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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pecah oleh Khairulnizam Bakeri

I was on a reading frenzy. Back from Murud, i'd done reading Bourdain (Medium Raw), Albom (For One More Day), Roden (Middle Eastern Feast) and Petterson (Kiss The Girl). I read when i want to still my mind, i read when my mind's too busy wandering. That's the only way to tame it. Other than of course, to black-out and go to sleep, which i also did a lot post Murud. More than 8 hours a day. Ya, you caught me there, i cat-napped in the office, even half-waking in a meeting. I know, i'm being bad. 

Murud was a beautiful experience. But, i was poorly equipped to fight the fatigue and overwhelmingness after it. Like everything worth thinking over in life, i need time to digest it all. and because i'm a very personal person, this could take months to mull over. Some may say that's characteristic of a self-centric person. Ya, i admit, in my own way, i am a very self-centric person

So, the Murud post needs to wait, i need to calm my mind to write a decent post. Maybe i'm also a bit scared to write of experience that sacred. A personal encountering with divine Holiness. or maybe at the moment, i'm just being me, self centric, wanting to savour all those experiences by myself. For me. 

The macho mom has hers laid out here: Murud #1, #2, #3, #4, finale

Pecah by Khairulnizam Bakeri. Pic from
Instead, today's post is on the second book i got from Lejen Press, purchased together with the first book i made a post here (Kelabu by Nadia Khan). I got the hardcover limited edition, good binding with the type of paper i like for RM30.

If you haven't read any of Fixi book yet, give yourself a favour by reading this book, first. I was hooked from the first page to the end and i read the whole book in one sitting. The storyline was fast-paced, minimal unnecessary details, interesting dialogues (he frequently used the character's mother tongue), (and i never believe i could enjoy the repeatedly to and fro in the timelines) but, he did it so effortlessly, that i stayed along and read on with conviction. (i had a very hard time reading the time traveller's wife, with all those to and fro goings).

The book started with a bank robbery, then to an elderly centre with a very curious old man getting a bad heart attack, then to Hospital where the bank robber(s) somehow connect with one of the nurse, then to the past at a night club, then to a gentleman lawyer with a problem with his wife then on and on, the stories unfold. This, in short is a very believable story. My first rule for a good fiction is that it must be believable or soooo unbelievable its magical.

Never mind the repeated coincidences. I'm a huge believer in 'Everything happen for a reason' and we met people for a reason too, no matter how brief. So, screw the voice at the back of my mind that scream 'bloody many coincidences, too much to be true!'.

The man. Khairulnizam Bakeri. Pic from
I sent a friend request on FB to the author and he accepted within the day. Khairulnizam Bakeri. He's good. really good author. my hope soar again for good malay fiction and keeping my eyes for this guy's next book. I'm rating Pecah at 8.5/10.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Middle Eastern Feast

 *This is a story of preserved lemons. :)
A Middle Eastern Feast by Claudia Roden
Oh! i hope i'm more insightful, more political when i write the title for this blogpost. I could write about the Arab's Spring, or certainly i can link up to a Youtube video of that little boy who eloquently explaining why Morsi isn't what the Arab world needs as opposed to many Malaysian muslim led to believe (or at least, my muslim friends on FB who posted pro-Morsi posts on their wall). Hair-raising scary what people blindly believe nowadays.

But no, when i reached for this book, and planned to write a blog post out of it, it's for one cause: because i have a basketful of lemons from Long Beluyu, Lawas to preserve. I need a better than my 'tongue' (palate) to do it. I'd preserved lemons before (and i love preserved lemons), but never to give away, so, i thought, i better do a bit of research before doing this up, as i promised Diana a jar of the preserve. (i got the lemons from her uncle's yard)

My favourite online cook, Mr. Marketman and this guy David Lebovitz refered (linked) by Mr. Marketman got their versions of preserving lemons. I've tried Mr. Marketman's and it was good as an accompaniment to raw vaggie/fish (eaten as dipping/sambal). 

so, here, i'm done reading Claudia Roden's A Middle Eastern Feast, for preserve lemon recipe. This is a small treasure book in the Penguin's Great Food series. i ended up googling up for exotic herbs and spices, because really, i come short in this area. caraway? mahlab? chervil?. Her beautifully written recipe book is not an ordinary recipe book, it goes deeper, she wrote about the culture behind each recipe, of how intermingling in the middle eastern countries brought all those delicious fusion and traditional dishes. history preserved in food.

'X' incision. see the thin skin?
Back to my lemons. The lemons i got, are not the best to preserve. the skin is too thin. the usual preserved lemon call for a thicker, hardier lemon skin, like Meyer Lemon. But, i don't get upset by this fact, because, i usually ended up using the flesh and even the brine of my lemon preserved. they make a good bitter-salty lemonade drink/soup. So, all's well with me. (for a Schweppes bitter lemon soda addict, bitter preserved lemon is a healthier option!)

