Monday, January 30, 2012

365 #21 My Daddy's Birthday

When I was young, EVERYONE said I looked exactly like my dad. Their words would be: 'like a chop!'.

But since I am all grown up and know how to put on make-up properly and have long air and removed my facial hair (joking!!!), and no one seems to think so anymore.

How about this?

Love you so much my dear daddy. May this year bring you even more peace, love, health, wealth and all the most wonderful things that a daddy as wonderful as you deserves. My wish stays the same year after year: that we'll be able to hang-out together even more this year.

A big kiss and the biggest hug ever from your first-born, and the one who's loved you longest (after mummy :p)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

365 #20 Sing sing sing

So, while I sometimes sing like a hyena, that has never stopped me from 'doin ma thang'. When I was in college, my housemates and I used to spend our afternoons (when there was no class!!! *in case my mum wonders*) at the karaoke clubs screaming our guts out. Everything from Jay Chow, Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, Michael Learns to Rock, Tao-Zi, Air Supply, Fish Leong, Boys 2 Men, Stephanie Sun, Britney Spears, Karen Mok, Faye Wong, A-Mei, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, you know, the typical songs from the world's most emo singers - you name it, we could sing it. We put our souls into those songs. We'd belt them out like we were superstars ourselves. We knew every note, every high, every low. There were 5 of us in the group, and being 18-20 year old girls, one of us would undoubtedly be suffering from a broken heart or unrequited love. Hence the deep emotions. 

We'd jump on sofas, mimicking our idols on stage or on the music videos. We'd laugh, we'd string air guitars, we'd stand (for the ovations), sometimes we'd cry, when the words we were singing resonated with our heartaches. And through all of that, we were never even drunk. Really. I don't know about anyone else, but karaokes with my girls were the soberest fun I have ever had (when the men join us, that's another story - somehow boys always seem to need some drink as an excuse before they start singing). Of course, another reason there was no alcohol for us was also because we refused to part with our allowances for something as silly as beer or whiskey! We were girls who much rather spend our parents' hard earned money on shopping! :p

It used to be real cheap too. Okay, it was like almost 15 years ago, but those were the days when a whole afternoon (noon to 5pm) of singing with a set lunch and two drinks would only cost a measly 12 RINGGIT each! Yes! In KL! 12 RINGGIT! We even had a room to ourselves! Okay, the cost would range from RM12 to RM25 depending on which set lunch you chose, and we always took the cheapest one, which more often than not was a plate of 'fried spaghetti', but whatever! Beggars Students couldn't be choosers! The trick was of course to go in the afternoons and not the nights, when the cost would go up literally 20 times. And the other trick was to sneak in mineral water and cans of soft drinks in our hand bags to quench our parched throats because our allocated two drinks were definitely not enough.

Karaoke continued even after we all graduated, of course. And I did it with many of my new found friends and colleagues. It was all great times. It was never about how well someone sang. Mind you, on the contrary, it was highly boring to go into a session with some people who thought they were professionals and took karaoke so seriously that it almost felt like a personal mini concert. The funnest times were always had with a bunch of people who just wanted to 'let off some steam' and take the mic-key (pun intended) out of themselves. I tell you, after (wholeheartedly) singing with someone, no matter how bad you or they sound, you will walk out of that room feeling a whole new bond, like you've seen into the depths of their (fun) hearts.

These pictures here are all of the time when the hubs and I went back to my hometown in summer last year. Super mi and I (who had a crazy fun session of Karaoke in Phnom Penh on our vacay together) decided to plan a karaoke night and have our whole family 'rock it' for the first time together. I tell you. It was crazy fun. If you've never tried it. Please go. And be as silly as possible. You don't even have to sing. You can do what I also love to do: be a back-up dancer.

Friday, January 27, 2012

365 #19 Lifestyle image of the day

This one's for dear Aileen, who writes one of my favourite blogs: RaisingRockstar.

