Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

orkid's cafe: marshmallow & chocolate

"Kita nak makan tak nieh?" Ain asked me nicely. My sweetheart. She has always been since day one.

"Kan kita baru makan tadi?" I answered the question with a question.She smiled while she held my hand tenderly.

In normal days, I was the one who was holding her hands or held her with confidence. But not last night. Definitely not last night.Not after she rescued me at 8.00 pm in the office. Definitely not after she heard my tearful voice on the line.

At 11 pm last night, I showed my childish side. The part where I was sensitive and desperate. The part when I was also a human.

"Celup-celup ada...satay ada...Kak Sha nak makan apa?" she showed the row of street food alongside Uptown Danau Kota. Frankly, I have never been to that place before. The place where my favourite scarves were sold at only RM10. It was a hectic location which I have never thought could become somewhere I liked even when I was having a chaotic mind.

"Makan macam tu...berat gak...kenyang lagi..." I said to her.

"Ain suka chocolate strawberry. Best kak...ada chocolate fondue kat depan sana!" her gay smile was what I have been missing for the past two months.

"Ada ke kat sini?" I asked stupidly. Chocolate fondue, in my narrow minded mind, was supposed to be available in hotels or malls. It was supposed to be sophisticated machine, wasn't it?

"Adalaaaahhh..jom...Ain bawak Kak Sha makan kat sana," she pulled my hand and gestured towards a small stall in front.And she was right. There it was, the small and clean chocolate fondue. With lots of varieties too!

"Ye kak....4 cucuk RM10 kak...ada strawberry, honey due, pisang...." the owner of the stall held the big banana in front of me.I smiled awkwardly. Hmmm...I haven't tasted strawberries with chocolate for ages!

"Marshmallow pon ada kak..." she promoted her stuff.

I grinned at Ain and said, "Strawberry, Grapes, Marshmallow dengan pisang..." and we squealed with delight.The girl went to the chocolate fondue and prepared our order. While waiting, Ain snapped my picture.

"Ain nie...tangkap gambar buat apa..." I grumbled.

"Kak Sha senyum! Senyum tau!" she ignored my statement and just tabbed her purple Samsung. I forced my smile. She frowned. She forced me to smile - over and over again.

After the skewers have been prepared, I handed RM10 to the lady and started to bite the strawberry. Ain fed me the bananas. I fed her the grapes.My heart felt soft and mushy inside. Looking at her smiley face made me stopped frowning for a while.

Nice. I have always wanted a little sister to feed. I never thought that she would be my own former assistant.

Well, who said that I couldn't take care of my own staff?
Maybe, if she couldn't stop talking about men and did not do her work.

Too bad, Ain was there for me for only a month. Yet, our relationship stays forever.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

orkid's cafe: 29 celup-celup

It has been quite a difficult week after I turned 29. Maybe 29 was a jinx. Maybe 29 was a signal when I should actually change something about my life. Maybe 29 was an indicator that I was eventually a qualified spinster. Or maybe...29 was a pure and simple saying of "I'm old."

I'm not too sure about that, folks. Maybe I was just being tired. Tired of people saying...

"Aku cantik dari kau..." or "Aku lagi kaya dari kau..."or "Nak buat macam mana, aku lawa...engkau tidak..."

Comparison after comparison have been the song that I heard over and over. I tried to pretend that those comparisons were actually my favourite song. Okay, that was a tough statement, actually. I had several favourites songs! Few hours ago, it was Marry You by Bruno Mars. It made me think of the message that I have received from Sepet last weekend.

Well, Sepet was being Sepet. He never got the point. When he talked to me, it has always been the first verse of Marry You:

It's a beautiful night,
We're looking for something dumb to do.
Hey baby,
I think I wanna marry you.


Haaaaiiii...pity me. I spent over five years of loving someone who did not really have the same view in life:(

Kwang...kwang...kwaaaaaaaannnggggg...

Oh, stop being so pitiful, Sha! You're worth more than 29 cents! So, let's talk about what happened on the night where the night was dark and the sky was without stars. Let's recap on the rainy night which was making the floor slippery for my stinky Hush Puppies to walk on. Let's recall the time when I got headache and runny nose or when the water was pouring down my face.

