Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Worlds to fantasise about

After having read Pies and Prejudice, I am caught up in imagining my own book club. Every activity can be based on a particular book we choose. For example, in the book, the members mention having dressed up as their favourite character from Little Women. Perhaps my book club can be based on Austenesque novels and it can have activities like an outing which the characters embark on or a ball they go to :) What fun will it be when December comes and the book club can hold a Regency Christmas celebration! When it comes to the modern retellings, these activities will be in accordance with the era the books are set in :) Imagine putting on a P&P play like how it was done in Acting Up!

I am also enthusiastic about the idea of participating in life swaps. Jane Green has already written about it but somehow the portrayal of it in this book seems more appealing to me. An American family swaps their house with another from England for a period of time. I would love to do this with someone from Bath, England so that I can explore Bath. I am very sure my partner would gush about Singapore, where I am from, after having spent some time living here :)

The book poses questions for book clubs and I would like to answer of them here.
What did you know about JA before you read this book? Are you interested in reading her books?
Answer: I knew about some of her novels, her movie adaptations and the spin-offs from her novels. Yes, though only some of them. I would want to read Pride and Prejudice.
Have you ever lived outside of the United States? Where would you want to live?
Answer: Yes, I live in Singapore. I would want to live in England.
Have you ever had a friend move away? How did you stay in touch?
Answer: Yes. I used ICQ chat and snail mail.

Have you ever felt bullied? How did you handle it?
Answer: Yes. I tried to endure their taunting for as long as I could before bursting out with a remark aimed at them and then walking away in a huff.
How would you feel if your family swapped houses with someone else?
Answer: I would feel excited but would also miss my house and be anxious about living in a new house.
Have you ever tried out for something you really wanted? Did you make it?
Answer: Yes to both questions. I wanted to sing as part of the choir for a Catholic musical and I was selected for it after the audition :)
Do you have a blog? Have you ever thought about starting a blog? What would it be about?
Answer: Yes to the first two questions. Different aspects of life, as evidenced by my various blogs under the prefix Pseudo.
Have you ever done something anonymously? If so, why?
Answer: Yes. I felt the gift was more important than the giver.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone or something that you didn't want to?
Answer: Yes.
Do you like to bake? What is the best thing you make?
Answer: Yes! Cornflake Bites.
Is there anyone in your life who resembles a character from literature?
Answer: Yep. One of my close friends seems like a Mr Darcy.
Have you ever upset someone unintentionally? Is there anyone that you think would make a great character in a book?
Answer: Yes to the first question. It was through my words.
Is there any famous person, alive or dead, whose hometown you would like to visit? Why?
Answer: Of course! Jane Austen, which I am crazy over.
Has anyone close to you passed away? How did you get through it?
Answer: Yes, my mum. My Catholic faith and my close friends helped a lot.
If you could give any present to anyone you wanted, what would it be? Why?
Answer: Financial help. The person needs it.

New blogs discovered

Looking at the earlier quizzes I posted, you can see that I am an Austen fanatic. This adds to my love for any kind of quizzes. I got wind of them from two blogs. Austenesque Reviews is the main one and Austen Authors introduced me to other gems shared by the former.

The former was discovered through the Goodreads application on Facebook. It had been promoting its Austenesque Extravaganza event running for the whole month of August. Being absolutely crazy over JA, I immediately indicated my attendance for the event. I have no regrets doing that and hope it can be held again and again. Just like the latter, it brought me into new friendships with authors specialising in Austenesque literature, allowed me to immerse myself in the contests, drove me wild with new books about to fly off the bookshelves and gave me the chance to share my favourite books with other participants.

The latter entered my world through Facebook too. It recently celebrated its first anniversary, at which I was a delighted guest. The contests at this celebration were more challenging though. Alas, the celebration lasted for only a week although it did fill the void which the end of Austenesque Extravaganza had left in me.

An exciting activity which I signed up for is the Dear Jane penpal programme initiated by Indie Jane, a blog I discovered on Austenesque Reviews. Austen fanatics will be matched with each other, depending on whether they prefer being done so on a domestic or foreign nature. I chose the latter. They will post handwritten letters to each other for 6 months.

