Saturday, September 29, 2007

Maggie and me (mee)

It's Saturday evening and I have a date with Maggie (Mee). I could opt for a date with Horatio but on a Saturday night, he's probably solving homicides just he as does every time I see him. It does not really make for good conversation when someone is more interested in a corpse's ear wax than they are of you. Maggie and I think that we should toast some marshmallows over the stove after dinner since there is no one at home and we want entertainment. We tried toasting them over my lighter but it couldn't create enough flare to coat the mallow in crackling crispiness. I wonder what the fusion of cigarette smoke and toasted marshmallows will smell like. I think it will be funnier if we were drunk because then the likelihood of the marshmallows melting over everything would double and we will end up falling over one another, tipsy and giggling uncontrollably, trying to scrape the crystallised sweetness off the counter top. We might even dare one another lick the mess away without burning our tongues on the stove, all the while aware somewhere at the back of our hazy minds that we will get into a lot of trouble if we fail to clean it up in time. At times like this, I think of Eing and her homemade eggnog. Just another trickle of Tia Maria.... just a trickle more...

I have told Maggie that I will probably be seeing her a lot more when I start work because I will not have time to eat elaborate food. I think she's happy. She'll bring her friends round and they'll hang out at home til I return then we can indulge in some quality time together.

I think I am looking forward to work. I just need to figure out how to keep my trousers from being dragged across tarmac. I'll be wearing flat shoes to walk to work and then change shoes at work. My trousers are cut to accommodate my added heel height and so I am left with the dilemma of potential fraying if I cannot get my hemline to stay above ground.

Friday, September 28, 2007

GEL; memories

Part of G.E.L; Unfortunately Lok and Ryl were not in it, else it might have been perfect.

Blingo


The ring cost as much as the thesaurus. No, I'll rephrase that. The ring cost more than the thesaurus.

No, it is not a typo on bling, bingo or lingo. Rather, it is a new word I have coined to incorporate all three ideas.

Word: Blingo
Pronunciation: Bling-goh
Part of speech: Noun, adjective
Definition: A characteristic where one is defined as much by one's bling as he/she is by his/her brain.
Etymology: 2007
Usage: Slang
Example sentences:

I'm into blingo.
She's got blingo.
Her blingo's looking good.
I exude blingo.
You're improving on your blingo.
Allow the influx of new words to carry you to blingo heights.
I'm not a nerd; I've got the blingo.

Sometimes, it hurts

This is an early morning post, early because I am usually not awake until the orb has reached its climax in the sky as I fall asleep with the calling at the mosque (about 5.30am). My brain is still trying to make sense of dreams I had last night, my stomach is sated after 3 Freddos and a slice of mooncake for breakfast and my heart is.... numb.

This isn't the first time I've considered ending my blog. Logic dictates that if one posts stuff in cyberspace, gives that window of information an address and gives that address to others, others will have access to that information. Logic was never my forte.

On the one hand, I don't care that people know a million things about me. On the other, there's an expectation for people to remember what they know. Perhaps it is a quest to be known which, will only truly find its rest in the New Creation. A quest requires a journey to be made. A journey requires footsteps to be taken. I am taking a lot of footsteps. Sometimes I think that if I live less in cyberspace and more in real life, I could do more. Maybe go nude painting or skinny dipping or cow milking.

There is a restlessness inside that I cannot seem to rid and it is wearisome. It does not speak of rest, only exploration, it does not seemingly advocate companionship, only solitude. It is wearisome because as much as I sometimes want to get rid of it, it is part of who I am. If I could tear my heart out and survive, I would still be no more and no less restless than I am now. Maybe again, this is all hyperbole in my mind.

"The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven." John Milton, Paradise Lost

I have been blessed with friends who know me better than I know myself and who say it as it is without making me feel like I need to go sacrifice myself on an altar. Their input in my life is invaluable yet even they cannot come along with me on certain spiritual, emotional and psychological roads. Sometimes it feels good to have friends around. Sometimes I wish I could lose my heart because without a heart I would feel nothing. Surely that would make life easier to bear.