What did I do?

I went for a celup-celup session. That was the time when I've decided for something hot. Indeed, exhaustion brought me down. Too many things to do, too many people to deal with but I was still positive that something inexpensive would made me a happy girl.

When I reached the front of Ampang Park, my tudung was wet. I knew Abang Celup-celup was there with his bike and simmering broth. My colleague started to feel giddy about it but we were held by the thought of dipping sauce when we saw two girls eating under the hawker's umbrella. Damn. If only the weather was clear, we could just sit somewhere nearby without even depending for the umbrella!

The Abang was very patient. He prepared his sticks with speed yet such efficience and neatness. I loved the way he prepared his kangkung. He folded the vege with such skill until I wanted to request for training!

"Dik..." he acknowledged us.

"Takde tempat ni bang..." my colleague was acknowledging our situation.

"Hujan dik..." he said slowly.

The two girls under the umbrella appeared to be so decent until I felt guilty of disturbing them. So, I nudged my colleague and said, "Takpe bang...kitorang jalan-jalan kat dalam dulu...nanti kejap lagi kitorang sampai!"

And we ran into Ampang Park and browsed over tudung and colourful attires. But things looked so bleaked with moneyless pockets and pouches. Shopping was an impossible theraphy at that very moment.

Fifteen minutes have passed. The two decent girls were still eating under the umbrella. We held our breath for their feminism; for their lack of speed in eating. We controlled the urge in our growling stomach and laughed at stupid jokes...until...

The girls were leaving! They left! Yeay!

At the time we settled on the stools, I saw the Abang's wide grin. He must have found us hilarious: Two wet girls were sitting on the stool and looked like big bad wolf.

"Baru balik kerja ke, dik?" he handed out the paper plates to us.

We nodded while we stared at the sticks in front of us. Fish balls, quail eggs, prawns, tofu...yuuuuuumm....

Our hands grasped the sticks and put those into the pot of boiling water in front of us. I took the tofu, the balls, kangkung, and chicken liver. 5 sticks.

"I will spend RM5 for the celup-celup," I made some mental calculation while watching the hardworking Abang who was trying to make his place neat and tidy.

"Mana satu sos pedas ni bang?" I asked.

"Yang hujung tu...yang tengah kuah kacang...tepi tu sos hitam..." he explained while helping me with my sticks.

Once the balls have been cooked, he put the sticks on my plate. I smiled at him. Most of the time, celup-celup is a DIY (Do It Yourself) dish. But this man looked so worried about his business today, he spent his time helping the customers in the rain!

I poured the hot sauce onto the sticks and started to put the hot balls in my mouth. Mmmmmmm...nice...hot...chewy...and salty...mmmm....

It was such a perfect occassion. The rain was pouring down heavily around us; things were so cold and wet yet we settled down for something which was totally the opposite. The Abang, from my point of view, had his own strategy in business. Jalan Ampang was the place where things could be busy because of the offices, yet the foreigners loved to stay in the hotel nearby. The karaoke and clubs were opened until midnight. So, he would certainly got lots of customers.

I munched my kangkung and watched him took care of the rose syrup container. He has thought about it. No other drinks, just plain rose syrup which would quenched the thirst after having hot balls in the mouth.

"Tutup pukul berapa bang?" I asked.
"4 pagi dik," he replied simply.
"Tak tidur bang?!"
"Dah biasa kerja malam, dik," he smiled.
I smiled back. Definitely lots of customers if he stayed hardworking.

I saw my colleague took three more sticks into the pot. I did the same. While we were munching, we saw a white MyVi parked nearby. Three chuuby girls went out of the car. I thought they wanted to go to Ampang Park but they went to celup-celup instead.

The girls were speedy. They took some sticks,boiled them and put lots and lots of sauce. After they have prepared everything, they went to their car and ate. My mind was calculating the number of sticks that they have brought in the car. Surely, they must have taken those a lot. Their desire of eating has shown directly at their figure. None of them were wearing jeans sized less than 30. So...we were not alone in this hunger of hot balls. I bet it must have been twenty. Or thirty.

