Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taking a Walk

My favorite part of the day is during sunrise and sunset - that's when my dogs and I go for a walk. I always look forward to waking up early in the morning to admire the sky of scarlet hue.

This week's Sunday Sharing topic is 'Taking a Walk' - which aptly describes my daily morning routine - a routine and I look forward to and love doing. It's not routine in the strictest sense of the word - since every morning tells a different story - the sky paints a different picture everyday - and the birds sing different songs each morning - and it's trully a blessing to be able to participate in the symphony of nature every morning just before starting my day. I am even more blessed since I am accompanied by my wonderful dogs - they are more interested in sniffing the 'trace' left by other dogs - and I am more interested in being absorbed in the beautiful morning sceneries and the chirpings of the birds and the gentle breeze.

When I leave the house for a walk, I witness the moon and the stars in the sky give way to the sun and the sun with its warmth and beauty covers the heart with all it can hold. It's a gift to stand and watch the magic of that glowing neon face appearing majestically from the space - that's the joy that fills me during my morning walks. I never get tired of seeing the amazing variations of light and cloud cover the sun and sky display. I count my blessing for the wonderful experience that I look forward to each morning.

Taking a walk enables me to spend some quiet moment alone - to reflect on things - and to appreciate the beauty of nature that God has bestowed on us. It's a shame to overlook the beauty of God's perfect creation in the name of work/chores. Just stopping and admiring the beautiful canvas of nature is invigorating - both to the mind and the soul. It's as if I've moved to a different plane of existence whenever I gaze at the sky.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Before I start eating, I should have a disclaimer read aloud: "I am about to start eating now. Please be informed that it will take me approx 1 and a half to 2 hours to munch, grind, savor, and swallow my food; during which time it may be agonizing to watch me chew a zillion times; please bear with me; and please be informed that it’s not that your food is not tasty; it’s simply me eating slow because I need to taste/savor every bit of the meal".

I have a serious disorder – despite many reports that state eating slow is actually good, when it comes to social functions I can be a drag. So far, I've met only one person who eats at the same pace as I do. So, you can deduce that the people whom I dine with are extremely patient people – my soon-to-be-husband Alfred, and my best-friend, Chin Lay. Even my family members ‘take-off’ from their seat in social events to socialize and leave me alone munching my food hamster-like. My mother commented one day that I look like a hamster when I am eating; chewing with a 'balloon-like' cheek.

That’s the reason I don’t look forward for eating at any temple functions because it’s such a rush – because it’d be crowded, you’ve got to eat quickly so that the place can be cleared for other people who are waiting in line. Rather than eating in a rush, I’d rather not eat at all – or just nibble a little.

At times, eating in large quantity is tiring for me due to ‘intense and prolonged’ munching - that's why I eat in small portions. It’s not that I eat slow deliberately. I have been eating like this ever since I was born (okay, ever since I started eating solid food). It’s only when I munch every bit of my food that I feel satisfied consuming the food. I love tasting every bit of the food - hmmmm, the joy of eating :)

My nickname given by my cousins - slow-bird; note that eating is the only activity that I do in a slow-and-steady manner. If you catch me doing grocery shopping, you’d be lucky to actually ‘catch’ me coz I’d be basically sprinting.

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire~

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story~

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Father’s Hands

A few days back I received an email from Hillary (Cheng Leng as I know her) regarding a brilliant idea on 'Sunday Sharing' carnival. It's for anyone to share their thoughts/feelings about a subject matter - this week's title being "My Father's Hand". When I read the topic, I knew that I have infinite things to talk about my father.

- My father's hands are sinewy but which radiates warmth and a sense of security in me when he holds mine guiding me along the miraculous path of life.
- His hands feeding us when we were small.
- His hands have guided me along the path of learning - inculcating the value of education in me and I owe him for all that I have achieved till this day.
- His hands always moving animately to teach and impress us by frequent admonitions.
- His hands holding an Atlas when we quiz him on some places on earth.
- As a kid, I remember that when my father's hand is not holding mine, it will be hugging my mom; or at other times reaching for the sweets :)
- I know better not to provoke him because I have seen his temper a few times - his hands laying flat on my cheek - but I know he did that for my own good - and I remember his hands holding and calming me down afterwards.

My father has taught me to always treat anyone with love and respect even if they have hurt you. At times I can be rebellious - and he is the only person able to calm me down. His deep interest in spirituality and moral values have deeply rooted in me.

