Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Out & About: Farewell Lunch at Shang Villa

Had a wonderful lunch a few days ago with all my office colleagues at this place called Shang Villa, a small Chinese restaurant cum cafe in Kelana Jaya.

As it was my first time there, a colleague who has frequented the place took charge and ordered some dishes for our group lunch.

Wonderful Chinese style fried bee hoon Singapore-style

Fried Thai Tofu

Kangkung Belacan

Petai Goreng (with Yardbeans & Brinjal)

Lemon Chicken

Chicken Kapitan curry (which is actually a super thick Gulai Asam)

Chinese style fried rice.
Strange that I have not heard of this little gem of a mom-n-pop restaurant despite it being so close to my office in Kelana Jaya.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Glitter In The Air

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
Close your eyes and trust it, just trust it.
Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face,
And said I just don't care?

And it's only half past the point of no return.
The tip of the iceberg.
The sun before the burn.
The thunder before the lightning.
Breath before the phrase.
Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?
Your whole life waiting on a ring to prove you're not alone
Have you ever been touched so gently, you had to cry?
Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?

It's only half past the point of oblivion.
The hourglass on the table.
The walk before the run.
The breath before the kiss.
And the fear before the fight.

Have you ever felt this way?

There you are, sitting in the garden
Clutching my coffee,
Calling me sugar.
You called me sugar!

Have you ever, wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight.
Have you ever, held your breath and asked yourself,
Will it ever get better than tonight?


Found this gem of a song by Pink. I love her when she sings in a restrained manner such as how she did this one.

Spot of Navel Gazing!

Had trouble sleeping yesterday, probably on account of the copious amounts of coffee I had earlier in the day. Smartphone in hand and deathly bored, I surfed the net.

Googled myself and found some stuff I had totally forgotten about. Fluff from my time in my former department, the glory days if you may.

The Star Education Buzz!

I had to conciously check myself from guffawing too loudly in the dead of night. When I was first posited the idea by Comms Department that day, I was laughing so hard over the phone, I must have insulted her in the process. God bless her soul for even thinking of me to be part of a series representing my company.

When the interview was done, I was a nervous wreck, which is quite strange as I am a voluble kind of guy. The journalist was asking all these questions and his photographer was like buzzing here and there snapping shot after shot (she had to, in pursuit of a flattering angle). In the end, that mug of mine was what they had to settle on, which to me, suggests that they did not capture that elusive shot.  


Emboldened, I searched some more and found this.

Mastraveller Sneak Peek!

And more guffawing ensued. Gawd, some people are so not meant to be posed and photographed! ;)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Prevailing wisdom

I recently found out that 2  colleagues from another department that we have been working very closely with for the A380 Project, recently got promoted.

Now I am not jealous of the fact that they got promoted as they both were solid representatives of their department, but to note that promotion could still be had in this trying financial times in our company was surprising. We were told that no promotions would be possible, or any allowance dispensation or higher pay grade acting positions would be allowed in the need to limit operating costs.

So how did these 2 friends of mine get theirs?

I came to know that ultimately they both had leaders who believed in their contribution, abilities and potential. These leaders felt it was important to fight for what is right and came up with solid justifications to the defense of my 2 colleagues. 

The thing that is pissing me off is that, for our department, many who were promised position upgrading, allowances or acting positions were ultimately given nothing. All of our former benefits were removed and yet we still gave our best to the company, for the hope that we could be rewarded in the future.

I know that a job well executed, is itself a reward, but it is hard to swallow, when in our own departmental shores, our leaders merely paid lip service. Promises that were made and dangled ended being nothing more than morning mist. Sure, there is always the possibility that my direct leaders have tried to get us what we were promised, but I cant shake the negative feeling.

I  am upset that I, being of this age, after all I have experienced, still held on to the ideal that a good leader will nurture and reward performing staff. I cant believe I actually fell for one of the oldest professional tricks in the book, the dangling of the proverbial carrot, when there was actually none to be had.

