Thursday, October 28, 2010

Climate Change

We have a huge decidous tree outside the house, which I planted many years ago (our house is surrounded by flowering plants and trees, as you can imagine).

While I like this tree as it provides shade and make our surrounding real cool, it's getting on Grandma's nerves. This is because instead of shedding its leaves once a year it does that ALL the time.

Now, I'm ok with fallen leaves, but not Grandma. So she's been spending time sweeping the leaves away or getting our young man to do it.

Image by

 To me they just remind me of Nat King Cole's  AUTUMN LEAVES  

The falling leaves drift by the window

The autumn leaves of red and gold

I see your lips, the summer kisses

The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I'll hear old winter's song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

C'est une chanson, qui nous ressemble

Toi tu m'aimais et je t'aimais
Nous vivions tous, les deux ensemble

Toi que m'aimais moi qui t'aimais

Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s'aiment

Tout doucement sans faire de bruit

Et la mer efface sur le sable les pas des amants désunis

(French lyrics by Jacques Prévert, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer)

The splendour of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, the beauty of Spring in Australia, the heat and rain in Asia (and very sadly the devastating earthquake and tsunami in West Sumatra) all happening at the same time...

Back at The Farm we have our own Spring too, more or less. The durians are flowering, so do other fruit trees. The wonder of nature continues to amaze you.
I came accross this plant called Senduduk or, to the botanist Melastoma:


The fruits are favorite of birds

The Senduduk is a weed, so farmers would normally kill them with a weedicide or shovel them away. But they are such pretty little things, I'd rather keep them at The Farm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Common Cold Cure

You may not know this about me but I was down with a terrible flu over the weekend.

I suffered from VURTI*.

I read somewhere that this infection can put you down up to a week or more.

The bug must have sneaked into me while I was walking around the mall the other day, during the hot spell. Our sky had been hazy and polluted too, from the smoke and ashes carried by the wind from the burning of forests in Sumatra in neighbouring Indonesia. Inhaling that smoke alone was enough to give your lungs serious problems. Schools and offices had been closed for the whole of last week because of the pollution.

The rain did come suddenly that evening, and I had to rush out to bring in the clothes which had been hanged to dry. I couldn't find any umbrella nearby so was caught in the shower. I had a raincoat in the cupboard upstairs but taking that would have delayed me further and the clothes would have been drenched by then. Besides I knew there was a skeleton in there which I didn't want to drop out. I would have some serious explaining to do to Grandma if that were to happen.

I went to sleep early the night before and woke up with a fever and a swollen and painful throat. It felt like there was a golf ball stuck in it. Then the nose began to run  and I started coughing.With a cold that bad you are pretty much grounded.

I was exasperated.

Fortunately for me Grandma was at hand to keep me warm (that is as in putting a thick blanket over me on the couch).

I told Grandma that I needed to recover fast. Real fast. She must be thinking that I had some sick goats to attend to or was planning to babysit one of the grandchildren again this week. She knew that I had heaps to do at The Farm but that wasn't until later in the week. What she didn't know was that Rachael Harrie had on Friday put up the Second Crusader Challenge! I had only the weekend to come up with something before my retreat to the wilderness. Now this!

The Crusade, Rachael's brainchild was launched here. I had promised to participate in the challenge. So write I must.

There I was, with my runny nose, lying down on the couch coughing away and enduring the fever. I was hoping for a miraclous and instant cure. We don't normally see a doctor unless faced with a life threatening situation or something that requires surgery. Besides what can a doctor do for a common cold.

Then, like the angel from above, Grandma came to the rescue! I heard her doing something in the kitchen but wasn't sure exactly what she was up to. By late morning I had these natural home-made remedy lined up for me:

First, a big mug of Liquid Chlorophyll,
made from special strain of Mulberry (Morus alba) leaves

Next, a pot of  tea made from this bitter-tasting Ho Yan Hor herb

I had to drink them all day long.

For lunch was porridge and Grandma's chicken soup - made from finely grounded chicken skeleton, dried octopus, and old cucumbers, with the chinese nut kei chi thrown in.

Chicken soup for the soul

To top it all Grandma surprised me with my favourite potato cake for tea! I have cooked this before, from a recipe by a blogger friend in Tanzania, but never knew it as kartoffelpuffer!

The yummy potato cake a.k.a  kartoffelpuffer

All these did wonders to my speedy recovery, and I now find myself punching away at the keyboard putting this down as my entry for the Second Crusader Challenge, brought to you by Rachael Harrie and made possible by Grandma.