For this batch, i follow Claudia's instruction on Page 6-7 for the citrons confits (lemon preserved in salt) with a twist of 1. bay leaves + fresh small chillies, 2. cinnamon sticks + cloves.

bay leaves + chillies
cinnamon stick + cloves
Basically: 1 lemon + 1tbs coarse salt + juice from 1 lemon (make an X incision, stuffed salt in between, squeeze in the jar, leave for one night, squeeze the juice, add juice from another lemon to cover). You may add any other spices to flavour the preserve.

Leave the jars in room temperature for 4-5 days, then put in the fridge for up to many months. its OK to leave it in room temp, but some people get off with the whitish stuff on the surface. its mould and pretty harmless. The preserve is ready for use after 10 days. i usually only use the lemons after a month fermenting. and it gets better as it grow older.

aww.. i hope, it's not just the preserved lemons, which gets better as it old. i hope, we too, get mellower, and better as we age.

Friday, July 26, 2013

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

For One More Day

Psalms 84:10
 Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Some days are certainly better than others.

The few short days i spent in Ba Kelalan were those better days. Days i would like very much to stretch out and go on, and on and on forever.

I like the place, in love with the people and are drawn to their culture.

So, ya, i think i know the meaning of hoping for one more day. because at the moment, i'm longing for just one more day to be there. (by the way, i am planning to visit the place again in october/ december this year. so, this is an official shout out to all my close friends to join in the fun. its apple harvesting season in Oct and probably rice harvest in dec).

In Mitch Albom's word: have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the lost time when you thought they would be here forever? if so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.

I hope i'd never had the need for another day, for the reason that i didn't spend my time with my loved ones wisely. I hope i'd love people enough and get loved back enough. Because, whats the point of living, otherwise?

I am a skeptical person by nature. i don't believe in things easily. Sometimes i tolerated things (mostly because i inherited my ancestor's penchant for not rejecting ideas, no matter how impossible it might sound), but, it doesn't mean i believe in it. Example: the story in this book, meeting up a dead person. i'd nonchalantly say, ya it could happen. but do i believe it could happen? no, not really.

me, Alie, Uncle#1, Bee Lian, Lui Lin

me, Alie, Uncle#2, Dy

I tried to be not too skeptical, too logical, because as i found recently, there are many things in this life happened supernaturally. beyond the logic of our mind. If that's what some people say miracle, maybe that's what we need faith for. Example: what is the odds of meeting up a friend's handsome uncles in the remote area of Ba Kelalan?. One of them is single (not so sure of the availability). 

For one more day, i sincerely hope i'll have one more day to spend in this remote place with these lovely people.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

I feel, the handsomest and dandiest chef is Anthony Bourdain. He certainly writes better than he speaks. and i am in love with his style of writing. bold, to the point, raw.

in this book he chronicles his journey as a chef and his opinions of his world. and his is a very interesting, entertaining world. but, its a world for the tough, like him. most people will withered under the same duress.

Diana, Ukab, Allison, Me, Gwen - Gedung Haleluya, Mt. Murud

i went up Mt. Murud last week. it was a wonderful experience, which i will write in a post of its own later. as for this post, refer to the pic above. that yummy looking boy is a cook with a culinary certificate. There's something really interesting with guys who cook good food. 

the name is Ukab, a traditional Lun Bawang name. he cooked for us the day we went down Mt Murud. His uncle, (another very good looking guy) also is a very good cook. as we meet more of the Lun Bawang family, i found out, many of the guys (if not all) cook real well. and on top of being good cook, they're also very good looking.

Bourdain may won my heart with his writing. But, i'll wage my life to live with one of these guys from this tribe, not for the food they prepare (though, thats a winning point too), but, because of their hearts for God. in this tough world, we need a guided bold men to lead us on.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kelabu oleh Nadia Khan

pic by    

I bought two fixi novels at Lejen press booth at 1B in KK when i was there 2 weeks ago. i stumbled upon it, prompted by a tweet from @KKCity. The only man waited the booth has no idea when i asked what book would he recommend to me to read. at least, ask what genre i usually read. tergagap-gagap, what?!you never waited a book counter before? adoiii...

Kelabu by Nadia Khan and Pecah by Khairulnizam Bakeri.

both were really good. i'd give 6/10 for kelabu and 8.5/10 for Pecah.

I admire fixi for featuring 'different' kind of Malay books to the public. [something our neigbouring country has been doing since early 80's (i grew up reading Indonesian novels)] but, i don't appreciate name calling. Printing on the first few page of your book, something like 'kalau nak yang proper (ie: bahasa asing di italik) cari buku DBP' is not cool. Readers know the difference without you pointing out. That's why we seek you. Don't try too hard at being 'different'.

Kebetulan, sebelum balik ke KK saya sedang membaca 'in one person' oleh John Irving. selepas membaca kelabu (diselangi tontonan siri GoT musim ke 3), persamaan tema dalam kedua-dua buku ini agak jelas. kekeliruan seks dan yag lebih menarik, kedua-dua watak utama dalam cerita-cerita ini pernah tinggal beberapa tahun di Jerman. 

Bezanya, naratif dan keyakinan pembaca terhadap tema dalam buku Irving lebih dalam dan terolah rapi secara relatif terhadap kelabu.

