Friday, April 30, 2010

smell the colour 9

I would take no for an answer
Just to know I heard You speak
And I'm wondering why I've never
Seen the signs they claim they see
Are the special revelations
Meant for everybody but me?
Maybe I don't truly know You
Or maybe I just simply believe

Cause I can sniff, I can see
And I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps pounding
So I know I'm doing fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Now I've never felt the presence
But I know You're always near
And I've never heard the calling
But somehow You've led me right here
So I'm not looking for burning bushes
Or some divine graffiti to appear
I'm just begging You for some wisdom
And I believe You're putting some here

Cause I can sniff, I can seek,
I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps pounding
So I know I'm doing fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Smell the color nine?
But nine's not a color
And even if it were you can't smell a color
That's my point exactly...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

振り掛けのお握り sprinkled rice balls

I love how the Japanese always have a way of making life easier. Be it through technological advances or simple innovations in something as necessary as food.

I started experimenting with 振り掛け* as I always have with any of the items I see on the shelves in the 99yen shop. I think living in Japan has taught me to embrace novelty.

To add variety, I would sprinkle some of these furikake onto plain rice, mix them for extra flavour. It's amazing how a little of these could make such a difference to the taste.

One of the flavours I tried there was this 若菜と梅しそ* back in Tokyo, and liked it so much I bought another packet to bring back with me. Since I didn't know if the local Japanese stores would sell furikake, I bought another just for kicks - 6色の野菜 (6 types of vegetable).

The other day, when I was in the mood to cook Japanese rice, I decided to cook extra so that I could make some お握り* for breakfast the next day.

After leaving the sticky rice to cool, I added some sushi vinegar, and sprinkled furikake and mixed all together to form my own version of the onigiri. Nevermind that it wasn't round nor triangle to begin with, I decided the furikake was enough that seaweed wasn't necessary.

This recipe is so simple that you can do it just before going to sleep. In typical Japanese style, I cling-wrapped them in bite-sized balls, put into refrigerator so that I could heat them up for a quick snack the next day. True enough, the sweet-salty-sour combination was just right for appeasing the appetite!

P/S : Actually Japanese rice is such that no heating up is necessary. This was proven when the microwave in the pantry didn't work, but of course it should not be exposed to sun and heat especially in tropical countries like here! 

* 振り掛け; 振掛け 【ふりかけ】 (n) (1) dried food sprinkled over rice; (2) fish flour
若菜 【わかな】 (n) young greens or herbs
梅しそ : plum shiso
お握り(P); 御握り 【おにぎり】 (n) rice ball (often triangular, sometimes with a filling and wrapped in nori);

Sunday, April 25, 2010

water woes

My house is ageing! This morning, no thanks to my granma's maid who ain't exactly the most delicate person you'd meet, the connection to the water pipe outside burst. We had to switch off the main water supply to the house until someone could come fix it.

I had to rearrange 2 appointments because I was stuck at home almost the whole day. The guy who was supposed to come did not show up!

In the end we somehow got a family friend to come fix it for us, and we finally had water coming in.

So we settled down for late dinner, thinking our water woes were over.

Just before midnight, sounds of water gushing could be heard from upstairs. I didn't remember leaving the tap on, and definitely no one would be bathing with the door open.

To my horror, I saw that the water was coming down from the water tank in the roof into my bathroom! My parents and I tried to find the right tap to switch it off, because apparently there's a particular tap that could fix the problem if the tank float becomes faulty.

In the end, we had to switch off one of the supply from the outside. And now we're left with uneven water supply into the house.

So we started the day with no water, and now we have too much water o.O

Friday, April 23, 2010

st. john commandaria

I've always envied my brother because his job takes him to exotic places I've never been to. Well, maybe UK is not exotic, but Dubai and Cyprus sure is to me!

To him, traveling for work is nothing to look forward to. But for me, I always can't wait to see what treats he brings back for the family.

His trip to the Eurasian island country in the Eastern Mediterranean this time introduced him to some of the local wines. He liked it so much that he decided to buy back 2 bottles for us to try.

I must say my brother has pretty good taste. I really loved this wine! In fact it reminded me so much of the dessert wine Imm and I had after being treated to a home-cooked meal in Milan.

Having tasted Sicilian and Cypriot sweet fruity wine, I don't think I can ever go back to sour and dry red wine!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

bus back

So I took the train home today and I must have breathed in year's worth of polluted air, and thanks to the non-AC bus got my face caked with at least a millimetre of lead from the exhaust because I was sitting way at the back.

The upside to this was a rather stress-less ride back because I don't have to do the driving and face the traffic!

Now excuse me I have to give myself a deep scrub...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

curry leaves & crabstick

When I visited the Gans for CNY, instead of serving their guests store-bought cookies they made their own festive snacks. Gan had previously complained about having to slice the crab sticks in the humid heat, so I was curious what the fuss was about.

So when we were served CNY goodies, I remembered his FB status about the hard work that went into making them. I didn't know something as simple as fried crabsticks could taste so good...and addictive!

