Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thank you Pa and Ma!

After posting 'I love you too Mummy', someone was asking if my son still said 'I love you Mummy' until today. Yes, he did. On Sunday night, after the reunion dinner, and before slept, he kept asking me for hugs and kisses, and said 'I love you Mummy' for many many times :) Then he explained, 'Usually after playing with Reynald (his buddy) or Aryn (my niece), when I returned back to room to sleep, I would feel lonely and too quiet. That's why if can, I prefer to sleep with you in your room.' He just couldn't stand the loneliness after a merry making and great times spent with his accompaniments. That's why he wanted many hugs from me, and even asked me to sleep beside him so that he could bring himself to sleep that night. So sweet hehehe... :)

It reminds me one one event happened when I was young, at around his age. I used to sleep with my sister. But one night she wasn't around, so I asked my Mom to sleep with me. I was very happy to feel her presence beside me. But to my nightmare, she didn't accompany me until morning. Whenever she thought I'd fell asleep, she woke up and returned to her room. I acted I was sleeping because I wanted to feel longer about her presence, but when she left me, I felt very disappointed and sad. I thot she did that because she didn't love me enough. Hahaha...

But once I grow up, I realize that it's not that she didn't love me enough. She loved and loves me still. She just couldn't be beside me forever. Because eventually, one day I'd grow up, live on my own. She didn't want me to become a spoiled brat. She wanted me to grow as an independent person, live and take care of myself. Hehe...

Thank you Mom! I have indeed grown up as a very independent person. Pa has also taught us to do housework, like washing our own clothes, wash plates, sweep and mop the floor, and even learn on how to cook. I used to stand beside my father in the kitchen, watching him how to cook. He always asked me to assist him to peel the prawn, to crack the eggs, bring the salt, and so on. Although I haven't become a good cook, at least I can do the basic cooking and has survived cooking on my own during school days overseas. All the simple things that both of you have taught us, have made me on how I become now. I simply appreciate and truly grateful with all your teachings and guidances. Thank you Pa and Ma!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Isabella = 1386 = SGD$2000

Do you wonder the relation of the above title??

Just heard from a friend that someone in the neighborhood just won SGD$ 2,000 on Wednesday as the number 1386 was coming out as 1st prize 4D. And how this person got the number 1386 from?? It was from a Channel 8 series broadcasted every weekday night at 9pm, called 'It's a Wonderful Life'. One of the character was named Isabella, and since it is a Chinese drama, this Isabella was called in Chinese number as 1386 (Yi Shan Ba Liu). It has similar sound with 'Isabella'.

Hahaha... Sounds funny, but this name and number really brought luck! And $2,000 is a very good amount where you only paid for $1 ticket :D

Again, if it's urs, however funny and weird it is, it is urs.... :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February Huat ahhh!!!!!

Just realize it in past few days that day has become longer and night has become shorter. Before this, when I reached home at 7pm, the sky has turned dark and in the morning when my alarm rang at 6.50am, the sky had turned brighter. But now, it is the other way around. When I reach home at 7pm, amazingly the sky is still so bright and only gets darker after 7.30pm or even later while in the morning, even after 7am, the sky is still so dark, making me lazy to wake up. Now I understand why the change in weather in other country can make people lazy to wake up and they would usually blame the cold weather for being late to office, while in Singapore, we can only blame to the MRT disruption or bus strike for coming late to work haha.... :P

This month is very short, only consists of 28 days. Deduct Sat, Sun, plus public holiday due to CNY, it become lesser days. Deduct the annual leave taken due to going back hometown or holiday, will even be shorter. Those who takes sick leave, will be much shorter. Hehe... I love February :)

And lately, the $10 million draw of TOTO that will be held this Friday, becomes a major conversation of everyone who lives in Singapore. In office, house, gathering, on the street, coffee shop, you can hear people discussing about it. They all put their $10 million hope on this upcoming day. Some even put hope for just one tenth of it, it'll be good enough, than have nothing at all. Hahaha.... Expectedly, you can see the long queue at the Singapore Pools, everywhere across Singapore, especially those place which in the past, has come out many TOTO winners. Hehe...