Kelemahan utama kelabu adalah pada bahagian meyakinkan pembaca terhadap kesungguhan watak utama terhadap kekeliruan seksnya. selain itu, jalan cerita yang mudah diramal, klise cerita melayu yang latarbelakangnya kaya-raya, tipikal cerita anak-anak datuk. Kalau tujuannya memilih watak utama pada golongan ini adalah tujahan sarkastik secara lembut, itu cubaan yang agak menarik.

Mungkin penulis menulis novel ini untuk pembaca yang naif dan tipikal malaysia yang lemah lembut. Tidak ada adegan panas atau walaupun sekadar ciuman dalam novel kekeliruan seks? whew! dalam perbualan peribadi dengan seorang budak sekolah menengah di kawasan kampung yeng mengaku pengkid, beliau mengakui pernah beringan-ringan dengan pasangannya. Watak dalam novel kelabu ini sungguh jauh ketinggalan dalam eksperimentasi. Kewajaran penceritaannya dari segi psikologi menjadi kurang. Tidak perlu kekeliruan seks jika tidak berminat terhadap seks.

Oh! mungkin kerana cerita ini lebih kepada hati dan perasaan. Keinginan yang lebih dalam dan bukan sekadar fizikal. Kekeliruan itu kan di dalam jiwa? ya, mungkin, di Malaysia itu cukup ;)

when i asked my younger sister (20 yo) whose on her semester break if she'd read the book. she said "macam drama melayu gia tu. baru 5 minit saya baca, saya nokodop sudah" (its like a malay drama. i fell asleep after 5 minutes read). She's studying Japanese and very much into K-Pop culture.

However, i must say, its a brave effort to tackle taboo issue like this and formatted it in a light, easy to digest albeit a bit too hypocrite novel. Reviews from the readers proved to be really positive. Salina by A.Samad Said keep on appearing in my mind. can we have an honest, heart tugging malay novel like that anytime soon? please? [DBP clearly not in the productive mood these past few years]

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Linda!

she did it! she ran half marathon
Happy Birthday Pong!

Semoga rekod larian kita di BIM akan menjadi lebih baik dari yang di Brooks.

sometimes ago when we were in the uni, someone told me that we talked like we were best friend. at first, it confused me. aint that what sisters should be? bestfriend?. then, came along Downton Abbey and no, in many cases, sisters are just fated siblings, stuck together because of blood relations. so, i'll consider myself very lucky for having you as my younger sister, a sibling i'm proud to call my bestfriend, loyal to the end. 

Sometimes later (hopefully) when we were old and surrounded by our grandchildren, we'll come back to this point of life. remembering all the good things, amazing experiences we've been through together. it'll be quite a story. but, until then, let us live, a day at a time, savouring life. 

Wishing you all the good things in the world and most of all for happiness. Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 8, 2013

half year update

Thats a long hiatus. been reading some good books. will update the book read section. there's 4-5 more books to add to the list. somehow, i cant recall the whole title/author of those books. i'll sort that out later (pretty much sorted on August 2nd, 2013 - see the book read list)

ok, my last post was in march. what have i done the whole time? apart from book reading 9-10 books, i started to read scientific journals (aching my head), planning to write up a research proposal before September. i better get back to those journals if i am to write that darn proposal. ;)

Bus ride
railway station
i went to Bangkok last March with my good pal. we had fun (i guess). i passed the bars and beer fountain and those lovely guys (now, i'm regretting it). instead, i dragged my pal to the national museum, siam discovery centre, many temples, railway station, cinemas and universities like a proper nerd. we also tried the local food (street foods) the whole 7 days we were there. the pal a bit queasy about it. but thank God we turned out fine. i think he's smitten by their banana fritters. we'll be back to Bangkok for sure. 

Mak Phet
while we were in Bangkok, we went by train to Vientiane. spent 3 days there. the journey by train was amazing. definitely will travel by Thai train again. as for Vientiane, nothing much there. but then again, i was there on the hottest month of the year with no proper plan (the initial plan was to go to Chiang Mai- north of Bangkok). we ended up holing down in their (few) air-cond cafe wolfing beautiful and delish pastries. (pondan mengorat my pal, and i did my best to chase the pondan way)
he better remember that deed.
Israel Houghton and New Breed Concert, KL, 2013

April, i went for a rocking concert in KL: Israel Houghton and New Breed. it was awesome.

joke of the year: the mystery of election's ink = food colouring. hahha!
@ Fread's
May in Ranau for General election and makan berabis with the kaibigans.

i ran half marathon last month (june). i'm not proud of the performance, i crawled the last 7 km. but, i did it. i reached the finish line and im going to do it again next month (august) for BIM. and i got the key for my studio apartment. yay!

i also managed to convince Dy, Max and Khairi to be in my next charity project. and that dream keep me sane, keep me going, fuel me up. 

its half year gone by. it has been amazing. not all rosy of course, the man dumped me. but, lets not dwell on that. he is his own person, and have his own reasons. i cant change that and i wont, given the chance. 

p/s: will furnish with pics when the internet line get better (oooo... when?)

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