Sunday, December 18, 2011

Run - up to Christmas

Have A Blessed Christmas . Enjoy the festive joy.

Is this how Santa sees his way in the sky - all nicely lit ? I'd luv to be up there too!!

Carousel rides for young and old - a real delight

My MCG friends organised an International Potluck lunch . After the wonderful spread, we gathered to share Xmas tales - poem was read, personal accounts of Xmases spent. Memories cherished as Christmasses are far away from homes.

Siblings Andrea and Josh Sim, on a piano duet, Rondo by Anton Diabelli. A talented duo who enchanted us with their musical skills - on cello, violin and piano. Nothing beats the spirit of youths who delight in sharing.

Josh on the cello,Tarantella by W.H. Squire. He was accompanied by sis Andrea on the violin, Canon in D by Pachelbel

Have a very Chili Xmas everyone! Hot and spicy for the tropics.

Prettily dressed to welcome the guests and VIPs at the Austrian - German - Swiss Charity Bazaar 2011
Santa in disguise but still with a heart of gold. The residents of Cheshire Home got their wish list. Merrymaking was as early as Dec 6th.

The Klang Valley Harmony  under the baton of Brendi brought music to soothe and entertain the residents at  Cheshire Home. For the past 15 years, our friends make Christmas memorable for everyone. 

After  the concert Christmas In Song, hugs for an old friend who sang with The Sel Phil charity concert for The Boys Brigade Selangor
Fancy Drill of The Boys Brigade to kick off the concert. Talk about discipline. It shows in their performance and needless, in their character training.
The community choir of The Phil. Through the years I have enjoyed their concerts. We need more community choirs. I think I'd volunteer to sing. They say come with a love for music and singing - I qualify  !

Friday, December 9, 2011

Austrian - German- Swiss Charity Bazaar 2011

It's such a great tradition. When year end flies in and we say hello to November and December, I look forward to the buzz of charity bazaars by the expatriate communities. If flags be flown, they'd be happily catching the breeze and proudly shouting - Great Britain, Japan, America,  Austria, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and France!

This time round, with my friend Wanphen visiting, we eagerly made our way to the Austrian-German-Swiss charity Bazaar 2011. Added treat was the venue of Carcosa Seri Negara. The Carcosa mansion was built between 1896 -1897. It was the official residence of, Sir Frank Swettenham, the first British High Commissioner to Malaya.

The organising committees work hard  for months for their big event. Plans are well laid out to attract the public.Crafty ideas emerge from clay, paper, fabrics etc to make gifts, hands and minds get busy for worthy causes. The expat communities uplift many lives of the less fortunate who benefit from the funds raised through crafts, games, food, lucky draws and door tickets sold. Fortunate are those that get the much needed support.

I simply love the atmosphere at the charity bazaars. Besides the charitable spirit of the events, they are great cross cultural gatherings. That's the time to buy lovely hand- made stuff (mostly as presents). Seeing the enthusiasm of the volunteers, knowing their tireless efforts and feeling the spirit of the event, I always fall in love with the products. So, it's not surprising that I make it early to select the choicest of buys.

Wishing all my friends who celebrate Christmas, A Blessed Christmas.

It's gonna be a sunny X'mas!!

Advent wreaths - popular items

Kids enjoying  a bit of their own space with their cute creations

Couldn't take my eyes off her! Pity I cut off her shoes.

A warm welcome by the kids and there was a violin solo accompanied on the piano too.

VIPS cutting the ribbon to declare the event open- Ambassador Mrs Mag. Andrea Wicke, Austria, Ambassador, Dr Lenz, Switzerland, Dr Michael  Feiner, Head of Mission, Germany.

Many gifts - all made with care and love

It got a bit' steamy' as more people moved through the corridors

History remembered in Carcosa Seri Negara

The Magic Tree - I wished rm 40.00 and got a Volkswagon cap.

For  a mere rm15.00 I got 1)  Is Paris Burning 2) Mister God This Is Anna 3) The Life of Pi 4 ) They Do It With Mirrors 5) The Bone setter's Daughter

Undisputed King

Pleez grant us our wishes, Nikolaus

Raclettes by the Swiss Embassy. The Austrian Embassy was a hit with apple strudel, wine and jewelry. I bought myself stollens  and cookies, all ready for X'mas!

