Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A trip to the Sungai Buloh nurseries ^^

Honestly, I never thought this place existed. Buried somewhere in the back roads of Sungai Buloh is a long street full of living colors! My camera was in love.. ^^

Bougainvilleas! I've been searching for this exact color.. ^^

Orchid terracotta pots.. so cute! ^^

My mother's favorite, yellow daisies. Fashionably messy..

Not sure what these are, but pretty..

These flowers remind me of China. I've never been there, but... yeah. 

So many varieties of Hibiscus these days.. can you call this one a national flower?

These remind me of my late Opah, for some weird reason..

Might be good for ant-control around the house..

Lilies (?) originally white with yellow centers.. very pretty flowers.

Tiger orchids! I wanted one, but orchids are expensive, and fickle..

Who is that in the background? XD

My 'kampung' flowers. The white version of this one grows all over my grandma's house..

Actually, it wasn't because I loved gardening that I took to the nurseries. I love plants, yes, but gardening meant pruning and trimming and all that controlling stuff. I like my plants awry and wild, thank you very much; let them stretch their limbs ~branches, creepers, whatever~ wherever they please! Honestly, the way my dad was wielding the garden at home, I was afraid of getting any sort of plant at all for fear they would be confined to such limited existence...

My sole reason for the trip was actually, photography. I've been learning a bit, and I thought I should apply it  using whatever mediocre means I have on hand (that would be my Canon EOS 500D with standard 18-55mm lens, folks). Don't get me wrong, I love my camera. I was just trying out my skills, if I have any.

They say if you've got talent, equipments won't matter... What do you think?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Unique vs. Dysfunctional..

..dan aku selalu sangka yang aku the former.

Bila kita kecik dan berdepan dengan hidup yang tak berapa mahu nak serupa dengan orang lain, kita akan cepat-cepat pretend macam kita memang nak hidup kita camtu. Kita perdaya kawan-kawan, kita berlakon sakan. Boleh main ramai-ramai tiap-tiap petang, tapi jangan bawak member balik rumah, takut-takut nanti dia tak mahu lagi berkawan dengan kita..

Kamu pernah rasa risau camtu? Orang selalu kata, life is what you make of it as long as you’re happy. Kut tak happy pun, convince yourself that you are..

Bila kita kecik, unik ialah satu perkataan yang sangat berguna. Bukan saja untuk tutup aib kita sebagai manusia yang sebenarnya susah nak berfungsi dalam komuniti, tapi juga sebagai penyedap hati yang mungkin dah berkira-kira nak label diri sendiri tak betul atau menyimpang dari adat. As long as kita unik, tak ada siapa yang boleh kata apa-apa. Kita lain dari yang lain, and that’s always a good thing, right?

RIGHT!! Cumanya..

Bila dah besar, kita akan cari makna sebenar hidup, dan untuk mencari makna itu kita akan selalu memandang ke belakang.

Unik hanyalah satu perkataan; satu tirai tipuhelah yang cuba menggambarkan secara positif apa yang kita tak faham, atau tak mampu nak jelaskan. Kalau aku mahu jujur dengan diri, unik hanyalah alasan untuk membenarkan zaman kanak-kanak yang tunggang-langgang; mengakuri perlakuan kasar dan kata-kata kesat orang lain; sebagai pengubat parut-luka bila berkelahi dengan psyche sendiri..

‘Keunikan’ aku memang tak boleh nak diubah. It’s done and over with. Aku bersyukur yang disebalik tirai itu aku masih lagi mampu dewasa menjadi manusia yang berguna. Mampu berterima kasih, dan mampu juga memaafkan.

Tapi aku dah serik dengan unik ini. That curtain is coming down.

ps: if you choose to click the link (the word 'curtain'), I'm apparently a hero..

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Balik dari solat subuh di Masjid, mak kata:

"Ni kamu dengan Pura dah kerja ni, mama nak mintak kamu handle bil-bil rumah."

Yang tak terkeluar dari mulut:

"Nak kitaorang bayar sewa bilik sekali ke? I mean, you know.. cuz that would be like, the ONLY thing left we haven't contributed to."

For those of you guys renting your own place, living out of your own pockets and missing home? I ENVY YOU~

At least you've got someplace where you can still go back to being the child, ya know?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Worth the effort

"To quietly fall for someone is to give them the power to harm you. Whether or not the other person actually needs or wants that kind of advantage and responsibility over you, realization of it will dawn on them unfairly, and often too late."

