As for my weight-watching, what is that?

Working, working, working at reducing weight…to bring it down to the accepted weight range according to fitness or health “experts”. Not sure if they have a life but…just kidding. We have to anchor our belief system in all we do to get to that “order” or “common ground” which the majority agrees as common ground.

Then, this has to happen. Why? Delicious meehoon siam with sambal and potato cutlet.

Jeannie, my wife; went out with her mother (my mother-in-law, for the uninitiated😉) to this famous, super popular Makchik and Pakchik nasi lemak stall in SS18, Subang Jaya. Aunty Maryjane Atkinson, who introduced this place to us; speaks so highly about the nasi lemak from this food vendor.

I love rice, even until today though I have stopped eating rice for nearly 15 years. If nasi lemak was served to me, I will eat everything but the rice. Strong💪 will power.

This same stall also sells meehoon siam. Since Jeannie and her mother were buying packets of nasi lemak for themselves, they decided to buy meehoon siam for me.

Though this meehoon siam is not same as the legendary famous meehoon siam of the hawker who had his 3-wheeler bicycle parked in front of La Salle School, Klang; every school day in the late 1960s to the early 1970s; it is still unabashedly tasty. To top it, Jeannie asked to add in a side order – potato cutlet!

What made it difficult for me was I on most days, do not have breakfast or lunch. I have been on this regime for the last couple of months. So, yeah.. I am putting in the effort to keep my weight down.

No way was this meehoon siam going to make it through dinner. Jeannie had her fill from the nasi lemak she had before coming home. That is why I cannot provide pictures here of this awesome nasi lemak. Though I have not seen this nasi lemak myself, just the thought itself, makes me drool over it.

The meehoon siam, with its sweetish, not too spicy sambal and the potato cutlet. Yum!

The generous serving of meehoon siam came wrapped in a sort of waxed paper. Open the packet, the food is on a banana leaf. It is said that the banana leaf has healthy nutrients that enhance the food that is on it. I am not going to get into those details or question the validity of the healthy nutrients that are said to come with it. To me, the banana leaf sort of added on to the presentation of this meal.

This meehoon siam was delicious. Your first forkful enters your mouth and it sets the mood. The meehoon by itself was a little plain or bland. The generous serving of sambal complemented the noodles well. The sambal was not too spicy It was on the sweet side. Malay cuisine generally tend to be on the sweet side. This whole meal was wolfed down in no time at all. My compliments to the chef.

Guys n gals, if you are in Subang Jaya, head over to SS18 to get yourselves packets of nasi lemak and meehoon siam from this Makchik and Pakchik stall. No need for addresses or maps – the wonderful smells (aroma) from this food fills the whole area and will be able to attract you to their stall.

As for my weight-watching, what is that? Damage control – Actually, I took to the street for my 10 kilometer walk shortly after lunch. No, not due to guilt that I ate lunch. It is just that I had to compensate for eating lunch. Also, it was my routine daily walk.

Words from a 96-year old, two times Prime Minister, the second Premiership stint was at his age of 95; “If you love the food, eat a little bit, not too much”. This was in response to a question as to how he managed to stay slim. Wise words from him, who is also a medical doctor by profession.

NOTES:
1. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
2. “Makchik” is a Malay word which means “aunty”.
3. “Pakchik” is a Malay word which means “uncle”.
4. Nasi lemak and meehoon siam are favourite Malaysian local meals.

When To Let Go

Signs, messages, writings on the wall…all leading to the same…

It is important to know when to let go. Sometimes things, situations or people don’t serve any meaningful purpose anymore. What does not lift you up, pulls you down.

It is time for a new beginning, the next phase. Read the signs and move on.

~ ALAN IAN ATKINSON
Writer, Author, Storyteller

scmp

AM I MELLOWING?

It feels great after the nice warm shower I just had. I don’t usually take a warm shower unless I get caught in the rain.

Caught in the rain, I was. It looked its usual as it has been doing so in the last few days. In fact “it”, the rain, that is; tapered to a few drops here and there – is sort of saying, “ok, you can come out of your house now. Don’t worry, these tiny drops that I am sprinkling in the air, these drops that are lighter than the flakes of powder that come out of a talcum powder container, they ain’t gonna hurt you (guess which English this is). So, come out, come out, wherever you are.

