You are welcome, most noble Sorceress, to the land of the Munchkins. We are so grateful to you for having killed the Wicked Witch of the East, and for setting our people free from bondage. ~ L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

so this is how strong the wind was: i felt lift. i kid you not. the comes a point when everyone on the streets just had to close their umbrellas walaupun ada sikit lagi hujan, and redah je whatever drizzle was left because the wind was so strong, if you insist on trying to resist the weather, you can and you will do a dorothy. oh, unless, some of them tell me, you have one of those revolutionary senz umbrellas which has this aerodynamic design to withstand wind. the downside is that the shape of the payung is weird and ugly. so pilih la. nak basah or nak nampak kelakar.

but back to my near flight experience. ya’ll know that i carry a sling back right. and even that was already getting airborne. my jacket felt like what a balloon must feel like when being filled with angin. thankfully, my cultural education has grown enough to tell me that i should not wear my hair down on days when the sky looks threatening. rambut dah panjang, by the way, but i really don’t know about these european hair dressers. lagipun, my hair has sorta changed since getting here. at home, my hair is wavy. kat sini, i have straight hair. something about the humidity and the water. so kena tukar jenis shampoo.

and i was scared. because i am much smaller size than the europeans here, and clearly nak biaca dengan cuaca here an such strong winds, that the thought of actually flying away not only crossed, but danced in my head. i feel like i should be holding on to a tiang of something. just in case. just in case kalau kalau i actually terbang.

i got back to my apartment and closed off the wind that continued to throw raindrops against my windows.

and this is as the continent approaches summer. summer. no belum musim luruh or winter lagi.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. ~Rabindranath Tagore

ramadhan. in malaysia, we fast for about 13 hours. in the netherlands, we fast for just over 19 hours.

it is not easy.

by the 16th hour, i was seeing stars.

it becomes no longer a question of hunger. my stomach has given up rumbling by then. dehydration kicks in and the loudest proponent is the head. like i said, stars. i lie down, my feet elevated, attempting to get enough blood flow to my brain to maintain proper command over the rest of the body. stars. i have to turn off the game – ned was playing mex in the knock off game. it was half time and neither has scored. it wasn’t that interesting of a game anyway. i have to turn off all sources of sound. i have to turn off all sources of light – it was bright and sunny outside as we approach summer. i pull an eye mask over my face, bury the rest of my head under my pillow and attempt to extinguish the stars. oh the stars.

the worse was yet to come.

ten minutes to break of the fast. i have prepared lovely chicken and potato curry. vegetable soup. brown rice. agar-agar with nectarines and bananas and lemon juice. i was set. i had woken up slightly more level headed with anticipation of nutrients.

i break fast with water. it rushes through me, and immediately makes me feel sick. i eat a banana, and four spoons of rice and suddenly, my world felt like it was crashing down. everything that went in wanted to come right back out. the more i attempt to put down, the greater the push to come back out.

masuk angin. blood rush to the stomach.

i give up on dinner. i drink more water. i force eat the agar-agar. the stars have formed a galaxy spinning through my entire universe. i turn everything off and go back to sleep.

i wake up two hours later. sahur.

i feel better. whatever little i took in had sufficiently revitalised my system, somewhat. i heat up the vegetable soup. i eat that with brown rice. i know i should eat more, but that queasy feeling was coming back. i try to pace small portions that is more managable. a bit of chocolate. sugar, i need sugar. water. more water.

today’s strategy will be trying to expel as much wind from my system as possible at the start of the break fast. i am thinking of ginger. and tea. i will see if i can find some after work. otherwise i will make my own. it is by true grace and wisdom of the almighty that compelled me to buy ginger at the market last weekend. i didn’t know what i was going to do with it, i just bought it and thought i will figure it out as the week goes by. and here it is. god had kindly put the solution in my fridge waiting for me to pick it up, to make sweet ginger tea with.

this kindness shall be what i will have on my mind when the stars come floating in this evening.

