Sunday, June 8, 2014

Good Doctor and Big Man

I discovered these two Korean dramas by chance.

Good Doctor touches me because the protagonist who is an austistic medical student, finally gets to pass his medical exam after having been initially rejected by the medical board. It is a tale of perseverance and of acceptance, of shared passion to heal patients. He is accepted by the girl he loves, by the staff around him and as a younger brother by a senior doctor. Their love is innocently sweet due to his mental age, but it is in the simplicity coupled with sincerity that the love is more poignant. The newly found brotherhood with the senior doctor is also a happy moment to behold.  

There are other moments that create an impact on me too. The senior doctor who usually looks serious, proposes to his longtime girlfriend and we see a lighter side of him then. All the staff wish for a small girl to get well after her operation develops complications, with the senior doctor being most vulnerable and turning to prayer in a Catholic chapel(there is a crucifix!). The director acknowledges the existence of another treatment after medical means, which is an allusion to prayer, really.

Big Man, which is currently showing, affects me in terms of how the victimized protagonist tries to protect the girl he loves, even though she was just about to tell the truth to save him from conviction. He admits to a crime he has not committed and pretends to hate her for that reason. He really does not want her to get involved with trying to save him, as he had overheard a tape clip in which her life is in danger. The pain and anguish he hides at having to hurt her, out of love for her, is something that always has an profound impact on me.  

A Valentine's Kiss by Lucie Hart

This book is awesome. It made me feel head-over-heels and topsy-turvy as I read towards the end of its story. I wanted to run back to it each time my duties called me away, despite it being 400+ pages long..
This is a book worth retaining in my own library.

Besides the beautiful beautiful language descriptions, the way Imogen and Archer revealed and confessed their feelings for each other, both verbally, technologically and physically, wasn't portrayed so bawdily and raunchily. In fact, it was sweetly seductive. I really loved it. There were semblances of raunchiness in one or two physically intimate encounters between Imogen and other men, but they were blown off by the sweet moments she shared with Archer.

The revelation to Imogen's quest gave me thrills to no end despite my prior inkling of the answer, notwithstanding the hints that Hart had injected in the course of the story.

The setting may be in France, where romance is always associated with it but I think it does little to distract the reader from the actual plot. In fact, it serves to only enhance it.

I cannot resist sharing some beautiful descriptive sentences from the book:

"She stiffened in surprise as she felt a man's hands gliding caressingly down her arms and covering her own hands, and almost immediately a soft, firm mouth closing over hers, a wild rush of blood to her face, her throat, her arms and every one of her fingers, her legs and her belly."
"Imogen, it's me,' the person said in French, very low, while taking her hand in his."
"Where are you?' 'Over here,' he whispered, finding and taking both her hands this time. He very gently pulled her into his arms where he held her in a light embrace.
"She found herself instinctively laying her head on his shoulder. She was only aware of the feel of his shirt against her cheek."
He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her until she fell into such an all-enveloping, liquid and languorous haze that her knees almost gave way. He pressed his mouth against her throat. When the desire to cry out became irresistible, she turned around in his embrace and nestled against him."
He seized her hand, slipping his fingers between hers caressingly. He wrapped his arms around her and she closed her eyes."
"He pulled her to him in order to kiss her cheek, very close to her mouth."

"Tea-rose pink, it makes your skin look a lovely shade of pale gold. I like your white tuxedo. You make me feel like we're all on a liner in the middle of the ocean."

"The bar, with its curved high ceiling and narrowish gallery shape punctuated by tall rounded pillars, was a vision of art deco splendour, saved from excessive solemnity by its cheerful Mediterrranean shades of cobalt blue and terracotta red. The hotel's dining room was an enclosed, nude-coloured, leather-upholstered box that resembled the interior of an expensive handbag, with the dramatic addition of sparkling crystal pebbles cascading from the ceiling."