I have always loved the idea of writing letters and cards to my friends. It conveys more love and is more personal, in my opinion. I get the opportunity to paste stickers and imprint patterns on them too. I cannot wait to find out who my penpal is and I hope to continue writing even after the 6-month period has ended, as long as my penpal is in agreement too. Who knows, I may even find a special someone through this, much like the female protaganists in A Weekend With Mr Darcy! I do not believe that there are no male fans of Austen out there :P

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Which Austen are you most like?
Jane Eyre - Jane Eyre You are Jane Eyre. You may not think that you are loved, or you doubt it when you are, but you realize that sooner or later, one person in the world does care for you. You may be labeled as not the prettiest girl in the nieghborhood...but when the occation requires it, you bring up the beauty a few notches. Although you're not the complete beauty, your personality makes up for any shortcomings times 10. Many hold to your endearing charm that keeps things going bright.
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Which Pride & Prejudice character are you????
Elizabeth Bennett You're clever and like to read. You can be stubborn at times , but you always want what's best for your family and friends.
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Pride & Prejudice: which Bennet woman are you?
Jane Bennet Jane is admired for her beauty as well as her character. She is sweet, shy and sensible, but not particularly witty. Her most notable trait is a desire to see only good in others.
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Which Jane Austen Character Am I?
Elizabeth (or Lizzy) Bennet from Pride and Prejudice You are Elizabeth with a mind of your own; you have a strong opinion to match your determination. You like to read, love walks by yourself, and are looking for the perfect guy to marry. Usually you know what to do, but when you don't you are open for suggestions, which you take with a pinch of salt.
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Friday, September 9, 2011

What Jane Austen woman are you most like?
Elinor Dashwood You are sensible and give reasonable advice. You do not portray your emotions to everyone, but keep them to yourself.
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What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
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My Result: You are Chloe Parker, also known as
on quiz: Austen-Inspired Heroine Quiz
You are Chloe Parker, also known as "Miss Parker" from DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY by Karen Doornebos.

You are a life member of the Jane Austen Society, you idealize the Regency era, and you feel as if you were born two centuries too late! Still, you are a strong woman, ready to tap into reserves you didn't know you have to make all of your dreams come true.

To find out more, see Karen's website, karendoornebos.com.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We Are British, Innit?/30 Foodie Things We Love About Britain(Epicure June 2012)

Though this book/section in the magazine is strictly for British readers, I can identify with some elements of being British too. After all, I have been to England 4 times and have an overflowing passion for all things English. Therefore, here is a PERSONAL encyclopedia of what being British/eating British food is about, inspired by this book/magazine.

Apologising: The British apologise even when it is not their fault in the first place. I am glad I am a British in this sense as well.

Baked Beans: Eating them with toast will be rather substantial for my stomach, while eating them with crisps sounds rather appealing to me :) I guess the latter is somewhat like hummus.

Bangers and Mash: It is really sausages and mashed potato on a plate. I can imagine dipping the sausages into the potato and eating them like that. Delicious!

Blyton, Enid: I have always wondered why readers like Noddy. I love looking at the pictures on the hard covers but the series itself does not seem appealing. I love the Famous Five books though. I adore the descriptions of the picnic food the children pack for themselves and of course, Timmy is an absolute darling. The Secret Seven series have stayed in my past. Another favourite is the Enchanted Woods series. The stories of the different lands up the Faraway Tree are so delightful.

Bond, James: I had a fondness for the movies on this secret agent in the past.

Burberry: I love the design of the checks amidst the beige background. I imagine how wearing the trench coat will make me look stylish. When my dad bought a pink umbrella with a similar Burberry design, I was ecstatic. I had a fake Burberry umbrella!

Chips: Eating them with thickened mushroom gravy, curry gravy or mushy peas sounds yummy!

Class: It seems that a liking for olives makes me middle-class, which I am, while a knowledge of cutlery etiquette makes me upper-class :)

Custard: The most famous custard powder is of the Birds brand. I distinctly remember the tin with red, yellow and blue colours on its outside, though I have a vague image of the tin having a checks design too.