Jagao Mere Des Ko – A.R Rahman, Suchi, Blaaze – Coke Studio @ MTV Season 3

Based on original Bengali lyrics
WHERE THE MIND IS WITHOUT FEAR
by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual. ~ Albert Einstein

why am i getting sensitised or desensitised or actually, i think i got it right the first time… sensitised to all this concrete suddenly?

if i were to take a step back, i think it could be a combination. the clear fact that i find myself most of the time in europe these days and things are different there. not better. different. of course, i have to take account that things are far more developed there and the so-called maturity of the people have had more time to develop. it’s funny, you know, i was talking to this audience not too long ago about developed and developing countries, and how developed countries tell developing countries that they should control how they grow – they get angry about the amount of trees are felled, how much plantation land is opened, how much the developing countries consume energy, pollute water, emit carbon – and i am not saying that the consumption patterns of developing countries are on a very healthy trend – but there is something about how developed countries want to limit the growth of these countries that does not reflect very well on the balance of power that is on hand.

yes, i really don’t believe is uncontrolled growth. sustainability – god only knows how many times a day, i use that word. but it is true. unsustainable growth is a very bad idea. but telling other countries that you cannot achieve the wealth and prosperity that they have, is unfair. again, the word of the day is sustainability. and too few realise that it really means striking a balance. growth is necessary. but we can choose how to grow. the simplest way i can put it is this: we can make a lot of money here and now, or we can keep making money for years and years to come. you know what they say about easy come, easy go. that is exactly the point. we don’t want to be rich now and poor tomorrow. we want to be happy, here, now and always.

i tell people that i am trying to learn the best of both worlds. there are strengths and weaknesses in everyone, in every nation. people tell me that the grass is greener on the side, and this is not true. grass is not greener where we are either. in a round planet, the truth is, the grass is the same hue of green everywhere.

I’ve never known anyone who was what he or she seemed; or at least, was only what he or she seemed. People carry worlds within them. ~Neil Gaiman

you know what kind of malaysian experience i really miss? obviously, food. but not just any kind of dining experience. the truly malaysian ones.

i return for a short business visit and i find myself strangely but quite comfortably turned off by malls and those fancy designer food outlets. i do not, for the life of me, even want a smell of pastas and pizzas or any of those fusion wannabes. i can, of course, understand how some malaysians may view these experiences as quite a luxury. and i don’t blame them. i just don’t want to have those experiences. not at the moment, at least.

i am drawn towards the small, incredibly friendly, and questionably hygienic warungs and sidewalk ‘cafes’. i want the mixed rice, chap fan and the kind of tile-walled eating establishments that understand what “kuah campur” means.

i want to eat with either my hands or a pair of chopsticks.

i want to eat cendol, or rojak or yong tau foo on a plastic stool, under a tree, while watching very congested traffic.

i want the aunty running the cashier to be the same aunty who earlier supervised the boiling of the wonderful soup that i find my mihoon-mee in.

i want the rustic al fresco malaysian dining experiences. those that include rempit gangs hanging out at the parking ‘area’ which is incidentally everywhere possible. those that include ah bengs with monstrously pimped up sound and light show on wheels.

i want that brader who takes my order to come with a clipped stack of recycled paper to write my order on in short form (TOALKG = teh o air limau kurang gula) and offer me a laminated menu.

i want nasi lemak from the makcik who sells them out of plastic tupperwares on a foldable table early in the morning. she would be the same makcik who sell ubi keledek goreng and pisang goreng and cempedak goreng and cokodok in the evenings.

to me, and i must really underline the fact that this is a completely personal take in a completely personal blog, there is far more magic to the malaysian dining experience than just food. the fanciest burger joint, for example – since burger is all the craze right now – can never ever replace the kind of relationship that we have with the burger ramli. and not just any burger qualifies as a burger ramli. it has to be made by the road side. frequently in front of a 7-eleven. the tools of the trade is a cement scraper and a potato masher. the chefs are often an enterpreneurial bunch of boys who park their motorcycles nearby. instead of lettuce, there would be raw cabbage, dihiris halus-halus so that there is still a bit of crunch. the bitterness of the cabbage would be disguised by a flood of watered down chilli sauce and mayo. for a ringgit extra, you get a slice of cheese on it. if you tell them that you want it special, they will wrap an egg around the entire creation. soft buns buttered with margarine are toasted over the oils used to fry the cheap burger patties.

so yes, on this trip, please excuse my preference for the relatively local. i miss these things. i really do.