Our company recently went through yet another divisional reorganisation that resulted in our department being placed under a different master. The work is to remain, for the most part, dealing in creating new products, either service-based or actual physical offerings, just under a new division's umbrella. I have gone through several of this kinds of upheavals before and it has turned out fairly well.

But, I cannot go being made to feel like a spare wheel, to be used when critically needed but relegated to the dark confines of the car boot after they are done. It is affecting my morale where performing any task to the same high standards I hold has become increasingly difficult. I have become cynical, angry and reluctant to share my thoughts, knowledge and expertise. I begin to doubt my own professional value and self worth. This terrifies me.

I firmly believe that any knowledge and experienced one has gained, should be paid forward by sharing with another who can use the skills.

There is this adage, that employees leave a company due to bad managers, and that people stay due to good managers.

In the future, if I do become a leader myself, I pray that I will spare my team members the same hurt and dishonour, as nothing ruins an employee more than a leader who doesn't care. Apathy. It should not only be about getting the work done. It should be about polishing individual diamonds in the rough to a brilliant shine, worthy of recognition.

My dissatisfaction has kindled into a deep seated anger, slow burn, and it has strengthened my resolve to seek other opportunities. I need to find myself in a less toxic environment, self-created & imposed or otherwise, and do other things.

I need to escape this downward spiral of self doubt and negativity.

I must prevail. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

All is not always what it seems

On my home from work yesterday, I stopped by at a Mamak restaurant (my usual haunt) to buy some food for my family. After ordering what I wanted, I went next door to get some wet cat food for a couple of the strays I saw.

I chanced upon an elderly Indian man sleeping on the covered pathway. He looked ragged and his only belonging was an old umbrella. There he was lying on the cold cement floor.

I was unsure of what I should do, and after a moment, shrugged the awkward feeling off.

Proceeded to the Mamak place and waited for my order to be packed. After paying for the bill, I felt bad about just leaving the sleeping old chap like that. He could be hungry or sick or something of the like, and I did not feel right to walk away. 

Tried to wake the man and found he was really fast asleep. 

Maybe I should wad some change into his hand so he can get a meal when he finally wakes? Do i buy some food and leave it for him? Do I ask for a favour from the restaurant to give him a meal on my tab? Why wasn't anyone trying to help this guy? How can anyone look away and not care?

I approached Aziz, my Mamak waiter friend and offered him some money to buy the old man some food after he wakes. Then came the truth.

Apparently the old chap is hugging the floor because he was stone drunk and thus sleeping off his alcohol fueled stupor.

All good samaritan desires totally left and I went home.

How on earth did my sense of pity and care for a fellow man disappear the moment I found out he was drunk? Does it mean inwardly I label all drunkards as simply people who do not deserve pity and care because they did it to themselves by chugging on too much alcohol? That therefore they disgraced themselves and thus undeserving of respect?

So what about druggies? Poverty stricken thieves?

I found it disturbing that I did an about turn on my earlier impulse. Does that mean I wasn't 'Ikhlas' to begin with? And wanting to donate just so that others could see my charity? That Razee is noble and an all round nice guy?

Ugh.... A quandary.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Island life for me?

Something dropped on my lap recently.

A company has offered me a position in Langkawi to run their establishment there. A better pay package than my current certainly, and the job sounds very interesting.

Intrigued I am.

The question is, would the island life be good for me? Knowing that I love crowds, the hustle and bustle of city life, and the vibrant energy of city folk, this opportunity would be a sea-change for me.

Will I fit in? Will I enjoy it?

I am game.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Merdeka Raya Office Do

Thursday was a day of reckoning for all of our collective dieting habits. The 2 Departments in our area ganged-up and threw ourselves a Merdeka Raya celebration.

Decked in our Hari Raya best, the event started in earnest with a Doa' session led by our own Ustaz Suhaimi and followed by speeches from our respective Managers.

Then we ate, loads.

Starter - Rojak Buah with Kuah Petis and assortment of crisps & keropoks.

