Thursday, June 30, 2005

Banana Heart Summer on a Cold Winter Night

Freezing. Drenched. Frazzled.

But it was a great day nonetheless.

It was raining like crazy this afternoon and I forgot to bring my umbrella. I decided to go to Spanish straight after work so I arrived in Manuka a bit earlier than the usual. Hoping to study a bit and get somewhere with “Fiesta en la Primavera”, I opted to kill my time in the book shop nearby.

I was surprised to see heaps of people there as it’s quite unusual for a Thursday evening. It turned out that there was a book reading that night so people were lounging around the whole shop. Unfortunately, they moved all the reading tables for the event so I had nowhere to sit and prepare for my Spanish class. I ended up browsing through books instead. I was deciding what book to get when I heard someone say “Mahal kita” in the reading area. I had a look at the book that’s being promoted and it’s actually written by a Filipina who’s based here in Australia. I quickly grabbed myself a copy and had a bit of a chat with Merlinda. At first glance, Merlinda Bobis’ “Banana Heart Summer” reminded me of Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water for Chocolate”… only it’s set somewhere in the Philippines. The book also seems to offer magical realism through a mother, a daughter and lots of food writing. Can’t wait to read it!

Spanish class today was almost as interesting. I was the first to arrive in the center and there was no one else there but my Spanish teacher. He started talking to me in Spanish and I must’ve looked really weird cos he suddenly began stammering for English words. I don’t get myself. Why do I always get tongue tied when someone tries to converse with me in Spanish? It’s like everything that I know disappears into thin air. I know I’ve only been to a few classes and I don’t know much at this point but I really want to be more confident by trying to speak more. I always have a great time in class but it’s quite different when I get caught off guard. Those native speakers talk a mile a minute and it’s just too easy to get lost in the conversation. I can feel myself improving though. I find myself understanding more and translating less. I think that’s what we’re meant to do anyway… attempt to think in Spanish in order to speak it more fluently. Too easy to say, I know. I can only hope. :D

We didn’t have the usual lecture tonight. We just watched a documentary on Colombia and then headed to the restaurant downstairs to get some coffee. I also found out that one of my classmates works in Flight Centre. We had a bit of a chat and she’s agreed to help me organise my big holiday next year. If everything goes well, I’ll be off to Europe (and possibly get an around the world ticket so I can do a short stint in Brazil and Chile as well) next summer. *fingers crossed*

Monday, June 27, 2005

Csaba's Birthday Weekend

Sydney never disappoints. And the weekend turned out great as expected.

It was the Lion King’s last weekend in Sydney and the theater was packed when we caught the Friday night run. I first saw the Lion King in Broadway 3 years ago. I was blown away by the colourful costumes, creative set design, high-spirited actors and heart-pounding music that filled the theater. The stampede and the “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” scenes were amazing. And I loved Timon, Pumba and the cheetah. The Sydney production was alright. I’m not sure if I wasn’t that impressed because the novelty has worn off or if it simply fell short of my expectations. The stage was smaller although it was fine because my seat was also closer. The costumes and the set were still wonderful. I just didn’t like some of the acting that I witnessed on stage. Mufasa and little Simba were both terrible. I loved both Nala’s and the guy who played Timon definitely caught my attention. He really acted out the part. It was an ok show. And it wouldn’t be fair to say that I didn’t enjoy it because I still had a wonderful time.

