Pale in comparison

img_20140926_001352Amaretto Sour – TCRC, Tainan

There are things that I can’t forget and when compared to other similar things, they all pale in comparison.

My experiences in the last few weeks of 2014 and the first few weeks of 2015 has probably taught me more, and probably are things that I don’t want to remember. But the lessons that I have learned, stood out more (probably also the reason why I crave for a drink at 2pm).

Speaking of things that I cannot forget, the two cups of Amaretto Sour that I had in Tainan – the best that I have had so far. I probably spent half of my time in Tainan either thinking about drinks, or drinking.

I don’t even remember the conversations that I had in that bar, but I do remember the Amaretto Sour. Even after two months, I crave for it and long to return. At this point, I’m not sure if I miss the drink more or Tainan more. :p

The right amount of tanginess, sweetness and slight amount of sourness, the aromatic smell of almonds, the right amount of fuzz/foam on top, yum yums. The moment I drank it, I fell in love with Amaretto Sour again and again. All the other drinks that I have up until that point, pales in comparison. The Apple pie shots, Jameson, El Dorado, Long island Iced Teas, Patron, Hendrick’s, all went to the back of my mind. All that mattered was that Amaretto Sour.

That Amaretto Sour is still on my mind. I really need to find its equivalent in KL. I know in the back of my mind even if I do find an equivalent of it, it’ll probably still be pale in comparison because what I’m truly looking for will only exist that one time, that first time I tasted it in TCRC.

Phase 3

I decided I needed to do something by myself. So after I left Boston, I traveled to Cambodia by myself for about two weeks.

It was.. liberating and I experienced some sort of calm that I never felt before. I didn’t worry about job applications; I didn’t worry about the weather, or bundling up; I didn’t worry about my car breaking down; I didn’t worry about anything.


Link to Flickr Album:

Book Review – Anathem by Neal Stephenson

It’s very rare for me to like a science fiction book. 

It is a very long book. It took me two weeks of 2-hour reading sessions every other day. 

The book starts in a world where intellectual people are “collected” to live in monastic communities. The story evolves around a young fraa named Erasmas. Throughout the book, there’s a good amount of discussion on quantum mechanic theories, and philosophical debates.

If you like to exercise your brain cells, this book will make sure you get a good amount of it just by trying to keep up with the events.

I like the book with the physics, the adventure, the mix of appreciation for traditions and creation of new technology. There was a tad bit of confusion when I came across words like ‘saunt’, ‘voco’, and ‘extramuros’. The glossary at the back of the book does come in handy. 

My next book will be Neal Stephenson’s breakthrough – Snow Crash.  

Winter Classics!

People were told to wait outside the Maintenance Shop on Friday night. The Maintenance Shop, known for its lively music scene, reached its maximum capacity for the night. Ames local bands like Peace, Love and Stuff, Mumford’s, Trouble Lights and Nuclear Rodeo brought together music lovers.

Local artists show off their talents with self-composed songs and a few covers. The concert not only attracted college students, but also the young high school students and the old. Ames local music scene has grown. Local artists support each other. More local bands and performers are introduced at this concert. The night also included a short performance by Phoenix L’Amour, a burlesque dancer.

The spirit of Ames music is stronger than ever!

The Things about Murakami, Part III

I finished 1Q84 two weeks ago. I wanted to write something about the book, but holiday season was around the corner, so I took some time off, not wanting to think about books. Boy, it’s hard. Instead of writing what I think about 1Q84, I dove right into “Kafka on the Shore”. I’m nearing the end of this book at the moment.

1Q84’s ending was kind of unexpected of Murakami. Like I said, Murakami writes the book in the view of two different people (or sometimes world), and it will all come together somehow. Unlike his other books that leave you hanging with an uncertain ending, 1Q84 has a happy ending that makes you feel really relieved, but at the same time, it reminded me of many other novels that I’ve read. You know it’s the ending, and you’re happy with it, but then you cannot help but wonder what’s next. It almost makes it kind of normal, not his usual style.

