Posted in Daily post

Pining for Spicy Penang Laksa

penang laksa

Cough and sniffles…  head pounds… throat’s on fire

My mind wonders what can I? what can I?  …

I could kill for some Penang Laksa.  It is simply, spice in a bowl.

Laksa – which is available in Australia or for that matter in most western countries would be modified to the local “white” pallet.  Laksa is usually coconut milk based. Which makes it to be rather creamy and rich.

But the Penang Laksa holds it’s own, because it is so different to the rest.  It is tamarind based. (Tamarind is a tree that produces pods, these pods when ripened are then used in many Asian cooking, it adds a sourness to the dish)

The soup itself is not as thick as other Laksa’s but it is loaded with so much spice and flavours that it will definitely clear my nose, my sinuses and  definitely numb my throat. And to use a regular cliche’ ” it will blow your mind”. I haven’t had this laksa since my last visit to Penang about 4-5 years ago.  But the memory of the taste is well embedded.

When leaving Penang, passing time chatting to some locals on the plane, I mentioned my love for this spice bowl.  As per them the broth is started with gently tossing a few anchovies in hot oil, then gradually all the other ingredients eg ginger or galangal go in. I am looking through online recipes and there is no mention of the anchovies.  But, I guess with any of the traditional food, each grandma from each region will have their own method of cooking the dish.

Along with the super spicy broth, there is also noodles and meat or seafood.   It will be topped with more fresh chillies, spring onion etc.  This is definitely worth adding onto your bucket list of things to try.

If I didn’t pay any taxes, I could probably afford to fly over to Penang right now, maybe even on a private jet to get my Spicy Penang Laksa.

If I didn’t pay any taxes, maybe I wouldn’t be contributing to a stupid vote on whether same sex couples could get married or not.  Food for thought.

Daily word Prompt: Spicy

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/spicy/

 

 

Posted in Daily post

Love, Lust – Fifty Strands of Gray

lust

He throws her on the bed, rips open her blouse…  She says “Don’t stop… Please”

For those of you who started reading, because of the Heading and then you read the first line, You can’t wait to continue, nervously taking the second bite on the biscuit… Shame on you.  Go back and read the Heading, it’s Fifty Strands not Fifty shades you lustful lot.

The way I understand the two words, Love and Lust is as follows:

Although both words are intertwined there is still a difference.  Although both words appear as mirror images, well it is a mirror image – they look the same but one isn’t real. I am not saying Love is real and Lust isn’t.  Love is real for those who want love to be real.  Lust is real for those who are not in it for Love.  Love and Lust can co exist, but only if Love takes Precedence.

Most of us have our own ideas of what Love is and maybe even what Lust is.

My take on what Lust isn’t..

She says “I am not ready”, and he says “I will wait” and that isn’t Lust

She says “Sorry, I don’t want to anymore” and he stops and that isn’t Lust

She’s had kids, her body is showing clear evidence of it, and he says “Honey you look beautiful” and that isn’t Lust (unless he uses that as a line)

She is in the nursing home with more than Fifty Strands of Gray Hair, she doesn’t remember anyone, not even him, but he still visits her to have breakfast with her.  And that definitely isn’t Lust

He (1) is diagnosed with AIDS. He (2) stands by.

He (1) is getting frail.  He (2) is still there.

He (1) and He (2) have reached more than fifty strands of gray hair

He (1) takes his last gasp.  He (2) is still there, sobbing his heart out.

Was that love or Lust?  

 

He (1) is diagnosed with Cancer. He (2) stands by.

He (1) is getting frail.  He (2) is still there, cleaning up his vomit.

He (1) and He (2) have reached more than fifty strands of gray hair

He (1) takes his last gasp.  He (2) is still there, sobbing his heart out.

Was that love or Lust?  

 

For the love of God Australia, let the Gays Get Married

 

Daily Post word Prompt:   Lust

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/lust/

Posted in Daily post

Bud and Two leaves

tea

I was pleasantly surprised with the Daily word prompt – TEA.

My glorious childhood was among’st this backdrop.  Sri Lanka’s upcountry was mainly adorned by Tea estates.  But this was no ordinary Tea Estate.  This was my little utopia.

My dad worked as a Scientist at the Tea Research Institute (TRI) in Sri Lanka.  Tea being the major export of the country, this research facility also was one of the largest organisations of the country.  It was also important to establish the research centre where the Tea actually grew rather than in a major city.

