Category Archives: London!

Sashimi, Panda, Udon, and Modern Art

I popped into London last Friday to attend my Mantin alma-mater’s reunion dinner. It was really great to see the old faces; my favourite principal of secondary one and two, the proctor a.k.a disciplinarian, my seniors, and the super seniors, and several other ex-members of staffs.

We had a buffet of Malaysian food, stories were exchanged while we hovered around the dessert table waiting for the kuih serimuka to be replenished. The super seniors (+4 years older) all seem to be doing very well. Most of the super seniors who came are currently working in London with all the big topshot companies, wahlaowei. That evening, it struck me why people keep bugging me to brain drain.

Several years ago, before really ma-fan rules were implemented in the youh-kayh-bee-ehh, given a strong academic results and extra-curricular performance dozens of companies would be happy to snap up the non-local graduates to work with them, more so for consultation and corporate finance bodies.

Today, there’s probably 999 clauses and rules to adhere to in order to obtain a working visa. From my undergraduate perspective, it is the minimum qualifying wage of £31,000 per annum. How, what, where, why, and who would pay a fresh graduate THAT sum of money? Another one is something about a visa sponsor. For example, university students have their visa sponsored (you still have to pay the processing fees) by their respective universities. The same goes to applying for a working visa. The last I checked even massive companies like Rolls-Royce doesn’t sponsor working visas. Anyone (non-local) who’s got an offer to work here do tell, sharing is caring heheh.

I ventured into Camden Town after breakfast the next day, countless of trips to London and I’ve never been there. My verdict : Overrated. The atmosphere reminds me of pasar malam (night market) back in Malaysia, chinese food vendors shouting out their offers, custom-designed t-shirts (Star Wars Coffee : May the Froth Be With You), overpriced merchandise, and cannabis. Cannabis everywhere. A lady tried to sell me hair removal pads which are silicone crystal pads that removes hair as you rub it on your skin for a £20 buy-one-free-one offer (I said no thanks, later found out you can get it for less than £10 on the internet).

A little blue bird informed that @WaiYeeHong will be in London that afternoon, so I was relentlessly asking for a tweetup. We went to a little Japanese cafe very near to South Kensington tube station, Tombo. Tombo does bento sets, simple yakisoba, and katsu with rice. I had a bento with special of the day – sheared salmon sashimi. I had two vegetable sides of a seaweed salad and something that had lotus root in it, I can’t remember the name. Green tea eclair for dessert. Did a trip to the V&A after and unleashed my museum geek.

Woke up damn freaking early the next morning for UKEC’s Projek Amanat Negara. Could have gone a bit later, but was worried for a girl friend of mine to walk and take the tube alone at 7am. She had to be there early as she’s sort of one of the committee members and have to do a bit of set up and stuff. Since I was so free after we got to the venue, I went back out again to fetch some coffee for myself, hot chocolate, assorted croissants and muffins for the poor kids who rushed there without breakfast. That day I learnt the proper pronunciation for Pret-A-Manger from the hotel porter (who was French, if I wasn’t mistaken). Ready to eat.

When the first session was about to begin, my left eye felt as if I had an eyelash fallen in. A few minutes later it started to water. I was lucky the friend I was sitting next to had contact lens eye drops and it helped me hold on a little while longer. While the speaker was going on about globalisation of Malaysian market (the session’s topic) I was going “tsk tsk….(“we’ve expanded our market to oversea”)…..tsk tsk…..(“we’re better than our counterparts..our (somethingsomething) can speak better English”)…..tsk” while dabbing my eyes with tissue. So drama. I so passionate about this topic ma’am tsk tsk…PFFFTT. I couldn’t stand it so I SOS-ed the friend I was staying with in London if there was anyone home, rushed to her place, took off my contact lenses, put on my glasses and headed back to the event.

The 3rd session which discussed religion had a very good speaker. That deserves a post of its own. I zoned out on the 4th session onwards. It was something about economics and I must have been half asleep. When a girl went up to the microphone during the Q&A session she said “open tender” and I misheard it as “open panda”. TWICE.