But, I was mistaken! Ten minutes later, when Abang was counting the number of sticks on their plate, it was twelve. Twelve sticks for three girls gave an average of four sticks per person!

I dipped the quail eggs into the hot pot and continued eating. My mind was still working. My lecturer used to tell me that the reality of baby boomers was that there was less entertainment back then. No astro, no pubs, and no video games. So, instead of watching football or go for celup-celup, a husband would rather settle down early and perhaps, make babies.

That's why they had twelve children. Or eight. Like my grandparents from both sides. I believed that the situation must have been too romantic, like how P. Ramlee phrased it, "di bawah bulan purnama...bercengkerama..."

And part of the reason why people settled down early at night was the rain. It was cold, so you would want something hot and calming...like celup-celup. Or celup mencelup...

Ooooopsssss!!!!

I realised that I have gone very far. So, I asked the Abang about our bill. He answered:

"20 batang...RM20 dik!"

Hahahaha...we ate more than the three chubby girls just now. In average, we ate ten sticks of celup-celup per person!

Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was the rain. Lucky, it was celup-celup. The hot thing that we were eyeing for. The hot balls we chewed.

What if we were borned in the olden days. Where when it was cold, we searched for celup-mencelup..

"Bercengkeramaaaaa.."

Aaaaaah...I would certainly get ten kids out of that sporting activity.

*Naughty grin*

Friday, October 21, 2011

orkid's cafe: lemang periok kera

lemang periok kera siap by Pak Zawi
lemang periok kera siap, a photo by Pak Zawi on Flickr.

I'm too busy to update my blog right now. But I'm going to tell you this:

I am currently having a menstrual pain and for no reason acting like a pregnant lady. And how does a pregnant lady feels? She craves.

And I'm crazing for this lemang periok kera - something that I enjoyed back in 2005. It was way down the rural and unique place called Bandar Muadzam Shah, Pahang.

In Muadzam, they had this restaurant which sold Nasi Lemak Periok Kera. To say it was too tasty would be a lie; but the authenticity and the uniqeness were something which was not supposed to be missed.

Lemang Periok Kera.

The name itself makes you wonder:

Who would eat rice from the monkey's pot?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

orkid's cafe: over a bowl of sukiyaki

Sukiyaki by lee.peter113
Sukiyaki, a photo by lee.peter113 on Flickr.
It's all because of you,
I'm feeling sad and blue
You went away,
Now my life is just a rainy day and I love you so,
How much you'll never know
You've gone away and left me lonely.
- Sukiyaki by 4PM


I loved sukiyaki. It was such an uncomplicated dish yet so nutritious. Plus, it makes me full too. But I couldn't find it everywhere in the country. No place was selling it in Seremban; and I only knew a place where I tasted my first sukiyaki: Teppanyaki, Mid Valley Megamall.

It has been years ago when I first tasted what I called "sup sayur Jepun". The bowl was huge! I could still remember eating that alone for the first time. My stomach was full and it looked exactly like a sukiyaki bowl. It was not an ordinary sup sayur. The sukiyaki consisted of chicken (when naturally it was supposed to be beef), fish fillet, tofu, green cabbage, jelly noodle and an egg with a delicious runny yolk. It was superb; especially after a tired day of studying. Eat that simmering broth without rice and I could suddenly remember the 4Ps the lecturer asked me to memorize for marketing test (do they have 4Ps or 5Ps these days?)

Well, student years have passed several years ago. 2011 would be my sixth year of working and I was eating it alone. Eh, wasn't this the dish that I would only eat alone? Yes, this was the only dish that I won't share it with anyone; regardless my brothers of close friends. I remember eating this when I was too stressed up about something or when I decided to have sometime just for myself and think about something. Or when I was too tired of the crowd.

It seemed to me that being in Teppanyaki that day was a bit like being in a sanctuary. Things were peaceful and nice, the smell of teppanyaki was all over the place. Fried garlic was the loveliest smell of the day and the clicking sound of teppanyaki utensils was like the music to my ears. Indeed, that was the day when I decided just to be by myself. I got some serious thinking to do.