Then again, I am being foolish. Even as I type I criticise myself for not being God-focused, for letting my problems seem bigger than which my God can handle. Why does God allow suffering? Most who bring up the question lend suffering a general magnitude which includes natural disasters and world wide illnesses such as cancer. However, I think real suffering comes from within. I don't have cancer. I've never been hit by an earthquake. But I am suffering. I wonder if suffering is merely God's tool of turning our hearts more towards Him. Being the naturally totally depraved creatures that we are, being turned towards God hurts our natural inclinations and so we suffer. I suppose in the big picture (with a dash of eschatological tension), suffering is not a punishment rather a process.

“Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.” Satan

"There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that the star of Milton’s Paradise Lost is Satan. He’s intellectual and energetic, obsessed with the complicated notion of freedom, and hands-down the most articulate so-called villain in English literature.

I think about Satan when I think about my own internal state.

Everywhere I go, there I am. A change of scenery does not necessarily produce a change of heart or mind." Holly Chamberlin

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sarah La la la la la la.....


Today is Sarah's 23rd BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! How do I know that? Because I texted her yesterday to wish her Happy Birthday and she replied, "Erm Deb, my b'day is tomorrow..."

I have written a piece about her for a competition organised by thecicak.com. It's here.

Vote if you want to. Voting polls close 10th October 2007. You can only vote ONCE. If you're greedy (even if it's for someone else), all your votes will not be counted :(

There are other heroes listed as well. They're here. I think they're all amazing and I feel humbled reading their stories but at the end of the day, I know Sarah and so she is my unsung hero.

Advertising

For a tiny hole in the pocket of time, I allowed myself to be persuaded to put up advertisement "slots" such as Advertlet, Adsense and Nuffnang on my blog. Nuffnang had too many requirements within a page into signing up, Adsense had too many agreements which I could accidentally break and Advertlets insisted that my site and profile domain did not match. So in the end, I happily reverted to my usual; advertisement FREE.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Antz

Everytime the Bible talks about laziness or sluggishness or sleeping, I wince. I try to improve but then the lull of my bed and the anticipation of dreams which make my life more exciting persuades me back to slumber. So, one day, armed with camera, I decided to take Proverbs 6:6 to heart:

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!


I hope I have become wiser after this endeavour.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dippin' and dunkin'



When life gives you lemons, ignore them and buy marshmallows.

You will need:

A handful of mini marshmallows
Chocolate based drink like Milo, Ovaltine or Vico but preferably hot chocolate (except Sarah G; you can have a toffee based one)
Cinnamon and nutmeg powder
Your favourite mug

Follow instructions to make the hot drink.
Sprinkle marshmallows on top.
Shake cinnamon and nutmeg powder on top of marshmallows.
Wait for the fusion to melt slightly.
DRINK!

For best results, drink in cold surroundings, wearing your favourite socks dressed in comfortable clothes, whilst indulging in a media option or an intellectually stimulating book.

Personally, my combination will be Winter, in Primark's luxury socks, my KCLCU hoodie, watching the Wedding Singer or reading Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Reminiscing and warning

As I struggle with issues today, I like to read back on past blog entries and I am rebuked by my own words. Age maturity is definitely NOT a sign of spiritual growth. I used to be so God-focused and although I still love Jesus and know more about Him now than I did before, as James writes in the Bible, faith without works is dead. Everything I used to do resounded with Christ and now everywhere I turn, all I seem to see is obstacles shrouded in haze. What used to be filled with joy is now filled with fear and instead of just sitting at God's feet, I'm banging down walls while looking over my shoulder to ask Jesus to pass the mallet. That has got to stop right now. Even as I type this, there is a dull ache in my heart, as if my soul wants to reclaim something that I have gradually lost. Keep me in prayer.

Blessed be Your name,
On the road marked with suffering,
Though there's pain in the offering,
Blessed be Your name.

Which side of the force?