Had a dinner date at Koya that evening and they had oyster and jurusalem artichoke in miso on their board specials. I ordered that and a kanoko atsu-atsu, hot udon in hot mushroom and walnut miso. It was the most satisfying dinner I’ve had to date. Too bad Chatime ran out of Pearl Milk Tea, otherwise it could have been dessert.

Considering I had overspent on food the past couple of days, I had ramen kimchi (home cooked on stove, babehh) for lunch and dinner the next day. Visited a friend after lunch and killed time watching Running Man and braved the wind and rain to Tate Modern.

Tate Modern was sensory overload. Too many things going on, too many European students occupying all visible chairs, tables, and sofas turning the place into their lepak center. One of the sinks in the ladies on the lower ground floor appears to have been pissed in. The cubicle doors are decorated with uncommissioned art.

Appreciating contemporary works are difficult when the pieces seem to be lazy strokes of brushes on canvas given pompous titles and description. Maybe it’s just not my taste. Could be the headache I was having (which I realised yesterday was a symptom of stomach flu). It was dizzying to have so many interactive exhibits within close distance to each other. There was a short movie being played in the same corridor as a musical playground. One epileptic video light show followed by another. A sound effect accompanied exhibit adjacent to another. Notwithstanding the smell of some of the materials used mingling with the perfumes several ladies were wearing.

“Da-da-dee-da-dee-doom”

While people on my newsfeed and timeline are getting excited over Big Bang’s concert in London, Adila and I sneaked off for an early term break with Mika at the Roundhouse (we didn’t have any lectures the following day). The ticket was more affordable than Big Bang’s without compromising the fun factor \(^_^)/

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I really don’t know how people can go to concerts and do fancams or take nice pictures throughout a performance. Most of the time I was singing/dancing along to the music, standing still was almost impossible. My friend and I arrived at 7pm as per printed door opening time and there was already a queue round the block. We thought we were one of the last ones to arrive until 10mins later it doubled behind us. We weren’t too far off from the stage once we entered the venue.

I was a fan before, after the gig I became a BIG fan. This man was jumping on and off the piano and all over the place while singing songs octaves high without missing a note (at least I didn’t hear any). His smile, his enthusiasm, his voice…he’s probably the sexiest guy in a plain white shirt I’ve seen. He’s reported to be gay, some say he swings both sides – please let this be true, give the girls a chance haha.

After the performance I couldn’t stop playing his songs. While checking out some of his live performance recordings and interviews, I think Mika’s a genius.

 

He sings fluent French – Elle Me Dit.

He translates some of his songs in English to French and vice versa.

He sang a Deutsche song for the first time and did it so well with a little bit of guidance.

Go check out pictures of his gig here –> http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/photos/live-photo-gallery/brilliantly-over-the-top-shots-of-mika-at-the-roundhouse-114821#2

Cosmetics : more than just beauty enhancers

9 out of 10 people you meet everyday would automatically associate those rainbow eye palettes, lip shades, rouge et cetera to making women look good. Mention make-up artist and more often than not images of brides-to-be, fashion models, actors, and performers being touched up prior to a photo shoot, event, or a show.

The face is a canvas, and once prepped with the right combination of base, foundation, and concealers it is ready to be ‘painted’ by the make-up artist to achieve whatever kind of look they want. In the following images, the make-up artist created bruises and cuts, ages, and fatigues the male actors.

Lights, Camera, Action!

The following pictures were meant to accompany a post last year titled Ealing Studios. The pictures are as they are unless my friend, the director of the film-shooting happened to have processed them post-production while the memory card was with him. I only got round to getting the pictures earlier in February when we met up in London. Could’ve done it earlier, but then again, why do you think I’m the CEO of Penggoyang Kaki Profesional?

The following images are just previews. I took a total of over 400 shots and still thinking of a way to sort them out so the readers will get a coherent set of pictures instead of utter randomness.

I’ve been driven to sheer levels of exhaustion lately. Juggling lab reports, courseworks, and directing an amateur theater production is working me to about 80% of my full capacity, if I say so myself. The remaining 20% is reserved for body recuperation. I find myself falling ill every now and then when I don’t get enough sleep. Second year has probably been the most miserable yet the best part of my life to this second. I shall continue to LIVE. LIFE. TO THE FULLEST.

