Friday, 19 February 2010

What a Joke

My passport was due for renewal.

My father took C and I to the Imigration Department yesterday to get our passports renewed through this automated passport renewal kiosk. Once current passport and identification card were verified, personal details checked, payment made, a copy of the identification card, current passport, and a current photo are put into an envelope and put into a slot in the kiosk. A receipt is printed out, and the passport would be ready for collection, in 2-3 hours' time, or the following day.

Today, we arrived at the department close to noon, waited for one and a half hours before our turn, C caught sight of my passport, and she told me it wasn't my photo stuck onto the passport renewal form. Sure enough, I took one look at the new passport, and some girl's face was smiling back at me.

I've heard of names misspelt, date of births mixed up, but identities mixed up? This is a first for me. The staff members repeatedly asked me if I put the wrong photo into the envelope, if that person in the photo was me... that girl and I do not even share similar features other than we're both Chinese!

Eventually the staff gave me RM8 to get my photo taken downstairs, during which I discovered I was given RM4 less (trust the Imigration Department to botch up the simplest of things). I was told to wait for my name to be called once I handed over my photo, then I was told to go back after having lunch, because "they have to re-do the passport, it's not as simple as fixing the photo". The officer took my documents into the office, no sooner than 5 minutes later, he walked out of the office in a leisurely manner, presumably to have his lunch, too.

The cheek of these people.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Those who know me would know that I'm hopeless at keeping in touch. I rarely look up old friends when I'm back home.

This time, I'm very happily surprised by two friends, one I've known since secondary school, the other during my short stint at UNIMAS. It's good to catch up with them, it makes me realise how much we have changed over the years. New job, new boyfriend / girlfriend, new house...

Same old Suen Yee? Perhaps not, but some things never change...



I've been back in PJ for four days.

I've been busy stuffing my face with good food. My plan to maintain my weight, or even better, lose weight, is flushed down the hatch with each gulp of Sarsi. :P

My morning ritual is to check the classifieds for suitable job openings. I realise how difficult it is to apply for a job from across the oceanic divide. By the time I enquire about a job opening, half the population of Australia has beaten me to it. If I'm asked when I could go in for an interview, I regretfully reply that I'm not in situ... but how about in one and a half weeks' time? ... No?

On the morning I arrived home, C coerced me into tending the jungle of a garden (my father harbours grand dreams for the garden to bloom into his private Utopia; the only creatures calling the garden Utopia these days are bats and rats). We've given the garden a considerable make-over ever since, up-turned pots, half-tended patches of soil... but we're getting there. Really, we are.

Which reminds me, I bought some cut herbs, hopefully the cuttings can grow roots so that I can pot them. I have yet to go downstairs to check on the cuttings. Hopefully they're still alive in this sweltering heat. Fingers crossed.

Yes, I've been busy...


Saturday, 6 February 2010

Lemons and Life

I've been visiting Mr. and Mrs. C quite frequently for the last few months. I've known them since I started working at Campsie. They are the nicest people - warm and unassuming, who treat me as one of the family. :)

Last week Mrs. C took me to have a look at her backyard / garden. She had a lemon tree growing at one corner, and she was eager to pick some ripe lemons for me to take home. Goodness, they were the largest lemons I've seen, so heavy that I joked I could knock someone unconscious with them.

I'm trying to look for a dessert recipe which would do justice to these lemons; otherwise, my back-up plan would be to make a cold refreshing lemonade with them. :)

Much later, I found a recipe on Gourmet Traveller, lemon and pink grapefruit syrup cake with vanilla bean ice-cream which I would adapt to be lemon and orange syrup cake, since I have oranges on hand instead of pink grapefruit. :) I'm in the process of making them now, sans the ice-cream, too much for work since I don't have an ice-cream churner. I shall post up pictures once I have them done, hopefully. :)

It's amazing what wonders employment can do to my cooking and blogging productivity... I managed to finish baking the syrup cakes, take decent-ish photos (thanks to X for taking my camera, I have to rely on my 3.2 mega-pixel Sony Ericsson W890i), and post up the adapted recipe AND photos. I feel so accomplished...

Lemon and Orange Syrup Cake

140g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
150g caster sugar
Grated rinds of 1 lemon and 1 lime
3 eggs
290g self-raising flour, sieved
200mL milk

Lemon and orange syrup:
200g caster sugar
150mL lemon juice
Rinds of 1 lemon and 1/2 an orange, thinly removed using vegetable peeler


1. For the lemon and orange syrup, slice lemon and orange rinds into thin strips. Blanch rinds in boiling water, drain, then combine with other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until rind strips are translucent (about 1-2 minutes). Cool.

2. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celcius, fan-forced. Beat butter, sugar, and lemon and lime rinds until mixture is pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, then add milk, fold in flour gradually until well-combined. Divide among 8 1-cup capacity dariole moulds (fill up to 2/3 full). Bake until golden and centre springs back when lightly pressed (25-30 minutes). Cool for 10 minutes in moulds, then turn onto wire rack placed over a tray. Using a skewer, pierce several holes in tops of cakes. Drizzle with syrup while still warm, decorate with strips of rinds, and serve immediately with vanilla ice-cream.

The cake on its own is quite light and fluffy, not too sweet, with a hint of lemon. I would have preferred the lemon flavour to be a bit more pronounced, perhaps the problem was that most of the grated rind was stuck onto the grater... it's time to invest in a good-quality microplane, eh? :P

I haven't tried the finished cake yet, was too busy writing up this entry instead. The cakes would be our breakfast tomorrow. ;) If they're good, I might give some to Mr. and Mrs. C. We shall see...

Much much later:

I have to say that the cakes were very nice! Moist and not too sweet, with a very lemony kick from the lemon orange syrup.... mmm...



Congratulations to J with her second addition to her family... she commented on Facebook how she enjoys being a mother...

I wonder if I would feel the same way...

I was watching a Chinese film called "Sunflower" on SBS last night, revolving around a couple with their only son. At one stage, the son commented that he was not ready to become a father, upon knowing that his partner was expecting, and asked his partner to have an abortion. He reflected that becoming a parent is a heavy responsibility, and he would not bring a child into the world without knowing that he would be ready for the responsibility.

I wonder when one would be ready to take on such a responsibility... is it a learned response, or is it something innate?

I sometimes wonder at the people who are looking forward to getting married and starting a family, I seem to be the opposite. I ponder about mortality and how it would be like to watch the world revolve around as one ages. Is it because I am surrounded by aging people dealing with their mortality?

Perhaps I'm on the verge of discovering Enlightenment...

Which brings me to another point I have been thinking about for a while:

Why is it that so many years ago when Buddha pondered on death, he was on the path towards Enlightenment. Today, if one was to be pre-occupied with death, it would be one of the DSM criteria for depression? Could it not be that one was experiencing an epiphany of one's mortal existence?

How times have changed perceptions...

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