Rojak Buah - Cucumbers, Jicama, Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, Kedondong,
Starfruit, and more!
Main Courses - Nasi Kerabu with Solok Lada, Daging Bakar and Ikan Goreng, Soto Ayam, Sayur Lodeh with Ketupat and Sambal Tumis Sotong, Nasi Impit & Kuah Kacang and Pulut Kuning with Chicken Rendang.

Mulakan dengan sedikit rojak buah, sebelum membantai yang selebihnya!
Lodeh, Nasi Impit, Sambal Sotong, Kuah Kacang and banyak lagi.
Nasi Kerabu and friends!
Pulut Kuning with Kari Ayam Kick!
Dessert - Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese frosting, Marble Cheese cake, Steamed Chocolate Cake, Pudding with Fruit Cocktail, Kuih Serimuka & Koleh Kacang, Puding Santan & Gula Melaka, Neapolitan Ice Cream, Cookies, Candies and fruits.

Junk food! Yeah!!
Nescafe Kaww & Orange Juice.
Piece de resistance : Carrot Cake with Lemon Cheese Frosting.
This was SO good on so many levels, it was ridiculous.
Dessert counter with some fruits - Mata Kucing & Limau Bali
We went really bonkers with the food and the whole event was one giant eating layered with more eating and interspersed with laughter.
I have often been part of activities such as this, but this one in particular was really really fun as it honestly felt like a get-togther of long time friends.

The crazy ladies who lovingly accepted us into their fold (and  initiated the makan makan!)
They rock!!

The not so camera shy members from my department.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Desktop Pets: The Betta Way

The reality is that most of us office-hour types have very generic cubicles (read: boring!) as our work station. Some opt to enliven their space with pictures (kitsch), magnets (kitsch) and other sort of paraphernalia. Some place a pot of semi-indestructible/semi-unkillable plant in a suitable nook (guilty as charged) and some others have a desktop pet.

I love the idea of having a small active yet fairly low maintenance sidekick watching over my space and so I bought Betta (Fighting Fish) for myself.

Heya! I'm Senget. Pleased to meet you.
Senget is your run-of-the-mill long finned fighting fish that I got from a Kampong store near my home. When I first bought him, I never noticed that there was a slight defect with one of his fins. He was an impulse buy truthfully, but after having him live at my table for a few days, I realized that he was a tad lopsided on account of a gimp fin. This resulted in his awfully corny name of Senget.

See my Gimp fin? Tehehehe
He lives a glass vase home, with de-chlorinated and aged water and spent porous zeolite as habitat sand (it absorbs poisonous ammonia from the water in a chemical sequester process). He has a live plant for him to hide in and occasionally sleep on. The zeolite sand can be a tad scratchy on trailing fins, so I layered some polished pebbles as a physical barrier.

A few months later, I found another un-used glass container, this time in the shape of a large Brandy glass and proceeded to turn it into another desktop habitat.

Mottled Cream Blue fin Crown tail Betta a.k.a Chomot!
This is Chomot, for the simple reason of dressing up like a messy smudge! I fell in love with him as I felt that he had a tad more character than the others at the aquarium store. There were others far more attractive than him but I felt that he would make me happiest (he was probably psychically commanding me to pick him ya).

He lives in a similarly set up bowl of zeolite sand, but Chomot has a wood-bound water-fig plant as his primary decor cum R&R pit stop.

Both Senget and Chomot are bachelors living in their own pads (never mix Bettas together, ever! There is a good reason why they are called Fighting Fish). One lives at my office table while the other stays at home at my desk, both in well lit area with sufficient sunlight sustaining the plants.

They don’t need much in terms of care, regular daily feedings of 6-8 Betta suitable mini floating pellets, once a week change of de-chlorinated water and the very occasional plant trimming to tame wayward leaf growth of the water plants.

They both help me keep centered and balance as the act of feeding, playing (Senget seems to be quite interactive, wiggling a certain way when he wishes for food) and maintaining their glass pads offer me some semblance of calm and tranquility (which frantic ole me could always use having more, in spades where possible).