"The sky beyond the orange trees had turned from a muted porcelain shade of almost-white to vibrant summery blue.
"She heard a soft whimpering sound and turned to meet Monty's pleading eyes. She let him out and watched him put his nose to the ground, entranced by a new wealth of exotic smells. The hills stretched out in front of her eyes, carpeted with yellow-flowered gorse. She looked up at the sky, which was a pale shade of grey that seemed to promise rain. She gazed at the deep valley stretching out in front of her. In the far distance, the mountains looked like a painted film set, so vivid were their variegated shades of purple and blue."
"She noticed a dramatic change in the weather. It was as though all the Riviera light had suddenly been sucked out of the atmosphere. The palm trees on the promenade looked bruised and exhausted against a leaden sky."

"The people retreated indoors, with the exception of the town's devoted dog owners who continued to parade their smartly mackintoshed and often booted charges."

"By the end of a torturous week, the pain gnawing at her chest was searing, unbearable and when tears came, it was with a violence she had never before experienced, streaming from her eyes like a solid curtain, which, when it occasionally dried up, left her face aching and swollen. Mitch and Gene had been very kind, coming into her room at night to sit with her and hold her hand when they heard her sobbing in her sleep."

"The wedding cake design was a deep puff pastry love well filled with layers of vanilla custard and crunchy nougatine. This sat atop an ornate neo-classical white plinth encased in meringue, against the side of which a gold-coloured spun-sugar ladder was propped up. At the top of this, a barrel-chested, pink-faced marzipan figure, easily identifiable by his chef's whites and hat, stood clutching a sugar lobster in one hand and a bunch of marzipan flowers in the other, while gazing romantically across the well, where a glamorous marzipan figure, wearing a large white floppy straw hat and a fabulously expensive and beautifully cut black swimsuit, was perched on the pastry edge, dipping one foot in the custard."

"Brightly coloured fragments began to fit together in her mind like a mosaic, forming a picture. Suddenly, everything became very bright, as in an accelerated version of the dawn."

"He raised a hand to her face and his fingertips brushed her cheek, then caressed her hair. Their eyes met and Imegen smiled. He gathered her into his arms. It was all right, she thought, rubbing her face against his shoulder. 'Oh, my sweet girl,' he said. He took her hands. He pressed his forehead against hers. She lay in his arms in a state of absolute peace and contentment. She rubbed her cheek against his. He tightened his hold on her. She stroked his hair. Wordlessly, Imogen kissed his brows, the bridge of his nose, and he smiled. She caressed his face and he seriously looked into her eyes. He brought his mouth firmly down on hers."

"I had the strongest desire to give you something that would make you think of me."

"She sat, holding hands with Archer."

"She changed into a beautiful evening gown in midnight blue lace for the evening party."

"The people on table six really wanted to congratulate her. She had found a party consisting of her dearest friends, all cheering her on. It had been the most wonderful accolade. Christmas had been spent at Bunny's house, where Imogen, Archer and their friends had all hunkered down for a few days, playing cards, watching silly DVDs and getting ridiculously merry."

"In the greenish underwater atmosphere of the restaurant, which at this hour of a winter's afternoon made the most of the shimmering marine tiles, his hazel eyes looked translucent and golden. She touched his face and smiled."

"Through the restaurant's glass front, the harbour presented a scene of radiant winter serenity. Snowy palm trees glittered against a pale backdrop in which the sea and the sky merged into one. Archer turned away from the view to gaze at Imogen, at which point she smiled. Archer had his hand on her waist."

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Magic in A Winter Flame

She loved him so much it hurt sometimes. "I love him so much it hurts me."

Eve was very much in the mould of her aunt with her big bosom and the nipped-in waist of a fifties film starlet.

There was a gorgeous orange and cinnamon sorbet at Christmas.

We used to have a twelve-foot Christmas tree and every visitor had to bring a bauble for it.

There was a conical cabin selling soup and hot chocolate.