Queue at Chinatown Point
Everyone buys their hopes on this, with just a minimum of $1 dollar and majority (those who seldom win) think the fact that, 'if it's urs, it's urs. So even if you buy only $1, if you're supposed to win, then you will eventually win. Don't have to buy until hundreds or thousands dollars.' Hahaha.... Good excuse ah? :P Well, wish everyone all the best then!! Huatttt ahhhh!!!! - means good luck in wealth :)

Do you ever think, what if you win $10 million? What will you do with that money?? Hehe.. I don't really waste time on that since I don't think I have a luck to win such enormous amount of money. And I believe that what easy comes will easy goes. So... just buy hope ba!!!

This afternoon there will be State of Hotel Address, an annual event whereby our GM will tell us how we performed last year and will be followed with tossing of Yu Sheng or Lo Hei celebration :) I hope the company will continue to prosper, and so are we hahaha....

Here is the update from this afternoon's State of Hotel Address and Yu Sheng Celebration..... :)

Snake shape Yu Sheng (Prosperity Toss) for all of us!!!
After GM went through the slides about the performance from last year, staffs from both sessions met inside the Ballroom. We were standing at each side of the table and started the Yu Sheng or Lo Hei.

The process of Yu Sheng was as follow: at first, we'll say 恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai) meaning “Congratulations for your wealth” 万事如意 (Wan Shi Ru Yi) meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled”.

Put in the ingredients one by one, starting with squeezing the lime into the salmon 大吉大利 (Da Ji Da Li) meaning "Good luck and smooth sailing". Then put the salmon on top of the shredded vegetables and say 年 年 有 鱼 (Nian Nian You Yu) meaning "Abundance through the year". Pepper was then dashed over in the hope of attracting more money and valuables 招财进宝 (Zhao Cai Jin Bao) meaning “Attract wealth and treasures”. Then oil was poured out, circling the ingredients and encouraging money to flow in from all direction. 一本万利 (Yi Ben Wan Li) meaning “Make 10,000 times of profit with your capital” 财源广进 Cai Yuan Guang Jin meaning “Numerous sources of wealth” Then, grated peanut were spread on top, symbolizing a household filled with gold and silver 金银满屋 (Jin Yin Man Wu) meaning “Household filled with gold and silver”. Sesame seeds were also put to symbolize a flourishing business 生意兴隆 (Sheng Yi Xing Long) meaning “Prosperity for the business”. Plum sauce was also poured out 甜甜蜜蜜 (Tian Tian Mi Mi) meaning "May sweetness enter your life". And last, the deep-fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows were added with wishes that literally the whole floor would be filled with gold 满地黄金 (Man Di Huang Jin).

Ready for Lo-Hei or Yu Sheng!!! :)
Once done, using our chopsticks, we then tossed all the ingredients to the top and again said our wishes, such as: good health, everything goes smoothly, good career, good bonus, good luck, win Toto, win 4D, harmony relationship, happy family, and so on. The Executive Chef who was standing beside me, tossed the ingredients to the opposite and created such a big mess.. hahaha... my other colleagues were also doing so.. It was so fun!!! We laughed and shouted hehehe... Our hand was dirty too with the ingredients, but we all enjoyed it :) We then had it and had other food from the buffet too.
Before we entered, we also filled up a piece of paper with our name and department. They have few hampers and electronic household items as prizes. And who knows, I was one of the lucky winners and won the hamper below hehe.... My GM was calling my name 'Wati' and I really didn't catch it, until he said the section where I work, then my friend told me that he was calling my name. Kekeke... Not bad la, for nothing, I brought back these item. Some can be used for steamboat this Saturday hehe... Thank you SMC!!! :)

Lucky prize to start the year :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 3 at Kolkata

Breakfast at Cafe Swiss, Kolkata
We started our day by having breakfast in the hotel. It was in place called Cafe Swiss, located at 6th floor. While choosing what to eat, the Restaurant Manager started introducing himself to us. He also explained to us the variety of breakfast that was available. When we were eating, the Executive Chef had also come to us and introduced himself to us. He was expecting that I would go and have breakfast there, knowing that I had come all the way from Singapore to Kolkata and booked using staff rate. And also, tomorrow, there will be two Chef colleagues who will fly to Kolkata and work in their place for the Singapore Food Promotion.