Very large laboratories of all disciplines such as Bio Chemistry, Entomology, Pathology etc were established with the latest equipment’s.  All the staff were given Housing. Rather beautiful and luxuries houses were built for the staff.  They were maintained by TRI as well.  The lawns were mowed, regularly painted and furniture’s were upgraded. Most of these things were primarily established by the British.  So you did get a feel of the British presence in the decor and style of the Bungalows.

We had our own transport.  Buses for the staff and their family to go to school, shopping etc.  A large fleet of cars with drivers for staff and family.  Our own little hospital and medical facility, Post Office,  Telecom and even a  Water dam and purification plant. Our own club house, sporting venues the list goes on.

We were all removed from our core extended families.  This became our extended family.  It’s not a cliche’ when I say, we lived together in harmony without any racial or other disputes.

The labs were my playground.  This was the era before Occupational Health and Safety or Work Cover mandates.  But we didn’t have any accidents, this was also an era where people used something called common sense.  We didn’t need a sign that said “Slippery when wet”.  Anyway, coming back to my playground or playgrounds, I had no siblings and no playstation or any other electronic device.  Not even internet, so I had to learn to amuse my self and I lived mostly outdoors.

The soil here was really great.  Everyone had a great garden filled with flowers, fruit treas and vegetables.  Constantly we would exchange our produce.  I spent most of my time up a fruit tree.  When I got bored with that I would walk to the lab. On the way I would frolic through the Tea fields, run up and down the extensive stairs that went from the Tea Factory to the Lab.  Every one knew me.  I was like the common village dog, that was fed by every butcher.

I mainly played in the Bio Chemistry Department as that’s where my dad worked.  But I knew the entire geography of all other labs as well and had at least one friend in each department.  Yeah I know they were grown ups and I was a kid, but they were still my friends and showed me “cool” stuff.  I knew to operate the centrifuge and I played with Magnets.  I knew about Poly Phenol’s long before I went to high school.  When I think about it now, it wasn’t really playing, my dad was teaching me Science and I was doing science experiments.

One bud and two leaves – all that is plucked to produce tea.  Silver tip is the only one uses just the buds and hence the high cost.  I would accompany my dad on many of the guided tours he would take our visitors and I knew all this information long before I started school.

dad stamp

The above is my dad on an old Sri Lankan Postal Stamp. He is injecting radio active isotopes into tea leaves to study the pattern of the nutrients movement.  Nutrients from the root did not evenly go all over the plant.  The mother leaf (the bigger leaf on the bottom) fed the one on top and so forth.  When you removed the big leaf right underneath baby leaf, the leaves further down acted as a surrogate and fed the bud.

That was one amazing child hood, it all came to an end when I lost my dad at 19. Such is life, still grateful that I had this childhood and to all the uncle’s and aunties of TRI who were there for us then and even now.  Children of TRI hold a special bond.  All of us grown up and adults now.  But most of us are still in contact even from different parts of the world.

Disclaimer:  It’s a long time since I left TRI, some information shared here may not be completely accurate.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/soil/

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=two+leaves+and+a+bud+book&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjV17SrzLDVAhXEF5QKHS14DU0Q1QIIdSgB

 

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1280&bih=894&q=tea+plantations+sri+lanka+nuwara+eliya&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHvd7KzrDVAhWLe7wKHX6UATAQ1QIIuwEoAQ

 

 

Posted in Daily post, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

First day back after a month’s silence

 

gsck

It’s nearly a month since I wrote anything.  Many reasons but mainly because of the reunion.  I missed writing.  With work and reunion planning and then a full house did not give me much opportunity to write.  I sat down for a bit yesterday to write.  After staring at the keyboard I retreated back to just liking things on facebook.  Looked at the Daily Post word prompt to get a start.  The word is Breakthrough.  All I could think of was the scene on “Good will hunting”, Robin Williams telling Matt Damon “It’s not your fault”, It was fresh in my mind, as I had just watched it for the millionth time today.  I am no movie critic, if I was, it would be a pretty short one, “I liked that movie or I didn’t really like that”.  So I started to read a few of the other contributions under the topic “breakthrough”. There was one from hotwhitesnow on writers block.  Exactly what I needed to breakthrough the fog.

https://hotwhitesnow.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/writing-through-writers-block/comment-page-1/#comment-989

Months of planning,  too and fro about the date, the venue, the numbers, catering, table decor, the list goes on.  Finally the girls were at our doorsteps and the day was here.

