Archive for April, 2010


Very belated post, but better late than never!

After my lunch at Macs on 29 March, I went to the Spring Kyushu Fair held at the atrium in the same shopping centre. The fair consisted of stalls selling mainly food products from Kyushu. It was pretty crowded with people and the narrow passages between the stalls did not help. Quite a madhouse!

Went around looking at the stuff on sale. Passed the okonomiyaki stall and watched the chef, an older grey-haired Japanese man, cook. Suddenly I noticed that the his nametag said ‘中山好美’, which piqued my interest greatly, because I could figure out his surname was read (Nakayama) but not his given name. A young woman helping him had ‘中山あすき’ written on her name tag, so I assumed that she was most likely his daughter.

Meanwhile I smsed P to tell her about 中山好美 and his unusual name, and she did not know how it was pronounced either, so she told me to go ask him how it was read.  I was like !!!  But curiosity got the better of me, so I returned to the stall to ask, but he had disappeared.  Another young woman whose nametag said ‘中山汐莉’ (Shiori, P proposed, after I mentioned that her nametag said her name started with S) had appeared. Probably another daughter?

Made a few more rounds around the place and noted Japanese uncles (some younger, some older) with interesting surnames like 諸冨 (Morotomi! went P) and 别府 (Beppu; personally I find this one very amusing – I was thinking if you had this surname written above your main door, no matter where you lived you’d live somewhere else!) before walking back to the okonomiyaki stall to see if 中山さんhad returned, but he hadn’t. And the place was getting pretty chaotic, so off I went to school.

After school, decided to try my luck again and went back to the okonomiyaki stall and yes! 中山さん was there, cooking! I took a deep breath and asked him, ‘Excuse me, can I ask you something? What is your name?’ He looked at me, with an extremely long and black face, and gestured to his daughter (can’t remember exactly whether it was あすき or 汐莉, but I think it was probably the latter). So his daughter looked at me, so I said, ‘Can you speak English?’ She put her thumb and index finger together and said ‘a bit’.

What followed was 鸡同鸭讲 conversation. I posed my question again, ‘What is your father’s name?’ She didn’t understand father nor name, so I repeated the question more slowly but she couldn’t get it. Finally I told her that I can read her father’s (kinda gestured at him) name in Chinese, Hao Mei. Apparently someone else must have told her about it, for she repeated Hao Mei very nicely, and finally realized my question. And she replied, ‘Yoshimi.’

Haha yay! I got my answer! Communication 101: effective communication does not always require fluency of language!!!

So I thanked her, and as I left I noticed 中山さん bend his head down to ask his daughter something – probably what I had asked her.

Then I smsed P the good news, who then declared that she would ‘have her son’s name contain mei also’, and then sent me a list of possible names: ‘Masumi, masami, takumi, tatsumi, harumi,…’ ;)

Actually I suppose the fair is a good place to study language contact, given that there are Singaporean aunties working with Japanese uncles, who may have limited or no knowledge of English or even the Chinese dialects (yes,  including Mandarin!). But that is, of course, only if you can even hear them speak over the massive din!


a puff of progesterone

First exam, Reproductive Health, this afternoon.

Closed book. 40 MCQs and 4 short-answer questions. While shading in the circles on the optical answer sheet, I realized it provided spaces for 250 questions. What kind of exam has that many questions?!

This guy, sitting diagonally left in front of me, came about half an hour after the exam started. And people started leaving after the first hour. Noticed the prof marking some of the scripts that had been handed in. But since my next exam was a week away, and it was raining heavily, I decided to take my time. By the time the exam ended there were like only six people left.

The exam wasn’t that difficult, but some questions were very odd like what do you think is the best measurement of fertility? Who cares? :P

Anyway I think I’ve a couple of mistakes, sigh, but I shall not dwell upon them, lest I should end up disappearing in a puff of progesterone!

And with that, it’s one exam over and one more to go!!!

excited about the exams

I am neither sad nor happy, but excited about the impending exams.