Lucky draw - eager people waiting for their numbers to be called

Friday, December 2, 2011

A friend is back!

Smile and the world smiles back!

Ever tried to squeeze years into hours and days? Wanphen and I have been filling the past 10 days into a tight frame. Some evenings, we're just content sitting in my lounge, legs curled and wrapped round cushions  or  stretched out after a day of heavy walking. We chat and tell each other stories. I think her memory for details is better than mine. So I better grab some brain booster pills  off some shelves!

My family visited her two years ago and she was ever the incomparable host. Now we are face to face. For the time being there's no need to dial  international calls. That small market town, Beccles in the English county of Suffolk where she lives has a special place in my heart.

What is it that an ordinary housewife can't achieve ? She has them all  cornered. Used to be boss of a huge marina and restaurant in Norfolk, built her own house, chef for all seasons and is now the owner of a holiday bungalow to let. With so much happening in her life, she has weathered ups and downs admirably, her smiles and vigour intact.

When she puts on an apron, be patient for in those few minutes, she'll whip up a meal that taste buds will savour for a long time after. When I think of her cooking for a hundred people at celebratory events, the challenge was hardly daunting to her. The menu could be Thai or Western depending on the the theme of the party. This chef was always in control. I know 'coz I've been an extra hand in the kitchen on ordinary days.

The year was 1991 in Petaling  Jaya when she caught hold of me to do a wee bit of work with her at Selangor Cheshire Home, a home for the disabled. I didn't think my skills were important nor significant. The children were in their tender years doing their first ballet lessons. That's when we met. She asked me and I obliged. I hopped on to her  bandwagon of voluntary work, That sealed our friendship for life. Though she left for Turkey and then to Norfolk in the UK  we've kept in touch.

Am so glad she's here. Right now we are two gallivanting gals enjoying ourselves. I promised her I would take her bowling, watch a movie, and last but not least, take her down memory lane to Cheshire Home. It will be like a homecoming after all these years.    

Beside the tankard - here's to Royal Selangor Pewter's success! 

The favourite spot where we show off our iconic Twin Towers.

With Saint Nicklaus at the Austrian -German -Swiss Charity bazaar at  Carcosa Seri Negara.

 The Royal Commonwealth Society ( RCS)  Club celebrates 50 years. We celebrate 20 years of friendship. 

Dim Sum at The Grand Imperial, Sri Hartamas
KLCC , the ever- bustling place 

Strolling the beach at Pasir Bogak, Pangkor Island, Wanphen was thrilled to find an octupus. 

At the Magic Mirror musical  staged  by Yayasan Guan Yin at Istana Budaya. The changing lights of the lotus was a lovely momento. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thirty three years ago...

Among some old photos in old albums, yellowed plastic covers and photos stored in heaps, I opened  the batik clad cover of an album. My memories of a day so important in my life resurfaced. It wasn't an idle thought that prompted me to rummage. It was a recent visit to the Sri Raja Rajeswary temple, sitting  atop a hill on Jalan Ampang that stirred me. I found myself looking back on a day 33 years ago. A day when I wore a saree for the first time in my life. It was my wedding day on a sunny morning.

Might the heavens pour to stop me from visiting  this temple where I was married?  Luckily not. The monsoon rains had not begun  their lashings. I pushed all kinds of mundane barriers out of the way. Nothing was  ever going to thwart this visit. Only this time I was dressed in a salwar khameez for a special event organized  by the Malaysian Culture Group (MCG).This visit was to celebrate Deepavali  which was a week ahead and to get to know the temple's history. Other ladies came sportingly  dressed in  sarees  or salwars and appeared enthusiastic about slipping into other ethnic clothes.

The years have certainly slipped by. Another stage of life has taken over. If you ask me then, why marry?  I think like every one the same pat answer is love conquers all! But then, would  I have thought so far ahead of life's journey through the years? Impossible! As my husband will vouch now, I'm not a person who thinks things through. Always in a haste!! Luckily the stars in the universe smiled on us. They still do and we give thanks.