Some of us were meeting after nearly thirty years.  We attended a school called Good Shepherd Convent, (in Kandy, Sri Lanka).  Most westerners when they hear the end of the name “Convent”, they wonder if I was going to be a nun. The schools were originally established by the English missionaries.  We didn’t have many co-ed Schools.  So the girls schools were always attached to a nunnery and hence the name Convent.  The nuns ran the school and the boarding.

Kandy is the capital of the Hill country.  Most of the hills region are Tea Plantations.  So, other than a handful of so called staff the rest would be Indian labour force brought in by the English to work on the tea fields.  Woes of this labour force is a story for another day. Education was not the major priority for these folks.  Needless to say the local schools were really not geared for higher education.  So most of the parents sent their kids to boarding schools in Kandy or Colombo.  Parents of girls mainly preferred to send their daughters to Catholic schools, even those who were not Catholics. They liked the discipline and conservative up bringing.  I am rolling my eyes at this last sentence.  Still let me continue.

Our school stands tall and proud on that hill and gives me goosebumps every time I see a picture of it or hear the school anthem ” Triumphantly we raise it the standard of our school, oh may we ever be faithful to our Alma mater’s rule…”

I am not totally sure if we became well disciplined or more rebellious, I am not sure if we adhered to the conservative up bringing or became more free thinkers, but I am certain that in spite of the rubbish we had to put up we became quite bonded.  We became a family.  I think we were united against that common enemy, the nuns of course.

With the civil war, marriage and migration most of us dispersed to different parts of the world.  I lost contact with all of them.  It was as if I had no childhood friends.  My husband, his work and his circle of friends became my life.  Then after the kids, it was the kids, hospitals trips, coughs and colds, Nebuliser and Ventolin became my life. No complains, it was my choice, well not much of a choice, that was what unfolded, life was dumped on me and I had to run with it.

Then probably about 7 years ago, I gave into joining Facebook.  I had just come out of surgery.  I had just been given the news that I have survived cancer.  I had a major phiffany, “life’s too short to be doing just mundane things”.  I had this major urge to connect with people that I had lost contact, from my old work places, from my old school etc.

Stumbled across Amalie on facebook.  I only knew Amalie vaguely.   She was younger than me and she was a day scholar.  I only knew her because she used to hang out with Didi (a fellow boarder).  I sent her friend request anyway.  Seeing I was from the same Alma Mater, she accepted.  That was the beginning.  She was friends with a truck load of my friends from the boarding.

Some of us had changed in shapes and sizes.  Many a OMG’s followed by “how many kids? Messages going back and forth, especially between me and Suzy girl.  Then I found Binah. We were the best of buddies in the boarding.  She left for Canada before finishing school.  I was distraught when she left. Binah couldn’t wait any longer.  She rang me earlier than the time we decided to call each other.  We were just so happy.  Then came a few other moments like that when I chatted with Praba and Malini.  Found out that Vasugi lives in Brisbane and Tessa in Victoria.  Shazee had not changed much at all.  Just had longer hair.

Learnt that we’ve all gone through various pain and happiness.  Some had lost their husbands, while some regretted their marriage.  Some had lost a child and fighting with every might to continue.   Some had done well in their careers and some not so.  Some of us survived the dreaded C but sadly some didn’t.

But when we chatter, for that moment, we are back in school.  We are connected by the memories of that school.  We are once again united by that school. I am still trying to recover from that one week of partying.  We laughed more than we drank.  We danced more than we slept.  That was a reunion to remember.

2016-09-24-19-49-34

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/breakthrough/

 

Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Can you have your Cake and Eat it too?..

have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too

Before I start let me get the disclaimer out first:

Following are not life skills I am teaching or preaching to anyone.  These are methods/tactics/rationalisation I do to deal with my own sweet tooth issues. So even if it sounds like advice, even if it sounds like I am steering you towards my ways, well it’s just your perception not mine.  I am the author of this cheat sheet, however, the intended customer was myself.  If you wish, you could copy and adopt any of my suggestive ideas, but you do so, at your own risk and advisement.