After all, when you can’t beat them, join them! :D

back to nature

After the pre-grad party last Friday, I hung around a bit in school cos it was raining heavily, before bussing (traffic jam!) and MRTing down to Tangs in Orchard.

The event, Back to Nature, was supposed to start at 7 pm, but I reached Tangs only at 7.30 pm. When I got to the area where event was being held, I was amazed to see a queue in front of the entrance, and there were already tons of people inside!

Continue reading ‘back to nature’

feathers from a thousand li

The cakes I baked last week were for my profs. Gave them out during the pre-graduation party.

First stop was 阳介さん’s office. I had something more special for him cos he was my ISM supe after all. I’d made him a fruitcake (did you guess correctly? ;) ), without the usual liqueur, as I asked him previously and he told me he and his wife do not eat food with alcohol added.

Upon entering his office I realized his hair was much shorter than before!

Me: You cut your hair!
阳介さん: Yes my wife did it.
Me: Whyyy!
阳介さん: I cannot afford to have my hair cut!

And then went to visit other profs.  Cheesecake cupcakes for everyone else! But only those who were in were lucky enough to taste my baking! :)

Me: Since you are the first, you can pick any one. Sorry these cakes are a little ugly.
Prof A: (cheerily) No they look very nice!

Later we caught P Tan and V Ooi in the corridor chatting.

Me: These cakes are not sweet at all, good for older people!
Tan: Oh then I don’t think I’ll want any! (laughs) (But he still took one anyway! ;) )
Ooi: Oh I’ll take one, since I’m older than you. (Haha!)

Waited for Bao to finish chatting with the conference head (some angmoh academic) before going up to him for photos.

Me: These cakes are not sweet at all, good for older people!
Bao: I’ll be fat tomorrow!

NB The title of this entry is adapted from the title of Part I of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Feathers from a Thousand Li Away. Astute (lol) readers will have undoubtedly guessed (correctly) that this title is a direct translation of the 成语 ‘千里鹅毛’. :)


At this point, don’t ask me whether I’m happy or sad. I can never pick only one; life rarely is a zero-sum game anyway.

When I submitted my ISM, which was the last deadline I had to meet this sem, I felt great relief, and of course a little euphoria. But I don’t really think it was happiness. Then after that I felt an emptiness, but that wasn’t sadness at all.

It’s amazing that if anyone asks me if I’ve found a job, I’m able to answer in the affirmative.  Maybe what I’m feeling now is just excitement at what the next couple of months are going to bring!

And of course, before that, there are the final exams. Honestly, I’m rather looking forward to that!  I will be there to meet them when they come.  :D

last day

Official last day of school last Friday. All my lessons had already ended last week so I went to school just for……

photo credit: Carmen

Continue reading ‘last day’

mugging week begins

Sms convo between P and I yesterday evening:

Me: I don’t feel like studying
P: Mugging is so relaxing compared [to] the papers la.
Me: Not mugging is more relaxing compared to mugging!
P: Hehehe:)

legal tender

Today, my brother turns 18!

Happy birthday little brother!!!

It seems only yesterday that the parents brought you home from the hospital and you were a bawling, wrinkled little thing! Now you’re much taller than me! Study hard for your final finals!!! :)

three quarters

Last day of school!

And happy 22 3/4th birthday to me!!! :D

cheesecake cupcakes

Since most of the brownies had been given away, made cheesecake cupcakes this afternoon, using this recipe.

Essential ingredients, clockwise from left: eggs (separated into yolks and whites), milk, lemon (need the juice), cornflour (replaced cornstarch with this) and cream cheese (yes that’s the tube-y thing).

My favourite part is usually beating the egg whites until they’re all thick and fluffy and form soft peaks!

Then fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.

Pour into cupcake cases and pop them into the oven!

mixed fruit

Returned to the kitchen after dinner today.

Essential ingredients, from top left clockwise:  a mixture of preserved fruit, eggs, flour, glace cherries and butter slightly creamed with sugar.

After creaming the butter and sugar until the mixture was pale, I added the flour and eggs, and also a little lemon juice and a dash of mixed spice.

