Wednesday, January 31, 2007
So on Monday, after sending my son to school, I pushed my youngest son in his red and well used maclaren stroller (details given so that you can imagine me clearly in your mind..) to the Health Centre, which is situated just across the road from the school, a little short of breathe because of the mild slope into the back entrance and by the time I reached the entrance doors, I was cursing myself because I did not bring my blue inhaler - because I might just need it. But it doesn't matter, I thought, as I went straight to the counter to fill up a form for a repeat prescription, which will be ready in 48 hours.
Fine. Cut straight to Wednesday.
I was at the same counter again, asking for my prescription so that I can give it to my husband - to buy in a pharmacy near his office. After looking at the file of prescriptions a few times and asking me when exactly I came to fill up the form, and then asking some other people inside the room behind her, the lady started to rummage inside a small tray filled with letters and prescriptions which I presumed just came out of the doctor's office. And then she was holding my form, with the doctor's scrawl at the top.
"Right," said the lady after reading the note."You need to see the nurse first for an asthma check and a flu jab. Then the doctor will give you the prescription." (Old people, children and people with asthma can get a free flu jab every winter)
"Huh? But I don't want a flu jab." (My husband took a flu job last year - his company pays for them - and somehow, he straight away went down with a cold and it lasted for quite some time. His doctor said that this could happen to some people who took the flu jab and I did not want to take this risk.)
"Well, you still need to see the nurse for an asthma check."
"But I've already had an asthma check last year, when the prescription was given to me."
"Yes. But you need to take it every year."
"Every year? So I can't get a prescription until then? But my inhaler is very nearly finished... (I lied, obviously, as I didn't want to get a lecture as to how I should have done the whole process of getting a repeat prescription WELL BEFORE the inhaler finishes.)
The lady just nodded apologetically. "Well..I'm sorry but that's what the doctor said.."
Fine. Not wanting to shoot the messenger, I just sighed and smiled at her because from her expression, clearly she thought the situation a bit silly as well. At least this lady had some sense in her head, I thought.
And then, naturally, I asked to make an appointment with the nurse. The lady started to open the appointment books and I saw her pointing at the earliest available date - 14th of February - 2 weeks from today! I fumed. The doctor expected me to wait 2 weeks to get my inhaler? And even after meeting the nurse, I might need to see the doctor again - set an appointment again that may take more than a few days - for the prescription because obviously, the nurse could not write the prescription for me...
Of all the bullshit in the world.
And to add to my disgust and absolute annoyance, the lady in front of me was pointing at the date on the book with finger nails that were so dirty that I nearly let out a loud 'YUCK...!!'
Everything about this free service is just CRAP!
Monday, January 29, 2007
To have an 'Eid celebration' to me, is quite vital for the Muslim children here because of the obvious fact that Islamic events are not celebrated in England unlike Muslim countries where you get holidays for Eid, Maulidur Rasul and Awal Muharram. If the children are expected to participate in their Christmas parties at the school just before the Christmas holidays - which I do not mind at all, I assure you (I even made some of those black bottom cupcakes for my son's class' Xmas party then) - indeed, these Muslim children should be allowed to celebrate their own festival which is Eid, and I feel, even more so in my son's school where the majority of the students are Muslims. To me, these types of religious celebration should be made 'common' and normal just like a Chinese New Year party for the Chinese or the Hanukkah Celebration for the Jews (in America) - and furthermore, and this is very important - the celebration should involve anyone who would like to join and on the flip side, everyone should try to join in these things or at the very least respect the need for these religious celebration because we are all whether here or in Malaysia, living in a multi-ethnic, multi-religion and multi-cultural society.
I needed to state these things because of the fact that during the preparation and the organising of the 'Eid Fun Day' at my son's school, the Muslim mothers who were organising it faced so many hurdles and problems that needless to say, tears were already flowing even before any progress was made. But these women did it in the end, with God's grace, alhamdulillah - although, even up to the end of the event, problems arose.
