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Thanks, Uncle Chua

SOMETIMES in life you meet people you can't find faults with. They're not perfect but in their own ways, they're just very nice souls who don't bitch or bite, or show any vibe of negativity towards others around them. I was fortunate to have known a person like that in Chua Kok Hwa, a press photographer and friend who passed on Oct 10. 



Chua was 20 years my senior. He was one of two photographers assigned to Metro section of The Star when I first joined the company. I guess that made Chua a lot more special to us in Metro as we got to know him better. A man of few words but those few words were always witty, sound and sincere. He also came with a ready smile. 

As a young reporter, working with Chua was fun, easy and educational as he understood our stories and styles well and translated them into pictures that spoke just more than a thousand words. Those who've worked with him closely would also know that he had no excuses for demands and requests from writers and so…

That Pink Piece

EVERY person who has ever looked at it must have seen it as nothing more than an expensive piece of a loud costume. The kind that has been oddly placed at a clothing department for the rich and boring. The kind you'd pick out just to kill time at the fitting room but never buy. The kind that you'd not purchase even if it is on a 70% discount.

I suppose I never saw it that way. After almost 15 months of openly lusting over it during my numerous mall visits, I was ecstatic when it finally went on sale mid last year. Seventy percent off and no one had gone for it. It sat exactly where it had been over the months amidst the sale-induced chaos. Surely it was meant for me then, that pink piece.



Some say it's obscenely pink. Too pink, or magenta or fushcia. Well, it is pink with black lace contrasting at the hem, neckline and shoulders. The dress sure has a quirky appeal. A matching black, satin sash at the waistline and it even has a little train like the garish pink and black com…

Blueberry Frozen Yoghurt

I love a good frozen yoghurt especially one that's blended with fresh fruits like those served at Yogen Fruz. A scoop of your favourite fruit is crushed and blended with plain yoghurt. For me, it has to be the blueberry or cherry mix. Topped with just a bit of runny chocolate sauce, a small tub of the FroYo is bliss. Fruity, tangy and sweet all at the same time!

Well, I can't be running to the store every time I crave for one of those. So I compared a few recipes, tweaked and made something I like even better using blueberries. Love this recipe for its creamy fruitiness. The lemon just adds more zing to it and the colour of the final product is simply gorgeous. 



You will need ...
450g low fat vanilla yoghurt ( or you can use plain yoghurt with a teaspoon of vanilla extract) 170g fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries  2 -3 tbsp honey or maple syrup ( I prefer honey) Zest of a lemon and juice of half (or more if you like) Pinch of salt 
Mix blueberries, lemon juice and zest along with ho…

Buttercream Roses

I'M hooked. Like majorly hooked on whipping out buttercream and icing it. So I'm always baking these days. The joy of being able to play with colours and sugar to create pretty, yummy edibles that brighten up my day as much as they make many more happy is awesome. Right now, I'm just experimenting with various buttercream recipes, buttercream roses, perfecting the techniques and trying to establish some semblance of order in the kitchen while I work with butter and cream, sugar and spice. Working with this frosting during summer is quite a challenge as I really dislike having the air-conditioning on. I've no choice though if I want to have a nice, stable batch. 








Here's a basic buttercream recipe that I love. It's wicked, the kind of #badfood you'd want to keep in your life as a treat. 

140g butter, softened
280g icing sugar, sieved
1 - 2 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla extract ( use a good one)
A pinch of salt
Food colouring, if you like.

* Makes around 22 roses. 

Cream bu…

Buy Me A Beach

My late grandad was the strongest man I knew. I'm talking about six packs and sculpted calves and all. Imagine a man who still climbed three-storey high, straight up coconut trees at almost 80. He did a lot of manual work around the house and cycled to wherever he went, near and far. At the end of a day, he relaxed with his feet soaked in a basin of hot, salted water. My grandma also sometimes used salt-in-a-sock for pain relief.




I don't know why I never thought of using salt like that but recently I've been turning to saltwater more often and loving the incredible healing effects it has on me. I come back from beaches with an uplifted spirit, relieved of physical pain (my legs). It has to be the salty ocean and breeze. 




Qatar has some lovely, clear blue line of beaches. Never expected to find this when I first came here from the tropical side of the world. We try to go to the beach whenever we could. It takes about 40 mins to get to the location in the picture above. For a …

Cinema Horrors and The Conjuring

IT'S only fair that my review of the horror flick, The Conjuring starts right from the cinema I was at. I don't know if it's an accepted norm or just bad-upbringing that leads to poor level of civic-consciousness at the cinemas here (in Qatar). For most part of this much awaited movie (I love horror), I was too distracted by the inhumane spirits around me rather than the demons in the show. 