- When Fallen Angels Fly -

The way I see it? Anything that is done out of moderation constitutes a risk, and if there was ever anything out there that absolutely could not be expressed in moderation, it would be love.

Our heartbreaks, letdowns and disappointments - while very painful to deal with - are necessary risks we take to venture out in life. If we are as sensible as we claim to be, then we must also accept that we are accountable for the things that we do (and feel), and the consequences that befall us. Perhaps the best way to heal is to reach into ourselves and find the source of strength that allowed us to take that first courageous step to begin with.

It takes two to tango, no matter how the dance ends. But in the larger scheme of things, what really matters is the effort you made to turn it into an amazing performance.. :)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Be careful what you wish for..

Three weeks ago, my favorite physician diagnosed me with a mild case of acid reflux.

Surprise, surprise! and here I thought I was going to use that as an excuse to cover up the real reason for my, er.. unusual eating habits and weight loss. Turns out God has a very cynical way of punishing people huh? well, serves me right I guess...

Now I'm on Gaviscon and prescription medication (Zantac), and my food choices dwindled even more, at least for the time being.. No sour or spicy stuff (most fruits, tomatoes, chillies), no high fat (butter, pasta, sour cream, ice cream, chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes.. you get the idea) and absolutely no caffeine or soda of any kind.

I've tried pushing boundaries with foods that are restricted to me. I'm the type not to give in to stereotypes, so I want to know for myself what I really can and cannot eat. The result? Well, I now know that caffeine & soda really is NOT good for reflux! I don't drink soda often but my family drinks tea a lot and I will usually bring a tumbler to work. I find that aside from causing major chest pains, tea also tends to prolong reflux symptoms. I've since stopped having them and opted for milk or milk-based beverages instead.

Which causes another unexpected problem... (-__-)

See, milk is usually good for the stomach, right? old people say it calms it down. But what I didn't know was, milk will cause acid reflux while sleeping, and OMG I cannot tell you how painful this is! (>_<) Imagine suddenly waking up in the middle of the night with acid in your throat, and you instinctively go into a coughing fit to get rid of it. I've been through a few episodes, and only found out what's been causing them this morning.. (=_=)

So now I have to be careful with milk, which is unfortunate because it's the only protein source I can actually stomach right now. And the same goes with anything that includes it. For example, I find that I'm okay with Milo, only if it's the "O" version.. yuck!

For the past three weeks, I have gone a couple of days at a time without food, simply because my stomach just wouldn't handle it. The thing that drove me nuts though? my brain keeps telling me I'm hungry, so despite my condition I am always tempted to try to put something down my throat.. which I would upchuck again 5 minutes later, dammit!

Haish, I'm thankful this is still mild.. I shudder to think what chronic reflux feels like! (O_O)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Independent.. OMG like, really!?

A good friend’s back-bending efforts to track her monthly expenditure have left me a little breathless.

Honestly I admire her diligence in micromanaging her budget. It is exciting for me to see all the figures come together on the ledger she posts every few weeks on her blog. Not to mention, of course, a small degree of envy at the headway she’s making towards her future financial freedom.. It is a subject I spend a lot of time thinking about these days; among other things freedom-related, that is.

In our close circle of friends, I feel we have learned most from each other. That said, I have tried (though not nearly as earnestly) to manage my own salary in the hopes of bringing about positive change to my constantly erratic month-to-month spending pattern. I started with what I thought couldn’t go wrong; I relied on the same managing software, and the same simple approach to saving: stop buying things I don’t need, and stop needing things I can’t buy!

My enthusiasm however, yielded very different results. And my one true mistake – if I could call it that – lies in the fundamentals.

I came to this realization too late: my life is not my own to work with.

With the exception of some money set aside automatically every month in a separate account, I have very little savings to speak of. Looking at my own ledger for the last couple of months, I realized my cash flow went mostly in contribution to household duties: groceries, house phone and internet bills, small funding for brothers still in school, cars, cats.. They are all necessary things, and ones I cannot help but pay for.

Hey, all that on a student stipend of RM1200 a month.. I’m lucky I can still afford dinner with friends every few weeks!