That morning, upon arrival after alighting from the car, I  laughed out quite loud at something funny. Or was it something  causing some nervous energy to course through my veins?
'Hey, A bride is demure!' or something to this effect , uttered by my soon to be sis in law. She helped to arrange the folds of my  kanchipuram saree neatly. I had gone with her to Madras Store in Masjid India to choose the saree. As the ceremony was in mid morning, determined by the astrological  readings, the cooler shade of blue/green was chosen.

I think I was rather adept  walking in a saree for the first time. With  rather brisk steps, accompanied by relatives, I lifted the saree lightly at the folds with  my right hand to keep the border off the ground. and walked towards  the temple to meet my man! There he was waiting patiently with his parents.

All these years there was no urgency to come back again. Whether it be to celebrate deepavali, ponggal or to commemorate anniversaries  of loved ones, the temples nearer home fit our purposes. But this time round, to revisit the temple and to step inside was enough excitement especially when  this opportunity presented itself. The interior and the sanctum  is still  what I remember thirty three years ago. However I  had envisioned the  paved walkway  leading to the temple steps to be  a longer stretch , more curvy and on more of an incline. Now the pathway is nicely tiled with geometric patterns  instead of  the concrete of old, showing signs of modernity and giving it a more aesthetic look.

Smile, it's your wedding day!
The little ones were  having their own fun! All grown,, one is a physicist, another a mechanical engineer and another a banker. 

Me and my man!

Walked  this pathway  thirty three years ago!

A little girl in  blue dress to complement her mum's saree.

A Committee member of the temple showing  how a 'pottu' is placed.

The midday puja  whereby the visitors  received blessings.

The deities  are watching over  the devotees.

Oil lamps ready for offerings to the Gods.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plant Exchange

When garden enthusiasts meet, plants do the talking! That's what our dear patron of the Selangor and FT Gardening Society, Tan Sri Chong Hon Nyan desired when he hosted yet another of our regular yearly plant exchange in his house.

You can be assured that the warmth of the lovely couple greets you, accentuated by the red glow of the red canopy above our heads. Luck was on our side  too as the incessant rain of the past weeks kept away and the sun smiled on us.

I brought two plants with a wish of finding them new homes. Specially wanted  a happy soul to take home  the vitex trifolia or the simpleleaf chaste tree. The shrub sits under  my jacaranda tree and complements  nicely with its lavender flowers. The clusters of berries rectify  hormonal imbalances in females. I extolled its virtues to our ex- president, Arthur and he  bought it. All for a ringggit 5 tag. All plants sold go towards the Society's coffers.

As usual, I was on the lookout for some new plants. Imagine for only ringgit 28.00 spent, I got myself  a custard apple sapling, lemon basil, jasmine (cestrum nocturnum), a stem cutting of a genus of the monstera, a packet of lady finger seeds and a tub of home-made pickled fruits which is our patron's wife's speciality.

The owner who parted with her Night blooming jasmine (Lady of the Night) as she was moving from her condominium told me  to expect the knockout fragrance of the plant. And for the lingering fragrance that wafts in the air even after it is plucked.

Following the do's and don'ts of  a good plant exchange, the event  went smoothly. Nothing  littered the compound of our gracious patron as unsold plants were taken home by the owners. As usual, our patron treated  the members to a delightful lunch  of kari and prawn mee, kuay teow, popiah and ice kacang which we ate heartily.

Within those brief hours, we immersed ourselves talking about our nature pursuits, the behaviour of our garden plants, composting etc. There is so much to share and learn from each other. With such wonderful garden tales, there is nothing left to do but just to fall in love over and over again with plants. They really do speak to us. Our duty is to care for them.

Food and plants go  together well !

Lovely pendulous sprays of yellow flowers in  our patron's garden which is a trove of plants everywhere you look!

The lovely delicate flowers of the vitex trifolia

Small plants to suit  a balcony garden

Tall plants that need space.

The price tag of ringgit 5  doesn't set one back in the pocket!

A nursery was invited to sell some plants.

Bonus time -  on behalf of Arthur, our president Dr Tan handed out a packet of vermicompost and a soil mix each to every member.

Arthur showing us this plant which is said to have anti - cancer properties

I bought a stem cutting

Like my plant?

Making  choices

A wealth of knowledge  lies here!