I hope that my life itself is a message to my father that I'm living a blessed, happy and blissful life because of him and his teachings. And his hands will soon give me away on my wedding day; and I can picture his hands cuddling his grandchildren with him beaming in pride.

When my father comes back from the store, as a kid I remember running out to him to see what he has bought for me. As a grown-up lady now, I know that my father is truly a rich man - not in material possessions (he is always a simple person) - but a rich man whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Best Friend

I have a best friend, her name is Chin Lay. She is a very nice and pretty girl. We sit together in the classroom and we eat together during recess time. We like to talk a lot and share stories. She likes to eat porridge but I like to eat rice. Sometimes we fight but we smile at each other after that. She likes English subject. I like Mathematics subject. We both don’t like Arts subject. Sometimes I am sad and she makes me happy. I like to talk and play with her. I hope she is my best friend forever.

Sounds so primary-school-essay-writing-type right, hehe. I think I would have written like this for the topic “My best friend” in primary school ever since I met Chin Lay on the first day of joining Standard 1. Well, to write in a child-like-with-a-touch-of-innocence tone gives me a sense of déjà vu of being in a primary school – and it is definitely a good feeling. From the day I met her in Standard 1 up until today, a lot of things have taken place – and suffice to say that we have both blossomed into such fine ladies now (I hope ‘blossom’ is the correct word, hehe).

She has taught me the meaning of generosity – showing me that little thing goes a long way in showing someone that you care. For example, whenever she goes to the mini-mart she will ask me if I wanted something to eat/drink/munch; even if I said no, she would without fail buy something for me – and that means so much to me – especially so if someone does something for you without you having to ask.

My best friend has been so patient with me that sometimes I think if it has been someone else, asking too many questions in the cinema theatre during-climax-scenes would have earned me a stuffed-popcorn-in-the-mouth predicament.

She values privacy, however, I am gonna infringe it with a picture of us with the confidence that I’d be forgiven, as always.

A 'thank you' note

A 'thank you' note for the blast I had in Korea - to Prof. Lee Hyun-Hoon, the co-chair of the program committee for Korea and the World Economy Conference - for being such a wonderful host:

Dear Hyun,

I would like to thank you and the organizers for organizing this absolutely fun-filling-and-knowledge-sharing conference. I certainly had a fantastic time meeting people from all over the world and sharing experiences, knowledge and culture. I must admit that this is one of the BEST EVER conferences I have attended. Apology for my over-expressiveness here; but I had to express it! :) I am certainly looking forward for such wonderful experience in the upcoming conference to be held next year.

Thank you very much for all the wonderful hospitality that you and your team members have rendered while my stay in Korea. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for these wonderful experiences. And I forgot to mention that before meeting you, I had never thought that the person I am corresponding with via email is so charming, well-spoken and good-looking!

Have a great day!

Geeta Krishnasamy
from Multimedia University, Malaysia

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hummingbird Cake

I was itching to bake and last Saturday I baked the “Hummingbird Cake” – I saw this recipe in one of the Oprah’s show and decided to give it a try. Plus it was my cousin, Arwin’s birthday on July 9th. So: Itching to bake + Birthdays = Baking spree! The cake turned out good; the cream cheese icing is the highlight of the cake – which made it so irresistible. As usual, I reduced the measurement for sugar – for both the cake and the icing. You can add raisins if you wish to omit the pineapple (I personally think that raisins would make a better combination with banana). As I forgot to add the chopped almonds in the mixture, I sprinkled it in between the layers and on the top and the sides of the cake. My advise: As soon as the cake cools down, refrigerate the cake and the icing (separately) for few minutes to prevent the butter from the icing from melting; when the icing is cold and firm, it sticks better when spread on the cake. Herewith is the recipe:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar (I reduced it to 1 and a 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped ripe bananas
1 cup drained crushed pineapple (or you may substitute it with raisins)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped almonds/pecans/walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sifted icing/confectioners' sugar (the sugar just balances the taste of the cream cheese - it's sourish sweetish - the taste of the cream cheese is not so overpowering and the same for sugar - the taste is just balanced - if you don't like the sourish taste of the cream cheese, you can add more sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. To make the cake, position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 175 degrees Celcius. Lightly butter two 9" round cake pans, sprinkle evenly with flour and tap out the excess.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
3. In another bowl, stir or whisk the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla until combined. Do not use an electric mixer.
4. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a large spatula just until smooth. Do not beat.
5. Fold in the almonds/pecans/walnuts.
6. Spread evenly into the pans.
7. Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the cakes to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes.
8. Invert the cakes onto the racks. Turn right side up and cool completely.
9. To make the icing: Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until combined. On low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla, to make a smooth icing.
10. Place 1 cake layer, upside down on a serving platter. Spread with about 2/3 cup of the icing. Top with the second layer, right side up. Spread the reaming icing over the top and sides of the cake.
11. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
12. Indulgence!