Csaba turned 26 on Saturday. It didn’t stop me from doing my rounds in Pitt Street though. ;) We had a nice lunch at Kapitan Torres and I finally bought a paellera (I’m meant to make my specialty on the weekend). I left Csaba at Kinokuniya after lunch and subjected myself to an afternoon of stocktake sales. It was very strange but I didn’t seem to have the urge to shop that day. I think I gave up after checking out a million shops that sold the exact same things. You see, I’m not a big fan of trends and I become less keen on things (no matter how nice they are) when they start popping up on every display window there is. Anyhow, I ended up splurging on books instead. I just love Kinokuniya! They have such a wide range of cook books and travel books. They also stock a lot of books that I never seem to find in other shops. It’s definitely heaven for book lovers (and for boyfriends who have nothing better to do while waiting for their girlfriends to finish shopping hehe). We had reservations at
Harbour Kitchen and Bar for dinner and I was really looking forward to it. It was highly recommended by Tita Lorna (and Keanu Reeves as well. Apparently, he told a reporter that the first thing that he does every time he comes to Australia is have lunch at the Harbour Kitchen. Hehe). Harbour Kitchen was great! The staff were nice enough to give us a table with a great view of the Opera House. I had this really yummy strawberry and mandarin mocktail called Latino Social Club. The thought of it makes me want to have a glass this very minute. We also stuffed ourselves with oysters, lamb rump with artichokes, oregano and garlic, spit roasted steak with braised eschallot and horse radish mascarpone and wood roasted potatoes. Dessert was Csaba’s makeshift birthday cake… Banana Chocolate and Charlotte. Yum yum yum! It’s arguably the best meal that I’ve had in a long time. :)

Csaba met up with his Hungarian friend on Sunday while I spent the whole day with Tita Lorna, Nicole and the boys. We left Castle Hill at lunch time and headed to the furniture haven that is Ikea. Sigh. I’ve started dreaming of having my own place ever since finding out that I had to move again. Walking past all the nice furniture in Ikea just made me wish even more… Oh well… Someday… :) DFO was next on the list after Ikea. We didn’t really have much time to go around the shops but I still managed to find some good buys in Cue and Nine West. I wish they had stocktake sales every month. Hehehe. It’s like Christmas in June! :) Anyway, I met up with Csaba in DFO, took a raincheck on dinner at Tita Lorna’s and drove in the rain to go back to good old freezing Canberra. I had one thought in my head while we were on our way home… we shouldn’t have missed Tito Dennis’ lamb shanks. Heehee.

dencsab lk

dencsab lk

dencsab lk

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Singin' In The Rain

Oh... and I walked in the rain today. It was good... if only it weren't that cold. :)

Algunos Libros Para Leer

Mi maestro español esta loco. El dio nosotros libros para leer para la semana próxima… Pero tenemos sólo fue aprendiendo el idioma por unas pocas semanas… Pero está bien. Soy todo para aprender. :D

I'm meant to read a 48-page children's text about Spring time but I doubt that I'll be able to finish it in time for the next class. There's no pressure though. He did say that he just wants to know how we find the task.

On a lighter note, I caught up with Cat after Spanish class. We haven't seen each other for ages and it was good to finally have another one of those nice chats. We went to this Indonesian/Malaysian restaurant in Manuka. Food wasn't great but the place had a good ambience. Nasi Goreng was a bit bland but the stir fried rice noodles were alright. I was so tempted to practice what I learned in class(ordering food, giving directions, etc.). I just had to remind myself that we weren't in Spain... We weren't even in a Spanish restaurant! Hehe.

Anyhow, I'm off to Sydney tomorrow and I haven't packed. Eeep! Really sleepy though... Acabo de hacer mañana.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Year Ago...

I was in paradise.

It’s been exactly a year since I went to the Whitsundays. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been to. And the whole trip is among my favourite travel memories as well. I can’t remember having done so many things (with so little time) in any other holiday. I’ll always look back and revisit my memories from that trip. Because in the Whitsundays Islands…

- I went on a helicopter ride and experienced an aerial view of the islands.
- I hopped on a jetski and didn’t care how fast I went.
- I went parasailing and got a refreshing (albeit freezing) plunge.
- I discovered that quad bikes are fun but dangerous. I crashed into a bush and ended up getting cow poo all over my leg.
- I had yummy seafood buffet while watching different Polynesian dances.
- I tried crocodile for the first time. I didn’t like it at all. I thought it tasted like rubber.
- I had fresh fish and chips almost everyday.
- I didn’t have to rug up even if it’s winter.
- I went to the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t find Nemo but I found George. :D
- I snorkeled and got friendly with the residents of the reef. ;)
- I saw a whale up close . It was swimming next to our boat while we were on our way to the GBR. It wasn’t even part of what we paid for! It was a bonus that definitely made my day.
- I spent half a day at Whitehaven Beach. Lunch on the barby, a nice tan, a pristine beach… what more could one ask for?