Come October, I will be taking a step I thought I, as a wishful-thinking eternal student, need never take; I will start 'officially' working. What is it in 'grown up' work that scares me, I do not know. Lots of my friends have started working, indeed many of them have been working for years and now own property, assets yatta yatta which I will admit I want too, if only it did not require having to work for it. Silly logic isn't it? Perhaps it is the responsibility that is frightening.

Perhaps it is having to trade in my hoodies and shorts for those suit things that spread vertical stripe love of orange, purple and blue. Everything is so fussy; the buttons, the stiff collar, the sleek silhouette the female of the sexes have to put up with, the ruffles... I found a shirt I really, really liked in Jusco but when I tried it on, I realised it was cut for a guy and sloppy work attire will never do. Maybe I could buy it as pyjama wear...

Perhaps, it is being under authority (I was never quite good at that... although whether this admission will be to my favour or otherwise, we shall possibly see in time).

Perhaps it is the idea of having to wear black and white although some will say that I could wear other colours within reason. As I shared with a friend the shirts I had bought, her first response was, "Wah, so colourful..." Oh dear. Here I was thinking I had done a good job at actually buying shirts for myself (something I've never had to do minus the school shirts we had to wear) and instead of looking professional, I might probably end up looking like a walking advertising board; law firm this way. Even my hair will have to be reconstructed; my last visit to Grandma prompted her to comment that no one would be able to see my face with the current hairstyle I sport. Maybe it is because I don't want anyone to see my face Grandmaaaaa...

Some offered a while ago, that entering the working world is akin to becoming a man or a woman. I suppose it would be the caveman's equivalent to his first hunt or her first child. There are many moments when I just want to play the village idiot so as to be left out of this natural hierarchy that occurs with the passing of time. I do not know why I am feeling as burdened as I am. A part of me, sometime ago, would have jumped at the opportunity to do what I will be doing soon. I wonder where that part is now, whether it will return, whether it was a part of me at all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wishes

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put 'em together and what have you got
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
It'll do magic believe it or not
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Now sala-gadoola means
Menchicka booleroo
But the thing-a-ma-bob that does the job
Is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put 'em together and what have you got
Bibbidi-bobbidi
Bibbidi-bobbidi
Bibbidi- bobbidi-boo

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Darn it Nick Taylor, get out of my head!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Instant

Someone finally recognised my contribution towards the world of instant mash.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vision

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep or cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait til her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-- Leisure, W.H Davies

Fugitive

I am running from something, only I know not what it is. I find myself drifting off and trying to thread together ends that seem to find their beginning and end in my mind. Maybe it is a who instead of a what that I am running from. Maybe it is a collective. Maybe I am running from reason. Whatever it is, my restlessness has got to stop at some point right? No one person has energy enough to keep running. To keep watching, wary that something is following, cautious that nothing get to close. My feet are ready to flee at a moment's notice and if I had bunny ears, they'd be twitching back and forth; you can already see it in the way I fidget when I'm watching TV, the way I hardly hold eye contact, always looking beyond my companion's shoulder, the way I rock back and forth from foot to foot. What am I looking for? What am I looking to? It once felt like rebellion but now I feel like a refugee. A refugee in my own mind.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

U-turn; "You turn!"

I could blog about how I think I am slowly getting addicted to CSI Miami after my housemate bought the whole 5 season box set. Or I could blog about my results which could make for more interesting news. But my affection for the taciturn, ginger-haired Horatio Caine with one liners that would drive me crazy if I knew him in real life will fade and my results will soon be forgotten but my brain is still working and I am still thinking about all things beginning with R ( see link to clear confusion).

It was overheard one woman saying to another, "I vowed to marry Bill for better or for worse. Never for a moment did I expect him to stay the same."