Work and Leisure

Last few weeks I have been busy completing a research paper and didn’t realize time just went by. Despite cracking my head on the paper, I managed to steal some time to watch 4 movies for the past week or so; I am happy with myself for a pretty balanced time management – of which I sucked terribly last time – either I have too much fun or work to the max. Now I try my best to juggle my time between work and play – it definitely feels good to be balanced.

The movies I watched: ‘Wanted’ (came out from the cinema feeling ‘battered’ – I think there is no story at all – what is the moral value?); Dasavatharam (Tamil movie – really loved the movie for its good storyline – the question of the existence of God - the chaos theory – Tsunami; it was so good that I watched it twice – once with my colleague and the second time with my mum and sis – as I have never watched a movie twice in theatre, this movie is definitely worth watching twice as I was deciphering its deeper messages when I watched it the second time). Then watched ‘Hancock’ with family – had to sit in the first row – despite that, kinda enjoyed the movie. Then ‘The Happening’ with Chin Lay – totally disappointed with the movie; for once I trust the review critiquing M.Night Shyamalan’s movie – I wonder what’s his next movie?

Regarding work & research, I finally completed the first draft of the paper last Saturday– feels good :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Last Thursday (3rd July) was my grandma’s 10th year death anniversary – didn’t realize that time just went by that fast – and when I look at myself now, I know that I have changed in many ways –more on the way I view and interpret things; and how I learnt appreciating the finer things in life and getting in touch with my spiritual side.

I miss my grandmother so much – and with time, it’s easy to slowly forget the person who was there and stood up for you and who loved you so dearly. When we went to the temple to make ‘archanai’ (prayer/pooja) on my grandmother’s name, I wondered what is the purpose of performing all these rituals – when the person is no longer around; and I realized that the simple act of carrying the oil lamp around the temple in that moment of silence brings back all the memory we hold of her. It summons all the memories that were residing deep in our hearts which at times we forget to acknowledge. I remember my grandmother with all that she was and will be – in our memories.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Knock on the Door and Gratitude

The moment I heard a knock on my office door, I was "Oh, not again!". Lately, I have been engrossed in completing my research paper and any knocks on the door irritated me; with students coming and asking the same questions over and over again - which I have repeated over and over again. So, this time I gave the same reaction when I heard the knock; and 2 eager-looking students peeped through the half-opened door- only that it was for a different reason that they wanted to see me. I quickly uttered "I'm busy" before they can open their mouth to say anything - and they were so apologetic for 'stealing' my time - and said "Miss, we want to thank you very much for teaching us - and we came to pass you some chocolates". A dash of emotions laden with guilt came rushing to my mind - and I thought to myself "I am just too impatient". These were two nice girls who simply wanted to say thank you and I nearly chased them out just because I was cracking my head on a research paper. And when I saw the chocolate gift nicely wrapped with a ribbon and a thank-you-note - I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of my students.

Sometimes I realise that we forget to express our gratitute even for the smallest things. These students made sure they remembered - even when I forgot - I guess that's the biggest reward from being an educator - you learn from your students on the simplest things in life.

I am now savoring the chocs and thinking about my good karma and making a promise to myself to smile when there is a knock on the door...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nature and Us

When I look at the protective nets that envelope the buildings of my workplace to keep the pigeons from nestling outside the office window, what comes to my mind is the fate of the pigeons. There was even a poor pigeon trapped in between the building space and the net; it was heart-breaking to watch. I am not saying that we should encourage pigeons to breed and dirty the space outside our office windows - I am aware of the possible diseases that birds can spread. But one a bigger scale - when we destroy the natural habitats of these birds - are our acts justified? In the name of development, we invade, intrude, and 'rape' the homes of these creatures - where would they go? It's all a cycle, isn't it? There is a reason why these poor animals so-called 'invade' or 'intrude' our home/space.