Why? Just when the movie began, a man on the front  row kept his radio/ mobile phone/ whatever gadget switched on and publicly aired the complete Azan (Muslim call for prayer) for the time. So I was trying hard to catch what the freaky doll, Annabelle was all about in between the Azan and feeling completely appalled by the grace with which everyone around him accepted it like it was home and prime time news. 

What's with talking, having full conversations in the cinema! The two women, just two seats away from us, did nothing but talk through the entire movie. Talking to each other an…

Never Mess With 'Fat' People

A recent article by a Malaysian newspaper has created a furore with Malaysian readers of all sizes and shapes. The article which was executed in a kamikaze attack style targeting at 'fat' people obviously had no respect for differences, body types and shapes that represent the human species. What was the writer thinking? Or how did it even get through to the print?  

In her story, the writer blatantly condemned all kinds of fat with descriptions varying from meaty and chubby to whale-like and 'elephantine' while attributing nasty, negative personality traits to them. For me, these observations are shallow and baseless. People are 'fat' for many reasons: cultural, hormonal, lifestyle, genetic influences, etc. If you don't know what or why, it's best not to make blatant comments on someone whom you think is over-sized because for me a 'fat' person is someone with a dangerously high body fat percentage. You can be skinny and still have a high body f…

Storms and Panty-Lining Dust

THESE flat, concrete roofs are cool considering the howling northerly wind at 50km/h that's going on right now. No flying roof tiles or any such threats. I actually feel safe. 
We're currently in the midst of a dust storm since Friday. The weather report projects that the storm will last till Wednesday. While it's not uncommon to have dust storms here, I've never experienced a case of constant strong winds that last for days before in my life. Given the landscape, the wind brings with it tiny sand particles that layer as dust in our homes. No matter how shut you think your house is, the dust has a way to get in and line your panties (figuratively speaking that is!). The particles are that fine, as fine as how your best loose powder should be. 
My cable TV has been gone since Saturday and the Internet is trippy. Outside, well, it's dusty, sandy and windy. Imagine standing next to a helicopter with its blades still running. Sometimes the wind is that intense. It makes …

Caramel Cream

SOMETIMES our search for something will lead to something else. By chance, we discover new things, ideas, faith, places and people. During my search for the almost extinct Revlon Pressed Power in Caramel (15) recently in Kuala Lumpur (yes, I'm back home for a bit), I discovered the Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation, also in Caramel (340). Now I've always used Laura Mercier Tinted Mosturiser for the most of my make-up wearing life and I've believed and still believe in the product. If you ask me, it has to bethee best tinted mosturiser in the world! I prefer it to any other of its kind or foundations. Although I don't wear foundations, I've had the chance to sample some of those in the market, both mid and high end. Perhaps, I don't need as much coverage as some others but I've never been a foundation fan. Most are too heavy, greasy or cakey. Not my cup of tea. 



When I came across Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation, I tested it simply because it came in Ca…

The Ferrari Coaster

I faced it but failed to ace it. My fear of speed on undulating coaster tracks that is. We were at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi last month. It's a huge indoor theme park running on the Ferrari theme. You can pretty much tell that speed and red are big at this park - two things that get me a little nail-biting nervous and cranky. If it wasn't for the theme park junkie who is the husband, I'd much rather be on a random desert or beach trip. 



It's basically like the Disneyland of Ferrari. If you've experienced Disneyland, then you'd know of the kind of rides that I'm talking about. Indoor water rides, themed introductory rides, coasters and various games. The difference is that this park is entirely indoors (except for the coasters) and the rides are meant to give you a look and experience into the world of Ferrari and its technology. In short, it's the ultimate Ferrari show-off. 

The highlight at the park has to be the Formula Rossoroller coaster. The queue for …

Beat It With Beets!

MY first experience with beetroots wasn't too disappointing like how it was for the other kids. It did feel like I was chewing on muddy grass. The earthy scent and flavour of beets didn't go down well with me but I ate it anyway because of its gorgeous colour! Unbelievable deep red from something so ordinary on the outside. I was morbidly fascinated by beetroots from the time I saw my grandma slice through one as it left bloody burgundy stains on her fingers and the wooden chopping board. 

Many years later, my mom fed me with a combination of beetroot, apple and carrot juices daily at a low point when my system was down. Initially I was a little irked by the idea of having to consume raw beet but the experience wasn't bad at all. The combination was red and delicious, and, rich and healing. Two years ago, the same combination became a big part of my dad-in-law's diet when he was recovering from stomach cancer and I'd say it helped in a speedy recovery for him as wel…

The Addict

MY life in Doha can be summed up as a cross between Bree Vanderkamp's and Gabrielle Solis' at the moment. I find myself re-visiting an old hobby of baking like Bree and earning the right to eat the baked goods and sample new restaurants by working out like Gabby, although I do worry like Susan every now and then with the ardent hope of wanting to get back to the corporate world like Lynette. Oh, I miss the Desperate Housewives alright! 