The General Manager of the hotel passed by too when we had our breakfast. The Exe Chef introduced him to me. I was telling him that I would pay a visit to see his secretary and he told me to come to his office to find her. So, after that, Riku and I went to see GM's secretary, Stephanie.

Me and Stephanie
We didn't really have any plan to go anywhere. So, when she offered me if I would like to browse around the hotel area, I agreed to her almost immediately. It was just feeling good to be able to see how the other properties look like and to get more experience. She brought us around to the hotel, such as: finance office, purchasing office, laundry, female locker & slumber room, staff cafetaria, cold production kitchen, pastry kitchen, general store, receiving area, spa, gym, infinity view of swimming pool, ballrooms, etc. She also recommended us to few shops as I was telling her that I had no idea what to buy from Kolkata. When done, we separated.

Riku and I went to have our afternoon tea again, buying at usual place, served with pottery cup. The cardamon tea was very nice. We sat in the middle of the mall area, drinking tea and chatting. We talked about anything that came out from our mind. Because usually we communicate mostly by exchanging email or reading blog. So we used this opportunity to talk more about life. After that we went to buy thing in supermarket.

Swissotel Kolkata - Great and wonderful stay!!!
In the evening, we met up again for dinner. We had our dinner in food court again. This time I had Chinese Hakka fried noodles plus hot and sour soup, while Riku was having his Indian mutton and chicken with rice. I think he likes to eat Indian food, especially rice with dishes, most of the time. Hehe... After that, again we browsed the shopping mall for a while. Then I asked him if he wanted to go to Indian sweets and snack shop, called Haldiram's. Stephanie said it was not far from the hotel. We could taking 'Auto rickshaw' - a three-wheel transportation mode - or we called it 'Bajaj' in Indonesia, to there. We could even take cycle rickshaw there too. Riku said, ok. So we decided to go there by auto rickshaw and go back to hotel by cycle rickshaw.

Me with Auto rickshaw - Kolkata
 In less than 10 minutes, we reached Haldiram's. When going inside, I recalled that my colleague bought some sweets from there too when he visited Kolkata for work. So, after going one round, I then decided what to buy. I was not familiar with Indian sweets and snacks, so I just bought some for my colleagues, friends, neighbors, etc.

Riku with cycle rickshaw
So, that was at the end of our journey in Kolkata. Next day, I came back to Singapore on morning flight. It was short, but fulfilling. We tried different types and modes of transport there. Visiting great places. Food was wonderful. I could eat almost everything. Haha... All the worries that I had before traveling there had all gone.

Thanks SB for protecting us during our stay, giving us good health (I was worrying that I would catch gastric flu, stomachache, fever, and so on, but I didn't), letting us to meet up with many different people (including many new Bhutanese friends), visiting some wonderful places in Kolkata, experiencing life of Bhutanese students in India, and many other important aspects that are useful for my life. I feel so grateful and blessed. Hope Riku has felt the same too.. bringing back some important aspects in his life, back to Bhutan.

Thank you Riku for accompanying me in this Kolkata trip, because otherwise I would wander this city alone since Tashi couldn't make his Kolkata trip on time. Despite a very long journey that you had to go through and many other difficulties you had, you still kept your word to come to this place. Kadinche-la!!!