I’ve come to see some similarities in his style of writing with Russian writers. Of course, everyone knows that Murakami is greatly influenced by Russian literature and classical music. But I’ve never been able to finish any classic Russian literature, I always get stuck. They tend to go into minute details and pages long. Murakami does the same thing, even though it’s detailed, but it’s short at the same time. He’s a master of bringing you in and knowing where to stop so it doesn’t drag on.

I’ve read 1Q84 during different times of the day. Sometimes at night, I turn off the light in my room, and pull out my Kindle light. I start reading, and not too long after, I have to turn back on the lights in my room. I feel the chill, the darkness, the emptiness in his books. He brings out the fear in me with this words. Truly brilliant.

Like every other Murakami’s books, I’ll be rereading 1Q84 sometime in the near future, I’m sure.

Let’s talk about “Kafka on the Shore”, shall we?

I’ve read this book five years ago, when I didn’t fully understand the meaning of life. Not that I do now, but I feel like I can relate to this book better now.

There are certain things that make me feel almost ‘normal’ when I read his book. Normal, not in the sense of being like everyone else, but in the sense of realizing someone is feeling the same feelings that I do or did.

Love is one of the subjects touched, I do not think that it’s the main themes of the book. Like in reality, it’s a part of life, and shows how much Kafka grows and ponders the questions that I did for months.

Crow exists in me as well, though I wouldn’t call my subconscious Crow. But everyone has that rational voice, sometimes it can be depressing, sometimes it can be optimistic, and sometimes it just likes to contradict with you. I envy Kafka. Crow seems to be a guidance. If only my subconscious knows what to do with my life.

And like 1Q84, I had to turn my lights on to read this book. The darkness in the forests scare me. I hear sounds too, but Murakami’s words bring them to life in my crazy mind.

The Things about Haruki Murakami, Part II

Yes, I have a thing for Haruki Murakami. His books are my paradise when I don’t have a beach next to my house and Long Islands to sip on.

I finished reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World two weeks ago. I bought 1Q84 the moment I woke up on Tuesday, the day it was released. Sad to say, Work, this terrible flu, and babysitting has kept me occupied. And not being able to stay up later than 10p.m. is kind of a bummer.

Two worlds, that ultimately come together in the end, has been kind of the theme that I see in Murakami’s books. Sometimes, it’s less obvious, like in Kafka on the Shore. There’s the world of the crow, and the ‘real’ world.

When I read his books, there are things that I can relate too. The incoherent mental voices and my life. I feel like I have two worlds – a world that I want to be in, and the world that I’m in. And then I hope the endings are like his books, where both of them merge into one, or are actually one.

And now, to continue working on a Sunday night. Monday Blues is already on me. I need some chocolate, cheesecake and hummus to cure it.

The thing about Haruki Murakami

The thing about Haruki Murakami, you can’t stop living in his words.

Words and worlds are two different entities. You live in a world, but you don’t live in a world of words. You enjoy the words, you feel them, you can almost touch them, but you can’t. Because it’s words, not a world of words. It is intangible.

I spent the last couple of months drifting back and forth among various writers like Murakami, Faulkner, Sartre, Wilde, and Tolstoy. To be frank, I find Murakami to be the most enjoyable.

His choice of words, his first-person point of view, his rants that brings in you, as a reader into the book, and asking questions as if expecting you to answer it, never cease to amaze me. What brings me deep into his books is his way of changing the subject abruptly. The way how only the last two paragraphs relates to the title of the story. Everything else is his rant. And only the last two paragraphs brings you what is going on in the ‘real’ world.

There’s never a straight answer in his books. It always starts of with a mysterious, almost super natural event or person. But the origins of that super natural event or person is rarely explained. It kept me wondering, it kept me reading.

There are so many minute details of the main characters in his books, but their backgrounds or histories are almost never mentioned.

