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Saturday, June 25, 2011

group Badminton

I got the chance to play badminton twice this week and it feels pretty good. It’s been many months since I’ve played regularly (and even longer before then), so it was nice to get out there and hit the shuttles.

Joseph introduced me to the first group I played with, at Centrepoint Badminton Centre downtown. There’re only six courts there, but as with any badminton group, they always book courts beforehand so playing space was never a problem. It was good playing with that group because I play at a level that’s probably slightly just below the others. In simple terms, I’m not too bad, haha!

I’ve been playing with this group for two weeks in a row now, and one of the guys has even given me some tips. I had no idea he’d be so observant, although it probably wouldn’t take much to see that I struggle like a bear to move on court. He asked me to watch footwork videos on YouTube and told me he’d even train me a little. I’m not sure why I’ve been given ‘special’ attention, but its good help nonetheless, so I’ll take it. 



On Tuesday, I received an overdue call from Mr. David, whom I met about a month ago who said he’d call for badminton too. It didn’t take much for me to say yes then since I’m hardly occupied in the evening after work. I don’t have a wife and kids to come home to, hahaha.

This second group I joined for the first time this week’s pretty different from the first. Age-wise, most of them are probably older than my father! They’re all pretty decent players though and some are very committed. I know because something crazy happened that day. We’d barely begun when I played a simple net shot and my opponent who was too far out DIVED for it, slid across the floor, HIT THE UMPIRE CHAIR, which then slid across to the neighbouring court! He failed to receive the shuttle though. Needless to say, he was down for a bit, quite an introduction to the group, no?

I thank God that I’ve found these two groups, because it really works up an awesome sweat, a lot more than I would get jogging on the beach. Its a whole lot more fun too, and it all happened just when I was resigned to not being able to play sports regularly. I was talking to Mr. David, and he said that these days he lacks stamina and that others told him to play something else, but he loves badminton too much to give it up because of the good fun and sweat. Good fun, good people, there isn’t too much else to ask for.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

reset Restart

Throughout most of my life, I’ve never really put myself out to be a prominent person. I’m not the exciting, life-of-the-party sort of guy. An only child, I didn't have much reason to be noisy about annoying siblings and such. Being alone, you learn to appreciate silence, and tend to stay quiet and observe more instead of jumping into things, although I guess that also depends on the kind of person you are.

Even now, living in Malacca I’ve been taken on another journey to make something new out of my life; and being on my own is a default that’s a lot like a video game re-spawn. My friends list (the real one, not the social media contact list) was reset to zero when I first came to Malacca. I did have a contact from KL that would get me connected to a church, but that was it.

Living on my own, driving on my own, eating on my own, watching movies on my own, it sounds like one sad story full circle. That’s what you’d say I guess, and it’s true somewhat. There’s no question I could do with a little more company, but I haven’t found myself depressed about the lack of it. However, life is hardly about keeping to oneself and that's what forces you to discover new things, new people. 



I didn't know what to expect when I first stepped into an office completely new to me, but thankfully people have been welcoming and helpful, which has helped me a lot. Still, sometimes the people you meet at work aren't always the same people you'll hang out with on a Friday night. I'm getting along fine with people at work, but it doesn't go beyond the workplace.

Going to a new church, I didn't know what to expect either. Just like a kid who moves to new school, I knew how the place would probably be like, but not the people. I hoped to meet good people that I would feel comfortable with, that would complement my personal values.

A timeless principle that applies to every person is that who you are will be determined by the people you choose to be with, no matter who you are. That's why for me, choosing friends is a big deal, or at least how close I choose to be with them. I don't decide who my friends are based on the criteria of nice-type Christian people. I've got friends of different races, belief systems and the like. I'm not socially prejudiced. That said, I don't hang with drug pushers for the sake of accepting diversity.

After some weeks I started to know some people from church a little better, and its been great that way. Having been in Malacca for less than three months, I'd say it's been a fine start. As I get to know people and as they get to know me, bit by bit I think that there's something good in store for me here. Do I know what it is? Only God knows at this point.