More Pictures?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Kerrie's back.

I've been renting her 3-bedroom unit for almost a year now. Originally, I was just renting the extra room in her house. Soon after I moved in, this work opportunity in Germany came up and she and her partner both decided to move overseas. It wasn't planned but it worked out well. I agreed to housesit for them for at least a year. In return, they only stored personal stuff and left the place fully furnished for me. I didn't have to pay more rent even if I had the whole place to myself. I just had to advertise for a flatmate to help balance the costs. Incidentally, I didn't find anyone to share the place with until mid-February of this year.

So yeah, I lived by myself for months. I had this really nice place to come home to every night. And it didn't hurt that the house is fully set up as well. I love the queen sized bed, the 2 built in wardrobes, the tv, the dvd player and vcr in my bedroom. I love the spa in my bathroom. I love my kitchen - the pantry that's always stocked with my favourite cooking ingredients. I love the books, the leather couch, the widescreen tv and the reading chair in the lounge. I love the look and feel of the dining room - very cosy and perfect for an intimate dinner with friends. I love sitting under the sun and having breakfast in the courtyard. I love Julio and Tenoch (the fish in the courtyard... and yes, I made these names up). Heck, I even love the plants that didn't manage to survive my lack of gardening skills.

*Sigh* The place really grew on me. It really is home for me these days (my second home anyway... Villamor still tops my list).I took care of it like it's my own. And it certainly feels like my own.

Kerrie came back from Germany yesterday. She has decided to move back to Australia for good. I'm quite relieved because she was quite impressed with the house. I'm just a bit worried about having to find new accommodation soon. She has expressed her intention to live by herself like she did in Germany... although she did say that she's open to the idea of having me stay with her until I find a place that I really like. It's fair enough, I suppose. I've decided to start looking around just the same. It's a bit sad, really.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Thank God for Long Weekends!

One of the things that I love most about Australia is we get heaps of public holidays. Anzac Day, Australia Day, Labour Day, Boxing Day, Easter holidays, Christmas, New Year’s… the list goes on and on. We get so many long weekends that it almost seems like we’re just coming up with lame reasons to take time off from work. But who am I to complain? Life is good this way. :)

The Queen’s Birthday Holiday is always observed in June even if the Queen's birthday's really in April. And even if we’re thousands of miles away from the UK, we celebrate it here as well. Australia’s been a constitutional monarchy since its founding after all. Thus, we share the said public holiday with the Brits even if it seems like another excuse for a long weekend. Thanks to the Queen... I didn't have to go to work yesterday. :)

Tita Lorna’s birthday also fell on the same weekend so going to Sydney for the Queen’s Birthday was almost a given. As usual, I didn’t pack light and caught the bus at the last minute on Saturday afternoon. The trains to Beecroft were out of service so I had to get off at Strathfield instead. Luckily, Miguel was at Nicole’s so I was able to get a lift back to Castle Hill. We quickly had some dumplings for dinner and got ready for a Filipino party that we had to go to that evening.

Some interesting observations that Miguel and I had at the party:
- Filo Filos aren’t cool especially when they try to look cool.
- Hot Guy and Hot Girl might be cousins (just like us! Hehe).
- People can tell if you’re having fun on the dance floor.
- They also know when you’re worrying about dance steps and fussing over your looks.

It was a great party all in all. It felt good to be surrounded by Filipinos for a change… although it made me miss home even more. Di bale… December’s not too far away. And if I’m lucky, I might even get to score a really cheap flight before winter ends. Hehe wishful thinking.