So, I was expecting a teppanyaki to cool me down, made me more objective and provided me the spirit that I needed via the nutrition that I was digesting. Alas, the sukiyaki was a bit frustrating that day; it no longer bore cube tofu as they sliced it thinly nowadays; only a prawn was there in the bowl instead of two; with less chicken and no fish fillet. The only ingredient which was put in a better quantity was the jelly noodle. I could taste a budget cut down on my tongue but hey, why should I be complaining when the price was not changing a bit?

"Sayang!" my ears captured the male tone in front of me. He was on the phone.

I looked at his impressive Tag Heuer and neatly pressed Polo shirt. He smelled like a soap. He was fair and prestigious; any lady who looked at him would definitely thought of looking at him twice. His eyes were deep under a classy glasses, his nose was sharp and his lips were perfectly molded. He was...an image of Seth Tan but not similar to Aaron Aziz. You got what I mean?

But then, he was too fair for my taste. His ears were red and he looked as sour as yesterday's rotten curry.

He was angry.

"Yelah...I know. But tak boleh ke you datang sekejap je, sayang? I dah ada dekat sini. Tinggal ambik order je," his voice sounded like a plea.

Then he kept quiet. I pretended as if I was not looking at him at all. Well, don't let the guy knew that I was watching him across the teppanyaki table. I munched the mushroom softly. And slowly.

"Tapi...tapi...ni kan favourite you! I dah duduk sini dah. Nak tanyalah you nak makan apa. I tunggu sini ye..." he said softly.

Obviously, the girl or the boy on the other line was saying something that he hated. He looked like the prawn in my sukiyaki. As I poked the yolk in my bowl, I heard a sharp intake of breath across the table.

He looked devastated. But he looked up and caught me watching him.

Alamakkkk...

Lantak...Lan Botak...Lu makan taik katak!

I was so scared if he thought that I was evesdropping him. I was not! I was just...just....just...

...being busy body.

And that was because he was quite loud!

But...but...I was not supposed to look at him. Huhhh..where was my cabbage???

I bent my head low when I heard...

"I knew you were too busy, sayang. But think about us. Kita dah lama tak keluar makan. You asyik kerja aje. I tell you what. There is a girl here eating all alone. Takde pulak boyfriend dia nak temankan dia makan sukiyaki macam I teman you. Don't you feel lucky, sayang?"

Cesss...was he talking about me?! Hey mister, I might look like a loner but I chose to be one tau!

"Kerjalah sayang...biarlah I makan sorang kat sini...nak buat macam mana girlfriend I asyik busy..."

Then I heard a very quiet...

"I love you too..."

He smiled sadly at his phone. Then he looked up at me, smiled and shrugged.

I just shrugged back. Where's my tofu?

Sha kantoi!


Saturday, October 08, 2011

sha: you made me cry!

"2 tahun aku bercinta dengan dia. Tiba-tiba, satu hari, aku dapat kad jemputan. Dia kahwin dengan orang lain! Meleleh air mata aku, Zam..." said the old man in front of me.

I looked at his grey hair and 52 year old figure. He was not that bad. He must be someone who was "okay" when he was my age. Surely something had happened. Something really...really bad which was up to the extend where his long time steady girl friend would left him and married somebody else!

"Yelah. Kalau komunikasinya elok...macam zaman sekarang, mungkin kami masih bersama. Mungkin...tak putus. Dulu mana ada handphone, Zam. Dia dekat Melaka, aku dekat Johor. Habis belajar, kami dah susah nak jumpa...nak call pun mahal..."

He clipped his cigarette between his lips. Wowwww...I never thought that I one day I got the chance to hear it from a man. An old, experienced man! I used to think that man would not be so open. Apparently, sometimes they were not:)

"Yang boleh pun, masa tu...tulis surat. Tak ada sms yang mudah macam zaman sekarang. Tak mahal nak contact girlfriend. Bukan macam budak-budak zaman sekarang..." he looked directly at me. I blushed. I was speachless.

"Tapiiiiiii...aku ni pemalas nak tulis surat. Tulis niiiiiii...leceh....malas..." he sighed.

"Yelah uncle, bukan semua orang boleh tulis kata-kata, kan?" I interrupted. The elderly just smiled. Lucky I was not being scolded for menyampuk!