Celebrating Bhutanese Losar w/ Bhutanese in Kolkata, India

During our lunch in Indian Restaurant (first day in Kolkata), Riku told me that Sonam cooked a very delicious spicy pork dish. He said, Bhutanese usually cooks and eats it during Losar (Bhutanese New Year). When I heard about it, I was so curious on what was the spicy pork taste like. And at the same time, I was also wondering how the Bhutanese students lives while pursuing their studies outside their country. So, I was so blunt asking both of them if I could visit their place later and if they could cook the dishes for me hahaha.....

Both of them agreed without thinking twice. They even suggested us to have the dinner that night. But we then decided to visit their place only the day after so that they would have sufficient time to prepare the food. They told us that they had also invited other Bhutanese students too for meals in their place. So, we told them that we would call them before going to their house.

Therefore, on day 2 Kolkata, after visiting New Market, enjoying our ride on pulled rickshaw and Ladies-special tram, Riku and I took a yellow cab heading to their rented house. Riku was staying there at the first night he reached Kolkata. So, he was so confident that he would be able to find their house easily, with no difficulties. Haha.. And he proved me wrong. After going down from the cab, he felt lost. He claimed that he was not good with map and direction. He had no idea where were we. Dorji only wrote the main address, but not the details of it.

Both of us didn't have Indian Sim card and could not contact them by phone. But Riku was suggesting me to find the phone booth nearby the area. I was thinking, "Phone booth???" Is that such thing still exist in this time of the world, where most people has hand phone nowadays???

We walked through the street and suddenly, Riku stopped and he saw on our left, a small place, with a small empty booth, and there was someone inside selling the hand phone cards and thing. We stepped in and found out that there was indeed a place where we could make a call, opened for public.

Phone Booth in Kolkata
But instead of the usual phone booth where the normal phone was put inside the booth, the booth was empty. Instead, few hand phones (two or three) were placed on top the showcase glass cabinet, connected with chains, so that people would be able to make a phone call using the hand phone and at the same time, not able to take the hand phone away. Haha... It was a very interesting place! Both of us had never seen something like that before. It was again, a very good experience to have. After the call, Riku paid INR4 for that.

We went back to the place where we dropped from the cab. Dorji and Sonam came in few minutes. Riku went to buy some food in a groceries stall, gave it to both of them, as his 'thank you' appreciation for what they have done to him. That was also one reason why he wanted to go back to see them.

Finally, we went into their place :) As what Riku said, you felt like you were in Bhutan when you entered their place as they have set up an altar to pray. This is inside Dorji's bedroom. There was a kitchen next to it.

Sonam (the cook) and his tiny lovely kitchen :)
Although the kitchen is tiny, they have produced lots of warmhearted meals to many people, and gave it unconditionally from the bottom of their hearts. According to them, they always cook their meals everyday and seldom eat outside. Not only it helps them to save money, but also they ensure the food is healthier and much tastier than what was sold outside in Kolkata. Big thumbs up for all of them!! It's really amazing that these boys are able to cook delicious meal in such young age (they are in their twenties). And I'm really grateful to be able to taste their cooking :)

At that night, they planned to have dinner with other Bhutanese students. It would be more than 20 people gathering in his house. When come, they will bring their own cooked food too. We called it 'potluck'- a gathering of people where each person or group of people may contribute a dish of food prepared by the person or the group of people, to be shared among the group - source: Wikipedia.

Since we came early (reached there around 6pm), we were offered with snacks (Bhutanese crispy rice, cereals, and chips) and drinks. They also offered me to taste the Bhutan Vodka, called Raven Vodka. Hahaha... lucky me :) I was so happy being able to finally taste the Bhutan liquor. I mixed it with mango juice. Nice!! :) Kadinche-la!

Raven Vodka plus Mango Juice - nyummy!!! :)
We managed to know some more Bhutanese friends over there.

Yesh Khand Wang, Sonam Wangdi, Yeshi Dorji, and Dorji Gyeltshen
We chit chatted while waiting for the food to be ready.

At the room next door, we could hear 'bang' sound and found out that there were people playing the Bhutanese games with dice, cowrie shells, and coins, called Parala.