I sometimes wonder what people mean when they say they've found their soul-mate. Do they mean that they've found someone who understands them? Someone who sympathises? Perhaps someone who has the same values and goals. More often than not, they mean someone who complements them, who counters their bad points, who completes them. It is logical isn't it, to find someone who is the same, yet different from us. For instance, if I wanted to be more spontaneous, someone who was already spontaneous would attract me because he would be what I want to be more like. Many tend to forget that the wedding marks the beginning, and not the end of a sealed relationship. Many forget that as they change, so do their partners and both parties may not necessarily continue to complement one another as they evolve emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. What happens when the man or woman you married no longer complements or completes you?

Take Mr. Spontaneous whom I mentioned before. Let's say we got married and by living with him for a certain period of time I become more spontaneous myself. From my new standpoint (of being more spontaneous) I might look at him and think (or grumble), "He used to be more spontaneous..." Or, maybe by living with someone really spontaneous, I could become even less spontaneous than I was before and then my opinion would be that he has become ridiculously impulsive, even though in both scenarios, he may not have changed at all.

The problem with thinking that someone is perfect for us begins with us. Very few of us will remain stagnant in our perceptions, opinions, the way we interact with others and lifestyle. If I think that my partner and I will remain the same from our first date to the day one of us croaks, I would be guilty of either mad optimism or delusioned naivety. Unfortunately, most of the world, no matter how grown up they think they are (climbing the corporate ladder and all that), live in a Disney-like movie bubble where it doesn't matter to see the sequels, just as long as Prince Charming ends up with the girl (except in Shrek where Prince Charming is the baddie). They forget that there is life and a lot of it, after "I do." Even if she remembers whilst wearing rose-tinted glasses that there will be some sort of life after the big, white wedding, she would expect her partner to dance to her beat and her song and vice versa; "Afterall, isn't he or she my soul-mate?" Neither party wants to give in when it comes to loggerheads because they feel that they individually have a lot of life ahead of them to live, too many dreams to catch. The soul-mate is perfect as long as its life toes the preconceived line that each thought the other had agreed to. But once the soul-mate starts getting ideas of its own, it becomes a burden to bear and an embarrassment in public because it no longer fulfills its role of 'completing' the other person.

We hear thousands of divorces citing 'irreconcilable differences' as the reason behind the marriage breakdown. I wonder just how many of those couples considered the possibility of change in a relationship. A change in attitude, behaviour, characteristics and character ultimately leads to a change in the dynamics of the relationship. Although one may not know exactly what that will mean, will one be willing to keep on with the relationship regardless? If not, maybe the clause "for better or for worse" may need to be rewritten to catch foreseeable consequences.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

People (XI)

L-R: Bill, Irene, Christine and Angela. Bill and Irene were JCS missionaries and now they live in UB selling touristy stuff like magnets and traditional rugs.


L-R: Rachel, Barnabas, Sophie and Chris.


The team from St. Michael's who taught us at the retreat.


L-R: Jeff and Shauna


L-R: Chrstine and Bae

The church in BH (X)

Besides a cross on the door, the church looks like a giant ger. One could be forgiven for mistaking it as a circus tent.


If you think I'm a bundle of energy, you haven't seen the Christians in the church at BH. They make me look and feel like my 'stiff-upper-lip-Britishness' is all too apparent. Some of them have had rocks thrown at them by their own neighbours but they're still exuberant and excited about Jesus; if they say they have faith, they're certainly not shy to show it.

Bayankhongor (IX)

A typical Bayankhongor 'suburb.' Bayankhongor is the so called capital of the aimag ie province.


A vocational school where Dustin is teaching students to plant other types of vegetables and live a healthier lifestyle.


The hospital. Unless I were really desperate or completely assimilated, I don't think I would go there.


The YWAM was recently started by JCS missionaries.


Local sawmill.

Bayankhongor market (VIII)

On the far right, you can see a woman selling cabbages; one of the FIVE main vegetables in Mongolia next to the potato, carrot, onion and turnip.


This structure forms the top part of the ger. The tiny holes around the side is where other sticks are poked into to support the ger.


