My random ramblings.

Posts tagged “Humour

10 Reasons to shun the Notting Hill Carnival…

…or take rotten tomatoes with you.

Yes, yes…it was only last year I went to the carnival and blogged about it here. In fact, I seemed pretty fine with it. I did express my dislike for some things, like the booming music and crowds, but I thought I had a good time overall. So what changed this year? I’ll tell you.

1. Ginger sugar cane juice

There is sugar cane juice and then there is ginger tea. Who drinks sugar cane juice with ginger in it?? There was so much ginger in it that I could hardly taste the sugar cane. Last year we had lime juice with the sugar cane juice. That was odd too, but at least it was nice as lime and lemon go well with just about anything. This year it just got plain wrong. Is it too much to ask for pure, unadulterated sugar cane juice?

2. Cavorting women

The carnival on Monday is “adult day”. You would expect to see flesh on display. You’d see the odd woman on the parade practically topless, with strategically placed flowers or ornaments. You might also see a topless woman with body paint, in an albeit feeble attempt at concealing her partial nudity. What you don’t expect to see is women among the crowds, yes, “the members of public” lifting up their tops and jiggling their wonky breasts at unsuspecting people! Imagine the shock, horror, disgust at the tasteless exposure I was subjected to! I don’t consider myself prudish or old fashioned, but I believe flesh-baring and nudity should be done with a bit of class (I’d even accept it under the guise of ‘art’), not while cavorting around intoxicated!

3. Weed, the consumable kind…

The smell of weed wafts to your nose every-bloody-where you go! I know it is a street party and it is a foregone conclusion that there will be alcohol and drugs, but it is no more fun than sniffing second-hand fart, let me tell you! And for someone who’s got the sense of smell of a greyhound, it is not pleasant at all. No amount of hot food will mask the smell of weed! It is pungent and sickening and unfortunately as ubiquitous as jerk chicken at the carnival.

4. Pee

Yes, as if the smell of weed wasn’t bad enough, there is putrid urine stench at every alley! Men don’t take well to long toilet queues. Who would, if they had water pistol-like appendages that allowed them to freely relieve themselves wherever they chose? Your only consolation while covering up your nose with your hand, scarf, hanky and jacket is that you don’t live there. It’s no wonder most residents vacate their house during the carnival and only return days or weeks afterwards. But I’ve always wondered whether the  residents have protested against having the carnival in their posh neighbourhood. Imagine your neighbourhood being turned into an open space urinal overnight!

5. Overcrowded trains

It beggars belief that the London tube services can’t withstand a weekend of Notting Hill carnival but breezed through the Olympic and Paralympic games. Getting to and from the Notting Hill carnival is nothing short of a nightmare if you take the tube. Be prepared to breathe in the scent of pits akin to fermented milk, and beer breath and sweat everywhere you turn, especially on the return trip. Of course some might consider themselves lucky if they could turn around freely on the tube. The trains are so crowded in the evenings that they are the human equivalent of farm chicken coops.

6. Noise

I’m not talking about the booming music…that probably deserves an entry of its own considering the grief and ear-ache it caused me…I’m talking about the incessant shrieking and blaring of whistles and horns. Some people clearly think vuvuzela-inspired noises add to the atmosphere of the carnival. It must be the same kind of people who go weekend in weekend out to techno clubs and shout on top of their voices to their friends next to them while dancing right next to the speakers. Too bad you won’t hear me laugh when you go deaf at 40.