See, independence is a relative thing. To a lot of people, it does mean being in control of our own lives; to finally break free of all holds and limitations previously imposed. By becoming self-sufficient we gain licence to adulthood and the carte blanche that comes with it. We begin crafting the future we’ve always wanted, and for most, it is one that is necessarily outside the direct influence of family and friends.

But to the select few – and yes, I’d like to think myself special in this way – it is just another way of saying, “hey, I’m financially ready to take over family headaches. What can I start paying for?”

What does not kill you will only make you stronger..


Monday, 13 June 2011

patch of memories

This used to be just one of the many songs I knew growing up. I was too young to understand it back then, and in any case life was never that complicated to warrant deep self-reflections. But my life has changed drastically since, and I find myself surprised at how much these words have the power to suddenly - and strongly - affect me..

I took my love, I took it down..
Climbed a mountain and I turned around..
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills,
Till the landslide brought me down..

Oh mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well I’ve been afraid of changing,
'Cause I’ve built my life around you..
But time makes you bolder,
Children get older,
I'm getting older too..


Take this love, take it down..
Climb a mountain and turn around..
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills,
Well the landslide will bring it down..

Well well, the landslide will bring it down..

- Landslide
By Fleetwood Mac

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mata turun ke hati

Ada teman meminta saya (saya??) mengulas pengalaman menunaikan ibadah Umrah di Tanah Suci baru-baru ini.

Sejujurnya, saya tak mahu menulis tentang Umrah. Saya melihat ibadah serta amalan di Makkah dan Madinah sebagai satu pengalaman sangat unik. Jika saya utarakan di sini, saya takut akan mengundang berbagai persoalan dan mungkin kritikan - secara senyap tentunya - tentang kedudukan iman saya saat ini. Saya tak mahu nanti dari pengalaman yang mengajarkan, kisah saya di Al-Haram menjadi sesuatu yang penuh was-was dan kesal.

Saya tak perlu kepada semua itu. Saya mahu istiqamah bersangka baik dengan yang maha Agung.

Saya baru sedar, kita ini terlalu banyak stigma tentang Tanah Suci.. Kalau begini pengalamannya, alhamdulillah! Umrah mabrur! Kalau begitu pula.. sah, Umrahnya panggilan Syaitan, na'uzubillah! Yang tentunya, kita bukan Tuhan. Kita bukan pemberi rahmat dan keampunan. Dan dengan sebab itu saja, kita tak layak memberi nilai atas kerjaan ibadah dan amalan kita sendiri, apa lagi atas kepunyaan orang lain.

Muhasabah untuk setiap pengalaman itu, sama ada yang ditafsir baik atau buruk, adalah milik mutlak pelakunya sendiri.

Cuma ini saja yang mampu saya sampaikan kepada yang akan pergi:

1. Iqra'!

Baca dengan sebanyak mungkin sirah para Anbiya' (terima kasih Nurul atas pesanan yang satu ini ^^) Saya bermula dari sirah Nabi Ibrahim AS kerana menziarahi Jerusalem. Bila kita tahu cerita, kita lebih sensitif dan appreciative dengan persekitaran.

2. Slow down! Take the time to realize where you are, what you're there for, and what it all means.

Sungguh saya banyak belajar kalau Makkah bukan tempat untuk tergesa-gesa melakukan sesuatu. Terasa seperti banyak yang perlu dibuat, macam tak sempat-sempat! Lalu kita bergegas ke sana ke mari, mencari itu ini, hingga kita akhirnya kurang menghayati apa sebenarnya yang sedang kita buat.

Susun apa yang nak dilakukan setiap hari, dan buat persediaan awal. And for heaven's sakes, rehat dan tidur itu amatlah penting! Ada jemaah yang semangatnya meluap-luap hingga tak mahu langsung meninggalkan masjid, hingga jatuh sakit dan ketiduran dalam saf.. Is this really necessary? Pada pendapat saya, untuk beribadah itu harus ada presence of mind, dan untuk menghadirkan minda, jasad harus peka dan tenang.

3. Keep it simple.

Ini saya cadangkan buat yang pertama kali pergi. Kalau dah berkali-kali pergi, tak baca entry ni pun tak apa..

