Monday, February 20, 2012

Tea with Malaysia's First Masterchef

My kids were huge fans of the reality cooking show Masterchef Malaysia. Especially since "adik kawan ummi" Dr Ezani was on the show. They would sit themselves in front of the tv night after night and root for Ezani. They even gave play by play commentary and thoughts on the contestants every move. I was the one bombarded with questions whenever Ezani did not win an individual challenge or *gasp* lost a team challenge. So they were ecstatic when she was eventually crowned Malaysia's first Masterchef.

When I told them that my friend, Ezani's sister Dr Ezura had invited us to her house on Sunday, they were so excited and nervous. Aishah automatically declared up front that she would be very shy around Ezani but will try her best not to be too nervous. All the way in the car, we practiced saying Kak Ezani because they had gotten so used to just calling her Ezani sans the normal prefix of Kak. 

As I expected, after getting lost (my sense of direction is terrible), we arrived to a packed house. Friends and family had also arrived to celebrate her success. As soon as we saw Ezani and the other contestants, my kids were a bit star-struck to see people they had previously watched only on tv. They kept whispering in my ear each time they recognized someone. There were a lot of people to recognize, Ezani, Brian, Imelda, Amita, Nik Michael, Hui Ting and I thought I also caught a glimpse of Zamir but I wasn't sure. 

We did manage to eat something, though I did not have time to take any pictures of the food. People were busy eating, chatting and even the contestants were having fun catching up with each other. I also got a chance to meet up with my ex-schoolmate Lynn and Dahlia, Ezura, Raihan and Fizah. The kids loved the desserts with Yousof eating many curry puffs and Hamzah falling in love with the mini apams. I didn't get to eat much but I'm used to that when going out with them but I heard that her signature carrot cake was divine.

We finally managed to steal a few minutes of Ezani's time to take a photo with her which was the highlight of the day for the kids. She really was handling the win with a lot of grace, making all her guests feel at home. We also got to sit down with Brian, a truly friendly and funny guy in person. It was very interesting to hear all the projects they had planned for the near future. I wish them all the best of luck in their endeavours. We did not manage to snap pictures with the other contestants (read: too busy/shy hehe).

We had a lovely time, thank you to Ezura (a masterchef herself) for inviting us and letting my kids have the opportunity to make such a sweet memory. They could not stop talking about it all the way home.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Mission Song by John Le Carre

Basic plot 

Bruno Salvador is a zebra. Born from an errant white missionary and a black tribe chieftain's daughter, his very existence is miraculous. Working in London as a world-class interpreter with a flair for the numerous African languages and married to a high-born, successful journalist, he has almost shed his stripes. An unexpected call for an assignment for the British government soon finds him re-considering his life and loyalties. Thrown into the world of espionage, mystery, adultery and clandestine operations, he soon finds out whether zebras have the stripes to save Africa.

What I liked about this book

This book and author came highly recommended. My Head of Department actually knocked on my door one day and lent it to me (it seems that my bookworm glow had not passed unnoticed by him). I had seen The Constant Gardener (did not have a chance to read the book), and knew that the author wrote about stuff that matters. He is a magnificent storyteller. The words are fluid and cast wonderful imagery of the African landscape, culture and people. He is able to depict the sense of wonder in each beautiful language even though the whole text is in English. He also manages to convey the skill, finesse and dexterity required of a truly world class interpreter, a job I once coveted when I was younger.

What I disliked about the book

The pace is somewhat slower than I would have liked. There is a lot of background information to digest, especially regarding the political temperature in Congo, politics not being a strong point for me. Another thing I found a bit tedious was the frequency that the main character's thoughts strayed to his lover, even when it was totally unnecessary to the plot. The pace however picked up halfway through the book and gained momentum towards the end. 

A quote I liked from the book

Never mistake, please, your mere translator for your top interpreter. An interpreter is a translator, true, but not the other way round.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, February 13, 2012

A big splash || Gambang Water Park

Last Saturday we finally made it to Gambang Water Park after our previous failed attempt (where we got there only to find half the country queuing to get in and had to turn back, bone dry). We set off early in the morning, well, as early as humanly possible to bathe, dress and feed three young kids and pack them into a car. 