A lot of people from big cities that work in smaller places like Malacca tend to go back every weekend, because there's something good and familiar back home. Like I've told some new Malaccan friends that if I had worked in KL, everything would have been nicely laid out for me. I'd be able to be with my family, able to grow in a church that I love going to, where the entertainment scene is better and I'd even be better off financially. Who cares about rent and utility bills when you're living with your family?

Nonetheless, here I am, working at a place called Sungai Udang that I had no knowledge of in my twenty over years of living on earth. On Fridays, some people in the office ask me, "Going back to KL for the weekend?"

"No, I'll be here. In fact, I don't really plan to go back."

I'll go back once a while to visit my parents, its my duty as a son, but the reason doesn't extend beyond that.There's a simple reason why I've chosen to stay in Malacca although I've been more than teased with the delights of a bigger city, the biggest in the country in fact. Its simply because, I know I'm here for a reason (even if I don't know what it is yet), and I want to stick to finding out what it is without running back to familiarity every other week.

Life brought me here, so that's where I want to be. I want to take it as it is, without running, without hiding. Here's to a new journey of discovery, living life for what it's meant to be.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

golden Sweet

I’ve always wanted to blog about this place for the longest time, but it was in cold storage for quite a while since I was never quite satisfied with my photos. Now though, I think I have a few decent enough to show off a favourite eatery of mine, Golden Sweet Home Restaurant. It hosts numerous hawker stalls and is a popular destination for those staying within Bandar Manjalara and around Tesco Village Kepong. 

 
Situated on a row of shop lots that also has several eating places including another coffee shop with its hawkers and a dim sum restaurant, it does fairly well. The photo above was taken on a weekend and you can be sure its packed that way every weekend and public holiday. 



One thing about this hawker place is that it closes quite early, albeit at an undetermined time. What you can be sure of however is that there’ll be no stall for you to buy food from if you go there at two in the afternoon.

Occupying two corner lots, many of the tables and chairs are put in between them. To cool that area, there’re extendable canvas roofs and medium sized water spraying fans but if you sit too close to one of them, you’ll earn the right to a constant drizzle as you eat.

With stalls on both corner lots, there’s good variety for people to choose from. Chicken rice, various noodle dishes, fried rice, vegetarian and ‘nasi lemak’ even, every typical Chinese hawker food you can think of is probably there. 

 

 



Something I should say that you’ll probably have figured out if you’ve been reading carefully is that Golden Sweet Home is more of a brunch place rather than just lunch or breakfast. The waffles are good, the fried rice is tasty; I have yet try anything I felt was bad.

Interestingly, the wonton noodles, although not the best you’ll get in Malaysia, the char siew that comes with it is really something. I did blog before about Sun Ming, the place for roast pork and char siew here, and the char siew served with wonton noodles certainly meets Sun Ming’s standard, even if the pieces are a little smaller. Its a rare case where you could say its char siew served with wonton noodles instead of the other way around.

I haven’t tried all of the food from all the stalls at Golden Sweet Home, but there’s something there that I bet every person that has been there has tried at least once. Its something that really is unique and that you don’t find in many hawker centres around Malaysia even I dare say. 



Out of the many foods at Golden Sweet Home, this personal favourite of mine is what keeps me going back there as much as I can. Those aren’t fried wontons by the way. They’re fried meat dumplings also known as ‘pot stickers’. The right amount of crunch and crispy together with lovely minced meat on the inside make for a perfect breakfast or brunch-like meal and that’s available at Golden Sweet Home. 



The pot stickers are good enough as they are on their own, and even better when you dip it in ginger laced vinegar sauce. As I said before, its really difficult to find a stall selling this at any hawker centre so it really is a big deal in itself.