Out I went, to do my 10 kilometer walk. Though it was shortly after noon; the sun was blazing hot. Technically speaking, the sun is not directly overhead in Subang Jaya, at least in USJ 4 until 1.00pm Malaysia time (+8hrs GMT). This has been proven as a fact.

I walk a 1.56km distance each lap (loop), around my neighbourhood. Part of each lap involves walking between the side lanes between houses. The houses have been built in the direction that while the sun is rising in the east, it casts a shadow of that end (intermediate) house in the opposite direction in the west. When the sun begins to set in the west; it will cast a shadow of the opposite end (intermediate) house, in the opposite direction.

What we learnt in school is that when the sun is directly overhead us, we won’t have a shadow. But that does not seem to apply here. The shadow only disappears when the sun is at 1.00pm. This goes to prove the fact that the sun is directly overhead us at 12.00pm if we are on the equator. Which Malaysia is not. Malaysia, being near the equator does not count. I found it interesting because from school days, I always thought the sun was directly overhead us at noon. Now, I know it isn’t. Can we say the sun begins to set after 1.00pm?

We are so caught up in the big picture or looking for the big picture in life that we seem to miss out on nature which paints a new picture on it’s “canvass of the day” or a “photo snapshot of the day”, everyday.

My wife, Jeannie; will always comment on the beauty of the sunset. She is always thrilled, always in awe about it’s presentation each day. She says the sunset is different at the beach, up in Cameron Highlands when we sit on a garden bench at the Arcadia residence, different in Vasenello, Italy… My reply usually is, “it’s the same sun, any part of the world we are in” and will hardly glance at the sunset, taking it for granted. It is not.

The Sun is the same, yes. When you come to think of it, every sunset presents a different piece of art. The patterns, the hues and shades of the different colours in the skies at a sunset can be breathtaking.

One more step towards appreciating life – something that is often taken for granted.

I am beginning to understand that finding little things in life can make life interesting. Am I mellowing? I don’t know. What I do know is I am looking forward to how this evening will be displaying its sunset. Anyone game for sunset gazing?

USJ 4/4, Sunset Strip.

Decisions, Decisions

You are going through a major life challenge. The situation seems bleak. You have two choices: stay in that situation or overcome it.

Nothing is permanent. You’re not stuck.

You can rise up from anything. Believe.

You can think new thoughts. You can learn something new. Create new habits.

What matters most is that you decide today and never look back.

~ ALAN IAN ATKINSON
Writer, Author, Storyteller

Canciello

Uncle Gerald – Member of The Gomes Kids of Lorong Hicks Road.

How can you give when you’ve given all you’ve got?

You’re giving is not a bottomless pit, or an overflowing endless waterfall, though it may seem like that it is one.

During that time of giving, you did not spend much time in replenishing your giving, all that was out.

Uncle Geraldo – 87 years old.

It was Uncle Gerald’s (mum’s brother) birthday yesterday, September 19th. Jeannie and I paid him a visit. As we got near the home, we actually overshot it by a few doors. I think it was because the familiar sign “No visitors allowed” was not up any longer.

We were told by one of the caregiver’s to go in straight to his room. This is a fairly new term to me – “caregiver”. I was first introduced to this term when dad came out of hospital after the accident he had over a year and a half ago, where he slipped, fell and injured his leg. The hospital had a metal plate bolted on him with screws, I think.

Sorry, I took a short ice-cream break – I had a Magnum “Belgian Chocolate Luxe” – Magnum’s best ice-cream with rich, dark chocolate ice-cream inside. The outside is Magnum’s signature chocolate body. This one is dotted with crisp rice pops. I love it! The dark chocolate ice-cream is supposed to be the consoling part – dark chocolate…healthier than normal chocolate. Whatever…! It was madnessly sweet.

It just so happened that I passed by a mirror after finishing the Magnum “Belgian Chocolate Luxe”. Deng! Deng! Deng! For a few what seemed like very long milliseconds, I could only see my stomach. Like an after thought, the rest of me followed. I am trying not to feel too guilty here. Like most days. I skipped breakfast and lunch, went for my brisk 10km walk (clocked a favourable time), weighed in at 72kg (1.5kg overweight), picked Jeannie up from work and had two roti canai with some fried chicken at The Taj Curry House. So, it should be good, right?

