Friday, January 28, 2005

makan fest

we just staggered back from makan session with the usual suspects (Oi Yee, Siva, Airani, Cyn, KMY and Tommy) at Mumtaz Mahal at Far East. Over briyani, naan and marsala tea, we were regaled with stories about Tommy's injuries (gruesome details abt how he became Bionic Man with titanic implants and 6-week MCs), how an undergrad nearly sliced off fingers with box cutter (notice our stories usually involved blood and gore!).

other topics of conversation included: the recent JC phenomenon of "tau pok", shiok ice cream from our friend's shop, Indian Ocean Tsunami experiences of our mutual friends, our Beijing misadventures with uncultured members of the Chinese race, and KMY's disappearing tummy (apparently an optical illusion due to his T-shirt).

the food was good as usual. I liked the tandoori chicken which was juicy and tender. the paneer (cottage cheese and spinach) and prawn marsala was so popular that we had to order seconds. Robina had to lean back with a satisfied look after wolfing down briyani and a large piece of naan.

Robina and I had been going thru a food fest since returning from Beijing. I have gone thru the list of: teh tarik, mee goreng, prawn mee ( Tekka hawker centre), mee rebus, Ya Kun kaya toast and Turkish kebabs. still on the die-die must try list includes mee pok dry, laksa, mee siam, char kway teow ( with lotsa cockles!), wanton mee (preferably from Old Airport hawker centre).

more makan adventures are on the card. There's a sea food lunch with our families on sunday. we are planning to hit Turf City sea food restaurants. our visit last year was very good. their deep sea crabs from Oz were surprisingly tasty. another seafood dinner is being arranged next week with my colleagues with the prime objective of chilli crab at East Coast. the problem is now to narrow down to which joint to whack. you can see that there's a certain element of clear planning and military precision to this.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Captain's Log Supplemental: You Char Kway

In a follow up to Otterman's post on the deadly origins of You Char Kway.

Captain's Log Supplemental: You Char Kway

Recently historians in China has been looking at Yue Fei and Qin Quai (the chinese Judas!) a bit differently. altho the vitriol heaped on Qin Quai has not been alleviated, some of the blame has been shifted to the Sung Emperor (Zhao Kou), deservedly...

The Sung dynasty's ass had been mightily kicked by the northern nomadic Jin dynasty or Jurchens (ancestors of the Manchus who eventually kicked out the han chinese Ming dynasty later on). Two Sung emperors (the father and brother of Zhao Kou) had been abducted and the sung capital Kai Feng occupied. the surviving Sung nobility and officials managed to regroup and fled southwards to establish the Southern Sung dynasty. effectively half of China were occupied by barbarian invaders.

Yue Fei was one of the few effective Sung generals left. He led a northern expedition to reclaim the lost Sung territory. But he was too good, when he was within sight of the old capital Kai Feng, Yue was ordered to pull back. so near but yet so far.

the new Emperor was none to happy at the prospect of his father and brother being invited back. He could jolly well be kicked out of the throne. too bad, half the country stayed lost. thus, the trumped up charge of "Mo Xu You", i.e., you might have not committed treason but you could have...

both Yue Fei and his son was executed. the bronze statues of Qin and his wife were changed six times over the centuries . apparently, they could not sustain the battering and spitting over time. I think Qin was the fall guy (although he was the one who supplied the idea!). the emperor should be tied up and fried as well. but in official histories, nobody will point a finger at the emperor. confucian respect for authority and all that crap...

In recent years, there was a debate amongst Chinese historians, whether Yue should be classified as a "national hero". the argument was that both the han chinese and Jin/manchu are officially recognised ethnic groups within China. Manchus are considered an ethnic minority. In the interest of maintaining a harmonius multi-ethnic society, some historians argued that Yue should be "downgraded" to "ethnic hero". the debate still rages on. (I think it's an academic ivory tower idea anyways!)

Magnificent calligraphy by Yue Fei: Return my country!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

New Year's Eve

We had a somewhat sedate but nonetheless fun New Year's Eve, spent amongst friends in Beijing. earlier in the evening, we had dinner with Sarah in an Italian joint which was quite decent (except Sarah's pasta vongole had half-cooked clams); hmmmmm, come to think of that I might have to revise my rating...

after yabbering for a sometime, we went to Robina's buddy, Sherry's place for the countdown, but not before swinging back to our place to swipe a bottle of wine and muruku tidbits. At Sherry's apartment we discovered to our dismay that the local TV channels did not have any countdown programmes (maybe we just didn't find the right channels I donno?). Somehow the Christmas and New Year just didn't have the same atmosphere compared to back home. That why was we were lucky to have friends, otherwise can be quite depressing.

We played some cards games with silly actions and forfeits. It reminded me those chalet gatherings in our teenage years (when policemen wear shorts!). We missed the countdown by about 3 seconds but still managed to welcome 2005 with plenty of muruku, red wine and good companionship! Thanks to Sherry and Yit Wee for their countdown open house!

Happy 2005!

Me, Robina, Sarah, Yit Wee, Sherry, Shan Nee
In an example of a small world: Sherry's friend Shan Nee who was visitng BJ is a NLB staff. She knows my friends Eunice (aka Loony) Low and Timothy Pwee also at NLB.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

SAF doing good in disaster-struck area

I was really pleased to see that SAF Combat Engineers (my old outfit)was doing a great job in Aceh. our Engineers operating off RSS Endurance established two landing points at the coastal town of Meulaboh, which has been cut off since the earthquake and tsunami.

RSS Endurance had brought in 470 personnel and heavy equipment such as bulldozers, mechanical shovels and forklifts, which are vital in paving the way for relief supplies to reach remote areas in this town of 40,000, which has lost about 5,000 people. The heavy equipment is urgently needed to clear roads, and to prepare landing strips for aircraft. This would pave the way to bring in more relief supplies apart from those on the RSN ship. There was also an SAF medical team that will operate a medical aid station in the town.

Combat Engineers get all the ass-end jobs in the SAF. If Tatooine is the ass-end of space in Star Wars, then you can probably find engineers shovelling shit in Tatooine. We get stuck with all the back-breaking (building bridges) and dangerous (blowing things up or laying mines) stuff that you can think off; plus a lot of swinging shovels and changkuls. But the meaningful stuff we will always remember are building bridges or drainage culverts in Thailand or Brunei; projects that we leave behind that benefit the local people. For once, I'm sure my fellow engineers will be proud and willing to sweat and contribute in their way to help the quake and tsunami victims (rather than muttering hokkien swear words...)

Monday, January 03, 2005

A day in the life of a Procrastinator

a link from Boing Boing led me to an animation clip: "Gotta get my stuff done". The clip has got the mindset of a procrastinator down pat! and it's quite a hoot bcos everyone would have the same experience.

Along the same vein is an oft-circulated email: "A day in the life of a graduate student". Every grad student would have similar experiences of goofing off, procrastinating to avoid the painful task of writing their thesis or just getting to start writing their thesis. In animal behaviour terms, it's called "displacement activities". You end up doing something else when you should be something more important. Believe me, we are went thru this phase! Well, this condition was more serious in some postgrads. Some ended up learning to make balloon animals, fostering toddy cats, keeping ferrets, painting their bedroom etc. It's our way of dealing with stress and the inevitable (or we'r simply just goofing off...)

Alvin's spiel

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