That’s something I find quite special about Golden Sweet Home. There are other stalls of course, like the ones that sell noodle soup, chicken rice, nasi lemak, pastries too. Even if you don’t like what I like, I’m sure you’ll find something there for yourself, even if you’re vegetarian I might add. If you’re ever looking for a place for brunch, you might want to give Golden Sweet Home a run for the money.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

three Four

It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged about what I’ve learned from something that I’ve read. In fact, I’ve probably never done it before. I thought I should take some time to pen it down here.

Any friend of mine would probably know I’m a Christian and part of that involves reading the bible. Its a collection of real world history and many lessons God gave to people of the past. Even so, its lessons are timeless and its relevance is irrelevant to time, only to the attitude of the heart.

I read a couple of bible chapters a few days ago, Acts 3 and 4 in particular. It was about two of Jesus’s disciples, John and Peter at a time after Jesus had risen from the dead after his crucifiction and ascended to heaven. If you’re curious, you can read the two chapters here and here. They aren’t that long really, more like two short newspaper articles. Nonetheless, I've summarised it:
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The two men were walking on the street when they met a crippled beggar who had never been able to move his feet since birth. The beggar asked them for money but Peter didn't give him any. Instead, he told the beggar, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. I the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk"

Since the beggar was in some state of shock and disbelief, Peter helped the beggar up and as soon as he did, his feet and ankles strengthened immediately. The crippled beggar was crippled no more. He ran walked and jumped around, praising God as he went. The surrounding community was stunned, they couldn't believe this man walking and jumping all over the place was the same crippled beggar they knew from before. 


The stunned crowd could only stare at Peter, probably assuming a superhuman had come in their midst. Peter explained to them this was nothing to be astonished by, because it happened not by Peter's own superpower, but by his simple faith in Jesus Christ. He began to share with the crowd, many of whom had supported the persecution of Jesus. Peter testified that Jesus was truly God, and that it was His power that had healed the beggar. He went on to tell them that repentance and to make a choice to believe in Jesus would bring a refreshing to their lives.

The local authority who had a disdain for Jesus and anyone who supported him arrested Peter and John. They stood firm nonetheless and God gave Peter the words to speak that would earn the respect of his accusers, even if they hated him. They would see that these two were special for they had been with Jesus. Knowing this and that the crowd was praising God for the healing and many of turned to Christ, the local authority could not punish them for fear of the people's reaction and let Peter and John go.


Still, before letting them go, they threatened Peter and John further, warning them not to speak using Jesus name again. The two went among their friends, shared their news and prayed to be strengthened in their faith and to be even bolder in speaking the name of Jesus.
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Peter and John were nobodies, yet were men of tremendous faith. You have to understand that both of them were poor men. Add that to being uneducated and you have the formula for social rejects. It’s pretty amazing what God can do with just a couple of outcasts.

Peter told the beggar he didn’t have money, but he would give what he could. It reminds me money is hardly the solution to every need. Sometimes its a little too easy to drop some cash in a donation box. There’s more to give than just money. The problems of people in crisis are not solvable by cash itself, but with the love and sincerity of people that make an effort to meet their needs. Even though Peter had no money, he made an effort to meet this beggar's real need who never even thought of asking him for help with his physical disadvantage.

When the beggar was healed, its interesting to note that the bible mentions the beggar praised God for it. You see, its so easy to forget God once everything’s okay. Its important to acknowledge and to thank Him who blesses us so much. It doesn’t make sense if you call God every time you’re in trouble but never when things are good. It's especially important to thank God when we've been saved from a trouble that's plagued us for a long time instead of complaining, asking why it took so long. The beggar couldn't walk since birth, but he never complained to God asking why the healing couldn't have been earlier.

When Peter and John were imprisoned, they stood strong in faith, stubborn and adamant that they would never be ashamed of the God they serve. Because of this faith, God gave Peter the words to speak that would earn the elder's respect. Peter didn't speak out of his own ego or intellect, but by God working through him. Having a strong rooted faith allows God to work through us and walk us through the storms of our lives. Problems always come but they give us a chance to exercise our faith and to strengthen it further.