I have a serious addiction to chocolate, cakes, mousse, brownie, anything sweet I guess.  My ideal house would have been the house made of candy in “Hansel and Gretel”.  I am someone who would first check out the dessert menu at the restaurant. I order my main, depending on the dessert. If I like the dessert, then I will order a light main, something with  no carb, a piece of fish etc. I just loooove sweets.  Mainly dark chocolates and cakes.  I like most cakes, I believe a good mud cake is an art form and cheese cakes should be on the menu in heaven.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t know the harm that sugar does to my body.  But the joy it gives my tongue, the taste buds, which then sends the euphoric signals to my brain, to my mood, is all far greater and out weighs the harm it does to my waistline and the scales.

I believe that life is about balance.  It is about strategies and maybe you can find a way to have the cake and eat it too.  I have eaten salad for lunch and then finished it with a piece of mud cake.  50:50 I say.

So my strategies:

I rather have a piece of cake than a piece of bread.  So that’s what I do.

I have very little carb (carbohydrates) through out the day, to save room for that chocolate at the end of the day or maybe sometimes even during the day.

I sip black tea or green tea all day long.  No sugar and no milk.  I don’t miss it in my tea, but I will definitely miss my chocolate at the end of the day.  Even milk has a bit of Carb, so avoid that too, see this is all strategy.

I prepare most things at home, so there is no hidden sugar, eg bread, cakes, biscuits, most meals. We very rarely buy any pre cooked or fast food.

I don’t mind exercise, even a 6k run on a Sunday is worth it, if I can have a piece of cake.

So that’s my cheat sheet.  It’s not perfect. But, hey it’s better than none.  And I believe life is a balance.

have-cake

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/cake/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/cheat/

Posted in Daily post, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Shiver me timbers, “it’s cold in Sri Lanka?”

 

PIC_0024

It was nearly sixteen years since we migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka.  A lot had changed since then, we’ve aged, we were now parents, I think that was the biggest change. We were not the same carefree young one’s roaming around, on a bike.  Mortgage, kids, kids getting sick, nearly losing a kid, other one losing his hearing, trials and tribulations, life was passing us with a fierce force.

So going back to the mother land was pushed back and back, until we could see a reprieve. Then, finally we make that trip back home.  After months of shopping (gifts) and packing we arrive in Colombo around midday, June 2006.  The strong waft of humidity and hot air came piercing through the corridors, with a rush and urgency.   Leaving a country in the middle of winter to arrive for this was pretty hard.

It was pretty brutal weather for the next couple of weeks. Boys were really struggling with the weather and food (too spicy for their tender tongues). The mosquitoes were ruthless, it didn’t matter if we were sitting or walking they still got us, who knew that they can get you in transit. But the boys were still enjoying different aspects of the trip.  This was the first time they were meeting their paternal grandfather. This was the first time they were eating pawkies (bite size Sri Lankan sausages), this was first time they saw a squirrel running up the mango tree.  Well, this was first time they saw a mango tree.   And that I think is the best thing about travel.  Something so mundane for the local is an attraction to the visitor.

The next week or so was going to be in the hill country.  Which is where I grew up.  The fauna, flora and the weather in the hill country, is absolute contrast to that of Colombo or other parts of the coast.  As you go further up from the coast, sea and coconut trees changes to paddy fields and slightly cooler weather.  And as you go even further up, Pine trees, water falls, light drizzle and sometimes a cold fog becomes the norm.

I was packing a smaller bag for this trip.  My husband had a glance at what I was packing. There were a couple of jumpers, a jacket each, some jeans and long pants, a beenie …  “Are you kidding me?” he holds up the beenie, “are you mad? when has it ever been that cold?” After the treatment of Colombo, the boys of course were on dad’s side. “yeh mum”

I started to doubt myself too. It was a long time ago since I lived in Talawakelle.  I still packed a few things.  But for the journey itself, there was no way the boys were going to rug up.  So the two of them were in a singlet, a pair of shorts, and a pair of thongs (okay for non aussies, they were not wearing what you are thinking of and going oh my, it is just a pair of flip flops, slippers, a footwear with just strap or what ever else you want to call them).  Okay you can have another laugh, we call them thongs.

They were enjoying the scenery.  After our lunch stop we didn’t need the A/C.  It was starting to drizzle.  It was starting to get cold as well.  We stopped for tea and cake.  And there was a giant tea pot right outside the cafe.  A great tourist attraction.  Hubby the photographer wanted a photo of this with the boys.  The boys were now shivering.  You could hear their teeth rattle and hands shivering. They were finding it hard to keep their eyes opened, with the falling rain. Dad still wanted the photo for his Pulitzer collection. Grr… It was obvious that their miniature mother’s anger and annoyance was now growing to a level of that’s enough now.

