Sunday, October 01, 2006

Japanese takeout, anyone?

I just came back from dinner and it was unequivocally the worst dining experience ever. Okay, I take that back. It was more like a bittersweet experience with lots and lots of bitter and very little sweet. It's the sort of feeling you will probably get when fighting in a war and losing some limbs but after being served the best steak and potatoes during dinner, you seem to forget your disability and somehow manage to overcome the inconvenience of trying to cut a piece of red meat with only one arm. If all this sounds like a big blur to you, head on to Samurai Japanese Restaurant in Hawthorn, Melbourne.

It all started out with eight of us waiting outside the restaurant in the cold for more than thirty minutes. Not only were glimpses of hope of getting in after five minutes constantly shattered, this fiesty lady in a kimono who spoke in horrendous English was taking our orders with an even more horrendous sense of politeness. She was persistently pressuring us into ordering our food and she kept snapping "Excuse me please, no no" every time we attempted to order something on the menu which was excluded from the dinner box set. And after those of us have ordered our dinner box sets, she announced sternly "Dinner box now end".

So we were finally allocated a table after forty five minutes. We walked up this really narrow and windy staircase, which by the way, is just a lawsuit waiting to happen. As we sit at our table, another lady frantically runs in to take away the dishes and glasses on the table. In the process, she stacks a glass onto another glass full of milkshake. Obviously, we had a bit of a show as we all watched the spectacular milkshake fountain display. Still holding the dripping glass, she lets out a huge sigh of dispair as she stares at the floor and sees what looks like the morbid remains of the Marshmallow Man after the Ghostbusters had finished shooting it with their ray guns. We all expected her to promptly clean up the mess but instead, she suddenly became stoned as the milkshake continued to overflow out of the glass onto her pants.

When the food came, so did more drama. We reminded her that three of us have not been served our drinks. When we told her what was missing from the table, she starts to sigh again. Halfway through the kind reminder, she goes into a frenzy and complains that she can't possibly remember three items.

After bringing in our drinks, she brought in a dish and a placed it on the table. When we asked her what it was, she looked like she was going to go berzerk again. To avoid the possibility of her jumping out the window, we told her it was ok and that it was probably the teriyaki beef. She walks out of the room and lets out a huge sigh again. Zi Wei starts to dig in to the teriyaki beef.

Or at least what he thought was the teriyaki beef. Fifteen minutes later, she brings in another dish. Thinking that it was something that someone else on the table had ordered, we proceeded to help ourselves to the real teriyaki beef. Suddenly, crazy waitress lady bursts into the room and yells "You ate! You ate!".

Of course, we suddenly all had a moment of revelation and realised that she had brought something to our table which was meant for another. She then asks if she can charge us for her mistake. My friend looked a bit indignant and muttered "I don't think so".

The look on her face was priceless. It was as if she had just received news that bombs had just been dropped onto Hiroshima again. With tears flooding her eyes, she starts to shove her face into the wall and chant "But you ate" over and over again as she imagines a cauliflower-shaped cloud in the otherwise blue Japanese sky. That ordeal lasted for a solid two minutes. The amount of tension in the room was tremendous. It was so tangible you could almost order it as a side to your sashimi and pack it into a box to bring home and open up whenever you feel like you need a good kick.

After all the hallucination, she walks out of the room. Feeling bad, we call her back in and tell her that we would pay for it. When she brings the bill in, she looked hysterical. Her face was smudged with make up and mascara, and her hair looked like a broken slinky. She looked like she had just climbed out of one of those bunkers which are supposed to shelter you from nuclear attacks.

Doubtless, the food was good. Eating the food was good as well. But the moments in between were not. Whether or not the drama endured was worth the food is arguable. However, seeing as all this can be avoided or diminished at the very least, the smarter option would be just to call up beforehand and order take out the next time.

The phone number is 9819 4858. But quickly hang up the phone if the person on the other line introduces herself as Aiyo.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"When I grow up, I want to put an end to illegal U turns..."

You somehow have a strong feeling that they are just about as important and indispensable as the Malaysian soccer team when you read articles like this. I sincerely believe that toilet paper dispensers are much more useful. And you don't even need to cough up a bribe each time a Number 2 is in order.