Sungguh, kita semua ingin lakukan yang terbaik di Tanah Suci. Kita nak baca du'a yang panjang-panjang, yang mustajab, yang all-encompassing.. Tapi sebagai langkah permulaan, saya saran biasakan diri dengan ayat-ayat lazim. Ini sangat penting, supaya bila kita akhirnya berdiri di hadapan Kaabah buat pertama kali misalnya, kita tak panik nak keluarkan itu ini dari beg sandang, atau terkial-kial mencari kalimah tepat di lembaran buku ringkas. Saya teringat ungkapan Ustaz Misbah yang mengiringi kami:

Cukup dengan mengucapkan Syahadah ketika melihat Baitullah pertama kalinya, andai terlalu terpegun sehingga lupa segala zikir dan du'a.. Kaabah adalah teras ibadah kita (sebagai qiblat), dan Syahadah pula adalah teras iman kita. Lalu apa yang lebih sesuai bagi seorang hamba selain menyatakan sumpah setia kepada Tuhan ketika datang menghampiri rumahNya?

Ayat-ayat lazim juga sangat membantu ketika Tawaf dan Sa'ie, terutamanya bila suara mutawwif yang sedang membimbing jemaah dalam doa panjang ditenggelami suara para mutawwif lain yang turut semangat membimbing jemaah mereka sendiri.. (-_-)v Dalam situasi begini ramai yang jadi tergesa-gesa dan bertolak-tolak untuk mendengar dan menuruti apa yang dibacakan mutawwif, hingga mengganggu jemaah lain dan perjalanan tawaf. Fokus ibadah jadi teralih daripada Baitullah, dan lenyaplah spiritual connection dengan apa yang sedang dikerjakan.

Sayang sekali bila yang dapat dilengkapi hanyalah ritual Umrah itu saja.

4. Don't be afraid.

Ada segelintir yang takut nak kemana-mana di Tanah Suci. Bila tak ada kawan tak mahu pergi ke masjid. Kesana kemari harus berteman. Ya, hati manusia siapa tahu, kan? Kita kena selalu berjaga-jaga..

Namun, bersangka baiklah dengan Allah SWT. InsyaAllah kita terjaga. Bukankah kita tetamuNya? ^^

Sebenarnya ada banyak lagi yang mahu saya kongsikan, tapi buat masa ini, biarlah itu saja dulu. Saya bukanlah ilmuan agama, jauh sekali. Saya cuma berkongsi tips mengikut pengalaman saya sendiri. Semoga berguna, ya! ^^

Friday, 15 April 2011

The State of Religiousness

In about a week, I'll be heading to the Holy Land for a short pilgrimage. This is something expected of every able Muslim, and though it isn't exactly full-blown Hajj, the thought of performing this religious deed still sets me very much on edge.

Is it normal to be terrified of God's call?

In my current life, I will admit Umrah isn't exactly high on my to-do list. I mean, there are mundane, everyday religious tasks I have yet to perfect! Surely those should be given top priority? Umrah requires dedicating all focus and intentions towards submitting to Allah SWT. Point is, how do I do that in Mecca when I can hardly achieve it five times a day, at home.. (-___-)v

We all have faith skeletons hiding in our closets. And as far as closets are concerned, mine is the walk-in kind..

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Going Home: Preview

I'm going home.
To the place where I belong,
And where your love has always been enough for me.

I'm not running from,
No, I think you got me all wrong.
I don't regret this life I chose for me.

But these faces and these places are getting old..

So, I'm going home.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Putrajaya & Bagan Lalang Pics

To those who have been waiting for pics, I'm sorry for not posting sooner. Needed to tweak them a bit.. Enjoy! ^^


Nak naik Putrajaya Lake Cruise..

Time ni gak la bangla-bangla dari mana tah sibuk nak naik cruise sekali. Dah la ambik semua kerusi tepi tingkap, hampeh!

On the front deck of the boat..

Ati gelakkan Lim Kok Wing jatuh lam air main waterski..

Ann dengan cermin mata hitam 'otomatik' dia. Cermin mata sitot old-fashion punya..

Kak Long ni tetiba je hilang. Alih-alih tengok dia sibuk mengurat Kapten Ramli..

Kekura yang sangat comel kat kedai cenderamata. Nak beli, tapi kakak kat counter tu kasi evil eye sebab amik gambar, langsung tak jadi..

History repeats itself.. 6 years later! Wey, mana eskrim korang?

