July 21, 2014

We Will Not Go Down

A blinding flash of white light
Lit up the sky over Gaza tonight
People running for cover
Not knowing whether they're dead or alive

They came with their tanks and their planes
With ravaging fiery flames
And nothing remains
Just a voice rising up in the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Women and children alike
Murdered and massacred night after night
While the so-called leaders of countries afar
Debated on who's wrong or right

But their powerless words were in vain
And the bombs fell down like acid rain
But through the tears and the blood and the pain
You can still hear that voice through the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

- We Will Not Go Down, Michael Heart 

July 20, 2014

Truth that Gives You Pause

In Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, the character tells a young girl, "Don't be afraid of your hunger."

I was stunned. How insightful, how wonderfully true a statement. First, there's hunger as a state of being, and the idea that we shouldn't be afraid of our emptiness. It can also be understood, though, in terms of hungering for something, that we shouldn't fear our desires, our longings, our innermost appetites.

Either way, I'm struck by how wise and how poignant such a simple statement really is. Because all too often we find ourselves suppressing those cravings, those hopes and dreams that feel too big, or perhaps too small, compared to what we feel we should want. And there's just something so brave, so profoundly honest and brave, about embracing our hunger, in recognizing, accepting, and really feeling comfortable with our hunger.

After all, acknowledging our hunger is our only hope for someday satisfying it, right?

Happy fasting. :)

July 10, 2014

On My Bookshelf

With my new year's resolution to do more, I've basically turned it into a read-more situation. Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler has completely blown me away. If I'm being honest, I bought the book for its cover, but the writing is poetic and surprising, each line is more poignant and insightful than the last. It's obvious that Sarah has a unique, artistic way of looking at the world, which comes through in the way she describes letters as colors and in the way she uses sharp, clever lists to open each chapter. I'm absolutely smitten with her work and altogether charmed.

I could go into the plot and all the smart nuances of the story, but for me, it's far more about the artistry of her writing and the feelings she evokes. I'm attached to the idea of place, to the way we build and create our own versions of "home" in the spaces and people we care about. Sarah echoed the same sort of idea in her thoughtful description of her book, calling it "an investigation of how and where we are at home; a way of asking whether we can feel at home without a physical house and vice versa; and a consideration of the role of family and relationships in making (or not making) a home."  Beautiful, right?

Anyway. You know how sometimes you feel like there's a line in a song or a book or a movie that's written just for you? And that if you're able to meet that writer or that musician for a cup of tea, surely you'd become the best of friends and talk about all the wonders of the world? Well, there were some lines for me in this book, and one that truly took me aback. Here's the line:

There are people in my situation who stick to the same place, who draw an invisible line around themselves and won't go outside of it, but I don't know where you are, so I keep moving.

July 8, 2014

Isn't So Hard to Find

If your heart is hurt, it can be healed again.

Here's proof: There are couples overflowing with joy. Grateful to have found each other. I call it a miracle that's meant to be.

Before forever, of course, there's fear. Fear that we'll never find the one. Fear that the longing we feel is just a phantom itch without an object. We long for someone. It's a very real and specific someone that we don't know yet. Experience hasn't given form to them. We don't know their hobbies, the things they like, the way they eat, the way they like their coffee. We don't know who. And yet we wait.

And then one day, you walk into a place and find love. Despite the tears and all the time, it feels sudden. It's so surprising that all it took was this one moment. A moment that will forever separate the "before" and "after." Really, that's all we're waiting for..just one. One moment. One person.

Which isn't so many, isn't so impossible, isn't so hard to find. :)

July 4, 2014

If The Internet went Quiet

Social media's primary motivation is recognition. We're searching for understanding in the form of a larger network, because what's the point in churning out updates daily if not to attract and captivate an audience, huh? Sharing our work and thoughts, connecting with people, opening up our metaphorical internet doors into our homes..these are valid reasons to check twitter. But more often, we share to share. Liking becomes less about what we like and more about the cultural recognition it gives us. Meaning is often based on cultural context, so it becomes difficult to play the game of what would our ancestors have done. Yet, what would they've seen in social media, in the internet in general? The age that we live in allows for greater communication than ever before. We're able to affect change, to widen our reach, and in powerful ways, influence our cities and the world. Networking makes connection comfortable and easy. Yet, in constantly connecting, we're losing our ability to communicate without the web to clamor behind us.

The function of social media gives us a way to say, "look what I'm doing," regardless of whether we're doing it or not. My friend and I were laughing about instagrams..from location scouting, prop styling, editing, etc. I'm not saying that these are bad things, just that our realities are skewed. It's not just about sharing our breakfast anymore..now our breakfast has to be beautiful. Which is fine. Art becoming greater in the scheme of our daily lives isn't something I oppose, but why do we do it? Is this all one huge game of follow the leader? I don't have answers, just questions. What would it look like to go off social media? What would it look like to communicate solely via letters? What's the function of blogs these days? Do we need this network? What's the point of it all? It fascinates me in a sobering way that we even have to ask ourselves these questions.