It’s like how relationships start. You jump right in into a person’s life suddenly, never got to know the exact details of his background or history. And you keep wanting to know more, you keep on going, you keep on turning the pages.

Malaysian Muslim community gathers to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr

Siti Sabtu-Schaper, ISU administrative specialist, greets Siti Noridah Ali, graduate in curriculum and instruction, during the Eid ul-Fitr celebration Saturday, Sept. 11 at SUV Community Center.

By Karuna Ang,

The month of Ramadhan ended Thursday, Sept. 9, and it marks the beginning for Eid ul-Fitr, which goes on for three days. Two days later, the Malaysian Muslim community gathered at the SUV Community Center to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr. People from Iowa City, Des Moines, Polk City and other different parts came to Ames for the celebration.

Nurhidayah Azmy dressed her daughter, Nur Fatimah Ahmad, in new clothes and new shoes Saturday morning. The Malaysian Muslims wore the traditional Malay outfits for the celebration. The traditional Malay outfits are usually colorful and have a lot of details in it. They are also usually worn during religious occasions.

Usually before meals, events or celebrations begin, it is a traditional thing for them to pray. Known as “doa” in Malay, they ask for blessings from God. All sorts of traditional Malay food like rendang ayam — a spiced dish using blue ginger, ginger, garlic, cili and lemon grass — were served. A lot of Malaysians enjoyed the taste of authentic Malaysian food.

It was also a time for people to catch up with each other. When they see each other, they greet each other with a hug or a light handshake.

Traditionally, men and women do not shake hands with each other. A Malay man greets another man with a light handshake using their right hand that’s more like a light clasp. They will then bring their hands toward the heart, meaning “I greet you from my heart.”

View gallery here.

Sopot, Poland

A young boy watches as people walk by while enjoying his lunch at a pizza shop outdoors in Sopot.

As I board on the plane and leave for Sopot, Poland, I was excited and scared. Excited, because I was about to spend a month in Europe. Scared, because I had no experience in Polish nor the culture in Poland.

I arrived in Sopot, seven hours later than planned. Through pure luck, I managed to find my ride to the hotel that I was staying. I walked about the streets to get to Spatif – a bar, for a opening party of a photo exhibition. I took the route near the Baltic Sea, it was quiet, left for some joggers who enjoyed the cool evening breeze.

The streets of Sopot were lively. Filled with people walking their dogs, young people out early for a drink or two, locals finishing up their meals at the outdoor patios, and people enjoying their cigarettes while striking up conversation with another stranger.

As the week went on, I spent more time exploring the cafes and grocery stores. Each cafe is unique in its own way. Tucked in one corner of the street was a rather modern cafe, with natural light coming in from the huge windows. A lively and what seems to me to be pop music, played in the background. Espresso is different in Europe. I got a tiny cup of espresso with a thick layer of foam on top of it. That, was true Espresso. With it, came a piece of chocolate and a glass of water. I observed the locals sitting next to me for a bit, and like a little child, I followed what they did. I drank my Espresso and then I ate my piece of chocolate.

I was introduced to this cozy, warm-looking cafe hidden in a little valley near the Post Office. It wasn’t obvious to me that it was a cafe. There wasn’t any sign of it being a cafe. I headed in and was delightfully surprised by this little cafe. It was dark, with minimal lighting in one part of the cafe. The furniture in the cafe seems to me to be a mismatched collection. Hidden in one corder was two different colored sofas and mismatching pillows. My friends and I ventured into the other half of the cafe. We sat near the huge window. I was truly enjoying the artsy atmosphere in GdaĹ„sk.

Every turn I took I would hear live music coming from street performers. Everywhere I looked, I could find either a modern looking cafe, or an old cafe stuffed with vintage furnitures, bookshelves, and mismatching coffee cups. With the little Polish that I know, I managed to get smiles from the waitresses or cashiers. People were friendly. And even though I felt like I was the only Asian in town, I felt at home immediately.

View gallery of Poland here.