The old man nodded.

"Bercinta jarak jauh zaman dulu-dulu ni...susah...banyak halangan..." and everybody nodded.

I did not dare to say to him that he looked so frustrated when he was telling me about his ex-girlfriend. But he managed to say this...

"Kahwin pun lambat lepas tu. Sekarang ni dah tua, anak baru darjah satu. Orang ingat aku pergi sekolah bawak cucu. Yelah...mungkin dulu, kecewa agaknya. Meleleh air mata aku, Zam...." he said.

Folks, could someone got so frustrated and just closed his heart for anybody else?

***to be continued***

Monday, October 03, 2011

orkid's cafe: remis and reminisce

Malaysia Homestay Melaka House  Rsv 012-2501262  /  017-8801698 by HomestayMalaysia

They're all part of the list
Things that I miss
Things like your funny little laugh or the way you smile or the way we kiss
What I notice is this
I come up with something new every single time that I sit and reminisce
- Part of the List by Ne-yo

2003
"Chery..."
"Hmmmm...." I murmured lazily.
"Hang kalau nak husband...hang nak yang lagu mana?" she asked me.
"Lagu?" I asked stupidly.
"Nak yang macam mana?" she corrected herself quickly.
"Hmmm...cakaplah nak macam mana! Lagu...lagu...aku tak tau lagu-lagu nieh. Lagu rock aku tau," I grinned at her miserable face. Our dialect barrier has became quite serious.
"Dah macam tu cara aku bercakap, Chery..." she grumbled.
"Dah macam tu jugak cara kau panggil aku! Chery...Chery...orang panggil aku Sha la. Kau panggil aku Chery kat UNITEN ni siapa kenal..."
"Dah aku kenai hang nama Chery. Mana aku tau nama hang nieh sebenarnya Sha..." she protested.
I smiled.

Bawang Pink. That was her cyber name. Cheryna. That was my cyber name. Imagine two virtual friends became real friends after few years of addressing each other the name which was not stated on our IC.

...I was Chery to her. And she was Pink for me. I was a Doctor Love in her mind. She was a Doctor something else in my mind. We got to know each other in a forum; and we were totally strangers. But things changed when we met each other in person. She was my junior who was my age; so things got a bit complicated when it came to friends. Her friends were calling me Chery and my friends were calling her Pink. But when they wanted to address us in my public, nobody knew who were Chery and Pink. Or Pink Chery. They only knew Sha and Dilla. Different...it was too different.

But we managed. Who said cyber friends could not be friends in real world?

And that made it less surprising when she asked me that question that evening. It was cold with rain pouring outside. We were talking nonsense - about how lonely it would be to sleep along under certain condition. Okay, let's not elaborate, shall we?

"Kau nak tau ciri-ciri apa pulak kali ni?" I asked.
"Boyfriend hang..."
"Boyfriend aku?"
"Aku terkejut, Chery..."
"Apa yg nak terkejut?"
"Hang...kapel dengan orang Terengganu. Aku terkejut," she said.

I laughed.

"Hang gelak! Hang tak cakap siapa pun...tiba-tiba ada boyfriend. Aku tak kenai pon dia?"
"Aku tak cerita orang. Lagipun tiba-tiba nak jadi je. Aku pun terkejut, " I explained.
"Dah confirm ka hang dengan dia?" she asked.

I nodded.

"Serius?! Macam mana..." she didn't finished her sentence.
"Entah...tiba-tiba. Aku rasa sebab dia cam best pulak bila pakai kain pelekat."

Then she laughed.

"So, hang dapat la hero kain pelekat hang?!" she exclaimed.

I grinned.

"Hang memang nak sangat lelaki yang tau ikat kain pelekat kan!"
"Memang laaa....dia budak kampung, Pink. Takkan tak reti..."
"Bukan macam mamat KL kat UNITEN ni...betoi?" she assumed. I nodded.
"Tapi...ntahlah Pink...kadang aku takut sebab tu je aku suka dia..." I let out a heavy breath.

She gaped.

"Awal lagi ni. Aku tak tau...betul ke tak aku suka dia. Kalau ikutkan...macam kena....tapi..." I stopped.