So he helped a blind man cross the road. His breathtaking act of kindness could have easily been replaced by an array of splattered strips of white paint across the road. I can't imagine what would happen if, one fine day, some other police officer helped a blind man and his blind wife cross a busy street? Oh my, could someone please sculpture a monument in honour of the good man so that his noble and admirable deed will forever be etched in the hearts of all who pass by.

The notion that such a trivial matter is deemed significant enough to call for a press conference just shows what they are like on a normal basis.

Window cleaners clean windows. They are expected to. Hence the name. If they were awarded certificates and fruit baskets every time they wipe up bird droppings, it would be hell of a waste of time, not to mention the frequent visits to the lavatory due to the over-ingestion of fruit. You only hand out pretty pieces of paper if they achieved something out of the ordinary, like say, if they invented stain-proof windows.

So, obviously, reading articles which portray how pathetic they are just annoys the hell out of me. It's already common knowledge that they are forever asking for bribes, yet when caught red handed, they deny ever having that intention. It's sort of like stripping to your ankles in a gentlemen's club and then saying that you had to find that dreaded cockroach that managed to wriggle its way up your pant leg. The immigration might want to consider adding a short infomercial to their Malaysia-Truly-Asia advertisements to inform tourists to always have some spare change on them, just in case.

They should be on the hunt for murderers, robbers and rapists - not setting up random speed traps or breathalyser tests. To fully deserve the bloody fruit baskets, they should be out there catching baddies and ensuring the safety and security of the community, not ripping them off. Because sure, there are truckloads of children who enthusiastically play Police and Drunkdrivers during recess at school. And gazillions of 6 year old boys who proudly proclaim that their ambition is to be a policeman in sincere hope that they can one day drastically reduce the number of illegal parkings. And I'm sure that students coming into the Klang Valley are endlessly reminded by their parents to be on the look out for crazy people who talk on their mobile phones while driving.

Rewarding them on such a superficial basis not only causes their standard of service to further plummet into the ground, but it also means that more trees have to be harvested to feed the basket-making industry. So everytime you refill your toilet paper dispenser from a pack marked with a questionable 'Recycled' sign, spare a moment to remember the countless policemen who risk their lives of being run over by an underaged driver beating the red lights while they are carefully escorting a vision impaired person across the street.

They have families too. And some, with 13 or more children. We have the red ribbons for HIV awareness, the yellow Livestrong band to raise funds for cancer research and the MakePovertyHistory.org website banners to, errr, make poverty history. Why stop there? Surely we can take it a step further. I hereby launch a special edition of white toilet papers to match their uniforms in remembrance of them.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Under Down Under

By the time you have finished reading the last nine words, an estimated 50,000 sheep have pushed themselves through an impressively expandable aperture into a land so boring and insignificant that anyone playing the Countries game would start making up their own countries starting with 'N' long before they yell out...

New Zealand!

Of course, had the purpose of the trip not been to visit a good friend of mine, I would have walked right from the arrival hall to the departure hall to board the next plane home.

The boredom started from the moment I found my seat on the flight to Auckland. Having flown MAS most of the time, I was used to claustrophobic-inducing seats, hand-me-down movies from RTM1, food that actually causes travel sickness, less-than-pretty stewardesses and aircrafts so ancient you'd almost expect to see a dozen sooted Chinese men shovelling lumps of coal into a huge furnace at the back of the plane.

So when I decided to fly with Emirates, I was impressed by the online check-in service which allows you to select your seat online. The food on the menu looked so good I could almost swear they handed me the First Class menu by accident. I was stoked when I saw the 500-movie listing on the entertainment guide, all of which I could select via a touch screen LCD panel. But hell, was I in for a major disappointment.

You know how you are watching an exciting movie trailer but the damned narrator with The Voice just won't stop talking? That's exactly how I felt.

I select a movie, and right before I can switch to full-screen mode, the public address comes on and an announcement is made, in three bloody languages! The safety video went on for half the entire journey, which rendered it completely useless since the plane could have potentially crashed even before the man in the video had finished illustrating how to inflate your life jacket for the third time. By the time we heard what was on the menu, the captain started announcing that we would be descending and proceeded to inform us what the local weather was.