There were more worrying problems that the organisers faced initially, like a clear rejection of the event by many of the non Muslim parents but that in the end didn't really worry the organisers because all they wanted for their very first ever try at organising this Eid celebration was for people - anyone for that matter - to actually attend the event and alhamdulillah on the day, many muslims did come, (although the Shiites refused any participation in the event to mourn the Muharram murder of Saidina Husain at Karbala) and thus making it a success. Only of course, it would have been nice if many more non muslims attended but for a first time thing, I feel, you can't ask for more. Yes - the whole thing was a success if you set aside the petty problems that gave (and is still giving) the organisers a headache.
The problems were not organisation problems. Not huge and disastrous problems that could cause these hard working mothers to fail miserably in their cause but simple petty human related problems - which are, I think, the worse of all. Not because the minds of these mums are equally petty and so they take these too seriously but because of the nature of women - women get emotional when things like these happen: other women back stabbing them, bad mouthing and quarrelling. Dissatisfied people making rude and unwarranted comments. Disagreements which led to some other sisters to work themselves up by talking and talking and talking about their dissatisfaction and complaints to this person, that person and then many, many other people until it creates a big rift between two groups of people.
One thing I have learnt from watching a popular TV show recently (it was Celebrity Big Brother, I would let you know!) is that if you are upset about a person - just shut your mouth. Okay, I take that back. You can share with your husband or your close friend your complaints - just to relieve a little of your stress and perhaps to get opinions - once. And then just shut it. Don't go on and on about your grief until you start to exaggerate, and then start to call names and then ending up igniting a war between two opposing sides - just because you couldn't keep your mouth shut.
Why are these type of things so common with women? I can only wonder whilst I listened to my friends' discussion and 'debriefing' earlier today. They mentioned that 'the other side' will probably make a more formal complaint soon during a PTA meeting and they needed to prepare their rebuttals. I pray that all will be well during that PTA meeting, for they have persuaded me to attend it but I do, do hate confrontations - and I am nervous about the meeting.
Sigh. Enough of that.
So what was my little contribution for the Fun Day? Due to my ill health (bouts of asthma lately) I declined to volunteer on the day but somehow, my mouth blurted out this a few weeks before that; "Mm..I'm quite a creative person..I think.." And so, I was awarded for that piece of brilliant self promotion with 2 responsibilities. To paint the 'Eid Mubarak' banner and to paint/do a mosque for the 'Pin the Mosque' game (as opposed to Pin the Donkey - just in case you didn't get it). As you can guess, the 'Eid Fun Day' was not a religious event at all because it was supposed to be a celebration for the Muslim children AND anyone and everyone who would like to have fun. There were colouring competitions, guess the amount of sweets competition, face painting, henna painting and even a clown. Plus, of course, there was food. Lots and lots of it sold at a very reasonable price, all donated by the parents - takings to be given to the school, of course.
After the hours of slogging over the banner and the mosque - done in a slow pace and only at night when the boys could not cause any trouble - believe it or not, after all the above, I couldn't go to the event because I wasn't well enough to volunteer for the whole day and there were no more tickets to be bought for normal entry - it was either volunteer for the whole day or tickets, you see. And so I went to the hall before the event to send my food contribution (more black bottom cupcakes!) and was so very impressed with the whole arrangement, the whole setting of the tables and the decorations all done by the muslim mothers that I felt a little disappointed and sad about not being able to attend.
But I consoled myself by saying that at least something of me (or mine) is at the event even if I myself couldn't be there and honestly, really, I was happy and glad to have done my part for such a worthy cause.
Note: Pics of the hall were taken when I went there BEFORE the event, people were still setting up and only the volunteers were there.
Picture of mosque that my boys are holding in the 2nd last pic is the one without the dome - that needs to be pinned during the game. Inset pic: mosque with dome attached!
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
My boys were not too happy about the snow. My youngest just touched some with 1 finger and proclaimed that it's too cold for him and my eldest had the wind blown from his sails when he slid and dirtied his gloves while treading through the slush on his way to school. I think I was more excited for them than they were themselves about the whole thing, really.