Deep frying/Fried Chicken: Deep-fried food is my weakness and it is heartening to find out that the British love it too. I love fried chicken, Japanese tempura, fish and chips, and anything battered and fried. Chicken Maryland comes to mind and I love Fish and Chips that has a smooth batter rather than one made from breadcrumbs.
Cue in Southern Fried Chicken, Popeyes's Louisana Chicken, McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and Chipotle French Fries, and what KFC has to offer too. Scotland has come up with Deep-fried Mars Bar but it is really too sinful for me to stomach it. Despite that, I decided to try it in mini balls form. It is indeed delicious but too many balls can be saccharine-sweet. Squirting Hershey's Chocolate Syrup over them really spoils their texture too, as they become soggy. Thank goodness I rejected the free scoop of ice-cream that came with them!
Deep-frying kebabs when they are usually grilled is also something bizarre to me, with salad(!) being the ultimate repulsion.

Diamond Jubilee: I had an English picnic with a fellow British lover. We dressed up like the English in dresses and fascinators/hats. Then, we went to the park to have British food like Fish and Chips, Mini Jaffa Cakes, biscuits and lemonade among others. I even gave her a door gift of a lollipop in a Union Jack carrier. I also pored through magazines on the actual celebrations in England and everything British.

Dogs: I really really love dogs. I guess I would feel at home in Britain as a result :P Each time I see one, I make funny exclamations at it, thinking that it understands me. Unfortunately, it always looks away or even gives me funny looks :P
I buy gifts for my friends' pets at times too. I have only a stuffed toy beagle which I have named Duffy. When I can, I play with my friends' pets Astro and Trixie. I once fed Astro banana slices and grapes. I also carried him onto my lap. Trixie seems to recognise me when she sees me. She asks me to scratch/pat her at times. She also wags her tail at me when she has not seen me on a regular basis and she once sensed I was unhappy too. I love it when she puts her head on my lap :)

Flasks: I associate them with the smell of coffee because I remember getting the smell whenever I opened the cover of my previous flask to get hot water. I guess it had been used to brew a cup of coffee and the smell lingered on its rim. I also link them to keeping soups and porridge hot, courtesy of watching television serials where hospital visitors bring flasks with such contents to the patients.

Fruitcake: I remember my mum making it a few times for Christmas. She used to soak the dried fruits first before using them for the cake. I also remember getting it as wedding favours but it would have a top layer of hard icing during such occasions. I preferred the icing rather than the cake itself, sad to say.

Fudge: I love hot fudge as a topping on my sundaes at Swensens. Somehow, I can't say the same for cold fudge. Hot fudge is a perfect complement to the cold ice-cream. I made it for my friends as Christmas gifts last year by adopting Nigella Lawson's recipe. However, it is probably more appealing to those with a sweet tooth :P

Golf: I played miniature golf at the most recent cruise I went on and I rather enjoyed the game. I pretended I was a professional golfer then :P

Gossip: This makes me British then! :P

Grammar: It is a definite must for countries with English as their first language. However, this need does not seem to resound with people in my country.

Harrods: This department store is a must for tourists. It supposedly sells everything under the sun. I love its food hall where food from all over the world is sold. They are packaged and presented so prettily as well. Of course, the prices are high since it is in the Knightsbridge area and is a 'branded' store. Most people are crazy over its store accessories range, especially the bags. The trademark icon on them is the Harrods bear. The mint tea at its in-house cafeteria packs a punch and is good for those who have caught a cold. My dad felt a lot better upon drinking it. I had the good fortune to visit it during its Christmas promotional period. The trees and their various themes of decoration were up, which are always a source of childhood magic for me. There were also Christmas stationery and food products. I bought pudding biscuits as a gift :) I could not resist taking photos in the food hall. I never get tired of looking at them again and again.

Heinz ketchup: There is a distinctive taste from that of the other brands of ketchup. It is more sour.

Heston Blumenthal: I first got to know about him from the cooking programmes on cable television. He loves to take on food challenges like reinventing food for nutritional purposes and recreating historical banquets with contemporary techniques. I saw his outrageous dishes for the first time on Masterchef Australia 2, where the contestants were to reproduce his Sound of the Sea dish. He seems genuinely nice and I like him better than Gordon Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen.

Jamie Oliver: I watched his television programmes Naked Chef and Oliver's Twist. He makes cooking look really easy peasy in them. I like the different occasions he presents as settings to the dishes he cooks in the latter. From them, I have also learnt that it is fine eating pasta the Chinese way, instead of twirling the pasta around the fork. After all, he eats pasta the Chinese way too!

