Friday, April 30, 2010

April roundup..

It's the last day of April! Exactly 1/3 of 2010 has already passed.. How time has flown!!

And yes.. I have been so sluggish in updating my blog.. But in order to not let this beloved blog of mine to die a natural death, here're some (more interesting) updates:

1. I `lost' my second Italian teacher but found a new one!
I was so glad to have been introduced to Lina earlier this year after Giovanna left for Rome. Lina was a lovely lady, and I liked the fact that she `pushed' me more.. making me speak Italian all the time in class and even when I sms or called her. What she did was basically revised and strengthened what I needed - basically the conversational part. In just three months, I think I've become a bit more confident in attempting to speak in Italian. Though this forgetful mind of mine means I'm still quite slow..

She was supposed to leave for Italy for 2 1/2 months and back..but since her husband's work contract is ending in August, she won't be coming back. :( She really wanted me to continue learning Italian, which I assure her I would continue! So she found me a new teacher before she left two weeks ago.. (it was quite a sudden sad farewell)

I met up with Beatrice at the Italian Embassy on Wednesday and I'm already excited to start class with her! She believes in interactive teaching style.. and just like Lina and maybe more so, she wants to drill in my conversational Italian, which I fully agreed is what I needed most! She won't be teaching from textbook, but may use music, or even cooking as part of a class (identifying ingredients and following recipes in Italian)! We will be starting 2 weeks later after she's back from her holiday.

2. My First Opportunity into `Christian Journalism'
Having been a journalist and writer all these years.. having written for national papers to many publications, corporate and websites, finally I got the chance to write for Christian publication (church and peer group newsletters notwithstanding). A few weeks ago, I was introduced to the editor of Asian Beacon and I'm glad that not long after that, he actually contacted me to do a story, and then another one! I've just done my first personality interview with an American Christian leader-author this afternoon. Another interview is also in the pipeline.

Writing for Christian publications has always been something at the back of my mind. I believe since God gave me the gift of writing (not that I'm a great writer but it is my vocation) I do want to serve Him and glorify Him in my writing, in a more direct way. And I get paid for it too although the amount is comparably less than other secular publications, but it is something I feel is worthy and meaningful to do. And I'm really glad and excited about it! :)

3. Two Traditional Spa Treatments in One Day
Thanks to my work, I had the opportunity to experience an Ayurvedic massage and the luxurious Hammam spa almost back-to-back in one day last Tuesday! Yes, I have been to spas and have frequent massages quite regularly. But these two types of `treatments' were totally new to me.

I was asked to write for a lifestyle magazine on some `traditional remedies' that are being offered in some more upmarket spas or centers. Actually I only needed to introduce each of them briefly (about 300 words?) and get some photos. But when I approached these places, they were nice enough to offer me to try their treatments. Well, no reason to refuse right? ;)

I was given the Abhyanga (Ayurvedic Oil Massage) and Patra Pnda Sweda (Herbal leaf poultice therapy) at Samkkya Ayurveda in Bangsar. It was very different from the massages I had experienced - very oily but I like the vigorous stroke. The medicinal smell was quite strong and while it felt rejuvenating, I wasn't that used to the oiliness! Still it was an interesting experience. I also learned more about ayurveda treatments...

The Hammam spa at Bangsar Village 2 was something else! The Moroccan version of the traditional Turkish bath contained the signature `Hammam & Gommage' - a bathing ritual that involves a `black soap' wash, moorish body polish and `enveloppment' (ie body wrap). I was taken to a warm dimly-lit`bathroom' in Moroccan style. I just sat or laid down and did nothing, and a Moroccan `bathing lady' attended to me - soaped, bathed, scrubbed my whole body and also washed my hair etc.. in a way, it felt kinda weird :p And the rigorous body polish really leave your skin feeling clean! The whole process was really relaxing.

After that, I was also given a full-body Moroccan massage which was so good.. and followed by a facial, which was much needed since I hadn't had one for months! The whole `ritual' took more than 3 hours and I must say it was one of the best if not the best spa experience I have ever had.. what bliss!

