Tuesday, June 28, 2011

24 jam mamak

There's this mamak restaurant around my area. On its signboard, it reads "Restaurant Ali Baba 24 jam". The thing is, I've never seen it opens for business. If it's really "24 jam", they should be opened whenever I pass by, right? If for some reason the mamak restaurant is no longer in business, why doesn't the owner of the unit remove the signboard so that other interested party may rent it for some other business? I even suspected some illegal business was going on behind the closed door of the shop, lol.

Side story: My parents used to rent out one of their houses to some people who turned out to be pirate DVDs maker. That said house is only next to the house we live in. One night, a group of police came knocking at next door and arrested them, together with all the machines and everything. We were shocked because we had no idea about their business at all before the arrest. And it was only.next.door. Imagine that.

So back to the mysterious mamak restaurant. Today as I was on my way to another chinese coffee shop, I passed by the mamak restaurant and it was opened for business! It had tables and chairs and the typical mamak restaurant look. I decided to give it a try.

There was a huge menu board on the wall. Some dishes were new to me. I tried to order Roti Salad, to which the waiter replied they didn't have the dish.

Side story 2: There's another famous mamak restaurant in my area named Hassan. I love their Tosai Pisang to bits and until now, Tosai Pisang is only available in Hassan - no other mamak restaurant has even heard about this dish.

My second attempt was Naan Pisang, for they didn't have Tosai Pisang on the board. I guessed it's not too difficult to compare their Naan Pisang to Hassan's Tosai Pisang and next time I can choose which mamak restaurant to go to for my mamak cravings. Surprise, surprise, the waiter said Naan Pisang was also not available.

With frustration I asked if they didn't have such a dish, why did they put it on their menu board. The waiter quickly suggested that he could "try" making my Naan Pisang. I was like, hooold on! 'What did you mean "try"?' Oh nevermind, so what is the dish you're familiar with? Nann Kaya? Can you make me Naan Kaya? Ok? Good! And teh ais kurang manis. Betul-betul kurang manis, ok?

As expected, the first teh ais served was too sweet. I asked them to redo it. I'd rather them to hate me than me drinking teh ais that is too sweet.

Side story 3: There was once I joined my colleagues at a malay restaurant. I told the waiter that their teh ais was too sweet. Then they brought me the original teh ais diluted with water. Kurang manis doesn't mean tambah air ok!

The mamak waiter then brought me a new glass of drink. The taste of the tea was not covered by the sweetness of condensed milk and even it tasted a bit bitter - just the way I like it. I was happy. The waiter then told me his experience taught him that if it's a chinese customer, usually he'd ask the cook to prepare the drink with less sweetness than usual, even if the customer didn't make such request.

Whatever everyone thinks about the offence of stereotyping and racism and whatnot, in this case it doesn't matter as long as they got it right about me. Yes, I like it kurang manis. And I'd make them redo my drink if I'm not satisfied with it. So don't be surprise that sometimes I'd rather order plain water just to skip the hassle of repeating "kurang manis" for the bazillion times and make them redo my drinks.

Then came my Naan Kaya. From far I saw him applying kaya onto the freshly baked naan. I was thinking: Are you for real? Just apply a layer of kaya on the naan and call it naan kaya? So not impresive! I was expecting the kaya to be in the naan, just like cheese naan does.

But I was glad I was totally wrong. I mean, half wrong. Yes, their naan kaya was just plain naan and a layer of kaya on top. But the whole dish turned out to look really grand! The naan was almost like glowing with their tan, sexy kaya layer on it. I was impressed and I couldn't believe that I was. Simple dish, but great experience.

Half way through my meal, the waiter drop by my table to ask me how my food was. Talk about good dining experience and service! When I was waitressing in a restaurant with highly demanding customers, managers said it's a policy for us to ask every customers at our tables about their food and take note of their comments. I told them it was very good. I even told him to remember the recipe of the teh ais kurang manis - my version. I told them the next time I come, they must use the same recipe for me.