Jumble sales: They can be interpreted in two ways: full of unwanted junk or treasure troves. I take the latter. I love the fact that the products are priced cheaply. I have managed to get prized books from my childhood at low prices when scouring through such sales. There is the possibility of getting items for decorating one's house too. That would be a steal for me. The thing I am not comfortable with about such sales is wearing second-hand clothes. I will change my mind however, if I find something vintage which I really like.

Lea and Perrins: I encountered this sauce for the first time when I was making Roti Babi. It is an accompaniment to the dish. It is an acquired taste though. 

Marks and Spencers: I was first exposed to this brand through my mum's clothes label. Then my first purchase from this store was Cocoa Butter Hand and Nail Cream. It smelled food-ishly yummy. I have purchased more items with time. Candles especially for the Christmas period, Jaffa Cakes, Bacon Rashers, Honey Baked Ham flavoured Crisps, Dark Chocolate Digestives, Christmas Puddings and Log Cakes, Christmas wrapping paper, Easter eggs, and sweets like Lemon Sherbets, Gummy Worms and Wine Gums are the purchases. My latest purchases are BBQ Wholegrain crackers, and Apple and Cinnamon Popcorn Cakes. Actually, the clothes range is appealing to me, if not for its price. Oh well, I guess it is a high-end store.
I had a bit of time at the Covent Garden branch in London and saw that the biggest difference there is the huge food section where there are ready-made meals. I remember having seen a Singaporean meal there too! Its Mint Humbugs have a special significance to me. My best friend bought a whole packet for me after having noted that I like them. I seldom get presents from him and so it was a sweet surprise for me. I distinctly remember how he gave it to me. He asked me to open the glove compartment in his car where he had stashed it :D

Marmalade: My family eats it with bread at times. We buy Orange or Raspberry, though I prefer the former. I also associate it with Paddington Bear's favourite food :)

Marmite: I remember being coaxed to take it as a child. It was another version of Brovil in those days. I hated the taste and so when my dad wanted to order it in a dish with chicken, I was apprehensive. I tried a little of the dish and like it more as part of a dish rather than on its own. Some people eat it with toast or take it as a drink. That is not for me.

Mini: This is not the skirt but the car. It is my dream car. I love the different colours it comes in. I would love to own a pastel mini due to its compact and petite size :)
Mini skirt: This is the skirt. I remember wearing a silver tight one for the purpose of attracting someone's attention, but he instead saw me for my inner side :)

Mushy peas: I think eating it with mint tastes delicious. However, most people I know don't like peas. I wonder why. I love it in cream pasta, Thai green curry and pies.

National Trust: It is another name for National Heritage Board in Singapore. It is a stamp of recognition on the value of literary and historical architecture. It means the particular place or building is a must-see for visitors to England like me.

Nigella Lawson: she has many different cooking shows on cable television. My favourite are Nigella Bites and Nigella Express. The dishes she shares with the viewers are quick and easy to make, and yet presentable enough not to be categorized as fast food. I have tried two recipes They are Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes and a fudge recipe. The former was more well-received.

Nighties: I still wear such nightdresses to sleep. I especially love the frilly ones.

Ovaltine: It is similar to Milo and comes in a big orange tin. These two drinks, together with Horlicks, were my childhood beverages.

Peas: Not many people like peas but I love them. Mushy or whole, they are still appealing to me. I can imagine eating them with Fish and Chips. Mmmm......

Pies: Chicken and Cottage Pies come to mind. I don't really like the former with a flaky crust. I prefer the ones with a smooth and sweet crust, much like a tart, from an outlet that sell Soya Bean along Serangoon Avenue 3. My brother loves the ones with a flaky crust though. It was his childhood snack. I love making the latter. It is just a matter of topping the minced beef and peas filling with mashed potato. I had a good review for it :)

Poor service: Singapore is supposedly known for this in the retail industry but sometimes, the customer is not always right. I am not saying that we have exemplary service though. If the customer is unreasonable, he cannot blame the retail staff for reacting in the way they do.
I did encounter this in London's Chinatown. The elderly staff members of traditional Chinese restaurants usually place more focus on the quality of their food rather than the service they provide. They believe the food should speak for itself and that is all that matters. Hence they can be rather rude to customers. On the same level, the hawkers in Singapore have this same perception.