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My Notes During Projek Amanat Negara 2012

Projek Amanat Negara is an annual event organised by UKEC which brings together prominent figures in the Malaysian political, social, and entrepreneurial arena to London for an ‘intellectual discourse’. I have spent a bit too long exchanging opinions across Facebook walls today so I am only putting up a copy of the scribbling I did during the event for now. Pen and notebook in one hand, mobile phone in the other live tweeting updates, so there are some bits I missed out writing. Will put up a selected list of my tweets in a separate post.

The event was on the weekend right after my exams. By Monday I was really exhausted. Syawal Hafriz is the Chairman of UKEC, Dato’ Sri Zakaria Sulong; Malaysian High Commissioner, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz; Chairman of AirAsia X.

I started writing the points in linear format, but after seeing Shanon Shah (who sat next to me) noting the details in mind maps, I took cue.

The top page was the end of  my note-taking for Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz’s speech. The following is the Human Rights session, moderated by Melissa Kong. The speakers for the session was Dato’ Yunus Raiss; a former Magistrate at West London Court, Pang Khee Teik; a founding member of Sexuality Merdeka, and Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir; former chairperson of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and an active women’s rights activist. Dato’ Yunus Raiss gave hand outs listing expression and ideas for possible questions (will share that in another post). I thought he was the only one relevant to the topic of human rights. The other two on the panel went passionate with gay rights and feminism blah blah blah.

Next was Religion : Islam in Malaysia which I personally thought was the best session ever. On the panel, Karim Raslan; a lawyer, Zainah Anwar; founding member of Sisters in Islam, Dr. Haji Dzulkefly Ahmad; PAS strongman,  Dr. Carool Kersten; historian of religion and Islamicist. Dr. Zulkefly and Zainah Anwar had completely opposite and highly contrasting views, yet throughout the duration of discussion everybody expressed their opinions in a very civil manner and debated using relevant points.

The last session was the debate between Khairy Jamaluddin and Rafizi Ramli “Public Policy : Vision 2020: Is Malaysia Moving Towards the Right Direction?” At this point I stopped writing altogether and was tweeting points most of the time. It was a brilliant debate with points well-argued without much personal attacks and some of my friends are still debating about the debate at the moment.

Aidilfitri Postcard for Atuk, London-style!

Today I got caught in the rain on Oxford Street on the way to Selfridges, ending up buying my fifth umbrella. This time it is a proper one (not the fold up version) with a nice wooden handle and a sturdy frame.

I wanted to get a set of pretty postcards I spotted at the stationary section of the high-end departmental store I saw the last time I was there, but to no avail. After getting in the second time (I went out, only to find it raining even more heavily, stepped back in and then bought the umbrella) I took a peek into Cath Kidson and found a nice set of postcards.

The cashier asked if it was a gift (it wasn’t) and if I would like to have it wrapped, I said yes and had them nicely bundled up.

It was tropical monsoon in London as I made my way to the post-office to get the stamps. Thank goodness for the large coverage of my brand new brolly, only the hems of my pants became slightly damp by the time I got back, but the paper bag containing my purchase was soaked. My purchase was unharmed though, thank God!

I pray hope the postcard reaches my grandfather in time, Godspeed!

Bee Me – Portobello, London

I was down with fever and a very upset stomach the day before I flew off to London. Recovered just in time for a 12 hour, non-stop journey across the continents but was slightly discoloured not too soon after touchdown. I had been (and still am) carrying packets of tissue with myself everywhere I went and couldn’t help sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose every now and then. Mummy and I were taking her friend along Portobello Road when I saw Bee Me and conveniently dragged them along for a much needed treat, which wasn’t devastating to my digestive system nor my very sore throat.

Bee Me is a frozen yoghurt bar very much similar to Snog, but had the extra topping option of liquid toppings to choose from – Italian caramel, honey, and Rocher chocolate. I would have asked for a triple those of the third if not for the sore throat. Mummy and her friend had a fruity mix of berries while I had a single topping of mini oreos.