Auckland - not as Third World-like as Sitiawan, but not exactly what you would call a city of technological marvel either. The city was practically empty and I found myself perpetually asking Caleb whether we were in a rough area since the only people there were the both of us when, apparently, more than half of the 17 people living in Auckland work in the city. Didn't look
like it.

The names of the roads were mostly in Maori. The degree of effort put into pronouncing them was like attempting to unlodge a piece of vegetable stuck at the back of your mouth using your tonsils. Having to quickly spit out the roads while reading the map and trying not to laugh at the same time didn't exactly make the task any easier. There's this mountain called Mount Fuckapapa. No I'd rather not, thanks.

There was a place called One Tree Hill, and it means exactly that. A hill with one tree standing at the peak, until this bloke woke up one morning in rage and decided to chop it down for firewood, after which they still stuck with the name but built an obelisk in honour of the Maoris. You see the correlation too, don't you? The problem is that the main feature of the hill wasn't the fact that there was once a tree standing there. Nor was it that the obelisk was pretty to look at, because it wasn't. No, people were taking pictures of the gazillions of sheep wandering around the hill, grazing the faeces-infested grass. That sight alone was amusing enough. It would be like Malaysians taking pictures of motorcycles and hazy skies - they are already everywhere.

Having said all that, the three weeks spent there were not that bad after getting used to Auckland's quirkiness. As long as you bear in mind that everything doesn't work like you would expect, you will get by just fine. For example, it's spelt Whakapapa.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Time - nature's heartless way of killing you.... slowly....

So I haven't updated in nearly a month. Unlike the many people who find it necessary to update every single day and on days which they have nothing to say; make do with a post "just to say Hi", I think it's nothing short of boring than to visit a blog only to be dissapointed by a post which informs you what the author had for breakfast, lunch and dinner, how many minutes he brushed his teeth for, or how many hours went by before he managed to park his car. Or God forbid, what bloody song is playing in the background.

I just don't have the time to update so often! There's so much work for us engineering students that we hardly have time for evening strolls or day-long buffets. Just last week, I had 4 assignments, 1 presentation, and 1 test. All this in a week! I know of one bloke who - in the name of time efficiency - has changed his postal address to that of the engineering computer lab. Another has brought along pictures of his house due to the fact that it has become a distant memory. In keeping with my policy that only important and read-worthy items warrant an actual post, the spine-crushing workload which Monash University has so graciously bestowed has robbed me of the luxury to think, let alone update this blog.

Or maybe it's because I have been watching endless episodes of Transformers.

You see, a few weeks ago, I had this dream: I was nine, and glued to the television, watching people clap their Masterforce bracelets together and turning into a superhero clad in an Exosuit after which they yell out something which sounds like "Head On" and turn into this gigantic robot.

Before any of you start scrolling down to the chatbox to ask if I have become an anime fan, let me assure you that your concerns are somewhat unfounded. I have not shrivelled into a geek wearing brick-thick glasses, tapping away on the keyboard with his shrilly fingers, searching for anime and porn. Or visiting HowStuffWorks.com.

I am proud to announce that I have picked up from my childhood life where I left off. I was ten when my father was shipped off to Shanghai to continue his career. And being the materialistic son who has always wanted to live life as an expatriate, I decided to tag along. Little did I know that StarTv was not airing the aforementioned anime series. To my dismay, I never got to find out what happened to Optimus Prime.

Until now.

So here I am, watching a 42-episode series which is so poorly animated that it's obvious which bundle of rocks is going to collapse because it is a different colour compared to the rest of its hardy counterparts. Of course. This was produced in the 1980's.

This suddenly hit me hard. Am I really reliving the life of the ten-year old boy I once was? Or am I currently living the life of an elderly?!

The signs are frightfully compelling.

Music now isn't what it used to be. Which is why I hate listening to the radio. You don't get to choose what you listen to, and despite constantly switching between the 6 presets in your car, you are forced to listen to some girl who wears a tie, or to a black guy from the ghetto who really isn't much worth listening to. Literally. Like say, 50 cents. What ever happened to bands like Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20 and Semisonic? And seeing as how Scott Stapp's replacement singer sounds like a 90 year old man going through puberty all over again, it was clearly a good idea to name the new band after a stone bridge. In ten years' time when music is created using C++ and CGI, I reckon I'd still be asking the same question.