"Okay...okay...hang suka lelaki yang suka muzik. Dia suka muzik?" I nodded.
"Pandai pakai kain pelekat?" I nodded.
"Belajar kos lain...tak sama dengan hang?" Again.
"Tak hensem..." I grinned.
"Orang jauh..." Wider grin.
"Kuat makan...?" I laughed.

"Semua hang dah dapat kan, Chery..." she concluded.

"Tapi...itu aje ke yang aku nak, Pink?" I asked her back.

"Chery...." she muttered a worried tone.

"Berapa lamalah nak kekal agaknya? Aku sendiri tak tau apa aku rasa..."

And we were silent after that.

2011

Eight years have passed. My relationship did not work out as expected. The doubts that I felt that night was never reduced. We ended it a year after. And...I did not realised how happy I was when I realised that it was supposed be ended that way. If only I gave chance to that relationship to continue last time, I would have never found a person whom I loved more than I loved him.

I looked at the tiny clams in my hands. They were everywhere around me. In the sand. I dug some the sand with one finger and found another one. And another one. And another...another...another...

Eventually I got a basket of it. Nice. I had never dreamed of such situation in my life. I was collecting remis at my cousins' backyard in Malacca!

Kuala Sungai Baru. The last time I visited the beach behind my cousin's house was during her wedding. It was like ages ago; when I was wearing purple kebaya which belonged to my late grandma and ate sambal kupang as a wedding dish. That was the time when I have decided that I wanted a kampong boy as my husband.

I had badly wanted a kampong wedding, with kampong wedding dish and kampong ambience. At the time I was checking out the crabs in baskets sold at RM8 per kilo, I had determined that a man with solid kampong background was what I was eyeing for. And I said, yes, I should be following my cousin's path. I could ride a bike with him. Or walk on the beach. Or dig for remis.

Ceehh...hopeless romantic la konon!

That was how I eventually made the wrong decision by accepting a boy that I did not truly loved.

My cousin was very lucky. She got married when she was 21 years old. Her husband was 32. We thought that she was too young to marry but she proved us wrong. She has accomplished so much in her married life which I believe was not easy for everyone. Pursuing her study while raising three healthy and beautiful children were not easy but she made it.

She was an iron lady with a great man behind her success.

And I...learned from my great experience that not all kampong boy was the same. Not all kampong boy would go and find ikan pari for her wife's family. Not all kampong boy would sacrifice his time to bring them to the beach and collect small clams or drove around the village to show beautiful scenery.

Not all kampong boys were as sincere and as patient as the one we knew for the past 12 years.

Well, I could have never been happier the moment we put the fresh remis in our plates in the evening; ate those like kuaci with the whole family. Alhamdulillah...that was the best rezeki for the day. And the happiest moment ever. I could never stopped smiling, knowing that my cousin was one of the wisest person who knew how to judge a person without ever classifying them into groups!

Unlike me who was too judgmental when I was young. How naive. How foolish!

Never mind. Learning is a lifetime experience. Right?

To Kak Emy and Abang Selan (and my lovely nephews and niece),

Thanks a lot. The memories that I had last week was too valuable to be shared (but I put some of those here, knowing it should be shared). Alhamdulillah, we were really happy last week and thanks a lot for fulfilling ibu's wishes. With deep gratitude, we wish your family happiness and good health, wealth and insya-Allah...with more and more rezeki from Allah.

We loved the fact that Kak Emy cooked such an excellent asam pedas for us. Waaa....when I was small, I have never thought that there would be a day when things were so beautiful. But my dearest cousin made it happened. Thanks again Kak Emy...

Years ago, when I was such a daydreamer, I thought things were as simple as just to choose. But you made me realised that open heart and sincerity were the most important thing to gain happiness. (ceh, I made my Kak Emy sounded like Aristotle now).

Haaaaii....Kak Emy is so lucky. She married a Kuala Sungai Baru guy and get to see remis everyday. Anything special to see if I choose a guy from Shah Alam?

Kerang rebus kedai tom yam adalah:(

p/s: P. Ramlee said to Tompel, "Jodoh, ajal, rezeki..semuanya di tangan Tuhan. Bukan di tangan bapak!"