I'm typing this at my dining table, with my iPad right beside me because the habitants of my Sims Freeplay town need to be tended to all the time. There's also a huge glass of water right next to me because I'm always thirsty. On another tab, FaceBook is on. I don't update all that much, but I like to stalk and 'like' a picture or two occasionally. And on another tab, serious job hunting is (STILL) going on. My resume's updated, and I'm sending it out like it's candy on halloween. I'm dying to work again. JUST GIVE ME A JOB ALREADY DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!! *Frustrated scream to let off steam* Ahhh... That felt (only) a little bit better. Sorry, where were we again? :)) Oh yeah, tabs. Well, to support THAT tab I mentioned, google translate is my best friend at the moment. While all this is going on, I'm also surfing and trying to decide if I'm going to cook tonight or order in. I'll probably cook. Still have some blue cheese and cream in the fridge and will binge on blue cheese pasta for dinner.

I'm kind of snowed-in today. I make it a point to go out every day and meet a friend or two after the hubs leaves for work, but I can't seem to muster the energy today. I might have cabin fever. It's not that it's even close to the amount of snow we used to have in Luxembourg, but the walkways aren't too properly salted, so walking is such a hazard. From my balcony, I saw two men braving the weather whilst carting a huge cupboard down the hill. I kept staring because I was so afraid they'd slip somehow. I'm happy to report that they made it to the apartment they were going to.

I know today's supposed to be the continuation of Living in Istanbul: Nisantasi, but because I wasn't brave enough to go out and take all the pictures that needs to be included in the post, I guess it'll have to wait for another (better) day. And Istanbul's not very pretty in this gray weather. I hope the weather lets up soon and I can get me some of that wonderful Istanbul blue sky and bright sunshine.

On the bright side, since I had some free time on my hands, I've been playing with making GIFs. Here's my first masterpiece.

(p.s. A little tip: While the kissing thing may seem a little childish for a grown woman, it's actually a wonderful way to take a picture and appear slimmer. *Just saying... and sorta explaining*)

Living in Istanbul: Nisantasi, Part 1 (and 365 #18)

I've purposely held off on writing this till I had more of a feel of what it was like to live in this city. Today, we mark our four month-sary in Istanbul. And it's also been two months since we've moved into our new digs and lived a 'real life' instead of a 'holiday life', so I think I've got a teeny tiny bit of credibility at this point.

So, here goes. The first (of many) of my perspective of life in Istanbul, the city of crazy contrasts. Today, I'll take you on a journey nearest to my home, which is where I spend most of my time.

I live in Nisantasi. It is one of, if not the most, upmarket quarter in the entire Istanbul. The streets are lined with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Escada, Kenzo, Prada, Cartier, Hermes, Chanel, DKNY, Max Mara, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Gianfranco Ferre, Tod's, Guiseppe Zanotti. Almost every international luxury brand you can think of is found right here. I liken it to the Avenue de Champs Elysees. The shopping, the cars, the glamorati. The biggest difference is in that you can't detect any tourists here. I'm sure there are some, because some of the best hotels of Istanbul are in the area, but you certainly don't see busloads of dudes and dudettes (with strange fashion sensibilities) following a colored flag all over the place.

When I first arrived and started to live here, I thought to myself, 'God! This is so sterile! It's just like any other city!' and 'I MUST see the REAL Istanbul'. Yet after turns around the very popular Sultahnahmet area (where the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar and the annoying touts and peddlers and millions of tourists are) and the Taksim area (where the Galata Tower and the touts and peddlers and the millions of tourists are) and the Bebek area (the other upmarket area where the cool bars and restaurants and the millions of tourists are), I've come to see that this place is as real as it can get.

After all, the best way to see the heart and ambitions of a city is to see where and how their wealthy live.

On the main street of Nisantasi is where you'll see the regal old Turkish ladies descending from their apartments which can cost anything from 10,000 - 30,000 USD per month if it were to be rented (yes, we looked and are still dreaming), and which have been in their families for generations. These are the 70 year old ladies who speak perfect German and French, who have lived through opulence, then war and poverty, and who are now still graceful and strong. They continue to walk along the streets they've walked on since they were young girls eons ago, and shop at little grocery stores that have been passed along from generation to generation. They also sit at the modern cafes, sipping on strong and sweetened Turkish teas and coffees.

This is also where you see countless glamorous Istanbul chicas tottering about in 5-inch shimmering Louboutins and Miu Mius, wearing little Chanel cardigans being dropped off right at the doorstep of the restaurant they want to go to by their drivers or obliging (and disgustingly rich) Turkish boyfriends driving Panameras while the rest of us are (desperately) trying to look chic walking in -2 degree weather, braving the snow, bundled-up in down feather coats and comfy riding boots.

