Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pretty, Colourful Cupcakes

Colourful cupcakes have been food fad for quite some time already. Who can resist them? Coffee/tea and (cup)cakes make the ultimate dessert and teatime indulgence. Cupcakes are usually small, but the largest, according to the Guinness World Records, is a 1,176 kilogram cake made by a bakery in Virginia, USA in 2011.

Also known as fairy cake, we all know cupcakes are cakes baked in cup shaped containers and are usually decorated or frosted. They make quite an impact in the food business and I know of at least three persons (including a lawyer) who have left their salaried jobs to start cupcake businesses.

The above pretty pastel cupcakes we bought at a kiosk in the Amcorp Mall recently.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

My First Football Game: TSSC 2014

Who would have thought that finally, I did get to see my very first live football game last night. And in the giant's eye of the Shah Alam Stadium at that. So its another item ticked off my bucket list. Yay!

My first view inside the Shah Alam stadium (CNB 2014)

It was the 13th edition of the Sultan of Selangor's Cup 2014 between Selangor and Singapore. The stadium was filled to the brim with home football fans of the Red Giants, in the colours of Selangor - red and yellow. The 'chanting', the 'waves', the drum beats (?) all seemed to contribute to the excitement of the spectacle of men running around after a small ball. I do not really know the rules of the game but I do know a goal when it happens-lah!

The Veteran line-up (CNB 2014)

Start of the main match (CNB 2014)

The first game (curtain raiser) was between the Selangor Veterans (including among others Dollah Salleh, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh and Rajagobal) and the Singapore Veterans (including Fandi Ahmad) which ended in a 1-1 draw. [The Selangor Selection versus Singapore Selection game ended in a 2-1 win for the former, its eighth in the series.]

The official launch of TSSC 2014 was by HRH Sultan of Selangor, and there were quite mesmerising cheer-leading performances by several schools plus the amazing pyrotechnics - loud bursts of glowing firework sparklers and their smoke entrails.

The cheer-leading (CNB 2014)

The pyrotechnics (CNB 2014) 

It was serendipitous that Penel was in town and like me, it was her first live football game as well. We were lucky the invitations enabled us to park below the stadium and leaving early also meant we did not have to contend with the inevitable traffic jam after the event. Thank you Penel, Husin, Sarah and Azlan. I had a great evening, and hope you all did too.

Post-Scriptum.  I am game for TSSC 2015 next year. If we get invitations again...
P.P.S. Sorry B in Kedah & A in Sabah; you both had to miss the game this time.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Memorial to MH370 & MH17

We were at Subang Parade today and saw this appropriately beautiful memorial to the tragedies of flights MH370 & MH17. It is a reminder that our time on earth is not permanent.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

SuperMokh the Musical

SuperMokh the musical, enjoyed a restaging recently at the Istana Budaya from 8-21 September 2014. Having missed it the first time around, we attended the performance on the evening of 19 September. I was curious to see how the sports of football would be translated into a musical. I must say I was thoroughly fascinated ... and impressed. I think I now understand better the passion of Malaysians for football and why Mokhtar Dahari or SuperMokh is both an icon and a legend of the sports.

Awie was SuperMokh and Maya Karin was Tengku Zarina, his wife. They were good in their roles, but for me, the character who stole the show was Douglas Lim who played MD's work colleague at PKNS. He was really hilarious!

The Program book

Awie and Maya Karin take their bows

After the show, we had the chance of meeting and congratulating Awie, Maya Karin and Rashidi Ishak for their fine performances.

Just before leaving, A and Sarah had fun as they emulated SuperMokh in action on the field (at the exhibition area).

19 September2014

Thursday, 18 September 2014

'Red Carpet Moments' at the MGC/TKC OGA Biennial Dinner

It was only my third attendance at the MGC/TKC Annual (now Biennial) Fund Raising Dinner and it was great to meet up again with friends and teachers of our school years. This time the venue is the Shangri-La Hotel in Jalan Sultan Ismail, KL.

Before the dinner, there was the chance to mingle in the lobby with old friends, senior and junior. There was of course the usual "Teka ni siapa?" Guess who?, because some faces are unrecognisable with the passing of time. And we are talking some forty plus years of lifestyle changes since we left TKC Seremban.

L-R: Ani, Rod, Ina, me, Narim, Siti Arbi, Nik Nazirah

Our TKC 64-70 group sat at two tables, generously sponsored by RT. Thank you for the very kind gesture that enabled the twenty of us (+ our ex-teacher Cik Puan Safiah) to sit together and ... reminisce about the good old days at our alma mater on Bukit Merbau, Seremban.

L-R: Raja Nor, Ina, Leha, Nik, Ilina, Ling, Rosmah J,
Aki, Ain, Amah, Ku We, Jen, me, Narim & Daratul

The food was Western fare with salmon as main. The entertainment was Adibah Noor singing and there were dances too, including by the 'old girl TKCians'. The highlight of the evening was the launching of the book "The Legacy; Tunku Kurshiah College Seremban", by DS Rosmah, the wife of the Prime Minister, also a 64-70 TKCian (the wife not the PM, obviously). In fact the PM also gamely stayed on for the after dinner dance fling that is a TKC 'tradition'.

One 'Red Carpet Moment' of the dinner event that I need to record here was meeting up with our ex-biology teacher, Puan Hasnah Ali. Most of us had not met her since we left TKC in 1970, so it was most nostalgic for everyone. She may not remember every single one of us because after all we have become grandmothers, but we all certainly remember her and the biology lessons she taught us then.

L-R: Rod, Ani, Ain, Ling, Amah, Puan Hasnah, me, Ilina, Narim
13th September 2014

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

SA Garden Catalogue: Money Plant

The money plant is a herbaceous vine with leaves variegated green and yellow or white, climbing by aerial adhesive roots. The size of this plant varies according to the conditions it grows in. If placed indoors in a small container with water, it is a small plant. But it will metamorphose into a big vine when allowed to climb a wall or a tree. In fact the leaves may be large and incised, the bigger the vine grows. This 'versatile' plant is also a creeper if planted as ground cover.

Scientific name: Epipremnum aureum (Syn: Scindapsus aureus)
Common name: Money plant
Family: Araceae
Origin: Solomon Islands?

I cannot really remember when and where I got my money plants from, but I have always had them in vases of water in the house. They are said to be efficient at removing indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene and benzene.  In the garden they creep on the ground as well as climb the partition wall. I have to constantly 'prune' them back because of the plant's very invasive nature.

The money plant is so easy to grow, requires very little care, and grows well in shade or partial sun. Propagation is by cuttings. (Note that it is supposed to be toxic and not to be consumed by children or pets.)

This month of September has been quite wet, and the inter-monsoon rains rather heavy.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Birthday Celebration at Acme Bar & Coffee

Happy Birthday B!
B & b'day cake slice @ Alexis

We celebrated B's recent birthday today at the Acme Bar & Coffee (ABC) at the Troika, Jalan Binjai. It was our first visit to this eatery, on the ground floor of tower B of this Norman Foster building (more on this in another blog post maybe). So it was a combination of the celebration of birthdays, food and architecture. Birthdays? Oh, its also Malaysia's 51st today. Happy Malaysia Day!

It is 'summer' at the Acme Bar & Coffee (ABC) and their decor was colourful Hawaiian, including a really gaudy Tiki Bar as all tiki bars should be. They had some new introductions in their summer menu too. Although we had no reservation and there was a waiting list, we were lucky to be seated within 10 minutes of arrival.

Overall the food was good; we had duck and steaks. And the ambiance was fun! Aloha!

We skipped dessert here because the mains were pretty generous, so later we went to Alexis at the Great Eastern Mall to have our tea/coffee with B's birthday cake - a slice of zucotto complete with the mandatory (?) lighted candle. Once again, happy birthday B! Have a great year ahead.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Books I Love: Under the Tuscan Sun

Frances Mayes is an American writer, poet and essayist and a former professor of creative writing. She wrote her memoir Under the Tuscan Sun; at Home in Italy in 1996, about her acquisition and restoration of an 200-year old abandoned villa (Bramasole) in Tuscany, Italy. I bought and first read this book in 2001 and my note inside the back cover reads "17.7.2001, finished reading this book... Impression? ENVY in a word!" I read it again before we went to Italy in November 2006 and ensured that while there we'd experience and enjoy some Tuscan sun! (Under the Tuscan Sun was made into a film in 2003).

In fact this volume together with Bella Tuscany; the Sweet Life in Tuscany (1999) and Every Day in Tuscany; Seasons of an Italian Life (2010) make up Mayes' Tuscan trilogy which is all about living in the Italian countryside and the pleasures of food, wine, art, gardens and the Italian zest for life. (Note: I have yet to read the second and third volume of her trilogy.)

Mayes is reputedly 'the woman who single-handedly started the travel-memoir craze'. Another travel memoir A Year in the World; Journeys of a Passionate Traveller (2006) is lauded as 'vintage Frances Mayes - a celebration of the allure of travel, of serendipitous pleasures found in unlikely locales, of memory woven into the present, and a joyous sense of quest'. My favourite chapter is the one on Crete and Mani (Greece) where I could relate to some of the places she visited.

Under the Tuscan Sun; at Home in Italy. Ex Libris CNB 0072
A Year in the World; Journeys of a Passionate Traveller 2006. Ex Libris CNB 1665 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Taking off from Bayan Lepas International Airport

To balik kampung or to 'go home' (back to my village) in Pulau Pinang, the options are to fly, take a train (and ferry) or make a road trip. All travel options are interesting enough to experience, and I have done them all.

The snapshot on the left I took about three years ago (in 2011) as we were about to take off from the Bayan Lepas International Airport after celebrating Hari Raya (Eid Fitr) in the kampung.

Firefly flights from Pulau Pinang go to the Subang Skypark, not KLIA. Then it is a short taxi ride back to Shah Alam where we live.

How do you balik kampung? Maybe you don't because you already live in your kampung, lucky you! But then again, maybe you don't because not everyone is lucky enough to have a kampung to go 'home' to. Ces't la vie!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Jah Hut of Kampung Kol

My first and only encounter with the Jah Hut Orang Asli, a Senoi sub-tribe, was in Kampung Kol, Jerantut (Pahang) way back in 1976. We were on our way to Taman Negara and stopped by to visit a Universiti Sains Malaysia researcher there and also to donate clothes and food to the villagers.

Marie-Andree Couillard was living with the Jah Hut to study their culture and traditions. She later published her Master's research as "Tradition in Tension; Carving in a Jah Hut Community".

Marie-Andree lived in her own hut there, built by the villagers of Kampung Kol. We noted her very primitive temporary home and kitchen, a reflection of all the other homes there. She kindly invited some of the villagers to show us their wood art - carvings, which we inevitably bought*. Three men also showed us their skill in making their traditional music using flutes. The children were curious and came around to view their visitors. Some of the children were naked and had protruding bellies, signs of undernourishment. But they seemed blissfully happy, like all children should be.

Among the Orang Asli, the Mah Meri and the Jah Hut are well-known for their wood art. Marie-Andree noted that the Jah Hut's modern carvings are based on their traditional beliefs related to the invisible world, more particularly to the bes or illness-causing spirits. She concluded that "the modern carvings illustrate the changes going on in Kampung Kol. They are representations of bes which are intrinsic to Jah Hut's conception of the invisible world, but they are produced so that they can be sold to outsiders. As 'exotic' objects the carvings bring money to the Jah Hut and give them access to the outside world. By the same process it allows this outside world to permeate the Jah Hut community and modify it".

(This post is in progress as I try to learn more about the Jah Hut.)


1. Tradition in Tension; Carving in a Jah Hut Community/Marie-Andree Couillard. Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia, 1980. Ex Libris CNB 0155
2. Peoples and Traditions (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, vol.12). 2006 Ex Libris CNB 2081
3. Orang Asli and their Wood Art/Anthony Ratos. 2006. Ex Libris CNB 1921

* Note: Sad to say my collection of three bes carvings were 'given away' by my family while I was overseas for some time. So I do not have any beautiful Jah Hut memorabilia from my visit to Kampung Kol except for some slides, courtesy of Dr Afendras. The above pictures (except the last) were developed from these slides.