Monday, October 29, 2007

Subliminal

I say, and you think?
October 2007, Week 247.

Inaugural. Event.Pledge. Love.
String. Quartet.
Trot. Thoughts.
Fitness. Center.
Cinder. Cinderella.
Edge. Reason.
31. August 1957.
Blue. Kurung klasik.
Leather. Sofa.

According to http://subliminal.lunanina.com/, where the above was derived:

Free association is described as a "psychonanalytic procedure in which a person is encouraged to give free rein to his or her thoughts and feelings, verbalizing whatever comes into the mind without monitoring its content." Over time, this technique is supposed to help bring forth repressed thoughts and feelings that the person can then work through to gain a better sense of self.

I definitely have a repressed thought about item number five. I must bring exercise attire and swimming suit to the week-long meeting. I think, I do.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Open Houses

Kak Gee's.
It was like an open house for the whole Bahagian Perancangan dan Penyelidikan. Lovely.

The Minister's.
Bit and I went together, by ministry bus. We were thinking of Eden's lasagna.

My parents'.
I busied myself in the kitchen. Hilarious.

Uncle Amran and Aunty Khamsiah's.
The venue reminded my siblings and I of our old neighbourhood, where we grew up in Number 21. Uncle Amran and Aunty Khamsiah are great cooks, by the way.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Eighth Wonder

Fried noodle à la Chech.

My descendants, who inherit my brothers' talent in the kitchen, would split their sides by merely glancing at the photo of the fried noodle. They might change their family name so it could never be traced to me, The Braggadocio, who was exceedingly proud of her fried noodle from scratch that she blogged about it. Twice.

Hey, Chech can cook.

That dream

For the sixth time within two years, I dreamt of the need to respect an obligatory request that I marry a stranger and leave the love of my life, Kamal.

No matter how perfect the stranger was, I would long for Kamal. I begged to see him for the last time. If it was denied, I would plan an escape. Even after the solemnisation was over. Anything to lay my eyes on him, to feel him.

I remember how relieved I was to be in his arms and how extremely protective he became when I eventually escaped the obligation. I cried and cried, ceaselessly praying we would not be apart again, ever. I would still cry when I woke up. If we were not embracing each other, I would whisper "I love you, I love you, I love you" until he woke up and embraced me.

God, I love him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Art of Campak-mencampak: Fried Noodle

Four things I would love to learn, from scratch:

1. French, again.
2. Mandarin.
3. Sewing.
4. Cooking.

Number four is the most exhilarating because it is the least enticing. I have always preferred book than bain-marie and painting brush than pastry brush. I took advantage of my mother's liberal approach when it came to kitchen education. I prayed without fail for a husband who does not only cook, but love to cook.

Kamal would prepare iced sarsaparilla on a hot evening, but that is it. Heh.

Then, one day, our friends came over to complete a paperwork. I prepared my signature dish, spaghetti bolognese. Only Kamal loved it. My mother advised me to prepare something that endears to pure Malay taste buds. Something like fried noodle for a start.

I was on medical leave today. By late afternoon, I felt fresher. Less pain, less gas. I decided to celebrate the beauty of life by heeding my mother's advice. I called Kamal to inform the menu for dinner,"fried noodle a la Chech".

I recalled the ingredients used in the practicum in Ketereh. My sister-in-law's voice clearly reverberated in the recipe section of my mind. Blend this and this first, put these and those into the frying pan, and voila, everybody will beg for a second helping.

Truly, it was an art of campak-mencampak. "I might lack the experience, but I am creative", I convinced myself. I put a sunny side up on top of the noodle, for the sake of colours. More colours with cherry tomatoes. They made up for the lack of ingredients, too. I only used the items available in the fridge.

You may have laughed your head off by now at my excitement, but I must say that I was ecstatic Kamal actually finished the big portion served to him. He might have been famished though. Oh, apart from being creative, I am an optimistic. He loved the fried noodle that he asked for a second helping although not immediately after.

I have another packet of noodle for yet another trial.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Aidilfitri 1428H: Chez Chembong

To gather the members of Chez Chembong, for group photos, is a herculean task. Not even during Aidilfitri, as some would be at their respective in-laws' places. This time around though, all of us made the effort to be in Kampung Berkat despite our different schedules. Along's family could only make it at 10:00 p.m., so there were photos sans him, Kak Nani, and Haikal. Angah's children, meanwhile, were very cheeky. Nevertheless, it was a sweet albeit short gathering. Too bad The Serdang Clan decided to come back to kampung at the last minute or else we would have a merrier family photo.

The next day (which was on Saturday), all of us scurried off to our respective destinations. Ayah, Mak, Kamal, and I made a day-trip to Kuala Berang, Terengganu, to attend Wan Helmi and Yanti's wedding. Sweet couple, they are. It was also really nice meeting you again, Iina.

