Sunday, January 28, 2007

MY DAUGHTERS, IN ISTANBUL

Sarah, Sofi and their 2 friends
The Blue Mosque in the background.The mosque was built between
1609 and 1616 by order of the Sultan Ahmed I, after whom it is named. He is buried in the mosque's precincts. It is located in the oldest part of Istanbul, in what was before 1453 the centre of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It is next to the site of the ancient Hippodrome, and a short distance from what used to be the Christian Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) which has now been converted into a museum.





In a diner. The wall painting looks interesting.







Hagia Sophia, (the Church of) Holy Wisdom, now known as the Ayasofya Museum, is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted to a mosque in 1453 by the Turks, and converted into a museum in 1935





My 2 big girls are extremely lucky to have been given the golden opportunity to visit Istanbul, Turkey for their short winter hols. Thanks to Boogey who still hold contacts with some Turks (Said Nursi Foundation) over there, my girls and their 2 friends were greeted at the airport by kind souls who then brought them to a students flat for their accommodation. Since their arrival they've been given genial welcome by some students from Myanmar and Vietnam, and up till today they've covered many of the major attractions as depicted in the above photos. I'll let Sofi update in her blog for the details later.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A DEAD SERIOUS PHOTOGRAPHY ENTHUSIAST, THIS!

Khin has generously given me the honor to copy these pictures from his fotopage and encouraged me to kutuk write a bit on them.

The tragedy of an inappropriate combination of camera and lens, forcing him to use a concrete tripod!

So, meet Boogey, an avid photographer, who would crawl on his fours to capture his most coveted shot. Who, other than him, would do the photography unthinkable? A photography stunt i.e. requesting a lower-end camera to fit into a giant lens which has an absurd analogy of fitting a turbo-charged engine to a Kancil! (this happened during a Cannon photography meet at the Zoo recently)

Who would be drenched in profuse sweating macam lencun kena hujan only seconds after starting a photography rendezvous. Who would ogle at a slim belly dancer, whom he opined should put more weight to produce more profound gyrating of the adipose tissue, capture her in titillating action but only to crop the picture and omit from her belly downwards!

Watch out for that frown-lines or you'll need Botox sooner than expected!

Just look at his intent facial grimaces as he closes shut one eye and focuses the other into his treasured D50. Be it to snap a distant flying heron or a close-up shot of a dangling spider, his whole being seemed to be in full concentration with each and every muscle working in great synergy. His steady arms are trained to imitate a tripod, lest a shaky and blurry picture he'll produce. And when he lies prone to indulge in a macro-world of creeping crawlies and bugs, he adopts an attitude so much like a trained infantry sniper.


In deep thoughts, searching for the best angle

I have observed him in various multitudes of stances and some are not pleasant to the eye, I daresay. Whilst at Prambanan, Kulo and I were sniggering at their (he and ikelah) ridiculous postures in wanting to get a good view of the temple: body bent at the waist, legs splayed out for balance and their buttocks jutting out. Khin would have had a field day snapping that shot of them! Squatting, crouching, kneeling, supine and prone, these are the painful postures, just to name a few.

Sweltering heat eh?


And when he looks far ahead with his darling D50 in hands, one can tell that his mind is trying to compose a worthy shot out of a particular scene, searching for the best probable angle . Which reminds me again and again of the time in Parangtritis when he was darting to and fro with his camera and tripod, vying for a good spot against ikelah. I can still recall their playful laughter in the still of the dusk. Ahh! Those were memorable moments.

Photography eye??

As Khin has nicely put, one needs to have a photography eye (is this scientifically proven or just a self conjured up phrase by them?) to identify an apparently ordinary subject and turn it into a state of art. For people like me who know nuts about photography, a stray branch of leaves is well...just a stray branch of leaves! But photography nerds like Boogey, seemed to have this ESP ability to captivate ordinary objects or subjects and turn them into spellbinding images! Ye ler tu!!




Little Miss Muffet, he is not!

Even though his pictures were not picked as winners, Boogey was truly satisfied with the Cannon zoo meet. He developed a high fever later that evening. Probably the excitement of getting to sample the giant lens was way too much for his system to handle. Anyhow, Boogey said it was definitely worth it!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

IL DIVO WHO??


Last week, Aliah was breathing down my neck, urging me to conjur up a winning slogan to grab a balcony ticket to see the Il Divo concert. Being me, my mind works best under duress (read: last minute effort), upon which, torrential ideas would flow ceaselessly. However, I am afraid, this last minute effort was a tad tardy to merit a winning prize for Aliah! Poor her.