Getting back to baking has been therapeutic. I'm once again reminded of why I'd started baking during my teenage years in the first place. There's definitely something relaxing about breaking and beating and throwing things into a chamber of heat. It's a greater joy to see the beaten ingredients rise up to their best an hour later and the bestest part is when I'm able to share it with others. Washing up is the only thing I absolutely dread. Right now, my Sri Lankan neighbour is enjoying the perks of living next to a baking ad…

The Rose Water Recipe

THERE is an old joke about my dad getting my mom todrink rose water when she was pregnant with me so she could birth a child with the coveted rosy fairness. Asians in general associate beauty and perfection with a fair skin. The fairer you are, the prettier. It's an asset. Men look for fair-skinned wives so they could produce beautiful, fair-skinned offsprings. 

Upon my birth however, my dad became the butt of the joke while my grandma had the last laugh. She lived on for almost 30 years after that to tell and repeat the story of the rose water recipe. Apparently I was the darkest baby in the baby room with the deepest indentation between the lower lip and chin :) 
It's funny how a notion with such frivolous flavour still continues to manipulate the present and future generations on their definition of beauty and self-worth. I can't say it bothers me much because I'm confident in my own chocolate skin. After all beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no? But what annoys o…

V Day News

THANK you for the well wishes! I'm doing pretty good and having a speedy recovery. Hope I haven't spoken too soon but for someone with shingles, I've very little blisters. Still have all those random shooting pains in the head, and weird phenomenon like my arm feeling icy cool sensations still exists but it's a big relief to be moving around and doing stuff. Not too bad. 


Just woke up to news alerts on a woman shot dead at South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius'(right) home. Media speculations suggest that the arrested 26-year-old is Pistorius and the woman in question was his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Now this peels my attention away from the rogue Los Angeles Police Department  ex-cop Christopher Jordan Dorner (He has my sympathies in some ways though). Currently perched in front of the TV watching CNN, I can't imagine what led to this awful news alert but to speculate like the rest of the world, although by speculating, I'm allowing myself some imaginat…

So That's That

THIS time when I told the front desk lady at the hospital that I was suspecting chicken pox, she was really surprised. Not sure why. ButI wasn't going to take any chances with the few blisters which had magically popped up around my neck. 

Dr. R was nice. Checked me throughly and concluded that it was shingles (it's from the same virus that causes chicken pox) and further confirmed it when I told him about the one-sided neck ache. He put me on anti-viral Acyclovir which I've to take five times a day for six days, together with some tablets for itchiness and pain. PAIN. He kept stressing it though. Which got me really worried. 
"You can take this for the pain. It should be okay but if you can't stand the pain then you go on this,".
I smiled a nervous smile. Shingles, one of my greatest fears, is here. I've read and heard about it. It's far worse than chicken pox on the pain scale. 
"How much pain can I expect, doctor? It sounds like a lot of pain"…

A Prominent Fever

"HOWprominent is your fever?"

Seriously? Prominent? Can't you see that I'm prominently dying here. Idiot
"I don't know. Why don't you check." 
My temperature read 38.1 degrees. Every joint in my body ached as if there were little men with tiny hammers, going about hammering on my bones unrhythmically. The left side of head and face hurt especially more and the ears felt pressured. My eye balls were individually hurting in their sockets. With great effort, I rolled my eyes away from the doctor who didn't quite know what she was dealing with and eyed the husband with a sense of irritation. What the hell is she doing ??? Urrrgggghhhh.
"How long have you been feeling this way?"
Didn't I just tell you like a second ago? Talking hurts my entire E.N.T network!
"Three days. The left side pain has been intense and I've been on Advil the whole time". By then, I think I'd told her about the pain three times already but she seemed…

A Graceful Surrender - Not!

I GUESS you can't really tell how you'd deal with skin ageing until you're living it...which momentarily brings me back to a conversation I had with Martin a few years ago. 

"What would you do when your glory days are over?" Martin asked. 
He had just laid out my possible initial reactions to future dealings with skin ageing with the focal point being my spotless, velvet-smooth face. Our conversations usually have random pit stops like that. If I could graph them by topic and time, you'd see a rather erratic pattern, much like the current USD/JPY Forex charts. 

"You know what I think, Martin? Youth is temporary and when it's time to let go of this perfect skin, I'd surrender gracefully," I said with a saint's conviction, not doubting one second that it'd only take a wrinkle to break a saint. I mean who has a dry T-Zone ? Most google searches would only give you useful references on oily T-Zones anyway. 

Now that the halo is off and letti…