Here is also where the Nobel Prize in Literature author Orhan Pamuk lives, in the apartment that he wrote about in "Museum of Innocence", overlooking the same Mosque that still sees the faithful pray five times a day. (I am a huge fan of his, and have been trying to see if I could bump into him accidentally on purpose, but to no avail. I am appeased to know we are walking on the same streets everyday, though :p) 

Here, it's safe. It's clean. It's like a dream. It's bustling. It's alive. It may not be rowdy and what we've imagined Istanbul to be, but I like it.

Tomorrow, we'll continue with things to do as a tourist in Nisantasi, and I might even have some handy tips and foodie recommendations.

Talk then!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

365 #17 Two seconds of fame in Norway

The hubs and I on a romantic night out at Mikla some months ago. The peeps from this newspaper in Norway were at the same resto and asked if they could take pictures of us since we had the best view. Isn't it magnificent? The original picture is from here. I'm not very happy with the hub's finger pointing though. Looks like I'm being scolded. I wasn't. I think. :p

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

365 #16 Technology at it's best

Two months ago. Hanoi. What we do to keep in touch.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

365 #15 Burgers in Luxembourg

Exactly one year ago, Bryan was visiting us in Luxembourg, and my darling Dr. D made us stuffed portobello mushrooms and double cheeseburgers.

Today, I'm gonna have me some leftovers... :-/

Monday, January 23, 2012

365 #23 (minus 9) 恭喜发财

Hihihi. It's the first day of Chinese New Year today, and the number that's supposed to be on my 365 title isn't a very lucky number. So since I am so far away from home and have decided to compensate by sticking to improvising on tradition like a superstitious (but cool) grandmother, I changed the original and put in a bunch of very auspicious sounding numbers instead: In Cantonese, 23 sounds like 'easy to live' (易生) and 9 sounds like 'long' (久) as in long life.

Coincidentally, 23 also sounds like 'sashimi' (鱼生) and I had that for brunch today. For more luck, I also ordered a mango sashimi maki topped with peanuts because peanuts, to me, also sounds lucky and in writing, is pretty: 花生, literally meaning 'flowery life'. Then, to ensure more prosperity, I ordered some dumplings, often eaten during Chinese New Year too, because they look like gold nuggets. Phew! THAT should cover the wealth bit for me this year. But for added security, I will go look for some pineapple tomorrow, because in Cantonese, it sounds like 'wealth come' (旺来).

I also used this Chinese New Year as an excuse to shop (please ignore this post) and decked the hubs and me in new clothes from head to toe, in and out. Very bright, very prosperous-like. :))

And then, because we had to make do are modern like that, I also got my unmarried brothers and sisters to wish us all the most awesomest wishes in the world via FaceTime, and gave them their AngPows through my very Super Mummy. And tomorrow, since it is traditionally the day when the married daughters return home, we'll have another round of wishing and angpow giving. My brother and sisters are very lucky kiddos, so I have a very good feeling all their very cool wishes to us are gonna come true.

When I become a happy millionaire this year, don't say I didn't share my success secrets ah. :p

Sunday, January 22, 2012

365 #13 Reunion

While the world is busy preparing for Chinese New Year reunion dinners, I am going to try and ease my jealousy and envy hunger by taking a little walk down memory lane and reunite with a very recent reunion.

Park Hyatt Istanbul. Christmas Lunch, 2011. Magical.

Pictures of only the girls and food, because the men didn't look pretty enough. :))

Gong Xi Fa Chai everyone! :)) 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

365 #12 Obsession

I spent the whole day cleaning again. I have this kind of obsessive compulsive need for order when I start establishing it in my life. When a speck of dust appears in my otherwise pristine environment, I find it necessary to turn over every cushion and chair, which inevitably causes more dust to join the party. Thank god this obsession doesn't last for too long. After order is established, and when I inevitably succumb to living with a few specks of dust, chaos can reign again.