Lunch kat Abdullah Chan. Tak selera nak makan, so tangkap gambar pun jadi la.. Ni nama dia buttered prawns..

Um, something ikan masin? Bukan kailan though..

Ayam masak..... ??

Sup tauhu dan bebola ikan! Ingat nama sebab ni je yang boleh makan! ^^

Daging... masak merah? I'm sorry people, I just can't remember. Sedap tapi!


Bagan Lalang banyak tul ketam. Satu pantai tu penuh dengan tahi bulat-bulat dia.. comel kan? ^^

Sukun goreng.. Yum! tapi last time aku cuba benda ni muntah tak habis.. so tak berani nak usik lagi dah.

Cik Mun makan sukun sambil anyam ketupat..

Dan anyam lagi...

Dan lagi...

The entire time dekat pantai ni, macam takut-takut terkena tsunami. So duduk jauh-jauh sikit dari gigi air..

Tiga dara: hyper... keletihan... mengantuk...

Hah, tahi bulat-bulat ketam.. Lagi besar bulatan, lagi besar la ketamnya. Nature really is a work of art!

Tengok apa tu?

Senja kat Bagan Lalang, taken just before leaving.. The floating chalets are part of the rather famous Golden Palm Tree Resort.


Friday, 11 March 2011

Doctors in the House!

The relationship I have with my specialist is very similar to the relationship I have with my MSc supervisor: they both expect great things from me, they both want me to do well.. and obviously, I'm the one who has to work very hard at it.

Yes yes, for my own sake, of course.. but the three of us probably couldn't deny that it'll make them look good in the end! ^^

But there is one major difference.

See, I tend to grit my teeth and take it like a grown woman when it came to my SV. I quietly listen to whatever complaint she has with my higher education and it's progress, and then I go home and chart my own friggin' plans because, admittedly, I feel like I know what I'm doing. Of course, I probably couldn't ignore all of her concerns (she's not an idiot, and I DO take her advice seriously..) but I feel like I'm allowed to do things my way... somewhat.

With my specialist? I seem to have developed a totally different approach.

I whine. Literally.. (-___-)

I know, I know.. you're going to say it's because he's a man. To be more specific, he's a man who knows what's wrong with me and how to fix it, and he's charming and sweet about getting me to do the things I really need to do to get better. I mean, if I was seeing a female specialist, she'd probably give it to me straight, without the sugar-coating ~If you don't change this habit, be prepared to die young!~ or something like that, which unfortunately I have heard before..

Instead, I get the ~Help me help you! We'll set a target for this much weightloss in three months, okay? We can do this!~ from my cute, highly sympathetic male specialist.

And the even funnier thing?

With my SV, I tend to be in agreement up front, but retaliate in private. At the end of the day, I always feel like I want to do things my way, despite the numerous suggestions that have been made before. It's not that I don't respect her wishes. Really, I do. But with her, I seem to desperately need to show that I can handle it. I want her to know that I am capable of solving my own problems.

But with my specialist? I tend to retaliate up front, but end up going with whatever's been suggested.. Yes we argue, but for some odd reason I find disappointing him not an option. I may not like his suggestions, but I take them seriously; at least finding them worth a try.

Aish, the art and power of persuasion.. (-__-)

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Crystals... what?

It was 12:30 am and I'd just switched off the TV after an interesting rerun of Mean Girls when..

"Piii! tengok Bear ni ha.. something's wrong with him!"

Bear, one of my four precious hand-raised kittens (pictured above) seem to have finally come home after disappearing the entire afternoon. I'd been checking the front and backyard all evening, hoping he'd turn up at some point.

I was very worried, because not two weeks ago his little brother Chume was found dead in the bushes at the back of my house, and I wasn't able to identify the cause of death. My cats were the kind that roamed, and the residents of my neighborhood exercised little restraint in the use of pesticides and rodent poisons around their homes. I've lost more than a few of my beloved feline friends to their ignorance. Bear's mum was one of them.

I followed my mum out into the backyard to see him standing on the cement, both front paws immersed in the large bowl of water we used to supply drinking water to the cats. He was wet all over; it looked like he'd been trying to empty the bowl of every last bit of liquid it contained by pawing them out.

The scene was weird enough, but I continue to look for other signs. I called out his name, to which he responded with a soft huff. His movement was slow and he seemed in a daze, almost sleepy-like. But when I saw his back legs start to wobble and give way, I knew he was in trouble.