I slept in for a bit on Sunday morning. We heard mass at 10 and went to a bowling party after. After a couple of hours, Tita Lorna and I left the boys to treat ourselves to some retail therapy. :) I love June cos the shops hold stocktake sales in anticipation of the end of the financial year. I got some nice winter skirts and pants to go with the goodies that my Mom sent a couple of weeks ago. Yay! :D Call me a shopaholic but hey… I didn’t get those peep toe heels that I’ve been eyeing for a while (even if they were calling out to me with a 50% off price tag). Galing noh? Sige na please... Congratulate me. ;) But we’ll see next week… I’ll be off to Sydney again for the weekend.

We had a cosy and quiet Sunday evening. Tito Dennis made hot pot for dinner (yum!) and we stuffed ourselves with Guylian as we watched Last Man Standing on TV.

One of the best parts of the weekend was going to the seafood market for Tita Lorna’s birthday lunch. It’s one of my favourite places in Sydney even if the difficulty of finding seats is almost a guarantee. And true enough… the place was so crowded that we ended up sitting on the ground. It’s all good though… We had a seafood feast of calamari rings, prawn cutlets, oysters, fish and chips, steamed prawns, chilli squid, lobsters and salad. It was definitely more than enough to make up for the lack of a proper table and benches to sit on.

Last weekend was really just one of those ordinary weekends… except I had 10 times more food, fun and shopping. :) Haaaay… and now I’m back at work… bloody slaving away in front of my computer. Oh well… Can’t wait for the next long weekend! :D

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Tonight I Can Write...

Szeretlek Csaba.

Koszonom a gyonyoru pillanatokat es sajnalom, ha olykor masmilyen is adodott . Orulok, hogy talalkoztunk. Nagyon faj, de el kell mennem. Hianyozni fogz.

Talan maskor… Talan soha. Meglat juk. Vijo szerencset es vigyazz magadra!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Typical Saturday

I don’t have a green thumb. And yet I found myself in the Yarralumla nursery on a Saturday morning. I was shopping for plants when I should’ve been back home sleeping in. Around half a year ago, the owners of my flat moved overseas and left the house under my care. I did a pretty good job, hey. I’m a responsible tenant after all. ;) The place is very well looked after… except for one thing, that is. The plants in the courtyard are all dead. My land lady is due to come back next week and I had to replace all the plants that I’ve killed. I really don’t know much about plants. You can leave me in the kitchen for a day and I’ll come up with heaps of wonderful meals but never ever leave me out in the garden. Luckily, Csaba was there to help me out. We spent a couple of hours in the nursery and seeing all the greenery made me wish that I had a nice garden… and that I knew how to maintain one. I could imagine my own big box of fresh herbs (like Jamie Oliver’s in Jamie Oliver Live) a few steps away from my kitchen. Anyway, I ended up spending 80 bucks on pot plants and potting mixture. And then we headed off to lunch…

Lunch was crap. We were just about to head for the Woden shops when we decided to make a u-ie to go to Ming’s instead. Ming’s has lunch specials for $6.50 on Saturdays. We thought we wouldn’t mind some dumplings and laksa for lunch. Eating out is rarely a disappointment for me but lunch today was just sooo bad. The dumplings must have been a day old and the laksa wasn’t any good either. The garlic chicken and fried rice would’ve been alright if they were a tad less salty and not too oily. After that meal, I decided that I’m never going to Ming’s again. I’ve only been there 4 times and the only meal worth raving about was the Shantung chicken that I had on my first visit. Oh well…

We headed back to my place, unloaded the car and started working on the garden. My job was really simple. I chose which pots to use for which plants and Csaba did the rest of the potting. Hehe, I know. I’m hopeless. :)

I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning my room and getting rid of stuff that I no longer use. I ended up with two big boxes of clothes for the Salvos. Whew! It’s really nice coming home now. My bedroom’s really neat and clutter free at the moment… I wonder how long for though.