I remember the first time I saw snow was when I was studying in Scotland - it was in the late evening, already very dark and one of the girls asked for the house mistress' permission (since we were Malaysian and all and have never seen snow) to go outside in the middle of the night to make a snowman. She relented somehow, perhaps because she was a little tipsy from her evening drinks but she had always been really very nice to us, anyway - so yes, we were allowed a few minutes to go out and play with the snow that night. We were so excited and a little awed by all the snow which was still falling heavily and really acted like children i.e. lying in the snow and all that stuff(!). Then again, we were very young then (we were only 18) and when it came to experiences in snow, of course, we were mere infants!
The most snow I have experienced was about 2 feet deep and that was at that time, in Scotland. I remember the wonderful, wonderful feeling I had, looking at the white fields and white rooftops and especially, especially the white, white trees. They were simply magical. And I remember 1 wintry weekend, when all (or almost all) the Malaysians at our school (we had more than 20 at the time, if I remember correctly) went to the large field in the school compound to play with snow. It was an event which I didn't really enjoy because the boys threw the snowballs hard and fast and some cheeky ones even managed to slip some into other people's shirts!
Ahh..those were the days.
Monday, January 22, 2007
This is the basic recipe I used for my fish cake noodles - although, obviously, for the lack of many of the ingredients, I had to substitute and make do with whatever I had. By the way, I got the recipe from here.
For the noodles, I highly recommend using the one I have in the picture below. The noodles taste nice and light and my kids love them. I did not at all follow the exact measurements of this recipe, although, I did use it as a 'guide' to gauge how much of the ingredients are needed.
In the end, IMO, these things are really up to your own tastes and preferences when you cook - because you and your family are the people who are going to tuck in.
Would be really nice with some pickled green chillies, I think.
* 2 tbsps cooking oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 cm ginger, minced
* 6 cups water
* 3 tbsps Concentrated chicken stock
* 1 tbsp sliced preserved cabbage (optional)
* 12 fish balls
* ½ tsp sesame oil
* Pepper to taste
* 300gm thin rice vermicelli (mai fun)
* 1 cup bean sprouts, tailed and blanched
* 1 stalk celery, cut into 1 cm sections
* 1 stalk of scallion/spring onions, finely chopped
* ¼ cup sliced fried shallot
1. Heat oil, stir fry garlic and ginger until aromatic
2. Add in water and bring to a boil. Add chicken stock and preserved cabbage, simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in fish balls, sesame oil and pepper to taste; cook for 5 minutes until done.
4. When serving, place vermicelli into individual bowls. Add garnishing and pour hot soup over the vermicelli.
But I really dread to do this.
It's because I have to bring both boys along and we have to use the women's changing rooms and over here, most of the women and girls just don't care to be a little modest when they are changing.
The year before last, when I had my own lessons, I myself had to control my head from staring at a tall and beautiful blond lady who was standing in the middle of the changing room, looking like a model in an adult magazine (not that I know what these women would look like, of course..ehem). I think all the other women were also trying hard to appear to be looking at her 'casually' (it was a sight to behold, after all!). And recently, the first week I brought my sons to the pool, I had to pull my youngest away for he was staring open-mouthed at a fat old lady who was trying, not without difficulties, to change into her swimming suit...
I hope this week my husband will come back early from his classes, for it is his week at the training college and maybe he can bring my eldest son inside the men's changing room for a change.No doubt, the men there will be buck naked as well, but hey, at least, they have the same 'things'.
Although, sizes may vary, of course...
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Westerly winds blowing at 46mph (74km/h) blew our fence into the neighbour's backyard. Luckily, both houses belong to the same landlord - so they wouldn't be any quarrels there. I'm not too worried about the back of the house because we don't have any large and looming tree there. Just a barely surviving plum tree that poses no real threat, unless of course it is uprooted. But the other neighbour has a large and tall tree in their backyard and a fairly large tree on the side of the pavement right in front of their house...
I had to push my son's stroller very slowly today when I sent my eldest to school- the wind was blowing so strong.