Horse and cart selling water.
I thought this was quite funny; do they even know what a corgi is?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

50

My mum hits the big 5-0 today. In my eyes she's still 36. Despite being too cerebral for my own good, I don't really know what to make of it. Do I need to make anything of it? Is it important to her that I make something of it? For a brief moment I feel like a guy trapped as his girlfriend asks, "Do I look fat in this?" I know I'm thinking about something, in fact I'm thinking, at the moment, about lots of things to do with the fact that my mum is now 50, most of them stressful, but to what end do these questions point to, I have yet to figure out. I start to break into sweat when my mum talks about retiring because in my eyes, my dad has already retired although he still runs his shop. That, by logical age order, leaves me the next breadwinner of the family. Me! Frightening stuff. Am I ready? I have no idea. Do I want to be? Begrudgingly. It is frightening to me because it puts me on the start down the same path most of the world have taken;

Income - (mortgage + monthly parental support + car loan + house loan + insurance + road tax + other taxes + bills + etc) = 3 movie tickets and a giraffe.

Forget children, diapers and university fees; those haven't even come into the equation and I am wondering whether I have enough arms to balance my chequebook. Actually, come to think of it, so many crummy children are not supporting their parents that I might actually still be unique. I am a horrible child aren't I? My mum has turned 50 and I'm thinking about me. I am wondering whether reality can take on stuff dreams are made out of. I want to challenge the reality that I need to follow a 'well-proven' route in order to be an average person.

Anyhoo, will be off to buy something for mum now. The least I can do is let her know I remembered if only it comes in a box (and I DID remember to wish her this morning; was remembering it last night to myself as I slept in case I forgot). Now I feel like a total guy; an anniversary is coming up.... but which one??!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pig. Men. Tation...

Was just made aware that when my brother named our fifth dog Troy, he was not naming it after some great ancient city or its mighty inhabitants but after the lead guy in Disney's High School Musical. Am almost horrified.

Need to eat more fruits.

Going to the archery range tonight. Time to let out all the steam.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Way of life?

I don't mind it as much when Malaysians complain about Malaysia afterall, firstly it is in our nature to complain (it is as natural as pirated CDs and chicken rice for breakfast) and secondly, sometimes complaining shows we care for progress. Besides, some people complain all the time it is like breathing to them and we wouldn't want people to stop breathing. However, when we 'civilised and superior' Malaysians (I use the two adjectives to describe what an outside looking in can only logically be expected to assume; if we considered ourselves any lower than the elevated stance we have bestowed upon ourselves, we might complain less) go to other countries and start complaining about the way things are there, it makes me pretty angry, in fact, it makes me downright furious.

I have had the (unpleasant) opportunity of hearing Malaysians complain about everything from the dress code of another country to the animals to the people to what is socially acceptable. They migrate and complain that rice is harder to find. They proudly show off their branded products to their friends when they come back to Malaysia but there complain that people are tacky just because they are no longer given 'special' attention. And sucker-uppers are all over the place but that's another story. It is at times like these, when I either feel truly embarrassed to be Malaysian or swear words start evolving in my head.

Recently, I had the again unpleasant experience of reading an article in a national newspaper about someone's trip to Mongolia. Having recently returned from the said country myself, I searched the pages for experiences I could relate to or photos of places I had visited. To my disappoinment, the writer only gave one aspect of Mongolia; the one from a whingy, ill-informed, narrow-minded Malaysian point of view. In fact she seemed to loathe it so much, I wonder why she went there in the first place. For example, she said airag tasted like someone "doped your milk with urine." I tasted airag which, is fermented mare's milk with a high alcohol content and it's not great. I wrote in an earlier entry I nearly made a gastric mess on the floor which is true but I don't mind trying it again because it's part of the fun to asimilate and adopt the culture of the place you permanently or temporarily reside in. There is no need to stain someone else's culture with latrine comments. A poor display of journalism showmanship, I have to say. If anything, it proves the farcity of the whole article and the disdain the writer had for the visited country. It also show up the lack of respect for other nations; people like her tend to look down on countries less developed than Malaysia and suck up to countries more developed than Malaysia, not treating humanity with an equal share of dignity. As a writer, she should be trusted to give a well-rounded view of a country especially as it has been in the news lately. Instead, perhaps, in hoping that a scathing report will be accepted better by the government, she merely wrote what she thought her wage-payers wanted her to hear. Her journalism may not have been deplorable but personally, her integrity was. I have every intention of writing back... as soon as my blood cools down a little. No use firing bullets at the wrong person.