Pork scratchings: They are really the skin of Chinese Roast Pork to me. Guan Hoe Soon and Crystal Jade's versions are especially crispy. They can also be bought together with Chinese Barbecued Pork Slices from chicken rice stalls in Singapore.

Pot noodle: It is really cup noodles to me. My favourite brand is Nissin. I remember asking for it on my flight back from Rome last year and it was delicious! It must have been my yearning for local food that kicked in. I remember my mum asking for it on SQ flights when she didn't want to eat the menu offerings :)

Pubs: these have different definitions in both Singapore, where I live, and England. It is more sleazy in my country, where vices tend to occur. In England however, there is a family atmosphere with quizzes and even craft classes being held there. I especially like pubs in the suburbs, where the villagers gather to socialise. These public houses have creative names like The Eagle and The Red Lion. Nowadays, gastro-pubs have sprouted in England. They are famous for their food like steaks and roasts.

Puddings: My favourites are Mango Pudding from any Chinese restaurant and Chocolate Pudding from Rise at Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Though Bread and Butter Pudding is quintessentially English, I don't fancy the soggy bread in egg. I know the mixture will be baked but this does not lessen my dislike.

Queen Elizabeth II: I love her dressing! Her hats and outfits always match and the colours are so feminine!

Queen's English: I have always loved its accent. It sounds so proper! I have a thing for the English accent, really :)

Queen Victoria: She was famous for having the Great Exhibition during her reign in 1851. Some of the things are truly extraordinary. I was blessed to have viewed them at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum per se is a must-go! It is named after her and her consort. Her consort was famous for starting the tradition of having Christmas trees indoors.

Queues: This is a Singaporean activity. Some people queue out of social consideration and lawfulness, but some others do so for freebies or new product launches. I remember the queue for Hello Kitty freebies offered by McDonalds some years back. Unfortunately, mayhem broke out despite the initial orderliness. Nowadays, it is for new products or shops like Apple gadgets and H&M.

Rhubard Crumble: Nigella Lawson's version comes to mind :)

Rich Tea Biscuits: McVities comes to mind. I remember my parents dunking them in coffee to soften it before eating them. I can't stand the sogginess of it. The intact version tastes somewhat like Marie Biscuits :)

Roast Beef: I love the one from Rise at Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I usually eat it with mint jelly and/or Yorkshire Pudding :) As a young girl, when I ordered it as a main course from Western restaurants, I would usually ask for it to be done medium-rare. It sounded so classy when I said this. However, now that I am older, I try not to eat it so often due to health reasons :S It seems like a Sunday dish to me, courtesy of cookery shows by Nigella Lawson. I remember the one cooked by Claire of Masterchef Australia Season 2. It came out so succulent and perfect! An alternative is Roast Chicken and the best one for me will always be the one done by my mum. She told me she was merely trying it for the first time. It was delicious! She never made it again but I still remember it :)

Scones: The ones at Popeyes' are really fragrant and delicious, though they are known as "biscuits". However, my first and best experience of eating them was at a hotel in Cameron Highlands. It was rather cold that day and eating the warm dainties with butter and strawberry jam was a paradise-like experience!

Scotch Eggs: I made these for the first time while doing Food and Nutrition in secondary school. They are not too difficult to make. They are hard-boiled eggs surrounded by sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried.

Tea: I love tea as a drink in itself. Some of my favourite flavours are Earl Grey, Jasmine, Osmanthus, Chamomile and Peppermint. As a meal, it is a luxury to behold. I used to have high tea buffets and they would cause me to skip dinner. I would have a mixture of Western and Asian delicacies during the buffets. In England, the Ritz at Green Park is the most famous place for afternoon teas. A typical afternoon tea is made up of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and tea.

The Ledbury: I went for a wedding lunch at this restaurant, and the decor is indeed elegant and classy. It made me see black in a new light. It is in the Notting Hill area. I got to try unusual food like boar meat, celeriac, truffle, gnocchi and souffle. I loved it! It is a 2-star Michelin restaurant and I am honoured to have dined in one :)

Waitrose: it is an upmarket supermarket chain but one that  my dad and I like to go to while in London. It is very close to our favourite Millennium Gloucester Hotel. It was there that I fell in love with English Women Weekly magazines. A packet of biscuits that I bought there was also well-liked. There is also Salisbury behind my hotel but it is further. It has more of a family atmosphere than Waitrose with its exclusive feel.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I am really like Mary Bennet!

