January 21st, 2010


Learning words

Everyone knows how poor my Mandarin language skills are. I'd always say that if I was given sufficient time to think, I would be able to answer in Mandarin with the correct pitch and tone. It's just that, I do need more than a few minutes to figure things out. Unfortunately, that's not how the pace of normal conversations go.

Each day, I try to pick up a new word. However, the people that I ask (read. my co workers) are cheeky. So they never teach me the right words.

A: I want to order Ban(3) Mian(4) But I want the skinny noodles. What do I call it?
AL: Oh. Shou(4) Mian(4)
A: *raises eyebrows. Oh really? It doesn't sound quite right.
And then everyone around me is bursting out into giggles.
A: Shou(4) Mian(4) my as*. What is it called? I'm not going to embarass myself and order Shou(4) Mian(4)

Shortly after, I discover that it is actually called You(4) Mian(4)

The biggest mistake that I make is to do a direct translation. I'll never forget how I once embarassed myself by asking the 'Uncle' at the stall, for Ru(3) Rou(4) - chicken breast meat and he went, Har? So it is actually called Xiong(1) Rou(4). Great. Just great.

Meanwhile, I am having problems trying to explain to B.T what the local slangs mean. He doesn't understand why a person is called - blur like a sotong. When I told him what a 'sotong' means i.e. squid. He got even more confused. Why is a squid confused? -_- How do I explain that??!

The latest word - 'cheena'.

How on earth do I explain what 'cheena' means.

Uh chee-na or chi-na means.. Chinese..

So what does- it's so cheena mean then?


I give up.

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From the First Lady

"Don't look at the bankbook or title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. Look at how the guy treats his mother ... And more importantly, how does he treat you?"

Wise words from Michelle Obama.

You know how the pitch and tone of a person's voice changes when he/she talks to the better half over the phone? And you instinctively know that it is to someone special.

We used to tease my friend T on how his tone drops two notches whilst speaking to his then girlfriend, now wife. I've too been told and teased about how mine changes when B.T calls.

You know what? I love watching him on the phone with his Mom. How his tone automatically softens when he says, Hi Mom.

If you want to know whether your guy will treat you well way into the future, look at how he treats his mom. :)

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Of grains and gravy

Mixed grain salad

Grilled chicken in brown gravy

Toast serves a lovely brown rice salad that I love. I love it so much that I tried to replicate it at home. However, I got the wrong grain and cooked it too well. It tasted really good warm - with roasted veggies or chicken. I decided to experiment a little with a small portion to see if I could transform it into a decent chilled salad.

I mixed the grains with salad cream, golden raisins, baked whole almonds, diced green apples and generously sprinkled in cinnamon powder. I let it chill overnight and the result turned out good. I'd say that it did make a hearty wholesome salad.

I mentioned that on my last trip to Melbourne, I bought a few packets of ready-made sauces. Not typically a fan of anything processed and ready-made, but this one was without MSG, preservatives and sounded fairly natural.

The brown gravy that was made of onions and shrooms was meant to be matched with a slab of rib-eye but on weekdays, we usually indulge in chicken and lots of veggies and leave the pigging out of red meats etc for the weekends. So I grilled a tray of chicken meat that was lightly seasoned with the usual dashings of cracked black pepper, mixed herbs and seasoned salt. Before serving, I poured the warm gravy all over the chicken and allowed the flavors to mix in for a bit before we tucked in.

It was a nice change to have some gravy with the chicken. I think I will search for a brown gravy recipe and try making one of my own. If anyone has a good recipe to share, do send it to me :)

Meanwhile, Ms Klutzy dropped the new bottle of salad cream all over her foot, slightly scratching the big toe a little. Needless to say, that was the end of the poor salad cream as it went straight into the trash and I was left with a 'salad foot'. Oh well!

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The Met, lift

Lost in Ubi

A week ago, I made a trip down to Ubi to get my misplaced drivers' license sorted out. I was strongly advised to cab it but I was stubborn. I hate riding in cabs, plus taking a train/bus is loads cheaper.

One of the reasons why the iPhone has greatly changed my life, is the applications. And the fact that Google maps is easily accessed on my iPhone - which I most definitely need all of the time. I was quite determined to find my way around, with the help of Google maps of course.

It didn't sound too complicated. From the Eunos MRT station, I would catch bus number 61 and alight at Aztech building, walk for 5 minutes to the Traffic Police Headquarters. Easy peasy. Everything went fine until I got off the bus and went, Fug. So which way do I walk now? As one of my co-workers aptly puts, Andrea can give directions. You just have to go in the complete opposite direction to what she tells you. I hate to admit, but he is quite right. My first natural instinct is to always select the wrong direction to proceed in. And this time around, it was no exception.

I confidently walked in the direction that I believed was correct. After a few minutes of walking, I glanced at my Google Maps and realized that again, I had walked in the complete opposite direction. So I had to turn around. I did get to the said destination shortly after and was feeling rather proud of myself.

So you would think that if Andrea walks from point A to point B and returns to point A from point B, it would be simple and easy correct? Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Somehow or other, I managed to walk in the wrong direction the moment I stepped out of the Traffic Police headquarters and landed up getting lost in Ubi for a good 20 minutes. I referred back to Google Maps again and finally managed to find my way to the bus-stop.

That wasn't the end.

I had to select the bus-stop that was heading in the opposite direction that I was heading towards. Fortunately, I asked the driver if it was heading towards where I was going and he said, Nope. You board the bus from across the road. Great. So I alighted the bus and crossed the road. I did get onto the right bus but after 15 minutes of commute, I decided to hop off the bus when I saw the MRT station. I figured that it was safer for me to take the train back home. At least, I wouldn't get lost.

I am trying my best to improve on my bad sense of direction. The results haven't been really encouraging. In fact, I have been advised to stay at home so at least, the chances of me getting lost are highly reduced. -_- My manager asked,

So did your license get replaced?

Yup. It took just 5 minutes.

Hmm. You are sure that you didn't pay for your license? Does your house have directional signs that state - To the bathroom, To the kitchen etc?

Hur hur hur. You sense of direction is just as bad as mine! (He is the one who always gets lost with me when we run together in Portland!)

Meanwhile, I am still trying to persuade my team to let me drive for the next work trip to Oregon. I told them that all I needed was a good navigator and I would be fine. I am still working on that.

Would anyone like to join the Amazing Race with me?

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