Sunday, August 31, 2014

selamat merdeka, malaysia tersayang

The last time I did something patriotic was joining the Jom Balik Undi FB group, and then taking a flight home to exercise my right as a voter.

I felt a sense of responsibility encouraging fellow Malaysians living abroad to go home and make a difference. I had missed voting the previous election as I was in Tokyo then, especially it being my birthday wished I could have done it anyways.

I made sure to register myself as a voter, and then when the chance came, to fly home to vote. I wish we made a difference this time around.

Even though we didn't topple the ruling party, it kinda brought us together. The voting stations were full of people, many of us had to wait in the hot sun to get into the proper queues. People from all walks of life, various ethnicities, languages and faith, all chatting to each other while waiting for our turns.

The recent tragedies of MH370 and MH17 saw the country united against unsolved mysteries, wartime atrocities and spotlight from the rest of the world.

I wish we didn't need to have big events such as these to bring us together. Even the humble nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf, mamak food in the middle of the night, and the ubiquitous chicken rice bring us together on a daily basis.

On this 57th National Day, even though I'm far from home, my heart still longs for homely comforts. I wish I could be there when they light up the fireworks; but I guess I'll keep on praying for this country which has so much potential, for more love and tolerance all around, and for His hope and light to shine.

Friday, August 29, 2014

no words for being awed

Even though I'm at the brink of strangling someone, and the project's at a risk of falling apart if not for the fact that it's being held together very gingerly and pushing ahead almost like a headless chicken, God decided to throw another ball for me to juggle.

Having not hosted anyone for some time, I was anxious that my crib might not be comfortable enough for my guest, especially one I have yet to meet! A missionary based in the Tohoku region which was hit by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear plant meltdown triple whammy, Lee Sin was introduced by Bro Ong some time back. He grumbled that we did not want to meet when back in Malaysia. I had the pleasure of hosting her last week before she went southwards to Hiroshima.

I was really encouraged as it's been a long time since I met a fellow Malaysian! We exchanged stories about our experiences in Japan, how we came to the land of the rising sun, and laughed over how staple Milo was to our diet.

Wanting to bless her with hospitality, instead it was I who ended up being blessed by these gifts. I told her I'd pass on the blessings to those who need it more.

Yesterday, a Malaysian grrl from the vendor team came over to stay. Even though we weren't working together, I was glad there was another Malaysian in the company. We were able to share stories from our consulting background, and confided in each other the joys and pains of working in a Japanese environment. (I'll never forget her comment : you amaze me a lot - very strong, determine and independent)

Chyn had just moved to her new apartment but wasn't feeling comfortable and had trouble sleeping, so I offered her my sofa bed to bunk in. The next day she told me she felt happy because she had not been able to sleep all week.

I was really surprised she left me with a bottle of wine. I told her it would be too luxurious for me to enjoy it myself, so I invited her to come over another day for some makan session.

Sometimes I have no words to say when I think of how He amazes me amidst my feeling down and lonely. Maybe it's just PMS, but I'm awed and humbled nevertheless.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

can't take the malaysian out

The things I do when I have my cravings. Proof that I'm a typical Malaysian willing to go the extra mile for the sake of food!

September 2012, California : Kangkung belacan at Malaysian restaurant recommended by an Indian colleague working at our American subsidiary

February 2013, Amsterdam : A variety of Indonesian dishes at a restaurant called Pelangi with a Portugese friend, during a snowy business trip at our European subsidiary

July 2013, London : Vietnamese restaurant near our hotel at Islington, my last meal just had to be rice because I had missed this staple item after too much chips and sandwiches

July 2014, Taipei : Fried oyster omelette during an exploration of the night market with my ex-Tokyo housemate, now it makes me want to eat the Malaysian/Penang version!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

the obon week that never happened

The best thing about the week after the Obon summer break is everyone comes back with souvenirs. In Japan, that means goodies like these. Snacks and confectionery from different parts of Japan, all the way from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

summer omiyage

I was not that excited to be back at work because I didn't get to have my Obon break. However, looking at my payslip today brought a little cheer. I had not realised that on top of the replacement leaves, the company was obliged to pay us for the overtime hours worked during the holidays.

Personally I think no amount of overtime allowance can make up for lost hours and time away, but I'm gratefully nevertheless.

Friday, August 15, 2014

traipsing in taiwan p4

Sometimes I feel like this cat below; I wish I could stretch my stress away.

After what seemed like a sad week of working while everyone is away on summer break, it ended rather nicely this evening. I was able to get to the root of an issue that has been plaguing the European team for some time. In an ironic twist while trying to put the responsibility on someone else, the email got forwarded to my boss and I was able to show him it was under control.

I'm convinced sparks of wisdom that comes to me despite me being really tired must come from above.

* On a happier note, this was taken at a little corner souvenir shop in Jiufen. The shop assistant is such an amusing being; animatedly illustrating to us the various uses of her products in Taiwanese-accented Japanese. I personally am not fond of cats, but couldn't help but get one for myself. Apparently good massage tool, just what I need eh?!

** Stories from my Taiwan traipsing : P1, P2, P3

Sunday, August 10, 2014

though typhoons may rage

I had meant to write a little something to commemorate my being here 2 years.

I was getting a bit restless past few months, and then a bunch of things happened that threw my world upside down. I think God knows I love surprisesvariety and can't stand routine. Note to self, gotta be more specific when wishing for things, even when uttered under the breath.

One surprisingly resolved pretty quickly and amicably; the one that caused me the most stress. One happened unexpectedly, and still is not resolved; the one that is involving more and more people. One turned out to be much relief in the midst of grief and disappointment; the one that left me dazed.

As I prepare to step into a new season, wondering what He has in store for me, I'm humbled by what He has allowed me to experience so far. Even though I was not able to take some time off to celebrate my anniversary here, somehow the past couple of weeks have brought some needed joy in the midst of 2 typhoons.

Invitation to a recital, fruity parfait fellowship with the grrls, a colourful summer bouquet, chocolate almond cookies from home, badminton and bowling in one night, dinner and drinks with a charming group and an intimate tea time over shared stories.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

cards on the wall

In the Edogawabashi house, I had a little area which I used as a dressing table of sorts. All the postcards, greetings cards, photographs and crafts I did were pasted on the wall surrounding the mirror.

I'm glad I managed to take a picture of this space filled with memories from my Niigata and Tokyo days. Sometimes when I look back at this picture, it kinda looks like a shrine!

So I tried to do something similar in my little studio here, though I don't really have a proper dressing table. So my cards and photographs are scattered all over.

I have a little space above my make-do dressing table where I have put up the postcards. On the left are those from my colleagues - mainly New Year greetings. On the right are from friends - mainly postcards and birthday cards.

Strangely last night possibly because of the summer heat, all that's left was this. I can't help but wonder if there's a meaning to this!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

recruited ham

It's that time of the year when companies send summer gifts to their clients.

Yuki from the Admin team sent an email asking if anyone was interested to email her. Since these were not share-able edibles such as cookies or chocolates, she would distribute to the first 10 who responded.

So happened I was checking emails, so I just dropped her a note. About an hour later, an email arrived notifying who the lucky 10 were. The title was "... was recruited end ham & sausage". My Indian colleague emailed me asking, "What on earth does this mean??"

I couldn't help but secretly smile at my "recruiting" a most delicious pack of dried tomato and olive ham!