7. Loud music

I told you it deserved a separate entry…

Where can I even begin with the loudness of the music? We seem to be breeding a generation of music lovers who think it is not good music if it’s not loud enough to blow out your eustachian tubes and cochlea! These people lurk everywhere, not just at carnivals and clubs unfortunately…they are in the car that pulls up next to yours, booming music audible behind closed windows…they are on trains listening to their ipods, the music so loud that Bose speakers would be put to shame…

I should have known better from my experience in 2011 that this is not a place to be more than once in your lifetime. I’m the person who switches off the tv and music when I am at home alone, for God’s sake. I love the sound of silence. Even as I write this, there is no music. The tv is switched off. I went again this year, against my better judgement. I told my friend this is how it must be like for women who have their second or third (or umpteenth) baby. After each one, they vow never to experience the pain of childbirth again. Then wired as we all are to be suckers, our brain dampens the memory of pain over time and we yearn for it again and again.

8. Shoddy costumes

For a carnival that is purported to be the second-best (in the world?) after the Rio de Janeiro carnival, it sure is a let down. BBC posted photos of the 2012 Notting Hill carnival, and to be fair the photos do look good. But let me assure you that neither did I see any of those costumes nor see any that looked impressive…and I watched the parade from the main route. Also, judging from the women in the photos, BBC has undoubtedly cherry picked and showcased the best of the carnival.

The costumes looked like they had been put together overnight with little thought or budget. Maybe these costumes look better from far. Maybe they had started to fall apart by the time they got to my section of the route from all the dancing. Whatever it is, just don’t expect Rio carnival standards for the costumes and the women!

9. Disorganised crowd control

The crowds this year seemed a lot more uncontrolled than last year. Gone were the ropes used to contain crowds within the pedestrianised zones and instead, people could freely join the parades, be it to dance alongside the costumed dancers or to take photos with them. I am not sure whether the “marshalling area” within the carnival route provided a more controlled environment, but the people were just about everywhere along the main route. I can’t speak for other photographers, but it was quite frustrating for your photo composition to be constantly disturbed by members of the public distracting the performers.

10. It’s free

“Wait…isn’t it a good thing if it’s free?” I hear you ask. Did you know you’ve got to pay for tickets to watch the best of the Rio carnival parades? That’s why they’re so good.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

You pay for what you get.

Those words of wisdom apply here. You know how it is when you get something for free. Museums have free sections and paid sections. Free sections are not bad – well in this case they are not really free, but funded by the government – but the paid sections are remarkably better. The fact that something is free demonstrates that there’s only so much the organisers can do with the little funds they have.

So maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Notting Hill carnival. It’s free, after all.

I’ve griped enough about the carnival. Now it’s your turn. Pleeeaaassee!! Otherwise I might start wondering if age is snuffing out my fun-loving side! 🙂


Colmar, cakes and copycats!

For some reason they reminded me of an icing cake.

It could have been the smooth, pastel walls that looked like marzipan on a cake. Or it could have been the timber cladding criss-crossing the walls like piped chocolate. Or maybe I was just plain hungry, my growling stomach giving me a case of pareidolia.

This is Colmar, a charming little city in the Alsace region of France. In fact, so charming and picturesque is this city that it inspired copycat Malaysia to replicate Colmar at Bukit Tinggi. Not being one partial to fakes (fake branded goods, fake boobs and the likes) let me have you know that I have not visited Bukit Tinggi nor have the desire to.

Speaking of fake branded goods, I don’t know why someone would want to buy something fake just so they can have a fake sense of belonging among society’s shallow materialists. I’d rather carry a cheap handbag from the market than a fake Prada. Actually I’d rather carry a cheap handbag instead of spending a fortune on a branded handbag. How many times have I seen someone carry a branded bag and thought ‘that looks like the fake one I saw at the market?’ But I digress. Besides, how would a nation’s economy keep itself buoyant without people spending their hard-earned money on frivolous pursuits?

Still on the subject of copycats though, we came across signs leading us towards a ‘Little Venice’, an unexpected promise of a Mediterranean interlude lingering in the continental air. Snaking through alleyways and ducking beneath lush green trees, we kept on going in search of Italy’s darling. Then we saw it. A bridge. Not quite the Grand Canal or Rialto bridge of Venice, but the archetype was unmistakable. The bridge rose and fell over a river, like the bosom of a nubile woman. Restaurants and houses formed the banks of the river. Apparently, the canal serves its purpose to this day, hence its affiliation to Venice, whose canals are the lifeblood of the city. Fresh produce and meat are delivered to the restaurants by the canal front in Colmar.