Even upon release, John and Peter were threateened. They knew they would face more persecution in the future because of Jesus name. Still, they stuck to their guns, kept praying, kept believing, continuously persevering. That’s how faith needs to be, which isn’t hard when you know the awesome, powerful and loving God I believe in.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

recent Viewings

I’ll say the last month or so has seen some of the bigger movie names to come on screen. As I wrote in my last blog entry about movies in March, movie releases seem to get better as the months go by. The last two months or so has been good proof of that.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to watch a lot of these and I haven’t been disappointed (at least not too disappointed) by what I’ve seen so far.

The first one I watched was: 



Thor is the first of several movies to be released this year from the Marvel universe. As DC has had its big success with the last few Batman movies, Marvel’s going on the offensive this year with Thor, X-Men: First Class as well as Captain America. I don’t think DC has seen that many live action movies released in a single year.

So, how was Thor? Well, pretty darn good. As with most of Marvel live action movies it was something worth watching. The only problem I had with it was that they turned Thor into a parallel universe alien rather than a mythical God. It took a little magic out of it, but that didn’t do much damage.  

The good thing about the film is that it shows the struggle of two men in choosing to be a hero or a villain as the two are neither at the start. For most parts of the movie, Thor isn’t the perfect courteous superhero depicted in cartoons of the past; more of a naive egotistical boy in the process of growing up. On the other hand, there’s Loki, who’s no natural villain, but grows into one after being severely hurt by a truth hidden to him by Odin and impatient with Thor’s ego. Also, the conclusion of the movie is open ended, which leaves room for sequels, and perhaps ‘The Avengers’ too. 



I watched Thor back in KL at Cathay Cinaplex, the Curve. When I got back to Malacca, I was pretty happy to see GSC had just opened at Jusco AEON Bandaraya Melaka, which is the closest mall to my place. Its made movie going a lot easier for me I must say.

In between its official opening on the 19th of May until now, I’ve watched three movies over there: 



Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the first  I watched at the new cinema. As with all newer GSC halls, the seats are as comfortable as you need them be with pretty decent legroom. However, I noted that the seats themselves are a little narrow, perhaps to save on space.

Back to the movie, there’s not very much to say about it because its only as decent as an average movie. You’d always hope for some comedy wit from Jack Sparrow and there is some, but not a lot (or at least not enough to move the movie from average to good). We all know if that’s lacking, Pirates of the Caribbean doesn’t have too much else to offer in terms of a story. Still, nobody has released any competitive alternatives to a pirate movie as yet. 



One of the disappointments of the movie I felt was the movie makers didn’t do much with the Spanish characters, when they were probably the most intriguing of the lot. Of course, there are the mermaids however. Mermaid vampires are cool as a twist, but I didn’t think of it much more than a copy of a concept from Jennifer’s Body (a movie I’ve never watched and have no intention to).

Kung Fu Panda 2 on the other hand was a more entertaining watch. I’ve always been and always will be a fan of good animated movies. Animated series like Starship Troopers: The Roughneck Chronicles and movies like Toy Story and Final Fantasy have kept me entertained many a time. 



While a lot of sequels to good movies in the past decade or so have either been average or poor, Jack Black and company have at least made it slightly more than average. The story takes Po the panda into a new adventure where he discovers more about his identity (we all know panda’s can’t be children of of geese right?).

While Kung Fu Panda 2 has a fairly straight storyline, viewers do get a good number of laughs and discover more about Po’s background. Interestingly, the movie uses 2D (reminded me of some Animatrix 2D stuff) animation as well, which is brilliant in a time where everybody is touting 3D, something I’ve written about here.

Ironically though, I watched the movie in 3D, the only reason being they weren’t selling non-3D tickets for the show. Oh by the way, its more worth it to watch this film in standard definition instead of 3D. The extra seven ringgit I paid to watch it in 3D wasn’t justified enough. One last thing, also with an open ended ending, there’s room for another sequel in the Kung Fu Panda series.

