July 26, 2013

Once Upon a Haze

Words can’t describe how much I loved the Scottish Highlands. Or perhaps I can...’coz I’m writing about it now :)

I believe the feeling started, after watching the first Highlander movie back in 1986. Perhaps I was in love with its untainted natural setting. Or probably it was the cool and misty weather that did the trick. Then again, maybe the super-powered characters appealed too much to me as a kid, to the extent that I wanted to live like one. 

So the kid version of me dreamt, made a broomstick sword, and took my slumber like how a highlander would (with the help of the air-conditioner in my parents’ master bedroom). But the experience never felt complete, due to the lack of the misty visual effect. 

Then, it was the year 1997. By that time, Backstreet Boys seemed to be way cooler than being an immortal Highlander. But my love of the beautiful mountainous region was still intact. That year, I managed to relive that childhood memory...through what people would call as one of Indonesia’s most popular exports. It was the haze...and it was also my misty visual effect.

The haze came to ‘blanket’ Malaysia again last mid-June. The worst hit areas were those at the southern part of the peninsula. Petaling Jaya (PJ) was still far away from being rated as bad in the Air Pollution Index (API). Then, like a sour filling of a sweet candy, the haze abruptly came  to PJ in a big way last 23rd June (Sunday).

It was a bad surprise, with the API reading reached between 100 to 150 for PJ. Still, it couldn’t top the haze that happened back in 2005 (it was so bad that everything that you see from outside your home was filled with bright and strong orange that preliminary scene from Dante’s Peak, when Pierce Brosnan’s character struggled to drive in the volcano-spewed haze).

We already had the haze going on a day before that, but the visual rate was still ok. As a precaution, we cancelled our planned trips to Malacca and the Pet Exhibition at Midvalley Megamall, and made a ‘home quarantine’ for the weekend. 

But, there was a big need to go to the Sunday wet market at Uptown Kota Damansara. So, I made the journey alone, together with my 50 cents mask. It was still a struggle though, with the smell of Indonesia’s burnt trees seeping through the mask. Still, it was better than not wearing any. Plus, I was an ecstatic Gregory House wannabe...minus the beard, the walking stick, and the long list of sarcastic remarks.

A ‘smoky’ lane

The T-junction near Sunway Giza, Dataran Sunway 

Gonna buy some ‘smoked’ chickens

Being out for the trip, I was quite surprised that almost all of the folks that I saw weren’t wearing any mask. People still go to the pool, played at the playground, jogged and rode their bicycles. It was a sad thing to see parents bringing along their children to the haze-inflicted outdoor. In some cases, I actually saw some small kids coughing profusely, while the parents were busy chatting and buying things at the open market.

The haze dissipated slowly a few days after that; through a very long, satisfying rain. I remembered reading a lot of happy status updates from a bunch of very grateful FB folks that day.

Parents and kids...undeterred

Those tall condos are actually not that far from my place

The best status update of the day.

The haze came again a few days prior to this entry. But it was still bearable in KL and PJ, with slightly higher API readings in some parts of Malaysia. Guess the haze will keep on coming, till there’s an agreement between Indonesia and other ASEAN countries, in order to find the best solutions to counter this recurring old problem. As for now, what I can do is to be prepared for any incoming haze...masks and all.

Hope it’ll rain today :)

A video of Kota Damansara on the 23rd June 2013

A bonus video: Irtiza's Earth Hour 2013

July 10, 2013

Who's Your Daddy? (Father's Day at Secret Recipe KD & Little Penang Kafe, The Curve)

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are like Superman and the Dark Knight. One’s a colourful, poster boy superhero who is celebrated by the whole world. The other’s a shadow, invisible to the public...and a hero that Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

It doesn’t matter though...’coz we fathers will be what we are wanted to become, because we can take it. We are the silent guardians & the watchful protectors. We are...’Batmen’ (*Distinct ‘aggressive’ Hans Zimmer track playing).

Btw, did you understand the above statements in the first read? If yes, then you are a bigger comic / movie geek than I am ;)

So, we are in the world where everything seems to be candy-layered with Mother’s Day ads. Mother this, and mom that. And then there’s the Mama song by the Spice Girls, followed by Boyz 2 Men’s ‘manly’ version of a mama song (Though some buffed-up men would secretly prefer the former). For Father’s Day...hmm...I don’t know...Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach?

