Wednesday, November 21, 2007

End of the year

The end of the year is always a poignant time. While its fun and exciting to leave and go back to your family (and your family is always important, no matter how much fun you're having elsewhere), its sad to leave good friends and not see them for 3 months.

Back in early 2005, when I was just going to come over to Melbourne, studying away for the first time in my life, I had to make a decision. A decision between staying at College Square (an apartment), where most of my fellow Malaysian students (whom I did not know yet) were staying, and staying at Ormond College, a residential college of Melbourne University (just like a catered hall) where I knew no one. I did not choose College Square, instead I chose Ormond College. And now, after 3 years, I can proudly declare that I made the right choice.

Although, right now, on hindsight, I can look back and think how much less enriched my life would be had I chosen to stay at College Square, but I'm quite sure that, in an alternate time line, had I chosen to stay at College Square, at this point in time I would also say, "I certainly don't regret making that choice". However, I'm absolutely convinced that choosing Ormond College was the critical difference between 'enjoying my studies in Melbourne' and 'seriously loving my time in Melbourne'.

As much as it feels like a knife into my heart when I say this, I actually enjoy and look forward to leaving KL after the holidays and coming back to Melbourne for the semester. Because I know I'm returning to Ormond College. Where there's friends aplenty to keep you company (that actually rhymed). Where you can sit for one whole hour to a crappy Ormond meal and just chit chat with friends about everything there is to chit chat about and listening to other people rant about their misfortunes then laughing at them, and ranting about your own misfortunes and letting other people laugh at you. And on the days when the food gets really crappy, we'll all just go out and eat and do the same things all over. All very fun.

And we also get to play cards for hours everynight. I'll shoot you with a Bang! I'll play a Missed!

And although I get the same feeling of loss at the end of every year in Ormond, I always try to enjoy the moment, because I know I'll be going back home to my family and spending good quality time there, and then looking forward to the new year in Ormond, where there will be new people coming in, and old people coming back. And I'm always excited to meet new people who are on the same wavelength as the group of us are, and always delighted to welcome new people into our group. So that I can laugh them, and they can laugh at me as well, and there'll be no hard feelings after.

But this year, it'll be different.

Because this year, I'll be one of the last to leave Melbourne amongst my Ormond friends due to my research year being longer than the usual year, as opposed to the last 2 years where my exams usually finish early and I leave first. And leaving last and watching other people leave first for the holidays, one-by-one, is just so different from leaving first, and being back home and knowing that your friends here and having the final eating out dinner of the year without you. And both ways, it hurts.

Because this year, after 3 years, I'll be leaving. Leaving Ormond College to stay at an apartment next year. Leaving all the friends. Leaving the evenings of playing basketball in the college courts.
Leaving the nights of card playing, which distracts everyone from their studies for their exams, but not from mine, because I don't have any exams! Leaving everyone that make Ormond College what it is.

But then again, I'm excited. I'm looking forward to moving into the new apartment, which I think just looks awesome. Looking forward to living in a new environment. Looking forward to getting people to the apartment to play cards! Looking forward to coming back to Ormond once in a while.

And I hope that all of us will remember the times in Ormond fondly, and never let it just become a footnote to our lives. Because realistically, some of us just won't see each other that often anymore. Thus, I'll say it now that Ormond is what it is because of all of you guys, and you guys know who you are, and may you all not forget what it was like to be an Ormondian.

And finally, because this year, I just lost my mum to ovarian cancer. And I'll be going home to my family, but with the knowledge that I will not be able to see my mum again.


And knowing that I will not be able to share with my mum about how much I'm enjoying my life right now, being surrounded by so many good friends. That I will not be able to tell her how much I'm looking forward to each coming day. That she will not be able to share my joy in telling her how much I appreciate her helping me decide and then supporting my decision to stay at Ormond way back, 3 years ago. That I do not have the chance, and will not ever get the chance, to show her around Melbourne when she comes visiting, to show her around Melbourne, to show her the new apartment.

To show her Ormond College.

But what can I do, apart from doing the best I can with the cards that I've been dealt. I suppose that that's the best anyone can do. No 'what if's.

Enjoy the moment, look forward to tomorrow, cherish the past.

Que sera sera.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I found out that running with proper running shoes gives you a much better 'feel' than running with crappy badminton court shoes. Proper running shoes are just more bouncy. Maybe that's why I've been struggling to run lately.

Anyway, when I was back in KL I went to this Hong Kong style cafe in Mid Valley. Can't remember what it's called but its on the LG floor and it has a green signboard and lots of roast meats hanging on display in the window.

Two of the dishes that we had were both very similar, one with pork, the other with chicken.