Last, but not least was X-Men: First Class. I watched it on debut day, 2nd June, which was just a few days ago. After watching the trailer featuring president John Fitzgerald Kennedy giving a public address, an affair with the Soviet Union was always going to be part of it. In that sense, the backdrop of the movie is based on reality so the movie puts fiction into non-fiction although hardly anything really emphasises that.

Since the movie has just released and many haven’t watched it yet, I won’t spoil it but rest assured, this is probably the best, if not one of the best movies of 2011 so far. Why is it so good? Well, that rests with the fact that this movie takes on individual personal conflict of all the major protagonists. Just how ‘Thor’ showed how Thor became a hero and Loki a villain, the same goes for Eric and Charles. It really is a discovery of Magneto and Professor X. Its always a mystery how the bad guy becomes a bad guy, and that's one of the attractions here.

 

However, more than just Eric and Charles, the movie give much focus to how being different can be such a curse. The movie presents a dilemma, whether those who are different should dismiss their abilities to fit in. Should they acknowledge their unique strengths and adapt them to society or do they make a stand to fight a world that feels threatened by what they don’t understand? That’s why it would be hard to pinpoint Eric (Magneto) as the ‘bad guy’ in this movie because the difference between the right and wrong choices for the mutants are hard to define.

That ends my movie blog entry for now, but there may be another one this month. Green Lantern from the DC Universe is about to make a live action film debut later this month and from the trailer, it looks pretty awesome.

Pictures: Google Images || LA Times || CStar Collections

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

priceless Redemption

Being bored on a weeknight at home, I put my eyes to an old favourite of mine that I hadn’t watched for some time. I’ve got to say, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is probably the most heartfelt World War II film that I’ve seen.

An entire squad of American soldiers was sent into deep enemy territory just to save one solider who’d been given the privilege to return home, Private Ryan. They would fight through Nazi strongholds with unfavourable odds. The whole movie looks great on action with plenty of explosions and gunfire. However, you miss the point of the movie if that is the main thing you like about it. 



If you process the plot as you watch the movie, you’ll find the squad’s mission totally illogical. Where’s the sense in risking the lives of eight men for one? The soldiers argued how ridiculous their mission was. They didn’t have a valuable military objective like assassinating a top military officer. They were putting their lives on the line for someone they didn’t even know. That person being a soldier and not a civilian makes it harder to reason out. After all, he’s a soldier. He’s supposed to fight too isn’t he? 



The entire squad sent out to save Private Ryan loses their lives, except two. The mission was successful, Ryan survived, but at a high cost. If the value of one life is priceless, how much is that that multiplied by six? Just before he dies, the squad captain whispers into Ryan’s ears saying, “Ryan, earn this.” 



Ryan in his old age visits the American Cemetery. He turns to the grave of the captain and says, “My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me. ”

He continues as his wife approaches him, asking her to tell him that he’s been a good man, to convince himself he earned his second chance at life and the movie ends there. 



The movie doesn’t show what happened in between the time Ryan was saved and the time he went to visit the squad leader’s grave. What I am certain of is in between those two moments; Ryan would’ve carried an incredible burden. How many of us know what its like for someone to die for us? How hard would anyone have to work to repay such an enormous debt? No matter how hard we work, no matter how many good deeds we do, no matter how nice we are to people in society, we’ll never feel like we’ve deserved that second chance at life. 



While that may be true, I know someone that didn’t ask others to pay the price for redemption. He did the same thing too. He died so that other people could live on. What’s more amazing is the fact that he didn’t do it because of orders. He did it because he wanted to.

The more insane, illogical yet beautiful truth is that he did it for every single person that deserved nothing more than to die, the killers, the terrorists, molesters, rapists and every single person I know a good soldier would never want to die for. He even died for those who hated him, that’s hard core. To top it all off, he did it for free, all costs waivered. That is what he has given the failures, the fools, people like me and that’s why I love Jesus. 



Pictures:
http://www.sproe.com/
http://meghandmark.blogspot.com/