Society has evolved to a point where the thought of not having an online presence and not sharing our work puts us in league with the dinosaurs. I understand the appeal, perhaps too well. But it saddens me because I've been plugged into this changing, growing, controlling network. I wake up to the phone, check twitter. I take photo. I can talk to people without talking to them. Everything is an instagram opportunity. I should tweet that and this. 

Do you know what's sad? I've lost the ability to sit in silence. It's difficult for me to be still. I'm rediscovering how to read without interruption. I'm trying to simplify my thinking into one line, not many different avenues all begging for my attention at once. I removed notifications from my phone awhile ago, but I sit and suddenly I'm checking my phone simply to check it. Is it that I, or we, don't remember how to even exist without constantly reviewing the never-ending stream of forever updating information? As I write this, I have about 10 tabs open.

We're spending more time cultivating our online personas than our character and personality in real life. Years ago, this wasn't a part of my normal routine. Take 2004. Instagram was nonexistent and iPhones were a thing of the future. Facebook had come out only recently and blogging was starting to gain traction. Smart phones existed, but compared to our phones today, we'd have called them illiterate. Yes, we had the internet, the next thing was coming, but everything was relatively quiet. I romanticize the past, but there's a marked difference in how we operate as a people with the increase of technology and the ease of networking. Please don't think I'm proclaiming a cry of abandonment of social media. I've said before, I enjoy instagram. But I don't want to mindlessly ingest and consume without question. What does the role of social media play in our lives and how will it continue to evolve as we as a people and society grow and change?

The thought of Google Glass terrifies me, and the promise of always being connected sounds like a nightmare. Contrary to the trends of 2014, I feel most fulfilled when I'm less connected. The more I am in the "real" world, the more inspired, well-rounded, and content I am. The less connected I am on social media, the more connected I am in real life. I think it's dangerous when we enter into social networking as a natural occurrence of daily life, and don't recognize the difference between what's shared and what exists. The argument could be made that social media is part of ordinary routines, but that's the gist of this post. We're at a place when sharing is synonymous with existing, and to go without sharing is a kiss of death, or really a refusal to cry.

What would happen if the internet went quiet and we all just lived our lives? This is something I wonder about when my phone and laptop are gone.

July 2, 2014

Sweet Green Rolls

Taken from MalaysianFood

Just because we can't eat and drink this month, doesn't mean we can't talk or write about food, right? ;) 
It's the 4th Ramadan and it's been good. I haven't set a foot at any bazaars yet to buy food for iftar. Well, I just don't feel like going because I prefer self-cooked meals. As you know, I always find joy in cooking even in fasting month. Though it's quite a challenge because I can't taste the food to know whether it needs more salt or sugar, it's still fun. Sometimes you don't need the specific recipe to cook what you want, you just have to follow your instinct. 

So yesterday, I made a traditional Malaysian dish: Pandan Crepe with Coconut Filling. You know, the sweet coconut stuffed green roll. Yes it's green but I don't use any artificial coloring, the color is 100% made from pandan juice. Here we call it as kuih ketayap or kuih lenggang. At some places it's called Sweet Nyonya Pancake Roll, kuih dadar, etc. It's my mom's specialty and one of my favorites. So I've learned the recipe from her and tried to make it by myself. So here's the recipe:

The filling
3 cups grated coconut
150 g palm sugar (gula Melaka), chopped
1 tablespoon white sugar (optional)
2 pandan leaves, knotted
A pinch of salt

How to make the filling:
1. Mix palm sugar, knotted pandan leaves and water in a pot. Boil until the sugar melts.
2. Take out pandan leaves and set aside
3. In a clean wok, caramelize white sugar by heating.
4. Add palm sugar mixture into the caramelized sugar.
5. Add the grated coconut and salt, mix thoroughly.
6. Keep stirring so the coconut doesn't burn and cook until almost dry.
7. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

The batter
2 cups flour, sieved
1 egg, beaten
6 pandan leaves (or more), blended with water
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon corn oil

How to make the batter:
1. Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, make a well at the center.
2. Pour in the beaten egg, pandan juice and corn oil, whisk slowly. Make sure the batter's not lumpy and add in a little more water if it's too thick.
3. Set aside for at least half an hour.

How to prepare Pandan Crepe with Coconut Filling:
1. Heat up a non-stick pan over a low flame and lightly grease with a little oil/butter. Pour one scoop of batter into pan, tilt pan to form a thin crepe.
2. Fry on one side only. Once it's cooked, crepe is ready and remove it immediately.
3. Put a spoonful of the coconut filling on the crepe and roll it up like the spring roll.
4. Done and ready to serve.

They're burnt a little, just the way I like. 

Happy cooking! ^^


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