"Accountant wins Il Divo concert grand prize" was the news few days after the dateline. And his slogan was nice. But mine was just as nice, I thought. Anyway, Aliah didn't win. Not even the consolation tickets. But her lucky friend won the RM 1K seat! She sent in 100 entries and Aliah sent one, so we don't need a genius to calculate the odds of winning, do we?

"Aku cuba pujuk abang aku beri tiket tu kat ko, ok?" said her guilty friend trying to persuade her brother to impart with the accompanying winning ticket. "Pujuk la. Abang ko pon bukan minat Il Divo. Dia mesti tidor bila masuk lagu ke dua" Alas, who would want to let go a RM 1K balcony seat to watch a singing pop-opera quartet? Never mind that you've never found their music genre pleasant to your ears before!

And so Aliah awaited patiently for her friend to return and amuse her with the luxurious once in a life-time experience. She was green with envy needless to say. For days she went moping and sulking around the house and praying for a good samaritan to buy her even the cheapest ticket which by the way is a whopping RM 500!

"Siti Nurhaliza and her step-sons were a few seats away from me". "Chef Wan was a few rows in front" "Even my 1K seat was not good enough to view the singers clearly" laments her friend. "I bought you this picture book about them. It costs 60 bucks mind you!" Well, at least she remembered Aliah and brought her back a memento.


So who is this Il Divo quartet you ask. Why is this sudden frenzy about them? Well, Il Divo is a group of 4 handsome, hunky, male classical singers whose songs are classified as pop-opera crossover. Meaning that they are pop songs, sang in the classical voice. The irony of it all is the fact that the group was initiated by Simon Cowell, the infamous American Idol judge. Looking at the group's great international success, we now know that Simon do have substance despite his outrageous and cynical comments on the AI show.

Not all can appreciate classical singing. Frankly, I never find classic tenors my cup of tea. But with Il Divo it's so much different because their songs are more contemporary and familiar. Listening to their effortless crooning performed in a distinctive stylish manner, one just warms up to their songs.

But pay at least RM 500 for their concert? Not in my life! Thus when Aliah had lost all hopes to attend the concert, she tried stretching her 'luck' further by persuading me to allow her to use her savings. My answer? "Awak nak habiskan duit tabung haji awak semata2 nak dengar dua jam orang melalak?" The question was a clear cynical answer from me, enough to make her stop whining! :p



Dearest Aliah,

I am sorry I was unable to fulfill your dream of watching the concert. I am dedicating the above beautiful song to you!
Love, Mak

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

SAMBAL JAWA



Dear Sofi, Tok was making this and she remembered you. Below is the recipe you once asked. Look at the huge petai! Anyway, if you can't find any petai there, substitute with anything that stinks as bad! hehe


Good luck to Kak Sarah and you in the exams!


ingredients:

fresh peeled petai (the more, the smellier)
long beans cut diagonally (cosmetic reason)
chilli padi (the more, the hotter)
tempe (fermented soya beans), fried crisp
chillie boh,
big onions, sliced
garlic, sliced
prawns,
tamarind juice
sweet soya sauce
salt, sugar

Method:
-fry onion and garlic till brown
-add in chilli boh, till fragrant
-add soya sauce
-add in prawns
-add in fried tempe, long beans
-add in chilli padi,
-add in tamarind juice
-add salt and sugar to taste

Monday, January 08, 2007

*TIPAH TERTIPU - SATU FATA MORGANA!

To those who took pain guessing what the blue bird was, here is the answer! I was flabbergasted, needless to say! Just when I thought that the wet-land behind my house is inhabited by captivating natural wild-life of exuberant nature that roam the place disinhibitedly, I now know that it is also polluted with products of careless people's doings! What a pitiful shame.

Apparently, the angle from where I viewed the rubbish had created a 'fata morgana', a mirage, that caused my eyes to perceive it as such. And isn't life full of such situations?

Incidentally, this is not the first time that I got tricked by such natural display. Once, whilst walking by the beach, I saw a big black cat looking straight at something and not moving a single muscle. To distract him, I called out a loud "meaow" but it didn't respond. Strange , I thought as cats would surely turn to calls. As we neared it, we realized why it was so stoned and quiet! It was just a heap of waste-rubber washed ashore , looking like a cat from afar!