Having read A Match For Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward, I am filled with fantasies as to what my life would be like if I were to remain single. First though, let me present the comparisons between her and me.

She is contented travelling back and forth to visit Jane and Lizzy. She learns to create samplers. She goes to church and ends up serving the Lord in ministries. She indulges in books, music and religion. She has high aspirations towards marriage,associating it with God's divine will. She begins to wonder about motherhood. I possess all these inclinations too.

However, there are differences between us too. She does not like to dress up for balls and while there, buries her nose in a book. She tends to quote from the religious writings she has read in her conversations with people. She does see marriage as unnecessary in attaining a state of contentment.

I, on the other hand, love to read about clothes and makeup. I have a weakness for floral dresses and never fail to buy a new dress for Christmas each year. I am a girly girl where fashion is concerned. At a social function, especially a formal one, I am tempted to indulge in my books but I do not. It is rude to do so. I try to make conversation with the people around me. I do not quote from my spiritual readings in my personal interaction with others. It merely turns them off. I am very open to marriage and believe in its ability to grant me happiness, just as singlehood can do so.

Now, I will go back to expounding on my dream life in being a single. I will get more tuition students from further areas to teach. I will experiment with new dishes to cook and entertain friends at home. I will continue to visit the library and bookshops. I will resume my hobby of visiting museums and attending music concerts. I will meet up with my friends at meals and outings. I will manifest my thought into action of producing cross-stitch samplers. I will go back to attending weekday mass and Charismatic sessions. I will work on improving my vocal gift through voice training sessions, and perhaps fulfill my secret aspiration to sing on stage like Lea Salonga or sing with the Singapore Lyric Opera. I may write more poetry books other than the one I hope to publish in 4 years' time.

A great passion is to travel to England where history and literature are most appealing to me. I would love to embark on historical/literary walks/tours and go for literary retreats. My favourite literary author is Austen, and it would be magical to travel to the places she and her charcters went to. Having read about these in books like Me and Mr Darcy, A Weekend with Mr Darcy and Austenland, I am excited to experience the same adventures the protaganists did. The countryside and suburbs are equally enthralling. I would also join the Jane Austen Society and attend its events. It would be so ecstatic wearing empire-waist dresses to balls.

Bath is my favourite town in England, and I would like to explore it further and for a longer time. There is so much more of Austen's worlds in Bath that I have yet to visit. From a modern perspective, the town has a lot to offer as well. The vintage boutiques, craft shops and bookstores are alluring. Vintage Magic the book, Mollie Makes the magazine and brands like Cath Kidston have introduced me to these delights. Even the public houses are the types that define the true sense of the term, with their food and activities like knitting groups and trivia quizzes. No sleazy vices that degrade women are present. The Christmas fair would be within walking distance.

I would not mind staying there for a long period of time. I could start a small business of my own. I could open a little diner offering the dishes I love to cook, both Asian and Western. Of course, I would keep it cosy and comfy with its smaller size as compared to typical eateries. Ahh... such is my 'alternate reality' :)

Monday, May 2, 2011


Lee Tzu Pheng:

But how may such words suffice
That touch his sufferings, barely?
- Way of the Cross

Meeting you, the wave
I see you at last:
the waters of pain in your eyes
wash over me: sorrow is mine,
your sorrow too
deeply mine
- Against The Next Wave

Kirpal Singh:

my citizenship is your intimacy, the flesh
hidden in your bones beneath the skin.
- Introduction

Alvin Pang:

I take a word
and insert it into the
space between us.

Does that connect us? Only
if you take it in
and make it your own.
- Language, like Love

Goh Sin Tub:

Silent sips of kopi-o-kosong
The amah says three/ Ah Goh says one
As through the many-layered corridors of HDBs

All the while we spoke so much
We said no words -
Minds meeting in scrutable pensive sips
Have no need for lips
- My Friend, My Enemy

Robert Yeo:

Robinson returns to Raffles Place/Yaohan outdoes Changi/as a picnic spot

All is lost that we used to lose
In childhood we find what we lose
What we lose as adults we lose indeed
- Elegy to Changi Beach

Edwin Thumboo:

Landscapes grip your senses.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Disappointment in Andie Chen's perspective

After winning the award of the male celebrity who swears the most on Twitter, he gave an interview. He does not seem to disapprove of spewing vulgarities and takes it as a form of self-expression. That is merely an excuse. Self-expression can occur in more civilized ways. He also feels that it is something natural not to be repressed. Language in itself, is man made and so I dispute this particular opinion too.