Along's family made their way back to Rawang while Angah's family hurried to Pulau Gadong. Cimi accompanied Cajib to Seremban Specialist Hospital for a check-up as he had been experiencing stomach pain. He ended up being operated and warded there for appendicitis.

Like the rainbow that Kamal and I beheld on the last day of Ramadhan, this year's Aidilfitri has been colourful so far. We are loving it. Alhamdulillah.
Joke of the month:

Chech: I could  really be frank with you.
Camus: And, I could really be Kamal with you.
Chech: I am so going to document your collection of jokes.


Syawal 2, 1428H

The second day was spent at my eldest sister-in-law's place in Bunut Satut. I loved the Sate and Ketupat with Kuah Kacang. Perfect for a picnic by the paddy field.

Kamal and I were in Kelantan until the fifth of Syawal. Quality time with The Ketereh Clan, including Kamal's cousins. The hospitality.

We tagged along Kamal's brother-in-law on the way back to Rembau. The road was so congested that we only stopped for lunch at 5:30 p.m. All in all, I miss the journey because I got to listen to Mister Sandman again and again and again.

Syawal 1, 1428H

Instead of Bukit Mas, Kelantan, our family spent the first of Syawal in Chini, Pahang. Ayah Soh would love to revive an old, abandoned mosque in the former. We managed to clean the mosque in time for Ramadhan while simultaneously working hand in hand to build a house where all of us could gather.

Kamal and I actually spent the first of Syawal in three states: Pahang, where we performed the Solat Aidilfitri; Terengganu, where we stopped by the beach; and Kelantan, where The Ketereh Clan gathered for family photo. It was indeed a lovely Aidilfitri. Oh, the food, particularly Mok's Nasi Dagang, the journey along the East Coast beaches, and the merry gathering of relatives as well as family friends.

The Last Day of Ramadhan 1428H

It was the last day of Ramadhan when Kamal and I joined The Kuala Lumpur Gu's convoy to Chini, where we would spend the first of Syawal. A pit stop at McDonald's drive-thru for sahur and we were set to go.

We reached Chini at 11:30 a.m. Kamal and I tried our hands at home improvement, took a walk down Sungai Pahang, drove to Tasik Chini, and on the way back, actually dipped into Sungai Pahang. It rained as we were about to go back home for iftar. We thought that the rainbow promised a great Aidilfitri. That evening, we dated in our car while watching children having fun around the candle row even after they ran out of fireworks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Aidilfitri 1428H

An Aidilfitri postcard. From Camus and Chech.

(As with a number of photos in Chech: Eccentric, there was also technical problem with this.
To be rectified soon, I hope).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Aidilfitri Mode

Aidilfitri mood has seeped into my system despite the deadlines at work. It must be:

The pile of Aidilfitri cards in my pigeon hole,

which triggered the mood to listen to Aidilfitri songs, thanks to the free CD given away by PLUS;

the colourful decoration in our division;

the reason Miss Erra gave me to buy a brand new traditional apparel;

and last but not least, the increasing number of empty cubicles.

I would love to write more, but I have to meet the deadlines.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Memori Payung Perang

Now, the home has more of our personal touches. The rest would follow little by little. From time to time.

There were more boxes than we anticipated. By the time all the boxes in the utility room were emptied, the belongings sorted, and the owners refreshed, it was time for iftar. Which meant my cooking mission had to be postponed.

Today, Kamal and I each had different tasks to attend to. Therefore, no cooking either. We agreed to explore the Pasar Ramadhan nearby considering there was time to kill as compared to the after office rush hour.

Oh, there might be less people because of the dark sky. We shared an umbrella. Approaching the end of the stretch, the drizzle gave way to a downpour.

By the time Kamal got his Nasi Kerabu and I settled for Bubur Lambuk with Popia Basah for both of us, we were drenched from head to toe. We might as well put away the umbrella and enjoy each raindrop. While walking to the car, I sang Memori Daun Pisang, replacing 'daun pisang' with 'payung perang' in the name of the light brown umbrella we were sharing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Beautiful Mother

I am listening to Saloma's Pandang Kasih. My mother could croon as beautifully, her voice rich and melodious. None of her children inherits such gift. Even when she speaks, she sings.

At times, like a moment ago, I phoned her just to listen to the voice. I would let her speak, rarely intervening.

The time would unwind to a Quran perusing lesson circa 1988. I was a seven-year-old who shed tears listening to her mother's beautiful voice embracing the tajwid. Yes, her voice is that beautiful.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Life in Slow Motion

The Bolshoi Ballet Theatre Orchestra of Tashkent's interpretation of P.Ramlee's masterpieces keep my focus intact on various papers today despite the time moving in slow motion. Today, I shall declare, is surreally calm. Alhamdulillah.

The search for furniture yesterday was a success because Kamal and I managed to secure a bargain. Not at the newly opened furniture outlet though. The price there was exorbitant. We resorted to the outlet in Seksyen 7, where there were two sub-outlets, displaying high-end and low-end pieces respectively, with the latter comprised of stock clearance.