*The title is a recently popular Malay slang that denotes a situation of being duped. Tipah is a Malay female name. Why the name Tipah is chosen and not Minah, Bibah or Semah, I have no inkling. Perhaps a real Tipah was involved with a real life experience of being conned by a real Mamat, thus the phrase.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A BLISSFUL EID

One of the frustrations of working in a hospital is the high probability of having to work on a festive holiday. As the recent Eidul Adha was immediately a day before the encroaching new year, no non-muslim doctors was keen to replace the muslim doctors to do the festive calls. With iKelah working around the clock, I had no choice but to celebrate it with my kids. However we were very fortunate to be able to hang around at KKL's parents home and both KKL and OK and KKL's parents were gracious hosts. They entertained us (read: cooked for us, brought us to see their new house and played UNO, hehe) and made us feel at home. Lamb was the menu of the day. OK made roasted lamb with browning sauce on the eve of raya. Next day it was Lamb stew and it was superb. OK has now set a mark which he has to keep as everyone will be demanding him to provide the same standard of delectable cooking next raya!

On the second day, we drove back to KL to see my beloved parents. My dad, being the very thoughtful person he is, suggested that we visit an old family friend from our Malacca days, Uncle Rahman and Auntie Nab. They have known me since I was a cute and charming toddler, thus it was naturally a nostalgic visit. Uncle Rahman who is already 81 is still strong and about, showing no signs of ageing impairments. He was enthusiastically relating to us on how he finds pleasure in doing sunnat prayers like tahajjud and dhuha. He showed us his small surau where there's a 'giant' quran with big prints for the imam to read from.

Interestingly, he also managed to relate an unforgetful incident that occured when he last performed his Hajj in 2000. Losing shoes at Masjidil Haram is nothing strange but to get it back in a miraculous manner, after losing it, is! After losing a pair of loafers in a stringed bag, he had lost hope of getting it back. He had all forgotten about it when he left Mecca for Medina. On reaching the hotel, he checked in first and as he reached the room, guess what he saw neatly placed in front of the door?? The pair of shoes he had lost in Mecca! Subhanallah! Since that day, Uncle Rahman claimed that he had made a personal resolution to never delay his prayers. So now, he would either prepare his ablution before the adzan or immediately he hears it. Alhamdulillah. Let's pray that we would be bestowed by similar anecdotes that can prick our conscience and prop up our iman, insyallah! Ameen.

Next, we visited my cousin's daughter, an eight year old sweet girl, afflicted with Leukaemia. As most young children who suffers from the white blood cancer, they usually present with easy bleeding or bruising. In her case, she developed bleeding into her knee joints (haemarthrosis) which resulted from a slight fall. It was truly disheartening to watch her frail body. But Alhamdulillah that it's ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia), which has the best prognosis and long remissions. I pray that she recovers well and able to live a full life.

Although ikelah had to work the first day of raya, we still managed to celebrate it joyously, filled with spending time with caring relatives and visiting old acquaintances and ailing kins. Alhamdulillah.

Sorry no pictures to share because sekarang musim macro : semut, lebah, labah etc...

p.s. btw, we also spent Eidul Adha with my former maid who misses my kids tremendously and we miss her too.....

pps. my biras, Khin's wife, is passionate about Pilates exercise and we spoke a bit on it. For that, I am getting a pilates ball soon! (50 hinggit je! Tak le semahal accessories camera!) And by the way, exercise is not ONLY about getting the desired shape. Most importantly, it's about being FIT and HEALTHY. Isn't it Mas?? :-))


This is the ball I'm getting


____________________________________________________________________

THE KINGFISHER AND I

I caught this bird sitting by the creek behind my house. Guess what bird it is.


This is a Kingfisher. Compare with the one I found. Similar ain't it?

One fine afternoon as I slid open the window at Sofi's room, my eyes caught this bluish bird-like figure perched by the banks of the creek behind my house. As I gazed at it, I noticed how vibrant its color was and how unperturbed it was with the surrounding, unmoving and looking serenely straight into the running water, perhaps waiting for a fish for its lunch. Suddenly I felt compelled to snap a picture of it and I ran to fetch iKelah's D50. When I returned, the blue bird was still there, maintaining the exact posture, looking intently at the flowing stream. I tried focusing but realized that the the camera was in a different setting. Not strange, I thought, because someone now is so into macro pictures. Woke ikelah from his post-call slumber. After snapping a few pictures of it, he decided to get a close-up shot later. That's if the kingfisher didn't decide to take off elsewhere.

Later after Asar, seeing that the bird was still there, he took off with Luqman in full gear. Taking the first route, they were disappointed as the bird was obscured by the undergrowth. Thus they decided to track down the path next to the creek itself. However, in a very shortwhile they came back looking annoyed! I was taken surprised as I had expected a longer photo spree. Anyway, they showed me a close-up shot of the beautiful kingfisher and I gave out a loud squeal!!!! Guess what??
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