Because I'm sure I'll go there again soon. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Printed Gossips

I always tell myself that I don't need to buy newspaper because I can read them online. I'm sure I will go online to check mails and whatnot before sleep. So it shouldn't be hard for me to just check out the headlines also.

Nah. That's a lie. It doesn't sound like one. How hard is it to visit a website and briefly glance through the screaming headlines? But I'm always distracted by something else, such as a Youtube video shared by a friend on Facebook or new sick comic strips by Oatmeal.. And end up climbing onto bed without reading anything beneficial.

So maybe the only solution is still to buy a copy of newspaper and read it, at least once a week. One of the good thing about printed newspaper is the advertisement in it. Who knows, it might have something I am looking for? Since young I always find newspapers to contain too many big words hence I concluded it's only for the serious adults like my dad. Now, it still contains words too big for me to digest. But, it's long overdue for me to start to make it a habit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club.

Chapter 20 (My personal favourite chapter from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk)

The tears were really coming now, and one fat stripe rolled along the barrel of the gun and down the loop around the trigger to burst flat against my index finger. Raymond Hessel closed both eyes so I pressed the gun hard against his temple so he would always feel it pressing right there and I was beside and this was his life and he could be dead at any moment.
This wasn't a cheap gun, and I wondered if salt might fuck it up.
Everything had gone so easy, I wondered. i'd done everything the mechanic said to do. This was why we needed  to buy a gun. This was doing my homework. We each had to bring Tyler twelve driver's licenses. This would prove we each made twelve human sacrifices.
I parked tonight, and I waited around the block for Raymond Hessel to finish his shift at the all-night Korner Mart, and around midnight he was waiting for a night owl bus when I finally walked up and said, hello.
Raymond Hessel, Raymond didn't say anything. Probably he figured I was after his money, his minimum wage, the fourteen dollars in his wallet. Oh, Raymond Hessel, all twenty-three years of you, when you started crying, tears rolling down the barrel of my gun pressed to your temple, no, this wasn't about money. Not everything is about money.
You didn't even say, hello.
You're not your sad little wallet.
I said, nice night, cold but clear.
You didn't even say, hello.
I said, don't run, or I'll have to shoot you in the back. I had the gun out and I was wearing a latex glove so if the gun ever became a people's exhibit A, there'd be nothing on it except the dried tears of Raymond Hessel, Caucasian, aged twenty-three with no distinguishing marks.
Then I had your attention. Your eyes were big enough  that even in the streetlight I could see they were antifreeze green.
You were jerking backward and backward a little more every time the gun touched your face, as if the barrel was too hot or too cold. Until I said, don't step back, and then you let the gun touch you, but even then you rolled your head up and away from the barrel.
You gave me your wallet like I asked.
Your name was Raymond K. Hessel on your driver's license. You live at 1320 SE Benning, apartment A. That had to be a basement apartment. They usually give basement apartment letters instead of numbers.
Raymond K. K. K. K. K. K. Hessel, I was talking to you.
Your head rolled up and away from the gun, and you said, yeah. You said, yes, you lived in a basement.
You had some pictures in the wallet, too. There was your mother.
This was a tough one for you, you'd have to open your eyes and see the picture of Mom and Dad smiling and see the gun at the same time, but you did,  and then your eyes closed and you started to cry.
You were going to cool, the amazing miracle of death. One minute, you're a person, the next minute, you're an object, and Mom and Dad would have to call old doctor whoever and get your dental records because there wouldn't be much left of your face, and Mom and Dad, they'd always expected so much more from you and, no, life wasn't fair, and now it was come to this.
Fourteen dollars.
This, I said, is this your mom?
Yeah. You were crying, sniffing, crying. You swallowed. Yeah.
You had a library card. You had a video movie rental card. A social security card. Fourteen dollars cash. I wanted to take the bus pass, but the mechanic said to only take the driver's license. An expired community college student card.
You used to study something.
You'd worked up a pretty intense cry at this point so I pressed the gun a little harder against your cheek, and you started to step back until I said, don't move or you're dead right here. Now, what did you study?
In college, I said. You have a student card.
Oh, you didn't know, sob, swallow, sniff, stuff, biology.
Listen, now, you're going to die, Ray-mond K. K. K. Hessel, tonight, you might die in one second or in one hour, you decide. So lie to me. Tell me the first thing off the top of your head. Make something up, I don't give a shit. I have the gun.
Finally, you were listening and coming out of the little tragedy in your head.
Fill in the blank. What does Raymond Hessel want to be when he grows up?
Go home, you said you just wanted to go home, please.
No shit, I said. But after that, how did you want to spend your life? If you could do anything in the world.
Make something up.
You didn't know.
Then you're dead right now, I said. I said, now turn your head.
Death to commence in ten, in nine, in eight.
A vet, you said. You want to be a vet, a veterinarian.
That means animals. You have to go to school for that.
it means too much school, you said.
You could be in school working your ass off, Raymond Hessel, or you could be dead. You choose. I stuffed your wallet into the back pocket of your jeans. So you really wanted to be an animal doctor.I took the saltwater muzzle of the gun off one cheek and pressed it against the other. Is that what you've always wanted to be, Dr. Raymond K. K. K. K. Hessel, a veterinarian?
No shit?
No. No, you meant, yeah, no shit. Yeah.
Okay, I said, and I pressed the wet end of the muzzle to the tip of your chin, and then the tip of your nose, and everywhere I pressed the muzzle, it left a wet ring of your tears.
So, I said, go back to school. If you wake up tomorrow morning , you find a way to get back into school. I pressed the wet end of the gun on each cheek, and then on your chin, and then against your forehead and left the muzzle pressed there. you might as well be dead right now, I said.
I have your license.
I know who you are. I know where you live. I'm keeping your license, and I'm going to check on you, mister Raymond K. Hessel. In three months, and then in six months, and then in a year, and if you aren't back in school on your way to being a veterinarian, you will be dead.
You didn't say anything.
Get out of here, and do your little life, but remember I'm watching you, Raymond Hessel, and I'd rather kill you than see you working a shit job for just enough money to buy cheese and watch television.
Now, I'm going to walk away so don't turn around.
This is what Tyler wants me to do.
These are Tyler's words coming out of my mouth.
I'm Tyler's mouth.
I'm Tyler's hands.
Everybody in Project Mayhem is part of Tyler Durden, and vice versa.
Raymond K. K. Hessel, your dinner is going to taste better than any meal you've ever eaten, and tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of your entire life.