On the menu you have natural, chocolate or mango passionfruit frozen yoghurt to choose from. You could have in on its own, in a cup with or without toppings, or order waffles topped with the frozen yoghurt, or have it layered with a series of fruits, cereals, nuts or chocolates as a parfait, blended with your choice of toppings into a smoothie. If frozen yoghurt doesn’t appeal to you they do serve freshly-made fruit juices and the usual fare of tea and coffee.

The interior gave a very homey, cosy feeling decorated with earthly colours and fluffy little cushions. I preferred the atmosphere there compared to the Snog I went somewhere central London which was surrounded by adult entertainment shops, nightclubs, bars and the like.

The weather was gorgeous in London when we arrived and mummy’s friend could not resist taking pictures of flowers. Her headscarf prettily matches the colour of the flowers, don’t they?

‘Promotional Offers’

I received a call today from a representative of a certain Sapphire Studios in central London saying that I have won a ‘VIP Photo Package’, a lucky draw from a list of contacts put forward by a genuine friend of mine. Searching them up on Google produced a list of threads where customers vented out their dissatisfation due to having lured into something they did not ask for and stories from other people who received similar calls as well.

“Hi (my name), how are you today?”

Been busy.

“Darling you have just won a VIP ticket to a photoshoot…”

Erm? Okay.

Your friend so-and-so have recently had a session with us. Have you not seen any of her pictures on Facebook?”

No.

“Alright, so she’s forwarded a list of friends for a lucky draw for the photoshoot and you got it! Are you excited?”

(Fake) Yay!

“…luxurious and professional makeover…”

” You can also bring a friend with you!”

(another fake) Yay!

“… photography… (blah blah blah)….does it make sense to you?”

Of course!

“Now, if you do work from Monday to Friday, just to let you know we are open 7 days a week.

“Darling, this ticket is valid for three months. Now we just need to generate a tentative date so you don’t miss out on the offer.”

Excellent!

“….professional makeover…So who are you going to bring with you?”

My mum.

“That’s fantastic! Now, are you sitting in front of a computer? You can go to our website, typie in w-w-w-dot-s-a-p P for Papa, p-h-i-r-e-studios-dot-co-dot-uk. Have you got to the main page?”

Yeah.

“You can go to the gallery section and view the pictures….(blah blah blah)…have you been in a fashion photoshoot before?”

Nope. But I have done film photography for a friend at Ealing Studios..

“Wow! That’s fantastic! Now darling, if you would just give me your details so we could generate your ticket and have it sent directly to your email…(blah blah blah)…. does it makes sense to you?”

(Sarcastic) Yeah.

“This is a promotional offer, we are trying to gain publicity by offering free photoshoots since we are a relatively new studio…(blah blah blah)….does it makes sense to you?”

Yeah. I was the Publicity Officer for one of the student societies in uni…

Excellent…(blah blah blah)…we need a deposit of £300 to secure your VIP session…(blah blah blah)…”

Wait. You’re asking for my debit card details?

“…you know how when you’re doing a transaction on the phone they ask for the number behind the card (blah blah blah) but we’re not going to do that…(blah blah blah)…”

Oh, so sorry! My (imaginary) boss is coming. I’ve got to put down the phone.

“Can you confirm the dates with us (blah blah blah)….”

I really, really have to go. Sorry! Bye!

*Ends call*

Later I gave a shout out to my friend, and she confirmed it was real. She did go for the photoshoot but didn’t buy any pictures. The person who dealed with them at the end of the day weren’t happy when they said “No” and proceeded to bitch about them to a colleague within earshot. My friend and her companion walked out of the studio after that.

The studio was charging about £46 per photo. On the threads I found, that was the price given for the first piece. Subsequent photos were charged at £95 each.

I would normally reply “Sorry, not interested” with these kind of people, but I simply wanted to know where the conversation was heading (apart from practicing my acting skills haha!).  I was curious to know if the contact list was legitimately obtained, or leaked from a database. Had I wanted a pretty picture of myself I could have just called up several friends (who are semi-pros in this sort of thing) and have more fun organising our own photoshoot.