By around 10 am, we were already there, towels a-ready. There were not many people there yet, so we headed off to the first pool that caught our eye. It was a shallow pool with a massive structure for kids to climb and slide down. I just waited near the edge as my dad (the only adult who could swim) played lifeguard and got wet. Suddenly a huge amount of water came crashing from the heavens and everyone shrieked in delight. It seemed that the contraption had a huge periodically water vomiting monster fish. Only Hamzah was rattled but he soon found a less exciting pool to splash about in. 

Abah took Yousof on the the river cruise and came back totally zonked out. He had a bad case of motion sickness and had to lie down in the cabana. So I took over wet-guard duty and just walked in the next pool. The kids tirelessly went down water slide after water slide. You'd think after the 26th time, it would start to get boring but apparently not. Even just standing there at the end of the slides to catch them, their enthusiasm rubbed off on me. 

Yousof was the most adventurous, he tried all the slides even the really long, super-fast, tunnel slides. Again and again, giving the energizer bunny a run for its money. He even got me to accompany him on the tube riding slide. I think that's what tobogganing down those icy chutes in the Winter Olympics must feel like. What a rush! I was thinking, if the kids slide was that awesome, imagine what the adult version would be. Yousof "forced" me to ride it more than 10 times (going down is super fun but trekking up carrying the tube, not so much), I even went with Aishah once, but in her own words "maybe if she was bigger, it wouldn't be scary. I was only a little scared". 

I also took the river ride with Yousof, although by the time we went, there were so many tubes there that it was like KL traffic at peak hour. Thankfully a really nice young man got off his tube and basically steered (pulled) us most of the way. The river ride was so slow that at times we were hardly moving forward but we did get so thoroughly soaked from all the jets, sprays and waterfalls, the wavy part was also quite fun bobbing up and down but neither of us got dizzy (unlike my dad).

Finally, it was around 1 pm and we decided to call it a day (after a lot more splashing around in the pools). On our way out, the kids rode to electric cars and Hamzah enjoyed it so much that the whole ride back home he was bawling "Ummi, buy me a car! Buy me a car!". 

I guess, for me, the prices were a bit steep but I'm told that compared to other places like Sunway lagoon/A Famosa, Gambang is cheap. The management should also look into refining the attractions as some of the attractions for example the river ride could be so much better. We didn't even get to explore the whole park since the kids were having too much fun at the three pools we did go to. So for next time, we will definitely take the time to see the other parts of the Water Park (the family rafting looked fun). I have not played in the water since I was 13 years old, always opting to stay dry on the sidelines but I really felt that by getting wet and joining in the fun with them, made the day more special. The kids can't wait to go again (hopefully with their cousin when she comes to visit), and don't tell anyone but... neither can I. :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lost girls by Robert Doherty

Basic plot

Somebody messed up. Seriously. When a sniper team deep in the jungles of Colombia are left for dead while serving their country, nobody knows what really happened.
When a string of unrelated brutal murders and kidnappings occur, it seems that the story did not end in Colombia after all. What is worse than a psychopath? More than one. Who also happened to be military trained assassins with a thirst for revenge.
The only people who can stop them? An equally elite group of people who work for the Cellar. A division of the government that supercedes the other alphabet soup of CIA, FBI, NSA. They race against time to save innocent lives against a very well prepared enemy.

What I liked about this book

It was a thrilling read. The plot was very fast-paced and you could almost hear the countdown to the ending. The villains are exceptionally cold and calculating. The heroes flawed but skilled. The highlight of the book for me was Emily Cranston. A kidnap victim who refused to roll over and die. Her endless resourcefulness  and resolve in her valiant efforts to escape despite its futility had me rooting for her. Everyone would wish to be as determined as she was when faced which such a horrible situation. 

What I did not like about this book

Not much really. There were some moments when it felt as if I was reading a sequel to another book (which I find after Googling that I was). However, the writer managed to cover the back story well enough for this book to stand on it's own. The prequel was touted for it's amazing potrayal of strong female characters which was repeated to a lesser degree in this book. The intended female heroines were however outshined by the female victim and the stronger male lead character. I think I would have enjoyed this book even more if I had read the first book. Overall, it was still a very good read.

A quote I like from this book

"Because they're bad people, and bad always goes to worse."

Rating: 4/5


Related Posts with Thumbnails