4. Singing and more singing

Earlier over Easter weekend, Cantus Musicus (yes, the has been revived!) did a presentation of `Thorns & Roses' at St. Andrew's Church. We didn't have much time to practise and in fact my choir director was quite worried and stressed about it. But thank God, everyone put in effort and rose to the occasion.

We didn't sing many songs but they were really lovely such as Agnus Dei, Libera Me and the finale Den wir haben hie keine belbende Statt by Johannes Brahms, which was a tough song to sing but I think we did justice to it! And the audience response said it all too.. it was great to sing for the Glory of God!

Now, we are busy practising for our next concert - a Celtic Concert at the home of the Irish Ambassador next month. The repertoire includes not just Irish but Welsh songs. Welsh must be one of the hardest languages to pronounce! But the music again is lovely, something you don't hear often...

As for my personal vocal class, my teacher is gearing me up for my grade 6 vocal exam end of the year. I've already started learning the exam pieces some time ago (which I didn't know then were the exam pieces!) - an Italian aria, a German lieder and two more..

As you can guess, to me, singing is one of the most enjoyable things I could do :) And it is a great way to destress as well. I just hope I am more diligent and hardworking to improve this art and skill...

Yes, so April has been an eventful month, even at personal level which I won't share here.. :p

Now, work is picking up too so May looks like another busy month..

and guess what, this blog is turning five next month!

Friday, April 02, 2010

It was no April Fool's prank!! :((

April Fool's evening dealt a real `prank' on me. My handbag was snatched from the chair right next to me when I was having dinner!

We were eating at a open-air restaurant just down the road from my house. Earlier was thinking of going to another one but since we were quite hungry and I knew the food was pretty good, so we thought of just eating near by.

We sat outside, thinking that it was quieter and breezier.. were enjoying the meal, chit-chatting and we were almost finished eating...

Then, it happened so fast...! I heard my friend yelled and next thing I knew, a scrawny Indian guy was running away with my bag! My friend up and chased him but just 50 m away, that thief jumped on a motorbike and his friend rode off in high speed. That was it!!

I didn't scream.. think I was dazed.

What happened was the suspecting guy was walking near our table.. And walked behind me, which I didn't even know! He and his partner-in-crime must be eye-ing my bag already. They are pretty pro. The motorcycle light was off so we couldn't see the no. plate as well!

So, I lost my whole handbag - it wasn't expensive but one of my favourite.. :( Of course my wallet was inside.. containing my I.C., driving licence, ATM card, a number of credit cards and many many shopping rewards cards.. some vouchers.. and my dog's puppy photo! :(

BUT guess what? I had absolutely no money inside except some coins. Not even ONE ringgit! I used up the last few ringgit buying some light bulbs which were also in my bag..

That thief must be dumbfounded and frustrated! All his `effort' and not even one ringgit! Serve him right!!

For a second after that I panicked. Not for my lost wallet or anything in my bag.. but I thought my mobile phone was gone! And I have all my contacts in there! But thank God. I took it out earlier and have placed it on the dinner table..

However I lost my iPod Touch! A present mom gave me which is less than a year old.. That I feel very sad about.. I wouldn't have brought it out but since it was already in the bag I didn't bother to take it out.. Then there are other (less valuable) things like my lipstick case, card-holder (a present from sis which I really like too)..

Of course I curse the thieves!! But I also know that I have been too careless. I always have the habit of putting my handbag on the chair next to me. Like last night, I thought there were hardly anyone around or near and I was totally unsuspecting..

Sigh I've learned my lesson now. :(

So after that, I had to do the necessary. Went home to call the bank one by one.. FOUR in all (yes, i have quite a lot of cards..) And then we went to the nearest police station to lodge a report.. And I have to re-apply for my identity card and driving licence on Monday or Tuesday..

Guess I could look at it on the positive side.. At least I wasn't hurt at all.. Cases of snatch theft was just too prevalent.. I know of friends and acquaintances who fell victims to these cowardice criminals.

Right now, I'm still feeling heartache losing my iPod Touch (which, well, you can say is replaceable with money) but..... :((

So yes, I have learned my lesson -I'll from now on to be extremely careful with my belongings..

Arghh!! how I wished it's really just an April Fool's prank!!