Initially, we fell head over heels with a room divider cum book rack displayed at the high-end sub-outlet. Everything was perfect. The design, the size, and the colour. Except for the price. Such price could fetch more pieces at the low-end sub-outlet, we thought. To the low-end sub-outlet we went.

After much deliberation due to limited choices, we agreed on an eccentric television rack that could double up as a bench, a book rack that could accommodate my magazines and our books, and a basic shoe cabinet, all of the perfect design, size, and colour. At the last minute, we decided that white could wait. All three at a lesser price tag, too. We used the extra from our allocation to purchase a carpet with retro feel to it.

No new Aidilfitri apparel for me this year as I have decided that the remaining of my salary, after settling the debts and saving in Amanah Saham Bumiputera, would go to furniture. Something that Kamal and I could share. Unless there is a great bargain in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman next Wednesday evening when I join my chums for a sightseeing. That is another story.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Season to Clean

I feel like spring-cleaning the three-month old house this weekend. Spring-cleaning not a la Chech et Camus, but a la Anthea Turner, The Perfect Housewife. Kamal agrees.

The mission commences this evening. I will clear the laundry basket, send the dry cleaning items to the laundry shop, and sweep the floor. All of which I have neglected due to a three-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, followed by a weekend with the members of Chez Chembong.

Kamal even proposed the idea to scour for an IKEA white range look-alike in a newly opened furniture outlet nearby our place. The mission will be in full swing starting Saturday morning. To answer Kamal's possible question: 11:59 a.m. is not considered morning; it is almost noon.

We would need a gardener's help to cut the grass. In our excitement playing badminton back in my village, we have forgotten to borrow one of my parents' grass shears. They have more than one of each gardening tool so that all my brothers could be involved in gotong-royong.

With Kamal not having to cut the grass, he could help me unpack the boxes covering every inch of the utility room's floor, and then sort out which to be kept and which to be given or thrown away. It would be the second time we sort our belongings after doing so while packing, so we probably need less garbage bags.

Of which reminds me about things to get for the mission, aside from the white racks:

1. Garbage bags.
2. Driller, thus screws.
3. (To be added by Kamal.)
4. (To be added by Kamal.)
5. (To be added by Kamal.)
6. Our will.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kampung Berkat

Any weekend spent in Kampung Berkat, Chembong would always be magical. Particularly now, when I am no longer the permanent resident there. Here are the magical moments:

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My brothers, Kamal, and I were pampered with my mother's cooking. Simply the best in the world, which could only be challenged by mother-in-law. For Sunday's iftar, the whole family was treated to Mak's special chicken rice recipe that Kamal said was the best chicken rice, period. When I suggested the more kitchen-savvy Angah and Cilan to learn the recipe, Cimi and Cajib simultaneously asked, "why don't you?" to which everybody laughed. Mak actually prepared extra food for us to take home for sahur. I forgot to bring back the steamed bananas though.

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I have declared Friday evening or Saturday morning, or both, to be the day(s) I cook from scratch. I could sniff a steamer and an oven to be in my kitchen soon.

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Kamal and I are now hooked to badminton, thanks to the old rackets that Cilan left home. We had to buy the shuttlecocks in Rembau town though. Note to ourselves: invest in good badminton set if we want the shuttlecock to survive the first game. If only the backlane in Seksyen 9, Bandar Baru Bangi, was wide enough to accommodate a proper badminton court, I would volunteer to paint the lines like my siblings did when we were in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras. How we enjoyed those badminton matches, with galah panjang now and then, with our neighbours.

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I got to talk to Cimi about the e-mails I exchanged with a particular person. My younger brother said, "poyonya." Heh. Exactly. This secret is between Kamal, Cimi, and I.

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Kamal and I got to savour a complete meal for sahur, thanks to the food Mak packed for us. At our own place, we always prefer sandwiches or protein drink concoction. Unless, there are visitors at home. I think I am missing the sahur we had in Rembau and Ketereh, where the early morning affairs were often vibrant with the parents, the siblings, the siblings-in-law, the nephews, and the nieces' presence. Just imagine what iftar would be like.

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I was inspired to commence a documentation project for my family. I pray Mak would be better by then. She seemed extremely tired, but she insisted to do everything for us. The project apart, I asked her whether she would be interested to watch P.Ramlee The Musical. She was eager to go, but Ayah would set the date.

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I found a photo of my mother in Danau Toba. She was in her early 20's. I really loved the photo that I decided to use it as my bookmark. When I opened a book, I would first see her gentle smile. When I read, I did so audibly as though I was sharing with her those stories of life.

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I also found my French book between stacks of wedding gifts, which needed to be brought to Bandar Baru Bangi. Now, I need to find the other books. Ainul has inspired me to take French lessons again.