I caught up with Claire (my old flatmate) and had dinner at Turkish Pide House. They didn’t have enough seats inside so we had to sit outside the restaurant. It was bloody cold but we were both craving for Turkish so we didn’t really care. It worked out well though. We were right next to the heaters so it wasn’t bad at all. We ordered the banquet and stuffed ourselves with zucchini balls (my favourite), bread and dips (hummus, baba ganoush, tatziki, beetroot and carrot… YUM!) for entree. By the time we got to the mains, we were pretty much full… although we still struggled to finish the kebabs, meatballs, couscous and salad because they were soooo good. In the end, we didn’t have any room left in our stomachs to even start with the Turkish pizza. It was a very good meal though… made up for the crappy Chinese that I had for lunch. :)

I went home straight after dinner and ended my day with Sideways and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Diego Luna is hot… but only when he’s on the dance floor. Gael will forever be #1. :D

*** Thank you God for the new plants in the courtyard.
*** Thank you God for zucchini balls, fresh Turkish bread, hummus, tzatziki, couscous, chicken and lamb kebabs. :D

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Dose of Neruda

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy boy who loves you,
but when I open my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air, light, spring,
but never your laughter for I would die.
-- an excerpt from "Your Laughter" by Pablo Neruda

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wala Lang

Tagged by sayaw_ilaw.

Not because you have to, but because you WANT to! Things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play. What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level? Make a list, post it to your journal... and then tag 5 friends and ask them to post it to theirs.

~ Time by myself. I'm with Len on this one. Watching a movie, eating out, shopping... dating myself on a regular basis keeps me sane!
~ Yoga, Pilates and going to the gym... although I must admit that I've been very very lazy.
~ Cooking. I make at least one new dish every week. And I get a kick out of being able to copy dishes from my favourite restos.
~ Gael Garcia Bernal DVD marathons. That's it, full stop. I'm not gonna say anything more. :)
~ Massages.
~ Reading Neruda.
~ Ringing home.
~ Emails and letters from home.

Hmmm... I'm tagging
I'm not tagging anyone else cos my friends don't blog. *sob* ;)

*** Thank you God for Jesus, my Spanish teacher. He actually spoke a bit of English in class tonight. It's quite good for a change. Whew!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Cuba Libre?

I finally finished watching Fidel last night.

It’s not one of the greatest films that I’ve seen but it’s interesting enough to keep me in my seat for 3 ½ hours. Although I admit I probably wouldn’t have come across this movie if Gael Garcia Bernal weren’t in it, I still think it was worth learning about one of the most influential and controversial leaders of the 20th century.

In my opinion, the movie would’ve been better if it were told in Spanish. Although I thought it was good that the cast members were mostly Latin American actors, listening to them speak in English just takes so much potential away from the movie. These actors would’ve done more justice to their characters if they were able to express themselves freely in their own language.

Before this movie, Fidel Castro was like a myth. And Cuba was a different world from mine. All I knew was Castro has been leading Cuba under a dictatorship rule for over 40 years now. Watching the movie exposed me to a mostly new but strangely familiar reality on the other side of the globe.

Fidel Castro, along with his comrades, had a vision to eliminate injustice and change the ways of life in Cuba. He dedicated his life to his vision… his revolution. He became successful in achieving his goal, but he was far from sustaining it. While Castro concentrated on preserving the revolution, he forgot about the reason for a revolution. What could have led Cuba to where it is now? Castro’s constant refusal to recognise human nature? His ignorant approach to politics, economic issues and agricultural practices? His absolute ways and means of executing power?

The truth of the matter is Castro may have succumbed to his own demons. He may have turned into one of those people that he despises the most. He may have become the enemy that he was struggling against during the prime of the revolution.

*** Thank you God for Krispy Kremes.
*** Thank you God for the yummy dinner that Csaba brought when he came over.