The buffet that awaited them was a feast to behold. The caterers had excelled themselves with tiny two-bite sandwiches: turkey and stuffing, pork and apple, Wensleydale and red onion chutney, prawn and curried mayonnaise. There were the diddiest little mince pies with a brandy butter swirl, caramel apple crumbles with custard, mini tubs of Christmas pudding ice cream. Latticed pies, pastries, miniature chocolate rum roulades were on the list too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ashley Madison - sadism!

The tagline is 'Life is short, have an affair'. Ridiculous! How can there be satisfaction in destroying marriages and families, with a temporary fling? "Not that the website cares". Thank goodness, access to it has been blocked in Singapore.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Princess

Another Korean drama has enticed me! It is a fairy-tale drama about a diplomat who helps a princess to restore the Korean monarchy but ends up falling in love with her. A few factors render this drama appealing to me:

- soundtrack
- chemistry between the lead actors
- the male lead's good looks
- romantic scenes and script portions

In contrast to the previous dramas I have watched, the fashion worn by the female lead does not really attract me and there is not much contemporary food/culture in this drama. Perhaps the distant and unrealistic plot is the cause. After all, it is about a princess and this word has already prejudiced my mindset against the fashion worn by her.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A British Christmas with The Secret Shopper Unwrapped

The far wall had been wallpapered with a vintage print featuring boutique shop fronts. Another wall was lined with white-painted wooden shelving units, with primrose-coloured  lever arch files, ready to be filled with mystery shopping reports.

I want to throw off my shoes and clothes and jump into the shower and then change into leggings and a fleece and lie on the sofa with my baked beans on toast watching EastEnders followed by Nigella Lawson telling me how to stuff my Christmas goose.

I want to dress her in my fleecy pyjamas and fatten her up with tea and buttered toast. I spot Jean scoffing away on a hog-roast roll with apple sauce.

Freddie casts a contemptuous look at the much-loved penguin, lying abandoned in the corner of the room. I feel stung on poor Pingu's behalf.

Not what was in the shops but the wonderful promenade, with the pillars and the roofs to keep the rain off as you window-shopped, and the ironwork, intricate as a lace doily. Southport could only be a woman, fussy retired woman who smells of Yardley Lavender perfume, dignified but old before her time. The kind who will greet you after a long journey with tea made with loose leaves, and a home-made cake, served on matching crockery.

Try the sweet shop in the arcade.

The newspaper proclaims on the front, Feel-good Festive Special.

It's a million miles from the little girl who fell in love with Oxford Street and this very boulevard.

I look at the shoppers, wrapped up against the coastal breeze in Christmas reds and greens and purples, and I see the smiles on their faces as they are drawn towards the window displays, against all their sensible instincts. I see a small girl outside a toyshop, her eyes stretched wide at some unknown but utterly desirable doll or game, her mother pulling her away gently, but the girl's eyes stay fixed on the window for as long as possible before she disappears into the crowd.

Marylebone High Street at dusk is perhaps the closest thing I have ever seen to my romantic teenaged imaginings of England. Dickens could not have conjured up somewhere so picture perfect. There is enough ice in the air to make one feel wintry, but not enough to chill the bones. There are the stores, the prettiest of stores, selling the loveliest of inconsequential non-essentials. I covet everything: the lotions and potions in Space NK, the heavenly haberdashery and ribbons at V.V. Rouleaux, the huge glass jars of e-numbered delights in the window of the sweet shop, the hand-painted naif plates and teapots in Emma Bridgewater, the thousands of classic books in Daunt's, the jewel-coloured cashmere sweaters in Brora, the copper pans in Divertimenti....

There are the stalls, just for Christmas, with strings of fairy lights suspended from the canvas roofs. I stop by a stall selling biscuits and cakes, every single one snow white. Star-shaped meringues dusted with icing sugar. Cookies with big chunks of white chocolate melted into the dough. Marzipan hearts with a frosty sheen. I am seized by the desire to buy up half the stall. The hearts are perfect for Emily. The cookies will go down well with Nigel. Little Freddie will love the stars...oh, and perhaps those tiny snowmen, too. The woman wraps the pile in glorious shimmery cellophane, with cascades of ribbon.