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And washed down with a cup of milk tea.

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I thought the dishes looked absolutely delicate, no?

Hopefully cooking that rice with pork ribs black bean wouldn't be too difficult, seeing that I'm going to move out of college soon, and am going to try my hand at cooking.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today I ate a burger for dinner.

It was so bad I shall only mention its name.

It was called Mexican Burger.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

After much consideration, I felt that this is something that I needed to do.

So here goes.

This is a reflection on the past year, and also a tribute to my mum, who took her final breath on Sunday the 4th of November at 2.15pm, after a year-long struggle with ovarian cancer. Today is one year to the day that she was diagnosed with stage 3b ovarian cancer.

It has been a difficult year for my family, from the moment she was first diagnosed and not telling me as I was still having my exams at the end of last year, then steadily seeing her decline in the way that she did, seeing her suffer, day-to-day, yet, without a single complaint. The first few months, which coincided with me being back for the summer holidays, were, on hindsight, the best months of the lot, when she was still up and about, albeit in constant pain, but since she was at home more often, I was able to spend some good mother-son time with her, time that was very limited before that, as she was always working, and I'm very glad for that.

Going back to Melbourne for semester 5 was in a way, a curse, but also a blessing for me. Being surrounded by friends from uni and from college, I was able to take my mind away from the problem at hand. But not thinking about the problem does not make the problem go away, and the worry was always there, eating away inside me. And it also was difficult for me knowing that I wasn't at home with her as she went through all the suffering.

The midyear break was another chance to spend some time with her, accompanying her to Singapore to see a specialist, accompanying her when she was around the house.

And then I had to leave for my AMS year. And it was then that her condition really deteriorated so much in so short a time. The last few months of the life was spent in the hospital, and apparently she only returned home once every 2 or so weeks, as she was very weak, and very vulnerable to infection.

I did get to return for 2 weeks sometime during the midsemester break, and in hindsight, it was a very good decision, as it was the last time I actually spoke to her. After that, when I was in Melbourne, and was calling back every 2 days or so, I only got to speak a few words with her every time, as she was always tired and talking on the phone was difficult for her as well. I remember the last time that I spoke to her was on Tuesday last week, and I only spoke to her for about 10 seconds, as she had mouth ulcer and couldn't really speak.

It was a journey, of sorts, for me, from the time that my dad smsed me on Friday morning to tell me to book a flight back asap; arriving in KL on Saturday morning; reaching Hospital Selayang slightly after that and seeing her breathing through the oxygen mask, unconscious; my dad making the decision that we would bring her home the day after and letting her rest at home, seeing that we thought that she wasn't going to be able to make it; to her finally taking her last breath on her own bed at home.

It is in this last year that I learnt the importants of small victories in the face of a big disaster, which is a way of helping you cope with dealing with the pain. We all hoped for days that she felt better, and then we would all too feel happier.

Now that she is gone, I would like that she be remembered in our hearts always, for all the good times and also the bad times. How she was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, to everyone of us.

And I would just like to end this with the last words that I said to her on Tuesday.

Take care mummy, I love you.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Burgers, burgers, burgers

Scene from the movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle:

After a night of crazy adventure, Harold and Kumar finally make it to White Castle. They walk into the restaurant, Kumar touches the counter, then brings his finger to his lips.

Guy at counter: Looks like you guys had some night, huh?

Harold: I want 30 Slyders, 5 french fries, and 4 large Cherry Cokes.

Kumar: I want the same, except make mine Diet Cokes, Chuck.

Chuck (Guy at counter): Wow, well that comes to $46.75.

End scene.

I think most people, after watching that movie, had a craving for White Castle Slyders. Just watching those 2 guys stuff 30 burgers each into their mouths and drinking coke while eating fries is enough to drive anyone who loves food crazy. And its 47 USD for 30 burgers!

Well, I had a craving for burgers a few days ago. The problem is, White Castle restaurants are only available in the US. And the burgers you get at McDonald's or Hungry Jacks are too large. I wanted something small and tiny, so I could eat a lot of them. The most similar burger that I could think of was the KFC Colonel Burger in Malaysia. Too bad they don't have that here either.

But too bad, beggars can't be choosers. Off I went to McDonald's and got myself 3 burgers. And a coke. And some fries. Might be overkill, but I had to satisfy my craving.

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And it was awesome. Just awesome. Eating it in front of the computer while watching Veronica Mars with no one around to bother you was truly, satisfyingly, awesome.

It is something that I would like to do again. Perhaps with some other burgers. McDonald's burgers just do not cut it.

Anyone has any recommendation for small burgers, which are cheap, around Melbourne?