Putting all the negativity aside, admittedly, people do celebrate Father’s Day, but with way less commercialized approach. It’s like New Year’s Eve without the fireworks; you hear more of hooting owls instead of exploding sounds. Hoot.

This year’s Father’s Day was a little bit different and extra special. It felt like a double celebration...because it was.

As wifey was due to work on the 16th, we decided to celebrate Father’s Day a week early (it was wifey’s treat). So we went to the Secret Recipe at Giant KD.

Mr Bean's car...according to Irtiza

Our usuals

Exploring the unknown

Irtiza seemed to be the most excited of all, especially after browsing through the display of chocolate cakes at the counter. And that’s what he had that day; a slice of Moist Chocolate Cake. As for wifey and I, we wanted to be adventurous with the menu selections. So, rather than choosing our usuals, Prawn Macaroni with Cheese and Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup, I chose the Chicken Parmigiana, and wifey opted for the Mozzarella Baked Fish. Our drinks stayed the same though.

Irtiza's Moist Chocolate Cake. Reminds me of a Lava Cake.

What would-be my Chicken Parmigiana

Chocolatey grin :D

Wifey's Green Apple Kasturi, and Irtiza's attempt to take posssession of my hot chocolate drink

Will the real Chicken Parmigiana please 'stand out'?

Chocolate massacre in progress

Wifey's Mozzarella Baked Fish. Is it just me, or the portion looks small?

Overall, the chicken dishes were very tasty, cheesy, and enjoyable to chew. But I feel the portions were more appropriate for light eating, rather than a real dinner. The potatoes were a bit hard to bite. Irtiza’s extremely delicious cake was the star of that day (had a bite or two under his strict ‘watch’).

Had follow-up presents from wifey a few days after that; a sweet ‘Papa Since 2008’ t-shirt from Kiut Kids, and a dozen of tasty red velvet cupcakes (made by wifey’s work colleague). They were ‘sweet’ (Pun intended for the cupcakes) :)

...and a hubby since 2006 :)

My (Correction: Irtiza and I's) Red Valvet Cupcakes

Two down, ten to go

Father’s Day then came a few days later. I thought it’ll be uneventful, plus it was also the start of the minor haze. So, Irtiza and I stayed home the whole day, and left home briefly for Irtiza’s Report Card Day at Smart Soleh KD.

But, on the way home after fetching wifey at work, we made an unscheduled stop at Ikea. After some serious shopping, we headed for the Little Penang Cafe at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara.

It was getting darker when we arrived; it was almost ‘Maghrib’ (pre-dawn) time. We booked a table, and ordered food straightaway. Wifey chose LPC’s ‘Char Kuey Teow’ (a type of fried flat rice noodles). We ordered for Irtiza his home-style fried rice, and my choice was the ‘Assam Laksa’ (flat rice noodles in spicy fish gravy). For drinks, wifey, Irtiza and I chose ‘Air Cincau’ (grass jelly drink), orange juice, and ‘Cincau Bandung’ (grass jelly in milk and rose cordial syrup).

Irtiza loved the chopsticks

The main entrance. A rather dark ambience

Presenting...the Assam  Laksa

Colourful drinks

Irtiza's fried rice. He only ate 1/3 of this

Wifey's Char Kuay Teow

After having a taste of everything, I think I loved my ‘Assam Laksa’ the most. The gravy was absolutely satisfying, and the prawn paste condiment really complemented the dish. But, I do wish that they weren’t stingy with the fish bits. I think I had more of those from Laksa Shack’s ‘Assam Laksa’. Irtiza’s fried rice was a standard...couldn’t complain much there. Wifey’s ‘Char Kuay Teow’ on the other hand tasted very authentic and a delish, but it was a little bit dry for my taste. The drinks were nice, but I loved my delicious ‘Cincau Bandung’ the most (Correction: ‘we’. Irtiza took a liking to my drink...that he drank most of it).

So, these were the things that we did for Father’s Day. It was not as hyped as Mother’s Day in general, but to celebrate it with my loved ones made it as special as it can be. Thank you for the lovely Father’s Day :)

 The guys. Gosh, I look fat.

Ps:/ Hmm...would be cool if there were good Father’s Day songs tho.