*viral upper respiratory tract infection

Friday, October 22, 2010

Of Pulled Tea And Painted Statue

Reading Pakmat's post on pasar malam (night market) prompted me to share my following ecounters one evening at the night market:


Or teh tarik, a hugely popular drink amongst South-east Asians, Malaysians in particular. I think the following pics will amply describe the process of making this tea, without my trying to explain it.

This process makes the tea more drinkable i.e a hot tea won't be so hot so you can drink it quickly. The irony is that very rarely people who go to restaurants (very often run by mamaks or Indian Muslims) to drink this tea are in any great hurry.

Because the tea has been 'pulled' many times, it adds flavour to it from the combination of the tea, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. This is not unlike pounding spices and onions, etc with mortar and pestle as opposed to using the electric blender. The resulting 'awas' or combined paste will make a much better tasting curry.


This one's ready to go. OK, let's do another one!

The longer the better

Pull,baby, pull!

The back arm twist

Almost done

Ya baby, from ceiling to the ground

Music from that radio provides the tempo


So what if you are jobless, or  a bored college student with nothing to do at night? You can always paint yourself up, put a big box in front of you and just stand still, the longer the better. But I guess you need to stand absolutely still for at least five hours to make your effort worthwhile.

This antic is in no way unique. It's kinda like the solitary violinist or the silver statue of Hay Street Mall in Perth WA, or the bushman on San Francisco jetty accross from Alcatraz, ain't it

You are allowed to improve on the painting too

Hey, no tickling, I'm a statue, remember?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meet my cousin, Zaqwan

by Irfan Adam Irwan Shahrin

Whenever I'm at Grandma's I like to play with my cousin Iskandar Zaqwan. He is Uncle Ike and Aunty Nana's son.

Zaqwan is still a baby. I am not a baby anymore. Grandpa sometimes calls me baby, I don't like it - so I tell him "I'm not baby, I'm Irfan!".

When we are together we play with many toys - Thomas the Train, motorbikes, and small cars. I like cars, I have so many of them. We also spend time doing alphabets and jigsaw puzzles. Zaqwan is good at them, but I'm faster 'cos I'm older than him.

Then we take turn to drive my QX 7277. But Zaqwan is always busy on the phone. That's ok with me, 'cos then I can have the car all for myself!

Monday, October 18, 2010


by Irfan Adam Irwan Shahrin                      

The following took place between 9 a.m and 9 p.m...

The last time I was at Grandpa's farm it was raining cats and dogs. All my activities had to be indoors, so it wasn't very long before I got a bit cranky.

Recently the weather was nice and cool, not freaking hot like the past few days. So I asked Mama if I could visit Grandpa at The Farm again. I was quite

surprised that she agreed to let me go. I must have been giving her a tough time, I thought. So it's good to get out of her hair for a while.

Of course I have my Papa too, but I didn't think of asking him. What Mama says normally goes.

Besides Papa may not notice that I'm gone for a day (no, that's not true, I know he'd go bonkers like Mama would). Most days Papa's at the office from early morning (before I got up) till 8 or 9 p.m.

Sometimes when there's a crisis he'll be blackberrying his colleagues from where ever we are having dinner. And then he's off to office after that.

On weekends my Papa is busy too. He is a racing driver and he teaches people to race, or join them for trips somewhere. At the same time he will sell them his Unit Trust. He gives real meaning to multitasking. 

I sometimes wish my Papa retires early so he can spend more time with me and Mama (and Grandpa). After all, he's already thirty two years old. He can retire, can't he?

That Saturday however Papa made himself free and together with Mama sent me to Grandma's. They hugged and kissed me good-bye like I was going away for a whole week.

Here's how I made myself busy at Grandpa's Farm (while Grandma prepared lunch and tea - boiled tapioca, I think - and Grandpa attended to his sick goats):

Tug of War

Feeding Sabarudeng with Uncle Iz

Running around and falling over

Feeding the Tilapia

Finish doh, can I have some more?, Please?
(The fishes were very full that day)

Back at the house to give Uncle Iz a Thai Massage

"I want my Ferrari...!"

Driving my Ferrari, with engine sound and all
(notice the sweat dripping)

The massage and racing with the Ferrari made me tired. After I had a short nap, and took my bath, we made our way home, and stopped by for dinner at this place:

I just love playing with straws

Back at school I made this for Grandpa:

Grandpa, this is you. Love, Irfan.