Uncle Gerald was so happy to see us. He told us that my brother Malcolm, our cousin’s son, William; and a few others had visited him. He also had many calls come in, even while we were there.

At 87, he had resigned himself to a small room with his bed, a 2-door wardrobe for his clothes, and a small sort of cupboard for his valuable and other belongings. He had a small Samsung Tablet and his smartphone to keep him in touch with the world; just like his father, Oli Papa, my grandfather on my mother’s side.

Oli Papa had been blind for about 50 years. Everyday, he would sit by his PIE radio and tune in to the radio stations around the world to keep him abreast with the latest that was going on in the world.

I remember seeing a radio that was Oli Papa’s everyday companion; quite similar to this PYE radio. Oli Papa also smoked a cigar a day and had a glass of neat brandy. He knew how to live life.

Uncle Gerald donated his big house to the church, sold whatever he could sell and donated that money away. Now, confined to his room, he spends time on his tablet. I wonder if he stays in his room because there are quite a few eligible ladies staying in that house with him. I am sure they may want to share more than a few bible verses with him. Uncle Gerald never married. So, here’s his chance to go dating.

A teacher before, he still applies that method of explanation for most things. He throws in a few metaphors here and there. His diction of the English language, the Queen’s English, i.e.; is at its best, as usual.

Uncle Gerald longs for all his nephews, nieces, other family members and friends to visit him. He welcomes all visitors and will scratch off all his scheduled plans for the day, just to spend time with those who visit him. His mind and memory are still sharp so he will know you are when you visit him.

Should he have gone to stay in a home? I don’t think he should have thrown in the towel just yet. He probably did not explore all avenues before he did so. This is only my view. I may not have delved deeply into the underlying factors as to why the old folks home. There may be a fair maiden there, we never know. He may just pull a rabbit out of the hat.

NOTES:
Founding Member of “The Gomes Kids Of Lorong Hicks Road” – 1930s, Japanese Occupation of Malaya: WW2, 1950s

The tortoise or the Hare?

There is no such thing as “maintain” when you are working on improving yourself. Everyone else, too are working on improving themselves.

In life’s race against the clock, you either are improving or declining. I was involved in competitive swimming as a parent of an athlete swimmer. I used to hear competitive swimmers say after a race, “they maintained their times”. If taken rightly, they use that as a “dig their heels in there for a moment”, as a new minimum standard and move forward from there. Then, good.

But, many of the swimmers use their “times maintained” to be construed as they did well, at least they did not drop in times. The danger of becoming complacent, too relaxed or make excuses; can set in. Now, if they are racing only against their personal time clock, they may be able to give themselves some takeaway from there.

In competition there are two races that really go on in each race. One, you race against your personal best time clock, always. This competitor – the clock; will always race you.

The second is you race against other athlete competitors.

So, the moment you “feel comfortable” about having “maintained your time” in a race; your competitors are working hard at beating their times and beating you, their competitor. The goal for most real competitors is to race at the Olympics and World Championships.

They have to have “Kaizen” in them. Kaizen is a Japanese word for continuous improvement.

Michael Schumacher, 7 times Formula 1 World Champion, is arguably the best of all times. At his peak, he accomplished many records – having won 7 world championship titles, winning 91 races (the most number of races at that time), getting the most number of pole starts, amassing the most number of points, amongst many others. When asked at a press conference what it felt like having chalked up so many firsts, Schumacher said, “Records are meant to be broken”.

These two races can basically be applied to anyone – one, is we continue to improve ourselves. The second is we race against others in our workplace, our profession, etc. This is good as it continues to raise the bar or the new record to break. I think mankind has always been competitive by nature.

When you break that record, don’t forget to spend some time celebrating the achievement. This is “living in the present”. Don’t spend too much of time there. Otherwise, it may turn out to be “The tortise and the Hare”.

Then, back on the racetrack to start a new race to beat the latest record. We should always ask, “How can we make the best, better?”