Monday, September 10, 2007

R is for resentment

One of the biggest relationship killers is resentment. There are lots of things we can resent in the other party. We can resent what they have; the better car, enjoying their work or studies more, having better social skills and better organisational abilities. We can resent them not fulfilling what we think are their responsibilities; calling, being punctual, not embarrassing us. We can even resent them for just being there. Sometimes resentment is worse than hate. When you hate someone, you have resolved to think the worst of that person and the hate somehow, feels right, even though you know hate in itself is wrong. Resentment eats away slowly and there is usually nothing one can do about it firstly, because you don't hate the person (often there is nothing wrong with your relationship with the person at all), you just resent everything about the person. Everything from their smell to the sound of their voice to where they sit, how they sit and what they say, annoys you. Their laugh is too loud, their reaction to a joke too slow, their mannerism too coarse, their stature too lowly.

Resentment is not just a big killer, it is a slow killer. I'll give you a hypothetical situation. Whilst she is being eaten up inside by his 'magnified failures,' he has not a clue that she is feeling this way. All he knows is that she has become more quiet lately, answers in monosyllabic sentences and is not particularly keen on spending time together. Being female, he assumes she is just going through one of her phases and all pro-feminism books tell him to leave her alone until she decides when she will come out of her personal doldrums. So, whilst she is miserable in thinking that she got stuck with the bottom of the pail, he starts retreating into his own to a point where the relationship 'naturally' dies. by the way, I only used he and she to illustrate a point; resentment can be between same gender friends as well.

From experience, the only way to combat resentment is to pray very hard. Resentment does not happen because the person wronged you or because they did something wrong to anyone else. Resentment usually comes unannounced and stays forever (like an unwelcome relative haha; no personal experience in that field) and one wonders where the resentment has come from. But this much I know, resentment steals, resentment rots; resentment kills an otherwise flourishing friendship with a single blow. A harsh word which erupts unexpectedly is usually not as unexpected as made out. The 'slow-boil' effect that characterises most, if not all battered women syndrome cases, plays out the same in a relationship where resentment is not harnessed.

However, from time to time, a bit of resentment does make one consider why one is in a relationship with the other person, whether friend, family, lover or comrade. Resentment is bitter in taste and although at first, when resentment hits, all you will taste is its bitter sting, if you don't let it fester, pray and think of all the good things the other person has done for you or good characteristics they have, as cliche as it sounds, the bitterness will fade and in its place, a more mature relationship can take root. Maybe that is why relationship therapists always tell their clients to remember their wedding day and all the fun times they had before the double mortgage, 5 children and 16 dogs to worry about.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fine cuisine

I need someone who can cook. Or maybe I could just go to a fine restaurant, the only disadvantaged being, I cannot go in my pyjamas, slip comfortably into furry slippers and warm my hands with a reassuring mug of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows floating on top and perhaps, a dash of cinnamon; hot chocolate in a restaurant? How uncouth. I was going to say that I will not be able to relax cross-legged on my chair but on second thought, I have already done that, much to the chagrin of the ever attentive maitre'd and my lunch/dinner companion. I have lots of guy friends who can cook but some truly excel in the kitchen, something I happily tout to any girl whose favour he might want to elicit. S made a Lancashite hot pot for me on my birthday, P has cooked a Gordon Ramsay recipe to perfection, JJ's speciality is curry and JW's culinary skills make a simple brocolli and chicken pasta gut-wrenching and mouth-watering. I really can't help but smile until my cheeks are stretched beyond limit when remembering the smell of pasta cheesebake wafting through the air when my ex housemate cooked it. Oh cheese. With crackers. A must. Remy was not wrong (in the brilliant cartoon Ratatouille) when he said that different flavours together create a symphony of music incapable of being heard by the keenest ear. Or he said something to that effect...