Update 7/9/2012
Came home on Friday and found Chomot belly up and stiff. Quite a shock really as he was doing fine in the weeks before :(.

To commemorate the short life of Chomot, I had a small service and buried him at the hedge in front of my room in the hopes that his body will nourish others.

I was in a funk over the weekend as was constantly aware of the vacant bowl that was Chomot's abode and so I went out looking for a new tenant, not so much as replacement as to bring some new life into my room. Carefully cleaned and disinfected the bowl to make sure no illnesses or parasites are transmitted, replaced all the gravel with new (and clean), and boiled the semi porous decorative stones just to be doubly sure!

Meet Nero.
Black Crown-tail Betta
 Nero was the only specimen with such dark colours and so I got him. Mainly because, in his own way having a wonderful dark colouration, he was as special as Chomot with his ragged appearance. Nero seems to have settled into his new home and is feeding well.

Hope it works out well this time.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Out & About: Having Plan b.

Le Menu
I have been meaning to bring Weekend-GF (read: Mum!) over to Plan b. for a taste of their goodies here since I was first introduced to it months ago. My first taste was mostly for work, part of a Food Safari program to introduce new flavors and offerings for our company.

Brekky & Brunch Served till 6pm!
Back then I tried their Eggs Ben, which is a simple dish of poached eggs, mushrooms, hollandaise sauce on toast with roquette leaves. Thought this time I should revisit the dish again at their new outlet in Paradigm Mall.

Egggggggggggssssss, Shrooms and Roquettes!

The thing with simple dishes is that it is very easy to ruin it. Clean flavours have an annoying ability to announce to the world that the Cook may have been careless, heavy handed or inexperienced. Thankfully, this was not the case for my Ben.

The lightly toasted English Muffin (a less dense version, I must qualify) was topped with thickly sliced and sauteed mushrooms (tasted like Portobello). The mushrooms still retained its wonderful earthy aroma despite being seared in butter. Top if off with  poached egg and a generous spoonful of hollandaise emulsion.

I was secretly happy that my poached egg yellow was a wee bit cooked through, as am not a fan of overly runny yolks (I find the syrupy texture slightly icky). Their Hollandaise sauce also is a bit different as it is less unctuous than the classical version. There isn't a noticeable hit of acidity from a classical vinegar reduction and I guess that the recipe included a little milk as well.

However, I was let down by the wilted Roquette leaves and the overall temperature of the dish. It also took a good 23 minutes for our dishes to arrive!

Mak opted for the Nasi Lemak and it was a HUGE portion for her (all 26 Ringgit of it, yes!), but it was nicely done, each part of the dish was correctly prepared and the rice was rich. When taken with the spicy kick of the squid sambal and crispy fried chicken it was good. 
Boom! Yeahhhhh!
Nyot, who joined us for the Brunch chose for herself a large roast beef sandwich. I was very pleased with how the dish was presented. 
And one person can finish this? Yikes!
Her plate had all the makings of a great meal. Grilled baquette filled with roast beef slices piled on roquette leaves, with a side of garden salad drizzled with zingy vinaigrette and contrasted with a mini bucket of crunch oven-crisped yam, sweet potato and cassava chips. She paired this with lashings of mustard and it got devoured in no time.

Our food and drinks took a while to arrive and there is still a measure of inefficiency with the staff. Nothing annoyingly slow of course, staff were still on hand and they seemed like they wanted to please their customers. It could simply be a case of it being a new place where the staff haven't quite gotten fully into the swing of things. When compared with their sister outlet in Bangsar Village, this outlet still needs work of course, but they will get there soon enough.  

Madame's Cafe Latte

Side order of Shrooms
The bill came out to slightly over RM100 for a meal for 3 people and from the smiles on everyone's face I guess we could be repeat visitors. Apparently this place offers a mean Corned-Beef Hash. Gotta get that next time for brekkie.