After helping them finish half a tupperware of the sticks, I was inspired to attempt it too and promptly went to the grocer to get myself some curry leaves since we already had the sticks at home.

defrosted crab sticks

sliced up

fragrant curry leaves

throw all into the pot for a swim in the hot oil

1st batch got burnt!

the 2nd batch - just nice. after mixing with the burnt ones, it had a variety of golden brown crunchy hues!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yuri took these pictures at a Kawai music store in Omotesando, wishing I was there! (^.^)

Friday, April 09, 2010

recalling koganei

My friends in Japan report that this year's hanami has not been quite enjoyable thanks to the cold weather that still lingered from the past winter.

Even though hanami season is coming to an end, yet the temperature still hovers below 10 degrees. This time last year my Waseda friends & I had the time of our lives rolling on the grass and taking silly shots of each other. It was to be our last hanami together.

I couldn't post up all the pictures we took then, and since I'm talking to Amin about his hanami I decided to share some of the rest that I left out the last time.

their manholes are always a delight to watch out for

yo, make peace!

crisp spring weather

obedient dogs, safe country - well-bred pups enjoying the shade while the owner goes off for a bit

left behind

empat sekawan

watching a game of badminton from the sidelines

muh homies

i cant stop laughing

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

hot air balloons

Our first cell outing this year was the 2nd Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta which was held at the country's new administrative centre. We decided to start out early, wary of the extreme weather that might change at any moment.

The main attraction was definitely the hot air balloons - some available for rides to the public, and the rest which decorated the skies of Putrajaya. There were other outdoor activities at the grounds; rides for kids, sphering for the daring, paragliding shows, helicopter rides, extreme games and competitions.

I didn't get to see the much-talked about Darth Vader balloon because it had already flown its (short) course by the time we arrived. I did see this representative from Monaco though, striking in red and white against a backdrop of clouds.

We wanted to try to get on the tethered rides (the yellow and colourful one behind the black are from Malayssia), but there were already long queues at all of them. So we just admired the hot air balloons from a distance. In any case, the balloons didn't go up very high. Sunny said he could take the stairs up a 2-storey building and still get the same view!

We decided to get away from the crowds, and came upon this little corner which was shaded from the tropical sun. Turned out there was another line for the sphering activity. I first heard about sphere rides from RedRibbon Days so it was a delight to find that it was not that rare after all. They had different sizes catering to children and adults, and could fit 2 people at any one time.

This is definitely one of my favourite picture of the day. The wide angle lens came in really useful at times like this. Even if I don't own a DSLR, I already know what lens I would be buying if I do get one myself!

Jaden seemed sporting despite the heat of the day. This was taken as we took a tour at the Monumen Alaf Baru. I thought he was going to cry at first, but when I peeked from behind the camera to coax him to smile, he tilted his head to the side and gave me this cheeky look.

We had lunch at Penang Village at Alamanda, a brief respite from the sun. I am all game for outdoor activities, but I didn't think this was very worth it considering I never really did anything other than take pictures! Plus, the heat & humidity has gone somewhat extreme from what I last remember.

Having said that, I still indulged in a bowl of spicy tangy Assam Laksa. I'm quite sadistic; I knew my eyes would tear up and yet I thought this would be good to sweat it out!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

4th april 4 years ago

4 years ago this time I was on a plane across the latitudes to a foreign country never in my wildest dreams I would think of setting foot in.

Easter that year was not spent in church, because I only found a proper church 1 month after settling down in Niigata.

4 years ago this time I was seated at the last corner seat of the JAL plane, next to a rather huge man who seemed to be squeezed into the tiny seat next to mine.

Even though I did not spend Easter nor Good Friday at church, I appreciated His goodness in a different way.

4 years ago this time I was so excited I could barely sleep on the 8 hour journey, wondering how life would change from then on.

My first encounter with a church ended up with the JW fiasco which saw me almost wanting to open the doors of the moving car and tumble myself out just to avoid going to their church.

4 years ago this time my adrenaline kept me going for a good whole day as we dragged our luggages from the plane to the bullet train to a local bus and then from the university campus to our apartment. We only realised how hungry and tired we were when we had our first meal 12 hours later - instant noodle courtesy of our landlord.

When I finally found a church which not only felt right, but was actually right for all the right reasons, I fell in love with it and all the people that made it so.

4 years ago this time I wondered if ever waking up to the land of the rising sun would give new meaning to sunrises.

So when I had to leave the AG church in Niigata city, I cried because I didn't know if I would find another church like it in Urasa.

4 years ago this time I only had with me 2 luggages and a backpack filled with clothes and necessities, plus many tokens of love and well wishes.

My 2nd Easter was spent with a tiny community of foreign students and family-like Japanese congregation in Urasa who would cook lunch after church. I still keep some of their service leaflets in my Japanese bible.

4 years ago this time as I looked back at the SMS' that I managed to save into my mobile, I still couldn't believe that I was leaving everything familiar to fulfil my dreams.

My 3rd & 4th Easter was spent with my GAP family in Tokyo, a motley mix of faithful locals, short-term students, and young working adults. This was where God answered my prayer for a church to belong to and friends to be accountable to.

4 years ago this time I thanked God for giving me the bestest birthday present ever, one that would transform my perspective in more ways than I expected.

Today is significant because it reminds me of not only how God has blessed and brought me through those years in Japan but more importantly, that no matter where I am during Good Fridays and Easter Sundays, His love will continue to be so extravagant, so excellent, so exuberant.