So, lately, I also have this (revived) obsession with Paolo Coelho. I loved him so much many many many years ago, after 'The Alchemist', and couldn't wait to lay my hands on whatever new book he came up with. But he sorta lost me after a bit, but I won't go into detail because I can't allow myself to speak ill of my idol. :)) But that's irrelevant now, and he's back (with a vengeance) on my radar. And till this obsession fades away, which I hope is never because his words have such a calming influence on me, there will be a lot of copied text here from his blog, which I am obviously obsessed with.

Today, I learnt about living, changes and mistakes.


The sentence belongs to Pablo Picasso: “God is above all an artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the ant. In fact, He never tried to follow a style – He simply went on doing what He felt like doing”.

Our wanting to walk is what creates our path – yet, when we start our journey towards our dreams, we feel very afraid, as if we were obliged to do everything right.

After all, if we all live different lives, who was it who invented the “everything right” standard?”

If God made the giraffe, the elephant and the ant, and if we try to live in His image and likeness, why should we need to follow a model? Sometimes the model helps us to avoid repeating stupid mistakes that others have already committed, but normally it is a prison that obliges us always to repeat what everybody does.

To be coherent is to need always to wear a necktie that matches our socks. It is to be obliged to keep the same opinions tomorrow that you have today. So what about the way the world moves?

As long as nobody is hurt, change your opinion every now and again, and contradict yourself without feeling ashamed. This is your right; it does not matter what the others think – because they are going to think it anyway.

When we decide to act, some excesses will happen. As the old cooking saying goes: “to make an omelet, first of all you have to break an egg”. So it is also natural that unexpected conflicts will arise.

It is only natural that there will be injuries during these conflicts. The wounds pass: only the scars remain.

This is a blessing. These scars stay with us for the rest of our lives, and they help us a lot. If at any moment – due to complacency or some other reason – the desire to go back to the past is great, just look at your scars.

Scars will show us the signs of handcuffs, they will remind us of the horrors of prison – and we will keep on moving forward.

So, relax. Let the Universe move all around you and discover the joy of being a surprise to yourself. “God chose the crazy things of the world to embarrass the wise”, says Saint Paul.

A Warrior of Light notices that certain moments are repeated; he often finds himself facing the same problems, and he confronts situations he has confronted before.

Then he becomes depressed. He begins to feel that he is incapable of making any progress in life, since the same things he has lived through in the past are happening all over again.
“I have been through this”, he complains to his heart.
“You really have”, answers his heart. “But you have never gone beyond it”.
The Warrior then begins to realize that repeated experiences have a reason, which is to teach us that we have not yet learned. He always finds a different solution for each repeated fight – and he does not see his faults as mistakes, but rather as steps towards meeting himself.


Italicized text copied from here

Friday, January 20, 2012

365 #11 Emo

I've been feeling emo the whole day. Since this morning, I've been wrapped in a blanket of self pity and home-sickness. Though where is home, exactly? I don't have a conventionally permanent one as yet, so I guess it's where the heart is. And right now, though most of my heart is still here with the hubs in this house that I've spent hours spring cleaning, pieces of it have flown away from me. They've flown to my hometown, taunting me as they breathe in the air filled with Chinese New Year bustle, shop for new clothes with my girls, wrap up ang pows to give to the kiddos, rub their hands in glee at the feasts ahead, slap down mahjong tiles, while they smile and smile and smile.

I know I promised myself this would be a space of goodness, but it's break time. After all, how could rainbows appear without a little rain?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

365 #10 türk kahvesi

It's not everyone's cup of tea (pun intended), but I personally love turkish coffee, especially after a heavy meal. I feel like it kind of seals the deal and settles the tummy. I also think it's also really pretty, especially when served with a single turkish delight. Very delightful indeed.
Average prices of these shots around Istanbul range from 4.50 to 8 turkish lira (2 to 3.50 euro).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

365 #9 Let it snow

Istanbul has been covered in snow the past few days. It's beautiful, though the roads are a bit scary to walk on. My little victory sign was made to 'match' the furry ear muffs I got when the hubs and I were caught in a sudden blizzard and my ears felt like they were about to drop off from the cold and my little bun didn't look good in didn't allow for a snow hat.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

365 #8 When you thought I wasn't looking

by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan
When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt—
But that it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking—
I looked . . .
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.

Dedicated to my wonderful and gorgeous parents.

Post copied from here