Hope it will die out soon.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
On the day my husband started his leave, our cousin, a medical student in Glasgow and her husband, also a medical student, were coming to visit and so being me, of course I just had to cook for them. And since it was the holidays, I also invited friends over on the same day for a simple potluck gathering. Yes, just potluck for I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic about cooking for a dozen or more people when Raya Haji was just the next weekend.
And so the food that night was a variety of dishes. I kept it simple: I made nasi hujan panas, roasted mayo chicken, and cherry crumble for dessert. Also intended to make sotong kangkung but at the last minute we discovered that there were no sotong and no kangkung (and no tahu goreng as well) at the nearest Chinese supermarket and therefore I was forced to substitute these with fishcake and green beans and then added the other normal stuff like pineapple cubes and cucumber slices which are supposed to be in the sotong kangkung anyway – and Thank God and I am happy to report that it went down well! It was of course, no longer ‘sotong kangkung’ but a sort of rojak that my friends kindly named rojak fishcake .
That's right. Rojak Fishcake is the NEW Sotong Kangkung.
At least, over at my house it is.
The secret of any sotong kangkung or rojak buah is needless to say, its sauce, because the main ingredients usually are served raw or simply blanched before they are served with the sauce. Here I have included the recipe of this nice sauce to be eaten with ‘yong tau fu’ and sotong kangkung type of rojak. Follow the recipe exactly and you will not be disappointed!
Mix all these together:
1cm cube belacan (held to a flame but be careful not to burn it!)
3 Tbsp petis
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp sweet soy sauce
10-12 small extra hot chillies ( cili padi) pounded
1 Tbsp chili paste (or as much as u like)
7-8 Tbsp sugar
salt to taste
80-100ml warm water
and finally, 1-2 Tbsp pounded roasted peanuts and 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds, for sprinkling on top of rojak
The original ingredients for sotong kangkung (according to my recipe) would be:
1 sotong kembang (sliced)
1 cucumber (sliced)
½ pineapple sliced and cut into small portions
4-5 fried tofu (sliced)
Back to my little potluck gathering. My Pakistani friend brought chapatis and a special type of parathas with potatoes and coriander leaves in them and another friend brought a very delicious chicken dish which tasted very Thai. One friend brought some Kiwi fruit jelly that was nice and our cousin brought with them a box of sinfully delicious Krispy Kreme sugar doughnuts that gave all the kids a second dose of energy that night that they were 'performing and singing' (read: making a racket) for the adults in the kitchen long after some of them should already have been in bed and fast asleep.
This is why I like potluck and small gatherings. You get to talk to everyone and you get to taste all kinds of food. Needless to say, I had a wonderful time chatting with my friends and eating – two things that I like best in the whole world.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
During these sales, one never gets the chance to try things before buying them. That’s because everybody grabs and grabs at the hangings on the rails and if the changing rooms are open at all (for sometimes they are not), the queue is as long as the one at the cashiers’- and those are very, very long and winding - so why bother to queue twice – just take the sizes you want – pay and try them at home.
And then of course, the next week, return those that you don’t like, after all.
I saw people coming out with boxes of dinner sets and three to four bags of clothes – but I just came out of there with two bags – and those were filled with my children’s clothes as I really didn’t have the energy to shop for both children and adult in their separate sections, with all those people pushing and elbowing and stepping on my toes – two people across me were even quarrelling because one accused the other of pushing her – and you know how some people just love to raise their voices without any shame whatsoever of the spectacle they are creating of themselves…
The whole experience was interesting, to say the least, but once is more than enough. Doubt I'll want to do it again next year.
Monday, January 08, 2007
And the next day, made this truly, truly wonderful Apricot and Peach Cobbler to bring to a friend's house for raya. (note: pic was changed from a previous one - this is a more recent try and I think this is what a cobbler should look like!)
Got this trifle from our lovely neighbours on Friday - they were returning my bowl for the pudding I made them for Eid.
Made this fish cake noodles on Saturday.
Gave the boys a haircut on Sunday.
Cooked tandoori chicken and some nasi minyak for my birthday dinner on Monday.