He may claim that it does not hurt people but I believe it does influence them towards uncouth and unrefined language and manners. Hence, it injures their intellect and cultured-ness. He seems quite arrogant in thinking that no one has the right to tell him not to do something. Somehow it seems to be a rebuttal towards his management who told him to practise caution in his expressions. He feels too that he is showing his real self by this. A person's real self is what is natural in him. The language he uses is what he has acquired, a contradiction! What appalls me is that he feels he is a positive influence on people. Gawk! Yes, he may live in a good way but good language is part of this too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Collected Wit and Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes

On Crime:

...when a clever man turns his brain to crime it is the worst of all.
- The Adventure of the Speckled Band

On Detection:

Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.
- The Sign of the Four

I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see.
- The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier

On Education:

Education never ends Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.
- The Adventure of the Red Circle

On Intelligence:

Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it
- The Hound of the Baskervilles

On Nature:

One ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature.
- A Study in Scarlet

On Himself:

I am an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.
- The Adventure of the Lion's Mane

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lady Gaga's latest video

The video shows glimpses of the lyrics pertaining to John Lennon's Imagine. It shows her giving birth to a group of people who love everyone. However, the repulsive elements come in when she pulls out a gun from her private parts and rolls about with other people in a puddle of oil. It gets worse at the start of the video when she gives birth to a "creamy egg with a face" and then makes her face up as a skeleton's. Granted, the lyrics of her song are not as devilish but images are potent in their effect.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

FB is not synonymous with manners

With the increasingly developed aspect of technology, people have been using FB as part of their social communication. However, I feel there are some "taboos" pertaining to this.

Updating one's FB status during one's own wedding is not polite. So is updating one's FB status on every single activity done, for example, going to answer nature's call, not proper. Even updating one's FB status on what one ate for lunch is not necessary. Do people really need to know? It offends my sensibilities too when I get incessant and redundant comments on my posts and photos. What about wall posts that are merely daily greetings? That takes the cake. Another irksome phenomenon is viewing photos that are weird, like rice or one's insignificant purchases.

Of course, this entry is very subjective. FB users have the prerogative to post whatever they wish to on their wall, as long as it does not defy FB's guidelines. This entry is merely based on my own dislikes.

The Importance of Being Well-read

I am a fanatic over books. Just as Budget Tai Tai had been exposed to them since young, I too got started on books at a young age. I remember fondly my Sundays with my family at Centrepoint. My parents used to leave me at Times the bookshop for a few hours while I read my way through the books, from mysteries to cookery books. As an adult, I now never fail to bring at least 1 to 2 books when I go out. They help me pass the time as I wait for my friend, or tide over the self-consciousness I feel while alone.

Reading what she wrote on people smugly remarking that they do not read, irks me. How can reading be regarded as a childish pursuit? It is really an intellectual and elite activity, depending on the type of books read. Then again, I notice most locals tend to browse the magazines rather than fiction books in bookshops. Is there no inkling of reading for pleasure in their minds? Are they so consumed with work that they do not know how to take a break from the real world? If this is so, it is rather sad.

The article disturbed me further with the narration of an unimaginative and narrow-minded teacher restricting the writing content of her student. What is wrong with "Fancy that!" as part of the ending to a story? She had learnt that phrase from a storybook. It is definitely not "irrelevant" as the teacher labelled. She was merely applying what she had read and there was no justification for the teacher to put her down like that. It will cause the girl to be hesitant about showing creativity in her essays in the future. It will be the teacher's fault for having quelled her creativity. I agree with Budget Tai Tai's opinion on the teacher thinking that the student should confine her reading material to textbooks. This makes the teacher seem inflexible. Indeed, this will affect the reading habits of the girl as she gets older.

This reminds me of an incident I was privy to. A mother wanted to cultivate the reading habit in her son and so chose books for him to read. She however, chose books based on grammar and forced him to read them. One can learn proper grammar from reading stories too. Besides, it is boring for children to read such books at that age. They should be allowed to read whatever they genre they like and then select their favourites, as I was given leeway to do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Questions based on Chick Flicks and Lit

(This is taken from the book The Ultimate Guide to Chick Flicks by Kim Adelman.)