I'm going to use cupcake cases as tealight holders - I tried it out and it looks gorgeous, the flames reflected in the gold and silver foil. I found a spare container of Johnson's powder so I can scatter it like snow across the living room. Then Will can tramp through it in his biggest boots, to 'prove' that Santa visited.

We pass through the ground floor, which is decked out as a Winter Wonderland, with lights that simulate soft falling snow, and assistants dressed as woodland animals offering free samples of reviving hot cider punch and butterscotch Florentines.

I have imagined fresh nuts and mince pies on the hour, plus soups and devils on horseback and smoked salmon and a fat, golden turkey with all the trimmings and rib-sticking Christmas pudding with pounds and pounds of freshly-made brandy butter....

I have to confess that I believe the Papists do the Christmas thing better than anyone else. The thrill of staying up past midnight was the big draw, and then gradually the magic of the ritual worked on me, until it seemed like the only way to begin Christmas.

I think of Christmas at Garnett's: the decorations and the music and the smells and....

Her delicate features are lost in a round face, like currants in fruit bread as the dough rises.

Enjoy the entire British Christmas experience. It's not just the lunch. There's the evening buffet, the midnight snack. Jill always invites the whole close to the Boxing Day Brunch. A sideboard groaning with cold turkey and defrosted supermarket desserts is the highlight of the social calendar.

I spoon the carrots into a built-in slot in a heated trolley. As they tumble in, the carrots coil around, coated in melted golden butter. The turkey meat is perfectly moist, and the stuffing curiously tasty. The chestnuts are crunchy, and the chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon taste deliciously savoury.

There is an adorable Victorian compendium of fairy tales, with full-colour plate illustrations. Not to mention and original photograph of our shop back in Edwardian times.

Mick and I are in the lounge, listening to a CD of Christmas hits sung by Bing Crosby. The display cabinet is full of Lladro porcelain figurines, the ones of grey-and-white-hued young girls holding kittens or reading books. I feel relaxed enough to let myself drift sleepwards....

Her storecupboard essentials would put Fortnum's Food Hall to shame. Decadence is in such a feast: dill-marinated salmon and chicken liver pate and caviar and tiny olives and even tinier capers and peppers stuffed with feta and mustard fruits and spiced truffles and cantucci biscuits and pomegranates split in half to reveal their crimson-jewelled seeds and white chocolate cookies and white meringues and.... Grazia returns with a tray heaped with a cooked turkey, a pack of pre-roasted chestnuts, a huge pack of cranberry and pistachio toffee, home-baked mince pies, cheeses, iced and unevenly cut star biscuits, pigs-in-blankets, and a big bottle of sunshine-yellow egg nog. We retire to the lounge and sink into the squishy sofas next to her roaring open fire. She has immaculate tastes and an unlimited budget.

We must recapture the Christmas spirit with stories. Think of memories to share of the best Christmas you have celebrated. A memory comes, that triggers another, and then another. Smells, tastes, sounds.

I get to the roundabout, where the Bush ends and Holland Park begins. I've walked the length of the Holland Road, and now I am in Kensington. I've been past the big houses where they leave the curtains open so you can admire their gigantic trees. Then I cross the Cromwell Road. Now I'm in Earl's Court, the bit where the Kiwis and the Aussies go if they don't like Shepherd's Bush.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Family by Ba Jin

When I first read this novel as a young girl, it was out of curiosity and I liked the plot. It stopped at that.

Picking up this same novel as an older adult gives me different views of it. I still like the plot but I can now appreciate the characters and their situations more. I can also detect the tragic flavour in the story, as the author didacticised.

Here are some excerpts:

"Mingfeng bowed her head shyly but she felt inexpressible joy in her heart. For the past two years, she had often longed to be alone with Juehui but now she was a little afraid. He loved Mingfeng and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He asked, " Don't you want to be with me?"

"Juexin wanted to find a chance to bare his soul to her but each time he met her, he couldn't say anything."