As per usual my mum lost her mind and hyperventilated around the kitchen, blaming idiotic neighbors and their ignorant use of chemicals. I had to tune her out as I scooped Bear up in a dry towel and quickly arrange a cat carrier to house him for the night. After he'd settle down, I rushed up to my room, turned on my laptop and googled the nearest 24-hour vet clinic. Thank God, there was one near Jalan Pekeliling, downtown KL.

The trip was surprisingly calm. I made it to the vet in under 15 minutes, and I had Bear registered and on the examination table in less than 5. He was plenty scared, coming close to me and mewing every few seconds. After the initial check-up, I found out he wasn't poisoned. Nor was he having a viral infection, which was the next common thing.

"He's got crystals in his urethra, which makes it hard to pass urine. See the spasms in his back legs? toxins are being recirculated in his body and it's affecting his muscles and balance."

Well, that's a first.

Apparently cats can develop something like kidney stones from eating processed catfood such as Friskies and Smarthearts. Although high-end brands such as Science Diet may reduce the risk, some cats still develop them due to the high content of sodium and oils in these foods. If not treated, it will cause damage to the kidneys, and in most cases lead to death. According to the doctor, we were the third case that night. One of the cats that were brought in didn't make it.

A five-day treatment was prescribed. Have you ever 'warded' a pet before? It's not cheap, I can tell you that.. I ended up splitting the bill with my mum. The deposit alone was RM600, and because Bear was my baby, it's only fair that I share the cost.

It's a price I'd pay to make sure he's alright though. I've spent money on him since he lost his mum at two weeks old. The baby wipes, the feeding bottles, and 1 kg of Dutch Lady's Honey powdered milk every two weeks.. Not to mention the time and care I'd given. After all that, I definitely wasn't going to lose him to some effing crystals!

To the producers of Friskies, Whiskas, Smarthearts or what have you... please, please, pleeaase do some actual R&D work on your products. We spend loads buying them - they aren't exactly cheap! - only to spend loads more rehabilitating our pets because of them. How is this fair?

Anyway, starting next week I'm buying fresh fish for my kitties. Believe it or not, it's actually cheaper than buying catfood. What's surprising though, is that the doctor doesn't recommend fresh food, because it doesn't have "complete nutrition".. O_o

Can you spell r-u-b-b-i-s-h?

Seriously, if I can eat rice and fish and still live, I doubt my babies will have much of a problem! :)

Chumie-yah, omma ga chungmal pogo shippuh suh..
Chume, mummy miss you so very much..

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Why does this always happen when I leave the office to get some labwork done?

Boss : Hey.. so I'll see you tomorrow at 3pm?

Author : Hm? what's at 3pm?

Boss : ....... haven't you been checking your email?

Author : I have! but I haven't seen anything from our unit lately..

Boss : We're leaving for Pasoh tomorrow. There's a dinner tomorrow night and a meeting the next morning.

Author : What!? but I've lined-up all my labwork up till the end of the week. How..?

Boss : *sigh* you really need to get out of your cave and come back to reality sometime..

Just so you know, it wasn't entirely my fault. My email address was left out of circulation when the announcement was given out. I'm still kind of bummed out to be missing the family dinner tomorrow. The past few months I finally felt like I was connecting with my colleagues at the office.

Just my luck. I am the ecologist slash molecular biologist slash MSc student, and it seems that whenever I retreated to labwork, other realities fall apart, without me wanting it to.

I feel like such a coelacanth.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Happiness and Meaning

The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning - the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life - a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future, however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them.

Jed Rubenfeld
The Interpretation of Murder

What does it mean to give meaning to life?

I thought it was all about taking responsibility, about making it count, about taking the less traveled and necessarily harder path of existence. Experiences from these certainly make for interesting tales and reminiscence. And that, in its essence, is the true meaning of life.

Or is it?

In the larger scheme of things, I'm beginning to wonder if it would it be so wrong to have it simple and easy..

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

France: Montpellier

Montpellier was our actual destination in France. My mum had a five-day discussion and conference with a French counterpart she was working with. This place had a really nice small town feel. There weren't really big skyscrapers or busy traffic or people rushing all over the place..