Playing Parala
Hehe... I had no idea how they played that game. But it looked interesting and seemed like they never got bored to play over it again and again.

Sonam finally came out with spicy pork inside the bowl. It was pork fat!!! Haha... Seemed very fattening and unhealthy, but who cares? It was just once in a while occasion to enjoy this food. Too bad my camera capture the photo blurred.... This was how it looks like.

Bhutanese Spicy Pork Fat Dish :) Delicious and sinful hehe...
After that, they also served us with a bowl of red rice with aezaye (pickled chili), and another separate bowl of beef cooked with cabbage. Wow, it was soooo... good!!! I felt very blessed!!! Without having to go to Bhutan, I was able to taste all that. Amazing!!!

Riku and I enjoyed our meals very much
After meals, we continued with chit chat. More people came into the room and we stayed there until about 8 pm then decided to leave the place as they would have their gathering starting at 9pm.

We thanked both of them for their hospitality and dinner. Dorji and Sonam sent us to take cab and both of us went back to hotel for rest. Below are our photos together. Once again, thank you for everything!!! Keep in touch and who knows we may meet again in the future... :) Happy Bhutanese Losar Day to all of you and Tashi Delek - Hope all of you are blessed with good health, wealth, full of luck, joy and happiness. Also success to your study and future career!!!

Dorji, Yesh, me, Sonam and Yeshi

Yesh, me, Sonam, Yeshi and Riku

Quoted from Scott Sonnon

Ways to be Happy
Overcome with continual discontent, I asked my teacher for a way to be happy. My mentor at university had spent eight years within a monetary in Tibet under a vow of silence. In counsel he cautioned, "Mr. Sonnon, there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. But there are a wondrous myriad of ways to malcontent. How horribly lethal we have mastered those ways. If you want happiness to return to your life, then you must unlearn what stops it."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 2 at Kolkata - Exploring New Market and experiencing pulled rickshaw and old tram :)

Friendly cab driver - turned on Hindi  love song for Riku haha... So romantic!!!
Second day in Kolkata. We took a yellow cab on the way to our destination.We took many rides on the yellow cab during our stay in Kolkata, as the hotel where we stayed was quite faraway from city center. By right, the Taxi should use the meter, but by left, most of them preferred to deal on the agreed price before boarding. And most of the time we would pay more than the agreed time as usually they expected us to pay in exact amount (very few of them would offer the change). So, before boarding, we had to ensure that we had small changes in our wallet, or otherwise, they would keep the balance or gave us less change.

Cheers.... :)
Before visiting Kolkata, I told another Bhutanese friend, Tashi Wangchuk, that I'd be going to Kolkata. He was asking me, why Kolkata?? He seemed to have bad experience with Kolkata before. Haha.... He told me the story of taking the cab, where the driver would bring him round and around the place, whereby the actual place was very near only. He also warned me about the beggars, not to give them money. Because once you gave one, other beggars would come out and started asking you for money again. However, he still wished me well and to enjoy the "City of Joy", Calcutta. Hehe... Thank you! He also told me that there is no air-conditioner inside the cab. Haha.. At first, I was so surprised, because in many countries, taxi would be equipped with air-conditioner. But after that, I got used to it. However, the weather was not that bad while we were there, so no need air-conditioner. The natural air blow would be perfect for us :)

New Market or S.S Hogg Market
We decided to visit New Market or also commonly called S.S. Hogg's Market (named after Sir Stuart Hogg), which is located on Lindsay Street, the oldest and most well known market, as Riku and I would like to experience the busy, crowded, and chaotic market. They sell everything in the market, from clothing, bags, hair accessories, shoes, dolls, even food (wet and dry market), and many other things. They displayed their items on the street. We also could see many local Indians there doing their shopping. It was on Monday around 4pm. I was wondering how come it was so crowded!! Don't they need to go to work???

It's packed! New Market Kolkata

Bags, clothing stalls - New Market Kolkata

Whole stretch of bag seller!!!