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

I've just finished Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club.

It.was.awesome! The story is only 198 pages long but his writing style is so mind-blowing that even the Afterword tastes good like dessert after meal. When I was half way reading it, I came across a paragraph which I wanted to share it here, but I didn't have the mood and decent internet connection to do so. I went on reading and got fascinated by an entire chapter which I wished to share it here, too. Luckily I didn't. Because at the third quarter of the book, the story gave an unexpected twist and turned out that the entire story was not what I thought it was (note: It's hard enough to finally make sense out of the story by chapter 6).

This book receives a lot of contrasting reviews. Some say it's epic; some, "too dark". I think it is both. It is epic because its darkness was very well portrayed. To some extent, its dark twisted logic makes sense and it is inspiring. Really. And the best part of the writing style is, it fiddles with your subconscious. You'll be reminded of what was said in chapters ahead by just a sentence of 5 words.

I guess I am ready for a Monday :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't shake my world.

Today a colleague of mine asked if I felt the tremor. I didn't feel it and had not the chance to read SMS news alert about the earthquake in Sumatra, so I didn't expect to experience such a thing. I wasn't the only one not aware of the coming and passing of such tremor. I'm not sure about others, but usually once I clock in at 9am, I'd either be standing or walking around till around 11:30am. I just want to get things done promptly. With my mind occupied by things at hand, nothing comes in my way when I'm at work. Somehow I think my obsessiveness gives me the adrenaline rush, which is the source of thrill at work place. That explains why normally I am unable to reply messages or pick up calls during this period.