Just sunny weather, and really warm and polite people.. Unlike Paris, I absolutely loved this town! ^^

Kyriad Hotel has a chain all over France. I'd hoped to be staying at the same chain in Paris. Their services are to die for.. ^^

Breakfast at the Kyriad.. and this is just one third of the dishes served! But, on the downside, I only got to have hotel breakfast twice the entire time I was at Montpellier. You see, while our rooms were paid for two people, breakfast is only provided for one person.. so my mum and I gilir2. An extra person for breakfast would cost EU10 per day.

Something worth mentioning: Since our room didn't come equipped with a fridge, I kept my butter from melting by placing it on our windowsill during the day.. it was that cold!

I went on my first excursion through the town on my own. One thing about France, you'll often see these chalkboards placed outside shops, restaurants and cafes, listing their offerings. And what does this particular cafe serve? various tartines (toasted breads with toppings), assiettes (platters) and of course, wine..

I don't know why, but I've noticed that temperate countries tend to have bluer skies... I loved the color, and the leaves are of one of my favorite trees: Maple! Haih, I haven't had maple anything in so long... (-_-)

Walnuts! I was so excited when I saw this that I actually ended up buying some to bring back home. Of course, my dad wasn't too ecstatic about them since the darn things were so hard to crack..

My one and only dinner out the entire time I was in Montpellier! My mum's colleague took us to a halal Morroccan restaurant in downtown Montpellier. This is a traditional vegetable stew that you eat with...

Couscous (this used to be something I ate often when I was in the US)..

And berbecued beef and lamb..

Middle eastern desserts! I had the one in the middle. It's made with fine semolina and dates, and then drizzled in sugar syrup... Highly diabetic, but yum!

On other days, this is what I usually had for breakfast, lunch and dinner.. baguettes with butter and jam. Of course, there were also the obligatory sambal ikan bilis, serunding and instant noodles, but those didn't look too pretty or interesting on camera.. ;p

Despite being a small town, Montpellier has very good public transport. This is an above-ground train called the tram, and it functions just like our Komuter. The only difference? our Komuter is less user-friendly.. (-_-)

There are fountains all over the place, especially in courtyards and public squares. I took this one because I love the pigeons that bathe there. They would circle the fountain rim for a while and then slowly dip a foot in... these two were following each other for fifteen minutes.. cute!

An apartment complex in the Antigone district. I want a house like this one! ^^

This is called Place de la Comedie (Comedic Place). Some parts of this place is very old.. Somewhere around 1200s..?

This is probably the building this place was named after: the Comedic Opera. I guess this is the entertainment center back then...

A roman aqueduct. What is that? it's an ancient waterway system that uses gravity to provide water to the residents of a town. These can be found all over France, as well as Europe and India. This system is no longer in use obviously, but many of the structures still stand..

I forgot who this is, but he might have been the founder of Montpellier. I just love the horse sculpture.. so detailed to the point of including veins! (I can't even draw a horse..)

Chateau D'eau... aka the Water Palace. Remember that aqueduct I showed you? well, this is the reservoir. And because aqueducts uses gravity to channel water, Chateau D'eau is made to stand on a hill overlooking Montpellier..

Porte du Peyrou (the entrance to Peyrou). I guess romans really love arches. You can find these everywhere in France. Historically, this is the entrance to the city, and to the Place de la Comedie..

Saint Anna's Church. I wasn't very sure if I could go in, so I didn't risk standing in front of the entrance. I love the rose windows that are featured here. Although present in many churches throughout Europe, stained glass and rose windows are French in origin. These windows are usually placed on the west side of the building..

Ah, I love flowers! they seem to be blooming all over Montpellier, even in the cold! Many of the houses and apartments sport some sort of greenery on their balconies and porches, so I've taken the liberty to capture some..

Helianthus! Amazing colors, but I wonder where the seeds are...

I don't know what these are, but they were planted side by side, and they make beautiful contrast against one another..

And that's all from Montpellier. I didn't get to go to many of the places, like the Aquarium or the Zoo, or the Mediterranean beach for that matter.. I was alone, and I didn't think straying too far from the hotel on my own was such a good idea, so I had to make do with the nearest attractions. I'd like to come back here, more than I would to Paris, actually. I heard that from Malaysia you can take an Air Asia flight to London, and then a local flight straight to Montpellier! :)

AND, you can extend your visit to Italy or Spain, the countries that border France! ^^