Mmmmmmmm.... my brain is filled with Gouda on crackers and Feta in cous cous (with spinach and sun dried tomatoes; classic recipe, cannot go wrong), Riccotta on thin crusted pizza, apricot Stilton, cranberry Wensleydale, Mascarpone with everything dessert-like, deep fried Camembert with rocket, deep fried Brie, Mozarella with garlic and herb dressing, melted Chedder with anything, stir fried Halloumi with leeks, Boursin on portebello mushrooms (I want big, fluffy, juicy mushrooms now!!!!!), Gorgonzolla with walnuts, stuffed in chicken breast and poached then grilled... In fact, my saliva ducts have been reactivated since the start of this blog entry.

Argh! Who said good food only existed in restaurants??!! If only I can find some Boursin.. Boursin... mmmmmm... pickled olives with cubes of Feta and slices of salami.... oh cry cry cry.....

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The R word

I will not be talking about rabies or rabbits or rabies-infected rabbits today. Instead, I will be talking about another R word that everyone talks about and no one wants to admit they know absolutely nothing about (not when it comes down to the crunch anyway). I think it is about time I poke this R word hard in the chest, taunting him, well, not quite taunting, but challenging perhaps, to give me his best shot. Instead of mincing around the bush, I am going to stare this creature down in the face and study his anatomy. Even then, I will only be able at best, to study his anatomy subject to what I myself possess. What is this R word? Relationships.

Because this will prove a long and tedious if not more interesting subject, it being of universal allure, I will restrain myself from a stream of consciousness few understand and many suffer from (as much as they do not want to admit it) and divide this important yet often misunderstood topic into several sections which will span several posts, which may or may not necessarily follow directly one after the other. I would also like to point out that most of my thought process in light of this subject is based on 2 books written by C.S Lewis; The Great Divorce and The Four Loves. So I start...

I know A. He thinks that he is an archetypal Jughead Jones; he loves food, eats a lot, has a dog... and hates girls. It is indeed strange for someone to say that they hate generically and with absolution, all members of the opposite sex. Or is it? Love-hate relationships are not hard to come by. However, love-hates usually spring from first a love which, regardless of considerable affection, attention and time spent, was either not reciprocated or went sour. The most vicious hate can only stem from the loss of a most precious love. Love in itself is nothing to be ashamed of. But when we give love a place in life not rightfully his, when we force it, either by feeding or feeding on it, to take precedence over the more honourable, we actually debase it, reducing it, in other words, to a position as low as it was as high. For instance, if love were to be given a station 50 meters above sea level, debasing it would cause it to fall not just 50 meters, but 50 meters below sea level.

We sometimes shake Love in God's face demanding that He do this and that for us because He said He loves us. Because He promised to love us and does not God hold firm to His promises? We try to find loopholes in God's sovereignty, grace and Love by pointing out the evils of this world, the natural disasters that rock our planet and the ills that ravage our bodies yet we do not stop to think what Love is to God or where Love is with regards to God. I am sometimes angered by people who shout at God (instead of to Him), instructing Him on how to show His love to them. The arrogance of insisting God prove Himself is what happens when we put love and God in the same equation but in the wrong order. God equals Love; God is all-Loving, but love does NOT equal God; the love I have for my horses cannot compare with God's character neither can it measure up to the extent of Love God has for me. In fact, it measures up poorly and is an appalling indicator of God-love. If God had no Love in Him, He would still be God but we would not have Love either because He created it and it existed first through Him. It is a human emotion to respond to love because we were created to relate and one of those relational type tools that God created was Love. However, when given priority over God, the once soothing, love-balm becomes a different sort of balm; one that mummifies the dead and attempts to make the dead appear alive. When love has been twisted so vehemently as such that no light can escape, it becomes dark and though it appears 'alive,' is actually dead.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Herder and herded