Khadim's - clothes shop

Small groceries stall

Household equipment

Other things plus sugarcane seller - New Market Kolkata

Is it Indian sweet?? Looks like noodles to me.. Hahaha... :P
Food street seller - New Market Kolkata
Many snacks were sold along the street too. But we didn't dare to try, scared that our stomach wouldn't get used to it. Haha... Better prevent than cure :D

Snack Bar - New Market Kolkata

Fast Food Corner - New Market Kolkata
Chai (tea) selling - relaxing, drinking, and chatting

Fruits seller - New Market Kolkata

What was he selling???

Cut fruits seller - New Market Kolkata
And guess what? They even have Doraemon shop there!! Haha.. At first, I was also wondered why there was Doraemon sign standing there out of nowhere but India, then after that I realized that there was a shop on the side, just next to the signage. We went it, but too bad, they only sell the children's clothing. Nothing for me to buy... Hehe.. But good to know that there is even Doraemon in Kolkata!!!

Doraemon in Kolkata!!!
On our way there, we saw lots of rickshaws on the street. There are two types of rickshaw. One is the pulled rickshaw, while another one is cycle rickshaw.

These are cycle rickshaws
In New Market, we saw lots of pulled rickshaw. Since the ambiance was so unique - old market called New Market - Riku and I decided to try the pulled rickshaw over this place. Since we had no idea where to go, we just told the rickshaw puller to pull us around the building one round.

Pulled rickshaw

Here we go!!!
As it was only two of us, we didn't dare to ask other people to help us taking photo. Therefore, we took our self-taken photo below. Hehehe...

On the pulled rickshaw - at New Market, Kolkata
We enjoyed the ride soooo... much!!! It was our first time trying it. It was so fun!!! So glad we could try it in our life. The seat was quite high so we could see a wonderful view surrounding us :) Hehe.. Riku even said, while sitting on it, he felt as if he was on his wedding ceremony. Lolx!!!

Taking photo with the puller - after finishing the ride
It costs us INR80 for one round. A bit expensive. Usually it would only cost between INR7-20 ba. But since we enjoyed it and very happy, we just paid the amount to him. It left us with a wonderful memory haha...

Fish seller
After that, we walked to another place where we could ride a tram. On the way there, we passed by the street that sells many things (just like a wet market, where fishes, fresh chicken could be found), and many other thing, includes fortune teller.

Fresh chicken seller

Asking your future???
Before going to Kolkata, my colleague has recommended me to try the tram in Kolkata. Riku asked the cab driver on how to stop the tram. He said, we could stop the tram anywhere by showing our hand and the tram driver will stop.

Ladies Special Tram - Kolkata
Guess what?? We, I mean, I, was so lucky!!! Hehe.. The tram that we stopped, was quite special!! We took ladies special tram, which means, only ladies could sit on the first part of the tram, while the other part was for man. So, I sat in front part, while Riku had to take the behind part of the tram.

For ladies only - Kolkata Tram
Only few ladies seen inside the tram
This article was saying about the Ladies-only tram. Quoted from the article: "Tram conductors say they get five women per trip at best, making the service economically unsustainable. CTC chairman Shantilal Jain acknowledged that the 'ladies specials' had not become popular and would be gradually phased out. "We have had a very poor response to the 'ladies special' service and have decided to make the second compartment a general one," Jain told TOI. Sources said the move was a step towards withdrawing the service altogether." So, you know now why I said I was lucky, weren't I??? :)

Riku at the tram behind :)
When boarding the tram, Riku was panicked. He was afraid that both of us would not be able to communicate on where to go down as we took a separate tram. Haha.. But luckily, there was a small window connecting the two parts of tram together where we could see and communicate each other. The ticket only costs INR5 per trip. We felt great and satisfied by trying these old style transport in Kolkata.

That's why I love travel so much. Simple things in life can make our lives happy. Giving a little more would make other people happier too... Day 2 of Kolkata will be continued. Keep reading ba!!! :)

P.S. Some photos were taken by Riku
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