We wandered on and stumbled upon a market selling local produce like pastries and jam. Pretzels hung on pretzel-trees. Glum women slumped behind checked tables. Very French!

When I walked out of the market, I thought I had felt a drop of water on my head. I gazed at the skies for signs of rain and could have sworn I saw a cloud the shape of a roast chicken. Pareidolia had struck again!


5 Travel Tips for the Holiday Period

Having lived in the UK for nearly 10 years now, and having travelled quite a bit, I’d like to think I’m quite experienced when it comes to travel matters. I’ve got the whole pre-travel, during travel and post-travel agenda sorted out in my head it’s almost second nature to me. So I thought what better thing to share on my blog than giving tips on how to travel what with the imminent holiday period.

So here are some tips that you might find useful the next time you travel.

1. Become a lean, mean cleaning machine!

There’s nothing like returning to a home that is spotless! Before I go away on holidays, I blitz the whole house! I vacuum, arrange everything around the house neatly, wash the bathroom and change the sheets. Bubbles always jokes that I must have been a cleaner in my past life so you can imagine the ruckus I cause especially the day before we travel, trying to get everything to look immaculate.

You see, I find returning home from my holidays quite depressing, so it helps returning to a house that is super-clean and smelling pine-fresh! And heaven forbid if we were to die in a plane crash, at least my family wouldn’t have to sob over my smelly underwear and unwashed plates!

2. Packing your travel bag

Thank God I’m not one of those overgrown baboons who travels with a teddy-bear. Seriously ladies, if you’re over 10, no stuffed animals in your luggage, please! I pack all my toiletries in miniature travel kits, and it’s just as well considering the liquid restrictions on flights. Even if I were going on a long haul flight and checking in luggage, I keep this to a minimum to save space for the goodies I might be returning with! My formula for underwear is “Number of days travelling + 1 = underwear to bring”. Yeah I know you can wash your underwear while on holidays, but if I’m going for less than a week, this is the most convenient method. I’m not into wearing my underwear inside out when I run out of a clean pair! Eww!

Unfortunately these days I’ve got to keep my clothes to a bare minimum ever since I got a DSLR. It takes so much space! How our priorities change in life…

Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage. This is a lesson I learnt during my recent flight to Malaysia. Our flight to Singapore was delayed and we missed the connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur that night. We had to stay over at the airport hotel in Singapore and we had no clothes in our hand luggage! Of course we could have requested for our checked-in luggage but we didn’t want to lug it back through check-in the next day. It wasn’t a major disaster, but still it could have been more comfortable travelling in clean clothes the next day. But wait till you see No. 5 – you’ll understand why in some cases it’s crucial you travel with clothes in your hand luggage!

Some destinations require medicines. Like India. Enough said.

3. Make a list

Didn’t we just cover packing? Why a list now then? Aha. It’s not a packing list…it’s a list of things to eat! I seriously make a list, especially if I’m travelling back to Malaysia, my home country. Do you know how much there is to stuff your face with? The list is quite exhaustive: satay, loh bak, wantan noodles, dim sum, petai, char koay teow, ciku, rambutan, mangosteens… you can get some of these here in the UK, but it’s not always the same, especially satay. Yum! I make this list on my phone and check them from time to time to make sure I’ve ‘covered’ them all! Unfortunately, the next time I go, the list would have shrunk sizeably due to my recent pescatarian diet. I hope I don’t regret it!

I also make a list of things to buy, especially when I’m returning to Malaysia. Usually this would be spices and clothes, but the next time there’s going to be one additional thing on my list: DSLR lens. It’s dirt cheap there. Check what’s cheap where you’re going – you could save a mini-fortune by buying some stuff abroad. (That’s what happens when you pile on the VAT, Cameron! Some of us would be contributing to the economy of other countries instead!)

