I was nervous as hell yesterday with Monster Moths flying in formation and doing aerial flips in my gut. So I prepared for every eventuality (including what I would do if I was called a complete moron by the Magistrate).

The near insane and inane preparations did alleviate my fears and during my entire journey to Port Dickson I did not hurl or throw myself onto the railway tracks to save me from attending court.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that I needed to wake up at 5 this morning to take two cabs and a train to journey 3 hours to get to court before 9 am to meet the debtor, strike a deal and obtain consent order from the judge.

I actually did not mess up my case and everything actually went quite smoothly.

At the end of a hearing, be it in chambers or in open court, the feeling I get right after it is over is one of huge relief. Relief that I was not thoroughly humiliated by the judge, that the utmost has been done for my client and that it is just OVER.

Then the niggling starts. Should I have asked for a higher settlement? Should I have asked for a later date? Should I have pushed the Registrar a little harder? Should I have paid more attention in Land Law?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Domestic Bliss

Despite not being initiated into the wonderful world of household chores until late into my teens, right now I am happily suffering from this inexplicable fondness for domesticity.

This affliction has been slowly invading my head, starting very modestly with innocent infatuations with the home furnishing paradises of Habitat and Ikea, and then on to home improvement reality TV shows.

My foray into flowers started by my stealing daffodils from the dormitory garden. Nothing declares the arrival of springtime like a bright windowsill of jam jars full of yellow daffodils. A sight that gladdens the heart indeed and worth risking the wrath of any gardener, even.

Then I witnessed the magic weaved by my ex-colleagues who were the wizards of visual merchandising. Give them a few tired blossoms and a bush of dried twigs and voila! The mess has into a masterpiece that people would actually pay money for.

So that now that I actually have the space at my new apartment, the endless possibility of decorating it has me hyperventilating. I conjure up these amazing colour schemes (complete with silk flowers and kitch vases even) and work myself into a frenzy everytime I step into a fabric store. Of course everything comes crashing down the moment I peek into my bank balance. Yet if there is one thing I have learnt from my visual merchandising chums is that one does not need expensive stuff to make a place feel like a home and with patience bargains are usually found.

And in my hunt for fabric, I discovered that cloth shops do sell leftover cloth at a fraction of their original prices. Being remainders, their odd lengths make them difficult to sell, hence their marked down prices. That was how I ended up with more than 5 meters of top quality cloth for just RM30! Absolutely Brilliant!

Next I will be shopping for matching curtains and then suitable silk flowers.

So there Ladies and Gentlemen, my transformation into a homebody Aunty is now complete.

This fact is reiterated again this afternoon when I went to Ikea with this gay buddy of mine. He is my age and all the while he was checking the delectable young men in the crowd, I was by far more engrossed in dish racks and teapots. It just struck me how I would love to be working for Martha Stewart.