Then add in the mixed fruit and the mixture well, before pouring it into a lined and oiled tin and popping it into the oven.

Guess what I baked? ;)

linguistic malfunctions

KN telling me to go find her and P in the science canteen so that they could eat my brownies:

KN: We are at the lock chairs – do you know where they are?
Me: *thinking* Lock chairs? What locked chairs?!

When I got there I realized she meant log chairs – the chairs and tables are made of logs.

Me: KN your voiced and unvoiced sounds got problem!

The [k] and [g] sounds are both velar plosives and their only difference is that [g] is voiced and [k] is not. Basically it means that these two sounds are made in almost the same way, except when one produces [g], your vocal cords will vibrate but this does not happen when you produce [k].

On my brownies:

KN: These drownies……

She wanted to say dry brownies actually.P and I agreed that this was an example of clipping and compounding. However, on further reflection, I suppose that since it was a genuine mistake, it could be considered a spoonerism. If I recall Psycholinguistics class correctly, spoonerisms are evidence that different parts of words are stored in different parts of the brain, and sometimes the brain makes errors when retrieving these parts and then putting them together.

At the travel agency filling out forms:

KN: Pam!
P: *hands her a pen*
Me: Haha KN your nasal sounds also got problem!

[m] and [n] are both nasal sounds! This means that they are produced when the velum in one’s mouth is lowered, allowing air to escape through the nose. Although the two sounds have the same manner of articulation, they have different places of articulation.

HAHA yes dear KN this is enough evidence that you need to sleep early!!!

leisurely tuesday

Went to down to Kampong Glam this afternoon.

Had nasi ayam penyet and iced lime juice at Esah Abdullah (62 Bussorah Street) – the last time I ate there was about 9 months ago. The chicken was delicious, but the iced lime juice is really the best I’ve ever drunk. Too bad about the numerous flies and two hands are not enough to swat them away.

Then there was a slight commotion nearby, and everyone turned their heads to see what was going on. Turned out that a class from Peiying Primary was touring the place. A Primary 3 or 4 class by the looks of it. The guide was trying to explain something but the kids were generally overwhelming him with their boisterousness. Then they walked off in the direction of the Sultan Mosque and all was still again.

After that, walked back to the fabric area. Passed by carpet shops and some of the proprietor uncles called me madam. Went straight to my favourite drapery, Gim Joo (90 Arab Street) – that place is a real treasure trove of cloths! Got a bit of coral gradient satin. Then went in and out of random draperies checking out more cloths before walking back to the MRT station.

Walked through Bugis Junction to get there. Passed by Tori Q and saw that it had a little sign that said  ‘Japanese satay’! I suppose if satay ever goes to Japan, their sign will say ‘Malay yakitori’!!! (Such is the arbitrariness of language!!!)

brownie points

Decided to make brownies for someone last night. Used this recipe but increased the amount by 2.5 times and modified the ingredients slightly.

The batter! Looks like a mess!

After it was done, I just left it in the oven to cool.

Gigantic brownie!

The next day, enlisted my dad’s help in cutting it. Unfortunately it was very crumbly and kept crumbling into pieces. The instructions said to cut into pieces and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. But it couldn’t even be cut properly! I suspect that I baked it a little too long so it was very dry and/or it became very brittle after it had cooled and all the vapour had escaped.

Was supposed to go to school just to meet KN and P to book grad trip accommodation, so I decided not to gift the brownies but give a few presentable pieces to the two of them.

We’d arranged to meet at the travel agency at 3 pm. I reached the place at 3.05 pm (applause please!). But nobody was there!!! Called KN who told me to go and find them ‘so we can eat the brownies’. SIGH. So off I went in search of them.

And yay KN and P thought that it was ‘nice’ and ‘very nice’!

My dad thought it was ‘nice but too dry’  and apparently my sister said it was ‘quite nice’.

I think it’s not too bad, but a little dry. Also all the milk and dark chocolate counters just melted away into the brownie, so there weren’t really any pockets of oozy chocolate in it . Not too bad for a first attempt lar, but I prefer moist-er brownies.

With a dusting of icing sugar……

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