For some reasons, I almost replied "I'm sorry I don't have the time to sit around to feel the tremor" to my colleague. Of course I didn't. I've had enough tension working with people who procrastinate. And double that tension with me being the most junior staff at my bench and keeping everything with myself. I believe no negative word is appreciated.

It's either I need to tone down my obsessiveness or dying patients do deserve to wait for 3 days for something that can be done in 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The 8th month

Ever since I moved to Subang for this new job, I find it harder to depart from BM to KL every time I come back home. I first noticed it during Feb this year. Then April. Now, June. I have been staying away from home since my national service back in early 2004. Each year after that I spent less than 4 months at home. At one point I actually thought Penang is just some really nice place to live in, but I still can live without, and one day I'm going to call KL/ Klang Valley area my home and there would be where my heart belongs.

I've lost touch with most of my secondary school friends and honestly I only miss one or two of them. If they're not around town, then I'd really have no friends in this place. It's not like in KL, where the thought of leaving it and my bunch of friends teared me. It's not difficult to explain why I thought I wouldn't have social life if I stay back in Penang.

Maybe because I no longer have the luxury 2 months semester break to laze around at home, which makes me want to depart for KL to "do something". Maybe because of my aging parents who make me want to dine at home more.

Last night I was eating out with my parents at some hawker place beside the road. It's just a simple place with a stall and some tables with stools, but they're famous for their roast pork rice. Hence many customers were already waiting there for their take-aways. I noticed a guy around my age was there, in his formal attire, probably just after work. For some unknown reason, it popped in head (and maybe, heart) that even Penang guys could give me that homely feeling which guys I met in KL couldn't. And I didn't even know that guy in formal attire!

But, really. It's my 8th month staying in Subang and I still don't fancy that place. At times, I even hate it. Not only it's dangerous, thanks to snatch thieves, or lousy food, but also because it's hard to travel around. Public transport is not as efficient as it is in KL, and the taxis don't freaking use their meter. And if you do drive, there are loads of tolls and traffic jams, too.

The only thing that sustains my joy in that place is my work. By the sound of it, I'm pathetic. Don't tell me to be contented with what I have. I think the (rich) people in Subang should raise their standard instead. It's not just the food, mind you, though one of the reason I hate Subang is because of food. This time around, every time I have a meal in Penang, I can't help but ask myself: What was the shit I ate in Subang all this while? Note that I have never used the s word in my blog. Past and present blog. Never.

I guess now I am really getting the real punch of working in the city.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It only lasted for 10 seconds.

I admit that I was kinda late when I departed from my house this morning for my train back to Penang. But I really thought that I still could make it. To cut it short, I chose to wait for KTM train from Subang Jaya station to KL Sentral instead of just hire a cab there directly. It didn't take this long previously. But not this time. I was hoping my train would be delayed as usual.

So by the time I rushed to the platform, my train had departed 10 minutes ago. Upon receiving this bad news from the KTM staff, I yelled in my head "Oh no, oh no! What should I do what should I do now?!"

Immediately, I answered my own question with surprisingly calm (or rather, nonchalant) tone:

"Oh, ok, maybe some breakfast at McD first, then think about what to do next."

When I sat down at the McD outlet munching away my hashbrown, I found my instinctive response in this incident was quite amusing.

At the end, I went to the new (not so new for now) Puduraya bus station to buy bus ticket back home. And the rest of the journey was uneventful. I arrived slightly earlier than I would have if I took the train.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's because when Jupiter spins off from its orbit, I fell for you, uncontrollably. I can't get a grip of my life. A life that as if I am living it for someone else. To meet their expectations. But isn't this life I borrow it from someone else, too?