I shudder every time I see a modified Japanese car pull up at the red lights. *Burble burble burble*. You'd think those bowel inducing vibrations from those Tin Man-replica exhaust pipes would be knocking the cheap after-market bodykit off the equally cheap car. I always end up thinking about how much quicker the guy would be able to pay off his home loan if he had settled for a car whose thirst doesn't require him to place his kidney as a deposit every time he fills up the tank.

I don't go clubbing because I don't dance. And I don't dance because people don't call it dancing anymore. It has got a new name. Apparently, it is now called shuffling. And it's done with people wearing overly baggy pants with gazillions of reflective stickers on them enough to provide lighting for half of Melbourne. It's also accompanied with designer drugs - nearly all of which I have never heard of. The last I remember, drugs were injected, not conveniently swallowed like Skittles. The music has changed too. No more hopes of hearing "I've got the power.. power... power...." or "Everybody dance now!" by C+C Music Factory. Now music is played by this bunch of people with common first names: DJ.

The 5-year old mobile phone I brought to Australia doesn't have a colour screen. It doesn't take pictures. Neither does it record sound or video clips. It stores only 10 incoming and outoging messages and doesn't support multipage messaging. I can't read or send emails from it. I don't get updated every time a politician says something stupid in the press. It doesn't have infra-red, bluetooth, a calendar, MMS or even an alarm clock. The thing it does have though, is - wait for it - an external antenna; which fell off and has since been reattached with green masking tape.

Very soon, I fear an 8 year old boy is going to teach me how to change the settings on the in-built toaster on the latest Motorola to avoid charring my breakfast.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Man in the Wig

As I was reading an amusing newspaper article on Gerard's blog, I was bombarded with two trains of thoughts. My right brain was shaking its angry fist. My left brain, being the more rational of the couple, was trying to push away the anger signals his other-half (literally and metaphorically) was indignantly sending to me. It is as if he (yes, it's a 'he', being the more rational one) was shouting out "Don't listen to her! This is a funny situation!".

So boy and girl are caught hugging and kissing in a park. Some dumb mallet-wielding bloke in a wig bangs his little thing and suggests that boy and girl should spend some time apart, wearing jumpsuits and eating the same food they serve at Murni's.

So, this is Malaysia, a multiracial country. I'll give you that. But a tolerant multiracial country?

He even goes on to imply that hugging and kissing in public is immoral. What are the jurisidictions of morality? Is showing affection a question of being moral?

There was a time, ages ago; when children were seen and not heard and women would only stay at home, that if you went out to public places wearing a short skirt (irregardless of whether you're a man or a woman), you'd most certainly be stoned to death. But times have changed. Children are now telling their parents to shut the bloody hell up. And your boss wears a blouse and Manolo stilettos.

Now you're protesting and saying that morality should not change with time. And bloody hell, you're right. Shooting someone in the face for his car (or horse and carriage, back then) is still wrong, fifty years down the line. If you stole gold coins a hundred years ago, you'd be as guilty today for using someone else's credit card on eBay. It's the principle behind the act that doesn't change.

So why all this big media fuss over the couple who kissed in the park? You don't see such coverage and followup when there is a rape case, which is far worse in every respect. Obviously there is a big dispute over this issue. Sadly for that bloke who thinks that hugging and kissing is not acceptable in our culture.

Like I mentioned, times have changed. Some (and by some, I mean most) people should really accept that now, cars have 8 automatic forward gears, you can shoot light into your cornea to rid your nose of its glasses, and that mobile phones have made video cameras, PDAs, laptops and very soon, microwave ovens; obselete. Why embrace only half of what the advancement of time offers?

Humping in the car backseat can move out to the streets in the next 10 years for all I care. What will they disagree with next? That solar-powered coffee makers should be banned because they would decrease TNB's profits? Or ethanol-powered cars, because Petronas would suffer huge losses?

For now, I pray that the sentence will be lifted. Can't quite imagine the treatment they'll give the guy, getting jailtime for hugging and kissing.

Maybe they'll order him the Claypot Loh Shi Fun.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oh no, look what they've done now

Looks like he shouldn't have pulled out after all...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Ultimate Rebellion