In order for your life to be great, you must first learn to appreciate it. Don’t forget to add “having fun” in all you do. Fun helps people to relax. It is sometimes regarded as a “social lubricant”, important in adding “to one’s pleasure in life”. Fun can help reduce stress. . For children, fun is strongly related to play. Somehow, they have spontaneity and an inventive way in extracting fun from it.

Are you the tortoise or the hare?

JP

In the meantime, I am going to have Tou Foo Fah (Chinese for soymilk custard) with liquid brown sugar. A little while later…Oops! forgot to take a picture of it. “Walloped it one shot” (local way of saying, “whacked it” or “start eating and finished straight away”).

Tou Foo Fah – yummy!


Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Life never said it was going to be easy. We can’t let tough times define us.

Every moment in our lives that has not yet arrived, is our future. No one has lived it for us. No one can live it for us.

We get to choose how we live. Because we are inexperienced living our future now, we are bound to make a mistake or two or three. That’s o.k.. Just pick ourselves up, and keep moving forward.

Remember, there is no such thing as “no choice”. And, there is no time to kill or be bored. We don’t have enough of it – time..

We can’t always choose the music life plays us, but we sure can choose how we dance to it. Put on your dancing shoes and dance…

~ ALAN IAN ATKINSON
Writer, Author, Storyteller

Paso de Feugo

Kachang Hijau dessert, anyone?

Rather cool for a Thursday afternoon. There was a bit of a shower or heavy downpour that lasted 10 minutes top.

As noon was approaching earlier on, I was still trying to figure out what to write. My ideaSketchpad 💡 had essays at various stages of completion (some with 3 or 4 words in them and that’s completion?). Here’s the thing: I’ve got to get into the grove of things, the feel for words, sentences, paragraphs, stories to flow from my thoughts to my fingers, tapping the keypad and showing up on the computer screen.

So, whatever was on my ideaSketchpad 💡was not a “Thursday or a now article” to work on. Have you ever got into a feeling like that? Opened your wardrobe, full of clothes yet don’t have anything to wear? Yeah, yeah… I know I used this line in the last article I wrote yesterday. It does drive home a point. The same goes with an artist – his studio could have lots of unfinished pieces, yet he does not know what to work on for that day.

While trying to figure out what to write; I served myself a bowl of green beans desert or as it is more commonly known as bubur kacang hijau, which Jeannie boiled yesterday. “Bubur” is the Malay word for porridge.

This is a thick gravy version, the way my mum used to make it when we were kids.

A very simple dish. It is boiled in water for er…awhile. Added in is brown sugar (healthier than white sugar), not too much though. We don’t want it to be too sweet. Coconut milk, commonly known as “santan” in Malaysia; is a main ingredient. It is added in to bring out the richness of this desert. Then, a bit of salt is added in, too. That’s it.

The way we like it is thick. Unlike the type you find as a desert in Chinese dinners, where it is very watery with hardly any coconut milk.

Other varieties include boiling sago seeds with it to add a different flavour. Some people add slices of banana or sweet potato – all this to create a different variant to the original.

As you scoop a serving of bubur kacang hijau and bring it towards your mouth; its beautiful aroma brings a smile to your face. When you eat it, the beans, together with the coconut milk and brown sugar melted in it, takes its simplicity to a whole new level – divine. 😋I’m a simpleton – easy to please.😉

In the family of this type of desert, there are also “Pulut Hitam” (Malay for glutinous rice) and “bubur kacang merah” (Malay for red bean porridge) varieties. Equally delicious.

For those who are weight watchers, it would be advisable to work it off with exercise. I will go out for my 10km brisk walk and weigh myself when I get back after my walk, everyday. I think my weighing scales aren’t exactly truthful to me. It does not want to go down to my “within normal range” or lower. It showed that I am 2kg overweight today.

We’ve also got these green peas biscuits, too:

This is greener than normal because it is pandan flavoured. Simply delicious.

These green beans / peas biscuit is more commonly linked to the state of Penang. Also, if you were to make a visit to Jonker Street, Malacca; you will find several bakeries making these biscuits, in a variety of choice, too. You can buy them as they come straight out of the oven.