The boys were so relieved to find that one pair of pants and jumper that their mother had packed for them.  Both of them uttered “who would have thought we could have a place like this in Sri Lanka”.  Well, the moral of the story is listen to your mother, listen to the woman (okay that’s a bit sexist, well… too bad), listen to the expert.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fierce/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/shiver/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/obvious/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/miniature/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/expert/

 

 

Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 8)

dad lab

After mum and Cuz Sulo left for the hospital, Velu, Thangamma and self started on the cleaning. For the rest of the world they were just two hired aides, but for mum and dad they were like family, for V and T as well, mum and dad were like surrogate parents, they cared for dad not just for the pitiful salary they earned, but because they were treated like equal humans, they knew this was a couple who genuinely cared for their well being.

In most houses, they were not allowed to sit on your normal sofas, the aide/help would either have a small stool or they would sit on the floor, they would have separate plates and drinking glasses, slightly inferior in quality, may even have a chip on them. Never in par with the owners of the house. It was never the case in our house.    Dad felt a terrible sadness and guilt at the plight of the poor.  Time to time Dad would talk about it and say to me, “I know I can’t save them all, in the scheme of things, maybe what I or us as a family, what we do, may not make a difference, but for that one person that we helped, it would make the world of difference”. I know he was just repeating what he had heard or read somewhere.  But within him, he wished he could change the world, or at least this society, change the way people treated each other. He would say “it costs the same to smile at a rich man and a poor man”.

I think the above paragraph is my procrastination or hesitation to write what happened next. Where I was going with all that was, V and T were as excited as me of the arrival of dad. I was holding the ladder for Velu who was now attacking the cobwebs on the ceiling.  Thangamma decided to leave us with the cleaning, she wanted to make some cutlets (a Sri Lankan delicacy – fish balls), it was dad’s favourite.  And it would be a great thing to serve to guests who would visit.

The phone rang.  It sounded the same as when dad rang to say that he was coming for my birthday, then again it sounded the same when he rang to say that he was not coming, he was unwell.  The ringtone never changed, just the tone of the messages kept changing.  It wasn’t me who answered the phone, my cuz’s mother-in-law did.  So, I don’t know the exact words that were parted by my cousin.

It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.  I don’t think I heard all the words.  Parames Mami (cus sulo’s mother-in-law) came up the stairs.  She called my name out as she came up the stairs.  She was out of breath.  But she, does pay us random visits like this all the time.  So, I didn’t think much of that.  I answered “Om mami” (meaning yes aunty), She told Velu to come down the ladder, not sure what happened after that.  I am not sure if I was sitting or standing, what words were used.  No, I can’t remember the chain of events.

Dad had another aneurysm the night before.  He had gone into a coma.  Cuz Sulo unaware of all this had skipped to his bedside joyfully with Hi mama (uncle).  She was surprised that there was no response .  There was no smile on Dad’s face.  Just a fixed gaze to the distance.  She knew there was something wrong.  She looked at his bed notes.  It was really wrong.  She had a chat to the nurses, and her worst fears were confirmed.

Parames Mami asked all the cooking and cleaning to be stopped for now.  Well, no one was in the right frame of mind to continue anyway.  She told me to get ready and we were going to the temple.  I obeyed.  No tears as yet.  I was dumbfounded.  Wish Jana was with me at that moment. She had just left that morning to see her dad and brother.  Not sure what Velu and Thangamma did after that.  I left for the temple.

We did some pooja’s in dad’s name.  It was all rather mechanical.  I just repeated the rituals as others performed.  After all the poojas, touching the idols, kneeling on the ground, flowers, pottu ( red powder and yellow paste in separate containers, you use your middle finger to dip in to these containers and wear it on your forehead), we sat down to meditate on our own.  I could feel the tears escaping my eyes and now rolling down my cheeks.  I dipped my head, so no one could see me crying. I can’t remember the conversation between god and me.  I didn’t bother asking him “Why me? What did I do wrong ?” I just wanted him to fix it.  I was asking him very humbly.  I was scared of getting him on the wrong side, didn’t want to jeopardize my chances.  I will do anything, I will give up anything.  I was trying to bribe god.  I understand the stupidity of it now.  But I didn’t then.

Cont….

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eyes/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/jeopardize/