The following are my friend’s testimonial on her experience;

“my friend V got recommended by her friend to go for this free photoshoot thing, which she accepted cos her friend verified it and she paid around 100 for deposit (because apparently they lose money if u dont show up and they need to prepare the photographers and all that) which they assured her is fully refundable.

so she asked me to go as her guest and we went on the same day with another pair of friends. it was fine when they do your make up and hair and all, nice to u, photographer very friendly and made the session fun.

then we were given forms to fill in to recommend others, kononnya for free gifts (apparently its cheap make up products, whatever la) so i just simply put those i thought might enjoy, some of the numbers i put friends dont use anymore. after they collected the forms we went upstairs to look at the pictures. they were..okay la. did not make me look like a goddess.

V and i didnt plan to buy before we went for the photoshoot anyway, 46 pounds for one photo u think our dads print money is it. just went for the experience, thought it sounded fun. then the lady wasnt happy, in fact abit annoyed when she asked what our budget was and we replied that we didnt really have a budget and just wanted to see how it went and then decide. lagi not encouraged to buy la kan?

anyway the price on the website gives 46 per photo, she offered to give us 2 for our deposit (im not sure if the deposite was exactly 100, but somewhere around there), then she said she’d give us 2 each and 1 together for the deposit, a total of 5. still expensive la. so after we told her we didnt want to buy, she was like fine and all, did the deposit refund paperwork and then when we walked out of the room she went into another room. that room’s door was open and we heard her say loudly apa bitch la bla bla she offered 5 already still dont want buy bla bla o.O so that ruined the whole experience la basically.

we walked out straight away telling our pair of friends about it after that didnt even want to claim the free gift or whatever. but the other pair of friends were fine – they didnt experience that. so its real la but only go if u want the experience and ur able to say no firmly and not feel bad hahah then again i cant promise that u wont experience what i did.”

Stay safe people!

Ealing Studios

“Quiet on set! Getting a take. . . camera rolling?”

“Rolling!”

“. . aaaaand ACTION!”

I love the summer holidays when I get to indulge in non-academic, non-engineering activities guilt-free. I had the opportunity to help out my budding film director friend with his short film shooting at Ealing Studios last weekend. The experience was exhilarating.

I saw how the make-up artist applied sweat, bruises and blood on the actors. I was impressed by the actor’s (who played the protagonist) ability to express his character during rehearsal (when the actor(s) act without the camera rolling) even without his acting partner. Ok. Maybe that is the standard for students from acting schools, but I was still amazed anyway. Later in the day we got a glimpse of Colin Firth as the shooting for Gambit happened in the studio right next to where we were.

Hollywood, Bollywood may sound and appear glamorous but the work that goes on on set requires all your attention and energy. The shooting for my friend’s short film began around 9am and I only left the studio after 6.30pm, after helping out with the cleaning up. I slept throughout the whole tube ride back to central London (where I crashed at a friend’s) and may had members of the public assuming I was a little tipsy. I was still half-asleep when exiting the tube station and temporarily lost the ability to walk straight. I recovered slightly after a restorative of salmon ramen and takoyaki for dinner.

While introducing myself to one of the crews on set, I told him I studied Chemical Engineering and I wanted to work in a chocolate factory. Being somebody who is very detached from the engineering world, he couldn’t see the relationship between the two, until I explained that chemical engineers are the ones responsible to oversee/organise/design the processes that happens to make your toothpaste, shaving cream, canned food, shower gel etc. He told me that, “Everyone wants to be a film director, a whatever, so-and-so, but this is the first time I’ve heard of somebody who wants to work and own a chocolate factory.” At that point in time I wanted to go HELL YEAHHHH!!!!! but I just smiled and laughed instead.

He himself started out with producing home-made films by getting himself a camera and having fun with his friends. Another guy I spoke to on set actually did a PhD in Physics before enrolling into a drama school in London. Now that’s monumental. I thought he was a model at first impression. One very important thing that all these people reminded me was, dare to follow your dreams. As a Malay proverb goes – kalau hendak seribu daya, kalau tak hendak seribu dalih.

Direct English translation – If you wanted something badly enough, you would put all your efforts in it, but if it was something you really do not want to do, you’ll come up with thousands of excuses for it.