1. The Princess Bride: Who in your opinion are the three most beautiful women alive today?
Ans: Kate Pang has to be one of them.

2. Grease: If you had to assemble your own Pink Ladies entourage, whom would you initiate into the group?
Ans: Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price, Grace Kelly, Tao Li.

3. Freaky Friday: If you could be someone else for a Friday, who would be your dream switch?
Ans: My mum.

4. Working Girl: When it comes to hairstyles suitable for the workplace, is less more and how high is too high?
Ans: Yes and if it refers to the position of a ponytail, just below the top of the head. If it refers to the length of hair, just below the earlobes.

5. Ever After: What other fairy tales need to be updated to the twenty-first century way of thinking?
Ans: Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty.

6. City of Angels: Do you believe there are angels among us?
Ans: Yes.

7. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever: Do you believe in reincarnation?
Ans: No.

8. Private Benjamin: What extreme action would you take if you wanted to radically change your life?
Ans: Migrate to Bath or anywhere in England.

9. Miss Congeniality: If you were forced to compete in a beauty pageant tomorrow, which do you think would be your strongest category: swimsuit, evening gown, poise or talent?
Ans: Talent.

10. Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo: If Hollywood were to make a movie of your life, who should play you?
Ans: Emma Thompson.

(This is based on a book review of The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux.)

1. If you were given the chance to relive three weeks of your past, when would they be and why?
Ans: They would be the last three weeks before the examination of my final year as an undergraduate. If I had adjusted my studying attitude and habits, I would have attained a higher category of honours.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Tricks BBC series

I really love the detective series produced by BBC because real dilemmas are presented in the process of solving crimes. The team in New Tricks has to deal with one when deciding whether to reveal information to the media. The head feels that the public deserves to know how the case is progressing but the lawyer working on the case too, feels that the information should be concealed as it is not good for them to know about it. He seems to be protecting their interests.

Both points of view seem to be for the good of the people. I think I would agree with the lawyer's. They can be informed of the overall progress but perhaps not every detail, especially since revealing certain things can throw them into a frenzy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A very appealing quote

"On a good day,sunlight glitters through their leaves, setting them aglow in a halo of light, and in the breeze they become dancers, their leaves and branches swaying in an ever-shifting ballet."

When the leaves are aglow, it somehow reminds me of a woman's hair bathed in light when she goes out in the day. I love the idea of dance incorporated into the moving leaves. The personification here is so beautiful and artistic.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Literary quotes taken from a book

This is from Intimate Home, Creating a Private World:

"Life (is) a round of simple pleasures and domestic delights." - Dame Edith Sitwell

"Transported through books to faraway places, one can take frequent journeys of the spirit."

"Dream over books ... and let the line of thought dip deeper into the stream." - Virginia Woolf

"What I mean by reading is... reading again and again, in all sorts of moods, with an increase of delight every time, till the thing read has become a part of your system and goes forth along with you to meet any new experience you may have." - C.E. Montague

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?" - Henry David Thoreau

"... this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless... There were all the places she had not seen; the Indian plains; she felt herself pushing aside the thick leather curtain of a church in Rome..." - Virginia Woolf

"To sit in idleness over a good fire in a well-proportioned room is a luxurious sensation." - Jane Austen

Home is "a little kingdom I possess, where thoughts and feelings dwell." - Louisa May Alcott

"What cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions. They can raise them as much as if the persons themselves were present... Having lost the substantial pleasures of seeing and possessing you, I shall in some measure compensate this loss by the satisfaction I shall find in your writing. There I shall read your most sacred thoughts." - From a letter of Heloise to Abelard

Calligraphy's measured beauty speaks of an age where time moved more slowly, and of a world where there was ample time for the graceful curve. The flowing lines turn thoughts into endearing keepsakes to be admired.

"A light bookcase contained duodecimo volumes of polite literature in calf, completing the furniture." - George Eliot

Perfume, the heart note of a woman's soul, (is) decanted in heavy cut-glass flacons.

"... mother's room... was as the abode of a fairy... - a mystic chamber of splendour and delights..." - William Makepeace Thackeray

A home can embody many places. It can be at once a retreat for solitude and personal pursuits, and a setting for favourite things, dreams and beauty.