In the midst of thinking of living the nomad's life in some far-a-way land in the not too distant future, I was offered an attachment to the only Law firm I applied to. It was the only Law firm I applied to firstly, because it had links with a major firm in the UK and secondly because I didn't think it was worth applying to anything before my CLP results came out. Even my chancing upon it was by... well, chance. A friend who happened to work there mentioned that I should apply and I did, not really assuming I would actually get offered a place; I was still dreaming of how many camels I could afford to own.

I mentioned a few months ago that becoming a lawyer would require more faith on my part than becoming a missionary and that still holds true. I don't know if my trip to Mongolia was simply a taste of mission work God allowed me to have, all the while preparing me for work in the legal sector or whether this attachment is a taste of what being a lawyer is like, whilst prepping me for mission work. Maybe it is a bit of both, maybe it is neither nor. Regardless, I will probably have more say in what I wear in the wide open spaces of the steppe than in the pews of a court.

Whatever happens, I am glad for both experiences. Next up, skydiving in New Zealand or walking across the crater of some sleeping volcano...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Exceptional excerpt

As I ponder Heaven and horses and wonder if the two loves can live side by side, I chance upon a passage, written by a master storyteller who himself is owned by the Master Storyteller, which provides an excerpt of which is too beautiful to let by without sharing it with you.

For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialised while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man - an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with a mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.

The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse's neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other's nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse's back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, than nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I knew well what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.

--C.S Lewis (The Great Divorce)

Monday, September 03, 2007

The road to Bayankhongor (VI)

Starting to get desert-like...



The type of horse I want to own; a Paint. This Paint looks like a Tobiano...


That peak in the distance is the one I went up on horseback.


A common sight; the string is funnily enough, not a washing line.



Fossil, carcass, dry bones.


Even in the desert, there is reason to smile if you can find reason enough.


Ger camp where we stopped for the night. The journey from UB to BH took us 2 days.


A typical outdoor toilet. Nothing but a 'never ending' hole to greet you. Woe betide anyone unlucky enough to fall into it and there have been a fair few.

Terelj (V)

I think the boy is about 3 years old. Most, if not all Mongolian children are very tan with pink cheeks. Whether the pinkness is rosy-cheeked health or sunburn is up for discussion but I will tend to the latter.



This is a REAL ger. Note the criss-cross wood beneath the waterproof layer of felt and hide. The wood is held together with knotted rawhide. The black stick poking out from the top is a removable chimney which is taken down when it rains. As you can see, the structure is built on flat ground so when it rains, it floods.


A yak! A yak!



A lone herder looking after his goats.

This altar type structure can be found almost anywhere. I don't know whether there is a particular god they offer up their sacrifices to but there is no fixed purpose for building the altar.



Eternal proof that I rode a camel before hitting 25. Bactrian camels have 2 humps. Dromedaries have one. For such a big animal, it has a relatively shrill and squeeky voice...



Eagles; used during hunts for small mammals in West Mongolia.

Chanman Tor (IV)

What would your mum do if she woke up to find cows in her front yard?


The inside of a tourist ger. Emphasis tourist which basically means it caters for very tall people, is spacious, has decent flooring and does not smell of camel.


The long road to other adventures. The guide and I raced along this road for a while after reurning from our far-away mountain run. You can see the mountains in the distance.


A herder looking for his lost cattle and driving them home.


Archery in the afternoon. Spencer said I was the best girl archer he'd ever seen :D But I modestly assume he has not seen many girl archers.

To build a tourist ger (permanent), a brick 'frame' is used instead of criss-cross wooden stakes. This insulates the ger better.


The covering of the ger is also 'fake' ie plastic and canvas instead of the 'real' stuff. It is also built on a raised stone foundation to avoid flooding and tourist garments being strewn across the countryside.



A typical Mongolian countryside (with fake gers).