Animals have been accustomed to pay attention to the nature - and we dutifully ignore all signs that nature tries to send out - only when it's too late, we start worrying and taking actions. But I am glad that there is an active awareness of the environment and species - at least we acknowledge that we share this wonderful place called Earth with other non-human beings. It's not about our territories alone - it's about theirs too...

Friday, July 4, 2008

3rd Day at Korea - Sightseeing Day

I stayed an extra day after the conference for sightseeing. Igor, Thanet and myself took a tour package to see some of the famous places in Seoul.

In the afternoon, we went to Changgyeonggung Palace near Seoul; I was smitten by the Secret/Forbidden garden – the King lived a damn good life (with concubines some more); but the poor Queen was ‘trapped’ within the four walls of the palace – can’t even imagine.

Changgyeonggung Palace

The Secret Garden at the palace

A 'pose' at the Insadong street

How cute!

The celebration at Insadong Street

Later in the evening we took evening tour - cruise & the 63 Tower. Since it was summer, it was not really like a romantic cruise - since it was still bright at 7 p.m. But, it was beautiful anyways - with the buildings as the backdrop of the setting sun. It was totally beautiful.

At the Han riverside

The 63 Building

Later we went to the 63 Building; inside of which there was displays of various beautiful fishes - it was totally a different experience. A good one! It was as if you are in a different world - the 'sea-world' - the ambience was so calming and relaxing and totally romantic!

At the Aquarium in the 63 Building

The best part of the aquarium was that there was a place to lie down and watch all the fishes move about in the huge aquarium in front of you - it was totally therapeutical - I drifted to my own world; and the best part was the underwater acrobat show - this lady is awesome - dancing so swiftly and gracefully surrounded by all the fishes and shark - she's amazing! It was totally romantic too with the love songs at the background.

Me lying in front of the aquarium - I was in Heaven!

The underwater acrobat show at the 63 Building

Then we went up to the 60th floor of the 63 Building - the observatory point - and the whole Seoul was visible - totally breathtaking.

The view from the top - amazing!

All in all - I had a blast in Korea and was entertained by the friends I met in the conference and the amazing food and sceneries along the journey. Certainly looking forward for more conferences to come!

2nd Day of Conference in Korea

The 2nd day of the conference was held in Kwangon University at Chuncheon; it’s one of the most beautiful provinces in South Korea; the sceneries are breathtaking with stretches of mountains and some creeks along the journey; it's about almost 3 hrs drive from Seoul.
We had our lunch in one of the traditional Korean restaurant in Chuncheon.
Potato pancake (absolutely delicious)

Kimchi (pickled cabbage)

The cold noodle served on summer

Then, we headed to Kwangon University; the univeristy compound is huge and surrounded with trees - a perfect place to study. I presented my paper on that second day.

One of the presentation halls

The final part of the conference
The conference organizers arranged a fabulous garden dinner at restaurant on a hill. It was a splendid view from the top and the wind was blowing like crazy; it was pretty chill. Thank God a gentleman – Igor – rescued me by lending me his coat.

They also arranged some traditional Korean dances - it was splendid - with the dancers performing graciously behind the backdrop of the sunset view of the town.

Thanet, myself, and Igor

We stayed in a hotel located on a hill - the view was awesome.

1st Day of Conference in Korea

I finally managed to steal some time to narrate my experience during the conference trip to Korea. ‘Korea and the World Economy VII’ is one of the best conferences I have attended since I became an academician. The organizers rendered a wonderful hospitality and my stay there was one of the most memorable one. I met many wonderful people from around the world during the conference and we became good friends instantaneously. They are fun-filled people to be with and they all treated me very well; hehe, since there were only about 4 women participating in the conference, all the men became absolute gentleman :)

It was a 2-day conference and I arrived 1 day earlier and managed to visit the Olympic Park – they have beautiful landscapes and recreational garden – I noticed that people in that busy city of Seoul are active when it comes to recreational activities after office hours or weekend. A picture of me at the Olympic park.

The first day of the conference was held in Korea Institute of Public Finance in Seoul and it was a productive day; socializing with all the participants and exchanging ideas. We were treated to a traditional Korean restaurant for lunch and I enjoyed the food as well as the company :)

The dinner at the hotel was fantastic together with the great company of the conference participants. I was enthralled with the arrays of sushi and salmon sashimi, my fav!; truly had a feast. Some of the shots during the dinner:
Thanet and I
Eric and Thanet (Eric was just trying his best to pose :P)
The group pic
We went for a walk around the Olympic park after dinner and these are the few shots taken: