Monday, January 31, 2011

A very merry (un)birthday to me

Last Friday was my birthday. I'm already quite old (31 years old - I have no problem telling people my age). Anyway, the UKM Wondergirls were so sweet. I walked in the door, rushing as usual because I was cutting it very close to make the Journal Club presentation only to find this beautiful book on my table from Mali. 

We had a very interesting and interactive Journal Club session since now they have made it compulsory for all the students to ask the presenter questions before the lecturers do. Everybody also enjoyed my fried 'kuih' (I'm not sure what it's called, it was a square breaded pastry type thing with potato curry filling). Since the department doesn't have a budget for refreshments anymore, I thought since it was my birthday and all I would treat everyone. So I had woken up early to fry those little kuihs. Was so glad that everyone enjoyed it.

We went all the way to Wangsa Walk for lunch and ended up at Secret Recipe. Where I tried their Black pepper lamb pie for the first time (though I have been wanting to try it for a while because my friend Farhana recommended it). We were having anice lunch when suddenly one of the SR employees came to our table and asked "tumpang tanya, cik ke yang bawa kek luar tadi? minta maaf tapi kami tak boleh benarkan kek luar di sini (excuse me, were you the ones who brought an outside cake just now? we're sorry but, outside food is not allowed here). Poor girls, they were planning on surprising me with a birthday cake during lunch (a UKM Wondergirls tradition) and they had not counted on Secret Recipe being so strict. It was a good surprise too since I really did not expect it since I saw no eveidence of a surprise cake plot at all that day. I tried to re-assure them that I did not mind and it was understandable that Secret Recipe being a cake house would not appreciate their customers bringing other cakes there. But I knew the girls were disappointed.

More so since I had to rush for a 3pm meeting straight after lunch. So we only managed to take pictures of the beautiful fruity white chocolate cake in the car. I asked them to give a few slices to the lecturers. I found out later that they ended up giving most of the cake away, saving a single slice to share amongst themselves. 

After the meeting, I was greeted with yet another surprise. A beautiful present on my table. All I can say is, I was very touched. I never expect gifts on my birthday but more than the gift itself, I appreciate the thought and the effort.

Thank you to all my friends for their overwhelming outpouring of love, friendship and support.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Stranger is Watching by Mary Higgins Clark

Basic Plot

Two years after the brutal slaying of his wife Nina, Steve's wait is almost over. Ronald Thompson will be put to death for the heinous crime. The only problem is, he did not do it. With the clock ticking on the much publisized execution, the real killer strikes again. This time, kidnapping Steve's son Neil, and his new lady love Sharon. It is a race against time, to save the people he loves most, stop a wrongful execution and apprehend a cold-blooded killer. Oh, there's a bomb in New York City to defuse too. 

What I liked about this story

It's a very fast paced book. With a plot that unfolds really well. There is alot of excitement and the reader has many things to look forward to (or worry about) with each turn of the page. It also raises the issue of the death penalty quite well, and touches the biggest nerve. What if the wrong man is executed? This book would make a really good action flick. (Oh, wait I just found out that it was made into a movie in 1982 but with a few changes).

What I disliked about the book

As far as psychopaths go, the one in this book was quite tame. Despite the crimes he commits, the acts are more as a garnish for the plot rather than the main course. The readers are not really invited into his mind or to delve into his motives at any deeper level.

A quote I liked from the book

".. I had come to the conclusion that if we were to preserve the most fundamental right of human beings .. freedom to come and go without fear, freedom to feel sanctuary in our homes, we had to stop the perpetrators of violence."

Rating: 4/5


Finally started writing for MBP again, click here for the latest article.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mariah Aishah (alamak forgot the third name) \ || Ani Sup Utara Gombak

Two Sundays ago we went all the way to Puncak Alam to visit my cousin who recently had a baby girl. A miracle baby after 12 ++ years of trying for a second child. 

Introducing Mariah (like Carey) Aishah (and a 3rd first name that I have forgotten):

The kids loved fawning over the cute little thing. Hamzah was especially exuberant in kissing her cheeks. Aishah was just delighted that it was a girl and dressed in pink from head to toe. 

Since it was dinner time, we stopped off at the newly opened Ani Sup Utara near our house. First time for my parents and kids. We had the bihun sup (ayam), sup ayam, sup tulang and sup kambing. As susual was able to douse my bihun with tonnes of sambal kicap (sooo hot and good!), the kids devoured their sup ayam and managed to finish a whole serving of rice between them (a rare and amazing feat), my father enjoyed his sup kambing. The only slight disappointment was the sup tulang as it was quite tough. 

Then we headed home and slept.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup

Firstly, thanks to Mamarazzi for her amazing review that made me immediately pick up the book when I saw it at my local bookstore. This book was written by the author of Q&A (better known as the book-movie smash hit Slumdog Millionare).

Basic Plot

A powerful man has been murdered and 6 people with motive and means (namely a gun) are detained as a suspect. Despicable as the dead man was alive, his death demands answers. Whom amongst the six pulled the trigger? Was it the corrupt beaurocrat possesed by the ghost of Mahatma Ghandi? A simple American tourist who travelled half-way across the world to meet his Indian bride? A tribesman on a perilous quest to retrieve what was stolen from his tribe? The hottest Bollywood artist desperate to protect a dirty secret? A slumdog thief with a vendetta? Or the politician aspiring to the greatest heights at any costs?

What I liked about this book

Vikas Swarup is a master storyteller. He manages to juggle so many different, complex characters and an ingenious, intracate plot almost flawlessly. It was delightful how skillfully each avenue was explored, leading the reader merrily through what seemed to be a complicated and amusing mind-maze only to find that all roads lead to Rome (or in this case the muder). Each character is very well dveloped including the minor roles. There are some truly funny and incredulous scenes in the book. The author has such a knack of using coincidence and chance that instead of weakening the plot, it serves only to strengthen it.

What I liked about the book

The ending and the final reveal. Given the amount of skill he showed throughout the book, I honestly think that the final piece of the puzzle could have been more jaw dropping or mind boggling. As it is, it was just clever and neat but still sort of an anti-climax.

What I didn't like about the book

There are quite a few generalizations and stereotypical images in the book, namely about the corruption in Indian politics, the simple-mindedness of the working-class American and the mindset of the so-called terror organization. Eventhough, it may be pertinent to the plot and flow of the story, I did take offence to some of the references.

A quote I liked from the book

There 3 types of students. One, those that learn by reading, Two, those that learn by observing. The rest have to pee on the electric fence by themselves....OK folks, time to paint your butts white and run with the antelope.

Overall it was a really enjoyable book. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mommies' Day Out: Italiannies, Gardens

Reen, Keen and Sufee

With all the craziness that is my life, there is simple pleasure of meeting up with good friends. Keen (one of my best friends since high school) is in charge of our pseudo-monthly (we never get to really do it mothly) Mommies' Day Out. This time the venue was picked by Roszie. We chose to go to Italannies at the Gardens.

The restaurant was really nice, and stepping in that Friday at around 12 noon, we were the first customers. It was the five of us, Keen, Reen, Roszie, Nadd and I. Sufee arrived a little later with no help from my directions. (I gave her car directions and she came by commuter).

Our menu:
  • Spinach & Artichoke Formaggio
  • Margherita Pizza
  • Lasagna A La Ravina
  • Salmon Picatta
  • Grape Fruit Shake, Strawberry Colada, Frozen Ocean (and others)
The service was impeccable, the waiters and servers were efficient, polite and charming. They explained each item on the menu effortlessly and hepfully (didn't make us feel at all uncomfortable not knowing the Italian cuisine). While waiting, we were given bread to be dipped in virgin olive oil. 

Free bread and virgin olive oil, Keen's Frozen Ocean & my wonderful Grape shake

The food was quite good. The Spinach & Artichoke Fomaggio, we ordered mainly beacause none of us had ever eaten an artichoke before, it was very creamy and the accompanying garlic bread was really nice. The Margherita pizza was delicious and is classic Italian pizza with just Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil. The Lasagna portion was a little smaller than I anticipated but was very rich and full of flavour, with tonnes of melted cheese. My favourite was definitely the Salmon Picatta, it had a tangy sauce and the Salmon was cooked perfectly (with that crispy skin and flaky meat inside), and the portion was really big. 

Spinach & Artichoke Fomaggio

The drinks were also alot of fun. My grape shake was divine and with just the right amount of sweetness. Keen didn't enjoy her Frozen Ocean though.
It was wonderful to see my friends again and the lunch seemed to just fly by. Hope to see you guys again soon.
Note: The menu indicates which dishes contain alcohol but you can still request for the chef to prepare it alcohol free. For more information on the menu, click here.

PS: Sorry not many pics coz Nadd was the one with the fancy camera and she hasn't uploaded them yet!
PPS: My friend Keen just started a new business. Health and beauty for all you hot mamas out there. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turning the page

Dreams shatter even when we're not asleep,
In fact they were never ours to keep
Vast chasms develop slowly over time
Our voices muted turn to mime
Regrets and memories intertwine
Crossing over the blurry line
Even through this worldly test
Doing only what we thought was best

PS: I'm sorry. For all my mistakes over the years. To all family and friends, forgive me for not being the person you wanted me to be. Hope all your prayers are with us now.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Williams where everything is BIG

Last week we all went on a food outing to Williams. Actually Maz had been raving on about for ages but we never got around to actually going. Finally, we managed to set a date and Faizal (Maz's husband) was brave enough to take all 8 of us girl's out to see Uncle William.

The traffic was quite bad to get there, despite taking the short-cuts. Word to the wise, do perform your Maghrib somewhere first, because we had a hard time finding a surau (finallly ended up stopping for Maghrib at the Tabing Haji mosque nearby).
The place itself was open air, we arrived early so the crowds had not descended yet. The place doesn't have a formal menu although there is a big chalkboard with some suggestions and the "waiters" are very helpful at suggesting the chef's specials.

Cool drinks like avacado chocolate, avacado yogurt

My chicken Kiev was HUGE (a bit salty for me but everyone else said it wasn't) and my Pinapple and Rambutan juice with almost half a tin of Rambutan stuffed with pinapple cubes

Love the drinks

Zil's sis (Shikin) and friend Cicah with their Spagetti Arabiata style ..soooo many meatballs

Zil and her sis Aqilah with my favourite of the night Nasi Goreng Ketam

Shar's nasi goreng pikachu kapachu .. hehe

Nice Meatball Lasagna

Uncle William himself "Sorry ye, I a bit slow" when actually he just calculated everything in his head

We had an ecclectic combo of both Western and Aisian food. The portions were huge! I especially loved the big juice glasses and weird combos but mostly coz they put so much fruit (rambutan, laici, longan) in there. The food itself was ok, there were some hits and misses (namely do NOT order nasi gorneng ayam percik). But all in all a great place to eat and chat and hang out with friends. (Prices were ~RM 12-30 per dishand drinks were ~RM 7.)

More prices and pics here.

PS: Some very sad news. Last Sunday, Sharlina's mother passed away peacefully at home. Al-Fatihah.


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