It becomes really hard to keep your weight down and in check when we are spoilt for choice of food. Safe to say, the choice is unlimited. Different parts of Malaysia will prepare the same dish like the bubur kacang hijau with a twist in preparation for example.

Hey, it looks like I have penned down / Logitech MX-Keys (brand) typed an article here. When it comes to food, there is plenty to talk about.

Let us know how you like your green beans, red beans, pulut hitam in the comments section and it may come up in a future article.

Wishing all Malaysians, “Happy Malaysia Day”!

A more watery version. Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen

NOTES:

  1. Penang and Malacca are two states in Malaysia.

THE TAJ EXPERIENCE

Taj Curry House, SS12, Subang Jaya (1)

The time is 5.40pm, this wonderful Tuesday evening. The weather is quite hot but fine. Over the radio, the newscaster was saying KL (Kuala Lumpur) which is about 20 minutes away; is experiencing flash floods in Cat Road (Jalan Kuching) and certain other areas. Definitely not going to KL. We (Jeannie and I), want to avoid getting caught in flood, no matter how light or severe it is. The thought of chugging along for hours in traffic jams is a put-off.

So, as we head back home towards Subang Jaya, we will go though one of the most severe tests ever known to mankind – “What do you want for dinner?

Subang Jaya is inundated with a choice of types of food, restaurants and food joints. It’s like a snazzy woman who opens a wardrobe with hundreds or thousands(?) of dresses and cries in despair, “I have nothing to wear!”

So, while on the highway, traffic movement was fairly good – slow but moving. Jeannie and I try to have our dinner early, at around 6.00pm – 6.30pm, everyday. As we turn left and get onto the ramp into Subang Jaya; the traffic begins to build to a crawl.

Our (more like my) immediate choice is to go to the Taj Curry House, which is just ahead of us, along our route. Jeannie suggested popiah in USJ Taipan (must mention which “Taipan” as more and more townships are coming up with their own Taipan.) but that would mean flowing with the jam for another half and hour or more.

Taj Curry House it was. For good, simple Indian cuisine. Warning: Parking in that area is near horrendous! One has to be really patient and drive around the area like a headless chicken (Not that headless chickens drive😉) until you find a space.

One of the first thing that greets you as you enter the restaurant, is the wide choice of dishes. For example, they serve curry chicken, fried chicken, chicken varuval and chicken tandoori.

Jeannie and I both went for the simplest of food – roti canai. Made from flour (I think), there is an art of kneading the dough, than turning it round and round while it stretches wide. then, it is fold into four and placed on a hot plate. Roti canai is one of Laura’s (our daughter) favourite food. I like my roti canai made garing – real crisp but not to the point of it becoming flaky.

Roti canai. You can actually eat it with anything. Laura at times eats it with a bit of sugar. All sorts of choices, too – roti planta, roti, sardine, roti telur, roti pisang – the list seems almost endless.
The yellow gravy is dharl.
This is molten lava without the cinders and smoke. But guranteed to bring tears of pain…er I mean joy – it a delicious spicy, spicy hot chili sambal.
Fish curry.
The meal platter.

I decided to have a couple of vaadai for starters. Made of beans mainly.
Fried chicken, as an additional dish.

Our dinner. And limau ais (iced lime water) to go with the meal.

The roti canai is of a decent size. Most other restaurants have shrunk the size of each piece, and at the same time; increase its price. The three side dishes that come with the roti canai are delicious (yes, including the hot chili sambal).

The large onions that comes with the fried chicken, is juicy and gives a balance flavour to the fried chicken. The fried chicken is marinated and prepared well, ensuring customer satisfaction.

This is a simple meal. It was delicious, as usual. Taj Curry House has maintained has always been consistent with its standard of good food. The service has also been good. We usually sit in the air-conditioned section. This has been our “go-to” for dinner over the last few months on our way back from PJ. How much for our dinner today? US$4.45.

Should you visit Taj Curry House? You should. I am sure that you will dine there again and again to try out their whole cuisine range.

By time we were done with dinner, the Subang Jaya traffic jam had eased off quite a bit. Now, that we are back home, we bought a packet of Bombay Mix to snack on.