4. In-flight tips

When I travel alone, I prefer the window seat. Actually I prefer the window seat. Period. But it especially helps when you’re travelling alone, as you can doze off with the confidence that no one will wake you to go pee/poop/barf. If you’re scared of flying I wouldn’t recommend the window, though. Now’s not the time to see the teeny-weeny crack in the window and wonder how old the plane is…

Another flight tip: travel with your own Bubbles, if possible, (remember Bubbles?) whomever that might be. Bubbles lets me put my feet up on his so I can sleep with my legs stretched as far as possible. Comes close to travelling first class! 🙂

Yet another tip: watch out for empty seats like a hawk. If you find the 3 or 4 middle seats empty, you’ve hit jackpot: stretch yourself nicely over the seats and go to sleep!

5. Packing for the return trip

Packing for your return trip is easy-peasy if you haven’t done much shopping. What went in in the first place can go back in! But what do you do when you’ve bought so much stuff they don’t fit into your bag? Roll, baby! No, I don’t mean roll a joint in frustration, or forget packing and start partying, I mean, roll your clothes. Fold them first, then roll them as much as you can so they can be squeezed into every nook and cranny. Trust me on this one. You’ll be amazed at how much space you’d be left with in your luggage.

What do you do when you’ve bought so much they can’t fit into your luggage, or worse, they fit but your luggage is too heavy? Always, always weigh your bag if you think it is going to exceed the weight limit at check-in. I once weighed it, and knowing it was too heavy went to the airport in the hope that the airport weighing scale might record it a few kilos lighter. Fat hopes. It was even heavier (I can feel a conspiracy theory on this one). What did I do? Executive decisions had to be made on what to chuck out.

I’m compelled to also put in writing what a friend recommended years ago. Wear two pairs of jeans and a few t’shirts to lighten the load. That will at least save you 1-2 kgs. Yes, it was you, Ada, (if you’re reading this) and no, I won’t ever be doing it! 😀

Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage. My aunt had a serious case of Delhi-belly when travelling back from India and had a little mishap during her return flight. You don’t want to know the rest of the story but you get the picture.

So, there you go. Some travel tips you cannot do without. Happy travelling and happy holidays!


What kind of a person are you?

“What kind of a person are you?” I’m sure you have come across many personality tests that aim to decipher the kind of person you are by asking a few questions and assessing your personality based on the answers you give.

Well, I’ve got one for you. But unlike all those long-winded personality tests, this one is simple…very simple, trust me! All I ask is “What kind of person are you?” Now pick your answer from the 13 choices below, then read further below to find out what it means to be the person you think you are. You can pick more than one answer, I don’t mind, as long as you don’t peek at the answers first. Good luck!

1. Shy

2. Proud

3. Amiable

4. Intellectual

5. Impudent

6. Sensitive

7.  Unfortunate

8. Dishonest

9. Grateful

10. Sadistic

11. Righteous

12. Honest

13. Clever

And here are the answers…prepare to be baffled…

1. Shy – One who farts, then blushes.

2. Proud – One who only likes the smell of his/her own fart.

3. Amiable – One who likes the smell of everyone’s fart.

4. Intellectual – One who can determine the smell of his/her neighbour’s dog’s fart.

5. Impudent – One who farts, then laughs out loud.

6. Sensitive – One who farts, then starts crying.

7.  Unfortunate – One who tries to fart but shits instead.

8. Dishonest – One who farts, then blames the dog.

9. Grateful – One who farts, then thanks God for being able to.

10. Sadistic – One who farts under the duvet, then covers his/her partner with it.

11. Righteous – One who farts, then gives a medical reason for it.

12. Honest – One who farts, then owns up to it before even anyone can smell it.

13. Clever – One who conceals his/her fart by laughing loudly when farting.